Vaccine Tourism Is an Economic Boon for Some Towns


For Quincy, Illinois, hosting a mass-vaccination site is helping revive what had been, pre-pandemic, a strong tourism industry. The city of 40,000, about five hours from Chicago, typically hosts all sorts of visitors in a normal year: road-trippers following the national scenic byway along the Mississippi River, Abraham Lincoln enthusiasts mapping the 16th president’s travels (he and Stephen Douglas held a debate in the city in 1858), and Mormons tracing their faith’s westward migration. When the virus hit, many of these guests stopped coming to town, causing hotel tax revenues to plunge by more than 30 percent and dealing a blow to the city’s restaurant scene. But since the Quincy mass-vaccination site opened to all of Illinois in March, the city has drawn more than 2,000 tourists each week from outside the region, many from the Chicago area. “It’s definitely something that we’re encouraged by,” Holly Cain, the director of the Quincy Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, told me.

The tourists seem to be helping reverse some of the city’s economic losses. Teri Zanger, the general manager of the local Quality Inn, told me the hotel had laid off employees at the beginning of the pandemic, but now vaccine tourists have increased bookings by roughly 25 percent, filling every available room. The hotel is now in the process of hiring again. Lindsey Schmidt, a staffer at Winkings Market, said that the restaurant and grocery store was also seeing a surge in out-of-town customers. The boost has been so significant that the store seems to be doing better business now than it was before the pandemic. “If you know the restaurant industry, you know the winters are tough. Everything drops down,” Schmidt told me. “But we’ve been having a summer in the winter.”

These places can all use the additional dollars. Over the past four decades, wealth in America has flowed to a handful of already-rich metropolitan areas, leaving other parts of the country behind. Quincy’s population has declined since 1970, and, as in Plattsburgh and Habersham, its median income is below the national average. In some cities hosting mass-vaccination sites, such as Kennewick, Washington, business leaders told me they aren’t aware of any economic benefits. Regardless, economics isn’t everything: If the boost in commerce was coming at the expense of locals getting their shots, that would be a bad trade-off.

But while lots of rural Americans, particularly in areas without pharmacies, are genuinely struggling to get jabbed, there haven’t been any clear downsides to vaccine tourism for some communities. The share of vaccinated residents in the counties including and surrounding Plattsburgh exceeds the statewide average. Adams County, home to Quincy, has the highest percentage of fully inoculated residents of any county in Illinois. Three of the four neighboring counties also have an above-average share. “It’s been a win-win for us,” Kyle Moore, Quincy’s mayor, told me. “We know that the state can get back on its feet quicker the more people who are vaccinated, and if we can play a part in that, we’re happy to do it.”

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Public investment in infrastructure would be a much needed boon to the Australian economy | Australian economy


In some good news, the latest payroll job numbers released on Tuesday showed that the number of jobs is back to where it was last year just before the impact of the pandemic shutdown hit in the middle of March.

But nothing is ever simple in the economy, and a closer look reveals that the growth has come from only a small number of industries – especially public administration:

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Scott Morrison likes to say governments don’t create jobs, but were it not for the public service, and the overwhelmingly public sector heath care industry, the overall picture would be much worse.

While total numbers look fine, there remains a lot of weakness in the economy.

Where there is some clear cause for concern is in the construction sector.

Work in construction always drops over Christmas, but this year it has failed to recover, and the number of jobs in the industry is some 3.8% below what it was a year ago:

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That’s not great given the government has been crowing about the success of its homebuilder program. But it just highlights that while home construction and renovations are important, so too is non-dwelling construction:

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And of course the public sector is also a great creator of construction work via infrastructure programs.

What construction workers, and the economy as a whole needs, is investment. But the latest finance and wealth data from the bureau of statistics revealed that 2020 was the worst year for investment in over 30 years:

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And we truly see the impact of that in the latest engineering construction figures released yesterday.

In the final three months of last year, engineering construction work – which includes a raft of aspects such as road, rail, bridges, telecommunication and sewerage – fell for both private and public sectors:

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The 1.8% fall for work done by the private sector for the private sector (as opposed to contracts for governments) means that for nine out of the past 12 quarters, private sector work has fallen.

It is a nice reminder that even before the pandemic, things were not going swimmingly.

Unfortunately we are not seeing the public sector take up the slack:

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The sudden drop-off in the last three months of last year might be somewhat due to shutdowns, but there was no real sign of any explosion of work before then.

