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Deplorably, the Trump Movement Is Made Up of Grifters, Ghouls, & Their Victims

Deplorably, a large number of easily-grifted morons thought Trump was their friend—or at least that the people lower down in the Trump base were their prey to be scammed...

Back in 2015, I concluded that the Donald Trump campaign was a deplorable multi-level marketing scam. At the top, a few grifters running lots of cons. In the middle-levels, a bunch of people who thought that they could take advantage of the situation to get rich—or richer—but who were actually easily-grifted morons themselves. And at the bottom, people who thought that Trump was their friend, rather than viewing them as suckers he could take.

Nothing I have seen since has changed that opinion of mine.

Deplorably, one of the easily-grifted morons in the middle was former Godfather's Pizza executive and Republican politician Herman Cain:

On June 20, 2020, Herman Cain was boasting that he was having a "fantastic time" at Donald Trump's massless, non-social distancing Tulsa rally:

Cain at tulsa

Trump had required attendees to: "acknowledg[e]... that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury..."

On June 24, 2020, Herman Cain wrote, with respect to the public-health emergency measures of March and April: 'Never again. We now have the evidence it didn't help at all...'

On July 1, 2020, Herman Cain wrote very approvingly of Trump's next rally: 'Masks will not be mandatory for the [Mt. Rushmore] event, which will be attended by President Trump. PEOPLE ARE FED UP!: South Dakota Governor: "We will not be social distancing. We’re asking them to come, be ready to celebrate, to enjoy the freedoms and the liberties that we have in this country, and to talk about our history...'

Also on July 1, 2020 Herman Cain was hospitalized for coronavirus. On July 30, 2020, life support measures were discontinued, and Herman Cain died.

At some point the 'Masks will not be mandatory... PEOPLE ARE FED UP!' Post on twitter was deleted from Herman Cain's account.

After his hospitalization, Herman Cain's twitter account was run by a rather cynical gang of ghouls.

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Shelton's Confirmation to the Fed Would Be Very Ill-Advised II—on Twitter

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On Twitter: Shelton's Confirmation to the Fed Would Be Very Ill-Advised II https://twitter.com/delong/status/1285609064706248706: The only person out there saying "confirm Judy Shelton" this morning is John Tamny... who says: confirm her because she's a goldbug and the gold standard is a good thing:

John Tamny: Let's Bring Rationality to the Monetary Discussion: Confirm Judy Shelton https://realclearmarkets.com/articles/2020/07/21/lets_bring_rationality_to_the_monetary_discussion_confirm_judy_shelton_499540.html: As always with money, it should be stressed up front how much better the monetary discussion would be if those who insert themselves into it actually understood money. Most don’t. Strange about this is that money is simple. It’s simple when it’s properly understood...

Filippos Petroulakis: 'This is remarkable stuff. I’m fine with him being a goldbug, but he’s original in that he doesn’t even believe the Fed can lower rates. Or that lowering rates is ineffective, it’s not exactly clear, but my impression of goldbugs was they were afraid of runaway inflation; he’s not.

Brad DeLong: A good way to view it is that both Judy Shelton and John Tamny are GPT-3: they are not economists, but rather expert systems trained on a text corpus. Thus you should not try to use their words to build a model of the Turing-class mind behind them, for there is no such mind. In fact, there is not even a sub-Turing class mind behind their words: just predictive text generation at the level of current AI technology, just like GPT-3 http://lacker.io/ai/2020/07/06/giving-gpt-3-a-turing-test.html.

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No Senator Doing His or Her Job Would Vote for Judy Shelton For Fed Governor—Hoisted from the Archives

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That any Republican senators at all are thinking of voting for Judy Shelton—a woman views whom Milton Friedman dismissed by saying "it would be hard to pack more error into so few words"—for a Fed Governor position reveals an astonishing lack of spine. Yet the Senate Banking Committee chair appears to be attempting to advance her nomination on Tuesday:

Hoisted from the Archives: Shelton the Charlatan https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/shelton-the-charlatan-project-syndicate.html: In 1994 Milton Friedman wrote about Judy Shelton: "In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece (July 15)... Judy Shelton started her concluding paragraph: “Until the U.S. begins standing up once more for stable exchange rates as the starting point for free trade...” It would be hard to pack more error into so few words.... A system of pegged exchange rates, such as the original IMF system or the European Monetary System, is an enemy to free trade. It is no accident that the 1992 collapse of the EMS coincided with the agreement to remove controls on the movement of capital..." https://miltonfriedman.hoover.org/friedman_images/Collections/2016c21/NR_09_12_1994.pdf. To turn monetary policy away from internal balance toward preventing exchange rate movements that market fundamentals wanted to see occur was, in Friedman's view, the road toward disaster. It was simply wrong. And it could be held together only if economies moved from free trade back toward managed trade—and so beggared not just their neighbors but themselves.

Two and a half decades later, today's Judy Shelton seems no freer from error, but to it has added an enormous amount of incoherence. There is no consistent thread of argument in what she says. She is, rather, a weathervane pointing in the direction of whatever political wind she thinks likely to get her her next job. Last year she said that the Federal Reserve should be careful not to do anything to curb stock prices: "More than half of American households are invested through mutual funds or pension funds in this market. I don’t want the Fed to pull the rug out from under them..." https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-05/trump-fed-pick-shelton-says-central-bank-should-support-markets. But in 2016—when unemployment was higher and the case for easy money stronger—it was the Fed's "appeasing financial markets" that was the thing to be avoided https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/yes-trumps-latest-fed-pick-is-that-bad-heres-why/2020/02/10/a13fa1ec-4c44-11ea-9b5c-eac5b16dafaa_story.html. Back then under the Obama administration when there were lots of unemployed workers who could be put to work producing exports, policies to produce a weaker dollar to boost exports were to be shunned: "The obvious quick route to export success for any nation is to depreciate its currency. Dollar depreciation is already being pushed by the Obama administration.... Let's not compromise our currency in a misguided attempt to boost U.S. job growth. America's best future is forged through sound finances and sound money..." https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704698004576104260981772424. These days "compromising the currency" is a plus from the interest-rate cuts she wants to see https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trumps-fed-choice-judy-shelton-says-interest-rate-cut-needed-because-europe-is-set-to-devalue-euro-2019-07-05. Today monetary policy should be made looser "as expeditiously as possible" https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/06/19/fed-meets-trumps-potential-next-pick-wants-see-lower-rates-fast-possible. Back then "loose monetary policy... leads to internal bankruptcy... whole nations have foundered on this path..." https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123742149749078635.

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Duncan Black: Mick Mulvaney Contemplates the Clusterf--- That He Made—Noted

Words for those who worked very hard to hobble the response to the coronavirus crisis back in February, and who now contemplate the clusterf--- they worked so hard to make while they wriggle to evade responsibility: Duncan Black: You F---ed The Whole Thing Up https://www.eschatonblog.com/2020/07/you-fucked-whole-thing-up.html: ‘Let's check in with Mick Mulvaney: "Any stimulus should be directed at the root cause of our recession: dealing with Covid. I know it isn’t popular to talk about in some Republican circles, but we still have a testing problem in this country. My son was tested recently; we had to wait 5 to 7 days for results. My daughter wanted to get tested before visiting her grandparents, but was told she didn’t qualify. That is simply inexcusable at this point in the pandemic." [weird scratching backwards music noise as we rewind time back a few months] Ah, here we are, CPAC Feb. 28: "White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney suggested Friday that Americans ignore the media’s coverage of the coronavirus, arguing that journalists are ratcheting up fears to try to hurt President Donald Trump politically…" .#noted #orangehairedbaboons #2020-07-15


LawProfBlog: I Was Brave, Once—Noted

LawProfBlog: _I Was Brave, Once https://abovethelaw.com/2020/07/i-was-brave-once/: ‘There was an outpouring of conservative support, the likes I haven’t seen since I and others tweeted that it was a terrible idea for a law student to clean his gun on screen during a zoom class.... The original outrage was about a subtweet...

