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

Coronavirus dashboard for June 2: the US has settled into a depressing status quo

Coronavirus dashboard for June 2: the US has settled into a depressing status quo

– by New Deal democrat

The US seems to have settled into a status quo where it accepts 20,000 new coronavirus infections and 1,500 deaths each day. This is what I forecast about a month ago, as lockdown regimens were abandoned in much if not most of the country: periods of waxing and waning waves of infection because there simply isn’t the political or social willpower to “crush the curve.”

Meanwhile Vietnam, a developing country with a 90,000,000 population, which immediately went on a regimen of testing and tracing per the WHO recommendations, and has nearly universal wearing of masks, has not recorded a single coronavirus death. Below I show cases, because there are no deaths in Vietnam to show!:

Domestically, it continues to be the case that only Oregon, with a population of about 4.5 million, in addition to several rural States and the island State of Hawaii, has “crushed the curve”:

 

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Coronavirus dashboard for May 31: comparing US States and regions with European countries

Coronavirus dashboard for May 31: comparing US States and regions with European countries

 by New Deal democrat

Among all countries in the world, Sweden has the worst death rate from coronavirus: 5.9 per million per day over the past week. But, even with massive declines from their peaks, most of the States in the US’s eastern megalopolis are worse.

To begin, here’s Kevin Drum’s dashboard of major European countries, plus Canada, as of May 27:

He doesn’t show it, but since Spain had the worst outbreak among major Western European countries, here it is:

 

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April personal income and spending: considering the extreme circumstances, a good report

April personal income and spending: considering the extreme circumstances, a good report

April personal income and spending, reported this morning, showed the impact of both the lock downs and the stimulus that was passed by the Congress.

To cut to the chase, spending in real inflation-adjusted terms declined -13% (red), while real income rose 11%(blue):

Unlike the recent jobs report, this is not a byproduct of the layoffs that were concentrated in the lower wage sector, which changed the composition of the labor force. Rather, this is an aggregate number, meaning that total income for everybody, adjusted for inflation, rose 11%

 

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Lawrence Summers discovers bargaining power

Lawrence Summers discovers bargaining power

Mainline macroeconomics pretends to be “value neutral,” by which practitioners mean that they assign no moral value to the supply or demand curves to the participants in the economy: they simply exist. The question of *why* participants in the economy have particular supply and demand curves is simply not even in the universe of parameters.

But in my experience “why” participants in an economy are willing to pay x amount for y good or service most often comes back to bargaining power. My ability to coerce if necessary a particular outcome comes down to the financial ability to walk away from the transaction. Or, as I have quoted a few times before, “Thems that has, git’s.”

Yesterday the following abstract of a new economic paper, “The Declining Worker Power Hypothersis,” from Lawrence Summers and Anna Stansbury came across the transom:

Rising profitability and market valuations of US businesses, sluggish wage growth and a declining labor share of income, and reduced unemployment and inflation, have defined the macroeconomic environment of the last generation. This paper offers a unified explanation for these phenomena based on reduced worker power. Using individual, industry, and state-level data, we demonstrate that measures of reduced worker power are associated with lower wage levels, higher profit shares, and reductions in measures of the NAIRU. We argue that the declining worker power hypothesis is more compelling as an explanation for observed changes than increases in firms’ market power, both because it can simultaneously explain a falling labor share and a reduced NAIRU, and because it is more directly supported by the data.

Hoocoodanode?!?

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Coronavirus, the economy, and the election: the jury is still out on all three

Coronavirus, the economy, and the election: the jury is still out on all three

There is some housing data out today; I’ll probably have a post up about it tomorrow at Seeking Alpha, and I’ll link to it here.

Meanwhile, the jury is still out on the effects of the “reopening” of many States on coronavirus infections.

Here’s a graph of the 7 day average of tests, new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, divided between the Boston, NYC, Philadelphia metro areas and Michigan on the one hand and everywhere else:

Testing has continued to increase dramatically, while cases “everywhere else” have plateaued or possibly begun to slightly rise again. This still shows hospitalizations and deaths declining.

