Sep 162020
 
 September 16, 2020  Posted by at 9:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Dorothea Lange A Family Of Mexican Migrants, On The Road In California 1936

 

UK Testing Shortage Could Lead To ‘Lockdown By Default’ – Teaching Union (G.)
Silenced Chinese Virologist Says COVID-19 Intentionally Released (ZH)
Democrats Shoot Down $1.5 Trillion Pandemic Stimulus Compromise (ZH)
Reconsidering the Presidential Election (Saker)
The US Will Not Recover Pre-Crisis Jobs Copying Eurozone Policies (Lacalle)
Down-to-Earth Aspects of the US Economy in Near-Real Time (WS)
NY Lawmakers Launch Bill to Allow Criminal Investigations for Presidents (GR)
Witnesses At Trial: Assange Could Spend Rest Of His Life In Prison (Gosztola)
Joe Rogan Experience #1536 – Edward Snowden (YT)
How Blowing Up A Transit Van Wiped Out £1 Million Of Debt (G.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Rickards

 

 

I said the other day in Lockdown 2.0: 2nd lockdowns are going to be hell to pay, for governments, for their citizens, for their economies. And here we go.

When people understand that they are told to lock down only because their government hasn’t build enough testing capacity after 9 months(!!), many will disobey. And what then? You’re going to mass arrest them? I’d pay to see that!

UK Testing Shortage Could Lead To ‘Lockdown By Default’ – Teaching Union (G.)

It is often assumed that Johnson promised a “world-beating” system in an off-the-cuff response at PMQs, but in fact he first used the phrase in his Sunday night TV address to the nation on 10 May. He said: If we are to control this virus, then we must have a world-beating system for testing potential victims, and for tracing their contacts. So that – all told – we are testing literally hundreds of thousands of people every day. Ten days later at PMQs, when Sir Keir Starmer said he would settle for one that was just “effective”, Johnson repeated the promised with an added timescale, telling MPs: “We will have a test, track and trace operation that will be world-beating, and yes, it will be in place by 1 June.”

That hasn’t quite materialised, and this morning the consequence were vividly highlighted when a teaching union said the unavailability of tests could lead to a “lockdown by default”. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), told the Today programme that headteachers were being forced to decide that the “bubble has to stay at home” if a pupil or teacher in a year group had shown Covid-19 symptoms and could not get a test to prove they were negative. He went on: “This will feel I think like lockdown by default – it will be more frustrating for parents because you can’t predict whether it is going to happen. And similarly from the headteacher’s point of view, if my year 4 teacher today shows symptoms, will he or she be in school tomorrow, will they be here for the next 14 days?

“As soon as you start to get that with six, seven, eight teachers, it becomes unsustainable to be able to run things.” Barton also quoted from a head teacher who had emailed him overnight to say they felt “hoodwinked” by the government. Barton summarised the message from the head in the email as this: “I feel that everything we put in place – the one-way systems, the bubbles and all of that, we have done – but now we are being tripped up by the fact that, whether it’s a child or a member of staff, they simply can’t get a test and it’s leaving us in a position of me not know whether I can staff some of those lessons tomorrow, or indeed for the next two weeks. It’s infuriating.”

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Frankenstein.

Silenced Chinese Virologist Says COVID-19 Intentionally Released (ZH)

Hours after her unceremonious Twitter ban for, we assume, presenting evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Wuhan lab, Chinese virologist Dr. Li-Meng Yan appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” where she told the Fox News host that the virus is a “Frankenstein” which was designed to target humans which was intentionally released. “It could never come from nature,” she Yan – an MD/PhD who worked with coronavirus at the University of Hong Kong “There is evidence left in the genome” – which Yan detailed in a 26-page scientific paper co-written with three other Chinese scientists. “They don’t want people to know this truth. Also, that’s why I get suspended [from Twitter], I get suppression. I am the target that the Chinese Communist Party wants disappeared.”


When Carlson asked her why she believes the virus made it’s way out of the Wuhan lab, Dr. Yan said “I worked in the WHO reference lab, which is the top coronavirus lab in the world at the university of Hong Kong. And the things I got deeply into such investigation in secret from the early beginning of this outbreak – I had my intelligence through my network in China, involved in the hospitals, institutes and also government.” “Together with my experience, I can tell you – this is created in a lab.” Dr. Yan fled Hong Kong on April 28 on a Cathay Pacific flight to the United States. She believes her life is in danger, and that she can never go back home.

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How popular is Pelosi in her own party?

