Friday, August 14, 2020

The End Of Special Fiscal Stimulus

 A week ago a two week long negotiation between Dem Congresspeople, Nancy Pelosi from the House and Chuck Schumer from the Senate and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who cut deals with Pelosi and Schumer three times earlier this year, but now Trump's Chief of Staff, former Freedom Caucus leader in the House, Mark Meadows, notorious for only destroying deals and never making any. And in this case all the reporting is that a week ago he "blew up" the negotiations, taking a hard line on orders from Trump. So, where are we at now?

For starters yesterday the Senate adjourned until after Labor Day. So, the market expectations that a deal will be cut soon are a joke. There will be no deal anytime soon, and maybe never. Many things have run out, whose impact has not fully arrived: end of extra unemployment, end of PPP assistance for small businesses, end of no evictions, and several other things.

Yes, there have been vague noises in the past week about restarting the negotiations, but they went nowhere.  Dems indicated that they were willing to compromise on many issues.  To pick a big symbolic one has to do with the total spending level.  Going into this the Dems were pushing $3+ trillion and the GOP was pushing $1 trillion. Gosh, looks like $ 2 trillion would be an obvious compromise, and the Dems have publicly indicated they would be willing to go to that, but, no, Meadows held the hard line, and, along with some other issues, such as a roughly $800 billion difference over state and local aid, which is clearly the largest chunk of this stalemate. As it is, Meadows left town and the Senate has gone on leave until after Labor Day.  No deal.

What is unclear if Trump and his incompetent advisers actually think that his "executive actions" put out 6 days ago will save the US economy or not.  I recently posted on that, but it needs some updating, but the bottom line is that, no, what he did last weekend will not stimulate the economy and even overcome all the disappearing fiscal stimulus from the deals earlier in the year, especially the increased unemployment benefits and the PPP aid for small businesses, not to mention evictions, the only matter out of 4 actions last weekend was an actual Executive Order, but it was an order that HUD "consider" changing rules so people will not be evicted, and, big surprise, HUD has done nothing.  I am not going to waste time by going through the details of his UI and Social Security proposals because they seem to have fallen into a hole and are going nowhere. The only item actually happening is that in contrast to my last post on that is that indeed interest payments on student debts will be put off until the end of the year, which is fine, but a very small matter.

So, the latest evidence is that indeed the former V recovery is indeed slowing down, with retail sales up only by 1.2% in July.  Many are now suggesting we may see an actual GDP decline into a "wiggly W" pattern, although  I am not going to pass on that, but that V is definitely flattening. 

But it seems that maybe Trump and Meadows foresaw that maybe their actions would not improve the economy. So their plan in that case is to blame the Dems for the bad economy outcome: hey! they did not accept our offer!  They seem to have forgotten, if they ever knew it, that the president is held responsible when elections arrive for the state of the economy, and certainly for other big events such as the pandemic.  Trying to blame Dems in Congress for the economy or governors, the media, the Chinese, the WHO, the scientists, or anybody else other than the administration for what is going on with the pandemic, especially given that all other high income nations have done better than the US, suggests that Trump and Meadows are completely delusional.  Hopefully the US electorate will not be so deluded.

Barkley Rosser


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Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump’s Drive to Undermine Confidence in the Election Is Accelerating

President Trump stepped up his attacks on mail-in voting, making false claims
that helping people vote by mail during the pandemic would lead to voter fraud.

Pressure continued to grow for the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a Republican
megadonor and ally of the president, to resign.

As Democrats prepare for the convention, Trump sows election fears with false claims about mail-in voting.

The Postal Service’s inspector general said Friday that she opened an investigation into service complaints.

With Joe Biden leading in many public polls, and Democrats kicking off their national convention on Monday, President Trump’s drive to create confusion and undermine confidence in the election is accelerating, as he attacks mail-in voting and praises his postmaster general despite criticism over mail service and an investigation opened by the Postal Service’s inspector general.

Mr. Trump spent much of Saturday on the attack against what he called “the mail-in scam,” making charges without evidence that efforts by states to help people vote by mail in the pandemic would lead to widespread voter fraud — a claim that even some Republicans dispute. Mr. Trump has said that higher voter participation would hurt Republican candidates.

Pressure continues to grow on the postmaster, Louis DeJoy, a Republican megadonor and ally of the president, who has said he is modernizing the money-losing agency to make it more efficient. Among his moves have been cuts to overtime for postal workers, restrictions on transportation and the reduction of the quantity and use of mail-processing equipment.

Speaking at a news conference in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump praised Mr. DeJoy. “I can only tell you he’s a very smart man,” he said. “He’ll be a great Postmaster General.”

Protesters in Washington called for Mr. DeJoy’s resignation on Saturday, saying changes under his purview have undercut the Postal Service and threatened the ability of Americans to vote by mail.

About 100 people gathered outside Mr. DeJoy’s apartment complex in Washington. Videos on social media showed them banging spoons on pots, blaring horns and chanting “resign,” with many in the group wearing masks and remaining socially distanced.

The Postal Service’s inspector general, Tammy L. Whitcomb, said Friday she had opened an investigation into complaints that leading Democrats have filed against Mr. DeJoy. Also on Friday, Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democratic congressman from New Jersey, asked his state’s attorney general to open a criminal inquiry into what he called Mr. Trump’s attempts to sabotage the election by undermining the Postal Service.

In letters sent in July to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Thomas J. Marshall, the general counsel for the Postal Service, told most of them that “certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards.” Mr. Marshall urged those with tight schedules to require that residents request ballots at least 15 days before an election — rather than the shorter periods currently allowed under the laws of many states.

