Action Jackson as Investors Wait for Fed Chair Powell’s Comments at Wyoming Confab
IRA gives USDA Sec. Vilsack $324 million in administrative/implementation funds
In Today’s Digital Newspaper
USDA daily export sale: 146,000 metric tons of soybeans to unknown destinations during the 2022-2023 marketing year.
Markets are looking to Jackson Hole for guidance on the pace of Fed tightening. Will they get it when Fed Chair Jerome Powell speaks at 10 a.m. ET? Link to livestream. Investors are looking for clues on whether policymakers will cut rates when the current hiking cycle is over. The CME's Fedwatch Tool is pricing in a 60% chance for another 75-basis point increase in September, but markets are looking for clarity about what Powell and crew will do beyond that. Powell is likely to repeat that many of the factors that drive inflation are outside of the Fed's control. While the central bank can only influence the demand side of the equation, the supply side has been impacted by post-pandemic supply chain disruptions and geopolitical factors like the war in Ukraine.
USDA’s Foreign Ag Service rescinded its Weekly Export Sales report late Thursday. Several Policy Update readers had comments on the development, as noted below.
Congress via the Inflation Reduction Act provided USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack $324 million in administrative/implementation funds. We have details and perspective in the Policy section.
Surging energy prices in Europe are forcing the continent to save fuel and secure alternatives, helping grow gas reserves and potentially avoid rationing.
California air regulators voted Thursday to approve stringent rules that would ban the sale of new gasoline cars by 2035 and set interim targets to phase the cars out. We have details in a special report (link) released Thursday. The move has major implications for the US car market, as several states are expected to implement similar rules in the years to come, experts say. The new rules would not impact used vehicles, allowing them to stay on the roads.
Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian forces, was disconnected from the country's power grid for the first time on Thursday. Increased shelling near the plant has recently triggered calls for international experts to visit the facility and ratcheted up fears of a potential nuclear accident. On Thursday, backup diesel generators were activated to avert a "radiation disaster," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. U.S. State Department official Bonnie Jenkins warned that Russia's actions at the plant "could threaten not only the people and environment of Ukraine, but also affect neighboring countries and the entire international community."
President Biden’s job approval has inched up to 44%, the highest it’s been in a year, according to a Gallup survey released on Thursday.
A federal judge ruled that the Dept. of Justice must release a redacted copy of the affidavit that authorized the raid on Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this month. The DoJ has until noon ET today to publish the document, which explains why investigators believed a crime may have been committed. The FBI seized hundreds of classified records from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate during the search.
Equities today: Global stock markets were mostly lower overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward higher openings. Traders will focus on remarks at 10 a.m. ET from Fed Chair Jerome Powell in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Past Jackson Hole Fed meetings have significantly moved markets. Investors are also waiting for the report of personal consumption expenditures. The PCE is one of the Fed’s favorite inflation measures and could influence its actions going forward. In Asia, Japan +0.6%. Hong Kong +1%. China -0.3%. India +0.1%. In Europe, at midday, London flat. Paris -0.4%. Frankfurt -0.4%.
U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow spiked 322.55 points, 0.98%, to 33,291.78, with gains accelerating in the final hour of trading. The S&P 500 rose 58.35 points, 1.41% to 4,199.12, and the Nasdaq advanced 207.74 points, 1.67% to 12,639.27. Still, the major averages are on pace for a losing week. The Dow is down 1.23% through Thursday, the S&P 500 is 0.69% lower, and the Nasdaq Composite is down 0.52%.
Agriculture markets yesterday:
- Corn: December corn futures fell 7 1/4 cents to $6.50, just 3/4 cent above today’s low.
- Soy complex: November soybeans fell 25 3/4 cents to $14.31 1/4, September meal futures fell $9.70 to $458.00, September soy oil, rose 32 points to 69.09 cents.
- Wheat: December SRW wheat fell 24 1/4 cents to $7.89 and December HRW wheat dropped 27 cents to $8.66 1/4, both closing near today’s lows and each posting a bearish “outside day” down on the daily bar charts. December spring wheat futures tumbled 24 1/4 cents to $8.95 3/4.
- Cotton: December cotton futures rose 4 points at 114.11 cents, near today’s low.
- Cattle: October live cattle fell 22.5 cents to $141.10 and $143.65. September feeder cattle advanced $1.225 to $184.25. Choice values rose $1.26 to $264.09, while Select gained 86 cents to $238.48.