...This post isn’t about the Arizona case or either of those two professors: It is the notion of academic bravery....

I’ll be defending Godzilla. Godzilla entered the United States, and immediately started wreaking havoc in San Francisco. The military sought to bomb Godzilla and kill him. I thought to myself: What a perfect time to bring an action via the Endangered Species Act! Who could be more oppressed that Godzilla? He suffers from being unique, way beyond the “discreet and insular” minority contemplated in Carolene Products. And he doesn’t have a voice (okay, literally, he roars and that’s it).  And like Anakin Skywalker, he brings balance to the Force (if you have seen the most recent movies)....

My legal practice as an academic clearly does not demonstrate my core values. Sometimes you just got to take the hard cases for higher principles. Don’t judge me! There are bigger issues at stake!... It’s weak tea to complain about my moral core. If I had a dime for every time someone cried about their baby getting stomped by Godzilla! They just don’t understand that I’m the underdog fighting against a big bad oppressor who is trampling (pun intended) upon (my interpretation of) the Constitution. Many of my friends have been crushed by Godzilla! My mother, too! That’s just how much I love (selected parts) of the Constitution. I’m willing to have others sacrifice for me. I’m very brave, and my scholarly impact score soars!

And, I’m brave because I don’t see anyone else in the cowardly academy defending Godzilla....

Yes, the law DOES require lawyers and law professors to take controversial and adversarial positions. And no one is saying Our Hero shouldn’t be able to defend bar owners or that he should be punished for it.... However, what we are defending should transcend political football teams. It says something about the principles of a law professor who defends the right to peacefully assemble, both when the neo-Nazis seek to march and when antifa seeks to do the same. It says something about the lawyer’s principles, too, if their practice is based only on defending neo-Nazis. We might call the former principle consistency, and it often is missing when law professors choose political football teams.

Silence says something, too. For example, one might be silent when a law professor is being bullied for advocating gender equality, yet outraged when someone questions whether it is a good idea to open bars given all the evidence of bar patrons and COVID-19 being perfect companions. And it might say something if we are silent when students are forced to take a bar exam during a pandemic all the while applauding someone who seeks to open bars for alcohol. It might say something when we vigorously defend the gun-cleaning student and stay silent as students seek desperately not to have to risk their health to take the bar exam...

 .#moralresponsibility #orangehairedbaboons #2020-07-14

Black: Bedbug Stephens, the New York Times, & the Anti-Mask Brigade—Noted

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Duncan Black: Eschaton: The Anti-Mask Brigade https://www.eschatonblog.com/2020/07/the-anti-mask-brigade.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/bRuz+(Eschaton): ‘I got the play a couple of months ago. Sure it was gross and cynical—these are, charitably, gross and cynical people—but it made sense. The evil libs had a problem in big cities like New York and were trying to impose their Stalinist precautions on the rest of the country, mostly to make Dear Leader look bad. Even New York Times columnist Bedbug Stephens agreed! But now cases are booming elsewhere and they're in their own bases trying to murder their base…

.#coronavirus #moralresponsibility #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-07-09

Scalzi: Back Into Quarantine—Noted

John Scalzi: Back Into Quarantine https://whatever.scalzi.com/2020/07/05/back-into-quarantine/: ‘We could have managed this thing—like nearly every other country has—if we had political leadership that wasn’t inept and happy to use the greatest public health crisis in decades as political leverage for… well, who knows? Most of the areas being hit hardest now—places like Florida, Arizona, and Texas—are deep red states; there is no political advantage to be had by having them hit by infection and death and economic uncertainty four months before a national election...

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Zeballos-Roig (2020-05-05): White House Adviser Devised Model Showing Covid-19 Deaths Hitting 0 in 10 Days—Noted

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing I have seen this week came from Trump economist Tomas Philipson, with his claim that Trump’s economic analysis instincts are “on par with many Nobel economists I have worked with at Chicago” https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-economist-tested-positive-for-covid-19-11593212011>. It is certainly the case that I do not have much of a regard for Phillipson's economic intuition: he seems to me to have made a career of advocating for a “freedom to try alternative therapies“ on the part of the sick that is overwhelmingly, in practice, a freedom for bad actors to steal from the sick by lying to them in order to hold out false hopes. (I must, however, admit that even I did not anticipate seeing Philipson waving to us from a prominent place on the hydroxychloroquine train.) But Philipson and his praise of Trump’s economic instincts is not the least competent thing Trump administration economists have done this spring. That prize goes to Kevin Hassett:

Joseph Zeballos-Roig (2020-05-05): White House Adviser Devised Model Showing Covid-19 Deaths Hitting 0 in 10 Days https://www.businessinsider.com/white-house-economic-adviser-hassett-model-coronavirus-deaths-zero-10-days-2020-5: ‘The White House is relying on a model prepared by a controversial White House economic advisor that shows coronavirus deaths dropping to zero by May 15 to help guide their decision-making.... The White House is reportedly relying on a "cubic model" prepared by controversial White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett that shows coronavirus deaths plunging to zero by May 15 to help guide their economic decision-making during the pandemic.... The "cubic model" from Hassett clashes with the assessment of public health experts who say the virus will continue infecting people and swell the US death toll for the foreseeable future.... Other critics argued that an economist with an unreliable track record on issues within his own realm of expertise shouldn't wade into public health matters... #coronavirus #economicsgonewrong #moralresponsibility #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-07-03


Why Were University of Chicago Professional Economists Republicans So Stupid About Coronavirus?

I look at the Trump professional economists Republicans—Kevin Hassett, Tomas Philipson, Casey Mulligan, & co.—and I really do wonder: Why were they so incompetent? Why did they get so strongly behind the "epidemiologists have it wrong", the "reopen the economy"—originally by Easter—and the "this will burn itself out quickly"—deaths down near zero by mid-May—pushes? At least now Philipson and Hassett appear to be silent—although Mulligan is still out there, claiming that the depression is the result of government lockdowns alone, which he values at "15,000 dollars per household per quarter" not counting "intrinsic costs of forgone civil liberties".

By the end of January we knew that this coronavirus was (a) highly infectious, (b) transmitted by the presymptomatic, (c) something against which no human had immunity, (d) a disease with a normal-behavior herd-immunity point likely to be more than 50% of the population, and (e) a disease that killed—with treatment—about 1% of the infected. Those facts made it obvious that keeping it from killing 30 million people worldwide would bet a very difficult task, and that adding up mortality and morbidity costs valued at three million or so per death meant that the stakes we were playing for to avoid a worst-case three million dead epidemic amounted to ten trillion dollars, compared to which the 350 billion cost of a one-month complete non-essential business lockdown that reduced national income by 20% was relatively small change.

And, indeed, the rest of the global north—even Britain—with the exception of Sweden has bit the bullet, taken the lockdown hit, now has the virus (temporarily) on the run, and can move to test-and-trace and social distancing to stomp the virus. We and Sweden have not. We have thus become pariah nations, as far as coronavirus is concerned.

