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Shorting euro means taking on Pentagon and ECB

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That is a hard blow to French efforts to enlist Germany in its project of an “autonomous European security structure.”

The French media also see more trouble for their young and enthusiastic president. Berlin apparently is not ready to cooperate in what it considers to be new, expensive and unnecessary layers of European bureaucracy to implement proposals of euro area reforms submitted by the French government last year.

Does that mean that the European Union and the euro area will soon be falling apart?

Not at all. The anti-EU forces are in retreat everywhere. Even the erstwhile Euro-skeptics among the key contenders for power in Italy’s elections on March 4 are now all pro-European, the only qualification being that they would not submit to any German hectoring.

How about the economic and financial developments? Do they offer reasonable euro-asset shorting bets?

I don’t see that either. Here is why.

The monetary union’s growth dynamics have rarely been better since the euro was adopted as a single currency on January 1, 1999. In the third quarter of last year, the euro area GDP grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent. The only growth rates of 3 percent, or slightly above, were recorded in 2006 and 2007, but that will probably be matched when the data for the euro area’s fourth quarter get in.

The employment picture looks good, too. The euro area jobless rate eased to 8.7 percent at the end of 2017, down from a 12 percent peak in 2013, with shortages of skilled labor noted in Germany and France.

Problems of public finances? Yes, gross government liabilities in the euro area were estimated at 107 percent of GDP last year. That is very far from the objective of 60 percent of GDP, but that is still sharply down from 112 percent of GDP observed in 2014. Apart from that, high-debt countries like Greece, Italy and Portugal are running primary budget surpluses (budget balances before interest charges on public debt) ranging from 2.4 percent of GDP (Italy) to 6.7 percent of GDP (Greece) — which means that debt liabilities are stabilizing on a declining trend.

All those high-debt euro area countries are under pressure to balance their budgets over the next two years. I believe most of them will do it because, at the moment, only Spain and France are running deficits of more than 2 percent of GDP.

How about contingent liabilities from banking sector problems? As far as I know, speculations about serious difficulties on that score are focusing on only one euro area country, where government bailouts, if allowed by the euro area regulations, could trigger public debt issues.

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IPOs on track for record year as companies cash in on sky-high stock prices

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), July 21, 2021.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

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Initial public offerings have come roaring back, on track for a record year as companies race to go public in a stock market at all-time highs.

Proceeds from U.S. IPOs have reached $89 billion in 2021, a 232% jump from the same period last year, according to data from Renaissance Capital. For the year-to-date period, the market is already at a record level in terms of funds raised, and it is expected to surpass the full-year all-time high of $97 billion raised in 2000 amid the dot-com boom, according to Renaissance.

“The valuations companies can get in the IPO market are high, historically,” said Matthew Kennedy, senior IPO market strategist at Renaissance Capital. “We attribute much of it to a decades-long buildup of unicorns and VC funding.”

Companies from stay-at-home tech to health-care innovators to e-commerce players are taking advantage of a booming stock market that keeps refreshing its record on the back of optimism toward the economic reopening. The IPO boom also coincides with the rising force of retail investors who are eager to own a piece of their favorite companies.

A total of 250 IPOs have priced in 2021, up 191% from the same period last year and already beating 2020’s total number of IPOs at 218, according to Renaissance Capital.

At least nine IPOs this year saw their shares doubling from their offering prices. E-Home Household Service, a Chinese housekeeping and home appliance service company, has surged more than 300% since its market debut in May.

Biotech Verve Therapeutics, ZIM Integrated Shipping, an Israeli container shipping company, as well as dLocal, an online payments firm in emerging markets, are among the top-performing IPOs this year.

The rebound in traditional IPO activities came as the SPAC market cooled down amid heightened regulatory pressure. After a record first quarter, special purpose acquisition company issuance fell 87% in the second quarter as regulators ramped up crackdown efforts, according Barclays data.

– CNBC’s Gina Francolla and Nate Rattner contributed to this story.

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BioNTech says it plans to develop an mRNA vaccine to prevent malaria

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The headquarters of German immunotherapy company BioNTech stands on April 22, 2020 in Mainz, Germany.

Thomas Lohnes | Getty Images

German drugmaker BioNTech announced Monday it plans to develop an mRNA-based vaccine to prevent malaria, a life-threatening disease that impacts millions of people worldwide each year.

