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April 02, 2020

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The Conservative Movement's (@CM) new-found fascination with the Kennedy Center, an institution they have studiously ignored in the past, is, well, fascinating.*

*any overabundance of commas is solely the fault of the author.

Not part of the package itself, but it's good to know there's going to be some congressional oversight on its implementation. Of course Orange Comb-over Man doesn't like that.

If they’d spent money on what was important....

Trump administration ended pandemic early-warning program to detect coronaviruses

https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-04-02/coronavirus-trump-pandemic-program-viruses-detection

The Wuhan lab received USAID funding for equipment, and PREDICT coordinators connected the scientists there with researchers in other countries in order to synchronize tracking of novel viruses before SARS-CoV-2.

The project’s second funding cycle concluded on Sept. 30, 2019, less than two months before the new coronavirus probably began spreading. It was granted a zero-dollar six-month extension — through March 2020 — to write up final reports.

Dennis Carroll, a widely respected scientist who headed USAID’s emerging threats division, oversaw the initiative for its duration, but retired around the time it was shut down. Carroll did not respond to an inquiry from The Times, but told the New York Times last year that by January 2019, the program had “essentially collapsed into hibernation,” and that its conclusion was due to “the ascension of risk-averse bureaucrats.”...

Aha, the virus is the lab's revenge for the US ending their support for its parasitic existence. [/sarcasm]
I haven't googled it but I am sure that this claim is made by someone for real (be it deranged or aimed at other deranged people).

Unsurprisingly, Krugman is worth reading on the subject.

Krugman is an idiot. The banks are coming online with the small business loans today. BofA has committed to take. Applications today on top of hundreds of small lenders. We have applications being processed this morning.

The basic 1200 rollout is probably another week to 10 days away, checks will take longer to arrive but the Treasury is clearly focused on getting money into people's hands.To even talk about months to get this money out is intentionally deceptive or dense.

Yesterday JPM tried to use its clout to get a better deal for the bank. Fuck Jamie Dimon.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has emphasized the need for speed. On March 29, he said checks would be delivered to the people who have their bank account information on file with the Internal Revenue Service “within three weeks.”

so, if the IRS has your current bank info, you'll get your money "within three weeks".

and if the IRS does not have your current bank info, it's going to take longer than three weeks. in part because the IRS still needs to set up the website where people can go to enter their bank info.

The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?

In the coming weeks, Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.


Now that I'm through ranting about Krugman.

The information for all the banks has been rolled out, final firm last night. The application is very straightforward and all the banks are adapting an online application and their procedures to accommodate that.

It will likely take a few days for most of the regional and money center banks to get online.

We are working with current SBA lenders who are happy to take paper applications and new clients. The money center banks have already stated they would only work with existing customers. If you want a quick turnaround you are in better shape if you have an existing banking relationship.

The interest rate was raised on these loans from .5% to 1% based on feedback from the banks that they couldnt break even at .5.

This is not a problem for the companies as 1% money is still awesome even if they dont qualify for forgiveness.

The biggest sticking point was the know your customer rules for banks, if customers provide fraudulent info or launder money they want the fed to take the hit.

If they only give loans to existing customers it should be on them, but the relief is in the air for others.

So they have my banking info, I would be curious what those percentages are. He also said yesterday that the online should be up next week.

(which isn't to say i know of a faster way to get the money out there)

Marty: Krugman is an idiot.

Krugman is smarter than Marty. You guys do the math.

Meanwhile, according to the NPR breakdown in lj's link, the "$2 trillion" is split into

$877B for "business" (500+377)
$604B for individual people (560+43.7)
$519B for government functions (153.5+339.8+26)

Whoever said "the business of America is business" got it wrong. America IS business, if budget priorities are a fair indicator.

"Corporations are people too, my friend," I hear you cry. Pumping money into "businesses" IS how you help "individual people", the conventional wisdom goes.

I wonder.

My 88yo mother, whose income is a small Social Security benefit, and Jamie Dimon, whose obscene income is from "business", are both individual people. One of them gets a double dip from the $2T pot.

With $2T to spend, you could issue a prepaid debit card worth about $7K to every American, from Jamie to Mom to a toddler in "the inner city", and every job consumer in between. Would that be less, or more, "efficient" than the "CARES Act"? I don't know.

--TP

Tony - Trump has to be able to "get his beak wet." He's losing $$ as no-one is staying in his fleabag hotels, and Coron-A-Lago is closed.

Trump ignoring oversight for the $877B earmarked for "business" means quite a bit of it will go to him and his family.

