2:00PM Water Cooler 6/25/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. The three main poles of our multipolar world:

If you’re asking which political system took better care of its citizens, and working class, in particular — China, Europe, or the United States — it’s not hard question to answer, is It? I hold no brief whatever for the CCP, and believe them to be as incapble of nobless oblige simple human decency as our own ruling class, and therefore I’d speculate that the balance of class power is different; China’s elites fear their working class in a way that United States elites do not.

AZ: “Fewer than 200 ICU beds available in Arizona as state reports more than 60,000 coronavirus cases” [ABC15]. “There are 198 Adult Intensive Care Unit beds available in the state, or 12%, as of Wednesday, state data shows. There are currently 1,495 ICU beds, or 88%, in use.”

FL: “Florida has less than 25% of its ICU beds available, state data shows” [News4Jax]. “Florida is currently seeing a surge in new coronavirus cases with the state’s seven highest daily increases since the pandemic began coming in the last week. But it’s not clear if that’s what’s causing the near-shortage in ICU beds. In fact, a Jacksonville doctor told News4Jax on Wednesday that — at least locally — most of the patients coming to the hospital with COVID-19 right now aren’t showing severe symptoms that require ventilators.” • OTOH, it looks like the State is gaming the capacity figures.

FL: “Homestead Hospital’s ICU at Capacity, Baptist Health Officials Say” [NBC6]. “Baptist Health confirmed that Homestead Hospital’s intensive care unit is at capacity due in part to coronavirus and more patients having elective surgeries, officials said Tuesday. Baptist Health officials said they are able to transfer patients to other hospitals in their system to manage capacity. Regular beds can also be converted to ICU and acute care beds if needed, they added.”

TX: “TMC 2-Week Projection Using Bed Occupancy Growth” [Texas Medical Center]. Handy chart:

TX: “Texas governor says there is a “massive” coronavirus outbreak across the state after reopening” [CBS]. “Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday the state is facing a “massive outbreak” in the coronavirus pandemic and that greater restrictions may be necessary….. New restrictions would be a reversal of Texas’ reopening plan, which has been moving forward this month despite the continued increase in cases and hospitalizations.”

The view from AEI and Pfizer:

“With technology” sounds like a deus ex machina to me (or, to put it less kindly, “And then, a miracle occurs!” That doesn’t mean I think the situation is hopeless; just what’s worked has been well-understood public heatlh thinking dating back to the Victorian era, not shiny toys. That, and doctors and nurses fighting through cases to learn which treatments work.)


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Since we’re getting closer to the election, maybe it’s time to start looking at the electoral map. As of June 21: NPR and U.S. News forecasts added. Lots of new polls. And get so far the consensus remains the same.

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in play: AZ (11), FL (29), MI (16), NC (15), PA (20), and WI (10) plus 1 to win not tie = 102. 102 – 66 = 36. So if Trump wins FL, MI, NC, and PA (29 + 16 + 15 + 20 = 80), he wins. That’s a heavy lift. I think I’ve got the math right this time!


Biden (D)(1): “Dems warm to Biden’s bunker strategy” [Politico]. “In the three months Biden launched his stay-at-home campaign from his cellar TV studio, his lead has grown to double-digits in national polls while Trump has pinballed from crisis to crisis. While the president’s approval ratings have suffered under the weight of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, an economic recession and protests over racism and police brutality, Biden just posted his widest lead yet — 14 percentage points, according to a New York Times/Siena poll released Wednesday. ‘Trump is running against Trump. And it’s smart of Biden to not get in the way of that,’ Hilary Rosen, a consulting partner of top Biden adviser Anita Dunn, said in echoing the sentiment in the campaign. ‘It’s become a referendum on Trump’s behavior.’ Democrats who were once alarmed that Biden needed to do more are suddenly perfectly happy with a schedule that keeps him as close as possible to his Wilmington, Del., home most days. Only recently has he begun to make forays beyond his own neighborhood.” • The beauty part of a Democrat running and winning as Not Trump™ is that they make no policy commitments. To voters, I mean. Not donors.

