US employers face COVID legal claims; HSBC weighs desperate deal; coal prices rise in China; China's growth spurs upmarket car sales; UST 10y at 0.66%; oil stable and gold firm; NZ$1 = 65.5 USc; TWI-5 = 69.1

US employers face COVID legal claims; HSBC weighs desperate deal; coal prices rise in China; China's growth spurs upmarket car sales; UST 10y at 0.66%; oil stable and gold firm; NZ$1 = 65.5 USc; TWI-5 = 69.1

Here's our summary of key economic events overnight that affect New Zealand, with news investors have turned positive in global equity markets.

The latest American regional factory survey is out and it is for Texas. It is a positive report, showing a fourth straight month of gains. However that string of gains is still -30% short of the sharp three months of losses recorded earlier in the year. But it is encouraging that new orders and employment are rising again.

But American employers are facing a new and expensive legal threat from employees and their families who contracted the coronavirus while at work. The legal claims mirror the hugely costly asbestos law suits.

In Europe, the Swiss have soundly rejected the repeat immigration referendum by a 62:38 margin. It was a ballot measure supported by a far-right party only. But the size of the rejection was a surprise, ensuring there is to be no Swiss Brexit.

And staying in Europe, HSBC looks set to sell its French banking business for €1, after it has recapitalised if with NZ$900 mln in additional funds. The disastrous deal comes as the bank races to shed underperforming units, and as Chinese companies buy increasing stakes in the beleaguered institution.

In China, coal prices have started rising again, and quite quickly. Tight supply and restocking demand from downstream industries is behind the turnaround. The rises involve both thermal and steel-making coal. And this comes just as Beijing claims it is aiming to be carbon-neutral in 40 years.

The Beijing auto show has opened to huge crowds. European carmakers report strong orders for upmarket vehicles. This car show is unique because it is the only one still operating in 2020.

Wall Street has started its week up strongly with the S&P500 up +1.7% in afternoon trade today. Overnight, European markets rose very strongly, up almost +3% on average. Yesterday, Shanghai closed flat, but Hong Kong rose a strong +1.0% and Tokyo ended with up +1.3% in a late burst. However that was not matched locally with the ASX200 down -0.2% while the NZX50 closed flat.

The latest global compilation of COVID-19 data is here. The global tally is 33,173,000 and up +254,000 in one day. The resurgence in the UK, France and Spain isn't abating. Global deaths reported now exceed 999,000 but clearly many are going unreported.

The largest number of reported cases globally are still in the US, which is up +32,000 overnight to 7,329,000 and a lower weekend report. The number of active cases are stable at 2,542,000 so as many new cases as recoveries and making no real progress. Their death total is now just over 209,000 and rising slower over their weekend.

In Australia, there have now been 27,044 COVID-19 cases reported, and that is only +4 more cases than yesterday. Australia, and even Victoria, is on top of their community outbreak now. Deaths are up however at 875 (+3). Their recovery rate is now almost 91%.

The UST 10yr yield is unchanged at 0.66%. Their 2-10 rate curve is unchanged at +53 bps, their 1-5 curve is also unchanged at +15 bps, while their 3m-10 year curve is still at +58 bps. The Australian Govt 10 year yield is up +1 bp at 0.84%. Similarly, the China Govt 10 year yield is down -1 bp at 3.15%. And the New Zealand Govt 10 year yield is also down -1 bps at 0.46%.

The price of gold is back up at US$1874/oz and a +US$14 gain today. And silver has made an outsized daily gain, up more than +2% overnight.

Oil prices are little-changed and are still just under US$40.50/bbl in the US, while the international price is marginally firmer at just under US$42.50/bbl.

The Kiwi dollar starts today at 65.5 USc and a very minor rise from this time yesterday. But against the Australian dollar we have lost some of the recent gains and now at 92.7 AUc. Against the euro we are little-changed at 56.2 euro cents. That means our TWI-5 is at 69.1.

The bitcoin price is firmer from this time yesterday, and now at US$10,893 and a +1.5% rise. The bitcoin rate is charted in the exchange rate set below.

The easiest place to stay up with event risk today is by following our Economic Calendar here ».

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65 Comments

A court case on the spread of the virus would be an interesting prospect. For a start we might actually see some science in evidence, rather than the bullshit and propaganda flying about the media. The daily body count will be meaningless as evidence for a start. I would think the burden of proof impossibly high, how do you actually prove the transmission?