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Tomas Philipson: Such a Maroon—Note to Self

Dunning-Krueger to the max: Shorter Tomas Philipson: It's great that Trump is taking hydroxychloroquine, & encouraging others to suck up the supply away from lupus patients for whom it works. It's great that Trump refuses to wear a mask!: Tomas Philipson (2020-05-20): 'There's nothing new about https://twitter.com/TomPhilipson45/status/1263228191457583105 @POTUS using healthcare, in consultation with a physician, that hasn't undergone government approved randomized trials. Most healthcare spending is on services/procedures lacking such evidence. And the majority of cancer drugs are prescribed without it. Patients and doctors, based on trade-offs between effectiveness, side-effects, and prices, often correctly disagree with one-size-fits-all blind randomized trials, which have many problems. This is one reason why @POTUS signed Right to Try to let patients—not bureaucrats—decide. Indeed, the same people who argue POTUS should wear a mask to guard against COVID, for which there is no randomized evidence yet and blinding would be difficult, are the same people who argue that such evidence is crucial for COVID Rx use… .#economicsgonewrong #moralresponsibility #noted #notetoself #orangehairedbaboons #2020-06-30


John Bell Hood Blames Everybody Else for His Failure to Win the Battle of Spring Hill—Weekend Reading

The anti-Patton. Maybe he was a good regimental or brigade commander. Maybe. But no appreciation for the frictions of war in attempting complicated simultaneous actions, and no appreciation for the power of the defense and the rifle: John Bell Hood: Advance & Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-hood-advances-%26-retreat.pdf: 'I dispatched a messenger to General Cheatham to lose no time in gaining possession of the pike at Spring Hill. It was reported back that he was about to do so.... I became somewhat uneasy, and again ordered an officer to go to General Cheatham.... I entrusted another officer with the same message... finally requested the Governor of Tennessee, Isham G. Harris, to hasten forward and impress upon Cheatham the importance of action without delay...

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Stokes: Unpacking the Logic Behind “Slow Testing"—Noted

Jon Stokes: Unpacking the Logic Behind “Slow the Testing Down, Please” https://theprepared.com/blog/logic-behind-slow-the-testing-down/: ‘A lot has been made of the President’s claim that we should “slow the testing down,” a claim that he doubled down on in subsequent remarks to reporters. Most commentators state that he’s under the mistaken impression that if we just don’t look at the problem, it’ll go away. But I follow a bunch of virus skeptics.... I think I understand the reasoning behind the president’s remark.... There is an actual school of thought behind this.... I want to unpack all this... because it’s important... to understand... [the] virus skeptics... [and the] story they’re telling themselves and anyone who’ll listen, and that this story is driving the US response to the virus at the highest levels.... The story the virus skeptics are currently telling goes something like this: "The outbreak actually peaked in March, and at far higher numbers than we know about. The cases were probably in the millions, and were undercounted... because the virus is very mild... unless you’re very old or otherwise compromised.... The number of uncounted cases has been dropping dramatically as the outbreak fizzles, and you can see this in the ongoing drop in deaths.... Therefore, the rise in detected cases is simply because we’re doing a bunch of track-and-trace and testing, which is leading us to uncover all these previously undetected cases that were out there. So the bottom line... is that if we weren’t sending “hotspot hunters” (a real term I’ve come across) to do contact tracing and find all the remaining pockets of infections, we wouldn’t be seeing these alarming rises in case counts. By this logic, this “phantom” rise in apparent cases (remember, really we’re just finding more old cases that are mild) is giving rise to media hysteria and economic devastation.... At this point, goes the reasoning, the economic damage from the “fake” rise in cases is far worse than any damage from the very mild virus, so we need to just quit testing.... To be clear, the above is still head-in-the-sand-ism, but it reflects a sophisticated head-in-the-sand-ism that’s being earnestly promoted by a crowd that includes some prominent medical professionals in the US and abroad. The government of Sweden, for instance.... What's happened in Sweden is crystal clear, as it has happened out in the open: the Swedes thought & said the virus was very weak & already quite widespread, and that assumption was the basis of their strategy & projections. It turns out they were wrong https://t.co/lecQxpqVS5... .#coronavirus #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-06-26


Capos—Remember When Bret Stephens Said COVID Was Just a NYC Problem?—Noted

Paul Campos: Remember when Bret Stephens Told Us That Covid Was Just a NYC Problem? https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/06/remember-when-bret-stephens-told-us-that-covid-was-just-a-nyc-problem: ‘[Bret Stephens (2020-04-24):] "Much of America has dwindling sympathy with the idea of prolonging lockdown conditions.... The curves are flattening; hospital systems haven’t come close to being overwhelmed; Americans have adapted to new etiquettes of social distancing. Many of the worst Covid outbreaks outside New York... have specific causes that can be addressed without population-wide lockdowns. Yet Americans are being told they must still play by New York rules—with all the hardships they entail—despite having neither New York’s living conditions nor New York’s health outcomes. This is bad medicine, misguided public policy, and horrible politics." Remember when firing James Bennet was the worst persecution of free speech since that thing that happened at a college somewhere? The claim was that the New York Times wasn’t willing to publish conservative voices on its op-ed page, and that just proved that Political Correctness Has Gone Too Far. James Bennet hired this guy, and he’s still there… .#noted #moralresponsibility #orangehairedbaboons #2020-06-26


Twitter: On Michelle Goldberg: Publishing Cotton's Op-Ed without Context Is a "More Direct" Way of Informing New York Times Readers

https://delong.typepad.com/files/twitter-delong-goldberg-2020-06-08.pdf

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What’s the Allure of Hydroxychloroquine?

Josh Marshall: What’s the Allure of Hydroxychloroquine? https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/whats-the-allure-of-hydroxychloroquine: ‘There’s a growing body of clinical evidence that hydroxychloroquine (alone or with an accompanying antibiotic) not only has no therapeutic effect for COVID but can increase substantially the risk of death.... Trump has been pushing it for months, for reasons which are not altogether clear. What is weird and fascinating in its own right, however, is that what we might call hydroxy-mania seems to be a common feature of right-wing nationalism across the globe.... What could possibly be the connection between rightist-populist nationalism and this until-recently relatively obscure anti-malarial drug?... There must be something about this drug or rather the hope of a quick cure it engenders that resonates with this ideology and mentality. And in any case [Trump's endorsement] doesn’t address why it has such a hold on Trump in the first place. My own hunch is that it is precisely the lure of a quick fix. This is an abiding feature of rightist nationalism, quick fixes to often intractable problems, usually focused on seeking revenge against a designated group of internal or external outsiders. But the desire for quick fixes runs deep. So too does the war against expertise and knowledge elites.... TPM Reader PT... suggests that elite disdain for these nostrums is actually part of the appeal… #cognition #coronavirus #easilygriftedmorons #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-06-04


What the Democrats Must Do: Project Syndicate

teddy roosevelt at plymouth rock

What the Democrats Must Do https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/democrats-must-embrace-full-employment-by-j-bradford-delong-2020-06: Although the United States has entered a period of deepening social strife and economic depression, the Republicans who are in charge have neither the ideas nor the competence to do anything about it. The Democrats must start planning to lead, starting with a commitment to full employment…. A federal commitment to full employment is not a new idea. The US Employment Act of 1946 embraced the principle.... The best response to... objections has always been John Maynard Keynes.... “Anything we can do, we can afford.”...

Far from acting as an independent binding constraint on economic activities, the financial system exists precisely to support such activities. Finding useful jobs for willing jobseekers is surely something we are capable of doing.

Adjusting the prevailing payments and financial structure to support full employment would of course have consequences.... Supporting full employment... may... require higher and more progressive taxes... sky-high debt... that we divert demand from elite consumption to labor-intensive sectors like public health. It also may require a large-scale labor-intensive public-works program. So be it. It’s time to make full employment our highest priority. Once we have done that, everything else will fall into place...

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Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks Is Way Out of Line

Equitable Growth’s Amanda Fischer finds the acting Comptroller of the Currency going way beyond his competence, apparently in order to try to curry favor with his political masters. It is his job to help avoid unnecessary negative financial and economic fallout from necessary public health measures. It is not his job to try to put constraints that would prevent undertaking necessary and desirable public health measures:

Amanda Fischer: ‘About this letter from Acting @USOCC head Brian Brooks to mayors & county officials... https://twitter.com/amandalfischer/status/1267831757950328832: ‘I have not seen such an opportunistic, inappropriate & frankly dangerous statement from a financial regulatory official maybe ever https://occ.gov/news-issuances/news-releases/2020/nr-occ-2020-73a.pdf. Brooks wrote to state & city officials basically telling them, "nice economy you have there; I wouldn't want anything to happen to it." It should be read as more of a threat than a warning. And it is obviously theatrics meant to endear himself to the President. Brooks is telling mayors & county officials that there may be a banking crisis if they don't reopen, as commercial businesses default on loans & cause a cascade of defaults that elected officials should consider.

