Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Meanwhile, climate change is heating up nights faster than days

Climate change is heating up nights faster than days in many parts of the world, findings that could have “profound consequences” for wildlife and their capacity to adapt to the climate emergency, researchers say.

 

The climate crisis is heating up nights faster than days in many parts of the world, according to the first worldwide assessment of how global heating is differently affecting days and nights.

The findings have “profound consequences” for wildlife and their ability to adapt to the climate emergency, the researchers said, and for the ability of people to cool off at night during dangerous heatwaves.

The scientists compared the rises in daytime and night-time temperatures over the 35 years up to 2017. Global heating is increasing both, but they found that over more than half of the world’s land there was a difference of at least 0.25C between the day and night rises.

The 2020 Presidential and Senate nowcast: not a good week for Biden

The 2020 Presidential and Senate nowcast: not a good week for Biden

 

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College. Remember that polls are really only nowcasts, not forecasts. They are snapshots of the present; there is no guarantee they will be identical or nearly identical in early November.

Let’s begin with Trump’s approval. Disapproval remains absolutely steady at 52.7% for the third week in a row, while approval improved very slightly (by +0.3%), and remains right in its normal range for the past 3 1/2 years:

There is no indication that either Trump’s “law and order” pitch, or the replacement of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have moved the needle in any significant way in the past 3 weeks.

 

Here is this week’s updated map through September 26. To refresh, here is how  it works:

– States where the race is closer than 3% are shown as toss-ups.
– States where the range is between 3% to 5% are light colors.
– States where the range is between 5% and 10% are medium colors.
– States where the candidate is leading by 10% plus are dark colors.

Weekly Indicators for September 21 – 25 at Seeking Alpha

– by New Deal democrat

Weekly Indicators for September 21 – 25 at Seeking Alpha

My Weekly Indicators post is up at Seeking Alpha.

While the underlying economic data still looks positive, the possibility for disruption based on a full-blown Constitutional Crisis following the election can no longer be overlooked.

As usual, clicking over and reading should bring you right up to the moment about the economy, and reward me a little bit for the work I do putting this together.

Review: Bad Blood

by David Zetland (originally published at One-handed economist)

Review: Bad Blood

I’d heard about this book — the story of the rise and fall of Elizabeth Homes and her company Theranos — long ago, but I only decided to read it when preparing readings for my course, The World of Entrepreneurs. I wanted to understand her case, as an example of the dark side of Silicon Valley —  not the side of “fake it until you make it” —  but the side of “lie to everyone, about everything, if that gives you an advantage.”

Aside: I worked in three start-ups in Silicon Valley, of which two were dominated by frauds of the “funding secured” and “vaporware” models, respectively, so I have a real interest in similar stories. That said, I am pretty sure that at least 80% of start-ups are, on the whole, legitimate (read this review). The trouble is not the really bad apples — Theranos and WeWork being recent examples — but those that cut corners as a “necessary part of doing business” — Facebook and Uber being high on that list.

This review will be short because Carreyrou is such a good writer and the story comes at a fast pace. What strikes me are the following:

  • Elizabeth Holmes was an aggressive, ambitious founder who wanted to change the world and become rich and famous. Her challenge was reality. She preferred to ignore inconveniences and distorted reality to convince others that she knew what she was doing, i.e., building a machine that could run 200 blood tests based on a finger-prick sample of blood. Outside scientists told her that her goal was impossible, due to physics and chemistry. Inside scientists, lab workers and “beta-test” doctors said her machine was not working or viable. Rather than listen, she lied about using commercial equipment to do the tests supposedly run on her machines and ignored the dangers of bad results from her machines. (One million tests later deemed “inaccurate” translates into one million stories of false positives, false negatives and needless suffering.)

The Return of Global Imbalances?

by Joseph Joyce

The Return of Global Imbalances?

The global economic contraction following the pandemic has led to a massive fiscal response. Governments have acknowledged the need to increase spending in order to offset the declines in consumption and investment. The decreases in public savings can lead to rising current account deficits that offset the capital inflows needed to cover the gap between savings and investment. But will these measures generate a return to the global imbalances that preceded the global financial crisis?

The IMF’s External Sector Report for 2020, subtitled Global Imbalances and the COVID-19 Crisis, appeared in August (see a summary here). The analysis was based on data from 2019 when the global current account imbalance (the absolute sum of all surpluses and deficits) fell by 0.2 of a percentage point to 2.9% of global GDP. But the report’s authors also considered the impact of the pandemic on countries’ balance of payments.

The IMF’s analysis suggested that about 40% of the 2019 current account positions were excessive. Larger than warranted surpluses were registered by Germany and the Netherlands, while deficits were larger than warranted in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. China’s external position was in line with its fundamentals and policies.

 

Lifted from comments (Fred C. Dobbs)

The most complicated election in modern history is coming

— soon. Are we prepared?

via @BostonGlobe – September 20

A TEST FOR DEMOCRACY

Experts worry about a nightmare election during a pandemic marred by disenfranchisement and chaos, followed by an acrimonious legal and political dispute over the results that would test the nation’s democratic resolve. …

(A lengthy article, in six parts.)

Chapter 1 – A history of disenfranchisement
Chapter 2 – Fear and mistrust
Chapter 3 – Running elections amid COVID-19
Chapter 4 – Legal battles
Chapter 5 – Disinformation and cybersecurity
Chapter 6 – Mail-in voting

August housing permits and starts bode well for 2021 economy

by New Deal democrat

August housing permits and starts bode well for 2021 economy

 As I mentioned yesterday, August housing starts and permits were reported. Since they are important long leading indicators, I promised an update.

And here it is, up at Seeking Alpha.

As usual, clicking over and reading should be educational for you, and helps reward me with a penny or two for my efforts.