Sunday, March 15, 2020

Weekend Roundup

News this week was totally dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. A good overview is Dylan Matthews: 9 charts that explain the coronavirus pandemic. (For more, see: A coronavirus reading guide for the perplexed, the anxious, and the obsessive.) This has produced a lot of political and economic turmoil, most obviously (or at least best reported) in the United States. The Trump administration, which has worked so hard over the last three years at proving how incompetent, corrupt, and politically blinded government can be, has come off as insensitive, uncaring, and bumbling -- especially the president and his inner tier of henchmen. The one concern they do seem to have is how the disease effects the economy -- especially as the economy has long seemed to be the silver lining in their own political fortunes. The most obvious effects have been the cancellation of nearly all public gatherings (including the NCAA "March Madness" tournaments and the NBA season) and major (mostly but not all self-imposed) reductions in travel. That, in itself, is a big chunk taken out of the economy, with ripple effects to follow. I expect this will extend to a psychology averse to spending, which will persist for months or years.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has continued to mop up Democratic primaries, winning Mississippi, Missouri, Michigan, Idaho, and probably even Washington last week. (Bernie Sanders did win in North Dakota.) More states will vote soon, but unless Biden stumbles catastrophically there is no chance Sanders can catch up. There is a debate between Sanders and Biden tonight. It should clearly favor Sanders, but I doubt it will have any effect. We seem to be primed for disaster, and willing to settle for just barely less.

Some scattered links this week:

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