Latin America

Waiving IP rights will not boost vaccine production, says pharma group

Latin America

Exempting Covid-19 vaccines from intellectual property rights will not speed up production or distribution of the jabs, a pharmaceutical industry association argued Tuesday.

Proponents of doing away with IP rights say more companies could produce the vaccine, which could then be used in poorer nations that have yet to receive any jabs.

But the head of a pharmaceutical group said Tuesday that managing the complex logistics of rolling out vaccines was what was slowing down jabs, not patents.

“Taking away patents now or imposing a waiver wouldn’t give you a single dose more,” said Thomas Cueni, the head of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).

“It is really about the know-how, it is about the skill set… you still wouldn’t know how to roll them out on a large scale,” he added, speaking at a virtual briefing in Geneva.

His comments come amid a push at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to introduce a temporary IP waiver during the pandemic. The proposal, which was first put forward last year by India and South Africa, has been gaining momentum with the backing of more than 100 countries.

But several nations, including the United States and Switzerland along with the European Union, oppose the move. The opposition means the proposal cannot move forward in the WTO, which makes decisions by consensus.

Jim Robinson, in charge of the Covid vaccine manufacturing strategy at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), warned against waiving vaccine patents.

Pointing to the many people already sceptical about vaccines, he warned that poor-quality or unsafe vaccines by underqualified manufacturers could have devastating consequences.

“We don’t want to stretch so far that we break the system and we do harm,” he said, adding that vaccine production has been much more successful than anticipated.

Some 10 billion doses are expected to be produced this year – double the manufacturing capacity for all vaccines combined in 2019.

But manufacturers have faced a number of supply chain issues and bottlenecks, and there are still “significant gaps” between the expected output and the current manufacturing capacity, Cueni said.

Oil giant Petrobras sheds US$19 billion in value over two days

Latin America

A sell-off in Brazil’s state-controlled oil firm Petrobras picked up on Monday after a group of analysts downgraded the stock within 24 hours, following Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to replace the company’s chief executive officer.

Bradesco BBI, BTG Pactual, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, Nau Securities, Santander, Scotiabank and XP Investimentos cut their ratings on the shares after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday decided to fire the oil company’s CEO following a spat over hikes in fuel prices and moved to appoint Joaquim Silva e Luna, a former Army general, as a replacement. Company’s board still needs to confirm the decision.

Shares in Petrobras tumbled in Sao Paulo, erasing about 102.5 billion reais (US$18.8 billion) in market value in the past two sessions. The company’s American Depositary Receipts fell 21 percent in New York.

Investors are concerned the hasty appointment of a new CEO may signal a potential shift away from market-friendly policies. The oil company’s discount to global peers is expected to widen and the sale of its refineries could also face delays as a result, hindering deleveraging plans, analysts said.

“Fundamentals are unlikely to be the main driver of the stock in the near term,” Morgan Stanley analysts led by Bruno Montanari wrote in a report dated February 21, moving the stock to not-rated from overweight. “We will have to weigh the role of a much increased risk perception in the sector, the country, and PBR specifically.”

 

The price of soybeans surpassed US $ 500 in Chicago and reached its highest value since 2014

Latin America

01/06/2021

The main causes for this rise, which reached 2014 values, are the tight global supply and the lack of rainfall in Argentina. By-products of soybeans, such as oil and flour, accompanied the positive trend.

The price of soybeans finally exceeded US $ 500 in the Chicago Market and closed the day at US $ 501.64, an increase of US $ 5.60 compared to the day before, reaching its highest value of the last six and a half years.

In this way, the price of the oilseed maintains the upward trend that began more than five months ago, in which it accumulated a 55% increase in its price -adding more than US $ 178.62- and around 40% at the same time. throughout 2020 .

Indeed, at the beginning of the day, soybeans reached values ​​above US $ 505, reaching its highest price since July 2014.

With the passage of hours, it began to trade for US $ 503.94 and finally closed the day at US $ $ 501.64.

The Rosario Stock Exchange (BCR) indicated that the fundamentals of the rise again lay in “concerns regarding global supply as the lack of rainfall is noted in the main producing regions of South America, particularly in Argentina” and Brazil.

