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Housing rebounded sharply in May

by New Deal democrat

Housing rebounded sharply in May

One aspect of the economy that is important in terms of how well things will go once the pandemic ultimately recedes (which won’t occur until after next January 20) remains housing.

And low-interest rates brought housing back from the depths in May.

My look at the current state of mortgage rates, housing sales, and prices is up over at Seeking Alpha.

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Global oil output surplus was at 8.6 million barrels per day in May, despite OPEC cut of 6.3 million bpd

Via Economic Populist, rjs writes:

Global oil output surplus was at 8.6 million barrels per day in May, despite OPEC cut of 6.3 million bpd

Wednesday of this past week saw the release of OPEC’s June Oil Market Report, which covers OPEC & global oil data for May, and hence it gives us a picture of the global oil supply & demand situation during the first month of the two-month agreement between OPEC, the Russians, and other oil producers to cut production by 9.7 million barrels a day from an elevated October 2018 baseline.   But before we review it, ​we have to caution that estimating oil demand while most countries on the planet are restarting their economies after a month or two of lockdown is pretty ​speculative, and hence the demand figures we’ll be reporting this month should be considered as having a much larger margin of error than we’d normally expect from this report…

The first table from this monthly report that we’ll review is from the page numbered 44 of this month’s report (pdf page 54), and it shows oil production in thousands of barrels per day for each of the current OPEC members over the recent years, quarters and months, as the column headings indicate. For all their official production measurements, OPEC uses an average of estimates from six “secondary sources”, namely the International Energy Agency (IEA), the oil-pricing agencies Platts and Argus, ‎the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the oil consultancy Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) and the industry newsletter Petroleum Intelligence Weekly, as a means of impartially adjudicating whether their output quotas and production cuts are being met, to thus avert any potential disputes that could arise if each member reported their own figures…

 

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Coronavirus dashboard for June 23: focusing on deaths, and the Trumpist South and Southwest

Coronavirus dashboard for June 23: focusing on deaths, and the Trumpist South and Southwest

Confirmed total US infections: 2,312,302. (+31,433 in past 24 hours)
Confirmed total US deaths: 120,402 (+425 in past 24 hours)

We know that new cases are accelerating again. Is it translating into an increase in deaths? The answer appears to be: not yet, but getting close.

Here is the 7 day average of new deaths in the US:

Figure 1

In the past 3 days, the decline has ceased at roughly 610/day.

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What Will History Say

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        The Past                                                                  Now             The Future

What Will History Say

by

Ken Melvin

When the new US History books come out in 2040, what will they have to say about 2020? What will they say about:  Globalization?  The Trump Presidency?  Global Warming?  The 2020 Pandemic?  China’s Rise?  America’s Decline?  Capitalism and Free markets?  Mitch McConnell?

to run where the brave dare not go.

Globalization: From a US perspective, globalization began in the 1970s with the first large-scale offshoring of semi-conductor, clothing, shoe, electronic, … manufacturing, and the large-scale importation of automobiles, and accelerated during the 1980s. Capitalists and 401Ks were the most significant forces driving globalization. As a result of globalization, the DJI soared to new heights.

By 2020, most all of our critical medicines were being manufactured in China and India; hampering our ability to respond to the Covid-19 Pandemic, causing tens of thousands of Americans to die unnecessarily. The US was no longer self-sufficient, hadn’t been for more than twenty years.

Significant unintended consequences of Globalization include:   Millions of well-paying jobs were sent overseas.  A Globalization related Opioid Epidemic that began in the 1990s. The American landscape was littered with dead and dying communities.   By 2020, 40% of US Workers were living from paycheck to paycheck; working at jobs that did not pay a living wage.   America suffered a soaring homeless population. Due to offshored critical manufacturing, the nation was unable to respond to a worldwide pandemic.

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The Challenges to the Dollar

by Joseph Joyce

The Challenges to the Dollar

The dollar’s position as the premier global currency has long seemed secure. The dollar accounts for about 60% of the foreign exchange reserves of central banks and similar proportions of international debt and loans. But recent developments raise the possibility of a transition to a stratified world economy in which the use of other currencies for regional trade and finance becomes more common.