A couple points on why Brooks is wildly inappropriate:

First, he's not an epidemiologist, and the OCC is independent of the Executive branch. He has no idea if reopening is actually worse for the economy. In fact, plenty of economists have cautioned against premature reopening as being bad for long-term growth & public health.

Second, it is not mayors' or county officials' responsibility to worry about financial stability. His examiners should do a better job of predicting losses, and the OCC and Federal Reserve should do a better job of ensuring banks are well-capitalized. Don't put this on mayors. It is also rich given the actions taken by the OCC and Federal Reserve to deplete banks' loss-absorbing capital, including allowing banks to continue to pay out dividends given all the risks Brooks cites in this letter.

Finally, the letter is wild, considering the debate in Congress right now. A simple way to keep the economy on ice is to ensure people & small businesses have adequate money to pay their bills. If people have money, creditors have money, & banks will be fine. Brooks' own political leadership seems to oppose extending UI, direct payments or other relief—relief that would ease pressure on the banking sector. Instead, Brooks is trying to threaten states and cities to reopen without regard for public health recommendations…

#coronavirus #macro #noted #orangehairedbaboons #2020-06-02

Herbert Hoover: As Bad to Ally with Stalin and Churchill Against Hitler as to Ally with Hitler Against Stalin and Churchill: Hoisted from the Archives from 2018

Insane Clown Posse

Herbert Hoover: As Bad to Ally with Stalin and Churchill Against Hitler as to Ally with Hitler Against Stalin and Churchill https://www.bradford-delong.com/2018/08/herbert-hoover-as-bad-to-ally-with-stalin-and-churchill-against-hitler-as-to-ally-with-hitler-against-stalin-and-churchill.html: I was reading Herbert Hoover (1964): Freedom Betrayed https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0817912363 on the plane, and it is really clear to me why nobody wanted Hoover to publish it during his lifetime and why his heirs buried it for half a century. I will tell you what I think. I think Hoover does not quite dare say:

When Hitler attacked Stalin in June 1941, the U.S. should have told Britain to cool it—embargoed Britain until, and then offered it security guarantees when, it made peace with Germany. And then the U.S. should have supported Hitler in his war on Communism, by far the worst of the three totalitarianism of Communism, Naziism, and New Dealism. Afterwards, Hitler and his successors would have had their hands full ruling their Eurasian empire, and Naziism would have normalized itself, and Communism would be gone. Too bad about Nazi rule over the French, Belgians, Dutch, Danes, and Norwegians, but that would have been a price well worth paying...

He does not quite dare say it, but he is thinking it. It is Jeanne Kirkpatrick's: "we should always and everywhere support authoritarian regimes and movements against communist regimes and movements" turned up to 11.

And he tiptoes way way way up to it and almost gets there...

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Not Aged Well

Things that have not aged well. Hassett was not an excellent choice for Chairman of the CEA: Mark M. Zandi, Justin Wolfers, & al. (2017): Letter in Support of the Nomination of Kevin Hassett to be Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers https://medium.com/@hassett.economists.letter/letter-in-support-of-the-nomination-of-kevin-hassett-to-be-chairman-of-the-council-of-economic-78c483f9821b: ‘Dr. Hassett has a record of serious scholarship on a wide range of topics, including tax policy, business investment, and energy. He has engaged on an even wider range of topics in the public policy debate and in his work at the Federal Reserve and as a consultant to the Department of the Treasury during the Administrations of President George H.W. Bush and President William J. Clinton. In addition, we appreciate that Dr. Hassett has consistently made an effort to reach out to a wide range of people from across the ideological spectrum both to promote economic dialogue and to collaborate on research and public policy proposals. For all of these reasons we believe that Dr. Hassett would be an excellent choice for Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and urge the Committee to move as expeditiously as possible… #economicsgonewrong #incompetence #moralresponsibility #noted #orangehairedbaboons #2020-05-29


A Very Strange White House Indeed...

Some very, very, very strange things went on inside this White House. Perhaps the strangest was how American Enterprise Institute “economist” Kevin Hassett persuaded Donald Trump and his coterie that COVID-19 deaths would be less than 100 a week starting May 15—or so Hassett’s enemies and ill-wishers inside the White House and their tame journalists are now claiming it went down:

David Anderson: Cubic Fits & Department of D'OH https://www.balloon-juice.com/2020/05/05/cubic-fits-and-department-of-doh/: ‘The first thing a data analyst trainee should learn is that playing with Excel’s functions and tools is a great way to get into trouble when you don’t have an underlying understanding of the fundamental data’s behaviors AND don’t understand the functions and tools core assumptions.  This is important.  The second or third lesson a data analyst trainee will learn is to not use Excel but that is advanced training. Why does this matter? It seems like the White House is using Excel and not understanding the phenonomenon they are trying to model. Eyeballing the data, there sure as hell seems to be a day of the week seasonality. But let’s go beyond that. If we were to assume that a cubit fit is an appropriate choice to model the data, and that we can project out of the current data to the near future so that there are almost no deaths on May 15th, that requires a ‘What the Hell’ response… #coronavirus #incompetence #moralresponsibility #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-05-29


North Dakota Has a Culture Problem

Cristina Cabrera: GOP Guv. Doug Burgum Tearfully Pleads Anti-Maskers To ‘Dial Up Your Empathy’ and End ‘Political’ Divide https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/gop-guv-tearfully-pleads-anti-maskers-to-dial-up-your-empathy-and-end-political-divide: ‘North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) despairs.... “If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,” the Republican governor said during an emotional press briefing on Friday. “They might be doing it because they’ve got a 5-year-old child who’s been going through cancer treatments,” he continued, voice breaking. Burgum took a moment to collect himself before continuing: “They might have vulnerable adults in their life who currently have COVID, and they’re fighting.” The governor begged North Dakotans to avoid “creating a divide” either “ideological or political” over the importance of wearing a mask with so many lives at stake. “This is a, I would say, senseless dividing line,” he said. “And I would ask people to try to dial up your empathy and your understanding.” Burgum’s plea comes as some of his fellow Republicans, including President Donald Trump, publicly refuse to wear masks that prevent the spread of COVID-19, disregarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation… #fascism #noted #moralresponsibility #orangehairedbaboons #2020-05-29


The Trump Administration’s Epic COVID-19 Failure: Project Syndicate

Mar 26, 2020: The Trump Administration’s Epic COVID-19 Failure https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-covid19-testing-failure-by-j-bradford-delong-2020-03: Whereas many other countries afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic have pursued mass testing, quarantines, and other measures to reduce community transmission, the Trump administration has simply dithered. Although America could still shut down for a month to overcome the crisis, the sad truth is that it won't.

BERKELEY – Even to US President Donald Trump’s most ardent critics, his administration’s disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic has come as a surprise. Who would have guessed that Trump and his cronies would be so incompetent that merely testing for the disease would become a major bottleneck?

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Trump: The Cruelty Is the Point...