- Hogs: October lean hogs rose 72.5 cents to $91.10. The CME lean hog index fell $1.18 to $118.00, and today’s quote is expected to drop another $1.95. Pork cutout values rose $2.71 early Thursday to $106.70, led by a gain of nearly $16 in bellies.
Ag markets today: December corn rose overnight, the seventh gain in the past eight sessions, amid ongoing concern heat and dryness in the Midwest will crimp yield potential. Soybeans also rose as Pro Farmer Crop Tour scouts reports smaller yield prospects for Iowa. Wheat futures are also higher and poised for a weekly gain. At 7:35 a.m. CT, corn was 5 to 6 cents higher, soybeans were 10 to 12 cents higher, and wheat was 1 to 6 cents higher. Front-month crude oil futures were up over $1, and the U.S. dollar index was about 200 points lower.
Technical viewpoints from Jim Wyckoff:
On tap today:
• U.S. consumer spending for July is expected to increase 0.5% from the prior month and personal income is forecast to rise 0.6%. (8:30 a.m. ET) UPDATE: Consumer spending edged up 0.1% last month, a slowdown as inflation remained near a four-decade high.
• Personal Consumption Expenditures price index excluding food and energy for July is expected to increase 0.2% from one month earlier and 4.7% from one year earlier. (8:30 a.m. ET) UPDATE: The PCE index dropped 0.1% for the month of July, cooler than the expected 0.2% rise. Year over year, the PCE index climbed 6.3%. Personal income rose 0.2% in July, lower than the 0.6% forecast. The PCE price index is one measure of U.S. inflation, tracking the change in prices of goods and services purchased by consumers throughout the economy.
• U.S. advance economic indicators report for July is out at 8:30 a.m. ET.
• Fed Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at the Kansas City Fed’s Jackson Hole Economic Symposium at 10 a.m. ET.
• University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for August is expected to tick down to 55.2 from a preliminary reading of 55.1. (10 a.m. ET)
• Baker Hughes rig count is out at 1 p.m. ET.
• CFTC Commitments of Traders report, 3:30 p.m. ET.
Fed official: inflation may remain ‘higher for longer.’ On Thursday, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said in an interview with CNBC’s Steve Liesman that inflation may remain "higher for longer… I mean with an eight handle on CPI, I think we’d be happy now to get going in the right direction. There will be a debate at some point about how long do you want to linger above 2%, and what do you have to do to get it down and actually hit the target. And I think that's an important debate, but that’s out there in the future,” Bullard told Liesman at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Kansas City Federal Reserve President Esther George, a Federal Open Market Committee voting member, told CNBC that it's "too soon to say" if the central bank should hike interest rates by 50 or 75 basis points, while Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said he would "like to see" rates above 3.4% and then allow them to remain at that level for a period of time.
Mortgage rates rise to two-month high at 5.55%. Mortgage rates jumped to the highest level since June, putting more pressure on the cooling housing market. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage climbed to 5.55% this week, according to a Freddie Mac survey of lenders released Thursday. That is nearly double the rate on offer a year ago, though it is down slightly from June levels, which were the highest since 2008. Mortgage rates typically track changes in the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield, which has traded above 3% for much of this week.
Ofgem, Britain’s energy watchdog, increased the country’s energy price cap by 80%, pushing up the typical household’s energy bill to £3,549 ($4,186) a year. Jonathan Brearley, the regulator’s chief executive, said there was “no choice” but to increase the cap to reflect the soaring price of energy. The new prices will kick in from Oct. 1, though costs could get drastically worse over the next year. Consultancy Cornwall Insight forecasts the cap could rise to £4,650 in Q1 of 2023 and to £5,340 in Q2, up from an average £1,400 annual bill in October 2021.
Dollar General and Dollar Tree reported higher quarterly sales as the discount chains raised prices and attracted thrifty shoppers looking for groceries or other essentials. Executives at both companies said Thursday they see evidence that shoppers are cash strapped, which helps sales at the discounters.
USDA’s Foreign Ag Service’s pullback of the Weekly Export Sales report was blasted by some users. Several called or emailed regarding the situation. Some of the feedback:
- “Isn't there someone in charge of data integrity who reviews this stuff, especially if it's a first run. That’s like data analytics 101.”
- “They should have been running both systems simultaneously for a short period so that they could cross-check them.”