Such a statement may seem to be inconsistent with the Federal Reserve’s activities to stabilize global financial markets. As it did during the global financial crisis of 2008-09, the Fed has activated currency swap lines with other central banks, including those of the Eurozone, Great Britain, Japan, Canada and Switzerland, as well as the monetary authorities of South Korea, Mexico, and Singapore. Those central banks that do not have swap agreements can borrow dollars from the Fed via its new foreign and international monetary authorities (FIMA) facility. Under this program, central banks that need dollars for their domestic financial institutions exchange U.S. Treasury securities for dollars through a repurchase agreement. These moves accompany the Fed’s extensive range of activities to support the U.S. economy, which include cutting the federal funds rate to zero, purchasing large amounts of Treasury, mortgage backed and corporate securities, and lending to corporations and state and municipal governments.

But other governments are uneasy with the U.S. government’s use of the dollar’s position in international finance to enforce compliance with its foreign policy goals. International transactions in dollars are cleared through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) banking network and the Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS). The U.S. has denied foreign banks access to these systems when they wanted to penalize the banks for dealing with governments or companies that the U.S. seeks to punish. This practice has become more common under the Trump administration, which has used the sanctions to strike at Iran, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, and others.

European leaders have made clear that they find this use of the dollar’s international role no longer acceptable. When the U.S. abandoned the agreements on nuclear weapons with Iran, European banks were forced to choose between defying the U.S. or their own governments, which encouraged them to continue their ties with Iran. In response, Britain, France, and Germany have founded a clearing house, Instex, to serve as an alternative system, and several other European Union members will join it. Moreover, if the Europeans proceed with the issuance of a common EU bond, there will be an alternative safe asset to U.S. Treasury bonds that will foster the use of the euro in foreign exchange reserves.

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Is The Possible V-Shaped Recovery Flattening As The Second Quarter Comes To An End?

Is The Possible V-Shaped Recovery Flattening As The Second Quarter Comes To An End?

Probably,  although it is unclear whether or not we are having a V-shaped recovery (see most recent post here). However, whatever it is, it looks like the revived spread of the coronavirus is probably slowing it somewhat.  New cases are up by 15% nationally from a low point several weeks ago, and there are reports of businesses of various sorts of closing, if not whole communities.

The pattern of the increase has various aspects:

1) It seems to be now more in red states than blue states, with the trend having been toward this since the early days of the pandemic when it first started in major Dem cities in major Dem states, such as Seattle, WA, the Bay Area of CA, and the New York metro area.  Of the states with the most rapid recent increase, we have only three that are predominantly Dem: CA, OR, and NV, with one purplish, NC, and the rest GOP: SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, AR, OK, TX, AZ, UT.

2) While now it is predominantly rising in GOP states where governors have not strongly encouraged social distancing or mask-wearing while rushing to fully reopen, and in some cases even banning local communities from requiring mask-wearing in public places, although some of those are now backing off that, such as Abbott in Texas, if one looks at this at the county level it remains that Dem counties are still outnumbering GOP ones, although the trend is strong toward GOP ones, and the line on this one will probably be crossed soon (these designations are based on how they voted in the presidential election in 2016). The obvious explanation for this apparent discrepancy is that in the red states cases tend to be increasing more in densely populated areas, which are more likely to be urban areas in Dem counties in those states, such as the Houston metro area in Texas.

3)  There is not a clear pattern of these either being spread across states or concentrated in particular areas.  Some states with increases scattered widely include the Carolinas, Florida, and Alabama.  Somewhere they are more isolated/concentrated in particular locales include the two largest on this list: California and Texas.

4) Certain sectors seem to be especially hit be reclosings, notably restaurants and bars as well as some sports facilities.

5) A possible offset to all this is that certain communities are still reopening, despite this new round of new cases.  An example is Washington, D.C., which just got going today with its second stage of reopening, following its suburbs in MD and VA that have already done so.

