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

Economic data and coronavirus quick hits

Economic data and coronavirus quick hits

I really need to rouse myself to write a long-form piece on interest rates, housing, and the economy to post over at Seeking Alpha. Ugh! In the meantime, here are a few quick hits on some important or noteworthy new data.

1. New home sales – interest rates bite, but don’t panic

New home sales are the most leading, but most noisy, of housing data. Yesterday they were reported as having declined -18.3% to 775,000 annualized, a 9 month low, and 204,000 below their July peak (blue in the graph below):

For comparison, the much less volatile single family permits declined -9.8%, and remains above every other month in the past 10 years except for December and January.

Crossing an important threshold, to the *good* side

Coronavirus dashboard for March 22: crossing an important threshold, to the *good* side

The US is on the verge of crossing an important threshold: as of today, the 7 day average of COVID 19 deaths in the US has declined to exactly 1000:


The last time the US averaged less than 1000 deaths a week from the virus was the beginning of November, almost 5 months ago. Since the January peak, deaths have declined by 70%.

A Curious Form of Sex Addiction

A Curious Form of Sex Addiction, EconoSpeak, Barkley Rosser

 The murderer of 8 people recently in the Atlanta area, of whom 6 were Asian American women, mostly (if not completely) Korean American, has claimed that he did not do it out of any anti-Asian prejudice, much less anti-women prejudice, although apparently only one of those killed was a man.  Rather he claims that he did it to “remove temptation” for himself due to a claimed “sex addiction” he has.  

I note that for at least one of the three massage parlors he hit numerous individuals are strongly denying that any sexual activity ever went on there, which might also be the case at one or both of the others as well. However, there is another rather curious fact that sticks out regarding these murders. Four of them, that is half of them, with these all being of Korean American women, were of the ages respectively of 74, 69, 63, and 51.  I find it hard to believe that a 21 year old white male would seriously think that killing women of those ages would somehow help remove from him temptations to have sex.  But then, what do i know.  I am rather on the older side myself.

Barkley Rosser

Coronavirus dashboard for March 19: yes, vaccinations are working

Coronavirus dashboard for March 19: yes, vaccinations are working

The three big Western standouts for vaccination progress have been Israel, the UK, and the US, respectively. And in all three, there have been dramatic declines in both cases and deaths.


Let’s look at them in order. First, Israel:



56% of all Israelis have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 50% have been fully vaccinated.

Coronavirus dashboard for March 15: good news, and cause for concern

Coronavirus dashboard for March 15: good news, and cause for concern

A year ago today I wrote about the accuracy of Jim Bianco’s forecast of exponential spread of COVID-19. At that time there were exactly 2952 cases, but increasing at 30% each day, and I wrote, “I have not seen any government action significant enough to stop this exponential projection being correct.” 

As of yesterday, there have been 29,438,775 *confirmed* cases – 9% of the total US population. There have certainly been many more cases which have never been confirmed by testing, primarily but not always because they were mild or asymptomatic.


The good news is that vaccinations in the US are making better and better progress. In the past week, about 2.5 million doses were administered each day. At this rate, the entire adult population could be vaccinated by the end of June.   

Kids Used To Sell Old Newspapers for Pennies

I was told this by someone years ago. We tried to do this and were not to successful in the fifties. March Madness comment below.

Sen. Whitehouse: Dark Money Behind GOP Judges Is Now Behind Voter Suppression | Crooks and Liars, Aliza Worthington, March 13, 2021

“Sen. Whitehouse chairs a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee that deals with oversight of the federal courts, and now that the Democrats are in charge, he is taking full advantage of it. He held a hearing on Thursday aimed at pulling back the curtain on the role dark money has played in the placement of judges at all levels.

‘Whitehouse: Courtrooms ought to be open places where you know who is present, not a place where powerful players can come masked behind front groups hiding both their own identity and their interconnections. The Supreme Court should not be a place that has a special interest-controlled fast lane bringing certain special interest-chosen cases before the court at high-speed, without the trappings of a real case or controversy.”

The politicization of SCOTUS makes for a good read.

Two Documentaries That Help Explain What’s Happening Today, Horizons, Nancy LeTourneau’s big picture look at politics and life, March 7, 2013

Some Sunday Morning News Articles to Read

GOP goes on the attack against Biden relief bill, The Hill, Jordain Carney, March 13, 2020

Not that this is a surprise as Repubs will punish the nation as a whole to get back at Dems. “Republicans are going on the attack against the newly signed $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill as they scramble to find a messaging foothold against Democrats’ first big win heading into 2022.”

Repubs lock stepping, they are determined to upset the economy and the people who will most benefit from the Covid Relief bill. Some of the nations citizens claim trump should get credit for the economic recovery and that “much of the bill has nothing to do with the pandemic (McConnell).”

Two Bills to Support Farmers of Color Introduced, Farm Aid Blog, Jennifer Fany, February 9, 2021

One Dose or Two?

One Dose or Two?

There are two theories out there about how to vaccinate.  One says, look, we have data only on the protocols that were adopted in the trials.  The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were administered in two doses, three to four weeks apart.  We know that works.  Don’t mess with it.  Stick to the protocol and make sure everyone getting these vaccines gets both doses in the proper time frame.

The other says, our goal should be to get basic protection for as many people as possible as quickly as possible, especially since ominous variants are spreading.  We are in a race, and when time matters as much as it does now you cut a few corners.  Since it looks like vaccine effectiveness is pretty strong two weeks after the first dose, make sure we get that dose out there and then go back, when there’s time and enough supply, to top it up later.

As often with dichotomous choices, the best course is neither.

Joe Biden Temporaily Improves Healthcare and Cuts ACA Costs

What I am writing about today is the up-and-coming changes to the PPACA resulting from the signing of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 by President Joe Biden. This is not Medicare-for-All or Single Payor; however, it is a big leap forward in making healthcare affordable for the next two years. Improved affordability will come with cost analysis and the impact on pricing and reduced administrative costs. I have touched upon those costs in early posts.

Less Costly Healthcare Insurance for All Ranges

The first chart shows “Before 2021 Covid Relief Bill passing” income percentages (under Current Law), and after the “Covid Relief Bill passes” income percentages (Under Section 9661).

The Income Range sets the lower and upper parameters (percentage) for income to qualify for a particular income range.

Please note the greater than 400% FPL Cost is capped at 8.5% of Income which was not available previously. Keep in mind an employer sponsored family healthcare plan is ~$20,000 annually .

I have included household Poverty Guidelines by family size for the lower 48 states in the next chart. For Hawaii and Alaska, the parameters can be found at HHS Poverty Guidelines For 2021.

How this Bill Passed and More of Its Content

Coronavirus dashboard for March 8: Update on the effect of vaccinations

Coronavirus dashboard for March 8: Update on the effect of vaccinations

My first post on the coronavirus was almost exactly one year ago, on March 10, 2020, “This is what exponential growth looks like,” warning that exponential spread was exactly what had started to happen in the US.
 We are now finally averaging the administration of over 2 million doses of vaccine per day, and according to the CDC almost 60 million people constituting nearly 20% of the US population have already received at least their first dose:



Nursing home cases have declined by about 55,000 per week since vaccines started to be administrated, although it is noteworthy that there has been a plateau in the past 3 weeks: