Interbank market, central banks, foreign exchange: Will Joe Biden, GOP meeting signal increased public capital spending?

The strategy takeaway …

Joe Biden positions himself as mediator as GOP presents a non-stimulative pandemic plan.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with today at 5 pm EST with 10 centrist and conservative Republican senators to discuss a $619 billion pandemic relief program. Specifically, the GOP offering proposes the following:

$160 billion in direct pandemic response;

$132 billion in additional unemployment insurance;

$20 billion to fund childcare and a development block grant;

$20 billion to fund a “get back to school” initiative;

$50 billion to small businesses including another itineration of the Paycheck Protection Program;

$220 billion in direct payments to households;

$12 billion for nutritional support programs; and

$4 billion for behavioral support services.

The total GOP package is roughly one-third of the $1.9 trillion proposals favored by most Democrats. Mr Biden has been reportedly receiving pushback from the more progressive wing of his party regarding his willingness to sit down and listen to the GOP proposals. Progressive Democrats prefer that the Senate GOP negotiate directly with Senate Democrats versus conducting an end-around with the President.

The dollar likely climbs with growth in gross domestic product and positive growth in its commodities and equities markets. Infrastructure spends would also attract capital to the United States thus driving up demand for the dollar resulting in its appreciation. The GOP’s proposal does not, in my opinion, stimulate growth that can be expressed in currencies. The “stimulus” is more of a pandemic band-aid designed to keep the United States together until an economy that is more familiar comes along.

At best, traders should view the GOP’s strategy for stimulus as non-dynamic due to a lack of emphasis on non-capital driven items. Mr Biden’s American Rescue Plan does not appear to do more than be a bigger band-aid for households versus actual stimulation of economic growth.

Mr Biden’s American Rescue Plan touts a total of $1.9 trillion in funding. The Plan also focuses on extended unemployment insurance, direct pandemic payments to households, higher minimum wage, increased food aid, and expanded child tax credit, and continued foreclosure and eviction moratoriums. No emphasis on infrastructure or the other classic big ticket, shovel ready items that attracts capital expenditures.

Short of a significant lift on restrictions that limit travel and gatherings that would lead to reigniting economic activity, I don’t see much in either the GOP or Mr Biden’s plans that will bring back better.

The interbank market news scan …

President Joe Biden and Democratic congressional leaders must decide whether to break the administration’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief proposal into pieces after a scaled-down Republican plan emerged. Republican Stimulus Offer Challenges Biden to Split Aid Bill (msn.com)

The group of 10 Republican senators seeking to negotiate with President Biden on a new round of COVID-19 relief unveiled details of their proposal on Monday, hours before the lawmakers are set to meet with the president at the White House. GOP senators detail $618 billion COVID relief counteroffer (msn.com)

GOP proposed sixth Covid-19 relief package. Proposed Sixth Covid Relief Package.pdf (senate.gov)

As President Joe Biden prepares to meet with Republican senators on Monday to discuss his proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, progressives have urged the commander-in-chief to move ahead with his stimulus plan regardless of whether the GOP supports it. Progressives Dismiss Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Effort on COVID Relief, Demand Action Now (msn.com)

Ghana’s central bank on Monday kept its main interest rate unchanged at 14.5%, Governor Ernest Addison said in a statement. Ghana central bank holds key rate at 14.5% | Nasdaq

The Australian and New Zealand dollars were little changed on Monday ahead of a central bank meeting as cautious currency traders watched on while a wave of runaway retail investors unsettled equity markets. Australian dollar trades fractionally higher head of central bank meeting | Reuters

Cryptocurrency XRP tumbled into the red on Monday, after rising more than 50% in early trading, as a “pump and hold” scheme organized by day traders ran into trouble.https://www.consumersadvocate.org/widgets/text_list?pcuid=cf4d004eb5b1

Yet “meme” currency Dogecoin held on gains of around 34% as amateur investors zeroed in on new assets in the wake of the GameStop saga and Elon Musk boosted interest in cryptocurrencies. XRP falls sharply after soaring 50% but Dogecoin is holding on, with day traders looking for new targets and Elon Musk fanning interest (msn.com)