Speaking to Télam, the analyst of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange (BCBA), Juan Pablo Giana, said that “the world market and, in particular, the United States are with the lowest stocks since 2013 to a great extent due to the strong Chinese presence that has been recovering economically and demand to supply its pig production “.

“Whenever the dollar weakens, US exports become more competitive. In addition, it makes hedge funds position themselves as buyers in the market, increasing the variability of the price increase,” added Giana.

In coincidence, the head of the Market Analysis Department of Grassi SA, Ariel Tejera, observed that “the revaluation of assets and commodities works as a counterpart to the loss of value” of the US currency.

The upward rally of the oilseed began at the end of August last year and, despite some intervals, has continued to date.

Indeed, the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic at the end of March occurred in a context in which the global economy was already plunged into a deep crisis, which also determined that the commodity markets were hit by uncertainty and the fall of the activity.

In this framework, from March to August, the price of soybeans was within a range of between US $ 300 and US $ 320 per ton and then began to rise with the rebound in world activity.

In this way, in the last five months the price of the oilseed grew by 55% (US $ 178.62), if one takes into account that on August 6 of last year, the closest position of soybeans closed to the US. $ 323.62.

If the positive dynamics continue, it would be good news for Argentina in general – since it would increase the inflow of foreign exchange – and for the agro-export complex in particular.

Due to the rise in commodity prices, in 2021 the Argentine agribusiness sector will contribute foreign exchange for about US $ 31.1 billion, US $ 4.6 billion more than this year (17%), according to a report by the Mediterranean Foundation.

In this regard, Giana pointed out that for the country “the immediate positive impact would be related to higher foreign exchange income, higher collection (mostly due to export duties, but more value added from the chain is also generated and increased collection due to other taxes). “.

“It also generates an increase in the margin for producers, if it is sustained over time,” said Giana, estimating that the upward trend will continue in the short term, which will allow greater investment possibilities for the coming season.

“The only factor that could correct in the short term would be movements of hedge funds, sudden sales to recover profits. However, the world supply is limited and for this to be corrected we must wait for the next campaign,” concluded the analyst of the BCBA.

Tejera agreed that the global scenario is likely to remain that way due to strong demand from China, but was cautious about local production, warning that “the South American supply is not in optimal conditions.”

“The climate is one of the main questions, leaving an open end to the volume that will finally be contributed by Argentina and Brazil,” the specialist completed.

Meanwhile, in the local market of the Rosario Stock Exchange, contractual soybeans closed with a rise of $ 5 to reach $ 29,225, thus continuing the upward trend of recent weeks.

Finally, the president of the Argentine Soybean Chain Association (Acsoja), Luis Zubizarreta, told Télam that the strong rise in soybeans “is an opportunity for Argentina but it is also a consequence of the dry climate and what is important to be able to To take advantage of prices is to have a good production and therefore that it rains “.

“We have to increase production by removing some disincentives that currently exist that do not allow us to take full advantage of this favorable situation, we have stagnant production 10 years ago, while Brazil had a significant increase in the same period,” added the business leader.

“It is time to increase production, add value and export more to generate more quality employment,” concluded Zubizarreta.

Congress finally certified Biden’s electoral victory

Latin America

01/07/2021

Republican Vice President Mike Pence certified the vote of 306 large voters in favor of the Democratic candidate, compared to 232 for Trump.

The United States Congress ratified Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election, after violent protesters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to reverse the election result, undermine the country’s democracy and allow the outgoing Republican president, Donald Trump , still in the White House.

With the country still shaken by the riots, which left four dead, Republican Vice President Mike Pence certified the vote of 306 voters in favor of the Democratic candidate, compared to 232 for Trump.

After the chaos sown on Wednesday by the supporters of the outgoing president for hours until they were evicted by the police, the legislators decided to continue on Wednesday night with the process of validating the elections, in a sample for the country and the world of their commitment with the will of the voters and a peaceful transfer of power.
The process was carried out with the nation on alert and the city of Washington under an unusual curfew decreed after the riots, which left four dead.

