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James Hyerczyk
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Coronavirus

The coronavirus is in the news again, not last year’s pandemic fueling COVID-19 version, but the fast-spreading Delta variant. While dominating the mainstream news in the United States (See CNN and FoxNews), and globally on business website such as CNBC, Reuters and Bloomberg, to name a few, we’re not really seeing a major impact on the financial markets.

This is interesting to note because the mainstream story is centered on rising infection numbers, the slow pace of vaccinations and what is likely to happen if countries don’t start clamping down on the spread of the virus. In other words, people’s health. Some experts are even calling it a “life or death” situation.

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In the financial markets, obviously we’re not seeing the same reaction as we did in 2020 with stocks dropping 20% in a matter of weeks and crude oil testing prices below $20 a barrel. Instead we’re seeing a relative calm.

Is this telling us to “follow the money?” Is this telling us that since the situation is not as bad as last year, there is no need to panic? Are the financial markets indicating there is not enough information yet to understand the impact of this new outbreak? Do we wait for the bad economic numbers or do we anticipate them?

The answer is all of the above.

Of course, I don’t recommend putting your finances ahead of your health. I don’t think anyone is doing that. Traders are making their decisions on what they know at this time. Some are even basing their decisions on their belief in the vaccinations.

In this case, they feel that enough people are vaccinated so major economic shutdowns are warranted at this time. But we’ve seen different reactions all around the globe, which could be adding to the confusion over what to do. Lighten up on the long side? Buy more, start selling? Move to the sidelines?

I don’t think I am going to be able to answer any of these questions in this article, but if I had to center on one, I’d have to say “follow the money”. But I should add that I am vaccinated, so I may be biased.

Here’s What Others are Saying and Doing

Fed’s Powell Downplays Delta Variant’s Threat to the Economy

The spread of the COVID-19 delta variant is raising infections, leading some companies and governments to require vaccinations and raising concerns about the U.S. economic recovery, according to the AP.

But on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell injected a note of reassurance, suggesting that the delta variant poses little threat to the economy, at least so far.

“What we’ve seen is with successive waves of COVID over the past year and some months now,” Powell said at a news conference, “there has tended to be less in the way of economic implications from each wave. We will see whether that is the case with the delta variety, but it’s certainly not an unreasonable expectation.”

“Dining out, traveling, some schools might not reopen,” he said. “We may see economic effects from some of that or it might weigh on the return to the labor market. We don’t have a strong sense of how that will work out, so we’ll be monitoring it carefully.”

More Corporations are Requiring Workers to Get Vaccinated ~ Axios

The federal government in May said that it is legal for companies to require employees to get vaccinated for coronavirus.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent an email to employees announcing that those going back to the office needed to be vaccinated. The company is also extending its work-from-home policy through October 18.

Facebook said that anyone going back to work in their U.S. campuses must be vaccinated.

Netflix is requiring that the casts for all of its U.S. productions be vaccinated, as well as everyone who comes in contact with them.

Drop in UK COVID-19 Cases Indicates Infections Surge May Be Past Peak ~ Reuters

Early last week, the UK added to the confusion when it reported its lowest daily total of new coronavirus cases since July 4, adding to signs that a recent surge in infections driven by the spread of the Delta variant may have passed its peak.

Sydney Readies for the Army as Lockdown Fails to Squash Australia Delta Outbreak ~ CNN

Sydney’s poorest neighborhoods on Friday braced for military enforcement of the city’s toughest and longest lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic as the infection as the infection numbers held persistently high five weeks since restrictions began.

The situation appears to be so bleak in Australia that economists are already predicting a third quarter contraction.

Oil Climbs, Notches Fourth Monthly Gain on Growing Demand – Reuters

The crude oil market is interesting since it sold off sharply early in July when the Delta-variant story first broke. The biggest concern was demand destruction.

Since then, however, both WTI and Brent have recovered enough to post a fourth monthly gain, with demand growing faster than supply and vaccinations expected to alleviate the impact of a resurgence in COVID-19 infections across the world.

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Conclusion

The best advice appears to be: bet on the vaccinations to work, keep monitoring the global economy especially output and labor and keep an eye on gasoline demand.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.
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