Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Together, apart

Written by Ralitsa Bobcheva, associate
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
7 December 2020

Good morning,

Festive spirit, movie marathons and flashing lights aside, like many of us I’ve always looked forward to the lull of the winter holidays primarily for the rare opportunity it provides to spend more time with my family and friends. 
 
Yesterday, a new poll by The Observer revealed that twice the number of people compared to pre-pandemic times expect to spend the holidays alone – a sobering if not entirely surprising reality in the current circumstances. 
 
This is not an issue exclusively of Covid’s making. Social distancing has merely accelerated an increasing sense of loneliness, with a 2018 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation finding that more than one-fifth of adults in the UK and the US felt lonely most or all of the time. Coined “a modern curse”, the level of loneliness is at least in part due to the spirit of individualism which has been a defining point for Western cultures since the turn of the 20th century.
 
But while notions of individual freedom and privacy have largely shaped Western society, there are more signs indicating a shift in that social pattern, which begs the question: is it possible that the pandemic has pushed a well-defined culture of individualism to its tipping point?
 
With my yellow hat on, I am inclined to believe so. In the last nine months, charities across Scotland have seen a dramatic increase in volunteering participation and in people looking out for each other. What is more, this trend is anticipated to stick, with projections for a post-pandemic volunteer force expected to be 14% higher than in pre-Covid times.
 
Lockdown may have forced us apart, but it has also prompted us to find new ways to connect and give of our time to others, not only at Christmas but all year through. There can never be a vaccine for loneliness, but this behavioural shift is a welcome development indeed.

News

Distribution of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has already begun in hospitals around the UK, with the first jabs expected to be delivered tomorrow in what is expected to be the largest and most complex vaccination campaign in UK history. The vaccine has to be stored in deep-frozen packs containing 975 doses at minus 70C. It can be moved only four times and lasts for just five days at fridge temperature.
 
Met Office analysis has suggested that winter snow in the UK could soon become a thing of the past due to the increase in global emissions. According to new projections, at the current rate of warming by the 2040s most of southern England could no longer see sub-zero days and by the 2060s only high ground and northern Scotland are likely to have such cold days.
 
President Trump’s personal defence attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has tested positive for Covid-19 and is currently being treated in hospital. This has prompted the Arizona state legislature to close for seven days, after Giuliani spent hours there in a bid to persuade the lawmakers to overturn the 2020 election results.

Business and economy

The UK and EU have resumed talks on a post-Brexit trade deal, with environment secretary George Eustice commenting that there are still “sticking points” on fishing and business rules, in spite of time running short. Later today, the UK prime minister Boris Johnson will speak to the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in what EU sources expect to be a significant moment in the troubled talks.
 
Weekend shopping returned for the first time since the end of lockdown on Wednesday in England, but in numbers well below pre-pandemic levels, according to the market researcher Springboard. It estimates that across the UK, footfall was down by 30% compared to the same December weekend last year.
 
The government will give extra financial help to UK exporters today in a bid to encourage trade after Brexit and take advantage of new free trade agreements. Under the scheme, exporters will be able to apply for larger loans from the UK’s five high street banks, which can be used to cover costs linked to exports and to scale up business operations. (£)

Columns of note

In The GuardianJohn Harris turns to last week’s flow of reports on the impact of Covid-19 on those who were already experiencing financial hardship prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. While many commentators welcomed the news of an effective Covid-19 vaccine and a possible return to normality, Harris reminds us that there are many people for whom normalcy equates to an increased state of financial deprivation.
 
The Economist sheds light on European inaction in the face of state-sponsored terror as it looks at the national resistance movement in Belarus. Having started with a disputed presidential election in August, protesters have been subjected to violent state practices such as colour-coding, torture and public humiliation. But while Western leaders refuse to interfere and incur Russia’s anger, there are some simple steps that they could take. (£)

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

The week ahead

Europe remains under the spotlight with a long-awaited European Central Bank meeting, an EU summit and the final set of Brexit talks taking place this week.
 
In the UK, the NHS will be busy preparing to roll out the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine this week. The vaccine will be distributed to hospitals which can store it safely and administer it to care home staff, NHS staff and patients first.
 
In the meantime, in the US a bipartisan group of senators is set to unveil legislation today for additional fiscal stimulus worth about $900bn.
 
In company news, equity analysts await updates from Rolls-Royce and Ocado towards the end of the week, on Thursday and Friday respectively. Asana, Oracle, Tui, Costco, FirstGroup, Lululemon and Ted Baker are also among the companies reporting this week.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Hardide 

Interims
Immobile
Ted Baker

AGMs
Amedeo Afp
Renalytix Ai
Uk Mortgages

UK economic announcements
 (08:30) Halifax House Price Index
(23:01) Retail Sales

Int. economic announcements

(07:00) Industrial Production (GER)
(20:00) Consumer Credit (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

It is illegal to own just one guinea pig in Switzerland. It’s considered animal abuse because they’re social beings and get lonely.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions

Defence (including Topical Questions)

Consideration of Lords amendments

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Motion

Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body – Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg

Adjournment

Non-payment of Kenyan civil service pensions – Stephen Timms

House of Lords 

Oral questions

Various

Motion

Report from the Conduct Committee ‘The Conduct of Lord Maginnis of Drumglass’ – Lord Mance

Legislation

Trade Bill – report stage (day 1) – Lord Grimstone of Boscobel

Scottish Parliament 

Portfolio Questions – Groupings

The Presiding Officer has grouped the following questions at Portfolio Questions on Wednesday 2 December: Social Security and Older People: Questions 1 and 5; Questions 2 and 3.

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