“This mismatch creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted,” Mr. Marshall wrote. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Postal crisis ripples across nation as election looms

NY Times via @BostonGlobe - August 15

DARBY, Pa. — Each day, when Nick Casselli, president of a Philadelphia postal workers union, sits down at his desk on Main Street in the historic town of Darby, where trolley cars still run and the post office is a source of civic pride, his phone is full of alarmed messages about increasing delays in mail delivery.

Casselli and his 1,600 members have been in a state of high alert since Louis DeJoy, a Republican megadonor and an ally of President Donald Trump, took over as postmaster general in May. Overtime was eliminated, prompting backups. Seven mail-sorting machines were removed from a nearby processing center in West Philadelphia, causing further delays. Now post offices are being told to open later and close during lunch.

“I have some customers banging on my people’s doors: ‘Open up!’” Casselli said. “I’ve never seen that in my whole 35-year postal career.”

Similar accounts of slowdowns and curtailed service are emerging across the country as DeJoy pushes cost-cutting measures he says are intended to overhaul an agency suffering billion-dollar losses. But as Trump rails almost daily against the service and delays clog the mail, voters and postal workers warn a crisis is building that could disenfranchise record numbers of Americans who will be casting ballots by mail in November because of the coronavirus. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

For the most part, experts and employees say, the Postal Service is still capable of operating as usual. Yet the agency has warned states that it may not be able to meet their deadlines for delivering last-minute ballots. And earlier this week Trump said he opposes new postal funding because of his opposition to mail-in voting, which he complains will benefit Democrats and claims without evidence is riddled with fraud. At risk are not just the ballots — and medical prescriptions and Social Security checks — of residents around the country, but also the reputation of the Postal Service as the most popular and perhaps the least politicized part of the federal government.

Philadelphia, a heavily Democratic city in a critical swing state, is a vivid example of how alarmed people have become. Rep. Brendan Boyle said his office had received 345 complaints about the Postal Service last month — compared to just 17 in July 2019. Elected officials in several states say they have been flooded by worried calls and emails.

Victoria Brownworth, a freelance journalist in Philadelphia, is among the residents worried about whether her ballot will be counted — and, in her case, also worried about much more.

For Brownworth, who was paralyzed four years ago, the mail is her lifeline, delivering prescriptions, checks and mail-in ballots to her Philadelphia home. But that lifeline has snapped. She said she has received mail just twice in the past three weeks, and she dreads November’s election, worried that her ballot will suffer the same fate as the oxygen tube that she ordered three weeks ago — and has still not arrived.

“It’s just terrifying,” Brownworth said. “Every day I ask my wife, did we get any mail? She says no.”

DeJoy, the postmaster general, told the Postal Service’s board of governors last week that there would be no slowdown of mail ballots and promised to deliver votes “securely and on time.”

Experts agree that the Postal Service has the raw capacity to absorb additional ballots, even if 150 million people decided to vote by mail. In the month before Christmas every year, carriers deliver billions of pieces of mail and packages.

“When you think about it from the standpoint of how much mail they handle, even in their currently diminished state, if every registered voter in the entire country voted by mail, that would be something they could still easily handle,” said Arthur Sackler, who runs the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a lobbying group representing bulk mailers. “The question is whether these operational changes will have any impact on their ability to do so. If everything is delayed, that will include the ballots.” ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Still, interviews with mail customers, election officials and postal workers in six battleground states show that mail delays — and 2020 worries — are widespread.

In Ohio, where mail voting is likely to double, piles of undelivered mail are sitting in a Cleveland distribution facility. In rural Michigan, diabetes medicine that used to arrive in three days now takes almost two weeks. In the Milwaukee area, dozens of trailers filled with packages are left behind every day. In New Glarus, Wisconsin, the owners of the Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus are worried their cheese will go bad now that deliveries that used to take two to three days are taking twice that.

“I’m definitely concerned that votes won’t be counted or that they won’t be able to handle all of the ballots that need to be processed through the post office,” said Cynthia Shumway, whose family owns the shop.

The disturbances have prompted a full-scale political war in Washington, where Trump falsely insists that mail-in voting is wracked by fraud and where billions of dollars in emergency aid that could help stem huge losses at the Postal Service are caught in a partisan drama.

Democratic lawmakers have accused the president of sabotaging the Postal Service as a means of voter suppression and have launched multiple investigations and demanded an end to delays. On Friday, the Postal Service’s inspector general said she had opened an inquiry into DeJoy’s actions.

Boyle, the Philadelphia congressman, for example, said it’s no accident that mail service has become so abysmal in the key Democratic population center in Pennsylvania.

“There is no plausible way for Donald Trump or Joe Biden to get to 270 electoral votes without Pennsylvania,” he said.

While Trump’s war on the Postal Service seems aimed at Democrats, few Americans rely more on the mail than rural residents, many of them Trump voters. As a result, there are also a number of Republicans uneasy about what’s happening with the agency, in particular three Republican senators from largely rural mail-dependent states who are facing competitive reelections this fall: Steve Daines of Montana, Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

DeJoy has said he is trying to reform an organization with a “broken business model” facing a litany of billion-dollar losses and declines in mail volumes. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

But voters and postal workers said the Postal Service was more than a business. To Michele Brown, 67, who lives in Morley, Michigan, the post office in the rural community serves as a gathering point and source of stability, employment and a critical link to the rest of the world.

But not lately. Her 73-year-old husband, Bill Brown, went three days without medication to treat his diabetes as the couple waited nearly two weeks for it to arrive in the mail from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I feel like they’re playing games,” Michele Brown said. “The mail had worked so efficiently. Letters I sent got there the next day. Now you can’t count on any of that.”