It would be a welcome test really. But then with the justice system having become perverted who knows what the outcome would be.

Next thing someone will sue because they caught a cold at work. Only in America.

“someone will sue because they caught a cold at work.” That would be funny if it wasn’t true. Will ordinary life ever be ordinary again?

I agree that a court case would be interesting. I suggest the body count would be irrelevant, but the potential consequences of catching COVID would be. Such a case would be about the employers attitudes of not enforcing face masks, social distancing and other basic precautions to limit transmission, and possibly remaining open and not giving their employees a choice during periods of high risk. But then the American employment rights are very different to ours i would expect, so it would be hard to see what could happen.

You would have to go back a step on the facemask. I'd suggest that conclusive scientific evidence a mask will reduce the spread of the flu is not there. "None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection." https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51905667_The_use_of_masks_and_r...

Where it looks as though masks might have worked it was behavioural based. I posed the question early on in this as to whether any link to Covid-19 and masks was behavioural rather than the mask itself. Ie: is it something else the mask wearer does other than wearing a mask that might help the spread, or other people in vicinity of the mask wearer simply keeping a larger distance. Too many holes to be useful in evidence methinks.

Personally I don't know that it is such a bad thing that an employer has an obligation to ensure your safety when they are making money of your labour. But then the US system just fuels lawyers.

Litigious USA! We were parked and the vehicle behind impaled itself on our tow bar. Claimed we had reversed into them. Had heard our strange accents in the shop. Fortunately next person out the shop a plain clothed cop witnessed, sorted it out. Despite enjoying living there immensely, you nevertheless are always on guard.

Yes I've found Americans to be big opportunists when it comes to making a fast $$$! And then there's the biggest one of all, part of the reason why I don't trust them anymore. BBC article: Donald Trump 'paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017' - NY Times. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-54319948

Re masks - there was a lot of conflicting information early on with very little scientific analysis. That has since changed with solid analysis indicating that masks can significantly limit the spread. The article you link to is date 2011. There is much later information on this.

What does surprise me is the lack of media interest, and apparently the uptake of Far UVC lights. These are scientifically proven to kill virus and bacteria in the air and on surfaces. They kill COVID and ordinary cold and flu virus particles, but it seems there is resistance to some of the learnings from the COVID experience.

Masks prevent droplet spread but don't always prevent aerosol spread. They're still better than nothing and are a relatively easy thing for people to use.

Which is why it seems they are only useful in reducing the spread but do little for the receipt. So really only of use on someone symptomatic to stop you spreading it, of little use to prevent someone catching it.

But you can spread asymptomatically. Also it's really hard to catch something that isn't being spread. You know its kinda like herd immunity that way.

Mabye, but not so likely in this manner. It is the coughing or sneezing of someone deeply symptomatic where masks are best deployed. Keep things on context!

Someone deeply symptomatic shouldn't be out in public anyway. In fact we say that even when there isn't a pandemic. It's fairly rude and irresponsible.

At least some more on therapeutics or prophylactics.

For example:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/09/26/correcting-britains-vitamin-...

Correcting Britain's Vitamin D deficiency could save thousands of lives
A groundbreaking new study points to a cheap, safe, effective way of tackling Covid...

Came across a investor video about Euphoria in stock (also applies to housing) market contrary to real economy :

https://youtu.be/fOyQo-UoGro

Some of us have been waiting for the housing, stock market, and money supply collapse since 2008 Stuart, don't hold your breath. There are deeper fundaments at work than sentiment driving prices higher. Some of it is institutional, lots of funds looking for a return. Institutions representing a swathe of ordinary folk. The governments and central banks are underwriting this process, well at least they think so. Money has to keep being created to pay the yields due on last years investments. As long as the tap is on there is a barrier to collapsing prices. I'd suggest the tap is still barely on, money supply coming only marginally higher than demand so as to push up asset prices only, not general inflation.

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I think your last sentence nails it. There are a lot of rich and powerful people who will be seriously hurt if asset prices collapse, so they are doing all they can to ensure they don't. Problem is this cannot continue indefinitely, so are they only delaying the inevitable? And with the longer the delay, the worse it will be?