There isnt 877b to oversee. There is 500b. Every other penny is accounted for. Disclosure was built into the bill. 50b is specifically to airlines, air cargo and my brain went dead. Mostly airlines.

1.5 trillion went to a one time payment, expanded unemployment, hospital and medical relief and loans to small business that are grants if they retain employees for 8 weeks from the date of the loan.

Every penny of that 1.5 trillion is about keeping people whole.

...and my brain went dead.

Something we can agree on! (Just kidding. Sorry - I couldn't let that one go by.)

Softball, parked. :)

As far as getting economic assistance to people is concerned, look what happens when you deliberately design a system to make that more difficult... and are then faced with the consequences:

‘It's a sh-- sandwich': Republicans rage as Florida becomes a nightmare for Trump
https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2020/04/03/its-a-sh-sandwich-republicans-rage-as-florida-becomes-a-nightmare-for-trump-1271172

I would suggest that those who are on the receiving end of this have rather more justification for raging.

With $2T to spend, you could issue a prepaid debit card worth about $7K to every American, from Jamie to Mom to a toddler in "the inner city", and every job consumer in between. Would that be less, or more, "efficient" than the "CARES Act"? I don't know."

I do, 7k later millions of people who could have had jobs that paid 7k will be out of work. The unemployed would have 7k instead of an extra 6k over 10 weeks so they would be up 1k except that with the 1200 they would be down 200 dollars. Just giving people money now isn't the most efficient way because they can't go out and spend it at small businesses. Keeping them whole and employed going forward mitigates the longer term effects while giving them reasonably equivalent current income.

FWIW, my first (and very general) impressions of the bill are that it's pretty good. There is a crap-ton of money for business, but a lot of that is support for paying people - employees. So, not all a cash grab.

My understanding is that the big business pile is more or less seed money for the Fed - it's 10% of what the Fed is authorized to lend to "large corporations", however that is construed. They can't use it for buybacks, so that's good, but they can use it for stuff like acquisitions (which will likely be a buyer's market for the next couple of quarters at least), and likely other forms of investment. So there will no doubt be some fat bonuses for the guys who somehow found a way to get a great return on free money.

A mixed bag, but not all greedhead pork. IMO the support for small businesses is good - especially the support for keeping their people on the books - because they employ a hell of a lot of people. And extending benefits to self-employed and gig workers is going to help a whole lot of people.

Just my two cents, based on a pretty limited knowledge of the actual language of the bill.

Fuck Jamie Dimon.

A sentiment we can all get behind. Maybe there's a way to unite the nation after all.

7k later millions of people who could have had jobs that paid 7k will be out of work. The unemployed would have 7k instead of an extra 6k over 10 weeks so they would be up 1k except that with the 1200 they would be down 200 dollars. Just giving people money now isn't the most efficient way because they can't go out and spend it at small businesses. Keeping them whole and employed going forward mitigates the longer term effects while giving them reasonably equivalent current income.

Yes. I basically agree with all of this. I'd say it's worthwhile to *also* put some plain old cash in people's hands, full stop. And the extended and increased unemployment is also critical, because a lot of businesses are gonna let people go (often have to let people go), no matter what's in the package. But if all we're doing is cutting folks a one-time cash benefit, in a month, or a couple of months, they're gonna be high and dry.

The strategy of keeping as many people either employed or at least on the books via furlough etc - so they can still get benefits - is a good move IMVHO.

Just giving people money now isn't the most efficient way because they can't go out and spend it at small businesses.

This is efficient because it enables people to pay fixed costs such as rent, mortgage, etc., and also to purchase necessities---like food. It also enables them to stay home, which, as far as I can tell, is just about the only really effective means we have at hand right now to combat the pandemic.

That would be true bobby if they were not getting paid through the other programs.

Marty: Just giving people money now isn't the most efficient way because they can't go out and spend it at small businesses.

A lot of my spending (and my 88yo mother's; don't know about yours) is NOT "at small businesses", and doesn't require "going out" to happen.

Rents and mortgages, insurance, utilities, even property taxes -- bills for those keep coming whether you "go out" or not, and having cash to pay them with is why people need "jobs". So, old ladies can't go to their local hairdresser, a mom-and-pop operation whose owner-workers have similar bills to pay. Which they could pay if they had cash assistance as individuals. I use "hairdressers" as the iconic example of what "small businesses" are, in my book.

