2:00PM Water Cooler 10/6/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, because of the festivities on Capitol Hill, I have an enormous backlog of material on both health and the biosphere. I’ll have to do a pantry clearout shortly. Not today, I don’t think. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

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#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added these daily charts from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. I think it’s time to do some tinkering with the charts. I want to improve the vaccination area, if I can, to distinguish between first, second, and ideally booster shots, and give a total. The original purpose of the chart was to see if the advent of the “adults in the room” boosted the vaccination rate at all, and it did not. (Hence, kudos to the heroic efforts of people on the ground.) I also need to look at positivity and see if the data problems (hat tip, Lou Anton) can be overcome, of indeed if the chart is even useful, given the advent of commercial test kits whose data is untrackable, CDC, good job. However, as Arya would say, “Not today!”, with so much going on over on Capitol Hill.

Vaccination by region:

Coercion works? As exhortation, Biden’s speech had no impact at all.

56% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Saudi Arabia). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus… (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well.)

Case count by United States regions:

Simply tape-watching, this descent is as steep as any of the three peaks in November–January. It’s also longer than the descent from any previous peak. The question is whether we will ascend to a second (or third) peak, as in last December-January, or not, as in last August. Note also that the regions diverge: The South, which drove the peak, is finally dropping. The West was choppy too, and is now falling. Ditto the Midwest. And now the Northeast is falling as well.

“Massive New Analysis Confirms Just How Many COVID-19 Cases Are Truly Asymptomatic” [Science Alert (Lee)]. “Now [a massive meta-analysis by a group of US medical researchers on more than 350 studies has found just over 35 percent of all COVID-19 infections don’t proceed to a symptomatic phase.” One wonders if natural immunity from asymptomatic cases is somehow “dark matter” throwing a lot of the models off…

We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January, which nobody knows the reasons for, then or now. Today’s populations are different, though. This population is more vaccinated, and I would bet — I’ve never seen a study — that many small habits developed over the last year (not just masking). Speculating freely: There is the possibility that natural immunity is much, much greater than we have thought, although because this is America, our data is so bad we don’t know. Also, if the dosage from aerosols drops off by something like the inverse square law, not linearly, even an extra foot of distance could be significant if adopted habitually by a large number of people. And if you believe in fomites, there’s a lot more hand-washing being done. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible. And although readers will recall that I have cautioned against cross-country comparisons, I’m still not understanding why we’re not seeing the same aggregates in schools that we’ve see in Canada and especially the UK, despite anecdotes. Nothing I’ve read suggests that the schools, nation-wide, have handled Covid restrictions with any consistency at all.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report October 1, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Status quo, except for individual counties scattered here, some in the Southwest, and one big flare-up in California. Speculating freely: One thing the consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But — for example — Minnesota is not a hub. If Minnesota goes red, who else does? Well, Wisconsin. As we see. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. Previous release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

Test positivity:

Looks like the missing data rebound in the South has begun. But what happens when test kits from Walgreens and CVS become dominant, and no reporting is done? We’re already partway there.

Hospitalization (CDC). Everything works today:

From this chart, pediatric hospitalization, in the aggregate, is down. I should dig out some regional or better yet county data.Here the CDC’s hospitalization visualization, from the “Community Profile” report above:

Mountain states still stubbornly high. Tennessee’s long ordeal seems to be ending.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 724,838 722,439. A definite downward trend, mercifully. We approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found more than a little disturbing. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions.) (Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)

Covid cases worldwide:

European exceptionalism?

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Politics

“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

Biden Administration

“The Case Against Temporary, Half-Assed Reforms” [New York Magazine]. “There are multiple ways to fit a $3.5 trillion peg into a $2.3 trillion hole. One would be to retain almost all of Biden’s current policy initiatives, but in smaller and/or more temporary forms. Instead of giving dental benefits to all Medicare beneficiaries, you could restrict such benefits to seniors who earn less than $39,000. Instead of giving a child allowance to 88 percent of U.S. parents, you could give it to the minority of parents who earn less than $50,000 a year…. Alternatively, Biden & Co. could nix the means tests, and just implement the president’s full agenda for a very limited period of time: Give Americans a child allowance, long-term care benefits, paid leave — the whole works — for just three years. Then run for reelection in 2024 as the party that opposes making virtually every American family poorer by allowing automatic safety-net cuts to take effect. This is the approach counseled by Carlos Mucha, an economics blogger with a knack for generating ‘so crazy, it just might work’ policy proposals.” • But my means-testing (wail liberal Democrats). Needless to say, I’m with Mucha. As soon as people feel the impact of universal concrete material benefits, it won’t be possible to roll them back. Is DeSantis really going to run for President on a platform of rolling back dental? The other merit of this approach is that it allows the top line to remain the same. But oh well–

“Biden Team Seeks to Pare Back Economic Agenda in Strategy Shift” [Bloomberg]. “Biden’s strategy to enact two packages — a roads-and-bridges focused infrastructure plan and a trimmed-back social-spending bill — is evolving after a tense week of negotiations that yielded ill will between liberal and centrist factions of the Democratic Party. After congressional leaders had to indefinitely postpone votes on the measures, one Democratic operative said he hadn’t seen such vitriol between members of his own party since Biden took office. In meetings this week, the president has warned progressives — who have sought expansive new spending on education and social programs combined with tax hikes on the wealthy — that they will have to temper expectations for the final legislation. But he has also dialed up pressure on Congress to pass both packages, casting them in a speech Tuesday in a Republican-leaning corner of Michigan as essential to keep the U.S. competitive with fast-rising adversaries and calling opponents “complicit in America’s decline.’… “The biggest hurdles to this passing are internal divisions within the party,” said James Manley, a Democratic strategist who worked in the Senate for 21 years. “The longer this thing hangs out there, the more time opponents of the bill — whether it is big business or Republicans — can ramp up the opposition.” • Yep. Better whip the moderates into line. And: “Biden says the cost of the bill, which is still subject to negotiations, would be entirely offset with tax increases on corporations and high-income Americans. The focus on the legislation’s price tag in recent weeks has frustrated Democratic operatives and pollsters and White House officials alike.” • I disagree. The price tag didn’t hold up Trump’s relief bill — which actually reduced poverty! — or the Democrat copycat bill that followed, under the current guy. The cleanest and simplest way to send the message that government will spend money on important priorities…. is to spend money on important priorities, and you can only send that message with a firm top line (and nothing says you can’t tinker with it at the very end of the negotiated. Biden’s original strategy was to ask the moderates what they would cut. That was a better idea.

UPDATE ‘Climate change provisions remain crucial piece of reconciliation debate” [ABC]. “Asked last week what the biggest sticking points were in the ongoing negotiations over the partisan budget reconciliation bill, California Rep. Ro Khanna, a member of the progressive caucus, texted ABC News one word: ‘climate.’ In television interviews since, several other progressive leaders have also been quick to underscore their commitment to the climate-related provisions in the sweeping budget package… “The president cannot show up in Glasgow [for the United National Climate Change Conference at the end of the month] empty-handed,’ Jamal Raad, co-founder and executive director of climate change advocacy group Evergreen Action, told ABC News. ‘The current budget reconciliation package includes major pieces of legislation that will drive down emissions and let us be taken seriously on the global stage.'” • Reminds me of Wilson campaigning for the League of Nations. Let’s hope Dr. Biden doesn’t end up running the country like Edith Wilson, with the press saying nothing.

