Thursday Morning Reads
- New Curbs on U.S. Oil Industry
- Maneuvers Face a Slow Dead End
- Yellen’s Call to ‘Act Big’
- Inflation Rippling Through Markets
- How the American Unemployment System Failed
- Grim Outlook but Seeks to Rebuild
- 50 Companies to Watch in 2021
- Micro Bubbles
Stocks that could be affected by the DPA order include 3M (NYSE:MMM), Honeywell (NYSE:HON), Alpha Pro Tech (NYSEMKT:APT), Owens & Minor (NYSE:OMI), Eastman Kodak (NYSE:KODK), MSA Safety (NYSE:MSA), DuPont (NYSE:DD), Becton, Dickinson (NYSE:BDX) and Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH).
The full strategy is centered around seven goals: 1) Restoring trust with the American people; 2) Mounting a safe and effective vaccination campaign; 3) Expanding masking, testing, data and treatments; 4) Expanding emergency relief and exercising the Defense Production Act; 5) Safely reopening schools, businesses and travel while protecting workers; 6) Protecting those most at risk and advancing equity; 7) Restoring U.S. leadership globally and building better preparedness for future threats.
Quote: "The National Strategy provides a roadmap to guide America out of the worst public health crisis in a century. America has always risen to the challenge we face and we will do so now."
Other executive actions: Increasing federal reimbursement to states and tribes from 75% to 100% of the cost for National Guard personnel and emergency supplies. Another executive order will create a Pandemic Testing Board, which will aim to increase testing capacity, expand the public health workforce, support COVID-19 screening in schools and collect data on reopenings, while a further action will direct studies to identify COVID-19 treatments, especially antivirals like Gilead's (NASDAQ:GILD) remdesivir. Biden also plans to require masks on public transportation and negative COVID-19 tests for anyone entering the country from overseas. (21 comments)
Among one of the biggest challenges of the national vaccine rollout is completing the "last mile." Distribution efforts in the U.S. have also been complicated by fractured access to vaccine signups and eligibility, only to see appointments canceled and shortages. Looking to help out in the fight against COVID-19, Amazon (AMZN) has reached out to the newly installed Biden administration about prioritizing its essential workers and even has a third-party health provider in place to administer vaccines at its facilities.
Quote: "As the nation's second largest employer, Amazon has over 800,000 employees in the United States, most of whom are essential workers who cannot work from home," wrote Dave Clark, Amazon's worldwide consumer CEO. "We are prepared to move quickly once vaccines are available.... leveraging our operations, information technology, communications capabilities and experts to assist your administration's vaccine efforts."
Why is Amazon reaching out now? The company also advocated for its essential workers in December, when Clark penned a letter to the CDC about access to the vaccine "at the earliest appropriate time." Others sent similar requests, including Uber (UBER) for its drivers, and the National Retail Federation for the retail industry. Don't forget about Amazon's relationship with the previous administration, which was strained by former President Trump's grudge against Jeff Bezos.
Outlook: While Operation Warp Speed under the Trump administration helped fund a coronavirus vaccine in record time, states have complained about inadequate supply and the distribution process has been mired in turmoil. President Biden is attempting to counter that by ramping up the federal government's involvement in the vaccination process, using the National Guard and FEMA to distribute doses, though time will tell if those efforts will bear fruit. (150 comments)
U.S. stock index futures are pointing to another positive open this morning after the major averages ended the session higher on Wednesday following Joe Biden's inauguration in Washington. Shares were buoyed by hopes of his mega stimulus plan, all but forgetting the once prominent fears of regulation and corporate taxes that followed his election in November.
What happened? Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen said this week that Biden's current focus is relief for American families hit by the coronavirus pandemic, not raising taxes, and it could be quite some time before that discussion resurfaces. U.S. business leaders have also backed the new president, signaling open dialogue will ensue that can shape policy, while Corporate America has been increasingly embracing different economic models.
Examples: Automakers that had fought against tighter fuel economy standards for decades had a change of heart in 2019, when Ford (F), Volkswagen (OTCPK:VWAGY), Honda (HMC), and BMW (OTCPK:BAMXF) struck a surprise deal with California that would raise the fuel economy of their fleets to the state's standards rather than the Fed's. Similar backlash was seen with methane rules and energy efficiency deregulation. Social media has further welcomed some stronger regulation of the Internet and has gone through great lengths in recent weeks to police its platforms.
Thought bubble: Going along with social trends generates big publicity for companies and shareholder value in the long term - think Nike (NKE) and Colin Kaepernick. An attractive image not only appeals to investors, but employees and the public as a whole, and firms that have invested significant resources in complying with existing requirements continue to reap benefits. Big companies can afford it, while small businesses and startups cannot, and societal shifts are on their side. (44 comments)
The world's largest asset manager is adding Bitcoin futures as an eligible investment to two of its funds - the Blackrock Funds V and Blackrock Global Allocation Fund (MDLOX). The decison marks the first time the money manager, which oversees $8.7T, is offering clients exposure to cryptocurrency and the latest instance of a major financial institution dipping its toes into cryptocurrencies.
Flashback: In a 2018 interview, BlackRock (BLK) CEO Larry Fink called Bitcoin (BTC-USD) an "index of money laundering," but has since changed his tune. A year earlier, JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon called bitcoin a "fraud" and threatened to fire any bank employee dealing with it, but leading analysts at the bank recently suggested Bitcoin could rise to $146K if it were to match gold in terms of market capitalization.
The regulatory filings are not a guarantee that BlackRock will add bitcoin futures to the new funds, but it's certainly more evidence for the institutionalization thesis. Traders have seen the recent moves as a theme for the recent bull market, along with other factors like easy money policies, inflation fears, availability and momentum.
Go deeper: Fink recently said it's possible for "cryptocurrencies in general and Bitcoin specifically" to "evolve" into a global market asset, while Blackrock recently posted a job opening for VP of Blockchain in New York. (29 comments)
What else is happening...
In Asia, Japan -0.8%. Hong Kong -0.1%. China +1.1%. India -0.3%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.2%. Paris -0.1%. Frankfurt +0.6%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.2%. S&P +0.2%. Nasdaq +0.4%. Crude -0.7% to $52.92. Gold +0.3% at $1871.20. Bitcoin -6% to $32254.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat to 1.09%
Today's Economic Calendar