IMHO, It is long past time for advertising-supported social media to die. The incentives facing Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and company are extremely poisonous. And—unlike Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, even Elon Musk—Jack and Mark regard themselves as in the business of piling up as much money as they can, rather than as enabling and guiding human progress. It needs to stop. They are, as somebody-or-other said, our modern tobacco companies—only profiting from human addiction to controversy and polarization and susceptibility to misinformation rather than human addiction to nicotine: Brian Klaas: 'Trump took the tragic death of a young woman, Lori Klausutis https://twitter.com/brianklaas/status/1265239671140909058, and has tried to exploit it for political gain in the most disgusting way imaginable. This letter from her husband to [Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey] asking him to delete Trump’s sick tweets is a heart-wrenching must read.…

#fascism #journamalism #moralresponsibility #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publicsphere #2020-05-27

Recommended; Andy Slavitt

There are some nuggets of valuable information to be found in the huge sea of misinformation, chaos, and anger that is Twitter. I strongly recommend that you follow Andy Slavitt if you are on what I have heard called "the bad website": Andy Slavitt: COVID Update May 21 https://twitter.com/ASlavitt/status/1263628261470461955: ‘Something is happening... that we should pay attention to... [but] we are ignoring it and the many warnings it represents.... "Waves"... emerge in the interaction of people & virus. It's not the virus attacking & retreating. It's not like waves that come in from the sea carrying momentum & energy. It's us. We’re not having the summer lull in the US. We’re not exploding but the death rate isn’t materially dropping. If we keep hovering around R=1, small factors may push us to one side or another of the divide. So it is possible there will be a perceived summer lull. But we could be crushing this virus instead if we doubled down on SD. Hardly anyone's even saying that. Fauci & others have repeatedly warned that while summer conditions may be less favorable to the virus, given how contagious it is & given our lack of population immunity, there is no reason to be confident it can't grow through the Summer. It has NOT declined significantly in US. 100,000+ DEAD AMERICANS BY THIS MONDAY, 150,000+ BY THE ELECTION due to Trump’s delays and lack of leadership...

#coronavirus #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth

With Trump, the Cruelty Is the Point...

With Trump, almost always, this is true: the cruelty is the point: Steve M.: How It Must Pain Trump's Followers to Observe His Cruelty! https://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2020/05/how-it-must-pain-trumps-followers-to.html: ‘As U.S. deaths from COVID-19 reach 100,000, President Trump—laser-focused as always on America's most serious problems...

...is picking a fight with Joe Scarborough, insinuating, despite all evidence, that Scarborough murdered Lori Klausutis, a staffer who died in the then-congressman's office in 2000. The pro-Trump New York Post assumes that most of Trump's supporters wish he would stop behaving this way:

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Noted: Yglesias: Suppress the Virus!

There seems to be one big piece of good news in the fight against Covid-19. The battle to keep the caseload low enough that hospitals do not collapse and the death rate rise from 1% to 4% or so appears to have been won, worldwide.

Now there is a second battle: to push the bulk of the potential caseload out beyond the date at which an effective vaccine arrives and so reduce the global death toll from its likely non-vaccine value of 50 million to a small fraction of that:

  1. That battle can be lost.
  2. That battle can be won expensively, through prolonged and expensive social distancing and other measures that push the virus ’s reproduction rate R down to near one.
  3. That battle can be won quickly and cheaply, by sharp short-term massive virus repression, followed by controlling reemergences via large scale and frequent trace-&-test-&-isolate.

Sane, intelligent, and competent countries are trying for option (3) in this second battle, and it looks like many of them will succeed. The Trump administration and its crowd of grifters and enablers appear to have decided that (1), losing this second battle, is best for their personal pocketbooks and reelection chances.

The very wise Matt Yglesias protests:

Matthew Yglesias: Coronavirus Mitigation Could Kill Thousands. Suppress the Virus, Don’t Just “Flatten the Curve” https://www.vox.com/2020/5/6/21241058/coronavirus-mitigation-suppression-flatten-the-curve: ‘With the disease seemingly beaten back domestically, Hong Kong is now in a position to start switching emphasis to a strategy focused on border controls.... The city has a clearly articulated strategy that it calls “suppress and lift”: ease restrictions now when cases are at zero, but then clamp back down as necessary to push cases back down if they pop up. Taiwan has also had no new cases for several days...

...New Zealand has not done quite this well, but the government believes it has successfully identified and isolated all of the country’s coronavirus cases and is lifting restrictions, on the claim that the virus has been “eliminated” in the country. South Korea’s outbreak is now down to single-digit numbers of new cases per week.... The United States, meanwhile, is moving to open up on the basis of a vaguely articulated assumption that settling for mitigation is good enough....

The United States has not really tried the strategies that have made suppression successful. To accomplish that, America would need to invest in expanding the volume of tests, invest in more contact tracers, and create centralized quarantine facilities.... Since the US didn't spend April doing that, trying to achieve suppression—along the lines of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, and New Zealand—would necessarily involve more delay and more economic pain. But doing so would save potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of lives and almost certainly lead to a better economic outcome by allowing activity to truly restart…

#coronavirus #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-05-19

Coronavirus Scenarios: Twitter

Twitter: _In utilitarian order of desirability https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1258601578153431042.html: Plan A: stomp the virus immediately via trace-&-test-&-quarantine. Plan B: after the virus gets established, lockdown until R is low enough & maintain lockdown long enough that you can then stomp the virus via trace-&-test-&-quarantine… https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/twitter/coronavirus-scenarios-2020-05-19.pdf

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Noted: Jackson & al.: Global Economic Effects of COVID-19...

We really have very little idea what the long-term and even the short term economic effect of the coronavirus will be. We have a somewhat better handle on the human mortality costs: a worst-case scenario of 240 million worldwide deaths, a bad-case scenario of 50 million worldwide deaths, and hopes that vaccines and much better antiviral treatment protocols will arrive soon enough to substantially reduce that death toll. But virus suppression is now a lost cause—individual countries can suppress and can thus hope to insulate their populations until vaccine arrival, but for the globe as a whole, we are in mitigation mode. And as for morbidity? We really do not know enough to say much of anything: James K. Jackson & al.: Global Economic Effects of COVID-19 https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R46270.pdf: ‘Since the COVID-19 outbreak was first diagnosed, it has spread to over 190 countries and all U.S. states. The pandemic is having a noticeable impact on global economic growth. Estimates so far indicate the virus could trim global economic growth by as much as 2.0% per month if current conditions persist. Global trade could also fall by 13% to 32%, depending on the depth and extent of the global economic downturn. The full impact will not be known until the effects of the pandemic peak. This report provides an overview of the global economic costs to date and the response by governments and international institutions to address these effects…

#coronavirus #macro #noted #orangehairedbaboons #2020-05-18

Noted: Slavitt: ‘COVID-19 a Uniquely Tough American Foe...

It now seems much more likely than not that of all the OECD nations the United States will turn out to have the worst coronavirus response: the highest death rate when this thing comes to an end, coupled with extraordinarily low benefits in terms of how many lives saved by the economic costs incurred. I suspect it will look in retrospect as though any strategy was better than the Trump administration's incoherent an inconsistent mix of strategies. Only Britain seems to have a chance of doing worse. And yet it is almost unthinkable that Boris Johnson will prove to be even less competent than his American counterpart: Andy Slavitt: ‘COVID-19a Uniquely Tough American Foe https://twitter.com/ASlavitt/status/1257477774220066827. The rest of the world is figuring it out. The Czech Republic did it with masks. China with isolation. Germany with testing. Hong Kong with experience. New Zealand with alerts. Greece with discipline. The cost of these lessons is already too high. But it is not beyond our power to change it. But I’m afraid to change this, we do have to first face it…

#coronavirus #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-05-18

Noted: Campos: Trump's Acquittal

In the end, Trump's acquittal may be viewed by future historians much like the Roman Senate's decision to block the Gracchi is regarded by current historians: as the start of a huge downward spiral. That presidential corruption and malfeasance are subject to no checks as long as 34 senators fear their reelection chances would be damanged by removal is not a state I ever thought I would ever see America reach, but it has:

Paul Campos: Another Brow-Furrower http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/02/another-brow-furrower: 'This looks like one of those deals where the president says I’ll stop illegally withholding those federal services I’m withholding from your constituents if you stop investigating those financial crimes I committed. Donald J. Trump: "I’m seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House. He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes. Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo!" “Fredo” btw is Cuomo’s brother, who is a CNN reporter. What’s the over-under on how many impeachable offenses this guy has committed since the Senate “acquittal” all those many months weeks days ago?...

