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Lockdown fatigue

Good morning! ScoMo attempted a bit of historical revisionism yesterday, claiming that his "not a race" comments referred only to "the regulation of vaccines", i.e. the TGA's vaccine approval process.

The only problem is that he was still giving that response to specific questions about the pace of the rollout months after AstraZeneca and Pfizer were approved. Whoops.

Meanwhile, NSW reported 110 new local COVID-19 cases, with 43 of them infectious while in the community and another 17 "partially isolated" – the highest number to date. Citing recent modelling, one clinical epidemiologist went so far as to suggest that "this [Sydney's lockdown] will last until the end of August". 😬


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

The US S&P500 shot up another 0.82% yesterday, making it the second straight day of strong gains after the sell-off earlier in the week. Locally, the ASX200 gained 0.78% yesterday following the rebound in the US.

The attention recession: We wrote about this a few weeks ago – the inevitable come-down for businesses that profited from a year of people being "glued to screens". Well we're seeing it first-hand now, with Netflix's subscriber base in North America – where things are starting to return to normal faster than anywhere else in the world – falling by nearly 500k in the second quarter of 2021. The company will no doubt be hoping its forthcoming gaming unit will be able to keep people interested.

Retail slump: Preliminary data for June showed retail sales in Australia fell 1.8% from the prior month, "due to the impact of coronavirus restrictions across multiple states". The survey period included Victoria's 2-week lockdown early last month, as well as the restrictions and eventual lockdown in NSW towards the end of the month.

Pandemic recovery: Japan's exports in the first half of 2021 rose 23.2% from the same period in 2020, the largest year-on-year growth in 11 years (i.e. after the global financial crisis). Shipments to China hit ¥8.6 trillion in the first half of the year, the highest level on record.

A heavy blow: Westpac is forecasting the Australian economy to contract by 0.7% in the September quarter as a result of the trifecta of state lockdowns. However, it expects economic activity to rebound in December, rising 2.5% nationally.

Crypto rally: Bitcoin (+6.1%) and Ethereum (+8.2%) saw strong gains yesterday after Elon Musk, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and ARK Invest founder Cathie Wood sat down for "The B-Word", an attempt to "demystify", "de-stigmatise" and "correct the mainstream narrative" around cryptocurrencies. Musk admitted that his bitcoin, dogecoin and ethereum possessions are "the only significant thing I own outside of Tesla is SpaceX".


Lockdown fatigue

A new survey by research company Resolve Strategic asked eligible voters their views about vaccinations and lockdowns over four days to 17 July. That means it captures the Sydney lockdown but some people would have been polled before Melbourne entered its most recent one on 15 July, and well before South Australia's started.

Why this matters: As we have said before – even though it may not seem possible! – this pandemic grows more political by the day, with a high-stakes federal election required to be held before May 2022. Politicians go where the wind blows, so it's important to know in which direction it's going.

Breaking it down: The survey found that 54% of voters believe that "the use of lockdowns and border restrictions should be phased out over the coming months as more people are vaccinated", with only 19% disagreeing and the remaining 27% on the fence.

Graphic showing recent poll results on future lockdowns and border closures.
People are developing lockdown fatigue. WAToday

Promisingly, only 21% of people said they were unlikely to be vaccinated, down from 29% in May. Given this survey is only for voting age individuals, that means 79% of adults plan to get vaccinated – which is likely very close to the government's to-be-determined vaccination threshold for eliminating lockdowns and relaxing restrictions.

Speaking of which, yesterday ScoMo revealed that modelling to determine the thresholds for Australia's four-step plan for opening up should be "completed by the end of this month".

The Wrap Up

  • 🛂 ScoMo confirmed that Australia "will have a vaccination certificate that will be able to be used internationally [and] recognised to facilitate when people are moving out of the country and into the country".
  • 🥎 The Olympics has started poorly for Australia, with our women's softball team losing 8-1 to Japan in the opening event, ending early under softball's 'mercy rule'.
  • 😤 It got worse from there, too – Australia's Olympic equestrian Jamie Kermond was provisionally suspended from competition for testing positive for cocaine.
  • 🧒 Kids are creating false positive COVID-19 tests to get out of school using acidic juice and soft drinks, which distorts the pH of lateral flow test antibodies (a PCR test still works).
  • 🇷🇺 What are Putin's toilets made out of? 🤔 "Russian traffic officer with golden toilet is arrested after police uncover massive bribery scheme."
  • 🔫 A 76-year old Wisconsin man shot and killed his wife because she was "nagging him".
  • 🔥 Europe is flooding and North America is burning (again) – "Wildfire smoke from the West's massive blazes stretches all the way to the East Coast."
  • 🦠 The Delta variant now makes up 83% of cases in the US.
  • 🏅 Brisbane won its bid to host the 2032 Olympics. We're sure it had everything to do with Annastacia Palaszczuk's trip to Tokyo and not the fact there were no other bidders.
  • 🦗 Australia defeated the West Indies by 133 runs in the first ODI, after Starc and Hazlewood demolished the Windies' top order.