- “Why did it take FAS so long to issue their statement?”
- “Some private sector companies have also had similar problems when updating their internet sites… it’s usually because technicians failed to do adequate testing or test it with actual users or those who supply the information/data.”
- “What about if users are color blind like 1 in 8 males on the planet and cannot read all the text where some text is not black on white background… pink or light green used in the update is not workable. No testing of this system and poor planning by USDA export sales.”
- “Why didn’t the FAS put out a release that they were going to a new system/format? USDA’s World Board and NASS do this on key changes.”
Pandemic impact on ag sector: Record subsidies but weaker ag sector. Farmers faced higher expenses and earned less money from their crops and livestock than initially expected in 2020, due to market disruptions caused by the pandemic, said a USDA Covid-19 working paper (link). By many standards, such as debt-to-asset ratio, the financial strength of the sector softened in 2020, despite $45.7 billion in federal subsidies — the largest ever — according to USDA economists. “This finding suggests worse than average financial performance for the farm sector as a whole in 2020,” said the Economic Research Service (ERS). “However, net farm income in 2020 is higher than average over the past 20 years when the series is adjusted for inflation.”
• Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is lower in early U.S. trading. Meantime, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note is fetching 3.078%. Bond yields have been on the rise recently. Crude is higher, with U.S. crude around $93.65 per barrel and Brent around $99.75 per barrel. Gold and silver futures were lower, with gold around $1,757 per troy ounce and silver around $19.09 per troy ounce.
• The worst drought in a decade is posing fresh challenges to farmers in the Corn Belt who already are struggling with surging costs, the dark side of a post-Covid commodities boom. Crop damage from South Dakota and Nebraska to Iowa and Illinois was evident this week as farmers, traders and others in agricultural industries evaluated corn and soybeans growing in fields across seven states via the Pro Farmer Crop Tour (see next item). Expectations of lower yields helped fuel a rebound in the prices of many grains this past week. Link to WSJ article.
• Day 4 Pro Farmer Crop Tour results for Iowa and Minnesota. Scouts on day 4 of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour Thursday calculated an average corn yield of 183.81 bu. per acre in Iowa, down from last year’s 190.76 bu. per acre estimate and about even with the three-year Tour average of 183.80 bu. per acre. Soybean pod counts in a 3’x3’ square averaged 1,174.43 for Iowa, down from an average of 1,217.80 in 2021 and but up from the three-year Tour average of 1,157.00.
For Minnesota, the Tour determined an average corn yield of 190.39 bu. per acre, up from a 177.44 bu. per acre estimate in 2021 and up from the three-year Tour average of 180.96 bu. per acre. Soybean pod counts in a 3’x3’ square averaged 1,100.75 in Minnesota, up from an average of 1,027.33 in 2021 and up from the three-year Tour average of 1,026.16.
Pro Farmer’s U.S. corn and soybean crop estimates will be released today at 2:30 p.m. ET.
• The Philippines said a deficit in refined sugar has affected local soft-drinks makers, including Coca-Cola, whose needs have reached a “critical place.” Link for details.
• Global fertilizer-market tightness should extend into the first half of 2023, keeping prices elevated, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
• Shipping rate declines again. $6,127 is the Drewry Shipping Consultants’ index for container shipping rates from Shanghai to Los Angeles in the past week, down 6% from the previous week and 45% below the level the week of Jan. 20. Meanwhile, A measure of rates for the bulk sector’s largest capesize vessels fell 30% in a single day (link).
• NWS weather: Heavy rainfall and possible flooding continues into the weekend for the central Gulf Coast and Southeast... ...Slight risk for severe thunderstorms across the Northeast on Friday... ...Monsoon continues across the Southwest and Four Corners regions.
Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include:
• Corn futures gain for seventh session in past eight
• Cattle futures heading for down week as cash erodes
• Hog market posting another sharp weekly decline amid slumping cash
— Summary: Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s president, said Europe narrowly avoided a “radiation disaster” after the Russia-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear plant was temporarily disconnected from the electricity grid. Back-up generators were able to ensure supply after Russian shelling had sparked a fire in a nearby power station, he said. A Russian official blamed Ukrainian forces for the fire. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog said its officials were “very, very close” to being able to visit the nuclear plant and assess the situation.
