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Good for some

Good morning! You may have heard that ATAGI changed its AstraZeneca advice again over the weekend, this time stating that "all individuals aged 18 years and above in Greater Sydney... should strongly consider getting vaccinated with any available vaccine, including AstraZeneca".

Look, it's a start. Blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine might kill tens of Australians. A COVID-19 outbreak could kill many more, both directly from the virus but also indirectly from repeated lockdowns (e.g. excess deaths due to social isolation, increased drug abuse, missed cancer screenings). AstraZeneca should be "strongly considered" for every adult not currently eligible for Pfizer.

Yet that needn't be the case – other than the botched ordering process, one reason why Pfizer is so scarce is because ATAGI still recommends a 3-6 week wait between doses, despite the fact that increasing the gap to a more optimal 8 weeks could nearly double Australia's supply in the short-term, with even a single dose about 80% effective at preventing hospitalisation or death.


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Note: Brent oil, gold bullion and iron ore prices are the second futures contract.

The US S&P500 jumped 1.01% to finish the week at another record high, with positive earnings results from social media companies (big gainers included Twitter +4.2%, Snap Inc +22.5% and Facebook +6.7%) propelling the index higher.

Singapore prices: Overall inflation in Singapore hit a seven-year high of 2.4% in June, the six straight monthly increase. However, it's unlikely to last due to recently tightened restrictions on activity in Singapore and "in many regional economies that are Singapore's key trading partners".

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Good for some

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on specific sectors. The top half of town – able to work from home, with higher incomes and a greater ability to borrow at record-low rates – has done remarkably well. The same cannot be said for small business, young people and those in the services sector, who generally can't work during lockdowns.

By the numbers: A new study from the UK found that the pandemic's effects on asset prices alone raised wealth levels by as much as 7% in the middle of the wealth distribution, which happens to hold the largest share of housing assets. In dollar terms, "the median family gained £7,800 in wealth per adult, [while] those at the richest 10 per cent of households have gained a little over £50,000. The poorest 30 per cent of the wealth distribution gained just £86".

On the weekend, NAB – which has 900,000 small business customers – said there was a "40% increase in calls from customers this week as restrictions on the movement of workers in Sydney and the closing of retail and construction activity hit home". Meanwhile, ANZ reported that its business clients "who boast upward of $100 million in annual revenue... are keen to leverage low interest rates and complete deals", with M&A activity at a 10-year high.

Chart showing how rich customers have been able to borrow at record-low interest rates.
Rich customers have been able to borrow at record-low interest rates to acquire assets. FT

Why this matters: Small businesses are suffering at the same time as larger, wealthier and more politically connected individuals and companies are using record-low interest rates, courtesy of the world's central banks, to expand their balance sheets. The growing wealth divide may have longer-term consequences, not just on the well-being of those in the bottom 30% but also on institutions, as the distribution of political power becomes more unequal.

Tokyo 2020 🗼

The big news over the weekend was that Australia's Ash Barty unexpectedly crashed out in the first round of the women's tennis singles, while our women's 4x100m freestyle relay team picked up Australia's first gold and a new world record to boot.

Tropical Storm Nepartak could create some scheduling issues from tomorrow, with officials "confident" they can keep triathletes clear of sewage during their ocean swim. 💩

Gold medal tally 🥇
6 🇨🇳 China
5 🇯🇵 Japan
4 🇺🇸 United States
1 🇦🇺 Australia

The Wrap Up

  • 💉 The federal government secured a deal with Pfizer for 60 million booster doses in 2022 and a further 25 million in 2023.
  • ✊ Lockdown protests erupted in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne over the weekend, with "thousands of angry, unmasked people... demanding an end to the city's lockdown".
  • 👍 Australia's drug regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration approved Pfizer for those aged 12 to 15 years.
  • 👎 New South Wales has only used 145,000 of the almost one million doses allocated to it by the federal government.
  • 🥝 New Zealand closed the travel bubble with all of Australia for two months.
  • ⬆️ Is inflation imminent? "The worst thing you could have done in the 1970s would have been to trust the bond market."
  • 🥐 Protests continue in France, with tens of thousands of people marching "across the country against a bill requiring everyone to have a special virus pass to enter restaurants and mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all health care workers".
  • ❌ People in the UK are deleting their contact tracing apps due to the "pingdemic", with over 600,000 people asked to isolate last week alone.
  • ⚠️ Dissent in the ranks – Australia's former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said that the "the risk-averse experts" at ATAGI "will now cost lives in our community".
  • 🦗 Australia was comprehensively beaten by the West Indies in the second of three ODIs.
  • 🐱‍💻 TikTok's algorithm is genius in its simplicity, using only one piece of information to build a profile: how long you linger on a video.