Democrats Shoot Down $1.5 Trillion Pandemic Stimulus Compromise (ZH)

Update (1425ET): In what should be a surprise to nobody, House Democrats have completely shot down the $1.5 trillion bipartisan compromise for pandemic relief, arguing “When it comes to bolstering the public health system, supporting state and local governments, and assisting struggling families, the Problem Solvers’ proposal leaves too many needs unmet.” “… The health and economic crisis demands action. That will require President Trump and Republican leaders to come back to the table and work with Democrats to save lives and livelihoods,” the Democrats continue.

A bipartisan group of 50 House lawmakers will release a $1.52 trillion pandemic stimulus proposal, in the hopes of breaking a months-long deadlock over the next round of relief, according to Bloomberg. The Problem Solvers Caucus, which has negotiated for weeks with the knowledge of the White House and party leadership will announce detail their plan in an 11 a.m. news conference. Notably, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hinted at the discussions last month – noting that the White House could accept a $1.5 trillion deal. “The caucus proposal offers key compromises on the two thorniest issues in the stalled talks between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration. On aid to state and local governments, the group is backing about $500 billion, splitting the difference between the $915 billion sought by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the $150 billion put forward by the White House”. -Bloomberg

The group is proposing a $450 per week unemployment insurance extension for eight weeks, which would then convert to a formula to cap payments at 100% of wages or $600 per week, whichever is lower. Democrats have lobbied for $600 per week, while the White House has sought $300 per week – arguing that more money would discourage people from seeking work. What’s more, a $1,200 direct stimulus payment is included in the new proposal – along with a $500 per child benefit. “The “March to Common Ground” framework, led by Caucus co-chairs Tom Reed, a New York Republican and Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, also contains money for Covid-19 testing, schools and childcare, small business relief. It would also link relief to economic metrics, reducing aid if the pandemic abates or extending it if it worsens.” -Bloomberg

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“..we roughly have, on one hand, what I would call the “Trump Party” (which is not the same as the GOP) and the “deplorables” objectively standing for law and order. On the other hand, we have the Dems, some Republicans, big corporations and the BLM/Antifa mobs who now all objectively stand for anarchy, chaos and random violence.”

Reconsidering the Presidential Election (Saker)

In early July I wrote a piece entitled “Does the next Presidential election even matter?” in which I made the case that voting in the next election to choose who will be the next puppet in the White House will be tantamount to voting for a new captain while the Titanic is sinking. I gave three specific reasons why I thought that the next election would be pretty much irrelevant: • The US system is rigged to give all the power to minorities and to completely ignore the will of the people. • The choice between the Demolicans and the Republicrats is not a choice at all. • The systemic crisis of the USA is too deep to be affected by who is in power in the White House. I have now reconsidered my position and I now see that I was wrong because I missed something important:

A lot has happened in the past couple of months and I now have come to conclude that while choosing a captain won’t make any difference to a sinking Titanic, it might make a huge difference to those passengers who are threatened by a group of passengers run amok. In other words, while I still do not think that the next election will change much for the rest of the planet (the decay of the Empire will continue), it is gradually becoming obvious that for the United States the difference between the two sides is becoming very real. Why? This is probably the first presidential election in US history where the choice will be not between two political programs or two political personalities, but the stark and binary choice between law and order and total chaos.

It is now clear that the Dems are supporting the rioting mobs and that they see these mobs as the way to beat Trump. It is also becoming obvious that this is not a white vs. black issue: almost all the footage from the rioting mobs shows a large percentage of whites, sometimes even a majority of whites, especially amongst the most aggressive and violent rioters (the fact that these whites regularly get beat up by rampaging blacks hunting for “whitey” does not seem to deter these folks).

True, both sides blame each other for “dividing the country” and “creating the conditions for a civil war”, but any halfway objective and fact based appraisal of what is taking place shows that the Dems have comprehensively caved into the BLM/Antifa ideology (which is hardly surprising, since that ideology is a pure product of the Dems (pseudo-)liberal worldview in the first place). Yes, the Demolicans and the Republicrats are but two factions of the same “Party of Money”, but the election of Trump in 2016 and the subsequent 4 years of intense seditious efforts to delegitimize Trump have resulted in a political climate in which we roughly have, on one hand, what I would call the “Trump Party” (which is not the same as the GOP) and the “deplorables” objectively standing for law and order. On the other hand, we have the Dems, some Republicans, big corporations and the BLM/Antifa mobs who now all objectively stand for anarchy, chaos and random violence.

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But the euro is still very strong.