“Biden indicates he would sign reconciliation bill with Hyde amendment” [The Hill]. “President Biden indicated Tuesday that he would sign Democrats’ reconciliation bill even if it included the Hyde amendment, a controversial provision that bars federal funds from being used for most abortions. ‘I’d sign it either way,’ Biden told reporters Tuesday evening when asked if he would sign the bill if the Hyde amendment were included, a demand of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The White House has said that Biden opposes the Hyde amendment. Manchin’s demand that the amendment be included in the reconciliation package has emerged as a new hurdle in negotiations over the bill. ‘Yeah, we’re not taking the Hyde amendment off. Hyde’s going to be on,’ Manchin told National Review last week. ‘It has to be. It has to be. That’s dead on arrival if that’s gone.’ Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she would not vote for a bill that includes the Hyde amendment.” • I think this was a misstep by Jayapal. It would have been better for her to have made $3.5 trillion the hill to die on, first because that’s Biden’s number and “the deal,” second, because it implies universal benefits. By nailing her colors to Roe v. Wade, Jayapal opened space between herself and Biden, abandoned universality, and put herself in the same room as the bourgeois feminists who’ve been failing everybody but professional women for thirty years. I think Manchin deked her on that one. (I do give kudos Japayal et al. for testifying on their abortions.; this should have been done thirty years ago. Had it been, it would have been the equivalent of “coming out” for gays, which ultimately yielded enormous (though not revolutionary) benefits for gays. Instead, credentialed bourgeois feminists treated Roe v. Wade as settled law, even though the policy was not enacted democratically. Conservatives did no such thing, and were ultimately much more serious about their politics. Oh well, nevertheless…).

UPDATE “GOP peels its centrists away from Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure plan” [Politico]. “Democratic leaders’ ambitious domestic agenda is trapped in a political tug of war: The more they yank toward progressives, the more they pull away from centrist GOP forces that rallied behind their infrastructure bill. That infrastructure plan passed the Senate less than two months ago with 19 GOP votes. But top Democrats’ insistence on linking it to a bigger, party-line social spending measure has squeezed House Republican centrists who’d hoped to deliver dozens of votes for the roads and rails bill from their side of the aisle. There aren’t many of those GOP centrists, but their support could further burnish the infrastructure bill’s bipartisan credentials. With Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden tying infrastructure to massive spending on progressive priorities, however, Republicans who’d wished for a standalone vote are now forced into an intricate dance — ignoring the linkage and backing an infrastructure bill that doesn’t stand on its own.” • I didn’t know there were “bipartisan credentials.” What does the diploma look like? Is it done with a branding iron?

“Biden: Senate filibuster change on debt a ‘real possibility’” [Associated Press]. “To get around Republican obstruction, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Democrats are considering a change to the Senate’s filibuster rules in order to quickly approve lifting the nation’s debt limit and avoid what would be a devastating credit default… Biden has resisted any filibuster rule changes over other issues, but his off-the-cuff comments Tuesday night interjected a new urgency to an increasingly uncertain situation. ‘It’s a real possibility,’ Biden told reporters outside the White House.” • Good. Do it.

UPDATE “Life After Default” [Council of Economic Advisers, The White House]. “A default—or even just the threat of one—would have a devastating impact on our economy. In the run-up to and aftermath of the 2011 debt ceiling crisis—where the country ultimately avoided a default—market risk measures rose persistently, and measures of consumer confidence and small business optimism weakened. Mortgage rates rose by between 0.7 and 0.8 percentage point for two months after that year’s debt ceiling crisis passed, and only declined slowly thereafter.[4] For a family taking out a $250,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, an extra 0.8 percentage point means more than $30,000 in additional interest payments over the life of the loan. Rates for auto loans, personal loans, and other consumer financial products also rose in the wake of the 2011 crisis,[5] and these increases often lasted for months. This all happened despite the fact that Congress acted to avoid default in time, before the U.S. Treasury exhausted its cash on hand and its other means of financing.

“Kerry: Biden ‘had not been fully aware’ of submarine deal’s impact on France” [The Hill]. • Thanks, John. Klain will love the headline, good job.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Are Democrats Dysfunctional Or Just Disagreeing?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “While it may not always seem like it, the different factions in the Democratic Party still represent policy differences — not fault lines. That’s namely because ideological differences still don’t map perfectly onto the party’s different constituencies. Yes, some of the party’s moderates, like Manchin, represent constituencies further from the mainstream of the Democratic Party — places with more white, older voters. But this isn’t true of all moderate Democrats. Rep. Carolyn Bordeaux of Georgia, for instance, represents a majority-minority district that has substantial populations of Black, Latino and Asian residents. And while someone like Jayapal, who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, represents a far more diverse district with a lot of college-educated voters, Rep. Ilhan Omar, who isn’t that different from Jayapal politically, hails from a district with a much lower share of college-educated voters. As a result, ideological differences are not likely to create permanently warring factions in the Democratic Party — at least at this point. Party divisions are inevitable in big-tent coalitions. Policy disagreements across the ideological spectrum are healthy: It’s arguably the efforts to flatten out these divisions among Republicans that have made the past few years so troubling for the Republican Party and its role in American democracy. The nature of partisan politics has also made it harder for internal factions to splinter from the Democratic Party. Trying to form a third party would tank electoral prospects and all but ensure Republican victories at the federal level. And Republicans are unlikely to go after progressives, regardless of how disgruntled that group might become with the Democratic leadership. This should allow progressives and moderates to form flexible coalitions in the long term, and hold off the biggest threat to party stability — one faction getting angry enough to leave altogether.” • Would it be so wrong if the “moderates” left? I bet the Republicans — even the Never-Trumpers — would eat them up and spit them out.

Lambert here: We should also remember that in addition to genuine ideological conflicts, we are also seeing a succession issue, at least in the House, given the advanced age of the the liberal Democrat gerontocracy. So, the players are also playing for future leadership positions. That’s certainly true of Jayapal and Omar (though I can’t see Sinema being leader of anything, she might not agree; ditto the too-weather-vane-y for my taste AOC, for somewhat similar reasons; trust the Democrats to corrupt an extraordinary talent). So the stakes are high. “Fundamentally, nothing will change.” It seems that “progressives” are the faction of “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change” (Lampedusa), while “moderates” are the faction of “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to stay as they are.” Or is that playing it too cute?

UPDATE “‘Her calculation is off’: Sinema dares the left to take her out” [Politico]. “When Kyrsten Sinema became the first Arizona Democrat in more than 40 years to win an open Senate seat, she was heralded by her party for breaking the Republican stranglehold on a state where Barry Goldwater’s brand of conservatism runs deep. Three years later, the novelty has worn off. Nearly one-third of Arizona Democrats view Sinema unfavorably, according to one recent poll. The state party put her on notice of a potential vote of no confidence. She was greeted by protesters over the weekend when she returned home for a fundraiser, and then confronted Sunday by activists who filmed her in a restroom. Her experience is a testament to the heightened expectations of Arizona Democrats. But it’s also indicative of a deeply polarized national environment that is increasingly intolerant of Sinema’s brand of centrist politics — whatever its local logic. ‘She’s trying to be a moderate, because Arizona is a moderate state and the way you get elected here — or at least the way you have in the past — is to not be challenged in a primary and get your ass to the middle to try to keep enough swing voters in your camp,’ said David Doak, a retired longtime Democratic strategist and ad maker living in Arizona.” • I can’t imagine a more reliable, disinterested source. More: “Calling Sinema an ‘obstructionist’ rather than a centrist, Garrick McFadden, a former vice chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, said it’s ‘not just the hippies and the 20-, 30-year-old’ Democrats who are fed up with her, but more moderate and institutional-minded Democrats, as well. ‘I don’t understand the calculus,’ he said. ‘It’s not like we’re asking her to do the Bernie Sanders or the Elizabeth Warren agenda. It’s the Joe Biden agenda.'”