Postal workers from small-town post offices to metropolitan distribution centers say they used to operate along a simple motto: “Every piece, every day,” meaning that they did not leave until all of the day’s mail went out the door. No more, they say.

Postal workers say drivers are being sent out according to set schedules whether or not all of the morning’s mail is ready for them, and delivery trucks now have strict cutoff times for when they have to be gone. They say they are already short on staff because of quarantines and the coronavirus, and limits on working overtime are pushing them further behind.

“Mail is coming into the building faster than we can get it out,” said Mary DiMarco, who sorts bundles in a Miami postal facility. “I’m concerned about ballots being handled, that they’re not going to be processed in time.”

The stakes in this year’s election are higher than ever. While nearly one-quarter of Americans voted absentee or by mail in 2016, millions more are expected to mail their ballots this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

In Ohio, mail-in voting has been common for more than two decades, and one-quarter of the state’s voters regularly cast their ballots by mail. But some postal workers say the recent changes in work rules have dramatically slowed their ability to deliver mail, raising concerns that votes cast just several days before the election might not make it in time to be counted.

Daleo Freeman, a 26-year veteran of the Postal Service and now the president of the local American Postal Workers Union in Cleveland, described piles of mail stacking up in the regional distribution facility and in postal offices around the region.

“The decisions happened so rapidly. Now we are seeing the effect of those decisions,” Freeman said. “People are coming in every day complaining about how long it’s taking them to receive everything. ‘What the heck is going on?’”

He said further delays had occurred after five mail-sorting machines in the major Cleveland-area distribution center were dismantled in recent days. Critics worried about political influence inside the Postal Service have focused on the removal of 671 sorting machines — about one-eighth of its devices — from facilities across the country.

But a Postal Service spokesman, David A. Partenheimer, disputed that there was anything out of the ordinary, saying that the agency was removing the sorting machines because of declines in the volume of mail. While people are receiving far more packages these days, business and commercial mail is down sharply.

“The Postal Service routinely moves equipment around its network as necessary to match changing mail and package volumes,” Partenheimer said. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

There have already been problems with this year’s elections in which mail ballots played a more prominent role.

Hundreds of ballots in Wisconsin were left in tubs, unaccounted for, at the Milwaukee processing and distribution center during the state’s primary in April. About 160 ballots were erroneously returned to a local election office, while another 390 had issues with the postmark that led to confusion as to whether they could be counted, according to a report from the Postal Service inspector general.

Ohio ran a delayed primary election that was marred by widespread reports of mail slowdowns, especially in Northwest Ohio, prompting Secretary of State Frank LaRose to urge the Postal Service to devote additional resources to making sure ballots were delivered on time.

Now LaRose, a Republican, said that he is concerned about possible delays in mail delivery despite assurances from postal officials that the changes will not affect how quickly ballots are sent.

“On the ground it seems like that’s not necessarily the case. It seems like there are impacts,” he said Friday. “They need to be very careful about making changes to something that we rely on so much for something as essential as elections administration.”

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump’s Policies Are a Boon to the Super Rich

NY Times - August 16

So Where Are All the Seven-Figure Checks?

Only a small fraction of the president’s top donors
from 2016 have given as much to his re-election effort.

... Mr. Trump is hardly lacking for cash; he has received huge numbers of small donations online from a fervent grass-roots base, and he raised a jaw-dropping $165 million in July for his campaign and the two fund-raising committees that he shares with the Republican National Committee. The Trump Victory fund, one of those committees, has also collected respectable sums through donations that cannot exceed $580,600 — as opposed to super PACs, which are vessels for unlimited contributions.

But the president’s sagging popularity, driven by his erratic and divisive behavior during the coronavirus crisis, has prompted some of the wealthiest Republicans — the heavy artillery of modern politics — to delay, divert or diminish their giving, just as Joseph R. Biden Jr. has begun to tap a rich vein of Wall Street and Silicon Valley support, party operatives and donors said in interviews.

Thus far, only six of the top 38 donors to Trump-related super PACs in 2016 and 2018 have contributed to America First for the president’s re-election, according to a New York Times analysis of federal campaign finance data. ...

(graphics at the link)

ilsm said...


Mail-in ballots are an "election stealing democrats' whim".

They are a scam much newer than tampering with voting machines or looking the other way with repeated entries to the polls! Defending the postal unions is a red herring or is it 'transference'?

Absentee ballots have been around since Lincoln and McClellan went at it in 1864, at least for several of states that remained in the Union. In my USAF time I voted absentee in NYS, there was process between the military departments and the state voting regulators.

The Civil War soldier absentee included officers monitoring the ballots. Many of the volunteers were state regiments!

Any relation to absentee ballots and "blue state" mail out ballots to all registered voters is coincidental.

NH absentee ballot is easy to obtain and reasons include "I will be in beer (deer during a few hours of day light) camp" on election day are acceptable.

There are too many ways to get 'Mayor Daley' obituary free kind of votes!

On topic of the difference between the senate and house bills to ameliorate the damage done by shuttering the US economy because there is no cost to killing GDP for the public health tragedies in NY, Ct, Ma and NJ.........

Let's wait until the BLM/antifa burning is finished in the democrat run cities before we bail them out. We do not yet know the extent of plundering perpetrated because George Floyd's heart stopped after 9 minutes of restraint. Anatomically questionable to blame the cop!

This is a bill to bail out the US economy from ruining it in the guise of Covid 19, not democrat mayors!

