Watson’s Weekly 14-11-2020

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 Donald Trump was in a bit of a huff this week as Joe Biden appeared to beat him to the White House and said he’d go to court to dispute the result (Monday)
  • The EU started to impose $4bn-worth of tariffs on US goods (Tuesday) following the WTO’s latest decision in the 16-year transatlantic legal spat between Airbus and Boeing as each side has taken turns accusing the other of getting too much state help. I wonder whether the EU is doing this to poke Biden and get him to the negotiation table when he takes office in January
  • Then our very own BoJo introduced new takeover rules (Wednesday) designed to protect certain key sectors from foreign takeover – but it’s really all about China (and probably the sovereign wealth funds of oil-rich countries). This brings us in line with many other countries who have gone all protectionist since lockdown started


  • Markets shot up on news that Pfizer/BioNTech have a decent coronavirus vaccine candidate (Tuesday) and previously bombed out sectors like airlines, office landlords and events companies saw their share prices shoot up while previous winners, including Big Tech, lost ground. Volumes got so frenzied on the markets that trading websites including those of Hargreaves Lansdown, AJ Bell and Fidelity crashed (Tuesday)!
  • There are other vaccine candidates out there including those from Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford University and Sanofi/GSK (Wednesday) but there are still hurdles to overcome before the authorities give them the all-clear (Thursday) including those involving production (social distancing employees?), transportation (Pfizer’s drug has to be stored below -70ºC) and distribution (can they get the vaccines out fast enough and who are they going to prioritise?). A lot of the safety stats of these drug candidates are due out in the coming weeks


  • As I said above, Big Tech stocks got sold off (Wednesday) as investors crystallised gains but I think that they will bounce back as the drivers that got them to ever-increasing heights are still there (working from home etc.)
  • It was particularly interesting to see China clamping down on tech companies (Wednesday) as the State Administration for Market Regulation is currently looking to bring in rules that define – for the first time – what anti-competitive behaviour is. It is in a period of “discussion” about this at the moment that will conclude at the end of this month but share prices of Alibaba, Tencent, JD.com, Xiaomi and Meituan were all weaker as investors worried about the potentially massive impact. The sheer size and strength of Alibaba was evidenced in yet another record-breaking day of takings on Singles Day (Thursday) as it saw $75.1bn-worth of sales in just one day!
  • TikTok challenged the White House, saying that its constitutional rights had been violated (Thursday) and it won a delay to Trump’s original deadline (Friday)
  • The EU took on Amazon (Wednesday) regarding allegations that it is using data to compete unfairly with third party vendors on its website. Let’s hope Vestager wins this time because after the bloody nose Apple gave her a few months back, she needs a win otherwise both she and the European are toast IMO
  • Spotify bought Megaphone for $235m (Wednesday) in the latest of a string of podcast-related acquisitions


  • The Chinese consumer is spending on European luxury goods (Monday), which is great news for some, but it seems that Burberry isn’t getting the benefit at the moment (Friday) and it is currently fighting to keep the VAT relief thing going – not surprising when you consider that two-thirds of their customers in the UK are tourists
  • British retailers are getting nervous about Christmas (Thursday) because online demand is going through the roof right now to the extent that shops are having to send stock back to warehouses so they can fulfil online orders


  • Watson’s Yearly updates: watch this space!


My favourite “alternative” stories were the one about the apologetic tooth fairy in Mum forgets tooth fairy visit but saves the day with clever note (The Mirror, Paige Holland) and the highly controversial Pigs in blankets cheesecake is driving people wild as it’s ‘so wrong it’s right’ (The Mirror, Courtney Pochin). What do you think??