“London Breed suggests changes may be coming to San Francisco’s mask mandate” [SFGATE]. “Two weeks after being seen in violation of the mandate at a Tenderloin nightclub and bemoaning the “fun police,” Breed told the San Francisco Chronicle that changes to the rules — which require all individuals regardless of vaccination status to mask in all indoor spaces unless ‘actively eating or drinking’ — are ‘overdue.’ … As mayor, Breed has no control over COVID-19 restrictions. Under California law, county health officers, who are not elected, are given expansive powers during ‘health emergencies’ and can issue public health orders without receiving permission from elected officials…. ‘When I took a picture, as I do in any case or do an interview, yes I take my mask off when I take a picture,” she said. “I’m vaccinated. I don’t need to wear a mask to take a picture every single time. I don’t want to.'” • And you can’t make me (throwing a flag on myself for infantilization, here). Breed, one hopes, is ignored of the fact that the vaccinated can transmit, and hence of the need to still protect others, and not just herself.

Republican Funhouse

UPDATE Serious as a heart attack:

Clinton Legacy

I’m astonished too:

What’s Clinton on about? Oligarchs are always a minority.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the US hired 568 thousand workers in September of 2021, the most in three months and compared with a downwardly revised 340 thousand in August and beating market expectations of a 428 thousand rise. Most jobs were created in the leisure and hospitality sector (266 thousand) followed by education and health (66 thousand); professional and business (61 thousand); trade, transportation and utilities (54 thousand); financial activities (22 thousand); and information (11 thousand). The goods-producing sector added 102 thousand jobs, led by manufacturing (49 thousand); construction (46 thousand); and natural resources and mining (7 thousand). Companies with 500 and more employees added the most jobs (390 thousand), followed by midsized (115 thousand) and small companies (63 thousand)”

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Retail: “Home Depot hires Walmart delivery drivers to drop off paint and more to customers’ doors” [CNBC]. “The home improvement retailer is the first retail client to sign up for Walmart’s new delivery business, GoLocal. Walmart launched the business in late August, with plans to attract customers ranging from local stores to national players and make money from last-mile deliveries, similar to a third-party service like Instacart. Deliveries are made by gig economy workers who use Walmart’s delivery platform, Spark Driver.”

Shipping: “Cost of shipping between China and U.S. plunges” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The cost of shipping between China and the U.S. plunged this week after hitting record highs in early September as the off-season approaches, a power crunch slows Chinese manufacturing and speculators rush to sell their hoarded shipping spots. An executive with a Shanghai freight company said Thursday that the cost of shipping a 40-foot container from China to the U.S. West Coast dropped nearly half in the previous four days, going from about $15,000 to just over $8,000. The spot rate for shipping to the East Coast had fallen by more than one-quarter from over $20,000 to less than $15,000. Prior to the pandemic, the rate was usually around $1,500. … Many long-term rates listed on the Shanghai Shipping Exchange for shipping a 40-foot container from China to the U.S. are under $5,000, much lower than the spot rates. The plunge in spot shipping rates, the analyst said, is mainly caused by the imminent off-season and a reduction in manufacturing due to China’s ongoing power crunch.”

Tech: On the Facebook outage:

Dang.

Tech: MacDonald’s to Twitter during the Facebook outage:

Ouch! (And somebody’s been reading Stoller.)

Tech: “Facebook’s backup argument to toss FTC case is public policy pickle” [Reuters]. “A back-door argument in Facebook Inc’s new motion to dismiss an amended antitrust complaint by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission presents a real policy conundrum. Do we want federal agencies to be led by experts who have developed and expressed strong views about companies they oversee? Or are agencies ultimately undermined when their leaders’ decisions are open to accusations of partiality?… Facebook contends that FTC Chair Lina Khan staked out such antagonistic positions toward the company in her previous work as a public policy analyst, law professor and Congressional investigator that she should have stepped aside when the commission voted to authorize the FTC’s amended complaint…. The FTC chair, Clark said, didn’t just take an ideological or industry-wide stance on tech companies and monopolistic behavior. She expressed specific views about Facebook’s conduct. ‘Would a disinterested person believe (Khan) was impartial with respect to Facebook?” Clark said. “I think there’s a good chance Facebook’s argument will succeed.'” • Clearly, credentialed experts, ciphers who over their careers have never taken a position on the actions of any firm would be absolutely ideal regulator. From Facebook’s perspective. An argument so degraded it just might win!

Tech: “Google abandons plans to offer Plex checking accounts” [Banking Dive]. “Google is abandoning its plans to offer checking accounts to its users in partnership with banks and credit unions, a project the tech giant announced almost two years ago. The decision to drop the project, first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed to Banking Dive by a Google spokesperson, comes after a series of delays and the March departure of Caesar Sengupta, the Google Pay executive who headed the project. The missed deadlines and Sengupta’s departure prompted the search engine behemoth to scrap the project, sources told the Journal…, Bank regulators, however, supported the project and played no role in Google’s plans to abandon the Plex accounts, sources told the Journal.” • What a shame.

Tech: “Google files document production demand against one of its biggest public critics” [The Verge]. “Late Monday night, Google filed for a court order to produce documents from longtime Google critic Luther Lowe, as part of its ongoing federal antitrust case, US vs. Google…. As vice president of public policy at Yelp, Lowe has long been a prominent voice pushing for antitrust action against Google, even launching an email newsletter called “This Week In Google Antitrust” to track support for action against the search giant. In public statements, Lowe has particularly focused on the search neutrality case against Google, alleging that the company uses the power of Google Search to co-opt and overwhelm subject-matter directories like Yelp. This isn’t the first time Google has used the antitrust proceedings to compel document production from rivals.”

Tech: “Twitch’s source code and streamer payment figures have been leaked following hack” [Engadget]. “Hackers have accessed Twitch and leaked a vast amount of company data, including proprietary code, creator payouts and the ‘entirety of Twitch.tv.’ Twitch confirmed the breach in a tweet Wednesday morning, but did not provide further details. … Although we haven’t verified the claim that ‘the entirety’ of Twitch’s source code has been leaked, the files in the 126GB repository do appear to be genuine, and the payout figures for almost 2.4 million streamers seem to be present…. The group also stated that Twitch’s community is a ‘disgusting toxic cesspool,’ so the action may be related to recent hate raids that prompted streamers to take a day off in protest. Twitch has previously said that it’s trying to stop the hate raid problem but that it wasn’t a ‘simple fix.'” Importantly: “It’s not clear yet how attackers could have stolen such a large amount of data, especially considering that Twitch is owned by Amazon, which operates one of the largest web-hosting companies in the world.” • Waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Tech: “Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the BBC stage a very British coup to rescue our data from Facebook and friends” [The Register]. “BBC R&D discovered it too didn’t much like the way personal data was in the hands of the wrong people. That got in the way of creating better public value from the internet, and the BBC worries about these things. Public service broadcasting in the 21st century means public service internet. So, in 2017 it started a project called Databox with Nottingham University, using ideas kicked off by some cat called Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who’s apparently got some track record here. Two years later, work started on prototypes and last week BBC R&D put out a report on what the first testers thought of it all… The idea is simple. You keep your personal data stored on an edge device you control. This can be a phone app or an actual appliance. It implements the three strands of what’s called Human Data Interaction, HDI, the philosophy at the heart of it all. These three ideas are: legibility, agency and negotiation…. The researchers say that the test audience that has used the system – young people who don’t spend much time on the BBC particularly – was positive. Audience members liked the control and visibility it gave them; they understood the need to manage personal data but didn’t understand how to do it. This unlocked that door. … We do need a revolution that puts the power in the hands of the people, but we probably don’t want to shoot the Czar and his family. A more equitable sharing of power and value, more transparency and accountability, and the ability to say “no” will be disruptive, but in the right way. It’s about time we made Google read our terms and conditions – and the world’s finest public service broadcaster is on our side. Be rude not to.”

