Open thread Sept. 8, 2020 Dan Crawford | September 8, 2020 9:54 am Tags: open thread Comments (21) | Digg Facebook Twitter |
If Daniel Prude had died at the hands of two Rochester ER nurses (there are a lot of male nurses these days) doing what they were (mis)trained to do, there would be no talk of a homicide charge. There would be much talk of suing the hospital for malpractice — malpractice: not homicide.
Cops are not doctors. We throw them into all kinds of random violence situations — where they are often up against the red line of killing someone unjustly. Cops lack the four years of medical school and the 20,000 hours of clinical experience (called residency) to carefully pick and chose– and, lately anyway, if they unknowingly go over the line, suddenly we seem to be judging them by what an MD would know.
September 7, 2020
Gross Domestic Misery Is Rising
The recovery is bypassing those who need it most.
By Paul Krugman
Are you better off now than you were in July?
On the face of it, that shouldn’t even be a question. After all, stocks are up; the economy added more than a million jobs in “August” (I’ll explain the scare quotes in a minute); preliminary estimates suggest that G.D.P. is growing rapidly in the third quarter, which ends this month.
But the stock market isn’t the economy: more than half of all stocks are owned by only 1 percent of Americans, while the bottom half of the population owns only 0.7 percent of the market.
Jobs and G.D.P., by contrast, sort of are the economy. But they aren’t the economy’s point. What some economists and many politicians often forget is that economics isn’t fundamentally about data, it’s about people. I like data as much as, or probably more than, the next guy. But an economy’s success should be judged not by impersonal statistics, but by whether people’s lives are getting better.
And the simple fact is that over the past few weeks the lives of many Americans have gotten much worse.
Obviously this is true for the roughly 30,000 Americans who died of Covid-19 in August — for comparison, only 4,000 people died in the European Union, which has a larger population — plus the unknown but large number of our citizens who suffered long-term health damage. And don’t look now, but the number of new coronavirus cases, which had been declining, seems to have plateaued; between Labor Day and school re-openings, there’s a pretty good chance that the virus situation is about to take another turn for the worse.
But things have already gotten worse for millions of families that lost most of their normal income as a result of the pandemic and still haven’t gotten it back. For the first few months of the pandemic depression many of these Americans were getting by thanks to emergency federal aid. But much of that aid was cut off at the end of July, and despite job gains we’re in the midst of a huge increase in national misery.
So let’s talk about that employment report.
One important thing to bear in mind about official monthly job statistics is that they’re based on surveys conducted during the second week of the month. That’s why I used scare quotes around “August”: What Friday’s report actually gave us was a snapshot of the state of the labor market around Aug. 12.
This may be important. Private data suggest a slowdown in job growth since late July. So the next employment report, which will be based on data collected this week — and will also be the last report before the election — will probably (not certainly) be weaker than the last.
In any case, that August report wasn’t great considering the context. In normal times a gain of 1.4 million jobs would be impressive, even if some of those jobs were a temporary blip associated with the census. But we’re still more than 11 million jobs down from where we were in February.
And the situation remains dire for the hardest-hit workers. The pandemic slump disproportionately hit workers in the leisure and hospitality sector — think restaurants — and employment in that sector is still down around 25 percent, while the unemployment rate for workers in the industry is still over 20 percent, more than four times what it was a year ago.
In part because of where the slump was concentrated, the unemployed tend to be Americans who were earning low wages even before the slump. And one disturbing fact about the August report was that average wages rose. No, that’s not a misprint: If the low-wage workers hit worst by the slump were being rehired, we’d expect average wages to fall, as they did during the snapback of May and June. Rising average wages at this point are a sign that those who really need jobs aren’t getting them.
So the economy is still bypassing those who need a recovery most.
Yet most of the safety net that temporarily sustained the economic victims of the coronavirus has been torn down.
The CARES Act, enacted in March, gave the unemployed an extra $600 a week in benefits. This supplement played a crucial role in limiting extreme hardship; poverty may even have gone down.
But the supplement ended on July 31, and all indications are that Republicans in the Senate will do nothing to restore aid before the election. President Trump’s attempt to implement a $300 per week supplement by executive action will fail to reach many and prove inadequate even for those who get it. Families may have scraped by for a few weeks on saved money, but things are about to get very hard for millions.
The bottom line here is that before you cite economic statistics, you want to think about what they mean for people and their lives. The data aren’t meaningless: A million jobs gained is better than a million jobs lost, and growing G.D.P. is better than shrinking G.D.P. But there is often a disconnect between the headline numbers and the reality of American life, and that is especially true right now.
The fact is that this economy just isn’t working for many Americans, who are facing hard times that — thanks to political decisions by Trump and his allies — are just getting harder.