UPDATE Biden (D)(2): “Blackstone’s Tony James Hosts Fundraiser for Biden” [Bloomberg]. “Blackstone Group Inc. Executive Vice Chairman Tony James hosted a small, high-dollar fundraiser for Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday. James and his wife, Amabel, led the virtual event for 30 donors with Biden, who’s been appearing nearly daily at fundraisers before the end of the quarter next week. Biden has been seeking to balance his efforts to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for his campaign from wealthy donors with the policy concerns of progressives who hope to see him enact tough rules on Wall Street if elected… ‘We’ve got to bring it back, we’ve got to rebuild the middle class and this time we’ve got to bring everybody along. Everybody of color. Those with disabilities. We’ve got to bring them all along. When we do, everybody’s better off,’ he said. ‘We can all win together,’ James responded.” • Wut:

“This time.”

Trump (R)(1): “Will 2020 Be a Repeat of 1972 and 1984 or a Version of 1994?” [Cook Political Report]. “For 38 months, President Trump’s job-approval numbers have seemed impervious to news developments, either positive or negative. His approval numbers declined through 2017, as he ended his first year under 40 percent, but through 2018 and 2019 they gradually ticked up to the mid-40s. Apart from that modest ebb and flow, his numbers just didn’t move. Even in the early stages of the coronavirus crisis and the economy going off a cliff, his numbers were frozen in place. But starting about the beginning of April, seven weeks before George Floyd’s tragic death in Minneapolis under the knee of a police officer, Trump’s approval rating started declining. His RealClearPolitics average peaked on March 30 at 47 percent with a 50 percent disapproval; as of Monday afternoon, his approval stood at 42 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. When matched up with Joe Biden, Trump typically trailed by about 5 or 6 points. At the end of March, the numbers started oscillating, as undecideds jumped from about 5 percent to 12 percent of the electorate. Then, beginning two weeks ago, about five days after Floyd’s death, a new pattern set in. Now the RCP average shows an 8-point lead for Biden. If we look at only live telephone interview surveys, his lead swells to about 10 points.”

Trump (R)(2): “This is the best American policy in 50 years” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “he United States is in the pit of the deepest recession since the 1930s. And yet, a recent study from the University of Chicago using Census data found that the poverty rate actually decreased from 10.9 percent in early 2020 to 8.6 percent in April and May. That’s not just unusual and highly welcome, it is the lowest rate ever recorded since the government began keeping official poverty figures in the 1960s. The reason is two parts of the CARES Act, passed back in March: the one-off economic rescue payment (which gave $1,200 to most individuals, and $500 to children) and the huge expansion of unemployment benefits. Despite ongoing administrative difficulties, these programs are certainly the most progressive policy America has seen in over half a century — nothing else since Medicare, Medicaid, and various civil rights laws from the mid-1960s can compare in impact.” • Now, that doesn’t mean these programs will persist. However, it’s worth nothing that the CARES Act — with Orange Hitler in the Oval Office, and a Republican Senate — has been far more effective in relieving suffering for the working class than Obama’s miserably inadequate response to the Crash of ~2008 and the subseqent foreclosure crisis, when Democrat held the House and the Senate, and Obama was the greatest orator of our time and the next FDR. It’s a funny old world.