Supply Chain: “Inspector general spotlights DoD pharma supply chain gaps” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “In August 2019, the US government identified that 72% of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturers were located outside the United States, with China accounting for 13% alone…. The question of foreign reliance wasn’t a new one, though—Department of Defense (DoD) Instruction 4140.01, effective Mar 6, 2019, had already tasked the DoD with mitigating the risks of pharmaceutical supply chain disruptions. Now, about two and a half years later, the Pentagon’s inspector general evaluated the progress and reported that, while some efforts were made, more could be done….. As the situation currently stands, the authors write, “Senior officials from the [DLA] Medical Pharmaceutical Prime Vendor Division stated that if some countries decide to stop producing APIs or shipping them to domestic manufacturers in the United States, the results could be catastrophic for the entire U.S. pharmaceutical industry.'”

Mr. Market: “This Market Makes No Sense” [A Wealth of Common Sense]. “There is certainly an insane amount of speculation going on in a variety of markets today. But that insanity is also being balanced out with more reasonable, cautious investor behavior. Today’s market is a head-scratcher…. Despite generationally low interest rates, investors continue plowing money into bond funds. According to Yardeni, there was a record $1.01 trillion of inflows into bond funds for the trailing 12 months through April. The 12 month numbers through July and August were close to that record as well. How could there be a speculative mania if so much money keeps flowing into fixed income?…. On the opposite end of the risk spectrum, the start-up market is scalding hot.” • Readers, as you know, I don’t play the ponies. Thoughts?

Mr. Market: “Pension Investment: BTS Takes Care of South Korea’s Retirees” [The Blue Roof]. “The world-beating K-pop idols are not only musical sensations, but also a phenomenal investment. In 2018, the National Pension Service 국민연금, South Korea’s pension fund, invested in the pre-IPO shares of HYBE 하이브, BTS’s production company that was at the time called BigHit Entertainment. With an investment of KRW 31.2b (USD 27m), the NPS earned a strong return of KRW 282b (USD 240m), or 8.9x, in a little less than three years.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25 Extreme Fear (previous close: 27 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 5 at 2:00pm.

The Biosphere

“Only 6% of financial firms think climate risk is fully priced in: GARP survey” [Yahoo News]. “A recent survey by the GARP Risk Institute found that just 6% of firms think that climate risk is fully priced in, though ‘quite a lot of them do think that it’s partially priced,’ Jo Paisley, president of GARP Risk Institute, told Yahoo Finance (video above). ‘And I think what we’re seeing across the risk profession and the finance profession, is just a growing awareness, a growing understanding of the risks.’ The survey, in its third year running, polled 78 financial firms worldwide, encompassing 47 banks, 20 asset managers, and 11 other firms in insurance and financial market infrastructure.” • Maybe that can’t be done?

The Agony Column

“Who Is the Bad Art Friend?” [New York Times]. • Holy moley, another heaping spoonful of cray cray! Well worth a read for the plot twists (and I blame the CIA, since they’re responsible for the Iowa Writers Workshops).

Our Famously Free Press

“Ozy Media Is A Monumental Bummer” [Defector]. • This is absolutely as cray cray as yesterday’s story about the Busch children, except now “The Fourth” is your boss. Oh, and Laurene Powell Jobs gave the “founders” money. Yay! Oh, but–

“Ozy Shows That Serious Black Media Needs a New Business Model” [New York Times]. “Now that Ozy has proved to be too good to be true, marketers and investors should look around.”

Class Warfare

“U.S. Coal Mines Are Running Out of Miners Just as Demand Booms” [Bloomberg]. • They probably all learned to code. Maybe the Beltway press should get to work at a literal coalface?

News of the Wired

“William Shatner will launch into space with Blue Origin on Oct. 12” [Space]. A man of many talents:

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

112 comments

  1. Mikel

    “U.S. Coal Mines Are Running Out of Miners Just as Demand Booms” [Bloomberg]. • They probably all learned to code…

    Needed that laugh today. Not that a coal miner couldn’t learn to code, but “app tech” revolving around 1st world service problems isn’t solving many major problems.

    Reply
    1. griffen

      I dunno, if you watched the TV series “Justified” the Crowders and the Bennetts, et al, learned to do something entirely different. These green plants, are they all herbal?

      I wouldn’t judge any of ’em if they grew it in real life.

      Reply
    2. jrs

      But is coal solving any problems in the year 2021? Obviously that coal should not be mined. Keep it in the ground.

      Reply
    3. Old Sarum

      re Mikel and the miner shortage:

      Data mining is basically the same thing so there should be an easy transfer of skills and lifestyle for “coders”.

      ps Whatever happened to the “Systems Analyst” jobs I used to used to see advertised back in the day?

      Pip-pip!

      Reply
      1. LifelongLib

        I was a “data processing systems analyst” for several years, then my title changed to “information technology specialist”. Same job (computer programmer), different name.

        Reply
  2. ptb

    President Biden indicated Tuesday that he would sign Democrats’ reconciliation bill even if it included the Hyde amendment, a controversial provision that bars federal funds from being used for most abortions. ‘I’d sign it either way

    Under the bus, they go. Ugh. I thought this was one of the things they made Biden promise not to do in 2020 ??

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Sorry, but this just proves to the cynically intrepid outliers of “the official version” that Biden is a Swinger. He’ll “go either way,” and not apologize.
      A nomination from “the cheap seats” for the Biden Administration theme song. “Career of Evil” by Blue Oyster Cult, written by Patti Smith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY3NQUoT89k

      Reply
      1. Petter

        Mary Wells song – My Guy. Listened to it now and substituted My Guy to Bi guy.
        —————————————
        There’s nothing you could say
        To tear me away from Bi guy
        There’s nothing you could do
        ‘Cause I’m stuck like glue to Bi guy
        I’m stickin’ to my guy like a stamp to a letter
        Like the birds of a feather
        We stick together
        I’m telling you from the start
        I can’t be torn apart from Bi guy
        ——————————————

        Reply
    2. ckimball

      Perhaps we could consider Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata when contemplating the
      Hyde amendment and the most disrespectful anti abortion legislation it means to support. I read the play maybe 60 years ago… The women wanted the men to end
      their Peloponesian war and withheld sex as their tactic. It seems ironic to recall it at this point in our time because the final part of the resolution between the women and the men which ended the war came in the guise of a captivating young beauty whose name was Reconciliation.

      Reply
    3. Jason Boxman

      And women for some reason should keep voting for team D. I guess they have nowhere else to go. Low turnout elections mean fewer voters to cater to and deceive. Works for the Establishment.

      Reply
      1. Jen

        The team D women who brunch don’t need the Hyde amendment, and those are the only women the party really cares about.

        Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Yeah, this is an only Nixon can go to China. HRC could get away with this, but many of her followers will go off over this.

        Reply
  3. Jason Boxman

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/06/us/politics/student-loan-forgiveness.html

    An even bigger challenge is that the primary loan servicer for the forgiveness program — the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which does business as FedLoan — is in the process of quitting.

    The Education Department outsources the work of billing borrowers and guiding them through the repayment process to hired vendors. FedLoan, which holds a contract to manage the accounts of borrowers pursuing public service loan forgiveness, told the agency this summer that it would not renew its contract when it lapses at the end of the year. It said that the “increasingly complex and challenging” work of servicing federal loans had become too costly.

    Good riddance. It took months, multiple calls, and a letter with relevant sections highlighted, to get FedLoan Servicing to properly apply loan pay-off payments back in 2014. I understandably wanted to pay-off the highest interest loans, and leave the subsidized ones. Took many calls to achieve this obvious request, although I did succeed.

    Reply
  4. petal

    Party time!
    ‘It was the last wave’: Ex-FDA chief Scott Gottlieb says Delta will be the last Covid surge as cases fall by 33% over a month to the lowest levels seen since early August

    The former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says he believes the recent Delta-fueled surge will be the final wave of the pandemic.

    Speaking to The New York Times on Monday, Dr Scott Gottlieb said that unless something unexpected occurs, such as the emergence of a new variant, Covid is on its way to becoming an endemic disease.

    This means the virus will always be present in the population but circulating at low rates, similar to the seasonal flu.
    ‘Barring something unexpected, I’m of the opinion that this is the last major wave of infection,’ Gottlieb told The Times.

