By Stanley White
TOKYO (Reuters) – The dollar held onto gains against most currencies on Wednesday after Republican U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelling of talks on economic stimulus with Democrats increased risk aversion.
Currencies had only just regained a sense of calm after Trump returned to the White House from hospital, where he received treatment for the coronavirus.
Trump’s surprise decision to call off stimulus talks until after the Nov. 3 presidential election increases downside risks for an already shaky U.S. economy, which is likely to favour safe harbour flows into the dollar.
“The reaction is a type of risk-off trade to buy the dollar and the yen against other currencies,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities.
“Without additional stimulus, the U.S. economy will slow and the global economy will slow.”
The dollar was last quoted at $1.1738 per euro , holding onto a 0.4% gain in the previous session.
The British pound was quoted at $1.2869 after skidding by 0.86% on Tuesday as optimism about Britain’s trade negotiations with the European Union failed to shield sterling from the dollar’s advance.
The dollar bought 0.9179 Swiss franc after rising 0.3% in the previous session.
Trump, still being treated for COVID-19, on Tuesday turned to Twitter to break off talks with Democrats on an aid package even though U.S. virus cases are rising, which poses a serious threat to the economic outlook.
Highlighting the peril, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday warned that the U.S. economy could slip into a downward spiral if the coronavirus is not effectively controlled and called for more economic assistance.
Traders will look to minutes from the Fed’s most recent meeting and comments from several Fed speakers for further signs of how central bankers view the outlook.
The increased risk aversion, however, did not move the dollar against the yen, which was last quoted at 105.64 , because both currencies tend to be bought during times of uncertainty, analysts say.
Trump has only just returned to work on Monday after three nights in hospital following his bombshell admission last week that he had contracted the coronavirus.
Medical professionals have said Trump’s early discharge from hospital puts others at risk of infection, and its spread among his most senior staff is swinging public opinion against him.
Support for his Democratic rival Joe Biden has grown by about four percentage points since mid-September, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling from Oct. 2 to 6, with 52% of likely voters backing Biden compared to 40% for Trump.
Investors are starting to warm up to the idea of Biden winning the election, which is a positive for the dollar, Mizuho’s Yamamoto said.
The Australian dollar steadied at $0.7106 in early Asian trade after tumbling by more than 1% on Tuesday. Traders say the Aussie faces more downside risks due to expectations that the Reserve Bank of Australia’s next move is to cut rates.
Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand dollar bought $0.6587, close to a one-week low.
(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
Cleantech considerations for the evolving Canadian economy – Business in Vancouver
Canada is poised to become a world leader in exporting clean technology by 2025.
Here in British Columbia, one of Vancouver’s top intellectual property lawyers thinks we could see a cleantech boom following the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of investment interest in cleantech as a consequence of COVID-19,” says Roch Ripley, partner and Head of the Intellectual Property Group in Gowling WLG’s Vancouver office.
Paired with the ongoing smoke in B.C. due to wildfires, which are becoming more frequent, climate change is staying top of mind.
“It has made people really think about the adaptation that they will have to make to deal with climate change. And because to actually deal with climate change successfully, we will need a lot of international cooperation that will be complex and expensive to fight something that is invisible, which is analogous to COVID-19.”
Over and above climate change in particular, the recession caused by the global pandemic will prompt the government to jumpstart the economy by investing in cleantech more generally, Ripley adds.
In September’s throne speech delivered by the Governor General, the federal government announced their support for a fund to spur jobs and investments in green technology in support of reaching the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In addition, the CleanBC Industry Fund is already investing millions of dollars of carbon tax revenue into projects across the province.
“All of these reasons are going to point us towards a big surge in interest and investment in cleantech,” says Ripley, who has been monitoring the number of patent filings related to cleantech.
While there were a flurry of filings 6 to 7 years ago, generally speaking the rate of filing has decreased from that peak, with certain exceptions such as in electric vehicle and battery-related sectors.
Patent applications related to clean technology, renewable energy, and sustainable development will likely be on the rise in the years ahead. “The last cleantech-wide burst of activity we saw was related to government spending in 2008. If we’re starting the cycle, I would expect to see an increase in activity soon.”
Gowling WLG is one of the largest and most respected law firms in Canada, with a reputation for innovative, client-focused service. It offers a diverse suite of business law, litigation and intellectual property services in all of Canada’s key industries, and has a reputation for excellence in client advocacy before courts, tribunals, regulatory bodies and governments in Canada.
“What I’m most interested in is intellectual property and patents,” Ripley says.
“Successful cleantech companies almost without exception invest in patenting.”
Intellectual property and patent filings are crucial to cleantech companies for several reasons, Ripley says.
The first is the sheer cost of developing cleantech. The research, development and capital costs alone can reach into the millions of dollars to create the technology.
“In terms of the cost to protect your R&D investment, it makes sense to patent in the cleantech space,” Ripley says.