I do not think US should set up a slush fund for democrat cities that cannot be saved.

NYC is back to 1976, in terms of lawlessness and fiscal problems!

Fred C. Dobbs said...

You mean like the mail-in ballot Trump
will use to cast his vote in Florida?

That's some scam. To avoid paying
NYS (& NYC) income taxes, I guess.

Some scam indeed.

(Unless all 'absentee ballots', that
absent voters have been using for a
hundred+ years, with the 'failing
USPS' handling the delivery.)

Just remember, you're not voting for Trump. said...


I know that you like o sort of pose as an independent sort, even as you increasingly defend Trump and push Fox News memes. I am not going to sort through your various statements here, but I am going to point out a trivial point: using "democrat" (especially with a small "d") as an adjective (and repeatedly) is a strictly partisan GOP thing to do. Republicans love to do this when talking to each other. It is not accepted or done in more general discussions. You doing so pegs you as just a partisan GOP hack, so if you want anybody to take you remotely seriously around here, you will not do it again. I am not "banning" you from using it; I am telling you that doing so makes you look like a totally partisan idiot.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

In other news...

Scientists see signs of lasting immunity to COVID-19, even after mild infection

NY Times via @BostonGlobe - August 16

To the immune system, not all germs are equally memorable. But our body’s cells seem to be seriously studying up on the coronavirus.

Scientists who have been monitoring immune responses to the virus are now starting to see encouraging signs of strong, lasting immunity, even in people who developed only mild symptoms of COVID-19, a flurry of new studies suggests. Disease-fighting antibodies, as well as immune cells called B cells and T cells that are capable of recognizing the virus, appear to persist months after infections have resolved — an encouraging echo of the body’s enduring response to other viruses.

“Things are really working as they’re supposed to,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona and an author on one of the new studies, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Although researchers cannot forecast how long these immune responses will last, many experts consider the data a welcome indication that the body’s most studious cells are doing their job — and will have a good chance of fending off the coronavirus, faster and more fervently than before, if exposed to it again.

“This is exactly what you would hope for,” said Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington and an author on another of the new studies, which is currently under review at the journal Nature. “All the pieces are there to have a totally protective immune response.”

Protection against reinfection cannot be fully confirmed until there is proof that most people who encounter the virus a second time are actually able to keep it at bay, Pepper said. But the findings could help quell recent concerns over the virus’s ability to dupe the immune system into amnesia, leaving people vulnerable to repeat bouts of disease.

Researchers have yet to find unambiguous evidence that coronavirus reinfections are occurring, especially within the few months that the virus has been rippling through the human population. The prospect of immune memory “helps to explain that,” Pepper said.

In discussions about immune responses to the coronavirus, much of the conversation has focused on antibodies — Y-shaped proteins that can latch onto the surfaces of pathogens and block them from infecting cells. But antibodies represent just one wing of a complex and coordinated squadron of immune soldiers, each with its own unique modes of attack. Viruses that have already invaded cells, for instance, are cloaked from antibodies, but are still vulnerable to killer T cells, which force infected cells to self-destruct. Another set of T cells, nicknamed “helpers,” can coax B cells to mature into antibody-making machines. ...

But even when not under siege, the body retains a battalion of longer-lived B cells that can churn out virus-fighting antibodies en masse, should they prove useful again. Some patrol the bloodstream, waiting to be triggered anew; others retreat into the bone marrow, generating small amounts of antibodies that are detectable years, sometimes decades, after an infection is over. Several studies, including those led by Bhattacharya and Pepper, have found antibodies capable of incapacitating the coronavirus lingering at low levels in the blood months after people have recovered from COVID-19.

“The antibodies decline, but they settle in what looks like a stable nadir,” which is observable about three months after symptoms start, Bhattacharya said. “The response looks perfectly durable.” ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Dr Fauci Says...

As coronavirus deaths top 169,000 in the USA, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the Coronavirus Task Force, sat down for an online interview with The Washington Post's Geoff Edgers to talk about how we can get the virus under control. During the interview, he said three words every American should hear—as well as what to do when a package arrives, when to take off your mask and more. Read on for his essential advice, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(video interview with Dr Fauci)

How Anthony Fauci stays healthy and sane during a pandemic via @YouTube

Fred C. Dobbs said...


Protesters pack Belarus capital

Russia says military help available.

MINSK/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Belarusians chanting “Step down!” filled the centre of the capital Minsk on Sunday in the biggest protest so far against what they said was the fraudulent re-election a week ago of longtime president Alexander Lukashenko.

Russia said it would offer Lukashenko military help if necessary, but there was no visible police presence at the protest, which attracted around 200,000 people, a Reuters reporter estimated. At least two protesters have died and thousands have been detained in a crackdown since the vote.

The atmosphere at the rallies, which wrapped up late into the evening, was celebratory on the whole, with people carrying the red and white flags used in Belarus after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union before Lukashenko restored the Soviet version four years later.

“We all want Lukashenko to step down,” said a 31-year-old worker who gave his name as Alexei. “For now we are asking, but we will get sick of asking.”

Opponents of Lukashenko, in power for 26 years, say the vote was rigged to disguise the fact that he has lost public support. He denies losing, citing official results that gave him just over 80% of the vote. ...

Why Vladimir Putin is unlikely to invade Belarus

via @AtlanticCouncil

Fred C. Dobbs said...

New York Has Tamed the Virus. Can It Hold Off a Second Wave?

NY Times - August 17

Health experts in New York City thought that coronavirus cases would be rising again by now. Their models predicted it. They were wrong.