    Between the high rates of vaccination and the number of people who have protection through natural immunity, he says that another wave as deadly as the one caused by Delta will not be possible.

    His comments come as COVID-19 cases continue to fall by more than 30 percent to the lowest levels seen since in more than two months. ” More at the link.

    Reply
    1. Cuibono

      big enough to drive a truck through?
      Dr Scott Gottlieb said that unless something unexpected occurs, such as the emergence of a new variant, Covid is on its way to becoming an endemic disease.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Hah! No one “predicted” the Delta variant. Just vague warnings about virus mutation rates. (Which warnings are good enough for me. A classic case of “follow the science” in the “real” world.)
        What part of “Nature is unpredictable” do these people not understand?

        Reply
    2. ambrit

      Hmmm…. Is Gotlieb trying to redefine the ‘career’ of the coronavirus from being epidemic to being endemic? Is this a distinction without a difference?
      I have seen a ‘programmatic’ move to equate the coronavirus-19 with a common flu. “It’ll soon be something that everyone gets every year or so, just like the flu.” However, I have not read of a ‘common’ flu that produces serious life threatening permanent changes to the body, not even the Great Russian Flu of 1889 or the 1918 Flu. Logically, continual reinfections with the coronavirus-19 should leave a trail of cumulative damages to the body. Engineering an endemic Coronavirus-19 looks suspiciously like a Jackpot enabling strategy.

      Reply
  5. IM Doc

    A quick question about the vaccination graph above?

    Does that graph represent total doses given or is it actually reflective of the hesitant unvaccinated being vaccinated?

    The way I am reading it – it appears that it is total doses given.

    Accordingly, I would not be betting so hard that the mandates/coercion are working to a great degree – the spikes may represent nothing more than large numbers of people getting their boosters. I wish there was a way to tell the difference.

    In my neck of the woods – we have had large crowds showing up at the recently opened booster stations – and also large numbers of younger people walking off their jobs mandating vaccines and immediately being hired at places where they are not being mandated. In my community – we are now watching many of these companies mandating vaccinations begin to flail badly. It appears to me that outlets of the multi-national corporations are really having staffing problems in a big way – while the local small businesses with no mandates are having a much better time with their staff. Multiple fast food places are now open only 3-4 days a week for instance. I have no problem with this – it is has been the exact opposite for most of the last year. My family and I avoid multinational corporation retail and restaurants like the plague anyway.

    Again – I am not sure what the vaccination graph is actually telling us — boosters or deplorables?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Accordingly, I would not be betting so hard that the mandates/coercion are working to a great degree – the spikes may represent nothing more than large numbers of people getting their boosters. I wish there was a way to tell the difference.

      It is total doses. I’m not sure we have the data to distinguish deplorables from boosters, so good point. I will say there hasn’t been a whole lot of messaging on boosters, and on the company mandates we have a lot of anecdotes.

      Adding, I did put a question mark after “coercion works”. And you can be sure that’s how the powers that be will spin it, as in the FT’s editorial on “enlightened docility” yesterday.

      Reply
      1. Jason Boxman

        The Ingles grocery here has a big boosters available on it’s parking lot sign along with flu shots. Publix was scheduling appointments even before it was approved for boosters. This is in western NC.

        Reply
      2. Carolinian

        Apparently it works for Federal employees as I know such a person who, despite some medical reasons to defer, was told that she would be fired if not vaccinated within a month. Not everyone has the option of walking away from their job. We do, however, have the option of getting another president….eventually.

        Reply
        1. Michael Ismoe

          I am beginning to believe that the primary sponsor of “The Committee to Re-re-elect Donald Trump” is the DNC. This “governing” thing is hard.

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            Darn, as I was reading this I was anticipating that you were going to write “The Committee to Re-elect the President” or “C.R.E.E.P.” of Nixonian infamy, and not “The Committee to Re-re-elect Donald Trump.”

            So, CRREEDT, which does not have the same zing. Maybe “The Committee to Re-re-elect the Donald” or CRREED. Crreed seems good as some seem to want American politics waged like a holy war anyways.

            Reply
        2. Objective Ace

          There is an exception for medical accomodations for Fed workers. Not clear how stringent these will be given out (does natural immunity count as a potential accommodation?). But prior documentation for medical accommodations pushed being liberal with these: if there’s any case to be made err on the side of offering the accommodation

          Reply
        3. the last D

          If we continue to resist masking, vaccinations, distancing from others, avoidance of large, confined groups, then we have no option but to await the next coronavirus variant and all the suffering and death that it brings. ‘Because I would not stop for covid, covid kindly stopped for me.’ And no president has the will to resist the capitalist class. And no president is to ever be believed when he says, ” I alone can do it.”

          Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      I had to rip out an entire thread where a reader posed a question to IM Doc. I apologize to the readers who followed on and tried to be helpful (as in answer in lieu of IM Doc) but the entire line of discussion was verboten.

      It is absolutely NEVER on to ask questions of particular readers in their area of professional expertise unless they are part of a discussion and so made it fair game.

      It is even more not on to ask for anything within hailing distance of medical or financial advice. Both those fields make it licensing violations to advise anyone other than an actual patient/client.

      We have repeatedly and SPECIFICALLY said not to solicit medical advice. Going down this path is a fast track to blacklisting.

      Reply
  6. Raymond Sim

    Re “Massive New Analysis Confirms Just How Many COVID-19 Cases Are Truly Asymptomatic”

    I’m not sure if this is analysis is one I’ve looked over before or not. But the conclusions are in line with previous work I’ve read.

    But as far as ‘dark matter’ goes, I think it’s mostly been the other way round – the liklihood of immune-evasion was badly underestimated by some, because they grossly underestimated the number of people who’d already been infected. If all those asymptomatic cases were significantly immune, the pandemic should have slowed a lot last year.

    However, the invisible nature of such a big chunk of the pandemic does make every downturn look like it’s happening with lower overall short-term immunity than it really is.

    More generally early on asymptomaticity allowed those who didn’t want to believe (or didn’t want others to know) what was happening to disregard the liklihood that transmission was, in the early weeks, almost certainly going to follow a straightforward exponential model.

    Reply
  7. Samuel Conner

    Re: the debt limit posturing, in a news blurb at my MSN “browser open” page, there was report of Yellen dismissing “The Coin” as a “gimmick”, in the context of a story about a former Treasury Dept official saying that the Coin could be created quickly, in less than a day, were it to be authorized. I guess they must have CNC machines that can generate dies on short notice.

    But what got my notice was the Treas. Sec.’s casual dismissal of the idea as a gimmick. Odd, methinks, that the Secretary of the Treasury thinks that creation of Treasury money, a Constitutional power, is a gimmick, but that the Debt Limit, which interferes with the performance of appropriations bills passed into law, and potentially (as at present) calls into question the good faith and credit of the United State, is, apparently, not a gimmick.

    Reply
    1. MK

      That the ‘federal’ reserve is actually a private banking racket ‘owned’ by its member institutions, it makes sense she wouldn’t want to ‘retire’ future revenue streams without actually having the member institutions get paid ‘their’ revenue (a shiny coin isn’t $1T in actual revenue). . .

      Reply
          1. John Zelnicker

            @Objective Ace
            October 6, 2021 at 8:23 pm
            ——-

            You are conflating the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C. with the regional Federal Reserve Banks.

            The regional banks are “owned” by the member banks, but that “ownership” isn’t the same as stockholders of a commercial bank. There is no similar arrangement for the Fed (in Washington) as it’s generally referred to in vernacular usage.

            Reply
  8. LilD

    On the markets
    I no longer play professionally and don’t keep up daily…

    Valuations are strange to me on fundamentals
    No investment looks like it will produce enough expected return on capital. So, return OF capital explains bond purchases.
    Stretch for yield explains taking risky bets.