Trump, who has refused to accept his defeat, said in a statement immediately after the vote that there will be an orderly transition on the day of Biden’s inauguration, January 20,

“Although I strongly disagree with the outcome of this election. and the facts support me, there will be a transition in order on January 20, “he said in a statement, the AFP news agency reported.

“This represents the end of one of the best first presidential terms and it is just the beginning of our fight to restore America to its greatness,” he added.
The ratification came after a day with few precedents in US political history, with the Capitol besieged by Trump supporters and lawmakers seeking refuge under desks and protected by gas masks as police tried to erect barricades around the building. congressional.

A woman died after being shot in the chest inside the Capitol and three other people died in the vicinity of Congress from “medical emergencies,” police said.
The protest was called and encouraged by Trump himself, who for weeks has been making false complaints about the transparency of the November 3 elections, in which he was defeated by Biden.

The session was already extraordinary due to the fact that several Republican legislators were raising objections to the results when the procedure had to be interrupted by the violent irruption of Trump supporters.

Both the protests and the objections of Republican lawmakers constituted an unthinkable challenge to democratic principles and exposed the deep divisions in the United States, which worsened dramatically during Trump’s four years in the White House.
Congress reconvened at nightfall, amid condemnations of protests by legislators from both parties and determined to certify Biden’s triumph, even if it took all night.
Pence reopened the procedure in the Senate addressing the protesters directly: “You did not win,” he said.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the “failed insurrection” underscored the duty of Congress to confirm Biden’s victory.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, said Congress must show the world “what America is made of” and complete its certification work.
The outgoing president emboldened his supporters hours before the violence with a morning rally outside the White House where he urged them to march to the Capitol.
At the request of his advisers and from the Oval Room of the White House, Trump issued a couple of tweets and recorded a video in which he asked the protesters to “go home in peace”, although he also supported their cause.
Grim-faced, President-elect Biden said the country’s democracy was “under unprecedented assault,” a sentiment echoed by numerous lawmakers in Congress.
The dead woman was part of the crowd that stormed Congress and broke through a barricade that protected a room where armed police officers were present, police said.
She was shot in the chest by Capitol agents and taken to a hospital where she died. Three other people, a woman and two men, died around the Capitol “due to medical emergencies.”

 

 

The European Union will start vaccinating on December 27

Latin America

The EU intends to carry out a coordinated vaccination program in its 27 Member States to ensure fair access to doses.

The European Union (EU) vaccination campaign against the coronavirus will begin on December 27, 28 and 29, announced the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

“It is time for Europe. On December 27, 28 and 29 vaccination will begin in the EU,” the head of the EU Executive wrote on her Twitter account.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) plans to meet on the 21st to evaluate the vaccine from the Pfizer-BioNTech laboratories. The Commission will then give its approval to start the campaign.

The United Kingdom and the United States are already immunizing people with this vaccine under national emergency authorizations.

The EU intends to carry out a coordinated vaccination program in its 27 Member States to ensure fair access to doses.

The European Commission signed contracts with seven potential vaccine providers, to ensure that all adult EU citizens can finally be immunized.

Member states will decide who has priority, but the elderly and healthcare workers treating Covid-19 patients will be in front.

The vaccine developed by the US giant Pfizer and the German company BioNTech was shown to be 95% effective in worldwide trials in which two doses are injected three weeks apart.

In Europe, that vaccine is produced at a Pfizer facility in Belgium and shipped on trucks and planes.

It must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit) to keep it viable, but can be transported for short periods at 2-8 degrees Celsius.

Ups and downs on Wall Street with the focus on the Federal Reserve and the Capitol

Latin America

Stocks ended on a shaky trend and mixed results, after the Federal Reserve pledged to keep buying bonds until the economy makes substantial progress, watching the evolution of vaccines and negotiations on Capitol Hill for a new financial stimulus package.

The Dow Jones industrial index contracted 0.2% this Wednesday, the expanded S&P 500 indicator expanded 0.2% while the Nasdaq technology increased 0.5%, according to figures provided by the Bloomberg agency.

