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'We are not in a hurry'

Good morning! The government's vaccine booking website had "technical difficulties" within hours of launching yesterday. But it's all good, because according to the Health Department's Brendan Murphy, apparently "we are not in a hurry in Australia".

Sounds like a cop out to us.

Market Wrap: ASX gets the jitters

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Note: Brent oil, gold bullion and iron ore prices are the front month future contracts.

The ASX 200 was down 0.5% yesterday, with everyone waiting with bated breath for Fed Chairperson Jerome Powell to reveal the Fed's plan.

Powell speaks: Following a two-day Federal Reserve meeting, Fed Chair Powell said it was too early to even discuss tightening any of the measures currently in place to support the economy. He also revealed this year's expected rise in inflation won't be counted toward its goal of keeping inflation moderately above 2% for 'some time' before raising rates. That was despite an optimistic statement, with the Fed raising its outlook for both economic growth and the labor market.

Markets loved it: The S&P 500 (+0.29%), Dow Jones (+0.58%) and NASDAQ (+0.40%) all rallied from session lows late in the day following the statement.

Econ Wrap: Crushing the buy now, pay later fad

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has entered the fray, launching a product to take on buy now, pay later (BNPL) market leader Afterpay (a Westpac ally) and the wacky-name cohort of Zip Co, Sezzle, Humm and Splitit.

Stepping back: BNPL is all the rage. Essentially they operate as credit cards but without the credit check or regulatory barriers. They're extremely popular and lucrative, with Afterpay's share price rising over 800% since the start of 2019.

But how: BNPL providers generate their revenue from merchant (around 4% per transaction) and non-payment fees. They are essentially engaged in regulatory arbitrage, taking advantage of the lower barrier to entry (no mandatory credit checks) and price differential (the merchant fee) between themselves and traditional, regulated credit cards. Merchants have to grit their teeth and accept the higher BNPL fee, because the government's 'no surcharge' rules currently prevent them from passing the higher cost on to consumers.

Buy now, pay later revenue sources.
Nassim Khadem/ABC

CBA's decision to enter the BNPL space could trim those margins – it only plans to charge merchants around 1.4%. Not that Afterpay shareholders were concerned; it finished up 1.2% yesterday despite CBA's announcement.

Elsewhere: In a warning of what's to come for Australia, Kiwi house prices increased 21.5% from a year earlier in Feb, the fastest rate in 17 years. The Chief Economist at New Zealand's largest mortgage lender, ANZ, said: "The pressure [to raise interest rates] will be building. That reflects a mix of … higher inflationary expectations as the global economic recovery gains speed and strength. The market's looking forward, saying either central banks are going to hike rates to head off inflation, or that there will be inflation".

Corona Wrap: European incompetence

Boris is happy he's no longer in the EU.
Someone's happy he's no longer in the EU. RNZ/BBC

This would be sad if it weren't true. More European nations suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday – despite guidance to the contrary from the bloc's drugs regulator – at the same time as Australia begged the European Union (EU) to send some of its growing stash to Papua New Guinea, where new cases doubled each week in February.

  • Did you know: The EU has received 14 million doses from AstraZeneca so far, with almost 8 million sitting unused due to the recent suspensions and public scepticism.

Tens of millions of AstraZeneca doses have been administered around the world and no causative link has been found between patients' conditions and the vaccine. If the EU doesn't want to use it, then send it to a country that will. Disgraceful, really.


  • Phase 1B of Australia's vaccine rollout commences on Monday for those aged over 70 years. However, most GPs will only receive between 50 to 100 doses initially, meaning it could be a long wait.
  • Vaccine passports are here – Greece and Iceland announced that they will soon allow entry to all visitors bearing proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Sport Wrap: Injecting some Neymar into the AFL?

Classic Neymar.
Will we see some of this? Tenor

Talk about last minute. Less than 36 hours before the start of the season, the AFL has passed a rule change to allow clubs to replace an injured player with a '23rd man' – a previously-selected squad member not in the team's starting 22.

Here's the catch: The call is to be made by the club doctor, who can only sub a player out if he or she believes the injury will sideline the player for at least 12 days. However, the player only needs to miss that time if they're concussed. In other words, it's rife for exploitation.

All fun and games: Asked if clubs might exploit it, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan responded with "Well, that's part of the contest isn't it?". 🤔🤣

Elsewhere: Team New Zealand have retained the America's Cup, defeating Luna Rossa from Italy. It's the fourth time Team NZ have claimed the Mug and they became the second nation outside of the USA to win it back-to-back.