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Weekly Indicators for March 30 – April 3 at Seeking Alpha

by New Deal democrat

Weekly Indicators for March 30 – April 3 at Seeking Alpha

My Weekly Indicators post is up at Seeking Alpha.

This was the week when the bottom finally fell out of almost all the remaining data.

Clicking over and reading will bring you up to the virtual moment on the economy, and reward me a little bit for the effort I put into this endeavor, especially now that I am devoting most of my time to the likely impacts of the coronavirus.

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Coronovirus politics

Coronovirus politics from the Boston Globe:

There are indeed two ways in which Trump’s handling of this crisis are being viewed. Where most Democrats see lying and stupidity, most Republicans see optimism and hope. As the virus races around the world, mainstream Democrats see proof that we live in a global connected world — while Trump Republicans see proof that we need tighter borders. Where Democrats see presidential messages shifting daily as unclear and inconsistent communication, Republicans see frequent and authentic updates and genuine effort in the face of uncertainty.

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Coronavirus dashboard for March 24

Coronavirus dashboard for March 24

Here is the update through yesterday (March 23)

In order to succeed in containing the pandemic, I believe that the US needs 2 weeks of China (nearly complete lockdown) followed by at least a month of South Korea (very aggressive and widespread testing). At minimum, that means at least 50% of the US population under lockdown and a ratio of 15:1 in tests to results showing infection. The recent exponential growth of about 35% per day must be stopped. Those three most important metrics are starred (***) below.

Number and rate of increase of Reported Infections (from Johns Hopkins via arcgis.com)
  • Number: up +11,226 to 46,450 (vs. +8,477 on March 23)
  • ***Rate of increase: day/day: 32% (vs. 34.6% baseline and vs. 32% on March 22)
I am using Jim Bianco’s excellent exponential projection of 34.5% growth from March 10 as my baseline. Hopefully “social distancing” strategies as well as State-mandated partial and total lockdowns will begin to put a dent in this by the end of this week; the deceleration to 32% d/d for the past 2 days may mark the beginning of this.
Number and rate of increase of testing (from COVID Tracking Project)

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Meanwhile, another DOJ move from Barr

Meanwhile while we are pre-occupied with corvid-19 comes this news from  Rolling Stone:

The Trump Department of Justice has asked Congress to craft legislation allowing chief judges to indefinitely hold people without trial and suspend other constitutionally-protected rights during coronavirus and other emergencies, according to a report by Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan.

The DOJ has requested Congress allow any chief judge of a district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation,” according to draft language obtained by Politico. This would be applicable to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil processes and proceedings.” They justify this by saying currently judges can pause judicial proceedings in an emergency but that new legislation would allow them to apply it “in a consistent manner.”

Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, told Politico the measure was “terrifying,” saying, “Not only would it be a violation of [habeas corpus], but it says ‘affecting pre-arrest.’ So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government.”

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The True Owners of Foreign Capital

by Joseph Joyce

The True Owners of Foreign Capital

Explaining the sources and destinations of capital flows is a key focus of research in international finance. But capital flows between countries can flow through financial centers before they arrive at their ultimate destination, and these intermediary flows distort the record of the actual ownership of investments. Two recent papers seek to provide a more accurate picture of the true sources of foreign finance.

Jannick Damgaard of Danmarks Nationalbank, Thomas Elkjaer of the International Monetary Fund and Niels Johannesen of the University of Copenhagen differentiate between “phantom” and “real” foreign direct investment in their 2019 IMF working paper, “What Is Real and What Is Not in the Global FDI Network?”  Phantom FDI flows to shell companies that do not engage in any business activities, and are used to minimize corporate taxation before the funds are channeled to their final destination. Among the host countries that receive a significant amount of phantom investment are the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Singapore and Ireland. The phantom FDI overstates the actual amount of investment that takes place and obfuscates the ultimate ownership of foreign capital.

Damgaard, Elkjar and Johannsen use several sources of data in order to uncover the actual owners of FDI. These include the IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey, which reports foreign investments in 110 countries by the country of the immediate owner; the OECD’s Foreign Direct Investment Statistics, which differentiates between FDI in Special Purpose Entities (SPEs), a form of shell company, and non-SPE investment, and also includes information on the ultimate owners of investment; and Orbis, a global database of corporate data, including ownership information. Since the OECD data are incomplete, they estimate the share of real FDI in total FDI by using the negative relationship of real FDI/total FDI and total FDI/GDP.

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