Stocks approached record highs after the Federal Reserve pledged to continue buying bonds and to keep the benchmark rate in the 0-0.25% range, until the economy hits 2% inflation and job growth. % per year.

The Fed said it would buy at least $ 80 billion in Treasuries each month and $ 40 billion in agency mortgage-backed securities until substantial progress has been made.

Operators were very attentive to the progress made in Washington regarding the approval of a new stimulus package, although a final agreement has not yet been reached.

Traders, economists, investors and even Fed officials have said that support is crucial, because the Fed’s tools alone cannot help the economy.

Interest rates tending to zero can boost the mortgage market, the price of company shares, but they cannot assist families and small companies whose businesses have been affected as a result of the pandemic.

If a quick agreement is not reached in the Capitol and the approval of a new package is delayed, the situation can get worse.

The Commerce Department reported today that retail sales plunged 1.1% last month. It is the second consecutive month of weakness, a result much worse than the 0.3% decline that economists expected and the worst record in the last 7 months.

If Congress can reach a deal, it could help the economy weather a bleak winter, before one or more coronavirus vaccines can neutralize the effects of the coronavirus.

In Europe, optimism reigned in the stock markets based on industrial data that showed growth in activity and overshadowed the new restrictive measures throughout the euro zone, to limit movements in the end of the year holidays.

The operators trust that the containment measures will be limited no later than the first half of January.

Also influencing investor sentiment was progress in the London-Brussels negotiations over Brexit.

The leading Euro Stoxx 50 index gained 0.6%, while in London the FTSE grew 0.9%.

The DAX 30 in Frankfurt increased 1.5%, and the CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.3%.

The IBEX 35 contracted 0.2% while the Milan MIB climbed 0.2%.

The Electoral College formally elected Biden as president

Latin America

This year, after the questioning of the electoral process of a sitting president and a candidate for reelection, the vote acquired a special relevance.

After weeks of allegations of fraud by President Donald Trump, opposition candidate Joe Biden won a majority in the Electoral College, the body that formally elects the president in the United States, and exceeded the main institutional requirement to assume the White House in the January 20 next.

One month after each presidential election, the Electoral College formally chooses the next president, according to the indirect system of the United States, an appointment that usually goes unnoticed since, in general, the winner celebrates and the loser grants the same night of the elections. and there is no longer any tension or expectation.

State after state, its voters – elected at the polls on November 3 and by early vote and by mail during the previous weeks and months – were announcing their votes for Biden or Trump, until the former surpassed the majority of 270 to vote. win the Presidential.

The day was quiet, but it was not completely immune to the political tension and fear of an outbreak of violence that marked a large part of the electoral process.

Although the difference in votes is important and the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris formula won more than 7 million more votes than its Republican rivals, in reality, in terms of the indirect system, they only won by a few tens of thousands of votes distributed in just one handful of states.

Given this tight lead, Trump and his Republican allies tried to persuade the Supreme Court last week to review 62 electoral votes for Biden in four states, which could have cast doubt on today’s result, but justices rejected this latest effort. last Friday.

That judicial defeat was the culmination of a long list of rulings against Republicans in all states in the past month that were key to Biden’s victory.

Therefore, with the election of the Electoral College, there is only one step left – a formality, actually, before the inauguration: the joint session of Congress on January 6, in which Vice President Mike Pence, as head of the Senate, repeat the count and formally announce the result.

The arrest of Michel Temer — What is Lava Jato, the operation that uncovered a gigantic network of corruption in Brazil

Latin America

In March 2014, a money laundering network was discovered in a car wash in Brasilia. It was the tip of a giant iceberg of corruption.

The epicenter of the political earthquake that punishes Latin America for years was initially located at a service station in Brasilia, a few kilometers from the Presidential Palace of Planalto and the seat of Congress in Brazil.

In that service station that included a car wash (“Lava Jato”, in Portuguese), the investigators of the Brazilian Federal Police discovered a money laundering network that seemed to involve different politicians. But the true dimension of the operation, which just turned five years old (started on March 17, 2014), was coming to light in a few droppers in the following months.