Groceries are also a major, on-going expense for most people. Not many "small business" supermarkets around here, but big or small, these businesses (and their suppliers) need to keep operating. Even Jamie Dimon needs to eat. Would their workers get a windfall if more CARES money went to them and less to their corporate bosses? Yeah, probably. Call it combat pay.

If you long for the day when things return to normal (like we all do) then the goal should be to keep people alive and solvent until we can all get back to racing rats in The Economy.

--TP

Disclosure was built into the bill.

Yet there are signs that Trump will not cooperate.

Section 4018 of Division A of the Act establishes a new Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) within the Department of the Treasury to manage audits and investigations of loans and investments made by the Secretary of the Treasury under the Act. Section 4018(e)(4)(B) of the Act authorizes the SIGPR to request information from other government agencies and requires the SIGPR to report to the Congress “without delay” any refusal of such a request that “in the judgment of the Special Inspector General” is unreasonable. I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause, Article II, section 3.

Well, since he won't cooperate with a subpoena, why would he cooperate with an inspector general? At least until the Supreme Court forces him to. And maybe not even then -- if he feels free to ignore one co-equal branch, why not the other?

It will be fun to watch the reactions of McConnell et al., the first time a Democratic President shows even the least sign of taking a Trump-style approach to them. Which sentiment is too bad of me. But seriously, do these people not think ahead at all???

I think understanding this is important too. There is lots of leverage as the fed will use most of the 500b.

(above describes the 50b for strategic businesses I described before...) Support of Federal Reserve facilities of $454 billion (plus funding not used as described above) for eligible businesses, states and municipalities. This support may be provided by purchasing obligations or interests directly from issuers, purchasing obligations or interests in secondary markets, or making loans or other advances (including secured loans). While $454 billion refers to the amount that Treasury may use in support of these facilities, the Federal Reserve is expected to use leverage against the assets and capital of the vehicles established for these facilities to create up to $4 trillion in lending according to the administration. We anticipate Treasury and the Federal Reserve issuing guidance in the coming weeks. As to all facilities under this program, Treasury has broad discretion in setting general terms and conditions. Interest rates will be determined by Treasury based on the risk and current average yield on outstanding U.S. debt obligations (see below as to the mid-sized businesses facility). Any applicant whose securities are publicly traded must agree not to engage in stock buybacks for the duration of the loan plus one year (except to the extent required under a preexisting contractual obligation), and each applicant (i.e., whether or not public) must agree not to pay dividends on common stock for the duration of the loan plus one year. Assistance will be treated as indebtedness for federal income tax purposes, and Treasury may issue regulations or guidance to carry out this purpose (e.g., providing that the acquisition of warrants, stock options or other equity interests does not result in an ownership change for purposes of IRC 382). Notably, unlike the Paycheck Protection Program, loans provided under this program are not eligible for forgiveness. Also, each applicant must agree to restrictions that substantially limit executive compensation and severance that last for one year following repayment. This program will be overseen by a Congressional Oversight Commission and a special inspector general who will keep Congress informed through quarterly reports.

McConnell won't care. he's all-in with the Trump crime syndicate.

But seriously, do these people not think ahead at all???

If McConnell continues as Senator Majority Leader under a (D) presidency, he will not in any way consider himself bound to afford the (D) POTUS whatever liberties Trump takes.

The rules will simply change back to the rules for a (D) POTUS.

here we go...

The federal government expects to begin making payments to millions of Americans under the new stimulus law in mid-April, but some people without direct deposit information may not get checks until mid-August or later, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The document from the House Ways and Means Committee says the IRS will make about 60 million payments to Americans through direct deposit in mid-April, likely the week of April 13. The IRS has direct deposit information for these individuals from their 2018 or 2019 tax returns.

Then, starting the week of May 4, the IRS will begin issuing paper checks to individuals, says the memo obtained by AP Thursday. The paper checks will be issued at a rate of about 5 million per week, which means it could take up to 20 weeks to get all the checks out. That timeline would delay some checks until the week of Aug. 17.

So, about six trillion dollars in all.

It looks like we're preparing to trade feeling better economically in the short term for chronic illness of hyperinflation and other economic distortions in the long term.

and the economic effects of letting this run free, and killing a million people in the US are... ?

How do you get to $6 trillion?

From cleek's link:

“The Committee remains focused on ensuring all eligible Americans receive their payment as quickly as possible,” the memo says.


This essentially the Democrats way of trying to get some credit when the Treasury beats their estimates.