The head of Hong Kong Monetary Authority has rejected lawmakers’ call to dip into the HK$4.5 trillion (US$581 billion) Exchange Fund to finance the government’s rescue packages for companies and individuals hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, saying such a move would hurt the fund’s ability to defend the local currency. Hong Kong wants to keep its US$581 billion war chest for defending the currency instead of the economy, monetary chief says | South China Morning Post (scmp.com)

Due to Covid, tech professionals considering healthcare, pharmaceutical careers …

Sponsored Content

by IIA

The COVID-19 pandemic has helped push the healthcare industry further into the digital movement, leading to a reimagining of conventional hospital systems and driving an increase of technology professionals to the industry to capture new market opportunities for distributed healthcare and cutting-edge technological innovation.

A new report from pharmaceutical company Novartis shows the healthcare and pharma industries becoming an increasingly desirable career destination for tech professionals, with 72% of tech professionals more likely to consider the field compared to before the pandemic. Tech talent is now almost two times more likely to switch to healthcare and pharma industries over traditional technology sectors such as finance, banking, and telecoms. Tech professionals see an opportunity in healthcare and pharma to innovate through tech, improve quality of care, increase efficiency, solve real-world problems, and contribute to curing diseases.

Source: Novartis

Rather than clearly promoting telehealth, Trump’s messaging yesterday was aimed at elderly voter fear.

President Donald Trump yesterday held a press briefing on the status of the United States’ efforts to control spread of COVID-19.  What gave me pause was the President’s cloudy description of advanced communications and the lost opportunity to promote broadband.  The President said this about technology and connecting people:

“Nursing homes in higher-risk areas will be receiving more funding.  This money can be used to address critical needs, including the hiring of additional staff, increasing testing, and providing technology support so residents can connect their families and they can connect to their families.  They are having a tremendous time.  They want to be with their loved ones.  They can’t do it, so what we’re doing is we’re working it so that we can connect — have them connect with their families if they’re not able to visit.”

According to the President, $5 billion would be allocated to nursing homes from the Department of Heath and Human Services provider relief fund.  Mr Trump’s statement implied that some of this funding would go toward connecting nursing home patients and their families.  But a review of HHS allocation targets did not identify any amounts going toward nursing homes for additional communications facilities.  The Administration’s signaling of this intent does not appear to be included in the actual allocation program.

Mr Trump may have had an eye on applying political messaging to secure votes from the elder population in general and the nursing home population in particular given controversy around a directive by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat of New York, to not prohibit the placement of patients in nursing homes based solely on the possibility of having COVID-19.  Critics of the Governor’s actions have been quick to point out the risk to elderly non-infected nursing home residents.  Hours after Mr Trump’s remarks on the elderly and COVID-19, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, referred to Governor Cuomo’s decision to locate infected patients in nursing homes as a “disastrous decision” that amounted to an impeachable offense.

That an opportunity for promoting public policy, in this case broadband for telehealth, may have been lost due to prioritizing political messaging is unfortunate.  The loss could have been mitigated by using specific terminology and definitions in one or two sentences rather than using a broad term such as technology. It is another lesson to readers of and listeners to political messaging to remain aware of as much of the existing political environment when assessing the value of political statements.

 

How is thermal imaging being used to detect COVID-19?

Dubai Police have recently began equipping their officers with innovative smart helmets fitted with thermal imaging cameras designed to detect people running a high fever – a common symptom of COVID-19. The helmet can identify a high temperature from the safe distance of five meters and will send an automatic alert to the wearer if a fever is detected.

Some businesses in the U.S. are using similar thermal imaging technology to detect if customers or employees at their business have the COVID-19 symptom, which could help reopen the economy faster. Companies like Thermal Guardians have begun manufacturing these thermal imaging tools for use in public spaces such as airports, hospitals, residential communities, and businesses.

Watch this video from the Khaleej Times of the Dubai Police using the smart helmets:

Of banks and the politics of coronavirus support …

Politics of banking

Earlier today, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Sub-committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, sent a letter to Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury, and Jovita Carranza, Administrator of the Small Business Administration, requesting that Treasury and the SBA take steps to ensure that $130 billion remaining under the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (PPP) are allocated to businesses truly in need and that both agencies increase the level of transparency about the recipients of funds that have already been expended.