- Putin needs a bigger army. Six months after his initial botched invasion of democratic Ukraine, Russian autocratic President Vladimir Putin has just signed a decree expanding the Kremlin's military by 137,000. The new order, which goes into effect at the start of the calendar year, will raise the total number of uniformed Russian forces to over 1,150,000 troops, according to Dmitri Alperovitch, a Russian-born American computer security industry executive. He is co-founder and former chief technology officer of CrowdStrike. Putin "is planning for the long war," Alperovitch warned, hours after Putin's motorcade was spotted speeding toward the Kremlin late Wednesday evening for an apparent rare meeting with his advisors.
- Russian forces "have learned fast," and have entrenched themselves much more deeply into the ground inside eastern Ukraine, Financial Times reports (link). "What we saw in the beginning, and what we are seeing now — it's the difference between night and day," one official said.
- Russia has begun receiving "hundreds" of suicide drones from Iran, the Washington Post reported (link), citing "Western intelligence officials."
- Britain committed to a new arms package for Ukraine, totaling around £54 million (nearly $64 million), and featuring "unmanned surveillance and anti-tank loitering munitions," according to 10 Downing Street, whose outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kyiv on Wednesday. This new batch contains "850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones, which are specifically designed for use in towns and villages, and are deployed to detect approaching enemy forces," Johnson's office said in a statement.
- Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant —Europe’s largest such facility, which is currently in Russian hands — was disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid on Thursday, as intensifying fighting around the plant and an uptick in shelling incidents have sparked fears of a possible nuclear meltdown. Ukrainian officials have warned in recent days that Russia planned to disconnect the plant’s remaining nuclear reactors to divert energy to the Russian grid; Ukraine’s national energy company, Energoatom, said in a statement that nearby fires led to the move. Although the plant has been functioning normally, officials fear that tampering with the electricity supply could affect the cooling systems that operate the reactors.
Impact: Much of southern Ukraine lost power for part of the day after the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was disconnected from the electrical grid.
- Russian goods still flowing to U.S. The Associated Press reports (link) that President Biden “promised to “inflict pain” and deal “a crushing blow” on Vladimir Putin through trade restrictions on commodities like vodka, diamonds and gasoline in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine six months ago. But hundreds of other types of unsanctioned goods worth billions of dollars...continue to flow into U.S. ports.” The AP “found more than 3,600 shipments of wood, metals, rubber and other goods have arrived at U.S. ports from Russia since...February.” It is “a significant drop from the same period in 2021 when about 6,000 shipments arrived, but it still adds up to more than $1 billion worth of commerce a month.” Ambassador Jim O’Brien, who heads the State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination, said: “When we impose sanctions, it could disrupt global trade. So our job is to think about which sanctions deliver the most impact while also allowing global trade to work.”
- Citigroup will shut its Russian consumer banking arm. The U.S. firm will close 15 branches and lay off or move 2,300 workers, after struggling to sell the operation. A major factor in the decision was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Moscow.
- What the world has learned from Russia’s war with Ukraine: 23 lessons. The following are the 23 lessons released by the Atlantic Council. Link for details.
- Lesson for Western diplomacy: Don’t second-guess Ukrainians
- Lesson for global diplomacy: Putin’s regime can’t be trusted — and needs to be defeated
- Lesson for U.S. foreign policy: The United States can no longer rely on strategic ambiguity
- Lesson for U.S. national security: Washington must contend with Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran at the same time
- Lesson for military operations: Equipment doesn’t win wars. People do.
- Lesson for military planning: Nimble modern weapons can defeat larger, conventionally armed forces—especially when on the defensive
- Lesson for deterrence: Troop deployments work better than threats of economic sanctions
- Lesson for the global economy: The new tools of conflict are economic — and they are powerful
- Lesson for economic statecraft: Don’t separate sanctions from longer-term foreign-policy objectives
- Lesson for economic statecraft: Sanctions work, but they are messy and take time
- Lesson for wartime strategic communications: Influence operations are a day-in, day-out job
- Lesson for hybrid warfare: Don’t ignore the fundamentals
- Lesson for the energy sector: Decades of energy diplomacy can disappear with one brutal invasion
- Lesson for global intelligence: Russia is not ten feet tall
- Lesson for would-be invaders: You can’t hide preparations for a full-scale invasion
- Lesson for cybersecurity: The private sector should play a critical military-operational role in cyberspace
- Lesson for U.S. homeland security: Ignoring the home front is a serious mistake
- Lesson for U.S. assistance policy: Invest deeply in key resilient partners
- Lesson for NATO: The Alliance is a uniquely valuable institution that requires enduring political and financial investment
- Lesson for Ukraine: There’s no way back for relations with Russia
- Lesson for China: Today’s Ukraine is not tomorrow’s Taiwan
- Lesson for Middle East policymakers: America will always do the right thing, but only after exhausting all the alternatives
- Lesson for Germany and its allies: Seize this moment for a strategic reversal
— President Biden’s decision to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for millions of borrowers will have broad economic consequences, including on inflation, consumer behavior and government budgets, though the degree of those effects is uncertain. Link to a WSJ article that looks at what economists are saying about the policy.