In December the real value of infrastructure work done for the public sector was the lowest for five years – a big part of which was a drop in the amount of work done building roads and on the NBN:

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And given construction jobs remain well down on what they were a year ago, there does not appear to be much reason to believe there has been a strong pick up in infrastructure work in the first three months of this year.

That is a concern because while private investment remains down, the public sector needs to fill the hole, and right now, aside from the homebuilder program, there is little sign of that occurring:

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The return of the total job numbers to pre-pandemic levels is obviously good. But it should not be taken as sign that things are back to normal – or that the economy is as it was prior to the pandemic.

Firstly, prior to the pandemic the economy was not all that healthy, and secondly, the job numbers are very much driven by a minority of industries, while others remain very much in need of public investment and new infrastructure programs.

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Australia cricket 2020 vs India, concussion substitute, Justin Langer, David Boon, Mark Waugh


Watch the T20I series between Australia and India live on Fox Cricket.

Mark Waugh has called for a change to the ICC’s concussion protocol after India controversially substituted Ravindra Jadeja during an 11-run win in the first T20.

Australia coach Justin Langer blew up at match referee David Boon on the night after being informed Jadeja would be replaced by spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who took 3-25 in a man-of-the-match performance.

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Langer gets HEATED with Boon

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Ravindra Jadeja sub, Justin Langer, David Boon, Yuzvendra Chahal


Aussie captain Justin Langer and former Aussie cricket teammate David Boon were caught in a heated fight on the boundary after India pulled a fast one on Australia in Friday night’s T20 series opener.

India left the cricket world divided in two after star batsman Ravi Jadeja was subbed out of the game after a brilliant, late first innings knock that rescued India.

He blasted 44 from 23, but was treated for an apparent hamstring complaint during his fiery innings.

Seemingly out of nowhere, India announced during the innings break — after finishing 7/161 from 20 overs — that Jadeja was subbed out for Yuzvendra Chahal as a concussion replacement.

The move allowed India to replace a batsman with a bowler after they had been heading into Australia’s innings with just four first-class bowlers.

The concussion sub came to their rescue.

Jadeja was hit on the helmet in the final over after top edging the ball into his helmet.

However, he received no medial treatment or assessment until after walking off the field at the end of the innings.

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With Jadeja ruled out with concussion, 12th man Chahal got the call up as a fortuitous bowling option.

He made a huge first impression, picking up two wickets in his first two overs, to turn Australia’s run chase on its head.

He finished with 3/25 from four overs, having picked up the big wickets of Aaron Finch, Steve Smith and Matthew Wade.

Australia never recovered and finished 11 runs short at 7/150 as India took a 1-0 lead in the series.

Chahal was named man of the match, just to rub salt into Langer’s wounds.

Fox Cricket commentator Adam Gilchrist said Langer would not have been happy to see the concussion sub make such a big impact on the contest.

Langer appeared to be seething when speaking with match referee Boon in a conversation that many have declared was a heated exchange about India’s move.

Gilchrist further explained why Langer would have been asking questions to Boon.

“I assume the Australian management would be saying ‘I’m sure there would be protocols that need to be met to make that judgment’,” he said.

“Do the test, because he scored a lions share of his runs after that.”

Waugh added: “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have a substitute who can then bowl for you and then bat on.”

The reaction from across the cricket world was sceptical of Jadeja’s condition.

Former English captain Michael Vaughan posted on Twitter he could smell a rat.

“No Doctor or Physio came out to Test Jadeja for concussion … he then looks like he has done something to his leg … then they pull the concussion replacement .. !!!!! #RatSniffed,” Vaughan wrote.

Aussie Test star Usman Khawaja called the tactic “cagey” from the Indians.

Indian Test great Aakash Chopra cheekily posted on Twitter the switch gave India the “best of both worlds”.

It is a headache Langer predicted four years ago when discussing the introduction of concussion subs in 2016.

He admitted he had doubts teams would “respect” the spirit of the rule.

“The problem is when people start looking for loopholes. Then it’s no good, it wrecks it for everybody,” he said.

“We don’t have runners any more but if people had maintained the integrity of that then we’d still have runners.”

Aussie cricket great Tom Moody pointed out on Twitter that India should have assessed Jadeja immediately and treated the incident as serious when he was struck on the helmet — instead of waiting until the end of the innings.

“I have no issue with Jadeja being substitute with Chahal. But I do have an issue with a Doctor & Physio not being present after Jadeja was struck on the helmet which I believe is protocol now,” he posted on Twitter.

His sentiments were echoed by former Australian player and ABC radio commentator Michelle Goszko.