    I bet that relative value trades are great though
    ( I.e. everything is mispriced but if we can figure out which is more over priced then we can at least collect on the reversion back to everything being similarly crazy…. Used to work… we called it statistical arbitrage…)

    Reply
  9. drumlin woodchuckles

    Little report from the field: Greater Ann Arbor . . .

    The walnut trees have produced and are dropping more nuts than I have ever seen before. Nuts piling up in “snowdrifts” in some places. And seemingly fewer squirrels than normal to try handling them. After a massive crop like this, will the trees produce near-zero nuts next year?

    There is a farmer at farmers market that I talk with about things and stuff. He tells me that the last few years and especially this year feature unpredictable weather. ” The April showers came in May this year”.
    He found our 23 day stretch of days-in-the-80s to be remarkable. It compressed all the warm weather crops together into one production band. Normally you can stage and pace what ripens when. This time it all ripened together and then all ran out together. Wholesalers in Southeast Michigan who can normally buy wholesale amounts of summertime produce had none to buy after a short time and had to resort to buying produce for resale from Southern growers.

    The summer featured 5-6 inches of rain over a day or three, followed by a dry spell, followed by more heavy rain . . . then a dry spell . . . then rain . . . dry spell . . . rain . . . etc. You can’t plant on a level field anymore. You have to make raised beds to keep your crop from drowning in a heavy rain. You have to lay out drip tape to keep the crop watered over the inter-rain dry spells. You don’t know when to plant what. You don’t know when this and that will be ready for harvest.

    I asked him about walnut trees in his area. Also huge production. Some trees bearing so many nuts that the weight of the nuts are breaking branches off the trees. And walnut is a strong heavy wood. And fewer squirrels. Where are the squirrels?

    People try speculating, what’s behind the unstable weather? Did the big tsunami in Japan somehow produce earth-changes? Or what?

    Did I mention global warming? No, I did not. I am just gathering impressions and lay-scientific anecdata from people.

    Reply
    1. Lemmy Caution

      The thumb area of Michigan is experiencing extremely mild weather for October. The forecast calls for temps in the mid to upper seventies for the next week or so, with lows in the 60’s. We haven’t even got close to a frost yet, so the cucumber plants are still chugging along. The tomato plants threw in the towel though despite the warm weather — the growing season has become just too darn long for some, I guess.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        That’s interesting about the tomatoes, because I thought I remember reading that the tomato’s wild ancestors and relatives are short-lived perennials in their tropical home . . . . or at least can be. Also, they are not really a “vine” though we call them that. They are really a ‘rambler’, just rambling along up and over support if they find any and just along the ground if that is all they find.

        Even domestic tomato plants seem to have a memory of that lifestyle. Every hair on a tomato stem can become a root if it lies on soil for a while.

        If tomato plants were fed well-enough long-term-enough, would they grow right to the end of an extended growing season?

        Reply
        1. roxan

          Tomatoes and peppers will grow for, at least two years, here in PA. The pepper produced more the second year but we got tired of hauling those big pots around. Maybe they would keep going in a greenhouse? Mine did nothing much this year until it cooled off.

          Reply
        2. JBird4049

          I have grown tomatoes more than one year from the same plants. I have read that they are biennial growers, but it just seems that they make fruit from year one and just keep going until they die without any other changes, but that. So two or three years? There are some many varieties of tomatoes that have been developed for different environments, I’m not sure what a “true” life cycle is for them.

          I seem to recall that native California grasses have a two year or biennial cycle as well, but were shoved into isolated pockets by the imported grasses. Most of what we see is not native, but since native plants have evolved to deal with fire, as with the Redwoods, or droughts as with the local grasses, local annuals and perennials, maybe they might make a comeback. That would be at least one benefit from the climate change.

          Reply
          1. roxan

            I read biennial, too. I think that includes most peppers. Variety must make a difference. Those were Cherokee Purple–don’t recall pepper variety except hot. I’ve been growing Red Russian Kale, and discovered it only goes to seed on a two-year schedule. Produced massive amounts! Seems to like every sort of weather and produces year round.

            Reply
        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > They are really a ‘rambler’, just rambling along up and over support if they find any and just along the ground if that is all they find.

          Perhaps this is why I like tomatoes so much…

          Reply
    2. petal

      Squirrel and chipmunk reproduction goes through boom and bust periods. When there’s a lot of food, there’ll end up being more squirrels. When food is tight, there’ll be a big die-off. It cycles.

      Reply
    3. MK

      Here along Lake Ontario in WNY, my butternut tree has shed approx. the same amount of nuts. The number of squirrels seem about the same – it does take them a few weeks to work through all the nuts and you can hear them up in the branches chewing away.

      Reply
    4. Code Name D

      Boom and bust cycles of acorn production do have an evolutionary benefit for oak trees through “predator satiation.” The idea goes like this: in a mast year, predators (chipmunks, squirrels, turkeys, blue jays, deer, bear, etc.) can’t eat all the acorns, so they leave some nuts to grow into future oak trees. Years of lean acorn production keep predator populations low, so there are fewer animals to eat all the seeds in a mast year. Ultimately, a higher proportion of nuts overall escape the jaws of hungry animals.
      https://libanswers.nybg.org/faq/222824

      Reply
      1. Lee

        The periodicity of cicada hatches is similarly accounted for as an evolutionary adaptation to keep predator populations from gobbling them to extinction.

        Reply
    5. albrt

      We had branches breaking off the black walnut trees due to too many nuts all through August and September in NW Ohio. Crazy year.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If we were to think of the land around Lake Erie as ” Erieana”, then NW Ohio and SE Michigan could be ” West Erieana”. And land around the other end of Lake Erie could be ” East Erieana”.

        So it appears West Erieana is having the same general walnut summer. One wonders if the “North-West Shore” of Lake Erie ( Canada) is also having a heavy walnut summer. Windsor should be very similar to Detroit in that regard.

        Reply
    6. Jen

      The oak trees produced an insane number of acorns last year. This year the acorn crop is even more insane, and with all the rain we’ve had the acorns are huge. It seems like in the past after a mast year the trees reverted to a more normal crop. Maybe the trees know something.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Black bears feast on acorns here in late October to early November in preparation for hibernation and Houston we have a problem as pretty much the entire front country of Sequoia NP from 2,000 to 6,000 feet where oak trees are, is burnt up to what extent to be determined.

        In 2015 in the fall of the worst year of the drought, the acorn crop failed in this same zone and we had over 100 bears in town here for about a month, noshing on acorns on our oak trees which had a normal decent crop, and then after eating their fill, hightailed it back up to the backcountry and the big sleep.

        The problem this year is the oak trees in the foothills started dropping leaves in July as a survival mechanism against another punishing drought and it isn’t as if the trees want to take on the burden of producing acorns, so Boo-Boo et al will get shut out this year if both the fire and lack of food in their burned out land above us bring them down here again for a spell.

        Reply
        1. Jen

          Ooof. That’s not good, Wuk.

          Even in comparatively lean years, the bears aren’t generally a problem in the fall. It’s the spring when they emerge from their dens hungry as all get out and nothing but last years leftovers to eat until around June. Thanks to an excellent fall food supply in 2 out of the last three years, we have more bears. I usually get one sniffing around my chicken coop for a couple of days. This year I had one rip apart my coop and a couple of others visit the yard in hope of a quick meal. After the great chicken massacre of 2021 I installed 7K volt wire around the coop which deterred the new visitors.

          If we have a dry summer next year, as we did last summer, we’re going to have a lot of hungry bears, so I can’t even imagine what it’s like where you are. Take care!

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Heard from a friend that all homes and cabins in Lake Tahoe have electric fences around the perimeter as a bulwark against bruins.

            Here, they’re all about getting into your trash bin and most everybody’s is bear-proofed now, but chicken coops are a different story, and considering bears are largely vegetarian, they’re hell on chickens. A friend told me that a bear killed around 75 of them in one go.