Borrowers who continued to make student-loan payments during the pandemic moratorium will be eligible for a refund.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the student loan program is expected to cost about $24 billion per year based on a 75% participation rate, but she added that the White House plans to release more specific figures once they see how many borrowers take advantage of the plans. When pressed for more detail on the cost of the plan, Jean-Pierre reiterated that the debt cancellation plan will "be fully paid for because of the work that this president has done with the economy."
— The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has $324 million for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in administrative/implementation funds. Details:
- Conservation: $100 million
- Rural Development: $100 million
- At-Risk Borrowers: $24 million
- Forestry: $100 million
Perspective: One farm policy analyst emailed: “That DWARFS the funding available to the Secretary to implement the farm bill. In fact, I think that’s probably more than the Secretary has had in the last four farm bills COMBINED!”
— The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revised its estimate of how much the Internal Revenue Service is expected to collect because of expanded enforcement efforts, decreasing the estimate to $180.4 billion, down from $203.7 billion. The CBO noted in its letter that a "small fraction" of the revenues collected from increased enforcement activities will come from taxpayers who make less than $400,000 a year.
— Biden has tapped two new ambassador picks: Arthur Brown to be his envoy to Ecuador and Karen Sasahara to be the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait.
— Dr. Ashley Johnson has joined the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) as director of food policy. In her role, she will focus on developing and implementing post-harvest food safety and human nutrition programs and addressing animal care issues in market channels. Johnson comes to NPPC from Zoetis, where she was a technical service veterinarian for more than five years. Among many duties, she worked with the animal health company’s public affairs department to disseminate information to its pork team and customers on legislation and regulatory actions that could affect the pork industry. Prior to that, Johnson was a staff veterinarian for Pigs for Farmer John (PFFJ), where she was responsible for supporting herd health programs for the farrow-to-finish system, which had 60,000 sows in four different states. Additionally, Johnson had externships with Murphy-Brown, the swine production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Johnson earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in animal and veterinarian science from Clemson University. She did postdoctoral work with the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she served as regional control coordinator for Johnston and Moore counties in North Carolina, addressing porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome.
— More U.S. lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Thursday night, the third visit to the island this month by members of Congress after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip led to more than a week of aggressive Chinese military exercises. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is set for a three-day visit, and Blackburn, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday morning. The trip is likely to further test Washington’s tense ties with Beijing.
— The U.S. and China are close to resolving a yearslong standoff over the auditing of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges, according to people cited by the Wall Street Journal (link). The Chinese firms' accountants are in the process of transferring audit working papers and other data from mainland China to Hong Kong, where American accounting regulators will be given access to complete the audits onsite.
— China's real estate bust. A two-decade boom in real estate made many Chinese families feel richer. Now that the market has turned, many are curbing spending as their wealth declines, worsening the country’s economic slowdown, the Wall Street Journal reports (link). In dozens of cities, average prices for new and secondhand homes have fallen since September, with no sign of a recovery on the horizon. Numerous property developers have defaulted and stopped construction, sending sales lower and triggering a wider loss of confidence in the market. Now, many Chinese property owners are curbing spending and saving more as they worry about the possibility of further falls in home values ahead.
ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE
— Cementing cement? A provision tucked into the climate law valued at just 0.05% of the total price has the potential to trigger big changes in one of the world’s most carbon-intensive processes: making cement. The law gives the EPA $250 million to help companies measure and report the carbon content of the construction materials they make.
LIVESTOCK, FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY
— First time in six months USDA does not increase food price inflation outlook. USDA held its forecasts for all food, food at home, and food away from home steady with its July outlooks. The pause came despite higher forecasts for some commodities. But food price inflation is still expected to be at its at highest level in more than 40 years.