According to the letter sent by Chairman Clyburn, Congress is concerned that with no clear guidance issued by either the Treasury Department or the SBA, larger businesses that already had lending relationships with banks that distributed the funding, would be first in line for the lion share of funds.  It was partly due to this fear that Congress followed up the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) with the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which provided an additional $310 billion in funding and set aside $60 billion to be distributed by community lenders with a track record for lending money to smaller borrowers.

The political controversy surrounding the support program is spawned by Chairman Clyburn’s that banks release the names of all recipients of paycheck protection program funding.  Republicans apparently have not signed off on this request given the lack of Republican signatures on Chairman Clyburn’s letter.  In addition, Secretary Mnuchin has referred to the requested information as proprietary, a description that Chairman Clyburn does not agree with.

The issue appears more a political one than a market one.  Neither demand or supply for these funds are the result of economic interaction between the seeker of loanable funds and provider but more the result of government imposed shutdowns, and the resulting slowdown in the economy as social distancing and quarantines have reduced foot traffic in restaurants, stores, and automobile showrooms to a halt and in a number of cases has caused businesses to seek bankruptcy protection.

The big banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Truist, Citibank, and Wells Fargo have been called out by critics for hooking up larger businesses with more established relationships versus the mom and pop with ten employees on the verge of shut down.

But as Paul Miller of Miller & Co. LLP shared in a post on BloombergTax.com, there are alternative sources of funding for small businesses out there.  They include:

  • The Employee Retention Credit;
  • Local and state coronavirus resources (see http://www.fundera.com);
  • Crowd-funding;
  • Venture capital; and
  • Traditional lines of credit.

 

In the coronavirus era, the information engineers will win …

Editorial

Most of us believe life is about accumulating cash, making enough coin to pay the bills, put the kids through school, take a vacation, and buy ourselves a couple toys.  You know.  Living our best life.  Seven hundred thousand Americans found out last month that a virus could cause havoc not only to one’s physical health but also to one’s financial health.  There will be less coin available to pay for that best life.

Americans are not coming to terms with the reality of nature; that nature is the ultimate arbiter of life on this planet.  It is why the call from political leaders in the United States and worldwide to wage war against a disease seems silly to me.  Nature always wins and I believe its victory will be manifested in how it helps change the nature of commerce and work.

How work changes will go beyond whether a bunch of lawyers, accountants, and call center operators can conduct business from home with their kids running around. (Fortunately, social distancing at home is easy for me. I have a teenager. They like staying away from their parents.)  Not only will we have to become overnight IT managers, we will have to adjust to two additional tasks: one, becoming database managers; and two, teaching our bosses’ algorithms how to read and navigate the databases we have been assigned to classify and build.

More and more professionals, from lawyers to accountants to doctors are becoming database managers.  They are being asked to go through thousands of documents, classify them, and tag them according to how relevant they are to resolving an issue of law, finance, or medical treatment.

By tagging the contents of these databases, these professionals are providing their bosses’ algorithms a template to follow; a path to build and travel on when they eventually take over more and more responsibility for mining these databases and their content.

Capital, always in fear of a vacuum, is always in search for yield.  It is  always in search of the information that increases returns on the coin.  The more efficient the search and the more robust and plentiful the information, the greater the yield.  For coin is the physical valuation of information.  The more information capital has for use, the greater the value of the coin.

But for the rest of us, for the non-capital or what I call the credit class, we will have to rethink our view of information.  Information is no longer just something told or facts learned.  It is not just news or knowledge.  It is an asset, something owned that has value.  Each household’s value going further into the 21st century will be judged on the quality, uniqueness, and value of the information that it sits on.  Households will have to spend more of their most valued currency, time, at least in the short to immediate run, accumulating that most important asset, information.

The virus has dis-aggregated Americans.  Americans sitting at home on their desk tops remotely connected to the central brain at their office will soon be called on to generate more energy in the form of information, relying on their own leased data resources and the databases they create.  Capital, demanding the reductions in the costs for information searches, will reward those households that can mine, package, and deliver information that provides capital with a list of opportunities for highest yield.

The information engineers will win for they will lead in buying that best life…