September 7, 2020
It Was Not “Flaws in the U.S. Financial System” that Caused the Great Recession, It Was the Collapse of the Housing Bubble
By Dean Baker
Our elites work hard to cover up for each other even if it means an almost Trumpian denial of reality. We got another taste of this effort in a New York Times piece * on Joe Biden’s actions with regard to China over the years. The piece talks about the massive job loss of manufacturing jobs due to trade in China and then tells us the problem of the Great Recession was about the financial system:
“From 1999 to 2011, competition from China cost the United States more than two million factory jobs, according to academic research. In the midst of that, flaws in the U.S. financial system set off a global economic crisis. In 2008 and 2009, as Mr. Biden took the reins of the second most powerful office in the United States, the major G.M. and Chrysler plants in his state shuttered.”
In fact, the housing bubble had been driving the economy since 2002. It led to a massive construction boom, which collapsed when the bubble burst. It also led to a massive surge in consumption, as people spent based on their bubble created equity. When the bubble burst, there was nothing to replace ** a loss of annual demand in excess of 6.0 percent of GDP ($1.2 trillion in today’s economy). If the story was actually the financial crisis then the economy should have been close to normal by 2010 when most aspects of the financial system were operating just fine.
It is useful to policy types to perpetuate the myth that the problem was the financial crisis, because finance can be complicated. We have all sorts of exotic financial instruments, many of which are not publicly recorded anywhere. Our policy elite decided that they could be forgiven for not keeping track of such a complex system.
By contrast, the housing bubble and its impact on the economy was easy to see. We saw an unprecedented run up in house prices, with no remotely corresponding increase in rents. Vacancy rates were hitting record highs. And, it was apparent from the GDP data, which is released every quarter, that this bubble was driving the economy.
It was 100 percent predictable that the bubble would burst and lead to a serious recession when it did. Unfortunately, this point is almost never made in polite circles because there is a great interest in pretending the story is complicated to excuse such an enormous policy failure.
September 7, 2020
Cases ( 6,485,575)
Deaths ( 193,534)
Cases ( 4,277,584)
Deaths ( 72,816)
Cases ( 634,023)
Deaths ( 67,558)
Cases ( 350,100)
Deaths ( 41,554)
Cases ( 328,980)
Deaths ( 30,726)
Cases ( 253,625)
Deaths ( 9,405)
Cases ( 132,142)
Deaths ( 9,146)
Cases ( 85,134)
Deaths ( 4,634)
September 7, 2020
Coronavirus (Deaths per million)
UK ( 612)
US ( 584)
Mexico ( 523)
France ( 471)
Canada ( 242)
Germany ( 112)
India ( 53)
China ( 3)
Notice the ratios of deaths to coronavirus cases are 11.9%, 9.3% and 10.7% for the United Kingdom, France and Mexico respectively.
September 8, 2020
Chinese mainland reports 10 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths
The Chinese mainland registered 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, all from overseas, the country’s health authorities said on Tuesday.
This is the 23rd consecutive day without domestic transmissions on the Chinese mainland.
No deaths from the disease were reported on the mainland on Monday while 15 patients were discharged from hospitals.
The total number of confirmed cases stands at 85,144 and the death toll at 4,634, with 324 asymptomatic patients under medical observation.
Chinese mainland new imported cases
Chinese mainland new asymptomatic cases
Paul Krugman @paulkrugman
At this point, it seems a virtual certainty that Republicans will refuse to provide any significant aid to fiscally desperate state and local governments. And it’s worth thinking about just how much folly that involves 1/
8:14 AM · Sep 8, 2020
Many people, including Federal Reserve officials, have emphasized the point that state/local austerity will delay recovery, the way it did in 2010-15. But the business cycle isn’t the only issue. We’re also gratuitously damaging our future 2/
What, after all, do state/local governments spend on? Around 40% is education or infrastructure; a substantial part of the rest is spending on children 3/
[ https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EhZGkxDWkAEOj5v?format=png&name=small ]
So think of the coming cuts as involving savage reductions in investment in the future: we’ll have worse nourished, less healthy, worse educated children, who will become less productive adults, plus worse roads and other social capital 4/
And we’re slashing investment in the future at a time when real borrowing costs are negative — basically, savers are begging the government to put their money to some productive use. In short, what’s about to happen is stupid as well as cruel 5/
January 15, 2018
Interest Rates on 10-Year Treasury Inflation-Indexed Bonds, 2017-2018
September 8, 2020
Cases ( 6,490,632)
Deaths ( 193,644)
September 8, 2020
Cases ( 6,495,520)
Deaths ( 193,699)
September 8, 2020
Cases ( 6,500,613)
Deaths ( 193,804)
September 8, 2020
Cases ( 137,159)
Deaths ( 1,040)
Deaths per million ( 113)
July 4, 2020
Cases ( 29,170)
Deaths ( 330)
Deaths per million ( 36)
Having apparently approached a containment of the coronavirus, the Israeli government incautiously opened schools and businesses, and the result has been a persistent community infection spread contributing to what are now 137,159 cases in the small country as compared to 85,144 through all of mainland China.