Details: U.S. consumers are expected to see the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all food to be up 8.5% to 9.5% in 2022, with food at home (grocery store) prices seen up 10% to 11% and food away from home (restaurant) prices to be up 6.5% to 7.5%. Those marks are unchanged from the agency’s outlook in July and ends a string of six straight months where the agency increased their outlooks in those three categories. However, USDA did upwardly adjust price forecasts for several individual commodities or categories.
“Prices for many agricultural commodities fell sharply,” with USDA detailing that corn prices fell by 8.5%, soybeans by 11.4% and wheat by 22.7%.
Upward changes to some individual grocery items continue. USDA now sees price inflation for meats, poultry and fish at 9.5% to 10.5% in 2022, up from 9% to 10% in June, with increases in the rate for pork to 8% to 9% (7% to 8% prior) and other meats at 13% to 14% (12% to 12% prior). Price forecasts for beef and veal, poultry, and fish and seafood were kept unchanged from the July outlook.
Egg prices, one of the most-volatile items, are seen up 24.5% to 25.5% in 2022, up from 19.5% to 20.5% in the July forecast.
Other upward adjustments came in fruits and vegetables, now seen up 7% to 8% (6.5% to 7.5% prior), sugar and sweets are expected to rise 8.5% to 9.5% (7.5% to 8.5% prior), nonalcoholic beverages are expected up 8.5% to 9.5% (7.5% to 8.5% prior) and other foods are forecast to rise 12.5% to 13.5% (12% to 13% prior).
- Global Covid-19 cases at 599,445,337 with 6,482,087 deaths.
- U.S. case count is at 94,028,202 with 1,043,089 deaths.
- Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center says there have been 604,654,076 doses administered, 223,914,723 have been fully vaccinated, or 67.96% of the U.S. population.
— The CDC says that almost 40% of people hospitalized in the U.S. with the Covid subvariant that circulated this spring were vaccinated and boosted, highlighting how new strains have mutated to more readily escape immunity provided by current shots.
POLITICS & ELECTIONS
— More women registering to vote after Dobbs decision. The New York Times reports (link) that in the week after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, “more than 70% of newly registered voters in Kansas were women, according to an analysis of the state’s registered voter list.” The NYT says “an unusually high level of new female registrants persisted all the way until the Kansas primary this month, when a strong Democratic turnout helped defeat a referendum that would have effectively ended abortion rights in the state.” This is the “most pronounced example of a broader increase in registration among women since the Dobbs decision, according to an Upshot analysis of 10 states with available voter registration data.” On average in the month after Dobbs, 55% “of newly registered voters in those states were women, according to the analysis, up from just under 50% before the decision was leaked in early May.”
— Biden's job rating rises to 44%, highest in a year. After hitting a record low in July, President Joe Biden's job approval rating is up six percentage points to 44%, his highest in a year. While this uptick represents a significant improvement on the heels of several policy successes for Biden, he remains underwater overall, with 53% of Americans disapproving of his job performance. Link to details via Gallup.
— Biden told Democratic donors that the philosophy espoused by Trump supporters was “like semi-fascism” at a fundraiser Thursday night in Maryland. “It’s not just Trump — it’s the entire philosophy that underpins,” Trump’s wing of the Republican party, Biden said. “I’m going to say something: it’s like semi-fascism.” Meanwhile, Biden cast Republican congressional candidates as committed to “destroying America,” and said he had no respect for adherents of former President Donald Trump, as he kicked off his midterm campaign push with a rally in Maryland’s suburbs. “MAGA Republicans don’t have a clue about the power of women,” Biden said. “Let me tell you something, they are about to find out.” Biden touted a recent stretch of legislative achievements, and told voters they needed to turn out in this year’s elections to protect those policies.
OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE
— Cotton AWP rises again. The Adjusted World Price (AWP) for cotton rose to 104.48 cents per pound, effective today (Aug. 26), up from 101.90 cents per pound and the second straight week back above $1 per pound. Meanwhile, USDA said Special Import Quota #19 would be established Sept. 1 for the importation of 58,062 bales of Upland Cotton, applying to supplies purchased not later than Nov. 29 and entered into the U.S. not later than Feb. 27.
— The U.S. government must release a redacted version of the affidavit that led to the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search by noon ET today, a judge ruled. The Justice Department submitted its proposed redactions early Thursday.