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The Cambridge Weekly – 29 November 2021

 

New COVID variant flattens ‘Black Friday’ feeling

It was a Thanksgiving week of mixed news. The European COVID case surge was surpassed in negative impact by the fears of a new variant emanating from South Africa. US markets hit new highs just before the holiday, but Black Friday felt a bit dark. In itself, a new variant is not surprising. New variants are always a risk, but each of the past ones has been dealt with by the vaccines. Still, we cannot be complacent, and the next few days will be subject to uncertainty as the world waits for more information.

 

Germany’s traffic light coalition starts revving up

After two months of negotiations, Germany’s traffic light coalition government is set to go. Chancellor-to-be Olaf Scholz announced last Wednesday that an agreement had been reached between his own Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). It will be Germany’s first three way coalition since the 1950s, and will see Scholz succeed Europe’s foremost political stalwart Angela Merkel next month.

 

Japan makes another bid for economic blast-off

Regular readers will know that currency values – in particular the US dollar – are a key ingredient for our investment outlook. How ‘expensive’ or ‘cheap’ the dollar is against its peers has a big impact on businesses, equities and bonds throughout the world. On that front, we note that the last few weeks have seen a moderate uptick for the US currency. Moderate against most major currencies, at least, but one particular pairing stands out. Against the yen, the dollar has been trending consistently upward throughout the year. At the time of writing, $1 will buy you just over 115JPY. That is the most expensive the dollar has been (or, conversely, the cheapest the yen has been) since 2017. That is quite some cheapening for Japan’s currency.

 

 

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