 

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Coronavirus dashboard: emphasis on testing

(Dan here…NDd’s post points to more than the impact of the US catching up in testing only recently, but also points to beginning answers readers have asked in comments about what the statistics show regarding re-opening and where we might be failing to report. )

Coronavirus dashboard: emphasis on testing

I want to focus this edition on testing issues.

While the seven day average number of deaths continues to decline:

The seven day average number of new infections has leveled off:

The average number of daily tests *may* also be leveling off again in the past few days:

What is worse is that the number of new cases in the US has only declined -22% from its peak in the last 45 days. Meanwhile, even hard hit countries in Europe like Spain have seen a -90% decline from peak in new cases over a similar timeframe:

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Bad news and good news on coronavirus; plus, implications for Election Day

Bad news and good news on coronavirus; plus, implications for Election Day

No economic news today as we head into the Memorial Day weekend, but there are a few coronavirus and economic/political developments of note.

First, the bad news: the declining trend in new diagnosed cases of coronavirus in the US has stopped in the past week. Instead new cases have leveled off. Here’s a graph from Conor Kelly’s excellent tableau coronavirus dashboard page:

Cases in the US outside of NY actually increased slightly (2%) in the past week.

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Initial jobless claims: employment damage continues to spread

Initial jobless claims: employment damage continues to spread

Now that there is more than one month of data from initial and continuing jobless claims since the coronavirus lockdowns started, we can begin to trace whether the economic impacts of the virus are being contained, or are continuing to spread out into further damage.

Nine weeks in, it appears that, insofar as employment is concerned, the damage is continuing to spread.

First, let’s look at initial jobless claims both seasonally adjusted (blue) and non- seasonally adjusted (red). The non-seasonally adjusted number is of added importance since seasonal adjustments should not have more than a trivial effect on the huge real numbers:

 

There were 2.174 million new claims, which after the seasonal adjustment became 2.438 million. This is a slight decline from last week’s number which was revised down to 2.687 million.

By now, virtually all of the people laid off due to the initial lockdowns in March and early April should have already applied for benefits. Further, last week was the second week after some States “reopened.” Thus these new claims are almost certainly primarily represent the spreading second-order impacts of the coronavirus shutdowns. In other words, this is evidence that new economic damage have  continued to spread, and in a very large way.

Next, looking at continuing claims, which lag one week behind, both the non-seasonally adjusted number (red), and the less important seasonally adjusted number (blue) rose:

This tells us that, as of two weeks ago, there were not enough callbacks to work to offset the spreading new damage. If “reopening” leads to a significant new upturn in cases – something that may have begun in the past week – this will only get worse.

Bottom line: confining my comments strictly to the economy, while there have been significant or small rebounds in many of the series, the news on employment is not just bad, but it is still getting worse, albeit getting worse at a slower rate.

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New coronavirus cases vs. testing in “reopened” States

New coronavirus cases vs. testing in “reopened” States

Are new coronavirus infections increasing in States that “reopened” on or about May 1? The jury is still out. The number of infections is up in 4 of the 5 biggest States that have done so, but so are the number of tests. The likelihood that most or all of the increase is an artificial of an increase in testing depends on the date on which you start your comparison.

I haven’t been able to find graphs that nicely show both tests and positives together, so let me just show you 2 separate graphs of the 7 day average in number of new cases diagnosed vs. the 7 day average in testing for Texas, which is the state with the biggest number of new cases.

First, here are new coronavirus infections, which are up 42% from April 30:

Figure 1

But here are new tests performed, which are up 120%:

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Abbreviated coronavirus dashboard for May 19: testing improvement continues

Abbreviated coronavirus dashboard for May 19: testing improvement continues

Here is the update through yesterday (May 18).

As usual, significant developments are in italicsThe downward trend in new infections and deaths has continued. An important issue is whether we are beginning to see an increase in new infections in States which irresponsibly “reopened.” I will look at that separately from this post.

I will restart giving the daily increase in infections if States that have “reopened” start to increase significantly again. The preliminary evidence is that customers are largely staying away from reopened businesses in those States

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