Instead of just spending trillions on the economic symptoms caused by our efforts to contain the virus, we should be going full tilt to develop treatments and cures for the virus. Like billion-dollar prices to anyone who develops an effective treatment or cure. The sooner the virus is blocked, the fewer trillions, trillions the government doesn't have, that will need to be spent on fixing the economy.

From cleek's link:

The memo from the committee’s Democratic majority says the timeline it made public Thursday was based on “extensive conversations with the IRS and the Department of Treasury.” The timeline is subject to change, given ongoing discussions between Congress and the Trump administration.

“The Committee remains focused on ensuring all eligible Americans receive their payment as quickly as possible,” the memo says.

This essentially the Democrats way of trying to get some credit when the Treasury beats their estimates.

but some people without direct deposit information may not get checks until mid-August or later

So, money for those in the most desperate need will take the longest to arrive.

So, CharlesWT, we live in a MMT world. The Fed and Wall Street have simply moved to that without informing anyone. So the premise is that we are not even close to an amount of money to print that would be a problem.

How do you get to $6 trillion?

From the quoted text in Marty's 1:58 PM:

"While $454 billion refers to the amount that Treasury may use in support of these facilities, the Federal Reserve is expected to use leverage against the assets and capital of the vehicles established for these facilities to create up to $4 trillion in lending according to the administration."

The two trillion in spending that Congress authorized plus the four trillion the Fed will pull out of thin air.

This essentially the Democrats way of trying to get some credit when the Treasury beats their estimates.

they'd damn well better beat their estimates.

telling the country that some people aren't going to get their relief until August smells like someone just lit a fire under some IRS asses.

So, CharlesWT, we live in a MMT world.

Precisely. Let a thousand Magic Money Trees bloom.

Bullshit, the Treasury has pulled in the time frames at every opportunity. The Treasury, with the Fed, are probably the most competent part of our government right now. The House Dems are not.

Marty,

It's not quite clear to me what that means. Can you provide a link?

we live in a MMT world.

True that...ever since Nixon closed the gold window. It's just taking a long time for folks to catch on. MMT is for real. The fiscal policy constraints are self-imposed.

MMT is fools gold, but the payday is probably after Im dead.

That would be true bobby if they were not getting paid through the other programs.

Sure. But some are not covered by the "other programs".

This essentially the Democrats way of trying to get some credit when the Treasury beats their estimates.

Everybody is gonna want some credit for it.

we should be going full tilt to develop treatments and cures for the virus.

I suspect that folks are already on it. I'm not sure that throwing a billion bucks at the first guy across the finish line is going to make it go any faster.

In the meantime, people need to eat.

but the payday is probably after Im dead.

It's penciled in to take place right after the Second Coming.

Bernie,

MMT?

https://www.mercatus.org/publications/monetary-theory/how-reliable-modern-monetary-theory-guide-policy

AOC uses it to pay for all of her initiatives:

https://www.businessinsider.com/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-ommt-modern-monetary-theory-how-pay-for-policies-2019-1

"It's penciled in to take place right after the Second Coming."

Thats what I said

Instead of just spending trillions on the economic symptoms caused by our efforts to contain the virus, we should be going full tilt to develop treatments and cures for the virus.

My impression is that there are in fact lots of people working on this. The trouble with spending trillions on it is that no matter how much you spend you can't mint the scientists and technicians overnight. Nor can you do the needed testing in a day or two.

OTOH, we could have built up our scientific capabilities more than we did in recent years, but Congress has had to battle to keep Trump from cutting spending on science.

I don’t think Charles’ framing is right, but I do acknowledge that this is going to be extremely bad for all economies over the next year.
Shovelling out vast amounts of cash is probably the least worst option; the difference between a recession deeper than we’ve seen in our lifetimes, and another Great Depression.

MMT is fools gold, but the payday is probably after Im dead.

Let all those unborn brats take care of it. Oh...wait...there won't be enough brats. Let all those immigrants take care of it. Oh...wait...

All this spending might lead to substantial inflation. On the other hand, failing to spend seems likely to lead to not only an extended economic contraction but to substantial deflation. Which we are, if anything, far worse at coping with.

I confess to being bemused by the enthusiasm of the gold bugs. Money is worth something only because other people are willing to accept it in exchange for things you want. But gold is only worth something for exactly the same reason.

In itself, gold is moderately useful for some electrical applications. And it has some applications when you need something which will not be subject to corrosion or oxidation. It's pretty, but so are lots of other metals.