Beyond the mistake of the incautious opening, the need is to look to what is obviously an unanticipated institutional public health or healthcare system weakness in Israel. Determining how the Israeli healthcare system can be strengthened, can serve as a model.
There were 89,852 new coronavirus cases recorded in India today. Cases had climbed above 80,000 daily these last couple of weeks. The distressing point that should be made is just how undeveloped healthcare infrastructure is in India, for all the growth these last couple of decades. Indian infrastructure in general is poorly developed, as Amartya Sen pointed to in the wake of being awarded a Nobel Prize in economics, but there was little response to Sen from development specialists and express criticism from Indian economists. Now, we find India in any day recording about as many or more coronavirus cases as China has recorded in all.
India began the year as the third largest economy, and so far has experienced a fierce recession that because of structural dislocations domestically is going to take a considerable time to recover from. This means an important driver of the international economy has been lost already and will continue to be lost for a considerable time, and this will make an international recovery that much slower.
September 5, 2020
Coronavirus Crisis Shatters India’s Big Dreams
The country’s ambitions to become a global power, lift its poor and update its military have been set back by a sharp economic plunge, soaring infections and a widening sense of malaise.
By Jeffrey Gettleman
September 8, 2020
‘The Lockdown Killed My Father’: Farmer Suicides Add to India’s Virus Misery
Farm bankruptcies and debts have been the source of misery in India for decades. But experts say the suffering has reached new levels in the pandemic.
Photographs and Text by Karan Deep Singh
September 8, 2020
Cases ( 6,506,252)
Deaths ( 193,897)
September 8, 2020
Italy’s Bergamo is calling back coronavirus survivors. About half say they haven’t fully recovered.
By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli
BERGAMO, Italy — The first wave is over, thousands have been buried, and in a city that was once the world’s coronavirus epicenter, the hospital is calling back the survivors. It is drawing their blood, examining their hearts, scanning their lungs, asking them about their lives.
Twenty people per day, it is measuring what the coronavirus has left in its wake.
“How are you feeling?” a doctor recently asked the next patient to walk in, a 54-year-old who still can’t ascend a flight of steps without losing her breath.
“I feel like I’m 80 years old,” the woman said.
Six months ago, Bergamo was a startling warning sign of the virus’s fury, a city where sirens rang through the night and military trucks lined up outside the public hospital to ferry away the dead. Bergamo has dramatically curtailed the virus’s spread, but it is now offering another kind of warning, this one about the long aftermath, where recoveries are proving incomplete and sometimes excruciating.
Those who survived the peak of the outbreak in March and April are now negative. The virus is officially gone from their systems.
“But we are asking: Are you feeling cured? Almost half the patients say no,” said Serena Venturelli, an infectious-disease specialist at the hospital.
The follow-ups with the once-hospitalized patients are the basis for medical research: Their health records now fill 17 bankers’ boxes, and scientific reports are on the way. Bergamo doctors say the disease clearly has full-body ramifications but leaves wildly differing marks from one patient to the next, and in some cases few marks at all. Among the first 750 patients screened, some 30 percent still have lung scarring and breathing trouble. The virus has left another 30 percent with problems linked to inflammation and clotting, such as heart abnormalities and artery blockages. A few are at risk of organ failure.
Beyond that, according to interviews with eight Pope John XXIII Hospital doctors involved in the work, many patients months later are dealing with a galaxy of daily conditions and have no clear answer on when it will all subside: leg pain, tingling in the extremities, hair loss, depression, severe fatigue.
Some patients had preexisting conditions, but doctors say survivors are not simply experiencing a version of old problems.
“We are talking about something new,” said Marco Rizzi, the head of the hospital’s infectious-disease unit….
September 9, 2020
‘We’re No. 28! And Dropping!’
A measure of social progress finds that the quality of life has dropped in America over the last decade, even as it has risen almost everywhere else.
By Nicholas Kristof
This should be a wake-up call: New data suggest that the United States is one of just a few countries worldwide that is slipping backward.
The newest Social Progress Index, * shared with me before its official release Thursday morning, finds that out of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011. And the declines in Brazil and Hungary were smaller than America’s.
“The data paint an alarming picture of the state of our nation, and we hope it will be a call to action,” Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor and the chair of the advisory panel for the Social Progress Index, told me. “It’s like we’re a developing country.”