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If by rich you mean, indebted rich, then sure. But we often measure "net wealth". The actual ownership of things, in control of the rich, will not change at all during a meltdown. Probably the reverse will be true: only the very rich will be able to come and sweep bankrupted people's assets at very low prices in an economic collapse. So I do not agree with your statement that the rich and powerful will be seriously hurt, it will be the poor and ordinary people who will be seriously hurt. Including, retired people needing their pension, middle class homeowners with some equity in their housing, small businesses, employees of large businesses, suppliers of large businesses etc.

Fair point - net wealth is certainly the point. Indeed the banks have done a lot of work of the last few decades to undermine that as they have increasingly trapped people in debt. Farmers are particularly hard hit with their bank advisors essentially ignoring any downside, so they paid ridiculously high prices for land and plant without any real appreciation of the fact that food commodity prices have been very high for a long time. If it all comes unhinged, it will be very ugly.

Imagine in NZ, if inflation prices of land & houses (purposely not reported in current siphoned CPI), later on 'unhinged' into the ordinary lives of workers, laborer, farmers, renters etc. - In term of exorbitant rental/RE cost, then suddenly we'll see the ugly grouped NZ society, of Bread makers, Fresh producers, Milk/Meat producers, Horticulture, Aquaculture, Viticulture, Dental, Private surgery etc - All decided to charge 'out of this world' prices, just to get by of 'affording rental/RE inflationary hidden cost' - seems like we're heading that way though.

"it cannot continue indefinitely" -- it's already continued a lot longer than I, and many others, expected -- at this point I think it's utterly invulnerable, basically we're headed to Brazilianization in every nation because no one has the imagination for anything else.

Sorry - don't understand "Brazilianization". Can you explain?

Heading towards a society of Brazil-type inequality, where land and other productive assets are owned by a small, very wealthy minority -- and the accompanying inequality, class divides, crime, etc.

Definitely going in that direction. There will be blood on the streets when the people wake up to it.

It will end at some point. However You have to remember 62% of New-Zealander's still own there own home. This is down from a high of 74% in 1991. People are generally selfish on the inside, so these people have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of inflated housing prices. However I imagine as time goes on & this home ownership % number continues to drop, political parties that advocate for housing tax reform will start to gain traction. Eventually you will see taxes introduced to curb investors in favour of owner occupiers.

That's not quite right - that's the number of households that own their own homes, not the number of people. Given that rental households tend to have higher occupancy levels, and that they may include (for example) one household rented by (say) two couples who both want to buy eventually, and a house owned by one person who rents out rooms to others would be classed as an 'owner occupied household' the number of people who rent rather than own (or live in rented accommodation) is edging close to 50%

Adding to scarfies comments...
The 1989 japanese sharemkt crash, the .dotcom crash, and the 2007 usa housing/ sharemkt crash all happened when the Central banks started raising rates to " cool" things down.
Ie. They started closing the " tap" ...a little bit.

Scarfie, Wall street and main street are moving in opposite direction so one of them has to give way to change direction and in current scenario it is not very difficult to guess.

Yeah reserve bank and government does not want and will do anything to keep asset price higher but at what cost and will they be able to continue printing money, have doubts. Just like Life cycle (even kings and billioners are not able to live forever ) economy cycle has to run its course.

One can delay the Inevitable by ventilator and other life support measures but cannot avoid the cycle. So is matter of time and not IF but WHEN which no one knows even the experts or reserved bank or government.

Agree that it has not happened since long but it does not meant that can never happen. A person not knowing swimming may not drown in 5 feet of water but than every additional inch is fatal and may be we are at that stage - Think

When any bubble is at peak, it alwas feel that it cannot burst infact even the thought of it slowing down seems unlikely though fundamentals speaks otherwise.

Also normally affect of recession are felt 6 months to 9 months from when it starts and if NZ maintains the way it is now will be out of it very fast but if it falls in comming months than worst is yet to come.

Do any of the more knowledgeable investors on here have any thoughts on a possible share market crash. It appears to have the hall marks of other 'pre-crash' periods in history.

See Scarfie's comment above

Read Ray Dalio's work on economic history and cycles:
https://www.principles.com/the-changing-world-order/

Thanks. Yes, I'm familiar with it but I'm just wondering what commentators here think about the stability of the share market given its crazy rise. Even with all the stimulus at play there are such differing opinions out there as to whether we are on the precipice Vs it maintaining the climb.

18
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Anyone watch the "young leaders debate" last night.

Tame asked all leaders if house prices needed to drop for housing to become affordable. All dodged the question except for Swarbrick who stated "yes". Rather telling I thought....