#americancollapse #fasciam #noted #orangehairedbaboons #2020-05-13

Noted: Steve M.: Better to Reign in Randian Hell

Steve M.: Better to Reign in Randian Hell https://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2020/05/better-to-reign-in-randian-hell.html: ‘Danes kept their jobs. The trauma of massive numbers of people losing jobs and health insurance, of long lines at food banks—that is the American experience, but it’s not what’s happening in Denmark.... Our response to the pandemic has been worse than Sweden's or Denmark's, and one consequence is that our economy will be in the toilet for years to come. I understand that we're reopening much of America prematurely because our corporate overlords have contempt for their employees and their customers and just want revenue to start flowing again as quickly as possible. But why are they unable to grasp the obvious point that their customers are afraid to come back, and that they'll be even more afraid when, inevitably, the premature reopenings cause a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths? In other words, why aren't the CEOs who have Donald Trump's ear telling him that, for his benefit and theirs (they really don't care about ours), he should be working harder to bend the curve and increase testing and tracing, because that's what it will take to give Americans the confidence to go out and consume?... I've come to the conclusion that many American capitalists aren't seekers of pure profit. They often prefer control.... They don't like being ordered to shut down by the government. They want to forcibly reverse the shutdown—even though it's likely to mean more death and less business, and even though letting the lockdown run its course would make them more money in the long run...

#coronavirus #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-05-13

American Carnage: For Project Syndicate

The Project Syndicate people titled this "American Carnage": a good title. They also had to cut it massively. Here is the draft I am most satisfied with: J. Bradford DeLong: American Carnage https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-coronavirus-lethal-incompetence-by-j-bradford-delong-2020-04: ‘Throughout Donald Trump's presidency, it has been obvious that the American political system and public sphere are broken. But only with the federal government's embarrassingly incompetent response to the COVID-19 pandemic has that breakdown translated into a significant loss of life…

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Matthew Yglesias: Coronavirus Mitigation Could Kill Thousands. Suppress the Virus, Don’t Just “Flatten the Curve” https://www.vox.com/2020/5/6/21241058/coronavirus-mitigation-suppression-flatten-the-curve: ‘With the disease seemingly beaten back domestically, Hong Kong is now in a position to start switching emphasis to a strategy focused on border controls.... The city has a clearly articulated strategy that it calls “suppress and lift”: ease restrictions now when cases are at zero, but then clamp back down as necessary to push cases back down if they pop up. Taiwan has also had no new cases for several days.... New Zealand has not done quite this well, but the government believes it has successfully identified and isolated all of the country’s coronavirus cases and is lifting restrictions, on the claim that the virus has been “eliminated” in the country. South Korea’s outbreak is now down to single-digit numbers of new cases per week.... The United States, meanwhile, is moving to open up on the basis of a vaguely articulated assumption that settling for mitigation is good enough.... The United States has not really tried the strategies that have made suppression successful. To accomplish that, America would need to invest in expanding the volume of tests, invest in more contact tracers, and create centralized quarantine facilities.... Since the US didn't spend April doing that, trying to achieve suppression—along the lines of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, and New Zealand—would necessarily involve more delay and more economic pain. But doing so would save potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of lives and almost certainly lead to a better economic outcome by allowing activity to truly restart…

Continue reading "" »


David Anderson: Cubic Fits & Department of D'OH https://www.balloon-juice.com/2020/05/05/cubic-fits-and-department-of-doh/: ‘The first thing a data analyst trainee should learn is that playing with Excel’s functions and tools is a great way to get into trouble when you don’t have an underlying understanding of the fundamental data’s behaviors AND don’t understand the functions and tools core assumptions.  This is important.  The second or third lesson a data analyst trainee will learn is to not use Excel but that is advanced training. Why does this matter? It seems like the White House is using Excel and not understanding the phenonomenon they are trying to model. Eyeballing the data, there sure as hell seems to be a day of the week seasonality. But let’s go beyond that. If we were to assume that a cubit fit is an appropriate choice to model the data, and that we can project out of the current data to the near future so that there are almost no deaths on May 15th, that requires a What the Hell response…

Trump-CEA-are-idiots

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Things that have not aged well at al. From 2017: Letter in Support of the Nomination of Kevin Hassett to be Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers https://medium.com/@hassett.economists.letter/letter-in-support-of-the-nomination-of-kevin-hassett-to-be-chairman-of-the-council-of-economic-78c483f9821b: ‘Dr. Hassett has a record of serious scholarship on a wide range of topics, including tax policy, business investment, and energy. He has engaged on an even wider range of topics in the public policy debate and in his work at the Federal Reserve and as a consultant to the Department of the Treasury during the Administrations of President George H.W. Bush and President William J. Clinton. In addition, we appreciate that Dr. Hassett has consistently made an effort to reach out to a wide range of people from across the ideological spectrum both to promote economic dialogue and to collaborate on research and public policy proposals. For all of these reasons we believe that Dr. Hassett would be an excellent choice for Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and urge the Committee to move as expeditiously as possible to ensure that the Administration has the benefit of his economic advice...

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The Hoover Institute's Richard Epstein Is an Intellectual Fraudster, Pure and Simple...

Clowns (ICP)

A good liar needs to have a good memory. Richard Epstein has a bad memory. Richard Epstein is a bad liar https://mobile.twitter.com/JohnPMacke/status/1251716101819584513.

On Mar 16 he forecast https://www.hoover.org/research/coronavirus-pandemic that the U.S. would see about 500 deaths from coronavirus.

He then on Mar 23 wrote https://www.hoover.org/research/coronavirus-overreaction that that 500 estimate was low, and that he now had a revised forecast of 2,500.

Today the March 16 article—still datestamped March 16—has been silently changed. Why? To make it appear that on Mar 16 he forecast not 500, and not 2500, but 5000 U.S. deaths.

Today the Mar 16 article contains a "Correction & Addendum as of March 24"—the datestamp Mar 24 of which is false—that states that he had intended on Mar 16 to forecast 50,000 U.S. deaths: "my original erroneous estimate of 5,000 dead in the US is a number ten times smaller than I intended to state..."

The Mar 24 datestamp is false because the "Correction & Addendum as of March 24" has itself been silently revised: the "Correction & Addendum as of March 24" originally read: "That estimate is ten times greater than the 500 number I erroneously put in the initial draft of the essay...

Could this be funnier?

Confused? Epstein is now claiming that he originally intended on Mar 16 to forecast 50,000 U.S. dead but "erroneously" put 5,000 in his "initial draft".

  • In actual fact, his original Mar 16 forecast was 500.

  • In actual fact, on Mar 23 Epstein stated that his initial calculations had been in error, and that a better forecast was "2000-2500".

  • In actual fact, on Mar 24, Epstein added his "Correction & Addendum" raising his better forecast to 5,000, and acknowledging that that 5,000 forecast was a tenfold increase over his initial 500 forecast.

  • In actual fact, sometime between Mar 24 and today, Apr 21, Epstein silently revised his Mar 16 article—keeping the Mar 16 datestamp—so that it falsely appears that its forecast was not 500 but 5000.

  • In actual fact, sometime between Mar 24 and today, Apr 21, Epstein silently revised his Mar 24 "Correction & Addendum" to his Mar 16 article so that it now falsely claims that his original estimate was not 500 but 5000.

  • In actual fact, sometime between Mar 24 and today, Apr 21, Epstein silently revised his Mar 24 "Correction & Addendum" to his Mar 16 article to add the—previously never made, and so I conclude entirely false—claim that he on Mar 16 had "intended" to forecast 50,000 U.S. deaths from coronavirus.

I am with Paul Campos here: This is intellectual fraud, pure and simple.