The case “Lava Jato” is considered today as the largest anti-corruption operation in the history of Brazil and has profoundly changed the South American giant, until a few years ago one of the global emerging powers.

The operation, which began investigating a corrupt plot in Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras, also spills over several countries in the region, where it has already produced strong political scuffles in countries like Colombia and, above all, Peru, where several former presidents are accused.

In Brazil, the scandal continues to shake the foundations of the political and economic elites of a country in permanent crisis. The “Lava Jato” made “a portrait of a corruption that has deep roots in our history”, explained in 2017 Deltan Dallagnol, one of the prosecutors in charge.

Among those involved are powerful businessmen such as the former CEO of the construction company Odebrecht, Marcelo Odebrecht, or former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the most famous defendant, imprisoned in Curitiba for almost a year.

Since the operation was initiated 5 years ago and 4 days ago, the Justice has already handed down a sentence in 50 trials and given 242 convictions against 155 people. The sum of the sentences totals 2,242 years and 5 days.

Lula, an icon of the left for the success of his two terms between 2003 and 2010, was sentenced in second instance, in April last year, to more than 12 years in prison for having received a luxurious apartment in the seaside resort of Guarujá. , in San Pablo, as a bribe for having favored a construction company in public works, according to the judges.

In addition to former conservative president Michel Temer, arrested Thursday in Sao Paulo, dozens of deputies, former governors and officials are also investigated.

Two other Brazilian ex-presidents, Fernando Collor (1990-1992) and Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016), both dismissed by Congress, are being prosecuted in proceedings equally linked to Lava Jato, while a third party, José Sarney (1985-1990) ), was accused of receiving bribes for facilitating contracts rigged with a subsidiary of Petrobras, but so far he does not respond to any trial.

According to the investigations, the corrupt scheme worked mainly around Petrobras, located at the center of the Brazilian economic boom of the past decade due to high oil prices. Numerous private companies systematically bribed officials and politicians to secure contracts with the state giant.

That modus operandi, the researchers later discovered, extended to other sectors such as construction or food, where the Brazilian business expanded its business in large part thanks to the collusion with the political class.

The Armed Forces of Venezuela maintain their loyalty to Nicolás Maduro

Latin America

The military high command is the main support of the Venezuelan president. However, there is discontent in low-level sectors of the forces.

While the support of a large part of the international community to the oath of Juan Guaidó as “president in charge” of Venezuela delights the opponents of the regime, it is also true that the Venezuelan Armed Forces have invariably maintained their position of support for President Nicolás Maduro. Today the militants are the main base of support that the Chavista leader has.

Beyond the internal and external support of the National Assembly and, therefore, Guaidó as president, the possibility that the military high command stops functioning as a shield of Maduro seems remote, at least in the short term.

Last week there was an uprising in Caracas by low-ranking officers of the National Guard. However, it is more an isolated event than a concrete possibility of rebellion.

The international news agency Reuters, referred to the strategy of Maduro to get the high command of the forces to support the Bolivarian government. In that sense, this media highlighted that Chávez’s successor has appointed officers in charge of key positions in the government and state oil company PDVSA, in addition to having offered them lucrative contracts in services of oil fields of companies linked to the army.

There are several episodes that show the strong link between the Government and the high command. During the demonstrations that took place in the Venezuelan streets during 2017, the security forces took a brutally repressive attitude. On the other hand, they gave their support to the creation of the National Constituent Assembly that displaced the Congress, which was in the hands of the opposition.

The situation of the low-ranking military, however, is far from being the best. Their salaries, like those of all Venezuelans, suffered declines in real terms due to inflation that reached 2 million percent during 2018. In addition, the military installations are suffering a significant deterioration.

On the other hand, according to official documents, around 4,000 soldiers deserted in the last year.

Taking advantage of this discontent, since the Venezuelan opposition there are open negotiations with part of the lower level of the forces, to get them to abandon Maduro. However, specialized sources firmly claim that the top brass will remain firm until the president leaves office.

