September 24, 2021

COVID-19 … IMPACTS AND DEVELOPMENTS

  • Office vacancies in Canada are at the highest level since 1994.
    • Canadian office vacancy rate is 15.7% Q3 2021 vs 15.3% Q2 2021
    • Toronto 13.7% vacancy rate, Vancouver 7.4%, Montreal 14.7%, Calgary 30.1%
  • Quebec is offering bonuses of up to $18,000 to attract 4,300 nurses (many who have quit or gone part-time during the pandemic) back to full time in the public system…total cost $1 billion.
  • Nearly 1,000,000 US kids under 18 have COVID-19. (74.2 million kids under 18 in the US)
    • 2,000 (of 130,930) US schools are closed, up 18% from previous week
    • 2020-21 school year most US schools were offering online only
  • US National Education Association said 32% of those no longer teaching were driven away by the pandemic which exacerbated attrition, burn-out and stress.
  • Germany will no longer provide wage subsidies to unvaccinated workers who miss work.

CRYPTOCURRENCY

  • China’s central bank said that all cryptocurrency transactions are illegal.
    • Vowed to ‘root out’ all mining of digital assets
    • “Cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Tether, are not fiat currency and cannot be circulated”
    • Chinese banks are already prohibited from offering crypt-related services

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

  • China will no longer build coal power plants overseas, accelerating support for low-carbon energy.
    • 2 major Chinese banks funded $166 billion in overseas fossil fuel investments since 2008
      • Oil represented $75.8 billion and coal $51.6 billion
  • Volvo says that by 2030, all their vehicles will be electric and leather-free (vegan).
  • Demand for natural gas is rebounding around the world and causing increased prices as they try to refill the pipelines.
    • As natural gas prices are soaring, fertilizer plants are shutting down
    • Fertilizer plants are closed due to the high cost of natural gas (major input cost)
    • CO2 is a by-product of fertilizer production…UK Government is paying CF Fertilisers UK Ltd. to reopen fertilizer production plants to ease CO2 shortage
    • UK meat processers are running out of CO2 for food packaging, breweries and pop manufacturers are running out of CO2, and there is a shortage of dry ice for shipping
  • Mark Carney, former Governor of Bank of Canada and Bank of England, sees $2.6 trillion per year in infrastructure investment opportunities (2% of global GDP).

TIDBITS

  • 185,120 Albertans were collecting EI in July down 1.9% from June’s 188,700.
    • July 2021 number is 244% higher than pre-pandemic (Feb 2020)
    • 89% of unemployed Albertans are receiving EI vs 30% pre-pandemic
    • Temporary changes to federal EI were put in place in September 2020 and are set to expire at the end of September 2021
  • Mercedes is teaming up with Stellantis NV and TotalEnergies SE to increase the scale of their European battery venture to $8.2 billion. (Mercedes will own 33% stake in Automotive Cells)
  • US household net worth increased $5.8 trillion (4.3%) to $141.7 trillion in Q2, aided by equities and real estate holdings.
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill limiting warehouse employers from setting productivity quotes (first legislation of its kind in the US).