You can try to make an argument that it was important because it constrained governments from generating money out of nothing. But that requires that you ignore the long history of "debasement of the currency" by adulterating gold gold with other metals. In practice, you are right back to people being willing to accept it as a medium of exchange -- trusting that it is actually as pure as the issuing body claims it is.

wj, I think there is a lot of room between MMT and where we are as of today. The MMT phenomenon has made it easier for elected officials across the political spectrum to ignore deficits. Our current debt is pretty big from a historical perspective, debt to gdp at 107% and growing, but it is not economically unsupportable. The fear is that at 2 or 3 times gdp we still will be spending like drunken sailors. For today I am personally comfortable throwing 10 or 15 trillion at this and not even think about it.

Get out of foreign wars, spend a little smarter make the deficit a syrplus, add some inflation slowly and we can keep it in check.

YMMV

Too much money chasing too few goods? Are people going to be buying lots of optional things, which are what make up the bulk of our economy (or at least used to)? Is there going to be tons of private investment sucking up producer goods? Doubt it.

But guess what? We have tools to deal with inflation. Interest rates and taxes, both of which are currently at very low levels. Lots of room to raise them if necessary!

This is not the time to be worrying about inflation.

Money doesn't actually grow on trees, but it's not like there are finite money ore deposits in some Cretaceous stratum that can get used up like coal or petroleum. "Money" is a renewable resource.

On a practical note, it appears that I will not be getting my $1200 windfall electronically. I have not "already filed" my 2019 return, and I had no reason to enter my bank info on my 2018 return, seeing as I had no refund due. The IRS could find it on my 2017 return, or even from the quarterly estimated tax payments that I have made electronically the last few go-rounds, if they have a mind to. They have the info, but as I read it the law doesn't require them to look it up. We shall see. Luckily, I have savings to fall back on, unlike too many people.

--TP

All of which, Marty, might well be irrelevant given the likely scale of this crisis.

The House Dems are not.

feel free to prove that the Dems made up this timeline out of thin air.

that requires that you ignore the long history of "debasement of the currency" by adulterating gold gold with other metals.

Or, just pull more out of the ground. Which has also been known to be inflationary.

Apologies if this sends the thread sideways, but what the hell?

Trump is trying to brand the recovery. he's grabbing up the supply so he can put big gold TRUMP letters on every box before sending them out to his favorite people.

"take credit for it", i think is how we say that around here.

The United _______ of America. Rump and Tush got this fill-in-the-blank wrong.

Charles,

I think what you are saying is that we shouldn't fight the very bad recession we are facing now, becuase if we do we might (my word, not yours) have to face one some time down the road, as the price of driving down inflation.

To which I respond:

1. Maybe not. The $4 trillion, like a big chunk of the $2 trillion is lending, among other things.

2. So what? That hypothetical future recession is not likely to be nearly as bad as what we face now.

The problem we have is not the business cycle. It's the pandemic, which was always going to hit the economy hard. Just letting it happen is neither sensible nor humane.

fuckers.

really, what the hell. who are they saving it for?

I think you're right Bernie. Now is really today problem.

really, what the hell. who are they saving it for?

They're not saving it for anyone in particular. They're thumping their chests like gorillas just to signal that they can do whatever the fnck they want, and no one can stop them.

They're narcissistic psychopaths (is that redundant?). That's the pretty simple answer to any such question you could ask.

They're narcissistic psychopaths (is that redundant?). That's the pretty simple answer to any such question you could ask.

I'm not so sure. I think narcissistic sociopaths is probably closer to the mark. Even if you argue that narcissists are, by definition, psychopaths, they aren't necessarily sociopaths. But these guys definitely are.

wj -- I'm not going to quibble. Anyhow, "all of the above" seems about right to me.

Inflation? So if we give everybody tons of money to spend, they will spend it on .....what? Movies? Eating out? All closed. You can't bid up supply when there is no supply. This whole line of reasoning abstracts from the reality of most folks standard of living and their virtually non-existent ability to save. All this dough will now go to rentiers, bankers, and yes, government services such as utilities and other services.

If we had a clue, we could tax all that unearned wealth away, or the m'fer's can just pump it into the stock market to make them feel even richer.

But inflation? Nope.

I would approach this in an oblique way (partially because I really get lost when we talk about macro economics) but it seems to me that this is a situation where everything needs to be coordinated. If you make the parallel to a war, the reason why you have such an emphasis on order in the ranks and a commitment to hierarchy above all, is that you have to coordinate things and if you don't, you are doomed.

There is a facebook meme going around with four pictures that I of course can't find. in 3 of the pictures it has the payment schemes that other countries are doing, like the UK paying 80% of salary etc and the a picture of someone drowning with the US figure (one time $1200?) So I'm curious about opinions about that and if anyone cares to debunk it.