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Pretty much sum's it up. Good politics by the Green's really. They are now the only party that supports affordable housing. Or at least has a policy platform which would create affordable housing. The other parties just have fluff when it comes to this issue.

National and especially Labour's representatives were appalling...it was all waffle and you could see the cogs clocking over in their heads trying to say something that would be as ambiguous as possible without actually providing an answer.

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Politicians essentially cannot afford to admit they are out of control. there are only two options for housing to become more affordable - house prices come down or wages go up. Can't see the second one happening, or if it does house prices and rents will rise to absorb them, essentially maintaining the status quo

I believe the current government's policies around upskilling and retraining is a step in the right direction for sustained wage growth around the country. There is no silver bullet to boosting wage growth but Covid has presented policymakers with an opportunity to shift our mainstay industries to more productive ones that will help create stable, well-paying jobs.

Even businesses are more in favour of Labour's long-term approach over National's usual short-term stimuli. In Deloitte's most recent Mood of the Boardroom survey, Robertson received the highest approval rating of 91.45% for any Cabinet minister over any government in the survey's 19-year history.

we need to have a way to incentivize companies to train people, to upskill, when i came through all my training was paid for now companies wont even pay for a simple one day course and employee may need to do their job better.
if you see in the news the fishing industry is now promising to train NZ people and pay them better if they can bring in their imports to man the ships in the short turn, that used to be a big kiwi employer 20 years ago
same with the building industry, ever since we did away with telecom, air nz, MOW, railways we have not been training the apprentices and engineers needed to come through to private industry, instead we import them

True. the fishing industry is now promising to train NZ people and pay them better if they can bring in their imports

People don't seem to know this but what you mentioned are results of the current government's sector agreements. MBIE has negotiated agreements with specific sectors that are high users of lower-skilled temporary workers.

These agreements allow those sectors to import workers over a certain period and in return require them to actively invest in training up locals so as to reduce long-term reliance on imports.

City Rail Link (CRL) currently has 92 foreign tunnelers in its employ, and is lobbying government to allow it to bring in a further 170 skilled tunnelers and miners as skilled workers

all our miners have gone to aussie because pay and conditions are better

Are you sure that these policies will actually upskill and retrain people? or is this just another reasonable soundbite? I am very sceptical of NZ education system when it comes to training and skilling.

The long term change in maths performance over the period of participation of New Zealand in PISA shows one of the strongest decreases among PISA-participating countries and economies. (-7 PISA Score, rank 36/38 , 2018) (https://gpseducation.oecd.org/CountryProfile?primaryCountry=NZL&treshold...)
The long term change in reading performance over the period of participation of New Zealand in PISA shows one of the strongest decreases among PISA-participating countries and economies. (-4 PISA Score, rank 22/29 , 2018)( same source)

I doubt that NZ education system is fit for training and upskilling anyone. They need to first train and upskill themselves, take an inventory of what they actually need and do not have, and develop an objective achievement standard and goal to measure skills and academic achievement against.

But with the house prices being what they are, take a think about what the wages will need to be for them to be affordable? Even currently those wages are out of reach if we are to target a factor of 3 to 5 times the average wage, AND we would have to prevent further house price growth. And all this growth in a finite system makes it either highly destructive or unsustainable or both.

Housing market may not crash but it can soften a little bit and the craziness witnessing now is beyond understanding though interest rates are low but the rising house price have already offset the falling interest rate for FHB.

Many under FOMO are stretching beyond so is risky if either their situation changes or if house market softens even slightly.

it was a good debate, i liked the part where national said they would do away with university free fees , but the reason he gave was bad, because a graduate would make a million more over a lifetime, and chloe came back with, really teachers, nurses make that much. he is only young and already out of touch
the greens and NZ first have the close to the same policy amazing
, NZ first is pay back a dollar for we forgive a dollar if you work in NZ
Explore options to introduce a debt write-off scheme that limits the individual burden of debt while incentivizing graduates to contribute to New Zealand.

I was particularly impressed with NZF's policy proposals as well.

NZ National's speaker also missed the chance to talk about their proposed 1000 scholarships a year for domestic STEM students.

Albert...
Just watched the debate. I dont think there was anything telling about Swarbricks' quick "yes".
Felt like the response of a "politician" to me.

A dumb question from Tame... I thought.

