Daily Pulse

Canada

Manulife Financial Corp. will require employees in Canada to provide proof of their vaccination status by the end of October and will force unvaccinated staff to undergo regular COVID-19 testing before they work in its offices. Employees who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons must provide a note from a licensed health care professional, Manulife Canada Chief Executive Officer Mike Doughty said in a memo Monday. Those refusing the shots for religious reasons must make a written attestation. The life insurer’s move follows similar policies announced last month by top Canadian banks to make vaccines mandatory, with limited exceptions. “Effective November 1, any colleague who is not fully vaccinated will be required to complete twice-weekly COVID-19 testing, and comply with additional health and safety measures, including the wearing of masks, to work in our offices or to attend a Manulife-hosted event,” Doughty said in the memo. Other attendees at those events will also have to show proof of vaccination, he added. Manulife hasn’t set a date yet for bringing staff back to offices. Only essential workers are allowed through the rest of 2021.

United-States

House Democrats on Monday outlined a bevy of tax hikes on corporations and wealthy people to fund an investment in the social safety net and climate policy that could reach $3.5 trillion. The plan calls for top corporate and individual tax rates of 26.5% and 39.6%, respectively, according to a summary released by the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. The proposal includes a 3% surcharge on individual income above $5 million and a capital gains tax of 25%. It’s unclear how much the tax increases would raise and if the new revenue would offset the full investment in social programs. Democrats could ultimately cut the legislation’s price tag as centrists balk at a $3.5 trillion total. The tax proposals may change before Democrats craft the final bill they hope to pass in coming weeks. The Ways and Means Committee will debate tax policy when it resumes its markup of the mammoth spending package this week. Senate Democrats will also have their say in the tax proposals. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., has called for a corporate rate of 25%, lower than the one favored by House Democrats. He has also expressed concerns about the plan adding to budget deficits.

Europe

European markets pulled back slightly on Tuesday morning as global investors awaited inflation data from the U.S., which could inform the Federal Reserve’s timing for tapering its monetary stimulus. The pan-European Stoxx 600 slid 0.25% in early trade, with mining stocks dropping 1.8% to lead losses as all sectors fell into negative territory except autos, which added 0.7%.The fallout from Brexit continues to rumble on, with Britain once again on Monday threatening to unilaterally suspend the Northern Ireland protocol, a key tenet of the withdrawal agreement, if the European Union does not budge on renegotiations to iron out implementation problems. On another note, European Central Bank policymaker Isabel Schnabel said on Monday that the ECB is ready to act if inflation does not ease as soon as next year, as currently expected.

Asia

South Korea’s competition regulator on Tuesday announced it will fine Google 207.4 billion Korean won ($176.9 million) for allegedly using its dominant market position in the mobile operating system space to stifle competition. Google’s Android operating system currently holds the lion’s share of the smartphone market, ahead of Apple’s iOS platform. The U.S. tech giant allegedly used its market position to block smartphone makers like Samsung from using operating systems developed by rivals, according to the Korea Fair Trade Commission. Yonhap News added that the regulator, which published its decision in Korean, said the tech giant required smartphone makers to agree to an “anti-fragmentation agreement (AFA)” when signing key contracts with Google over app store licenses and early access to the operating system. In late August, the country’s parliament approved a bill that will allow app developers to avoid paying hefty commissions to major app store operators, including Google, by directing users to pay via alternate platforms.

The author

Michel Doucet

Michel Doucet

Vice-President and Portfolio Manager
After obtaining a Bachelor's degree from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Université du Québec in Montréal and his Master’s degree, Michel Doucet began his career as a junior economist at the National Bank head office in Montreal. In 1992 he joined the institutional equities and fixed income group at Lévesque Beaubien Geoffrion as an economist and market analyst. Over the years, he has led various projects related to the North American and international economies as well as Canadian public finances. In 1996, the team of institutional economists to which he belongs was ranked first in Canada by Brendan Wood International. In August 1997, Mr. Doucet joined the personal services division of Lévesque Beaubien Geoffrion where he served as an economist, fixed income market analyst and vice president. In 2004, he joined the Desjardins Securities full service team as Vice President. He now occupies the roles of fixed income strategist, economist and portfolio manager. He manages the Securities Portfolio Advisory Group, advisor marketing and distribution of financial planning and insurance.