As I said, maybe in the future, historians will say that this is where the American experiment in individuality floundered

this is where the American experiment in individuality floundered

"And, you know, there's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families."

Not an American. The same disease, nonetheless.

The bill looks generally OK to me, at the level I've looked at it, which is at most a quick overview. I'm sure there's a lot of BS in in, but it seems like it will help a lot of people out. I don't really care who takes credit for it.

These are the kinds of times when you spend the money and leave worrying about how you will pay it back for later. For individuals, for families, for communities, for polities.

Stay alive, and sweat the details when you get to the other side of it.

People need to eat and they need a place to live. We don't want millions of people out on the street. We don't, whether we are one of those people or not. Do what we need to do to prevent that.

Will this cause the folks who are all-in in the mythos of the self-reliant individual to stop and reconsider their point of view?

No. It will not. If it means the personal ruin of the folks who embrace it, it will not make a difference. If the whole "American experiment" ends up foundering on the rocks, it will not make a difference.

People underestimate the power of mythologies.

Family is no more or less real than society. Both are abstractions.

"Consciousness" is no more or less real than society.

Examine "reality" closely enough, and you'll find it disturbingly divergent from what most people think of as "real".

Humans live by abstractions.

Ask any libertarian.

watch the fine print .

Still not a terrible deal. But, still.

lj, a quick example is yesterday the big thing was that Canada was going to pay everyone $2000 instead of $1200. Until you looked into it and found that that was their unemployment pay, for 4 months.

So we pay 600 a week, on top of what the states pat, or about 2400 plus srate unemployment plus the one time 1200. In addition the base state unemployment was extended.

The state unemployment varies a lot. But its typically half of your weekly salary up to a max. Mass max is 823, SC max is 326.


So in mass for the first 10 weeks you get 1423 weekly plus 120 from the 1200 or 1543. Or about 6I a month. Sc is is about 1146 a week.

Plus interest US we focused on trying to keep people's jobswhic translates to 100^ of their pay.

So in any of those numbers Canadas grass doesnt look that much greener.

I dont know that much about the UK plan I just happen to still know a lot of people in Canada.

russelk, Those changes are a little less favorable if the loan isnt forgiven, but since the assumption is that most of them will be paid by the government, it really was the banks insisting that they dont lose money on servicing and the fed agreeing to pay them.

If someone takes the loan and lays off people anyway they couldnt get these terms anywhere else. I do expect some nontrivial portion of the PPP loans will go to people who just want a 1% loan.

We have covered that option with all of our clients. For some that is a reasonable worst case.

maybe in the future, historians will say that this is where the American experiment in individuality floundered

More likely, historians will say that this is where libertarianism, as a significant political force in America, died. Sorry, Charles, but it's going to be hard to ignore the correlation between how rabidly libertarian a state's government was, and how badly its population got hurt. Both medically and economically.

Americans will still be more individualistic than most. Not least because our population is more heterogeneous than most. But the rejection of the very idea of government and joint action? Now it belongs to the ages . . . which will be caustic about anyone believing such a thing.

I've been reading the Guardian quite a bit, and they have had these articles

The UK
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/mar/20/government-pay-wages-jobs-coronavirus-rishi-sunak

Australia
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/12/six-million-low-income-earners-to-receive-750-cash-under-coalitions-coronavirus-stimulus

However, they are putting limits on the subset of welfare recipients
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/18/welfare-recipients-on-cashless-debit-card-will-have-750-stimulus-payment-quarantined

These don't look like unemployment and it seems the unemployment payments are not the best route for getting money to people in need. I'd be interested in what other countries are doing.

Here in Japan, we are so behind the curve in terms of the virus that things have not reached a point where the economy is being broken (though it is sure being bent)
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/26/business/economy-business/cash-benefits-coronavirus/#.XogEJNP7THc

lj,

The best I can tell from the links.

The British plan is very similar to the PPP in intention, capped at 2500 a month which is less than the US 8333 per month. The British plan was capped at median income rather than the US 100k max. It will be interesting to see how they end up paying it, that's to be worked out over the next three weeks. It is for three months rather than the US ten weeks, although both countries have said it would be extended if necessary.

The other two seem to be limited versions of the US 1200 one time payment. Both focused on just low income rather than broader set of people in the US and at lower payouts.

What's not clear is what the British unemployment is, these payments are based on the companies continuing to employ the person. Some businesses simply wont survive leaving unemployment necessary.

