Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

A prickly state of affairs

Written by Li-Ann Chin, associate
Edited by Kevin Pringle,  partner
10 August 2021 

Good morning,

Originating from the region between South Brazil and Paraguay in South America, pineapples were first introduced to Taiwan during the Japanese occupation by industrialists. By the 1930s, Taiwan – aptly nicknamed “Pineapple Kingdom – had become the third-largest exporter of pineapples in the world, with more than 90 varieties of the tropical fruit cultivated in the central and southern parts of the island.
 
In March, pineapples were yet another prickle in rapidly deteriorating cross-strait relations between Taiwan and mainland China after Chinese authorities abruptly banned imports of the fruit from the territory, claiming harmful pests had been detected in recent shipments. Pineapples reportedly make up about 40% of Taiwan’s fruit exports, of which almost 90% are shipped to China. Taiwan labelled the embargo a calculated political decision by Beijing, with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen likening it to an ambush.
 
Beijing has long asserted that there is only “one China” and Taiwan is part of it. The island is viewed as “a renegade province that must be reunited with the mainland by force if necessary”; a claim that Taiwan boldly rejects.  And while China had previously hoped that trade with Taiwan would pave the way for a “reunification”, it appears that Beijing’s goodwill is fast running dry.
 
In retaliation, Taiwanese politicians launched the “freedom pineapple” campaign – a play on “freedom fries” – which urged consumers to buy more of the fruit and support the local agricultural sector.
 
The rallying call worked a treat. Local businesses and restaurants rushed to incorporate pineapples into their dishes, adding the tangy fruit into local delicacies ranging from shrimp balls, fried rice and the Taiwanese national dish of beef noodle soup. The Taiwan Railway Administration introduced limited-edition bento boxes with pineapples as a side dish. Bloomberg reported last week that domestic prices for pineapples surged by 28% in the March-June period – a three year high, with the total value of pineapples sold locally rising 17%.

Japan has now replaced China as Taiwan’s largest export market for pineapples – a political move indicative of Tokyo’s desire to forge closer ties with the island democracy.
 
Amid all of Beijing’s trade and military muscle-flexing, the prickly, tropical fruit has unexpectedly grown across Taiwan into a symbol of defiance and freedom.

News

The world is likely to temporarily reach 1.5c of warming within 20 years even in a best-case scenario of drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, a report by the United Nation’s (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cautioned. Conclusions of the report have been described by UN secretary-general António Guterres as a “code red for humanity.” (£)
 
Violent clashes broke out between anti-vax protesters and police officers yesterday, as some attempted to storm a former BBC studio in White City. Social footage showed officers being pushed and harangued by more than one hundred demonstrators while the protestors chanted “shame on you” and threw objects at the police. (£)
 
Students across the UK are receiving exam results today, with teachers having determined their grades after national exams were cancelled for the second year in a row. Amid concerns surrounding inflated grades, education secretary in England, Gavin Williamson, defended the teacher-assessed grades, stating that students have been awarded their results “on the basis of evidence”. The Scottish government confirmed that grades will not be changed after being made official on Tuesday.

Business and economy

The BBC revealed that former prime minister David Cameron made about $10m from Greensill Capital before the supply chain financing company collapsed in early 2021. It is indicated that more than half ($4.5m) was made after Cameron cashed in his Greensill shares in 2019.
 
A group of Conservative MPs – Mansfield’s Ben Bradley, Sedgefield’s Paul Howell and Darlington’s Peter Gibson – have joined forces with Labour leaders in a campaign to save the eastern route of the planned HS2 railway line to Leeds, which they fear will be axed by Boris Johnson. They have warned Johnson that he would break his pledge to “level up” former industrial areas of the north and midlands if the HS2 project isn’t built in full. (£)
 
A new analysis by kMatrix revealed the UK’s low carbon economy is now worth more than £200bn, four times the size of the country’s manufacturing sector, with growth expected to accelerate in the coming years. Despite patchy support from the UK government, experts have indicated that more than 75,000 businesses across the country employ more than 1.2 million people in the green economy.
 
The Financial Conduct Authority is reportedly set to implement new rules that would allow it to prevent banks from closing high street branches to help ensure consumers and businesses still have access to cash. (£)

Columns of note

Border closures, strict and expensive quarantine restrictions and costly airline tickets have effectively prevented millions of diasporas around the globe from returning home and seeing their loved ones. I, myself, have not had the chance to see my family since January last year. Nesrine Malik writes in The Guardian that hard borders are often driven by political motivations, with the danger of having their legacy carried through into the new normal.
 
Last week, Goldman Sachs joined other major US investment banks – JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Citi, to name a few – in increasing the salaries of its junior staff in response to burnout complaints from new recruits. Will this work? Not likely, Lucy Burton opines. Throwing money at burned-out graduates is an unimaginative solution to persuade a generation that never bought into the cult of overwork in the first place, she writes in The Telegraph. (£)

Cartoon source: The New Yorker

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks ended in a mixed state on Monday, as the FTSE 100 managed to claw back its losses from the day in a late trading session – a result of the intensifying tug-of-war for British inhaler maker Vectura between Marlboro maker Philip Morris and private-equity firm Carlyle.
 
The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.13% at 7132.20, while the FTSE 250 was 0.01% weaker at 23,453.44.
 
Sterling was in negative territory as well, with the currency last trading 0.45% down against the dollar at $1.3851 and 0.04% lower than the euro at €1.1792.
 
Similarly, stocks on Wall Street were a mixed bag on Monday, as investors digested the stronger-than-expected monthly jobs report published last Friday.
 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 0.3% at 35,101.85, while the S&P 500 was down 0.09% at 4432.35. The Nasdaq Composite rallied 0.16% at 14,860.18.

In company news
 
BioNTech raised its forecast for this year’s Covid-19 vaccine sales to €15.9 billion, and confirmed its plans to push forward with testing its messenger RNA technology in cancer.
 
JP Morgan increased junior staff pay across its sales and trading, research and investment banking division, as competition to attract the best talent ramps up amongst the bulge-bracket.
 
Domino’s Pizza Group sold its last remaining franchise in Europe in a move which is expected to allow senior management to focus on its core UK and Ireland operations, as announced previously in October 2019.
 

What’s happening today?

Interims
Abrdn Plc
Derwent London
Flutter Ent
Gamesys Group
Georgia Capital
Marshall Motor
Zotefoams

AGM
Acorn Income
Sdcl Energy Ef.

UK Economic Announcements
(00:01) Retail Sales

Int. Economic Announcements
(10:00) ZEW Survey (EU) – Economic Situation
(10:00) ZEW Survey (GER) – Current Situation
(10:00) ZEW Survey (GER) – Economic Sentiment

Source: Financial Times

did you know?

The Hawaiian pizza – which is traditionally topped with ham and pineapple – was invented in Canada in 1962 by a Greek immigrant named Sam Panopoulos.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess. The House will next sit on 6 September 2021.

Scottish parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess until 30 August.

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