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What about the Dollarydoo?

Good morning! An Auckland airport worker tested positive to COVID-19, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reporting that it was someone who cleans "red zone" planes (i.e. was isolated from the "green zone" travel bubble passengers).

The worker was apparently fully vaccinated and tested positive as part of a routine test – let's hope they manage to contact trace successfully and the travel bubble experiment lasts for longer than a week. 🙏

Market Wrap

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

A positive start to the earnings season wasn't enough to support the US S&P500, which slipped 0.68% last night.

Earnings season: According to DataTrek Research, about 9% of US S&P500 companies have reported March quarter earnings, with 81% of those companies beating expectations – matching the record high from 2008. Now what happened in 2008 again... 🤔

Red gold: China's post-coronavirus stimulus is the gift that keeps on giving. The iron ore price is currently at an 11-year high (it's already at a record high in Australian dollar terms), which is sure to put a smile on new Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm's face. Rio shipped 77.8 million tonnes of iron ore in the March quarter, up 7% from the same quarter in 2020. BHP will release its figures later today.

Losing momentum: Data provided by Sensor Tower showed that downloads of the Clubhouse app fell 72% in March relative to February. Not great news for the fledgling startup, especially as Facebook just decided to make "a push into audio, launching a suite of new features that will allow users to host audio conferences and podcasts".

Spending spree: The CBA found that home buying spending intentions of Australians increased in March to a new series-high, reflecting "both an increase in home loan applications and Google searches... driven largely by the very low level of interest rates". The intention to spend increased in all categories except "retail" and "health and fitness". Given March 2020 was peak coronavirus panic and this is a year-on-year comparison, it makes sense – people now want less toilet paper and more pints, restaurant meals and cinema tickets.

Tech Wrap

What about the Dollarydoo?

Could the Dollarydoo be in Australia's future?
Could the Dollarydoo be in Australia's future? The Simpsons/Giphy

How does anything get started in government? A taskforce is established. Yesterday the UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that Treasury and the Bank of England would do exactly that to explore the potential of a central bank-issued digital currency: the "Britcoin".

Stepping back: Digital currencies are all the rage, with the price of many privately created cryptocurrencies rising in excess of 1,000% over the past year. Then China broke the ice last week with the announcement of a digital yuan (the e-CNY), which no doubt led to many hours of meetings between bureaucrats and politicians trying to decide how to respond.

Cool your jets: China's announcement of a digital yuan created a storm, despite the fact it is neither new nor innovative in any way. It would appear the UK is taking a similar approach, with Britcoin neither "a cryptocurrency nor would it necessarily use the distributed ledger technology that underpins existing cryptocurrencies".

Breaking it down: These government-issued digital currencies are not in any way game changing. The Bahamas already has a "Sand dollar", and Cambodia started issuing "Bakongs" last year. But they're popular in some circles because they allow governments to have even more control over cashless transactions and the associated data, which are currently dominated by payment processing companies (not just banks but also the likes of PayPal, Stripe, Square, Alipay, etc).

Australia has so far resisted the idea of a digital "Dollarydoo", but now that the UK has moved it's only a matter of time before we get our very own taskforce.

The Wrap Up

  • The World Health Organisation said that states should "not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry... [as doing so would] deepen inequities and promote differential freedom of movement". Good luck with that.
  • Buy now, pay later giant Afterpay is planning to list on Wall Street. The AFR opined as to why it makes sense.
  • After nearly 30 years, Michael Keaton will return to play Batman in The Flash. The movie will introduce the idea of the multiverse, allowing Keaton's Batman to coexist with Robert Pattinson's version.
  • According to a new survey by Deloitte, nearly 25% of UK employees want to work from home permanently. On the flip side, 28% want to work in an office permanently. The happy middle ground is for at least two days at home each week, which was the preference for 42% of employees.
  • French soccer giant Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) will reportedly side with Europe's governing body in rejecting plans for a rebel twelve-team, 4 billion euro ($US4.8 billion) Super League financed by JPMorgan. And it seems Chelsea and Manchester City might also be having second thoughts. That was fun while it lasted.
  • The European Medicines Agency found links between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and "very rare" cases of blood clots. However, it said the benefits still outweigh the risks. The US will make a call on its "pause" this Friday (US time).
  • Apple held its first product launch event of the year. It announced a new iMac, an updated iPad Pro with 5G and the M1 chip, along with an AirTag lost-device tracking gadget (sooo... it stole Tile) and a "refreshed" Apple TV 4K with a new remote.