Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

See no inflation, hear no inflation, speak no inflation

Written by Maria Julia Pieraccioni, associate
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner

13 September 2021

Good morning,

Over the past few months, the term ‘inflation’ has come to be more closely associated with a nose-less, bald, unmanicured dark wizard of the Harry Potter saga, than with a criterion for healthy economies—a You-Know-Who or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named for economists worldwide. The term itself has garnered quite a following for those suspicious of governments being able to deal with the fallouts of high spending packages peddling interventionist labour policies. It leaves an “I told you so” aftertaste, and, quite frankly, seems to suck the life out of the party.

However, this week will be a banner moment for economic inflation worldwide, and we, unfortunately, must address it.

On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will publish labour market data, which investors expect will delineate exactly how much pressure labour shortages are putting on the Bank of England. The UK central bank has taken a cautionary stance up until now, but continued labour shortages may fuel inflation if it results in companies raising wages and product prices. Its position has always been that unemployment has peaked already in the past 18 months. However, the effects of Brexit and ramp up in consumer demand will no doubt come to the forefront as the economy adjusts for the tapering of the furlough scheme.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics is expected to publish consumer price index data for the American economy on Tuesday as well. While rising inflation was seen as a natural result of the government’s trillion-dollar stimulus package and increased consumer demand post-lockdown, investors are eyeing the report in search of inflation in sectors less sensitive to pandemic-related disruptions. Energy, food and other volatile items have led to forecasts of a 5.3% inflationary increase in the CPI index, which, if true, will signal a 13-year high for the US economy. However, if other sectors report significant change in price, it is likely the Federal Reserve may have to change its monetary policy and increase interest rates.

The banner week for inflation ends on Friday, with Eurostat following suit and releasing key inflation figures. The consensus on the continent is that inflation will be slightly above the European Central Bank’s target of 2.0%, worrisome for the euro, which has fared well in recent months against a basket of its peers, but also for the outcome of the spending package the central bank approved earlier this year. Getting less bang for your buck is not exactly a position the eurozone can afford to be in.  

While researching for today, I stumbled across a series of videos on social media asking the age-old question, “why can’t we just print more money?” The current state of Latin America—where economies such as Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico are leading the pack in inflationary alarm bells—is a cautionary tale against tipping one’s luck in the inflation game. It does not simply disappear if central banks don’t see it, hear it, or speak of it.

News

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Sunday that a Scottish independence referendum will not go ahead until the Covid-19 crisis is under control and pressure is relieved from the NHS. Later in the day, delegates at the Scottish National Party’s online conference backed a draft referendum bill to be brought forward “at the earliest moment”.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce the government is scrapping plans for covid vaccine passports this week. On Tuesday, the prime minister will announce the government’s plans to keeping Covid under control over the winter, and scrapping Covid vaccine passports has been seen as a significant concession to Conservative backbenchers. (£)

As the world anxiously awaits to see how the Taliban government will rule Afghanistan, its Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani announced that women will be allowed to study, albeit under very different circumstances. The minister said that Afghan universities will be segregated by gender and women will be enforced to adhere to a new Islamic dress code. However, since seizing control, women, except in the public health sector, having been intimated into staying away from work.

Business and economy

Marks and Spencer is considering closing its shops in France, after customs arrangements between the UK and the EU have caused significant delivery delays to the British food retailer. M&S is the latest British company to suffer from the UK’s post-Brexit decision to not align with the EU’s customs requirement and food safety regulation. (£)

American investment fund Causeway Capital increased its share in British retail giant WH Smith to 9.05% this month, making the fund the company’s largest single shareholder. Causeway Capital is expected to shake up WH Smith’s board, as investors note that the “activist fund” has made similar demands on Rolls Royce, a company the fund has a significant investment in.

Salesforce announced that it will assist it employees and their families relocate from Texas if they fear they will be targeted after the state passed the US’s most restrictive abortion law. Salesforce has long championed social causes and corporate responsibility and its CEO, Marc Benioff, tweeted on Friday night, “Ohana if you want to move we’ll help you exit TX. Your choice.”