The index, inspired by research of Nobel-winning economists, collects 50 metrics of well-being — nutrition, safety, freedom, the environment, health, education and more — to measure quality of life. Norway comes out on top in the 2020 edition, followed by Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. South Sudan is at the bottom, with Chad, Central African Republic and Eritrea just behind.
The United States, despite its immense wealth, military power and cultural influence, ranks 28th — having slipped from 19th in 2011. The index now puts the United States behind significantly poorer countries, including Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece.
“We are no longer the country we like to think we are,” said Porter.
The United States ranks No. 1 in the world in quality of universities, but No. 91 in access to quality basic education. The U.S. leads the world in medical technology, yet we are No. 97 in access to quality health care.
The Social Progress Index finds that Americans have health statistics similar to those of people in Chile, Jordan and Albania, while kids in the United States get an education roughly on par with what children get in Uzbekistan and Mongolia. A majority of countries have lower homicide rates, and most other advanced countries have lower traffic fatality rates and better sanitation and internet access.
The United States has high levels of early marriage — most states still allow child marriage in some circumstances — and lags in sharing political power equally among all citizens. America ranks a shameful No. 100 in discrimination against minorities.
The data for the latest index predates Covid-19, which has had a disproportionate impact on the United States and seems likely to exacerbate the slide in America’s standing. One new study suggests that in the United States, symptoms of depression have risen threefold since the pandemic began — and poor mental health is associated with other risk factors for well-being.
Michael Green, the C.E.O. of the group that puts out the Social Progress Index, notes that the coronavirus will affect health, longevity and education, with the impact particularly large in both the United States and Brazil. The equity and inclusiveness measured by the index seem to help protect societies from the virus, he said.
“Societies that are inclusive, tolerant and better educated are better able to manage the pandemic,” Green said.
The decline of the United States over the last decade in this index — more than any country in the world — is a reminder that we Americans face structural problems that predate President Trump and that festered under leaders of both parties. Trump is a symptom of this larger malaise, and also a cause of its acceleration.
David G. Blanchflower, a Dartmouth economist, has new research showing that the share of Americans reporting in effect that every day is a bad mental health day has doubled over 25 years. “Rising distress and despair are largely American phenomena not observed in other advanced countries,” Blanchflower told me.
This decline is deeply personal for me: As I’ve written, a quarter of the kids on my old No. 6 school bus in rural Oregon are now dead from drugs, alcohol and suicide — what are called “deaths of despair.” I lost one friend to a heroin overdose this spring and have had more friends incarcerated than I could possibly count; the problems are now self-replicating in the next generation because of the dysfunction in some homes.
You as taxpayers paid huge sums to imprison my old friends; the money would have been far better invested educating them, honing their job skills or treating their addictions.
That’s why this is an election like that of 1932. That was the year American voters decisively rejected Herbert Hoover’s passivity and gave Franklin Roosevelt an electoral mandate — including a flipped Senate — that laid the groundwork for the New Deal and the modern middle class. But first we need to acknowledge the reality that we are on the wrong track.
We Americans like to say “We’re No. 1.” But the new data suggest that we should be chanting, “We’re No. 28! And dropping!”
Let’s wake up, for we are no longer the country we think we are.
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September 9, 2020
How the Coronavirus Attacks the Brain
It’s not just the lungs — the pathogen may enter brain cells, causing symptoms like delirium and confusion, scientists reported.
By Apoorva Mandavilli
The coronavirus targets the lungs foremost, but also the kidneys, liver and blood vessels. Still, about half of patients report neurological symptoms, including headaches, confusion and delirium, suggesting the virus may also attack the brain.
A new study offers the first clear evidence that, in some people, the coronavirus invades brain cells, hijacking them to make copies of itself. The virus also seems to suck up all of the oxygen nearby, starving neighboring cells to death.
It’s unclear how the virus gets to the brain or how often it sets off this trail of destruction. Infection of the brain is likely to be rare, but some people may be susceptible because of their genetic backgrounds, a high viral load or other reasons.
“If the brain does become infected, it could have a lethal consequence,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University who led the work.
The study was posted online * on Wednesday and has not yet been vetted by experts for publication. But several researchers said it was careful and elegant, showing in multiple ways that the virus can infect brain cells.
Scientists have had to rely on brain imaging and patient symptoms to infer effects on the brain, but “we hadn’t really seen much evidence that the virus can infect the brain, even though we knew it was a potential possibility,” said Dr. Michael Zandi, consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Britain. “This data just provides a little bit more evidence that it certainly can.”
Dr. Zandi and his colleagues published research ** in July showing that some patients with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, develop serious neurological complications, including nerve damage….