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UPDATE “Booker edges ahead of McGrath in too-close-to-call Kentucky Senate Democratic primary” [NBC News]. “With 12 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Booker, whose candidacy has received the support of progressive lawmakers and groups around the country, led McGrath 45.1 percent to 40.2 percent, or by just over 3,200 votes, according to NBC News. The race remains too close to call, NBC News projects. The current tally includes only votes cast in person at the polls on Tuesday. Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots that will likely determine the outcome of the race have not yet been counted and will not be for days.” • So Booker edges ahead due to his late surge. Now we get to see how many voters the DNC suckered into early voting for McGrath. Still, good news in my book. If Booker wins, that would be truly seismic.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Coronavirus threatens democracy, prominent figures warn” [Politico]. “The future of liberal democracy is under threat because of the Covid-19 pandemic, as even democratically-elected governments have accumulated emergency powers that restrict human rights, numerous prominent figures argue in an open letter published Thursday…. It was signed by such well-known Americans as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Trump national security adviser H.R. McMaster, former U.S. Sens. Tom Daschle and Gary Hart, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, and Hollywood actor Richard Gere.” • Oh.

“Introducing the ‘Great Reset,’ world leaders’ radical plan to transform the economy” [The Hill]. “For decades, progressives have attempted to use climate change to justify liberal policy changes. But their latest attempt – a new proposal called the ‘Great Reset’ – is the most ambitious and radical plan the world has seen in more than a generation. At a virtual meeting earlier in June hosted by the World Economic Forum, some of the planet’s most powerful business leaders, government officials and activists announced a proposal to ‘reset’ the global economy. Instead of traditional capitalism, the high-profile group said the world should adopt more socialistic policies, such as wealth taxes, additional regulations and massive Green New Deal-like government programs. ‘Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed,’ wrote Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, in an article published on WEF’s website. ‘In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.’ Schwab also said that ‘all aspects of our societies and economies’ must be ‘revamped,’ ‘from education to social contracts and working conditions.’ Joining Schwab at the WEF event was Prince Charles, one of the primary proponents of the Great Reset; Gina Gopinath, the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund; António Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations; and CEOs and presidents of major international corporations, such as Microsoft and BP. Activists from groups such as Greenpeace International and a variety of academics also attended the event or have expressed their support for the Great Reset.” • No wonder the reaction to Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans was so vicious….

“America’s Democratic Unraveling” [Daron Acemoglu, Foreign Affairs]. Fighting through the anti-Trump ranting, we come to this: “U.S. institutions were vulnerable to Trump’s attack because public trust had been quietly ebbing away from them for some time… The financial crisis of 2008, and the subsequent bailout for banks, only accelerated the trend toward inequality and deepened distrust in Congress, the judiciary, the Federal Reserve, and regulatory agencies. To regain that trust, the next administration must confront endemic racism as well as economic inequality. Good jobs must once again be on offer for most Americans—even those without college degrees. Redressing these wrongs will go a long way toward restoring faith in American democratic institutions. But the next administration must also redouble its commitment to bureaucratic expertise, competence, and autonomy. Institutions don’t merit public trust if they serve the interests of the president or other politicians instead of the interests of the people. Americans deserve better. One hopes they will use the ballot box, and if necessary the streets, to make sure that they get better.” • “Once again”?

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OTOH, I’d argue that the success (at least in cultural terms) of the Sanders slogan #NotMeUs, as well as the protests generally, would indicate that matters are not nearly as bleak as this poll suggests.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

“20 June 2020 Initial Unemployment Claims 1,480,000 This Week” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 1,250 K to 1,400 K (consensus 1,340 K), and the Department of Labor reported 1,480,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 1,781,500 (reported last week as 1,773,500) to 1,620,750…. The pandemic has so far caused a 47,532,000 job loss. Likely half of this number are now employed].” • Handy chart:

The curve is similar to new confirmed cases; I wonder if the initial claims curve lags covid, and will turn up in the near future.

GDP: “Third Estimate 1Q2020 GDP Unchanged at 5.0%. Corporate Profits Declined.” [Econintersect]. “The third estimate of ffirst-quarter 2020 Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was unchanged at -5.0%. The coronavirus lockdown is the reason for the decline – and pushed GDP into contraction. No doubt the U.S. economy is in a recession…. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed a significant decline from last quarter.”