“The ball did whack him on the badge of the helmet, but there was no physio or doctor that came out to check on him,” she said.

“Normally there’s a concussion assessment done on the ground but there wasn’t.”

India announced during the break that Jadeja was being assessed by medical staff.

“Ravindra Jadeja was hit on the helmet in the final over of the first innings of the first T20I.

Yuzvendra Chahal will take the field in the 2nd innings as a concussion substitute,” the BCCI announced.

“Jadeja is currently being assessed by the BCCI Medical Team.”



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Super-sub stars for India after Langer, Boon butt heads over concussion call


Jadeja had sustained a blow to the helmet from a rising delivery by Mitchell Starc in the final over of India’s innings but recovered quickly and was not assessed by medicos, staying out in the middle for the last four balls and facing three of them. It came after the India No.7 had received extensive treatment on a leg injury during the previous over in which Josh Hazlewood was thrashed for 23 runs and Jadeja (44 not out from 23 balls) put the foot down with a late charge.

Langer was left furious, shaking his head and remonstrating with Boon as Australia captain Finch watched on before heading out to bat.

Justin Langer was visibly furious with match referee David Boon.Credit:Fox Sports

“[Boon] was letting us know that their doctor had ruled Jadeja out with concussion,” Finch said. “There is not much you can say to that. You’re not challenging a medical expert in that regard.”

Teams are permitted to make a like-for-like substitution if a player is concussed but Langer clearly believed it was because of the leg problem that Jadeja wasn’t going to be able to bowl and India were receiving an undue advantage with Chahal’s entry to the game.

Yet the fact Jadeja was not assessed straight after being hit did not in itself contravene ICC concussion sub rules, which were brought in ahead of last year’s Ashes and first put into action when Steve Smith was struck by Jofra Archer at Lord’s and replaced by Marnus Labuschagne.

The guidelines state that a team doctor or physio should run on for an on-field assessment “if called on by the umpire; if a player is down and players are calling for assistance; immediately, if there is a head knock and the player is unable to resume after three to four seconds; if a player calls for a new helmet following a head injury; and; at the end of the over, if the player resumes play.” Only the final reason applied to Jadeja but as he was hit in the last over, he walked off after it rather than a doctor running on.

 Australian captain Aaron Finch trudges off as Virat Kohli congratulates Yuzvendra Chahal for the first of his three wickets.

Australian captain Aaron Finch trudges off as Virat Kohli congratulates Yuzvendra Chahal for the first of his three wickets.Credit:Getty

“He was a bit dizzy, he still is,” India captain Virat Kohli said. “Concussion replacements … today it worked for us, maybe another time we wouldn’t have found a like for like. Chahal came in and bowled really well.”

Already annoyed, Langer’s mood was not improved when Chahal removed Finch for 35 from 26 in his first over and then Smith in his next, the dismissals completed by superb catches from Hardik Pandya and Sanju Samson respectively. To make it worse, Finch batted in discomfort after hurting his hip in the field.

“It progressively got worse throughout the game. I’m sure I’ll have the scan tomorrow and see how we go,” Finch said.

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D’Arcy Short, standing in for the injured David Warner, was given a life on 18 when Kohli spilled a regulation high catch but his 34 from 38 did not get Australia rolling and while Moises Henriques added 30 from 20 they wound up 7-150, short of India’s 7-161, before a crowd of 5835.

Amid defeat there was at least a career highlight for leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, who with Ashton Agar sidelined with a calf strain had been driven down the Hume Highway from Sydney to join the team and was rewarded with the wicket of Kohli when the India captain shanked a return catch to him.

Australia then had the tourists on the back foot at 5-92 thanks to Henriques (3-22 from four) and Adam Zampa (1-20 from four), with the leggie ending opener KL Rahul’s 40-ball burst for 52.

That was before Jadeja’s expansive and later controversial cameo.

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Why the Biden presidency will be a boon for sustainable investment


Patsky manages ESG funds for Australian investors through the Sydney-based fund manager Perpetual, which bought Trillium in July. He expects returns are likely to increase as Biden forges ahead with his sustainability mandate, benefiting makers of electric vehicles, LED lighting and renewable energy stocks.

The Trump administration took ESG investing backwards, Patsky says, by changing laws to prevent retirement funds measuring ESG risk, spreading misinformation about renewable energy and rolling back energy efficiency standards.

Biden has made no secret of his disdain for oil and has flagged plans to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and adopt a net zero emissions by 2050 target. Patsky says this approach will have ripple effects globally.