Columns of note

 Rosie Kinchen debunks the hotly-peddled myth of ‘girl power’ in this piece in The Times. Kinchen cites countless anecdotes of women who continue to face the harsh realities of trying to juggle building a career with caring for a family – but her anecdotes are not just that. Recent research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that 54,000 women were pushed out of jobs when they went on maternity leave. Four hundred thousand working mothers who manage to stay experience yearly negative or discriminatory behaviour. Kinchen argues that myths such as ‘girl power’ and ‘leaning in’ only set up women for failure: no matter the vision, effort and sacrifice if the rules of the game remain rigged. (£)

Meanwhile, David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters analyse complex lockdown-related depression and suicide data trends in this piece in The Guardian. Erroneously reported by various news outlets during the pandemic, the authors make a startling discovery while scouring the pages of the latest report by the ONS. It revealed that suicides in England and Wales were 13% below the 2015-2019 average. The authors also cite other research in which they found that rates of suicide fell or remained the same among the world’s 21 richest countries. While this certainly does not relay the full extent of behavioural changes because of the pandemic, it is certainly a hopeful statistic that not everything is as grim as we may think. 

Cartoon source: The New Yorker

Markets

The week ahead

Investors will have much to digest this week, as public-traded companies and central banks alike publish telling data on the trajectory of global economic recovery.

Monday will see the highly anticipated OPEC monthly oil market report, as well as Heathrow Airport’s monthly traffic figures. On Tuesday, the British Retail Consortium will publish its quarterly jobs report followed by the ONS’s publication of labour market data, which will provide further evidence of how the British pandemic recovery is faring after last week’s disappointing UK growth figures. In the US, the Bureau of Labour Statistics will publish its CPI inflation data. Tuesday will see the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly convening in New York ahead of COP26 in November.

On Wednesday, Eurostat will publish the EU’s industrial production figures, accompanied by the ONS’s release of British producer price index and CPI data, as well as its publication of the monthly index of housing rental and sale prices. In the US, the Bureau of Labour Statistics will release its Import and Export price indices, while the Federal Reserve will publish its industrial production figures. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will also deliver the highly anticipated State of the EU speech at the European parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

Thursday is expected to be relatively quiet, while Friday is a big day for investors worldwide, whose eyes remain peeled on Eurostat’s inflation figures for the European continent and on the Russian parliamentary elections. 

What’s happening today?

Finals

Abcam

Dianomi

Itm Power

Interims

Blackbird

Gaming Realms

Greencoat Rene.

Henry Boot   

Iqgeo

M.p. Evans

S4 Cap.

Spectral Md

Surface Transforms

Verici Dx

Xpediator

Trading Announcements

AB Foods

AGMs

Firstgroup

Warehouse Reit

Final Dividend Payment Date

Argentex Group.

Interim Dividend Payment Date

Astrazeneca

Games Workshop

Lloyds

Rentokil Initial

Quarterly Payment Date

Seplat Energy

Special Dividend Payment Date

Kkv Sec Loan C

Kkv Sec Loan

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The human brain runs on 20 watts of electricity – enough to power a dim light bulb.

(Source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions

Work and Pensions (including Topical Questions)

Legislation

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill: Consideration in Committee and Remaining Stages

Adjournment

Levelling Up agenda in the North

Westminster Hall Debate

e-petition 586700, relating to funding and affordability of childcare

e-petition 563380, relating to HS2

House of Lords 

Introduction(s)

Baroness Casey of Blackstock

Oral questions

Prevalence and medical screening regarding gambling disorder among members of the armed forces

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and internal combustion engine fuelled by hydrogen as alternatives to battery-powered electric vehicles

Extra support for family carers in light of the delay to social care reforms

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office representations to priority countries listed in its Human Rights and Democracy Report 2020, and case for human rights clauses in future trade agreements

Legislation

Environment Bill – report stage (day 3)

Debate

Debate on the report from the European Union Committee ‘The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland’ & the report from the European Affairs Committee’s Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland ‘Introductory report’

Scottish parliament 

No business scheduled.

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