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Note to Self: Why Do We Know So Little About Coronavirus?

Note to Self: If the mortality rate on true cases is 1% and if it takes two weeks from testing to death then, as the U.S. tested and confirmed cases in March, the U.S. 4/5 of the way through March was catching only one in fifteen cases:

https://delong.typepad.com/files/coronavirus-extrapolations.pdf

That would suggest that currently something like 10 million people in America have or had the disease, and that some 500,000 a day are getting it.

If the share of deaths among those whom the virus brushes past close enough that they develop at least temporary immunity—which is the number we really wish we knew—is not 1% but 0.3%, than those csae numbers are 30 million, and 1.5 million a day...

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The United States Has Been Treading Water on Coronavirus since Early April

Other countries have managed to get R[0] well below 1—have begun substantially shrinking the daily number of new cases.

The United States has not:

coronavirus-ft-2020-04-18.pn

Our current level of social distancing and lockdown appears to be producing about 30,000 new confirmed cases a day. We are no longer—and have not for two weeks been—ramping up and utilitizing our testing capabilities. On our current trajectory we look to be incurring about 2000 reported coronavirus deaths a day.

oronavirus-2020-04-18.png

Our medical system is handling the current run of cases. But it would be nice to get the number of cases down and the number of tests up so that we could begin implementing test-and-trace. But that requires a lot more tests—which are not there. And that required more effective social distancing to get R[0] substantially below one—which is not there, certainly not at a nationwide level.

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Cases and Deaths from Coronavirus Doubling Every Three Days Is Very Bad News Indeed

I confess I am positively unmanned by the every-three-days doubling of reported cases and deaths here in the United States. I had thought that we would see true cases doubling every seven days. And back when reported cases started doubling every three days, I was encouraged, because I thought it meant that we were catching up on testing, and so getting closer to detecting the bulk of the symptomatic cases.

But now it looks like that was wrong: reported cases were doubling every three days because true cases were doubling every three days—that is what deaths tell us was happening to true cases up until three weeks ago. The lack of case curve-bending makes me think that testing is not improving. It makes me think that reported cases are doubling every three days because true cases are doubling every three days.

That means that the Trump administration has only 40% as much time to get its ass in gear as I thought it did.

And that means the chances it will are very very low indeed:

Coronavirus-deaths-2020-03-27

I must confess it had never occurred to me back when China shut down Wuhan that we would simply not test everyone who presented with symptoms—and then backtrace their contacts. It is really looking now as though China—even with its authoritarian blindness fumbling of the intitial response (see Zeynep Tufekci: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2020/02/coronavirus-and-blindness-authoritarianism/606922/ is going to be studied in the future as a positive model of public health in the 21st century, while the Trump Administration’s reaction—currently on track as the worst in the world in handling coronavirus <https://www.evernote.com/l/AAFzPq9AJoFHFr_nrTPi1QyseD8WSAe0y00B/image.png>—will be studied in the future as a negative example: Brad DeLong: The Trump Administration’s Epic COVID-19 Failure https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/the-trump-administrations-epic-covid-19-failure-project-syndicate.html: 'As officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and other public-health bodies surely must have recognized, asymptomatic transmission means that the standard method of quarantining symptomatic travelers when they cross national (or provincial) borders is insufficient. It also means that we have known for almost two months that we were playing a long game against the virus. With its spread more or less inevitable, the primary task was always to reduce the pace of community transmission as much as possible, so that health-care systems would not be overwhelmed before a vaccine could be developed, tested, and deployed. In the long game against a contagious virus, how to mitigate transmission is no secret. In Singapore, which has largely contained the outbreak within its borders, all travelers from abroad have been required to self-quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they have symptoms. In Japan, South Korea, and other countries, testing for COVID-19 has been conducted on a massive scale. These are the measures that responsible governments take. You test as many people as you can, and when you locate areas of community transmission, you lock them down. At the same time, you build a database of all those who have already developed immunity and thus may safely resume their normal routine...

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Yet Another Rant on Coronavirus & Trump

Dore-black-easter

Could "reopening America for business" on Easter backfire? Oh, yes it could. Oh, it definitely could backfire: BIGTIME.

The experience so far is that, in a society not undertaking social distancing, coronavirus cases double in a little less than five days—grow 100-fold in a month. If, say, the virus has been largely suppressed and only 10000 in the U.S. have it Easter week, then after the u.S. is opened up 1 million will have it on May 15, and then 100 million on June 15, at which point the epidemic will have pretty much run its course. But from May 1 to June 15 hospitals will have been overwhelmed. The likely death rate will have been not 1% but 6%. 5 million additional Americans will have died.

In return we will have produced an extra $1 trillion of stuff.

That's a tradeoff of $200K per life, which is not a good tradeoff to aim at making.

And, while it could be better, it could be much worse...

The right way to do it is to lockdown while we test, test, test, test, test:

  • Test a random-sample panel of 10000 Americans weekly to get a handle on the progress of the disease.
  • Test everyone for antibodies.
  • Let those who have had the disease and so are no immune go back to work—after testing to make sure that they are immune.
    • Indeed, draft those who have recovered to be hospital orderlies and nurses.
  • Make decisions based on knowledge of where the epidemic is in the community, and tune quarantine, social distancing, and shutdown measures to those appropriate given where the epidemic is.

But we do not know where the epidemic is.

And because we are not testing on a sufficient scale, we will not know when and if the virus is truly on the run until a month after the peak, when deaths start dropping. And even then we will not know how much the virus is on the run.

And removing social distancing before the virus is thoroughly on the run means that the virus comes roaring back.

Once the virus is thoroughly on the run, then normal public health measures can handle it:

  • Test, test, test.
  • Test patients presenting with symptoms.
  • Trace and test their contacts. Do what Japan and Singapore did—close to the epicenter in Wuhan, yet still with true caseloads lower than one in ten thousand.
  • Test those crossing borders, symptomatic or not.
  • Test those moving from city to city via air.
  • Test a random sample on the interstates, to see how much virus is leaking from place to place that way.
  • Test a random sample of the population to see whether and how much the disease was established, and then test another one.

Wherever community transmission becomes reestablished, apply the Wuhan lockdown for at least three weeks, so the caseload could be diminished enough so that contact tracing could be resumed.

Build up a database of those who tested positive and are presumably now immune so that they can be on the frontlines of treatment and contact with those possibly newly infected, and reopen the economy by putting them in the jobs that have high human contact and thus high virus transmission rates.

Jim Stock at Harvard has lots of good ideas and has thought a lot about how to do the Hunker Down. He is actually the person I would be asking how to do this—very smart, and has thought hard over the past month about it.

My view, however, is that right now we are scr--ed AF.

It is the end of March. The United States has tested only 500,000 people. There is no nationwide random sample time series. An awful lot of symptomatic people were not tested, and were instead sent back into the community. By the metric of the speed of growth of reported cases since the establishment of the virus dated to the hundredth first-reported case, the U.S. has performed worst of any country: worse than Italy, worse than Spain, worse (we think) than Iran. The 105,000 cases reported as of the evening of Fr Mar 27 are just the tip of the iceberg. From 1700 currently reported deaths so far in the United States, we might guess that there were between 60 and 170 thousand cases active at the start of March, which have grown to between 600 thousand and 2.5 million new cases, with perhaps the same number coming in the next week.

But we really do not know where we are.

We have not imposed the Wuhan lockdown.

If we had imposed the Wuhan lockdown, then three weeks after the lockdown had been imposed, the Hunker Down could start to be relaxed. Then, if we had enough testing capacity, we could start to relax knowing how much and where we could do so without the virus roaring back. Public health could then do its normal job: testing a random sample, testing all those symptomatic, tracing contacts, quarantining, and so keeping the spread slow enough that the health care system is not overwhelmed and that the bulk of the cases come next year or the year after or even later, by which time our virologists will have worked miracles.

