Good morning,

I trust you enjoyed the weekend.

Later today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce England’s roadmap out of lockdown.  July 19th is the terminus date, and with that looming on the horizon, we are anticipating clear guidance as to what the next steps are, and what our future looks like. Social distancing, face coverings, working from home, as well as care home visits will be covered during a press conference at No 10 later.  These measures will only apply to England, as Scotland,  Wales and Northern Ireland have the autonomy to set their own parameter.  However, with the proficient vaccine rollout and dissociation between Covid infections and deaths,  schools and self-isolation periods are expected to be brought into scope too.  In the winter, during the Covid peak, there was one death for every 60 infections, however that is now one per 1,000, which means the benefit of restrictions are significantly diminished.  More than 63% of the UK adult population has now received a second dose, with around 86% having received at least one dose. ‘Personal choice’ is likely to be the underlying message, with the onus on Britons to ‘exercise judgement’ to protect themselves.  The No 10 press conference is scheduled for 5pm today.

There has been a Russian-linked ransomware attack,  suspected to be from a well establish gang called REvil, targeting the global software supply chain.  At least 20 managed-service providers who offer IT to small and medium sized businesses have been impacted, effecting around 1,000 firms, with that figure forecast to grow further.  This was raised to President Biden over the Independence Day weekend by reporters during his visit to a cherry shop in Michigan, which resulted in a very uncomfortable exchange, where President Biden came across muddled, before referring to notes from his jacket.  Biden could be forgiven as he was also attempting to check out with a cashier at the same time, we’ve all been there, however this is the latest in a series of befuddled episodes, including introducing his granddaughter Finnegan at an election rally, as his deceased son Beau; Biden then went on to say that Beau had been elected to the Senate of Delaware, before realising the error and correcting himself by then introducing Finnegan as her cousin Natalie.  The increasing series of confused encounters have prompted Rep. Ronny Jackson, Trump’s former White House doctor, to insist that Biden takes a measuring cognitive test.  The calls for Biden to be assessed are growing, and if there is an issue, could result in Vice President Kamala Harris taking over.

Today,  Amazon founder Jeff Bezos steps down, exactly 27 years after he founded it. He is widely regarded for his alternative management styles and considering profit as a long-term aspiration, such as the two-pizza rule for keeping meetings productive; if you can’t feed the entire group with two pizzas, you have too many people.  Andy Jassay is going to succeed Bezos, now that he is loosening his iron grip over the firm, however not totally.  Jeff will become executive chairman of Amazon’s board, and remains the company’s biggest shareholder. Bezos told his 1.3 million employees that “as much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited for this transition.” For the man worth a little over $200bn, retirement looks comfortable, however he will be focussing on his space company, Blue Origin, where he is expected to be joined by his brother for it’s first flight into space. He is also going to devote more time to the Washington Post, a newspaper he bought in 2013 for $250m, which he has been credited for brining into the digital era, after years of decline.

In a concerning development in the Middle East,  The United Arab Emirates blocked an OPEC+ deal, that cartel leaders Russia and Sauda Arabia hashed out with the view of increasing output, demanding they get better terms.  As has been the case for some time, this is a fraught situation, which over time has become more delicate. This has cornered the UAE’s allies into a challenging position,  as it’s very much an ultimatum, ‘accept these terms, or risk the entire OPEC+ alliance unravelling.’  This deal is designed to reach until the end of 2022, so it would be shaping the oil market well into next year.

This morning report was brought to you by Alex Ayoub

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