There is also the international aspect. With its position as a strategic gateway to Asia, Vancouver is quickly becoming known as a global cleantech hub.
“Considering international IP is a must. Because a lot of foreign markets are interested in cleantech, you want to ensure that you’re protected with international patent filings,” Ripley says.
Lastly, innovations in cleantech usually result in creating tangible equipment that can be sold and inspected.
“Generally speaking, if you’re selling in the market you can’t keep things a trade secret,” Ripley says. “The tangible nature of many cleantech products also means you don’t need to deal with issues that arise when trying to patent more abstract innovations, such as those based in software.”
“For those reasons, developing an innovation protection plan for your cleantech IP is crucial.”
Gowling WLG protects and enforces its clients’ intellectual property assets and helps them maximise their value at every stage of the business lifecycle
“The firm provides everything a company needs to succeed in terms of business-related legal needs,” Ripley says. “From starting your company to growing it, to getting acquired, to international expansion, all while keeping the strategic considerations that affect your business and your technology top-of-mind.”
To learn more about the services offered by Gowling WLG, visit the law firm online at gowlingwlg.com/cleantech.
Don’t let flashy 3rd quarter GDP growth fool you, the economy is still in a big hole – Brookings Institution
When Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth data for the 3rd quarter of 2020 is released on October 29th, it will almost certainly break records. Many analysts project growth over 30 percent at an annual rate – roughly twice as high as any quarterly growth rate since World War II.
Yet despite this phenomenal-sounding growth, the economy will still be in a considerable hole, is actually slowing down, and presents a strong case for concern. Some basic math and data can help pierce through the mirage.
One reason 30 percent growth doesn’t mean the economy is healed stems from how percentage changes work when going down and then up. If you own a stock priced at $100 and it drops 30 percent, it is now worth $70. If it gains back 30 percent, it is then worth $91 (the gain is just $21 because 30 percent of 70 is 21). In the same manner, the large drop in output in the 2nd quarter followed by similar sized increases in the 3rd quarter will still leave a large hole. Even if GDP growth is 30 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter, output will still be more than 4 percent below its level at the end of 2019, which is more than the farthest the economy ever was from its prior peak in the Great Recession.
In addition, in the United States, we typically report growth numbers at an annualized rate. This way of reporting tells you how much the economy would grow or shrink if it kept up that pace for a full year. When there are huge swings up or down (like now) that can be a bit misleading. It made the drop in the second quarter seem larger than it was, and now makes the rebound seem larger as well.
It is also important to recognize that rapid 3rd quarter growth does not mean the economy has strong momentum now. Third quarter growth measures the average level of output in July through September compared to the average in April through June. The very low level of output in April and May set a low baseline, meaning almost any bounce back at all would generate a huge growth rate for the third quarter.
One way to see how much of 3rd quarter GDP growth comes from earlier in the year is to look at the growth in hours worked. Hours worked are often a good proxy for GDP growth, and grew by 25% at an annual rate between the second and third quarters. When looking at the monthly hours worked compared to the quarterly average (used to generate the quarterly growth rate), it is clear that the second quarter average is held down by the low April level, and in fact much of the growth that lifts the third quarter above the second actually came due to the rapid rebound in May and June. In fact, when calculating the growth rate, well over half of the growth comes from May and June. Had hours worked simply stayed at the June level throughout the third quarter, the 3rd quarter growth rate would still be 15% at an annual rate.
Other evidence also demonstrates that the rebound in the economy has been slowing down over the late summer and into the fall. For each month from June to August, personal consumption growth was slower than in the month before. The same was true of retail sales through the summer, though it rebounded slightly in September. The Chicago Federal Reserve National Economic Activity Index, which pulls together over 80 data series from consumption to employment to production indicated that growth in August was the slowest it has been since the economy began to recover in May.
This slower growth is problematic given the huge hole in employment. Employment in the United States is still more than 10 million jobs below its level in February. Job growth, which broke records in June with almost 4.8 million jobs gained, slowed to 1.8 million jobs gained in July, 1.5 million in August, down to 660,000 jobs gained in September. If job growth continues to slow, it will take years to bring the economy back to its level of employment before the COVID recession. Job growth certainly does not look like a “V” anymore.
In many ways, the slowing job growth is not a surprise. Many of the jobs gained over the early summer stemmed from rehiring workers who had been on temporary layoff. In April, 78 percent of the unemployed considered themselves on temporary layoff; that is down to 37 percent in September. Re-employing a worker from temporary layoff is much easier than matching an unemployed worker to a new firm. The number of individuals who say they are on permanent layoff has also grown considerably, from 1.5 million in March to 3.8 million in September. This rise in permanent layoffs is unusually swift. In the first 6 months of the Great Recession, the number of permanent layoffs grew just half a million. Furthermore, research suggests people overestimate the likelihood of re-employment and each month they are out of work reduces the chances their layoff is in fact temporary. As time passes, improvements in the labor market will become harder.