The US Will Not Recover Pre-Crisis Jobs Copying Eurozone Policies (Lacalle)

In April I wrote a column stating that “The U.S. Labor Market Can Heal Quickly” and the improvement has been positive. Very few would have expected the unemployment rate at 8.4% in August after soaring to almost 15% in the middle of the pandemic. This means that the unemployment rate is in August 2020 lower than what analysts projected for the end of 2020. Even the measure of underemployment (U-6) has fallen from 22.8% to 14.2%. In August, the number of persons who usually work full time rose by 2.8 million to 122.4 million, or ten million below the level of August 2019, and the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job declined by 747,000 to 7 million, which is still two million higher than in February. This means both incredibly positive news and that there is a lot left to do.

Few would have expected full-time employment to be as close as last year’s level by now. Since the reopening, the US has recovered almost eleven million jobs, continuing jobless claims have fallen rapidly from 25 million to 13.25 million and full-time employment is rising strongly, while the Atlanta Fed median wage growth tracker remains at 3.9% for 2020. It is true that the good jobs data of August includes part-time workers hired for census activity, but the truth is that those accounted for less than one out of every six new jobs created. Even acknowledging that there is a lot of work to do to recover the record levels of employment in February 2020, at this rate the United States would be able to return to all-time high levels of employment by the first quarter of 2021, instead of 2023 as the Federal Reserve estimates.

We must remember that the track record of the Federal Reserve in estimating unemployment has been to err on the side of pessimism, particularly in the past three years. What the United States needs to do to recover jobs and return to real wage growth and the path to full employment is both easy and challenging. The United States needs to cut red tape and bureaucratic burdens to new business creation, lift regulatory and fiscal burdens that prevent small and medium enterprises from growing into large companies, maintain an attractive tax system that incentivizes investment, capital repatriation, and supports job creation.

Anyone can understand this. Why is it challenging, then? In the middle of election year, there are too many misguided proposals from the left demanding higher taxes, more government interventionism, and more regulatory burdens. It seems that many politicians cannot learn from the mistakes of the eurozone. Higher taxes and more interventionism will not deliver better public services and stronger finances. The eurozone is proof that higher taxes still drove most countries to historic high levels of debt and unemployment while public services did not improve. Deficit spending is not solved by raising taxes, but by cutting unnecessary spending. With a rising tax wedge, growth is weaker, job creation is poorer, and the deficit remains stubbornly high because expenditures rise in growth and crisis periods significantly above receipts.

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Wolf Richter thinks things remain pretty bad.

Down-to-Earth Aspects of the US Economy in Near-Real Time (WS)

The US economy is completing the sixth month of the Pandemic. So how is the recovery going, as seen by the near-real-time indicators that have sprung up as a result of the Pandemic? The raw unadjusted data of these indicators compare daily or weekly data this year to how it was just before the Pandemic, or how it was at the same time last year. There is some roughness in this data. For example, this year, Labor Day fell on September 7; last year, it fell on September 2 (prior week). So there are some wild fluctuations as Labor Day data gets compared to non-Labor Day data. Independence Day was similar. But that’s raw data.


Restaurants, “seated diners”: -49% Online reservation service OpenTable provides daily data on “seated diners” – how many people actually sit down in restaurants to eat and drink compared to the same weekday in the same week last year – including walk-ins and those who made reservations online or by calling. This data is based on thousands of restaurants in the US that share that information with OpenTable. I used a 7-day moving average to smoothen out the day-to-day fluctuation. The date-mismatch of Labor Day caused the spike in the chart below. Currently, after six months of Pandemic, “seated diners” are still down 49% through September 14, from where they’d been last year at this time:

Airlines, Airports, & Related Businesses: -68%.
The air passenger count entering the security zones of US airports is still down over 68% (-69.7% on September 14), according to TSA airport screenings. Airport operations, restaurants and shops at airports, airport rental cars, and the rest of the airport ecosystem are on a similar trajectory. Beyond the date-mismatch around Labor Day, demand has improved only slightly since early July:

Going to the Office. This is a measure of the shift to work-from-home mixed with employment reductions of office workers, and sheds light on what all the businesses face that cater to office workers, such as cafes, restaurants, shops, barbershops, hair saloon, and the like. And it sheds light on what the office segment of commercial real estate is facing. The data from Kastle Systems, provider of access systems for 3,600 buildings and 41,000 businesses in 47 states, represents a large sample of how many people are entering offices each day. Its “10 City Average” of office occupancy is currently at 24.6% of the pre-Pandemic level in early March, and has not significantly improved in over the past few months, meaning it’s still down by 75.4% (the available average data only goes back to June):

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Why do I have to read this from a Greek source?