But the rejection of the very idea of government and joint action? Now it belongs to the ages...

With all the bumbling, stumbling, and getting in the way by various levels of government, I wouldn't be so sure.

A different point of view.

"After the coronavirus spread, left-leaning writers began declaring that no one is a libertarian during a pandemic. We all need collective action to save us from this frightening health risk, they say. But a funny thing happened on the way to big-government nirvana, as officials try to ramp up testing and assure that we all have access to vital medical and other services.
...
These government responses grab headlines, but offer little relief. Most serious approaches to the crisis, however, are decidedly libertarian. They involve reducing regulations that keep industries from responding rapidly in an emergency situation.

I recently explained how the market economy — and its sophisticated supply chains — is keeping us fed in these isolated times. Now we’re seeing that government is more of an obstacle than a help. Pretty soon, we’ll all be libertarians during a pandemic. The question is why more of us aren’t libertarians the rest of the time, given what we’re learning about the nature of government."
Coronavirus shows government is a problem, not the solution: Government has a role, but a lot of what it does is harmful. We need to suspend counterproductive rules now — and then think twice before we reinstitute them after the crisis has passed.

So, wj, New York is an incredibly libertarian state government?

I suppose that correlation may yet be proven, I admit the possibility, but the top 5 states in cases and deaths dont yet bear that out.

I don't think it is the cases and deaths that wj is referring to, someone observed that looking at cases is like looking at a distant star, with what you see being like a time machine. Seeing larger, more urban areas have their problems, there are going to be states that start doing what they can to mitigate it and there are going to be states like Georgia, Florida and Mississippi.
Georgia
https://www.ajc.com/news/breaking-georgia-beaches-reopening-friday-night/FeVxuRX6ohp7Yd8tDZlZdN/
Florida
https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2020/04/01/aiming-while-blind-desantis-targets-coronavirus-with-insufficient-data-1269910
and Mississippi
https://www.sunherald.com/news/coronavirus/article241559831.html

At least that is how I understood the point.

I bet there are (veiled and/or secret) discussions going on, whether the disease hitting the old harder than the young should be seen as a net positive (retirees are parasites and a drain on the economy) or a negative (old people are reliable conservative voters).
---
I agree with the assumption that 'libertarianism' as an ideology will not suffer any longterm setback from this. For the hard core it is unfalsifiable (same holds true for other ideologies and religions of course). Hy-Brazil is not sinking.

Interesting

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120805778/coronavirus-to-swedes-its-the-rest-of-the-world-engaging-in-a-reckless-experiment

Coronavirus shows government is a problem, not the solution

Actually, the virus is the problem.

Government is neither a problem, or a solution. Government is a thing that people do, and have done at least since the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago. It's how humans organize their shared public life.

If it didn't serve a purpose, it wouldn't exist.

New York is an incredibly libertarian state government?

More like, NYC is an incredibly large, complicated, and densely populated place.

I disagree with both lj and wj. Nothing will make a dent in the American ethos of individualism. People either buy into it, or they don't.

A lot of folks are responding to this by hoarding food, or buying guns, or simply refusing to comply with basic safety protocols. Because nobody's gonna be the boss of them.

This isn't gonna change their minds.

really, what the hell. who are they saving it for?

It’s about the exercise of power. Being able to direct stocks of PPE is a tool of coercion.

Mix in an element of incompetence.

Using the GOP response to the coronavirus in order to prove "government is the problem, not the solution" is exactly like pouring shampoo into a gas tank to prove automobiles can't work.

Only if the car has 10 clowns in it trying to get to the circus.

More like, NYC is an incredibly large, complicated, and densely populated place.

and deBlasio's initial response was not ideal.

Worldometers now has testing numbers.

Released from spam bucket - ed.

For the hard core [libertarianism] is unfalsifiable

Hartmut is right, I think.

A disdain for empiricism in favor of stick-figure economics is part of its core belief system. Praxeology, they call it.

and each person in Japan gets... two cloth masks.

and deBlasio's initial response was not ideal.

I'd probably say something stronger than that.

I might have ended up in the spam bucket. No link this time, but letting people know worldometers now has numbers of covid tests administered by country.

Thank you, spam-releaser!

As to the Worldometers site -- I've been tracking a few numbers since March 19, with no sophistication or much discipline. I've mixed up numbers from that site and the Johns Hopkins site rather indiscriminately. in making a worst-case, over-simplified curve each night from the data about US deaths.