The fate of the dollar will shape financial markets in 2019

Latin America

After rising by 7% against a basket of currencies in 2018, where is it headed next?

Over the holidays those who like their Christmas films free of seasonal cheer may have fixed on “The Lion in Winter”, with Peter O’Toole as Henry II and Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor, his estranged wife. Henry decides that none of his sons by Eleanor is a suitable heir and condemns them to death. Locked in a cellar as his father approaches, Richard resolves not to cower. “As if the way one falls down mattered,” mocks one of his brothers. “When the fall is all that is,” replies Richard, “it matters”.

Back at work, investors might usefully apply this aphorism to the fate of the dollar. In a volatile period for financial markets, it rose by 7% against a broad basket of currencies in 2018 and by 4% against a narrower group of rich-country currencies (see chart). One of the more robust principles of foreign-exchange trading is that what goes up must eventually come down. The dollar is over-valued on benchmarks, such as The Economist’s Big Mac Index (see Graphic Detail). It is due a fall. When that is all that is left, the manner of its falling will matter a great deal.

The bear case for the dollar is based on an expectation that gdp growth in America will slow markedly. Last year, it was boosted by tax cuts. That stimulus will fade. Interest-rate increases by the Federal Reserve will bite harder. A lower oil price is a factor. It hurts investment in America’s shale regions, but is a boon for oil-importing countries in Asia and Europe. America’s stockmarket is relatively dear. Its tech darlings no longer seem invulnerable. In short, an exceptional period for America’s economy is coming to an end. The dollar ought to lose ground, too.

But not just yet. In November Mansoor Mohi-uddin of NatWest Markets set out three pre-conditions for a decisive turn in the dollar: a “pause” by the Fed, a deal to end America’s trade dispute with China and signs of a pickup in the euro-zone economy. The first is now less of a hurdle. The Fed’s boss, Jerome Powell, hinted on January 4th that it might postpone further interest-rate increases. Talks on trade with China have resumed. But the economic data from Europe remain weak. Interest rates in America may not rise much further, if at all, but they are nevertheless higher than in Japan or the euro zone. Owning the dollar is still rewarding.

How might that change? Broadly, there are two scenarios. In the first, trade-war clouds begin to disperse. Tax cuts and looser monetary policy in China start to stimulate private-sector spending. That stirs other Asian economies, which in turn bucks up activity in the euro zone, which relies heavily on emerging-market demand. Bond yields rise in the expectation that interest rates will go up in Europe. They fall in America, as traders start to price in rate cuts. The dollar drifts down against the euro. A softish Brexit boosts the pound. Capital is pushed into emerging markets, in search of better returns. Stockmarkets rally, especially outside America. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. It feels like 2017 again.

In the second scenario, the gap between gdp growth in America and elsewhere also narrows. But in this case, it does so solely because of a slowdown in America, rather than better news elsewhere. The trade dispute escalates. The continued uncertainty means China’s tax cuts are saved, and not spent. Further weakness in China causes other emerging markets to falter. The soft spot in the euro-zone economy turns out to be not temporary, but a reflection of weak export demand. Risk assets sell off across the board. The dollar falls sharply against the yen and the Swiss franc, habitual boltholes for the panicky. The euro stays weak. A shortage of safe-harbour currencies leads to a rising price for gold.

How closely reality conforms to one or other of these scenarios depends a lot on what happens in China. A trade deal with America would boost emerging-market currencies against the dollar, as would an effective fiscal stimulus. The path the dollar takes against rich-country currencies depends on the slowdown in America, says Kit Juckes of Société Générale, a French bank. If it is sudden, the dollar falls against the yen. If it is gradual, it falls against the euro.

How the dollar falls will be shaped by events and in turn will shape them. Investors who are wary of selling out of risk assets are advised by strategists at J.P. Morgan to take out some insurance by buying the yen, Swiss franc and gold—the assets that are likely to go up should things get rough. If a fall is all that is left, it matters that you have something to cushion it.

 

 

This article appeared in the Finance and economics section of the print edition under the headline “How the mighty fall”