Long ago, when the world was very young and the cell phones were very large, a terrible beast called inflation laid waste to the land. Then it was slain by the hero Paul of Volcker, and its corpse became an aesthetically pleasing hill covered in wildflowers. But the people never forgot inflation, and at every tremor of the earth and spending of the government dollar they feared it would rise again. But it never did.
Then came the great plague of 2020/2021/infinity, which was like a comet driving inflation's corpse deep underground. There, the people feared, it would gather enough geothermal power to return to life. They doubted their new protector, Jay of Powell, would be able to contain it this time. Sure enough, the beast's corpse is bouncing back out of the earth now, because physics:
This was entirely to be expected, Brian Chappatta writes: If inflation falls by a zillion percent one year, then the year-over-year comparisons the next year will be harrowing. The question now is whether there is enough energy to revive the inflation beast. Probably, uh, not? But the signs still aren't exactly reassuring to those born nervous. Government spending, Fed stimulus, supply bottlenecks, wage pressures and more all tell stories that will keep the villagers nervously eyeballing that no-longer-aesthetically-pleasing hill for a while.
Vaccine Worries: Remember Not to Panic
As if we didn't already have enough vaccine hesitancy in this country, the CDC and FDA today put Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccinations on hold over a handful of episodes of blood clotting. Too many people already thought, incorrectly, of the J&J shot as the "lesser" shot. How will they feel about it now? The clotting risk is vanishingly small — 6 cases out of more than 7 million doses administered so far. Birth control, smoking, long airplane rides and, you know, Covid-19 are far bigger blood-clot risks. But Sam Fazeli points out the very rare episodes in this case were harder to treat and potentially deadlier than those others. We may yet need to steer some higher-risk patients to other vaccines.
Fortunately there are plenty of those vaccines around — more than enough of the so-far clot-free Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to cover everybody, apparently. And you can certainly go too far in criticizing health officials for their decision, as a certain ex-president did, accusing the FDA of wanting to "look important" and having a secret crush on Pfizer.
Still, it's hard not to feel the FDA's "abundance of caution" standard here is actually an overabundance, writes Karl Smith, especially when Covid variants are driving cases higher and killing hundreds of Americans daily. Karl believes the FDA is too cautious generally, which is keeping not only vaccines out of arms but also other potentially life-saving treatments off the market. At the very least, health officials have a lot of PR work to do once they release the J&J shot back into the wild.
Our long national SPACmare will soon reach a crescendo with the biggest SPAC merger in history, which will put a piece of the Asian ride-hailing app Grab in public hands. To call Grab the Uber of Asia is to do an injustice to its ambitions, writes Tara Lachapelle; its aim is to pretty much be the cradle-to-grave app of Asia and maybe also the world. This is an appropriately splashy intro to many of us.
Still, Matt Levine points out, the SPAC-y part of this SPAC is really a speck, raising just $500 million of the company's $40 billion valuation. The other $4 billion comes from massive institutional investors, like in a boring old IPO (ask your parents). The blank-check company Grab is merging with is just a vehicle to tow it onto public markets.
People can't get enough of those tow trucks, though, so the SEC is finally starting to rouse from its 15-year slumber about SPACs, notes Chris Bryant. The agency's recent squinty-eyed pronouncements won't stop the champagne SPAC-ernova, exactly, but they will slow it down. And that's a good thing.
Hedge funds are mounting a long-overdue comeback by making the right style choices at the right time, writes Nir Kaissar.
Europe's oil majors are significantly more pessimistic about the outlook for oil than their American counterparts and have governed themselves accordingly, writes Liam Denning.
Mark Gongloff is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. He previously was a managing editor of Fortune.com, ran the Huffington Post's business and technology coverage, and was a columnist, reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal.
Disclaimer: This article first appeared on bloomberg.com, and is published by special syndication arrangement.