New York State has managed not only to control its outbreak since the devastation of the early spring, but also to contain it for far longer than even top officials expected.

Now, as other places struggle to beat back a resurgence and cases climb in former success-story states like California and Rhode Island, New York’s leaders are consumed by the likelihood that, any day now, their numbers will begin rising.

The current levels of infection are so remarkable that they have surprised state and city officials: Around 1 percent of the roughly 30,000 tests each day in the city are positive for the virus. In Los Angeles, it’s 7 percent, while it’s 13 percent in Miami-Dade County and around 15 percent in Houston. ...


In pandemic recovery, New York has had more success than Mass. What explains the gap?

via @BostonGlobe - August 16

Experts said that while it is difficult to determine exactly what has given New York an edge in surmounting COVID-19, a combination of extensive testing, cautious and region-based reopening, and vigilant enforcement of business safety guidelines have combined to create an impressive turnaround.

Some of this is a product of two governors’ contrasting leadership styles — the very aggressive, in-your-face approach taken by New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, compared to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s more detached and cautious approach, experts said. While Baker’s calm tenor drew praise during the pandemic’s more frightening days, some experts said guiding reopening may require a heavier hand.

“Comparatively with other states, [Massachusetts and New York] are both doing quite well,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist. But, she said, New York still stands in a league of its own. “It’s not so much the absolute difference [in metrics], it’s also the trend. What’s encouraging about New York is that its trends have held for a long time.”

Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker reports that over the past month, Massachusetts has counted 10,189 new COVID-19 cases compared to New York’s 20,265. When accounting for the states’ populations, that means Massachusetts has seen nearly 1.4 times the number of new cases per capita. ...

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Fake America great again
Comment on Barkley Rosser on ‘The End Of Special Fiscal Stimulus’

Barkley Rosser reports on the actual state of the economy: “Dems indicated that they were willing to compromise on many issues. To pick a big symbolic one has to do with the total spending level. Going into this the Dems were pushing $3+ trillion and the GOP was pushing $1 trillion. Gosh, looks like $ 2 trillion would be an obvious compromise, and the Dems have publicly indicated they would be willing to go to that, but, no, … As it is, Meadows left town and the Senate has gone on leave until after Labor Day. No deal.”

This is Barkley Rosser’s usual newspaper digest. Not one small crumb of real economic analysis. That is regrettable because what unfolds before our eyes is the spectacular finale of the so-called free-market economy.

In the elementary production-consumption economy with a state sector, macroeconomic profit comes ultimately from the household and state sector’s deficit spending/money creation, i.e. Qm≡(G−T)−Sm.#1

For Sm=0 this boils down to (G−T)=Qm, i.e. public deficit equals private profit. The profit of the monetary economy is in this analytical limiting case produced entirely by the state. This case is at odds with the popular ideas of a free-market economy and Laissez-faire but it is practically the new normal.

The greater part of the profit in the United States is actually produced by the state. The US economy hangs for a long time already on the state ventilator for its survival. With the current boost of deficit-spending, the situation becomes even more extreme.

The policy of deficit-spending/money-creation is ultimately a means of postponing the breakdown of the US economy. Deficit-spending/money-creation is a free lunch for the Oligarchy. Financial wealth grows in lockstep with public debt. While employment and wage income go down, Mr. Trump’s current policy will blow up macroeconomic profit to hitherto unimaginable proportions. This profit will nearly 100 percent be state-produced.

Say, economists, what exactly has always been the strong point of laissez-faire capitalism?

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Wikipedia, economics, scientific knowledge, or political agenda pushing?

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Some doctors say people they treat are more inclined to believe social media posts than medical professionals.

NY Times - August 17

Doctors on the front lines of the pandemic say they are fighting not just the coronavirus, but also a never-ending scourge of misinformation about the disease that is hurting patients. Some say they regularly treat people more inclined to believe what they read on social media than what a medical professional tells them.

Before the pandemic, medical professionals had grown accustomed to dealing with patients misled by online information, a phenomenon they called Dr. Google. But in interviews, more than a dozen doctors and misinformation researchers in the United States and Europe said the volume related to the virus was like nothing they had seen before.

According to the doctors and researchers, several factors are to blame: leaders like President Trump who amplify fringe theories; social media platforms that are not doing enough to stamp out false information; and individuals who are too quick to believe what they see online.

For example, approximately 800 people worldwide died in the first three months of the year — and thousands more were hospitalized — after following unfounded claims online that advised ingesting highly concentrated alcohol to kill the virus, researchers concluded in a report published last week in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The American Medical Association and other groups representing doctors say the false information spreading online is harming the public health response to the disease. The World Health Organization is developing methods to measure the harm of virus-related misinformation online, and over two weeks in July the group hosted an online conference with doctors, public health experts and internet researchers about how to address the problem.

The falsehoods, doctors say, have undermined efforts to get people to wear masks and fueled a belief that the seriousness of the disease is overblown.

But untrue information continues to spread. Last month, a video from a group of people calling themselves America’s Frontline Doctors conveyed inaccurate claims about the virus, including that hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, is an effective coronavirus treatment and that masks do not slow the spread of the virus. The video was viewed millions of times. said...

Oh my, Egmont, actually trying to apply your theory to the real world for once. Too bad you have some facts off.

For starters, employment has been rising for several months, even as that rise has been slowing and is not likely to get back to where it was prior to the pandemic anytime soon.

Second you have the oddity that while you claim profits are tied to budget deficits, why is it that it is pro-business Republicans who are now opposing larger deficits thereby endangering business profits?