Bad idea. I need to take one or the other (Johns Hopkins or Worldometer), since sometimes they differ quite a bit. I assume that's partly just the timing of when they get/gather their data, but maybe they're also using different sources.

I haven't had much interest in # of tests, because 1) testing has been anything but consistent or systematic; and 2) possibly up to a third of negative results are false.

I haven't tracked, but have been watching, the #s at the Worldometer site for # of deaths per million of population, by country. But even that doesn't mean much yet, and may not for a good long while, because countries "started" down this road at such varying times. Plus, countries aren't necessarily counting the same things.

For Maine I use the state CDC side. Maine's # of cases curve isn't very steep so far; maybe being the most rural (i.e. most spread out) state in the US is helping, or maybe that's just forlorn hope on my part. We have moved gradually from 1 to 10 deaths since March 27. That's an infinity of grief for the people involved, but as a statistic it's too small a # (in my half-assed opinion) from which to make any extrapolations.

So, wj, New York is an incredibly libertarian state government?

I suppose that correlation may yet be proven, I admit the possibility, but the top 5 states in cases and deaths dont yet bear that out.

Apologies for being less than clear. I was referring to looking back after the virus has run its course. That's the only way to really tell who did better and who did worse. At the moment, all we know is who got hit first.

The lockdowns going on around the world have me thinking about how economic growth is pursued as a goal in and of itself, what makes quality of life different from standard of living, AGW, and probably some other stuff I’m not consciously aware of. Anyway, I’ve been pondering a thought experiment wherein all the financial transactions that would have otherwise occurred do occur, but many of the exchanges of goods and services accompanying them don’t.

So people get paid for work they don’t necessarily do, they pay restaurants for meals they don’t necessarily eat, they buy plane tickets without actually flying anywhere, they pay for hotel rooms they don’t stay in, etc. That’s on the consumer end of things. Manufacturers would pay for raw materials, parts, and fuel/energy they wouldn’t receive or make anything with.

The question then is, how much value is lost (or not created) that makes a truly significant difference in people’s lives? And how does it affect the planet when humans aren’t extracting and consuming the resources they otherwise would have? How much worse off are we relative to what hasn’t been consumed and what hasn’t been created? How much of a given country’s or the world’s economy is not all that necessary? To put it more crudely, how much human activity is an economic circle-jerk of sorts?

To clarify, I’m not talking about a complete stoppage. People need to eat, get some level of medical care, etc. Assume something more than most basic survival occurring. That’s the point of the whole thing. What do we really need, and what is optional?

hsh -- your 11:35 is something I've been wondering about since this mess started, and even longer, for that matter. But since I know nothing about economics or how "the economy" works (in TP's version or anyone else's), or how "money" works, I haven't even known how to frame the question.

But it's been something like yours: What if everyone kept collecting and passing along the money as usual, even if some services weren't being done and some "stuff" wasn't passed on for some period of time?

It's like, if the economy is "slowing" now, where'd the money go?

It sure seems like there's more money if it keeps flowing than if it doesn't. Which makes sense as follows: I get my wages (money moves), I spend some of the money a short time later (money moves), the store where I spent the money pays its employees (money moves), the employees spend it (it moves again), etc. And all of this could happen in the space of a few days, never mind a month or a year. So at the very least, even if we don't say there's "more" money, the money is sort of "working" harder in that scenario than if no one bought or sold anything, or paid any wages.

In that sense money seems to be more an idea than a real thing. But then again, I have some savings, so even if I weren't now getting social security checks, I could go on buying things for a while (maybe not TP), whereas people with no savings can't do that. So in that sense money seems to be "real," because at least at the moment, I have more of it than some people, regardless of whether it's moving. And of course, less of it than other people.

One night a few years at, I believe it was at Mary Chung's in Cambridge, TP talked vividly about lending and interest -- I think it was in the context of ancient times and olive oil merchants. So there's another piece of this: the function of interest, the function of profit, and the function of ... rent. (I think of what seems to be an invariably pejorative phrase: rent-seeking.)

How do those play a role in the current "slowdown"?

I would add some further questions, but they would be weighted by opinions, which would take us into other realms that would sidetrack us from hsh's framing of the questions. (But for later: "how much human activity is an economic circle-jerk of sorts" is related, in my mind, to the question of who gets how much out of it.)

As long as people and companies etc kept getting the inward cashflow they would normally get, in order to make the payments you posit. Interesting thought experiment (but as I have often said, I have zero economic understanding, so ignore this comment if it makes no sense or otherwise misses the point).

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