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Updates & Insights (12/11/2020) Thumbnail

Updates & Insights (12/11/2020)

This week, we proudly worked together to help donate 802 pounds of food to the Food Bank of Alaska. We gathered peanut butter, canned chicken, tuna fish, fruit pouches and more. During this unprecedented time of COVID, the Alaska Food Bank has seen a huge surge in demand as more and more families are relying on outside sources. We are grateful to be able to help and give back.

If Santa Fell Off the Roof, Would Your Insurance Cover It? Here's How Your Insurance Company Would Handle These Christmas Movie Mishaps

The season isn’t complete until you’ve watched your favorite holiday movie, right? And with the world continuing to social distance, it’s likely you’ll have some extra time on your hands this month to relax, unwind and enjoy some Christmas classics.

Let’s have a little fun this holiday season and imagine how an insurance company might handle a few Christmas movie mishaps.

Reflecting on 2020: What did we learn?

Baird's Mike Antonelli & John Taft weigh in on what they took away from a tumultuous 2020...

Market Highlights:

  • Claims Miss Big: Weekly initial jobless claims came in at 853,000 (vs. 720,000 Briefing.com consensus). The weekly continuing jobless claims went up to 5.8 Million. This was significantly higher than anticipated and another sign that the economic recovery is stalling due to coronavirus cases and that lockdowns are affecting the job market directly. 
  • Housing Boom Persists: Americans are poised to take out more mortgages this year than ever before. In the first nine months of the year, lenders extended $2.8 trillion of mortgages, according to industry-research firm Inside Mortgage Finance. The boom has extended into the final quarter of 2020, prompting analysts to predict origination volume will exceed the prior record of $3.7 trillion in 2003. Despite the pandemic, record low mortgage rates, the work (and attend school) from home trend, and demographic shifts have contributed to the boom.
  • Pfizer Candidate a Go: An FDA committee voted 17 to 4 that the benefits of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech outweigh the risks for use in people at least 16 years old. The recommendation paves the way for the FDA to grant emergency use authorization (EUA) as early as today. The same committee meets next week to vote on the Moderna candidate, which is also expected to receive EUA. Approval of both could see the US distribute up to 40 million doses by year end.
  • No-deal Brexit Imminent: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared the country for a no-deal Brexit in an interview Thursday, warning there is a strong possibility talks would fail and accused Brussels of wanting to keep the country locked in the EU's orbit (e.g. taxes on imports). Johnson told his Cabinet to prepare for the "Australian option", which is basically trading on WTO rules - common parlance for no-deal Brexit. Johnson said his ministers had agreed that the deal on the table is not really right for the UK. 
  • Stimulus Pessimism Abounds: Multiple reports offered a fairly downbeat assessment of the state of negotiations surrounding a fifth coronavirus relief package. State & local government aid and liability protections for businesses continue to be major hang-ups. There is also disagreement on whether to focus on bipartisan package or the White House package, both of which fall in the approximately $900 billion range, but feature different items. The timeline may be slipping as  Pelosi said that negotiations could stretch beyond Christmas.

Good News:

  • When Tyler Skluzacek, son of combat vet Patrick Skluzacek saw his father’s life unravel as the result of recurring debilitating nightmares, he knew he had to do something about it. With technology patterned on the intuitive countermanding measures PTSD service animals provide, Tyler and his team came up with the prototype for the “anti-night-terror” smartwatch app. The program detects the onset of nocturnal disturbances by measuring the wearer’s heart rate and movement. Before the nightmare can take hold, the app delivers a subtle disruption (equivalent to a gentle nudge or a lick from a dog) to reset the wearer’s sleep pattern. More people will soon be able to benefit from Tyler's invention. An investor purchased the rights to the app and started a company called NightWare.
    Last month, the Food and Drug Administration approved the app, which works with an Apple Watch, to treat PTSD-related nightmare disorders. It will soon be available by prescription through the VA.
  • Greece’s first underwater museum allows visitors to dive back in time to the era of the Peloponnesian War while viewing ancient shipwrecks and pristine coral gardens. Diving down to depths of 80 feet, guides are able to show visitors the 90-foot-long Peristera shipwreck sitting where it sank 2,400 years ago while carrying a cargo of wine and black-glazed clay tableware. The Peristera shipwreck museum, named for a neighboring islet along whose coast where it was discovered, was opened to the public during a pilot period which closed at the end of October. In total more than 300 people arrived, including 250 visitor-divers. The optimistic opening, COVID-19 permitting, will be June 2021. Experienced divers can go with a guide, while non-divers can take a class at the nearby accredited diving centers. Located in the National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades, the first Marine Protected Area established in Greece and the largest in Europe, divers will have the chance to come face to face with over 300 fish species, Mediterranean monk seals, and beautiful coral beds. For those not intending to dive, five underwater cameras can show visitors a glimpse of what’s underneath the waves, including a camera which runs on a 24-hour live stream.
  • Indigenous Amazon leader Nemonte Nenquimo just won the world’s foremost award for grassroots environmental activism for her work to save Ecuador’s rainforests. Her leadership earned her a prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize—known as the ‘Green Nobel’. Nenquimo led an indigenous campaign and legal action that resulted in a court ruling protecting 500,000 acres of Waorani territory in the Amazon rainforest. Nenquimo’s leadership and the lawsuit set a legal precedent for indigenous rights in Ecuador, and other tribes are following in her footsteps to protect additional tracts of rainforest.
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