I think you are going to have to do better than that to take your arguments at all seriously, Egmont. Sorry.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Barkley Rosser

You say: “Second you have the oddity that while you claim profits are tied to budget deficits, why is it that it is pro-business Republicans who are now opposing larger deficits thereby endangering business profits?”

Economics is about how the economy works and NOT about how the brains of GOP Senators work.

Btw. this question has already been dealt with. See

Stephanie Kelton and the self-destructive stupidity of the super-rich

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Read Michelle Obama’s full Democratic convention speech

via @BostonGlobe - August 18

... A president’s words have the power to move markets. They can start wars or broker peace. They can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts. You simply cannot fake your way through this job.

As I’ve said before, being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are. Well, a presidential election can reveal who we are, too. And four years ago, too many people chose to believe that their votes didn’t matter. Maybe they were fed up. Maybe they thought the outcome wouldn’t be close. Maybe the barriers felt too steep. Whatever the reason, in the end, those choices sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly 3,000,000 votes.

In one of the states that determined the outcome, the winning margin averaged out to just two votes per precinct—two votes. And we’ve all been living with the consequences.

When my husband left office with Joe Biden at his side, we had a record-breaking stretch of job creation. We’d secured the right to health care for 20,000,000 people. We were respected around the world, rallying our allies to confront climate change. And our leaders had worked hand-in-hand with scientists to help prevent an Ebola outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.

Four years later, the state of this nation is very different. More than 150,000 people have died, and our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long. It has left millions of people jobless. Too many have lost their health care; too many are struggling to take care of basic necessities like food and rent; too many communities have been left in the lurch to grapple with whether and how to open our schools safely. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Michelle Obama stole the show

and Bernie Sanders covered Biden’s left flank

via @BostonGlobe - August 18

... Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont delivered the most politically important speech of the night.

Presumptive nominee Joe Biden comes into the convention with a significant polling lead over Trump. While clearly any presidential candidate will try to expand their coalition (hence the decision to give Republican John Kasich a prime-time speaking slot), Biden will probably win in November if he can maintain the support he has. The last thing he wants is a distraction, like the kind Hillary Clinton had in 2016 when some of Sanders’ delegates had to be dragged kicking and screaming to support her candidacy.

Sanders helped ensure that won’t happen by making clear to his supporters that they need to join him in getting behind Biden.

“This election is the most important in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said. “In response to the unprecedented crises we face, we need an unprecedented response — a movement, like never before, of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency — and against greed, oligarchy, and bigotry. And we need Joe Biden as our next president.”

He warned about “authoritarianism” in America if Trump wins another term and reminded his supporters that all the progress they have made in raising the profile of his policy agenda will be lost if Trump is reelected. He checked off all the places where he and Biden agree — raising the minimum wage to $15, funding universal pre-K and paid family leave, making it “easier for workers to join unions,” and rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. Sanders also acknowledged the places where he and Biden don’t agree — namely Medicare for All — but he still praised Biden’s approach toward expanding health care coverage. On a night in which the professional politicians delivered mediocre addresses that were largely overshadowed by private citizens, Sanders was the exception to the rule. ...

Above all, Sanders made clear to his supporters that there is no daylight between him and Biden, and that the stakes of this election are too high for anyone to stay home in November. For a nominee intent on rallying the disparate wings of his party behind him, Biden couldn’t ask for much more. ... said...


Yo are one of those caricatures of an economist who when confronted with facts that do not coincide with his theory declare that the facts are either wrong or irrelevant because the theory is true.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Rally Around Joe Biden ‘Like Our Lives Depend on It’

NY Times - August 18

... From the progressive left to the moderate wing, Mr. Trump has served for months as the glue keeping the party from fracturing. And never has this détente been more obvious than in the wide-ranging lineup for the first night of the convention, when, in the name of unity, the virtual stage was open not just to Democrats of various persuasions but to Republicans as well.

The festivities conveyed one message from the Democrats. Whatever their ideological differences with one another or the Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden Jr., ousting Mr. Trump was the primary concern.

“We have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” said Michelle Obama, the former first lady.

The appeal came from other political leaders including John Kasich, a onetime Republican candidate for president; Senator Bernie Sanders, the progressive standard-bearer; and also Democratic moderates including Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

GOP-Led Senate Panel Details Ties Between 2016 Trump Campaign and Russia

NYT - August 18

A nearly 1,000-page report confirmed the special counsel’s findings at a
moment when President Trump’s allies have sought to undermine that inquiry.

WASHINGTON — A sprawling report released Tuesday by a Republican-controlled Senate panel that spent three years investigating Russia’s 2016 election interference laid out an extensive web of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Russian government officials and other Russians, including some with ties to the country’s intelligence services.

The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, totaling nearly 1,000 pages, provided a bipartisan Senate imprimatur for an extraordinary set of facts: The Russian government undertook an extensive campaign to try to sabotage the 2016 American election to help Mr. Trump become president, and some members of Mr. Trump’s circle of advisers were open to the help from an American adversary.

The report drew to a close one of the highest-profile congressional inquiries in recent memory, one that the president and his allies have long tried to discredit as part of a “witch hunt” designed to undermine the legitimacy of Mr. Trump’s stunning election nearly four years ago.

Like the investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who released his findings in April 2019, the Senate report did not conclude that the Trump campaign engaged in a coordinated conspiracy with the Russian government — a fact that Republicans seized on to argue that there was “no collusion.”

But the report showed extensive evidence of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and people tied to the Kremlin — including a longstanding associate of the onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, whom the report identifies as a “Russian intelligence officer.”