The number of unemployed actually understates the problem as millions of individuals have left the labor force. Many rejoined over the summer, but the labor force is still more than 4 million workers smaller than it was prior to the crisis, and it contracted in September, a disturbing stall in momentum.
Even as the economy was growing, there was evidence of extreme distress amongst families. Lines at foodbanks have shocked many. Surveys suggest surges in food insecurity. Reductions in employment, secondary incomes, tips, and gig work have left many families on the brink. Over 2.4 million workers have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks, a number that is sharply increasing and demonstrating extreme hardships for many households.
These indicators suggest the economy needs more help. First, it is essential to control the virus. Many sections of the economy simply cannot restart until there is greater safety and better confidence in the safety of workers and consumers. In addition, the economy will continue to need fiscal support. The unemployed need more financial aid. Small firms – especially those in heavily impacted sectors – simply cannot survive without assistance. State and local governments are increasingly laying off workers as their budgets are under extreme stress. Smart fiscal policy can help keep the recession from turning into an even longer and more painful downturn than it already is.
The flashy GDP growth number for the 3rd quarter is more a statistical quirk and reflection of the sharp dive and subsequent bounce in the spring, not an indication of current momentum. We cannot count on the economy to heal itself, it will take direct action.
Poll: Virginia voters say virus, not economy, most important – 570 News
FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Enacting restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is more important than removing them to get the economy going, according to a majority of Virginia voters polled this month.
The poll conducted by Hampton University and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 62% think the biggest priority for their community is to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, even if it hurts the economy, while 35% said removing restrictions to help the economy, even if more people get the virus, is the bigger priority.
John Bordeaux, 61, of Lorton, is among those who said controlling the virus is a greater priority. He said he’s worried that younger people are willing to risk prolonged potential exposure at bars and other indoor gathering places, just because statistics show that older people are more vulnerable.
“I don’t think we know enough to make that assessment,” particularly when it comes to how the virus is transmitted, said Bordeaux, a policy researcher.
Paul Gilbert said he’d rather see restrictions removed, if he had to choose, but that those two opposing choices don’t really reflect his thinking. More than anything, he said, he just wants the choices to be guided by science rather than politics, wherever that leads.
“If we don’t get out of this thing, there’s not going to be an economy to worry about,” said Gilbert, 42, a disabled veteran from Suffolk.
Like other states, Virginia has debated the degree to which the economy and society should be open as the pandemic stretches on, and the coronavirus response has been a key issue in the presidential campaign. In Virginia, the politics of that debate have featured frequent barbs from President Donald Trump directed at Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.
In April, during some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions, Trump tweeted “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” an apparent reference to both gun control measures and COVID-19 restrictions. While both Trump and Northam, a physician, contracted the coronavirus, Trump has pushed for a “return to normal” and mocked the use of masks to prevent the virus’s spread, while Northam has advocated masks and other measures to keep the virus in check.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, respondents’ views on the coronavirus reflect a partisan divide. About 9 in 10 Democrats emphasized the importance of using restrictions to stop the virus from spreading. About 7 in 10 Republicans emphasized the importance of removing virus restrictions to help the economy.
The poll shows that between September and October, the standing of Northam and other Democrats improved somewhat. Northam’s favourability rating is now 49%, up slightly from 42% of those responding to a Hampton University/AP-NORC poll last month.
The Democratic presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris showed similar improvements. Biden’s favourability rating ticked up slightly, from 47% to 52%, while positive ratings of Harris increased somewhat from 42% to 50%.
Positive views of Trump, meanwhile, remained roughly the same: 39% say they have a favourable opinion of the president, similar to 37% last month.
The poll also shows a significant shift in voting plans, with more people saying they plan to cast their ballot in person before Election Day. Voters have seen long lines at early polling places across the state in recent weeks.
In September, 54% said they would vote in person on Election Day, and 13% said they planned to vote early in person. The October poll showed just 39% planning to vote on Election Day, with another 31% planning to vote early in person.
Roughly 3 in 10 Virginia voters in both polls indicated plans to vote by mail.
The poll shows a deep divide between Republicans and Democrats about how they plan to vote, which might influence how returns come in on election night.
About 8 in 10 Democrats say they’re voting in advance of the election, including about 4 in 10 by mail and about another 4 in 10 early in person. By contrast, about two-thirds of Republicans say they will vote in person on Election Day.
About two-thirds of those who say they plan to vote on Election Day cite concerns over the counting of mail-in ballots as a major factor. Those planning to vote early in person cite a mix of factors, including concerns about counting mail-in ballots, the coronavirus and long lines on Election Day.
The AP-NORC/Hampton University poll of 887 registered voters in Virginia was conducted Oct. 6-12 by mail, with the option for respondents to take the survey online or by phone. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.
AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org/.
Matthew Barakat, The Associated Press
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