NY Lawmakers Launch Bill to Allow Criminal Investigations for Presidents (GR)

New York legislators introduced on Monday a bill that would thwart all efforts by any sitting US President to impede on-going criminal investigations. The New York No Citizen is Above the Law Act, (S.8973/A.10905) was introduced by Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Nick Perry. Last week a federal court granted President Trump yet another delay in his on-going legal maneuverings and stall tactics to keep hidden his subpoenaed tax returns from the Manhattan District Attorney. This bill ensures laws are equally applied to all citizens, even the President of the United States, the lawmakers said in a press release. “This President and any who follow should be held accountable for their illegal acts,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.


“We must close the loophole that allows Presidents to exploit statutes of limitations coupled with Presidential immunity to forever escape culpability for malfeasance.” “Clearly the privileges of the office of President were not intended to make the holder of the office above the law, and was not intended to empower a President with the ability to thwart and sabotage an active, legitimate investigation as New York prosecutors have accused the president of doing,” said Assemblyman Nick Perry. “Enactment of the New York No Citizen is Above the Law Act, will ensure that this tenet holds true in New York as it should in the entire United States. Tolling the statute of limitations for the full period a president’s tenure will ensure that if the president did participate in any of the numerous criminal activities alleged by his former counsel to have occurred, he like every other New York citizen will be held to account for all crimes against the people and state of New York.”

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Pretty scary.

Witnesses At Trial: Assange Could Spend Rest Of His Life In Prison (Gosztola)

During an extradition trial, witnesses for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team said he could spend the rest of his life in a federal prison in the United States if convicted of all the offenses he faces. Judge Vanessa Baraitser, the presiding British judge, also heard testimony related to how authorities in the U.S. government would likely pressure Assange to plead guilty instead of going to trial. Assange, who is 49 years-old, is accused of 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime that, as alleged in the indictment, is written like an Espionage Act offense. The charges criminalize the act of merely receiving classified information, as well as the publication of state secrets from the United States government.

It targets common practices in news gathering, which is why the case is widely opposed by press freedom organizations throughout the world. Eric Lewis, a U.S. defense attorney, said the “base level” for a sentence if Assange was convicted of all the above offenses would be about eight to 10 years. However, Assange pled guilty to 24 charges in a case brought against in Australia for allegedly hacking into Nortel, a Canadian telecommunications company. That criminal history could potentially increase his sentence. Often the U.S. government requests “adjustments,” or that a judge applies factors to the sentence, which can alter the length of the sentence. “If the defendant was the organizer or leader of criminal activity that involved 5 or more participants that was otherwise expensive,” Lewis said, an adjustment could be imposed.

He faces conspiracy charges, where this could be applied, making the sentence at least 12 to 15 years in prison. The most recent indictment involves Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson, who worked as an FBI informant and was convicted of multiple crimes in Iceland. But he was a minor when he became involved in acts Assange allegedly committed so that could increase the sentence to 15 years and eight months on the low end and 19 years and seven months on the high end. According to Lewis, there is an adjustment “commonly added to people who seem to have special abilities that help them commit the crime.” “I would think that Mr. Assange’s technical proficiency,” would qualify, Lewis said. So, prosecutors could increase his sentence to 19 years and five months on the low end or 24 years and five months on the high end.

Two other enhancements might be applied. They relate to obstruction and the naming of U.S. “human intelligence sources,” as well as U.S. officials who worked in State Department embassies who may consider themselves “victims.” If an enhancement was added for attempting to elude the investigation of a crime, the sentence would increase to 24 years and four months on the low end and 30 years and five months on the high end. An enhancement for exposing the identities of intelligence sources or embassy officials would lead to a life sentence. However, Lewis indicated this would exceed what the statutory maximum allows so it would likely be reduced to a 175-year sentence.

[..] The federal court system, as Durkin testified, imposes a “trial tax.” A defendant, especially one accused of jeopardizing US national security, is penalized if they go to trial. Someone who pleads guilty before trial can benefit from an adjustment that reduces a sentence considerably. Assange could quickly go from a 24-year sentence to a 17-year sentence. This could be the difference between seeing his partner Stella Morris and his children outside of prison before he dies and never having a private moment with them again. Former CIA Director Leon Panetta, who was part of President Barack Obama’s administration, appeared in a documentary from the German public broadcaster ARD called, “The USA against Assange.”

Panetta revealed the game that government officials in President Donald Trump’s administration are playing. “All you can do is hope that you can ultimately take action against those that were involved in revealing that information so you can send a message to others not to do the same thing,” Panetta declared. As with the war on whistleblowers waged by the Obama administration, the Trump administration, and those who support this prosecution, encourage the expansion of a front in a war on journalism.

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Transcript by Suzie Dawson.