The Senate report for the first time identified Mr. Kilimnik as an intelligence officer. Mr. Mueller’s report had labeled him as someone with ties to Russian intelligence.

Democrats highlighted those ties in their own appendix to the report, noting that Mr. Manafort discussed campaign strategy and shared internal campaign polling data with Mr. Kilimnik, and later lied to federal investigators about his actions.

Democrats also laid out a potentially explosive detail: that investigators had uncovered information possibly tying Mr. Kilimnik to Russia’s major election interference operations conducted by the intelligence service known as the G.R.U. ...

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Barkley Rosser

You say: “Yo are one of those caricatures of an economist who when confronted with facts that do not coincide with his theory declare that the facts are either wrong or irrelevant because the theory is true.”

The voting behavior of GOP Senators is NOT part of any economic theory but your re-telling of what you have read in the newspapers which is obviously your main intellectual occupation.

What I told you is that profit in the US economy is nowadays entirely produced by the state and that the exploding deficit-spending will explode profit within a short time span.

This perverse correlation of high unemployment and high state-produced profit is a bit at odds with the popular idea of a free-market economy and should, therefore, provoke the interest of the professional economist.

I realize that it is impossible to get you above the newspaper level.

Anyway, I take the opportunity and, in order to honor myself as the author of the Axiomatic Profit Law, I call the correlation of exploding unemployment, exploding public debt, and exploding profit Handtke’s Law of Exitus Capitalism. It replaces the Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Hillary Clinton’s Bittersweet Return to the Democratic Convention

NY Times - August 19

The party’s 2016 standard-bearer will return to the stage
on Wednesday to promote Joseph R. Biden Jr. and confer her
legacy on Kamala Harris, the vice-presidential nominee.

Hillary Clinton, whose presidential candidacy in 2016 sent Joseph R. Biden Jr. to the sidelines, spent much of the 2020 primaries telling friends that her longtime ally and onetime rival was the only contender who could defeat President Trump, according to people close to both.

But she also saw Kamala Harris as a possible successor of sorts, a next-generation leader with the toughness to build on Mrs. Clinton’s legacy.

So Mrs. Clinton is, by all accounts, reassured by the Biden-Harris ticket. But her return to center stage at the convention on Wednesday night, four years after becoming the first woman to win the nomination of a major party, is bittersweet. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

... The scars of 2016 have not entirely healed, especially when it comes to the F.B.I.’s investigation into her email accounts, publicly reopened by the F.B.I. director James Comey just 11 days before the election.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton posted a brief video clip of herself blinking disdainfully in response to a tweet by Mr. Comey that read: “#19thAmendment is an important anniversary but the vote is not enough. We need more women in office. VP and Virginia governor are good next steps.” ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Malaysia detects new coronavirus strain that’s 10 times more infectious

via @Bloomberg - August 16

Southeast Asia is facing a strain of the new coronavirus that the Philippines, which faces the region’s largest outbreak, is studying to see whether the mutation makes it more infectious.

The strain, earlier seen in other parts of the world and called D614G, was found in a Malaysian cluster of 45 cases that started from someone who returned from India and breached his 14-day home quarantine. The Philippines detected the strain among random Covid-19 samples in the largest city of its capital region.

The mutation “is said to have a higher possibility of transmission or infectiousness, but we still don’t have enough solid evidence to say that that will happen,” Philippines’ Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing on Monday.

Fauci Says New Mutation May Speed the Spread of Coronavirus

Fred C. Dobbs said...

The strain has been found in many other countries and has become the predominant variant in Europe and the U.S., with the World Health Organization saying there’s no evidence the strain leads to a more severe disease. The mutation has also been detected in recent outbreaks in China.

There’s no evidence from the epidemiology that the mutation is considerably more infectious than other strains, said Benjamin Cowling, head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong. “It’s more commonly identified now than it was in the past, which suggests that it might have some kind of competitive advantage over other strains of Covid-19,” he said. ... said...

Sorry, Egmont, but your claim tha profit is produced by the state is simply wrong, so wrong that it is not even wrong, as they say.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Barkley Rosser

You say: “Sorry, Egmont, but your claim tha profit is produced by the state is simply wrong, so wrong that it is not even wrong, as they say.”

What “they” say is absolutely irrelevant, because it is known by now that “they” are scientifically incompetent. Economics is a failed science. That is a fact.

The macroeconomic Profit Law for a closed economy is given by Qm≡Yd+(I−Sm)+(G−T) and this implies Qm=(G−T), i.e. macroeconomic profit is equal to the state’s budget deficit.#1 In order that there is a surplus in the business sector, there must be a deficit in the state sector. Balances always add up to zero.

So, I am right and you and “they”, i.e. the rest of American academics, are wrong. This is elementary algebra, the proof is in the public domain, and you can do NOTHING against it.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Wikipedia, economics, scientific knowledge, or political agenda pushing?

ilsm said...


Ah the NY Times: They need vetting more than the analysts I follow on twitter.!

"The falsehoods, doctors say, have undermined efforts to get people to wear masks and fueled a belief that the seriousness of the disease is overblown."

Masks: Late July 2020 I went to my PCP for my annual "all your blood observations are in normal range", a quick listen and we BS.

He was wearing a nxx mask with a valve that does not stop any viruses from leaving him. I do not think he is a cherry picked mask expert for NY Times. I was a good patient and wore by disposable paper mask with no valve!

Masks are open to discussion, the idea an RNA strand will be stopped by something short of an M-17A1 (they may be newer than when you were in, they were out in late 70's) US military gas mask (and I am not sure then) is open to huge debate.

I do not know whether the virus is passed by air or by soiled surfaces, and neither is confirmed as much as I know.