Durable Goods: “Headline Durable Goods New Orders Improved In May 2020” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say the durable goods new orders improved after months of decline. Our analysis shows the rolling averages declined…. The data this month was better than expected – however, the previous months were revised down. In the adjusted data, the improvement in new orders was widespread – however, this sector remains deep in contraction.”

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Commodities: “U.S. soybeans are heading back to trans-Pacific shipping lanes and that’s driving up prices of the agricultural commodity. China has ramped up its purchases of U.S. soybeans… making the crop profitable again for U.S. farmers after the coronavirus pandemic slammed demand” [Wall Street Journal]. “Soybean futures are up 7% since April and some traders believe the market momentum could push the prices to their highest level in over a year. China is behind the growth, with purchases of nearly 5 million metric tons of American soybeans in the past month. The

Shipping: “Supertanker rates collapse: ‘The dam has burst’” [American Shipper]. “Some sayings pop up again and again in shipping circles: ‘The way to make a small fortune in shipping is to start with a big one.’ ‘Moving cargo is what you do between buying and selling ships.’ ‘If analysts say the market can only get worse, buy.’ There’s also one that goes: ‘If there are 98 ships and 101 cargoes, boom, 98 cargoes and 101 tankers, bust.’ Alas, there are now a lot more tankers than cargoes. Rates are sliding, owners are capitulating, and charterers have the upper hand. Rates for very large crude carriers (VLCCs; tankers that carry 2 million barrels of crude) from the Middle East Gulf (MEG) to Asia were down to $20,000 per day on Wednesday, with the global average assessed at $26,537 per day by brokerage Howe Robinson. ‘The dam has burst, and VLCC rates have taken an overdue nosedive,’ said the brokerage Fearnleys in a new report.”

The Bezzle: “Wirecard Files For Insolvency, Seeks Court Protection” [PAYMNTS.COM]. “Wirecard, the embattled Germany payment services company, said Thursday (June 25) it was filing for insolvency. The decision comes less than a week after auditors disclosed $2.1 billion of supposed deposits were missing from two Philippines banks. Shares have fallen by more than 90 percent and the company has lost nearly $12 billion of market value. Wirecard becomes the first member of the country’s Frankfurt Stock Exchange to go out of business, ChannelNew Asia.com (CNA) reported.” • 


Accurate. See, we’re not the only ones!

Tech: “Apple Inc.’s decision to insource its semiconductors is raising big questions for the electronics giant’s suppliers. Apple is breaking off a 15-year agreement with chip supplier Intel Corp. as part of a broader strategy to replace third-party parts with components designed in house…. Apple’s drive toward its own custom components may have harsh repercussions for the broad eco-system of technology parts makers” [Wall Street Journal]. “Several supply Apple even as they fear the company will start making the components they produce. That’s a concern at the heart of many supplier-buyer pacts, but Apple’s scale and the high value of tech components make it a matter of survival for many companies. Tech manufacturers Imagination Technologies and Dialog Semiconductor were staggered by earlier Apple insourcing decisions. Such moves give Apple greater control over its components, however, and can reduce costs by eliminating a link in the supply chain.” • Shows you why “ecosystem” was always a terrible metaphor; after all, a panda doesn’t decide one day to in-source its bamboo.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 48 Neutral;) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 25 at 12:28pm.

The Biosphere

I believe this video might be of Wukchumni’s earthquake:

But the prose is a bit weird. Possibly auto-generated?

Health Care

“What to know about the 14-day quarantine requirement for New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “The governors of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut announced Wednesday that anyone traveling into their states from areas with a high level of community spread of the coronavirus must quarantine for 14 days…. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will continually update and publish on their websites a list of states to which the new advisory applies. Right now, it includes Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.” • Chutzpah! Unfortunately, upstate New York wasn’t able to similarly defend itself from New York’s rich. From the Times “How the Virus Won“:

Or New Orleans from Mardi Gras revelers, highly unlikely to be “essential workers”:

The whole thing makes me so angry and disgusted. Then this classic example of media/party incest doesn’t help:

The “Luv Guv”?! Get a room! (Chris Cuomo, of course, famously broke quarantine.) Trump’s never gonna win the coastal Blue states, so why he doesn’t run against them, I don’t know. He really needs to get Bannon back on the team.

