Watson’s Weekly 11-10-2020

This is an amalgamation of the “best bits” of the daily weekday newsletter/blog woven together to form a concise and coherent view on the things that matter in the commercial and economic news of the week. 

THE DAY IN BRACKETS REFERS TO THE EDITION WHERE THE STORY APPEARED IN WATSON’S DAILY. Clicking on the day will take you to the appropriate edition of Watson’s Daily.


  • So Trump returned with a bang this week (Tuesday), saying that getting coronavirus was a “blessing from God” because it had led him (!) to a cure. He reserved particular praise for his antibody treatment from Regeneron (Thursday). Eli Lilly is now pushing the FDA for emergency use of its antibody treatment for mild-to-moderate coronavirus cases (Thursday)
  • The German government is getting increasingly concerned about the precarious nature of Spain’s economy (Tuesday) and that it is now more vulnerable than Italy or Greece! Not great when you consider that it is one of Europe’s major economies. If that wasn’t bad enough, the High Court for the Madrid region rejected new government measures restricting access into and out of Madrid (Friday) saying that they violated fundamental rights and had no legal basis. This makes an already difficult situation with an unstable coalition, unco-operative regional governments – and now courts – much worse. It will make following guidelines extremely difficult because no-one is going to know who to believe!
  • Indonesia announced major reforms in tax and labour laws (Tuesday) in an attempt to attract foreign investment. This is important given that all countries are trying to boost their economies – but Indonesia probably has an eye on inward investment from companies who want to diversify their supply chain away from China but still stay in the region. Up until now, employment severance payments were among the highest in the world, potentially scaring many away from too much commitment. That is now clearly changing…


  • China announced the broader rollout of an experimental vaccine from state-controlled SinoPharm (Monday). It has actually been distributing the vaccine since July to frontline workers and state employees. These vaccines have not passed all tests thus far so the subjects are taking big risks here. Having said that, I really hope that they work out!


  • In EMPLOYMENT – chances are that we’re going to be working from home on a permanent basis (Monday). A survey from the British Council for Offices showed that the majority of white-collar workers want to have a mix of home-based and office working. This trend would seem to be borne out by historic rail traffic lows (Friday) and the fact that London is currently experiencing a weaker recruitment uptick than most regions (Thursday)
  • In CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR – we continue to order more online – which has led to DPD to announce 20,000 more jobs (Monday) – and download more games online, according to Codemasters (Thursday). In fact, a PwC survey showed that households are generally upbeat on finances (Wednesday) but we’re only really spending on groceries and DIY! We’re also apparently spending on Rolexes (Wednesday) and suburban Wagamamas (Wednesday). On the downside, the 10pm curfew is dampening spending (Tuesday) and we’re not going to cinemas (Monday) because the blockbusters keep getting booted into next year! Despite the gloom now, it seems that Ikea continues to push forth in opening city centre shops (Wednesday)


  • Samsung had excellent results (Thursday) thanks to stronger smartphone and consumer electronics sales and a boost in its 5G network business as it benefits from being a Huawei alternative. Facebook has decided to ignore Turkey’s new stricter laws on social media (Wednesday) that are ostensibly intended to make them more responsible for trolling (and other nasties) but also have a handy side effect of further enabling President Erdogan to control the narrative in his country (handy, that is, from Erdogan’s point of view!). Google has decided to play safe in India (Tuesday) by bowing to pressure not to impose its Play Store billing policy (30% on in-app purchases) for the moment. Given it is trying to make serious inroads into this market, it seems logical that they should tread more carefully here. There was a great deal of resistance to this from local developers


  • Watson’s Yearly updates: watch this space!


There were some pretty uplifting “alternative” stories in Watson’s Daily this week, but my favourite ones were the brilliant ‘Drive-in wedding’ in Chelmsford bypasses Covid restrictions (bbc.com) and the hilarious Genius pet owner makes dog-sized holes in fence so pooch can watch passers-by (The Mirror, Courtney Pochin). Brilliant 😂!