The belief in serious of the disease: Are you agreeing with NY Times that we should believe every bit of the panic porn coming out of the lame stream media?

I have been spending a lot of time with statisticians on twitter, there is a lot of evidence this thing follows Farr's law, which is a common theory on epidemic bio mechanisms. Also, the so called spikes in the US south are predicted by Hope-Simpson by a paper in the early 80's which related seasonality of flu events (US south actually gets it after Boston by a few months) and the Hope-Simpson theory we need vitamin D!

As to panicking, the only people who should panic over Covid 19 are you and me; >70, if we have hypertension, diabetes, ischemic cardiac, Alzheimer's reviewing the HCHS stats on graphs on twitter by an analyst I trust.

The observations state: under 65 with no co-morbidity Covid 19 is about a flu.

The observation for children < 7yoa is much less mortality than flu.

College kids and teens it is light flu.

I will stay with my twitter friends all vetted by son who is RPI BS, and PhD in Chemistry from elsewhere.

As opposed to the confirmation bias from cherry picked NY Times 'experts' spreading their panic narrative.

ilsm said...


I thought I would talk it over with you and Fred. See above for Fred.

You surmise correctly I despise Democrats, what they stand for, what they do, who they apologize for and for what they ignore.

I am less GOP than you suppose.

I have been busy researching the plague, filling in my knowledge and attempting to weed through the popular panic porn, which is mostly fiction to rile up the frightened. Some of it I view to be anti Trump, get him unelected by trashing the economy and US education system.

From what the stats I see two effects from lockdown: One: a city/county/country cannot reopen until the population gets herd immunity from a vaccine or large exposure as in NYC and Two: lockdowns slow the approach to herd immunity: see New Zealand, Japan, S Korea etc. so we must get a vaccine.

The RCT for a 'lockdown' was Sweden (and several poor countries who would have starved) and it showed do not lock down!

Democrat noise for masks and lockdowns add to my ire toward the party.

As to the partisan kerfuffle over the 'stimulus package'. I do not know what Schumer is doing there and not Senate majority leader McConnell?

Seems to me the Democrats want things in the package that are not emergent, not stimulating, and not directed to the people most harmed by the lockdowns, which were non performing in any measure outside ruining the US economy and school kids' year.

Trump and others' view is too much unrelated Democrat pork in the stimulus bill coming out of the House. Holding the people for their pork. We will see how that plays in the weeks ahead.

BTW UK GDP declined nearly twice US decline last quarter, yoy! What are they to do?

Finally herd immunity likely occurs at ~20% positive tests (not including false +, large % of young positives have little or no illness) in theory because corona viruses are common and cross immunity is in a fair fraction of the population's T cells.

Second Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), with zinc and Azithromycin is effective in early stage treating Covid 19. The bad press is from largely flawed studies, some with evidence hidden in the analysis. One negative test was run by a researcher who had a lot of grants from Gilead. Lancet and one other publication have rescinded papers on HCQ.

While Redesivir is approved even though MDs must constantly watch for Kidney and Liver damage.

I am working a project for a group I belong to and do not come here much lately.

I rambled,

Take care.

Fred C. Dobbs said...


The Trump Campaign Accepted Russian Help to Win in 2016. Case Closed.

NY Times - August 19

From the start, the Trump-Russia story has been both eye-glazingly complex and extraordinarily simple.

Who is Oleg Deripaska? What’s the G.R.U. again? Who owed what to whom? The sheer number of crisscrossing characters and interlocking pieces of evidence — the phone calls, the emails, the texts, the clandestine international meet-ups — has bamboozled even those who spend their days teasing it all apart. It’s no wonder average Americans tuned out long ago.

A bipartisan report released Tuesday by the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee cuts through the chaff. The simplicity of the scheme has always been staring us in the face: Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign sought and maintained close contacts with Russian government officials who were helping him get elected. The Trump campaign accepted their offers of help. The campaign secretly provided Russian officials with key polling data. The campaign coordinated the timing of the release of stolen information to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The Senate committee’s report isn’t telling this story for the first time, of course. (Was it only a year ago that Robert Mueller testified before Congress about his own damning, comprehensive investigation?) But it is the first to do so with the assent of Senate Republicans, who have mostly ignored the gravity of the Trump camp’s actions or actively worked to cast doubt about the demonstrable facts in the case.

It’s also a timely rebuke to the narrative that Attorney General William Barr has been hawking since before he took office early last year — that “Russiagate” is a “bogus” scandal. Mr. Barr and other Trump allies claim that the Russia investigation was begun without basis and carried out with the intent of “sabotaging the presidency.” That argument has been debunked by every investigative body that has spent any time looking into what happened, including the nation’s intelligence community, Mr. Mueller’s team, the Justice Department’s inspector general and now the Senate Intelligence Committee. ...

And now Trump is contemplating a pardon for
Moscow-resident "Traitorous Ed" Snowden, sometime soon.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

N95 masks - Mayo Clinic

... Actually a type of respirator, an N95 mask offers more protection than a surgical mask does because it can filter out both large and small particles when the wearer inhales. As the name indicates, the mask is designed to block 95% of very small particles. Some N95 masks have valves that make them easier to breathe through. With this type of mask, unfiltered air is released when the wearer exhales. ...

Some N95 masks, and even some cloth masks, have one-way valves that make them easier to breathe through. But because the valve releases unfiltered air when the wearer breathes out, this type of mask doesn't prevent the wearer from spreading the virus. For this reason, some places have banned them.

Not NH, home of Ilsm. "Live free or die!"