            When we had our bear invasion 6 years ago, Lake Tahoe & Mammoth Lakes had the same invasion, the difference being that we had their preferred food in acorns, whereas the other 2 invasion sites had nothing, and legions of trash bears were created as they got used to human food instead.

            Reply
    7. eg

      Here in southern Ontario (western tip of Lake Ontario) my grass never went brown. It’s usually brown by mid-July.

      Reply
  10. Timmy

    How could there be a speculative mania if so much money keeps flowing into fixed income?

    Answer: normally conservative investors are being pushed out the risk curve and investing where “fixed income” doesn’t always behave like it.

    First, fixed income has increasingly become a risky asset where roughly half of investment grade companies have debt rated in the BBB category, which is the bottom of investment grade ratings just above high yield/junk. Debt rated BBB and below usually have elevated correlations to equity markets, particularly in down markets, so there is a blurring of correlations and risk is higher than the phrase “fixed income” would suggest.

    Second, the combination of low market yields along with the fees baked into packaged investment products like mutual funds and some ETF’s results in net yields to the investor that are often zero or negative. If you include fees to a financial advisor for advice on which investments to pick, the investor has an investment with negative cash flows on a net basis. Hence the [speculative] “stretch for yield” into risky high yield or structured product investments where a positive yield is still present but safety of principal probably isn’t.

    Reply
    1. griffen

      One can purchase investments in dividend paying stocks. Blue chip companies or well known US brands. Examples like an IBM or Verizon, at least, provide a pretty competitive yield in comparison.

      Fund managers may optionally reduce their charged fee, to accommodate the discerning investor or advisor.

      Reply
  11. dcblogger

    I know this is very tin foil hat, but I cannot dismiss the suspicion the some of the oligarchs actually want a default to take advantage of the ensuing chaos, a manufactured crisis if you like.

    Reply
    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Considering how well the last two or three crises have benefited those at the top, I’d say that’s less tin foil and more a plan.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . if distressable assets and people were price-cramdowned to a penny-on-the-benjamin, the oligarchs who already have collectively several billion benjamins would be able to buy up all the distressed assets and people at a penny on the benjamin.

      Andrew Mellon rides again.

      Reply
    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      In all the China owns our debt hoopla, its overlooks who actually owns the debt. American oligarchs. They don’t trust Democrats to play the game, but they will let Republicans get to the edge of a cliff. Oh, shutdowns are one thing, but default…McConnell will jump everytime because he respects power. McConnell knows Tlalib isn’t the usual Pelosi drone.

      As a caveat there may be too many true believer Republicans. He’ll back down on this.

      Reply
    4. eg

      Arguably, this is the eternal plan — as old as the rural userers of the Bronze Age who made their biggest gains off the misery (drought and disease) of the small-holders. The counterbalance that provided stability (andurarum, deror, or jubilee) disappears with Greece and Rome, creating our new oligarchic paradise.

      Michael Hudson has several excellent works on this history.

      Reply
  12. griffen

    Mr. market commentary, liquidity is off the charts if you follow that link and observe inflows into bond funds but also inflows in a Vanguard ETF (maybe it was the SPY, or something fairly broad). For all the ills of Covid and the evils of Fed policy, the vast majority of publicly traded corporations are incredibly profitable. Yes there are the head scratcher(s) either managed through incompetence or idiocy or a combination. Looking right at Boeing, GE too.

    Apparently there is no looming credit risk time bomb in the major / SIFI banks. Aside from Wells Fargo and that ongoing side show of greed and ill-conceived management schemes.

    Times look really, really good depending on who you might ask. Maybe the forward PE on the SP 500 is a little high. One of my growing concerns, a pet peeve maybe, is how younger investors can’t manage or fathom if the Dow, or the S&P, takes a greater than 20% correction. Some things the Fed is not designed to fix, by example the fact that markets need to decline or correct from time to time.

    Reply
    1. griffen

      One caveat worth mentioning. Those youngsters don’t know or comprehend a world where the UST 10yr benchmark is above 5.00%. Minds will be getting blown asunder if we reach, dare I suggest, 2.50% on the UST 10yr.

      A long COVID winter might be the actual wrench in these plans, all else equal.

      Reply
  13. Ranger Rick

    After seeing those Twitch streamer payout lists, I will no longer criticize kids for aspiring to be streamers. They know where the money is. (Note that the list is 2.4 million streamers long, and most — call it 99% — of them make almost nothing.) Nice work if you can get it.

    Reply
    1. Kurtismayfield

      Yes it is a lot like sports.. only the small percentage will make a living off it. And even smaller smidgen will strike it rich.

      Reply
  14. tommys

    Breed in SF, was also the person that had to be forced to put homeless people in the completely empty hotels, —–our mostly good city supervisors made her do it, and after even Gavin pointed out that week, that the state would pay for it. At the time, there was outbreaks in shelters….many of us say, the move to hotels of hundreds, with social services stopped a mass death…..She’s a nasty mayor, as most we have had, since they are elected by developer money and majority conservative rich liberals in the city. Here she is using the police force to clear homeless where ever she is….https://missionlocal.org/2020/05/trove-of-text-messages-reveals-mayor-breed-ordered-sweeps-directly-despite-frequent-denials/

    Reply
    1. Alioto

      Tommy S,

      As I type, the police are rounding up homeless people on Fisherman’s Wharf, pushing them away into the Financial District and North Beach. First time almost a year, in spite of our begging them to do so. Nothing like having a tourist family finally visit, sit down to eat their chowder bowl and have to watch a naked filthy man take a steaming dump on the sidewalk outside five feet away.

      Why now? Because the Blue Angel’s airshow happens this weekend and thousands of tourists, and public officials will be there to watch the planes, including Diane Feinstein, and the mayor and her glorious Mercedes entourage.

      To hell with this, we’re giving up when our lease expires and leaving this once glorious City That Knew How and is now controlled by venal cabal.

      Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    Shatner has owned a ranch here in tiny town for 40 years, but he’s seldom seen.

    His ranch foreman throws a byo food, booze & music potluck party in the spring where about 10% of the population shows up, it’s a lively get together.

    Reply
  16. One More Red Nightmare

    I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well

    As I’m sure we all know, Bubbaland isn’t even close to being confined to The South. I know people who are born and raised in my deep blue West Coast county that are pure Bubba, entire families even speaking in a groaningly performative southern drawl even though most have never been south of the Mason-Dixon Line in their lives. Bubbaland is rural America, all 50 states of it. Per a nurse friend, our local Covid ward is currently well stocked with Bubbas and Bubbettes, and precious few others. She also notes her patients are getting markedly younger here,

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      “…our local Covid ward is currently well stocked with Bubbas and Bubbettes…” In other words, people who are “not like you?” If your local Covid ward containment building is in a mainly rural region, then, that “deep blue” definition might be a little off. Does your region have a medium to big city surrounded by a rural hinterland? If so…..
      And yes, I am suggesting that you are practicing a strategy of “othering” those who do not slavishly follow your beliefs.
      Good luck with that.

      Reply
      1. One More Red Nightmare

        Oh, I personally am a recovering Bubba, they aren’t unlike myself at all.

        Yes, small city in an otherwise rural county. Would be deep blue on any partisan map even because of the city, though “the county” is typical Trump country.

        On masking and vaccination: I don’t expect them to follow me, slavishly or otherwise Mr. Bond, I expect them to die.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Such a shame. As past pandemics have shown, there is eventually no “safe place” for anyone.
          I often marvel at the degree to which blind luck determins the “winners and losers” in any evolutionary ‘bottleneck’ occurrence.
          As examples from recent times, such as the Tory governments in England and the American Elites today produce, demonstrate, there is no fixing Stupid. Alas for those whose faith is in ‘credentialled experts’ and ‘right thinking’ cadres, Stupid, as a defining characteristic, is universal and ubiquitous.
          The first thing a claque, faction, or sect does when it discovers a real expert in some field, is ignore that expert whenever said expert deviates from Accepted Dogma.
          Today, we live in the “Age of Mammon.” Thus, anything that goes against the worship of wealth is suppressed.
          As for politicians, I have learned the hard way to watch what they do and ignore what they say.

          Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      Sorry, I have 15 generations of rural Yankees on my father’s side of the family. I have yet to meet a Bubba in Maine. The only Southerners I met had owned a house there for two generations and were wealthy professionals back home.

      Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, given that the ruling classes are working to make covid a permanent endemic disease, the answer to that question is . . . . never ever.

      ” When can we go maskless?” Never ever.

      Reply
    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Hey, some of those folks have spent a fortune on cosmetic dental and facial work. Now you’re going to make them cover it up with some kind of veil?

      They’ve had their share of “Greasy Hearts” in San Francisco since way back in the day.

      Reply
  17. griffen

    Ozy media stories are really about how the grift model works. The investment dollars were advanced based on lies and dubious statistics. Now that the gig is up and the adults are leaving or have left, the cofounder is going to double down. “This time we’ll go legit!”

    Too legit to quit. I have heard that rhyme in a snappy tune before.

    Reply
  18. Lee

    “Only 6% of financial firms think climate risk is fully priced in: GARP survey” [Yahoo News].

    It’s hard to put a dollar price on global, climate-driven civilizational collapse. The worst effects are now being seen mostly in less developed countries without nukes. But it is early days in our trek down what looks to be a dark, one-way street. Here on the left coast of the U.S. I don’t know how much more drought we can handle before things start falling apart. Or maybe I’m just in a rotten mood.

    Reply
    1. steve

      I’m afraid the pace is picking up and the unraveling too advanced, to think it will be anything other than an entire remaking of civilization. While I was hoping things would peter along till I at last petered out, I’m starting to think there is less miles of track than I thought.

      Reply
  19. Jason Boxman

    In person attempt to get IVM from my physician, no dice. He said that its use is discouraged by the CDC for treating COVID and that there is no evidence it works; I don’t have the background to effectively argue otherwise, so I didn’t really try. They do offer 24-hour turnaround on testing and monoclonal antibodies available 7 days a week (administration of which requires a positive test), so at least that’s something, but being able to take IVM immediately would have been best. (And I obviously can’t get an infusion if I merely suspect close contact; need to actually get sick.)

    My concern is perhaps early treatment might reduce the risk of long-COVID, but who knows? And even if that might be true for some treatments, does it apply to IVM? Who knows. Just a shot in the dark. Fortunately my risk of exposure is extremely slight.

    He also thought, based on what the CDC says, that breakthrough infections are rarer with Pfizer than what I’ve read here, but I’d rather be safe than sorry and avoid exposure. I think as usual, reading NC is like getting the news weeks or months early.

    Reply
    1. Objective Ace

      I’m fairly confident your doctor is wrong–on all accounts.

      1) The CDC doesn’t say dont use IVM for covid. They just say it has not been proven as a way to prevent or treat COVID-19
      2) There is evidence it works. Since we apparently discount anything from other countries I would point to this study from the NIH https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33278625/

      If your doctor wants to say there isn’t sufficient evidence, or that the risk/benefits of IVM aren’t necessarily positive thats fine, but it sounds like he’s just repeating the nonsense the media has been magnifying without actually doing what doctors are supposed to do.

      Best of luck out there!

      Reply
      1. Jason Boxman

        From my conversation, he was clearly aware that people were using the animal version if IVM and using it at unsafe doses. I wanted to point out that, if doctors would prescribe it, perhaps this wouldn’t be happening. But here we are. I did point out that I’d only use it at a safely prescribed dose, but no dice.

        Reply
    2. Pat

      Who is paying for those monoclonal antibodies? I hope you have really really good insurance and that it is employer based. Because anyone who has to depend on that treatment will be spending a home down payment for it. Makes Merck’s money-making treatment a real bargain at over $800 for something that costs less than twenty to produce.

      Cheap and effective Ivermectin just can’t compete.

      Reply
  20. Acacia

    Re: Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the BBC

    We do need a revolution that puts the power in the hands of the people, but we probably don’t want to shoot the Czar and his family.

    We probably don’t?

    Reply
  21. The Rev Kev

    ‘Hillary Clinton
    @HillaryClinton
    I’m astonished that more people don’t see, or can’t face, America’s existential crisis.’

    I really have no idea what she is talking about. Ex-President Jimmy Carter has already labelled America a living under an oligarchy, of which Hillary was a member, so what sort of minority is she worried about? The 99%?

    Reply
    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      The Rev Kev:

      And here is the tone of the responses to her tweet:

      Rogue Chef is #stillwithHer
      @AbawiCynthia
      ·
      Oct 4
      Replying to
      @HillaryClinton
      Always right. Always. About Everything

      Does that include always right about futures trading? About Libya? About Bill Clinton as a husband? About nobody liking Bernie Sanders?

      Further: Not even Pope Francis has people telling him that he is always right about everything.

      America: Kayfabe and sermons and faith-based “democracy.” StillWithHer and Nearer My God to Thee. What could possibly go wrong?

      Reply
  22. Mikel

    “Google abandons plans to offer Plex checking accounts”

    Once a biz starts getting into being money middlemen as the “new idea”, the innovation days are coming to a close….

    Reply
  23. enoughisenough

    Re. the debt ceiling and default and all that – can anyone help me understand Schumer voting with the republicans on this last week??

    I saw this, and noticed the 48-50…
    https://www.democracynow.org/2021/9/28/headlines/as_government_shutdown_looms_senate_gop_blocks_bill_to_fund_government_and_raise_debt_ceiling

    Saw the sanctimonious Heather Cox Richardson posting her long form boilerplate, on how specially historically awful republicans are because of this (agree, of course), but……when you look at which Dem enabled this….you find it’s Schumer. So if this is bad, then why is no one asking him for an explanation? Why is he being the spoiler, if he’s just going to criticize the vote 2 minutes later? Isn’t this breaking kayfabe??

    Honestly, I’m nonplussed, and my pmc fb friends won’t dignify the question at all.

    https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=117&session=1&vote=00385&fbclid=IwAR0KqJCaASmwX38v74NzH-HAhldWGTG6eCA1jP0AX_ge2Ip2h1-NVdnXVic#position

    Reply
    1. marym

      There’s some kind of procedural rule where if the vote is going to fail the majority leader votes no to reserve the option to bring the bill up again for another vote.

      Reply
  24. allan

    Real-world data show that filters clean COVID-causing virus from air [Nature]

    What, no plexiglass?

    Research at a hospital swamped by people with COVID-19 has confirmed that portable air filters effectively remove SARS-CoV-2 particles from the air — the first such evidence in a real-world setting1. The results suggest that air filters could be used to reduce the risk of patients and medical staff contracting SARS-CoV-2 in hospitals, the study’s authors say. …

    o determine how the filters stand up to real-world conditions, Navapurkar and his co-authors installed them in two fully occupied COVID-19 wards — a general ward and an ICU. The team chose high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which blow air through a fine mesh that catches extremely small particles. The researchers collected air samples from the wards during a week when the air filters were switched on and two weeks when they were turned off.

    In the general ward, the team found SARS-CoV-2 particles in the air when the filter was off but not when it was on. Surprisingly, the team didn’t find many viral particles in the air of the ICU ward, even when the filter there was off. The authors suggest several possible reasons for this, including slower viral replication at later stages of the disease3. As a result, the team says that measures to remove the virus from the air might be more important in general wards than in ICUs. …

    … and just maybe in schools?

    Sure it worked in practice, but what about in theory?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      One of the links in health collection for pantry clear-out…

      It isn’t that there’s no news, there’s a lot of news. It’s that most of the news right now is quite complicated, IMNSHO, both conceptually and in data/anecdote gathering….

      Reply

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