“The shift of the coronavirus to primarily red states is complete — but it’s not that simple” [WaPo]. “It’s not exactly clear how New York, New Jersey and Connecticut established the metrics used for recommending quarantine or why it ignores states like California [lol]. It is clear, though, that the locus of the pandemic has shifted to states that were more likely to support Trump four years ago. However, the fact that only Trump counties in Clinton states have seen both static per capita and overall rates of increase in recent weeks complicates attempts to overlay this shift onto politics itself.”

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“Outpatient visits rebound, but some specialties like pediatrics lag behind” [Health Care Dive]. “Outpatient visits have rebounded across the country, but they are still substantially lower than before the COVID-19 pandemic gained a foothold in the U.S., according to a report from Harvard University researchers who analyzed data from Phreesia, a healthcare technology company. Overall, outpatient visits are down 11% as of the week of June 14, compared to the prior-year period. However, the cumulative deficit is much larger. When looking at the period between March 15 through Saturday, visits are down nearly 40% from the same period a year earlier. Yet, over the past week, visits to some specialists have returned to normal, including dermatology and rheumatology. However, pediatric practices are among the hardest hit and have seen the greatest decline in visits when comparing specialties, according to Thursday’s report, the third in a series tracking outpatient volume.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Why Did the Washington Post Get This Woman Fired?” [WaPo]. “Last week, when Sue Schafer learned that the Washington Post planned to publish a story about one of the dumbest things she had ever done, she had the same question that many readers would have about the resulting 3,000-word article, ‘Blackface Incident at Post Cartoonist’s 2018 Halloween Party Resurfaces Amid Protests’: Why is this newsworthy? Readers within the Post newsroom were asking the question, too. ‘No one I’ve spoken with at the Post can figure out why we published this story,’ said one prominent reporter at the paper. ‘We blew up this woman’s life for no reason.’…. The Post said Schafer’s transgression was news because it happened in front of Toles and somewhere possibly in the vicinity of columnist Dana Milbank.” • “Somewhere possibly in the vicinity of Dana Milbank…

Class Warfare

UPDATE “For Portland, Ore., Woman, Home These Days Is Where She Parks Her Minivan” [NPR]. “Lavon is 67 years old, a retired school bus driver, and she was recently furloughed from her part-time job at Avis Rent-a-Car. In March, she also found herself without a home so she started living in her minivan on the streets of Portland, Ore. For the past few months, Lavon has been keeping an audio diary of her experience being newly homeless. Her first night living in her car, Lavon didn’t know where to park and feel safe. She drove around and found a road in an industrial area on the west side of Portland’s airport. The road is lined on both sides with people living in their cars, RVs and trailers. Many look as if they have been parked there a long time: They have awnings and furniture set up. Lavon parks alongside them each night, and although she doesn’t interact with her neighbors much, she says she feels there’s safety in numbers….. Lavon has struggled with housing instability since she was a kid. She grew up with a single mom who worked multiple jobs, and they moved around a lot. ‘I’m just one of those people that’s always on the move, not always willingly,’ Lavon says. ‘That’s just how my life has gone.’” • Just let me take a moment to find one of the Tweets produced by The Biden™’s Platitude Generator:

“Many look as if they have been parked there a long time.”

News of the Wired

There would be no sign if this had not already happened:


log scales

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (ChiGal):

ChiGal: “For some reason the iphone focused on the droplets rather than the buds; maybe if I was a physicist I would understand how they morphed the horizontal wood siding of the house into a grid.” (The grids are there if you look. What I don’t understand is if, with the proper depth of field to get the buds and the droplets both, the grid effect would still happen. Readers?

And a bonus plant (BH):

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