Week in review

A partial digest of what we learned:

Holy vaccine, Act II.

The good news: Not only did Moderna come through with some exceptional early-look news of its own — 94.5% efficacy for their mRNA vaccine — but upon completion of the Pfizer-BioNTech study, the latter partnership’s final figure is 95% efficacy, not 90%. They have applied to the FDA for emergency authorization as of Friday, November 20.

The application will not be reviewed until Thursday, December 10, when VRBPAC, the committee advising the FDA on vaccines, takes a look at the data. If, as expected, they advise the FDA to approve the vaccine, and the FDA moves to do so, the first front line healthcare workers may begin receiving their doses as soon as a few days thereafter. …

Week in review

A partial digest of what we learned:

The drama over the presidency remained in full effect over the preceding weekend and into last week. Biden and Harris took their victory lap with a public appearance Saturday night, November 7, and quickly began working, unveiling their transition website and specific language around racial equity, countering the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and facilitating an economic recovery.

Biden “cemented” his victory as Arizona was more clearly called for him, but of course, Trump has not conceded. Keep in mind that in Trump, we have someone nobody believed could even be the Republican nominee, let alone the President, an individual who has argued for his own way at every turn, a politician who, with the help of his party’s senators, steamrolled the federal impeachment process. Now, an entire world would think it appropriate for him to voluntarily announce he’s done.

Week in review

A partial digest of what we learned:

Per the Associated Press, Pennsylvania has been called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and their ticket is slated to receive in excess of the 270 electoral college votes required to become the next President and Vice President of the United States. Immediately following, Nevada was called for the Democrats, as well. Georgia is showing blue but uncalled, and North Carolina is showing red but uncalled.

Thus far, while many have taken to protesting and marching around the vote throughout the country — and self-identifying members of the right are doing their best to mount a disinformation and obstruction campaign they’ve been tagging #StopTheSteal, fueled by repeated allegations of fraud leveled by Trump and GOP leadership — there has yet to be significant unrest derailing the electoral process or anything else, for that matter. …

Week in review

A partial digest of what we learned:

There is not going to be any agreement within the political establishment of the United States over further fiscal stimulus measures or safety nets for the general public, industry, or the country’s municipalities and states prior to the election.

McConnell adjourned the Senate on Monday, the 26th, effectively bringing to a close the fiscal stimulus see-saw between the House and White House, Pelosi and Mnuchin. Indeed, the Senator from Kentucky had been open about being against another large, broadly inclusive plan the entire time.

To reiterate, this may mean that just as there is no fiscal stimulus now, so there may not be until the dead of winter, 2021 (at the earliest). When we finally do see any, depending on who is in government office, it may or may not be of considerable size, and it may or may not serve the broadest crossection of the country possible.

Week in review

A partial digest of what we learned:

There is still no agreement within the political establishment of the United States over further fiscal stimulus measures or safety nets for the general public, industry, or the country’s municipalities and states.

Pelosi and Mnuchin have kept people looking ahead to something, if nothing else. The health of the country hinges on further stimulus, which increasingly hinges on the election. Again, as has been voiced here before, a Democrat sweep would serve the broadest range of interests.

That said, Trump has at least another three months in office, no matter the outcome of the November contest. Should he win, it will be four-plus more years. Should he lose, he does not vacate the office until late January of next year, and it is doubtful he will prove a lame duck or go quietly. …

The resistance seems firmly in place

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The Grant Wood commemorative US 1 oz gold medallion from 1980, for sale on auction platforms like eBay.

On August 6, 2020, gold struck a “record” value of $2,069.30 an ounce. It was a record in nominal terms only, though. Adjusted for inflation, that price doesn’t eclipse gold’s 1980 peak of $2,073.90/oz in today’s dollars.¹ Close, but no proverbial cigar.

That an ounce of gold from 1980 would get you a little further than an ounce purchased today is not the most important piece of information to be conveyed here. Rather, it’s that the shiny yellow stuff appears to meet resistance at roughly these levels, or somewhere close to $2,100/oz (in 2020 dollars), before retreating for long periods of time. …

Too much money chasing too few goods, anyone?

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Image by Nadine Trief from Pixabay.

In the immortalized words of economist Milton Friedman, inflation is “always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.” The educated consensus, until the post 2008 world really began challenging it, was that sustained inflation was tied to sustained monetary expansion. Yet the Federal Reserve of the United States has been engaged in sustained monetary expansion in earnest for over a decade, with no runaway inflation yet in sight; well, not of the systemic variety informed by the CPI, PPI, or GDP deflator, at any rate.

The world’s stock markets, on the other hand, have become visibly inflated since the Great Recession. For example, after bottoming in March of 2009, the DOW climbed to record nominal values over the next 11 years. It topped in February 2020, right before the full impact of the global pandemic was felt in the United States. Thereafter, it plummeted, of course, only to climb out of another hole given the Fed’s renewed and unprecedented support. …

A haiku

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Image by Anana Vibe from Pixabay.

i am a starfish
leaping out of habitat
for this, i am scorned

Further due diligence is warranted

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Their vehicles are attractive, the product offerings have grown in number, the “reservations” are in, the enthusiasm is palpable, the novelty factor is there, and they promise to deliver the clean wave of the heavy trucking future with high tech. Nikola is a hit. And, it’s still all on paper.

Analysis upon analysis of the Nikola story tends to focus on the financial feasibility of launching a vertically-integrated hydrogen fuel company such as the one it is marketing itself to be some day, from stations that produce and deliver the hydrogen fuel, to vehicle sales and maintenance sites, to the heavy trucks themselves. “This is the unlevered IRR of infrastructure capex; this is how many billions in sales interest have been generated; these are the details of the total cost of ownership leases; these are the target costs of the critical inputs of electricity and water in order to produce affordable hydrogen fuel in the first place.” …

We’re vastly undercounting fatalities induced by SARS-CoV-2, never mind infections

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Photo by Andrew Mercer / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).

[Updated November 27, 2020]

“Reopening” in the United States has been a mixed bag. While it has been posited that state-issued lockdowns throughout the country helped spare millions of confirmed infections, they were as patchwork as could be, and were instituted in the wake of an otherwise confused and slow response. Now, we have been trying to reestablish some kind of normalcy based on insufficient and dangerously misleading data. An expanded dataset on excess deaths, courtesy of the CDC, indicates that we are undercounting fatalities induced by SARS-CoV-2, never mind infections. That has a serious bearing on how we navigate the pandemic. …

About

Philip Valenta, MSF

Intersectionist :: https://philipvalenta.com

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