Sunday, March 29, 2020

Weekend Roundup

News this week is pretty much all coronavirus. Most striking number below is Anthony Fauci's projection that coronavirus will kill more than 100,000 Americans, and that millions will be infected. The US now has more confirmed cases than any other nation -- even China, despite a head start and nearly four times as many people (see How the US stacks up to other countries in confirmed coronavirus cases; note the graphs, which plot spread over time; also note how little testing has actually been carried out in the US).

Or, if you're more concerned about money than people, the number of new unemployment filings last week broke the previous record, by a factor of five. We're now seeing projections that unemployment will shoot to 20%, and that this quarter's GDP will drop by more than 10%. For comparison, the total drop in the 2008 "Great Recession" over two quarters was 4.3%. Congress passed a $2 trillion "stimulus" bill late last week. I'd call it more of a stopgap. I'm especially struck by how eager Republicans are to break the bank when one of their own is president, compared to how chintzy and vindictive they are when a Democrat is in the White House. Much like Republicans managed to undermine Obama's $700 billion stimulus bill in 2009, Democrats worked hard to make this bill more fair to workers and the newly unemployed than Trump initially wanted.

Ran through this rather quickly, without many comments. You can look up the technical stuff yourself (here's the Vox index; American Prospect has a relatively good political-oriented series, including David Dayen's "COVID-19 Daily" briefs). Occasionally I note speculation on what happens "after" -- still, I find this impossible given that I don't have any real idea how far this falls apart, or when (if ever) a "new normal" stabilizes. I've seen pieces comparing coronavirus to global warming, but don't find them to be very credible (yet). Also, not much below on politics. Nothing in the last week (or month) has convinced me that Biden is the right person to take on Trump, yet it feels unseemly to try to convince his Democratic supporters of that at this particular moment. It seems significant that this poll shows only 24% of Biden supporters to be very enthusiastic, vs. 53% of Trump supporters. (His 24% not only compares poorly to Trump, but to Hillary Clinton's lame 32% four years ago.)

Some scattered links this week:

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