Barkley Rosser

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George Floyd and the Costs of Racial Capitalism

George Floyd and the Costs of Racial Capitalism, LAWCHA, Ken Estey, June 10, 2020

Some History

A little bit about LAWCHA. The “Labor and Working Class History Association” is an organization of scholars, teachers, students, labor educators, and activists who seek to promote public and scholarly awareness of labor and working-class history through research, writing, and organizing. It grew out of the conversations among labor historians over the course of a couple of years between 1996 and 1998 about the importance of giving labor history greater visibility nationally in both academic circles and public arenas.

Introduction

With all the news on the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, little is being said about George other than his demise at the hands of the police. Ken Etsey writes on George’s background as a person and why so many other Black Americans like George arrive at a similar point in time where they can lose their lives over so minor as a “supposed” counterfeit 20 dollar bill. Many others like George struggle in what is described as a Racial Capitalist economy which values flexibility to “hire and fire” and profit over Labor stability and good pay. It is a good read. James McElroy at  LAWCHA gave AB the go-ahead to post Ken Etsey’s commentary about George and a May economy in which there are gains in white employment while black and Latinx unemployment still rises.

George Floyd’s Story

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The 2020 Presidential election as forecast by State polling

The 2020 Presidential election as forecast by State polling

As we all know, in the US Presidential election national polls are of limited use, as the election is actually decided on a State by State basis.

I’ve seen lots of projections of the Electoral College vote based on national polls, but what if we go just by State polls, and in particular State polls that have been reported in the last 30 days?

That, dear reader, is what the following map looks like:

I prepared this map after a slew of State polling was reported on Wednesday. Here’s 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.

The only change since Wednesday is that there was a Minnesota poll that gave Biden a 16% lead, enough to bring the average for that State over 10% in favor of Biden.

As of now, all Biden has to do is win the States in which he leads by 3% or more in the polling, and he wins the Electoral College, even without winning a single “toss-up” State as shown on the map.

The only surprising negative for Biden is that Pennsylvania remains a toss-up. Surprisingly, little polling has been done in that State, but while Biden has a slim lead on average, there are several polls dating from May that show a slight Trump lead.

I expect some of the Confederate States to return to the Trump fold.  He always polls his worst when he appears both cruel and clueless. And that’s exactly what he has appeared between his actions on both COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. His stands are unpopular, and his P.R. stunts (most notably the photo-op at the church) simultaneously have looked tin-eared and execrable.

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Interesting stuff

by David Zetland    (One handed economist)

Interesting stuff

  1. Biohacking life” — a physics geek gets into our metabolism
  2. Governments are printing money to “get out of the crisis”, but they are probably sowing the seeds of the next crisis (of inflation? fiscal collapse?)
  3. An incredibly interesting dive into Japanese cosmology
  4. The American Press Is Destroying Itself (under pressures of political correctness)
  5. This is the governance article (good/bad responses to C19 as a function of government quality) I’ve been looking for!
  6. Excess deaths really explain the damage from C19: NYT and Economist
  7. Some techniques for reaching consensus on difficult topics
  8. Humans have used technology to help women to have 8 billion babies
  9. Massive glaciers are melting in Antartica in front of researchers’ eyes.
  10. A VC guy on big tech monopolies, inequality and race

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New and continued jobless claims level off, as spreading secondary impacts and job recalls balance

New and continued jobless claims level off, as spreading secondary impacts and job recalls balance

Weekly initial and continuing jobless claims give us the most up-to-date snapshot of the continuing economic impacts of the coronavirus on employment. Three full months after the initial shock, the overall damage remains huge, with recalls to work roughly balanced with spreading new secondary impacts.

First, here are 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 1.433 million new claims, which after the seasonal adjustment became 1.508 million. This is “only” 58,000 less than last week’s number – the smallest weekly decline since the worst reading in April but nevertheless is the lowest so far since the virus struck.

 

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