Of all the young leaders...I liked the NZfirst young leader the best.. Spoke commonsense and expressed straightforward ideas, without sledging anyone..
just my view, based on a quick watch of a video.

It wasn't a dumb question at all...either you belive house prices need to come down or you don't. Those that don't are not fit to be promoting improved housing affordability as their policy position.

US Restrictions on Chinese Chip Maker Major Escalation in ‘Cold War’

https://thesoundingline.com/david-roche-us-restrictions-on-chinese-chip-...

When individuals can't or won't, borrow any more to keep the Debt machine turning, regardless of the cost on new debt, how do you force them to keep taking on debt?
A possible answer: Keep them away from work for a few weeks/month and create the debt for them in lieu of the regular wages.
The New Debt may not be in their name, individually, but collectively it is - as 'Government' Debt. And there you go! A trillion or two more in existence that wasn't there before to keep the wheels of consumption and speculation grinding. Not that I'm a "cough" ( whoops! Better go an have a long cotton bud put down my nose) conspiracy theorist or anything....but it makes you think.

George Gammon and/or Robert Kiyosaki did a video on this topic. And it made me wonder why we have private banks at all by the end of it. Everyone just maintains a line of credit with the central bank and its based upon character rather than creditworthiness. Because I mean right now, without government intervention..how many households would fail to be credit worthy? So why support a private banking system that appears outdated and pays executives millions of dollars per year to keep a failing status quo?

Totally agree. When growth was possible without wrecking the planet (was low-scaled, in other words) some thing or some body had to issue the growth-jelly. It was issued as interest (I'd argue profit contributed, and may be in trouble too) and was a forward bet.

Now there's not enough to bet on, so no need to justify interest (as we're seeing; they're pushing with limp spaghetti and no growth ensues). So no banks of immediate-past model. Let 'em go.

Yep, this is what is befuddling the UK health minister.

Its looking more and more likely that a travel bubble between NZ and at least parts of Australia will be opened before Xmas.

Happy days.

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Rich New Zealanders greed will be the downfall of us all.

Appears that its going to be the downfall of western society imo.

Didn't Peter Beck take venture capital from the CIA and has a former CIA official on his board? The problem for NZ is that we are now (for the first time) a strategic military target. Rocket Lab is embedded in the US military complex launching rockets for the US military from NZ. Link

.
Russia claims these are peacemakers - can we afford an effective missile defence shield?
Which political party sought a mandate?

Firstly Rocket Lab are opening up a launch site in the US, so most of their work will move to there.

And I'd take a different view of the missiles. I think Putin and his allies are doing the same thing that the US Military Industrial complex did in the 50s, 60's and 70's and probably would still do it if they could, and that is talking up an enemy at home to get the funds for their own home grown military industrial complex. Besides the Russians love authoritarian rulers so Putin looks good to his people when he tells them they've got these and their military is active in the Middle East, and of course the old enemy - the US, is still there, and a threat.

Share buy backs are interesting. Equity is the most expensive form of finance (as shareholders are the last people who have a claim over a company's asset thus they have the higher risk and expect the highest return). So from a financial management perspective, reducing equity by debt (especially if debt is cheap, as has been over the past few years) may make sense. But equity is also credit risk reducing. The more equity you have, the more resilient you will be in face of hardship. There is no demand on cash flows that can make you go under, unlike debt. So any company must think very carefully about maintaining a reasonable balance between their cost of capital and their liquidity and credit risk, which is very hard to do in practice though.

Plus their CEO would have got the job on a promise of raising the share price. The fact that he has largely done this, or at least held it up, by burning the Airline's cash reserves will mean nothing to many. And in 2013, or even 2019 no one could see the pandemic and its effects coming. They just expected BAU, so the share buy backs are understandable, especially as those shares can be used as incentives and part payments to company executives. They were really just feathering their own nests.

This snow storm must be killing stock all over the South Island, I am seeing photos from friends with snow a foot deep in the middle of lambing. Hate to be a cow on one of those big corporates or a lamb spat out onto a foot of snow in a howling southery, we are nearly in October and we get this.

A friend lost his son yesterday in a 4 wheeler accident, young family, farmers are really pushing themselves these days.

Who'w be a farmer? https://www.weatherwatch.co.nz/content/looking-back-big-snow-of-1992

I moved to Aussie 1st week of September and if my recall is correct the RNZAF were helicoptering in hay to stranded lifestock.

I was staying on Rangitoto Island in 2011 and was snowed on!