‘The penny has dropped’

With America accounting for a quarter of global energy consumption and half of the world’s stocks, Patsky says “changes in the US are going to be felt around the world”.

“The kind of activity we are about to see is exponential growth,” he says. “I’m not talking about just Trillium, I’m talking about the entire ESG field.”

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Australian assets in ESG funds surpassed $1 trillion this year, according to the Responsible Investment Association Australasia’s annual report released in September, and chief executive Simon O’Connor says the new global leadership will accelerate this trend.

“The penny has dropped for many Australians out there in terms of one of the biggest impacts they can have is redirecting their super and investments,” O’Connor says. “A Biden administration will only unlock further demand.”

Hyperion Asset Management’s chief investment officer Mark Arnold says the Biden administration will put pressure on the Australian government to change its energy mix and modernise the economy, shifting investment away from “old world” industries like thermal coal and oil.

“Australian politicians have been sort of hiding behind Trump,” Arnold says. “Trump has ignored the obvious dangers of climate change and that’s [allowed] a lot of politicians around the world, including Australia, to not do anything and kick the can down the road.”

Analysis conducted by Hyperion this week classified 77 per cent of companies in the S&P/ASX300 as “old world” – meaning that without innovation and adapting to changing structural shifts many will stagnate, or ultimately, collapse.

Trump has ignored the obvious dangers of climate change and that’s [allowed] a lot of politicians around the world, including Australia, to not do anything and kick the can down the road.

Hyperion Asset Management’s Mark Arnold

Where Trump’s leadership focused on “backing the status quo”, Arnold says Biden will promote innovation and forward-looking industries – rich pickings for ESG investors.

“We would think those big oil and gas businesses would go bankrupt over the next decade or so,” Arnold says. “Governments can then give incentives that will nudge innovation in the right way.”

Citi’s head of ESG research Zoe Whitton says ESG investing was already on the rise this year, with COVID-19 and the summer bushfires homing in on the importance of non-financial risk. However, Biden’s new trajectory could represent a “catalyst” for the industry as investors are forced to price in policies that could hurt Australian companies.

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Whitton says Biden may be constrained by a Republican-dominated Senate, but would be free to make major shifts in America’s foreign policy.

“The US has lost global leadership on climate,” she says. “They’re going to want to lean into this quite hard and take the role on the global stage that they did have on this large economic transformation story.”

The Biden administration will pursue emissions reductions policies and hold global leaders to account, she says, through aggressive trade policy that could include an international price on carbon.

“Are policies on climate about to become part of trade policy? With Biden, it’s likely they are,” says Whitton.

This could impact not only obvious players like export-exposed mining companies, but also exporters who have high emissions in the production line like concrete and steel producers, she says.

“What we often talk about in ESG is, we’re aware of changes being afoot and a lot of issues embedded in the economy that might become an investment risk if there were a catalyst,” she says. “A Biden administration will start to provide more catalysts.”

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Why a Biden victory may turn out to be an unexpected boon for the Canadian oilpatch


Article content continued

“To the degree that there are these centrist politicians going to the Senate Energy Committee, he’s going to be put in a position where he will have to provide votes for not just green energy projects, but all-of-the-above energy projects,” Morse said.

The same considerations would limit the potential of an outright fracking ban, which would require legislation, he said.

As a result, Biden in the White House would be able to limit the issuance of new licences on federal lands, but would need Congress to pass an outright ban on fracking, limiting the potential that such a ban would come to pass.

Morse is more confident that a Biden administration would engage with Iran to renegotiate a nuclear agreement, potentially paving the way for that country’s production to come back to the market in stages in 2021 or later.

Currently, two million barrels of Iranian oil production are sitting out of the market as a result of U.S. sanctions on the country. Should those barrels come back into the market, even in stages, it would have a bearish effect on global oil prices at a time of anemic consumption.

Global oil demand is currently about eight million bpd lower than it was at the beginning of the year, so adding production from either Iran or Venezuela would be “disruptive,” said Ian Nieboer, managing director of Enverus, an energy analytics provider.

“A disruptive amount of volume could be re-entering the market at a time when we probably least need it,” he said. “It’s not only the magnitude of the volumes that can come back, we’re in this COVID-19 period and the sensitivity to supply in the market is big.”

Nieboer said various policy factors in the U.S. are in flux, so what effect a Biden presidency would have on global oil markets is extremely uncertain.

“It’s an important moment in the energy industry, full stop,” he said. “It’s an important moment in U.S. history, full stop.”

• Email: gmorgan@nationalpost.com | Twitter:





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