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Coronavirus dashboard for October 20: some good news among the gloom

Coronavirus dashboard for October 20: some good news among the gloom


Total US confirmed infections: 8,273,296*

Average US infections last 7 days: 59,527 (vs. recent low of 34,354 on Sept 12)

Total US deaths: 221,052

Average US deaths last 7 days: 738 (vs. recent low of 689 4 days ago)

*I suspect the real number is 14-15,000,000, or over 4% of the total US population
Source: COVID Tracking Project

As we head into the cold weather, experts are warning that, as bad as the pandemic has been up until now, it is likely to be far worse over the next few months.

We’ll look at the bad news. But first, let’s look at some good news: 60,000,000 Americans live in two large States that have largely contained the pandemic – California and New York.

My benchmark, as usual is adjoining Canada, which most recently has averaged 6.34 infections per 100,000 people daily:

Canada’s most recent death rate has averaged 0.0534 per 100,000 over the past week (or roughly 1 death daily for every 2,000,000 people):

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“I don’t know about the two gentlemen you mentioned.”

“I don’t know about the two gentlemen you mentioned.”

Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon join a long list of people Donald Trump doesn’t know about.

Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas

“I don’t know those gentleman. Now, it’s possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody. I don’t know them, I don’t know about them, I don’t know what they do.”

Jeffrey Epstein

“I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him, I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you.”

Michael Flynn

“It now seems the General Flynn was under investigation long before was common knowledge, It would have been impossible for me to know this.”

Roger Stone

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Some things going on at AB

Briefly, fellow writers. Dan is changing a few things for the better. In the comments section, you should be able to bold or italicize things eventually and do other functions which are normal when writing. We are going to track other blogs and news similar to what you may have seen elsewhere and have a special column for them. Freshen the place up so we can go forward another 10 years. Make it IPhone friendly (JF asked about).

I have also noticed some comments are ending up in “trash.” if you did not trash them, let me know and I will retrieve them and approve them. I am not doing it and for some reason the system is doing such.

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Jobless claims: a very positive reversal


This week’s new jobless claims report not only reversed last week’s increase but declined below 800,000 for the first time on an *un*revised basis. I say that because revisions from two weeks ago now have that week as the lowest since the pandemic struck.  [NOTE: California has restarted reporting its claims, and has also reported for the past two weeks, and is the likely cause of the big revisions – generally downward, or positive.]

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, new jobless claims declined by 73,125 to 756,617. This would be a new low, except two weeks ago was revised down to 731,249. After seasonal adjustment (which is far less important than usual at this time), claims declined by 55,000 to 787,000. This would be a new low as well, except two weeks ago was revised down to 767,000. The 4-week moving average also decreased by 21,500 to 811,250, a new pandemic low:


Here is a close-up of the last three months since the end of July highlighting the overall slow progress in initial claims since then:


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The Period Of Short Term Memory

The Period Of Short Term Memory

 The election is two weeks from today.  When I took an intro psych course over half a century ago, I was taught in it that two weeks is the period of short term memory, the period in which we remember events with special salience.  I do not know if this is still the official view of the profession, but it has since then made sense to me: I seem to be able, even now, to remember what happened day by day for the previous two weeks.  Things before then are “in the past,” although certainly some are salient and on my mind. But those that happened in the past two weeks are just that much more on my mind.

With this in mind even four years ago when people asked me to forecast the election outcome I would drag this up and say “anything can happen in the last two weeks that can change it,” and four years ago it happened with the James Comey public reopening of an email investigation into Hillary Clinton 11 days before the election.  Even though about two days before he announced nothing was found, the damage was done.  This year we all remember this, and while he is further ahead in national polls than she was at this point then, Joe  Biden is not much further ahead, and even behind in some, than she was in those crucial battleground states that will determine the outcome. So it remains fully possible that something unexpected can happen that will give Trump the victory.

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Sincere Advice For Donald Trump

Last I heard (6:52 PM EST October 10 2020) Donald Trump wants to sign a huge new stimulus bill. I don’t try to read his mind, but I think he is sincere. It is the only way he can win re-election. On the other hand, Mtich McConnell does not want the Senate to pass a huge stimulus bill. I assume that he assumes that Trump will lose and has already switched to the worse it is the better it is. What is a poor President to do ?

1) Mitch McConnell is not President of the Senate. The President of the Senate is named Michael Pence. Michael Pence can actually preside. Then if a Senator (say Charles Schumer) introduces a Mnuchin/Pelosi compromise bill, it can be debated (Pence need show no more respect for regular order than McConnell ever has). Then there will be a filibuster. VP Pence can declare the debate over and call a vote. This would be a lie about Senate rules. McConnell would object and the Senate would vote on the objection. The Democrats, independents and 3 Republicans would make a tie so Pence’s decision would stand. This is how filibusters are nuked. McConnell doesn’t have to be involved. He can be outvoted if there are three Republican Senators who do not want to break with Trump, go against public opinion, and lose their seats. Then there would be a vote. The Democrats, independents, 3 Republican Senators and Pence could send the bill to Donald Trump to sign.

I think it all works fine. Pence can say no to Trump (it is a tradition that Vice Presidents are servants of Presidents not a provision of the Constitution (as Jefferson and Adams might explain). It is possible that no Republican Senators would see any gain in breaking with Trump. It is almost certain that Trump won’t do this.

But I think it is his only chance of re-election.

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September housing construction: another very positive month

by New Deal democrat

September housing construction: another very positive month

Yesterday September housing permits and starts were reported. Permits made yet another 10+ year high. This bodes very well for the economy in 2021, if the pandemic can be contained.

Sorry about the delay. Seeking Alpha didn’t get around to publishing it until this morning. Here’s the link.

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The 2020 election nowcast: Biden widens national lead; Senate races likely to follow Presidential result in each State

The 2020 election nowcast: Biden widens national lead; Senate races likely to follow Presidential result in each State

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.At only 16 days from Election Day, the polls, while actually nowcasts rather than forecasts, are probably less than 2% off the final result. With the exception of the last Presidential debate and any *significant* “October surprise,” all of the fundamentals of the election are already “baked into the cake.” Because some GOP voters will likely still “come home” in the next two weeks, I expect the race to tighten a little bit.

There are two big takeaways from the present situation:

1. In the Presidential election, Biden’s lead has not just been steady, but on a national level has been pulling decisively away from Trump, to the biggest lead of the entire year:

2. The Senate elections show very little variation from Presidential polling in the affected States. The only 4 States in which contrary results at the two levels look reasonably possible are Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

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Two noteworthy tweets

Two noteworthy tweets

It’s a slow economic news week. Housing starts and permits are reported tomorrow, and jobless claims and existing home sales on Thursday. I’ll update the Coronavirus Dashboard Wednesday.  So for today, two nuggets.

1. Nate Silver discovers behavioral psychology:

This has been my paradigm for months. Panic breeds compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing. Complacency breeds risk-taking. Over time both trends wane, breeding the conditions necessary for the opposite outcome. Not only has this been true in almost all US States, but we have now seen the same dynamic play out in Europe.

Nice to see that Nate Silver is learning about learning.
2. What is the solution to the Supreme Court?

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