But Trump, Mnuchin, Kudlow, & co. appear to want to draw to an inside straight and make the existential bet that transmission will melt away with the coming of spring and the warming up of the country. It might. 10%.

I have not found any economist who will say in private that that is not a very bad idea from a cost-benefit risk point of view.

And then, in two months, we are going to want to restart all the businesses that were functioning as of March 15. Nobody should go bankrupt as a result of anything that happened between March 15 and May 15 this year. That should be the proper goal of economic policy: to create a moment of Jubilee in the middle of this spring.

How would I do it, if I were running economic policy? Medical tests, treatment, tests, food, utilities, plus everything we can do that does not require human-to-human contact within six feet—that should be the extent of our economy for the next three weeks. All else should be shut down. And then, in a month, everyone should go to the job they had on March 15. And if the financing isn't there to run your business on May 15—if you are bankrupt?

That is what the Jubilee is for: the government assumes your debts.

But what if people are worried about the now-higher government debt? That is good reason to impose a highly-progressive tax on income and wealth both to reassure investors that the long-term finances of the government are sound, and to recoup some of the unearned increment that will be captured over the next month by those who turn the lockdown into a source of financial advantage.

That is what the U.S. should do. That is not what the U.S. will do. For one thing, we do not have and are not making enough tests.

With respect to the "China" questions:

  • The U.S. has passed China in reported number of cases.
  • In two weeks, the U.S. is going to pass China in reported coronavirus deaths.
  • Unless China loses (or has already lost control of the virus and is suppressing the news), for the next 50 years China's rulers will say:
    • Our society handled this much better than yours did.
    • Look to us rather than the U.S. for models and as your partners.
  • The U.S. has lost all global leverage over China—unless they are suppressing very bad virus news, and I see only a 10% chance that they are.
  • When the U.S. economy reopens, U.S.-China negotiations are likely to take the form of us saying "please allow us to buy your stuff on whatever terms you offer".

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The Trump Administration’s Epic COVID-19 Failure: Project Syndicate

Trump-cannot-count

Project Syndicate: The Trump Administration’s Epic COVID-19 Failure https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-covid19-testing-failure-by-j-bradford-delong-2020-03: 'Whereas many other countries afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic have pursued mass testing, quarantines, and other measures to reduce community transmission, the Trump administration has simply dithered. Although America could still shut down for a month to overcome the crisis, the sad truth is that it won't. BERKELEY—Even to US President Donald Trump’s most ardent critics, his administration’s disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic has come as a surprise. Who would have guessed that Trump and his cronies would be so incompetent that merely testing for the disease would become a major bottleneck?

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It Looks as Though Very Evil People Named Kudlow, Laffer, and Moore Have Been Telling a Very Stupid President Very Misleading Things

The odds are that some very evil people—I am looking at you, Steve Moore; I am looking at you, Larry Kudlow; I am looking at you, Art Laffer—have been telling a very stupid president very misleading things:

Donald Trump https://twitter.com/AaronBlake/status/1242941041143156736: days-behind-new-york-2020-03-25
"[Some states] have virtually no problem or a very small problem..." "We don't have to test an entire state in the Middle West, or wherever they may be..." "A lot of those states could go back right now, and they probably will..."

The only states whose populations are less than 50% urban are Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, and Mississippi. For every case of coronavirus we see, there are likely more than 20 we do not currently see.

West Virginia's five largest cities—Charleston 47,215, Huntington 46,048, Morgantown 30,955, Parkersburg 29,675, Wheeling 26,771—might make it the only state in which they are still free from self-sustaining community transmission.

But probably not.

Probably there are about 200 cases in each of those cities, now spreading. And probably Kentucky, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico are the only states in which coronavirus is more than 15 days behind its pace and prevalence in New York. (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Virginia I see as most likely much closer to New York in time—they just have not been testing.)


https://www.icloud.com/numbers/0BQW1nH3Sk2kadzMnYOIFic_w

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The Trump Administration Has Made America #1: Worst in the World at Coronavirus Response

The trajectory of cases since the 100th reported case is now "ahead" of all other counries. The Trump administration truly has made America #1!

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Donald Trump: Coronavirus Statements https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/12/trump-coronavirus-timeline/:

Jan. 22: “We have it totally under control.”

Jan. 24: “It will all work out well.”

Jan. 29: “We have the best experts anywhere in the world, and they are on top of it 24/7!”

Jan. 30: “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment—five. And those people are all recuperating successfully."

Feb. 2: “Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China."

Feb. 10: “I think the virus is going to be—it’s going to be fine.”

Feb. 14: “We have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it. It’s like around 12. Many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape.”

Feb. 19: “I think it’s going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus. So let’s see what happens, but I think it’s going to work out fine.”

Feb. 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

Feb. 25: “You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are... We’re doing a great job.”

Feb. 26: “Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low.… When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done."

Feb. 26: "We’re ready for it. It is what it is. We’re ready for it. We’re really prepared."

Feb. 27: “Only a very small number in U.S., and China numbers look to be going down. All countries working well together!”

Feb. 28: “I think it’s really going well. We did something very fortunate: we closed up to certain areas of the world very, very early—far earlier than we were supposed to. I took a lot of heat for doing it. It turned out to be the right move, and we only have 15 people and they are getting better, and hopefully they’re all better. There’s one who is quite sick, but maybe he’s gonna be fine."

Feb. 28: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

Feb. 29: “We’re the number-one travel destination anywhere in the world, yet we have far fewer cases of the disease than even countries with much less travel or a much smaller population.”

March 4: “Some people will have this at a very light level and won’t even go to a doctor or hospital, and they’ll get better. There are many people like that.”

March 5: “With approximately 100,000 CoronaVirus cases worldwide, and 3,280 deaths, the United States, because of quick action on closing our borders, has, as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths.”

March 6: “Calm. You have to be calm. It’ll go away.”

March 7: “It came out of China, and we heard about it. And made a good move: We closed it down; we stopped it. Otherwise—the head of CDC said last night that you would have thousands of more problems if we didn’t shut it down very early. That was a very early shutdown, which is something we got right."

March 9: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant."

March 9: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

March 10: “As you know, it’s about 600 cases, it’s about 26 deaths, within our country. And had we not acted quickly, that number would have been substantially more.”

March 10: “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

March 11: “I think we’re going to get through it very well.”

March 12: “The United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point… when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it.”

March 13: “[FDA] will bring, additionally, 1.4 million tests on board next week and 5 million within a month. I doubt we’ll need anywhere near that.”

March 14: “We’re using the full power of the federal government to defeat the virus, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

March 15: “This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over”...

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The United States Is Now Second Worst in Terms of Coronavirus Response

If we take as our metric the pattern of increase in the number of reported cases since the 100th reported case, the United States is now second worst in the world, behind only China. So that is bad. On the other hand, China now appears to have the coronavirus on the run. We think. It appears. So we could still manage this thing—with governmental competence:

2020-03-20-ft-coronavirus

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Shelton the Charlatan: Project Syndicate

In 1994 Milton Friedman wrote about Judy Shelton: "In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece (July 15)... Judy Shelton started her concluding paragraph: “Until the U.S. begins standing up once more for stable exchange rates as the starting point for free trade...” It would be hard to pack more error into so few words.... A system of pegged exchange rates, such as the original IMF system or the European Monetary System, is an enemy to free trade. It is no accident that the 1992 collapse of the EMS coincided with the agreement to remove controls on the movement of capital..." https://miltonfriedman.hoover.org/friedman_images/Collections/2016c21/NR_09_12_1994.pdf. To turn monetary policy away from internal balance toward preventing exchange rate movements that market fundamentals wanted to see occur was, in Friedman's view, the road toward disaster. It was simply wrong. And it could be held together only if economies moved from free trade back toward managed trade—and so beggared not just their neighbors but themselves.

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