The company, which developed the United States’ first authorized Covid-19 vaccine with U.S. drugmaker Pfizer, said it is aiming to begin clinical trials testing the shot by the end of 2022.

The World Health Organization, European Commission and other organizations have been involved in the early planning phase of the new vaccine, the company said, and have offered their support to identify and set up the necessary infrastructure.

“The response to the pandemic has shown that science and innovation can transform people’s lives when all key stakeholders work together towards a common goal. We are committed to bringing our innovations to those who need them most,” BioNTech CEO Dr. Ugur Sahin said in a press release.

“Together with our partners, we will do whatever it takes to develop a safe and effective mRNA-based Malaria vaccine that will prevent the disease, reduce mortality and ensure a sustainable solution for the African continent and other regions affected by this disease,” he said.

Malaria is a deadly disease caused by a parasite. There were an estimated 229 million cases of Malaria and at least 409,00 deaths in 2019, according to the World Health Organization. The majority of the cases were in Africa, and children under age 5 are the most vulnerable group affected by the disease.

The development of the new vaccine comes as world continues to deal with the Covid pandemic, which began spreading worldwide in early 2020 and has since killed more than 4.1 million people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Pfizer and BioNTech quickly developed a highly effective mRNA-based vaccine to target the virus. It’s been used in several countries, including the U.S., and is helping drive down the number of infections and deaths.

Messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology has been under development for years, but Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines are the first time mRNA has been cleared for use in humans. The mRNA-based Covid vaccine works by tricking the body to produce a harmless piece of the virus, triggering an immune response. It’s said to be easier to produce over traditional vaccines, which generally use a dead or weakened virus to produce an immune response.

Due to the success of the mRNA Covid vaccine, other drugmakers are looking to develop new vaccines using the technology.

Pfizer, for example, has said it is developing an mRNA-based flu vaccine. Kathrin Jansen, head of Pfizer’s vaccine research and development, told CNBC in May that the technology could create “more potent” shots.

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Floods in Europe and China disrupt global shipping, supply chains

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The floods in China and Europe are yet “another body blow” for global supply chains, the CEO of a shipping firm told CNBC on Monday. 

“Rarely does a week go past without something new,” says Tim Huxley, CEO of Mandarin Shipping. 

Shipping has already seen massive disruptions this year. As parts of the world rebounded from the pandemic, increased spending led to a shortfall of containers, creating delays and driving up prices.

Then in April, one of the world’s largest container ships became wedged in the Suez Canal, halting traffic for nearly a week. The waterway is one of the busiest in the world, with about 12% of trade passing through it.

In June, an uptick of Covid cases in southern China caused more delays at ports in the region, again jacking up shipping prices.

‘Broken railway links’ caused by floods in Europe

Heavy rainfall and flooding have devastated parts of western Europe. Some of the most severe flooding happened in Germany and Belgium. Parts of Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have been affected as well.

“This is really going to disrupt the supply chain because the railway links have all been broken,” Huxley told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

He said that includes railways coming from the Czech Republic and Slovakia into the German ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg, which have been “seriously disrupted.”

“And so that’s going to delay cargo movements in and out,” he said. “It’s gonna really disrupt the industry.”

Huxley pointed to Thyssenkrupp, noting the German steel making giant could not get raw materials due to the flooding.

“That ultimately will have a knock on effect on industries such as the motor industry, domestic appliances and things like that,” he said.

S&P Global Platts reported, citing a letter to customers, Thyssenkrupp declared force majeure on July 16. A force majeure event occurs when unforeseeable circumstances, such as natural catastrophes, prevent one party from fulfilling its contractual duties, absolving them from penalties.

A source at the firm’s mills told S&P Global Platts that parts of the railway in Hagen are “missing,” adding it’s even more difficult than before to get trucks for delivery. Hagen is a city in Western Germany that is among the worst-hit by the floods.

Flooding in landlocked Henan disrupting supply of wheat, coal

Meanwhile, the disruption caused by the flooding in the Chinese province of Henan is made worse by the fact that the province is landlocked, said Huxley.

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The disruption of railways is, again, going to cause a “big impact,” he said. 

“Obviously, that will have an impact on shipping, that will force shipping rates up,” Huxley said. 

The distribution of wheat and coal has been affected, according to Huxley, who pointed out that Henan is the “bread basket” of China and has produced 38 million tons of wheat this summer. 

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