Joe Rogan Experience #1536 – Edward Snowden (YT)

“Julian Assange, right now, today is in court in the UK fighting an extradition trial…” “…to the United States. For those who don’t remember, this is the guy who is the head of @wikileaks. And he really fell out of favour in 2016 because he published the Hillary emails and everything like that, the Podesta emails, but he’s not being charged with that…” “…the extradition trial has nothing to do with that. Actually the US Governement under William Barr, the current Attorney General, is trying to extradite this guy & put him in prison for the rest of his life for the best work that @wikileaks ever did that has won awards in every country basically around the planet, including the United States, which is the Iraq & Afghanistan War Logs.

Detainee records in Guantanamo Bay.. things that are about explicit war crimes & abuses of power, torture & people who were killed who shouldn’t have been killed, violations of use-of-force protocols and all of these things. And this could all be made to go away if the Attorney General William Barr would drop the charges. Why isn’t he?” 1:02:38: Rogan says Assange has been tortured; calls the torture of Julian “disturbing”, says “he exposed horrific crimes!”; talks about the threat to freedom of the press; calls the trial a “kangaroo court”, decries attack on 1st Amendment & MSM silence

Snowden: “I think a lot of this comes down to the fact that they see Julian Assange – by this I mean a lot of the mainstream media, the broadcast outlets – as a partisan figure and it’s really sad. Because the most dangerous thing about the charges against Julian Assange…is if they extradite Assange and if he is convicted, he’s charged under the Espionage Act. The same thing I’m charged under, that all these whistleblowers are charged under. But he is not a source. As abusive as these Espionage Act charges have run in the last 50 yrs…” “…is the government had sort of a quiet agreement, they never charge the press outlets. They never charged the New York Times, they never charged the Washington Post, they don’t charge the journalists they charge their sources…”

“..They charge the Chelsea Mannings right? They charge the Edward Snowdens, they charge the Thomas Drakes, the Daniel Ellsbergs. But the press, they’re left alone. They are breaking that agreement with the Julian Assange case. Assange is not a source. Merely a publisher..”

Snowden Rogan

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Nice story about the making of a film: “The irony is that we only needed to raise £20,000 to buy out £1m of debt.

How Blowing Up A Transit Van Wiped Out £1 Million Of Debt (G.)

Edelstyn was also inspired by anthropologist David Graeber who, as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, devised the “We are the 99%” slogan. Graeber died earlier this month but his work will doubtless live on. “His writings are mindblowing,” says Edelstyn. “Think about how many lives are dedicated to working in meaningless jobs to pay off endless debts.” Graeber’s 2011 book The First 5,000 Years urged a revival of the Biblical notion of a society-wide cancelling of debts. His Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, published in 2018, argued that society was harmed by meaningless jobs. While Edelstyn imagined himself as the Debtonator, righting economic wrongs, Powell had other ideas. A performance artist who has collaborated with the Royal Opera House choir, she imagined Bank Job as Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk, or a total work of art.


“We also wanted to become involved in our local community and to involve them in our art,” she says. “We wanted to get to know our neighbours a bit too,” adds her husband. The couple took over an old Co-op bank out in Walthamstow, east London. They renamed it Hoe Street Central Bank, whose initials teased the branch of HSBC opposite. Inside, they decided to print money, just like the Bank of England, although their quantitative easing was aimed at reducing debt burdens rather than filling bank coffers. Instead of the Queen, Charles Darwin or Jane Austen on their notes, HSCB’s currency celebrated local heroes.

Their fiver was known as a Gary, after Gary Nash of the Eat or Heat food bank. The tenner was a Saira, honouring Saira Mir of soup kitchen PL84U Al-Suffa. The 20 was a Steve, celebrating Stephen Barnabis of the Soul Project youth service. The 50 was a Tracey, named after primary school headteacher Tracey Griffiths. The money was issued by Powell, Guv’nor of the Bank. It was made from old £10 notes that had been recalled by the Bank of England, shredded, then turned into briquettes, ready for incinerating. The team took them instead and turned the blocks into pulp, from which paper was made. This was then printed on site by volunteers and students, before being dried on washing lines suspended from the ceiling. They were sold to collectors around the world, and the proceeds funded cash-strapped local causes – and bought up more than £1m of payday loans in E17, the 35th most indebted postcode in Britain.
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“The irony is that we only needed to raise £20,000 to buy out £1m of debt, because bad loans are often written down to a fraction of their value in the secondary market. So we wrote to people telling them the debt had been paid off.” In the film, we see Edelsytn dropping the letters into a pillar box. “It was a very emotional moment,” he says. “I’d been reading a book arguing that loading debt on to ordinary people is the biggest constraint on a free citizenry in modern times. And here we were cancelling some of that.”

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