Daily Digest 5/11 – COVID Explained, The Bailout Miscalculation That Could Crash the Economy

Economy

COVID @ Home (michael_m)

As we started writing for this site in Berlin, Germany in the second week of March 2020, much about the virus was still unclear, but numbers of infected and dead were rising steadily, most recently in Italy. Whether the virus has caused total crisis where you are or not: It is time to think and prepare.

COVID Explained (jdargis)

COVID-19 is confusing. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there— can you get the virus from food? Is there such a thing as immunity? What kind of tests are really out there? Who is most at risk? And all the conflicting information can make it hard to make decisions, from whether to go to the grocery store to when to send your kids back to day care.

Erin Bromage: The Risks – Know Them, Avoid Them (michael_m, Ed J.)

So throughout most of the country we are going to add fuel to the viral fire by reopening. It’s going to happen if I like it or not, so my goal here is to try to guide you away from situations of high risk.

The Bailout Miscalculation That Could Crash the Economy (thc0655)

When homeowners take out mortgages, loans are bundled into pools and turned into securities, which are then sold off to investors, often big institutional players like pension funds.

Once loans are pooled and sold off as securities, the job of collecting home payments from actual people and delivering them to investors in mortgage bonds goes to companies called mortgage servicers. Many of these firms are not banks, and have familiar names like Quicken Loans or Freedom Mortgage.

Amid pandemic, the world’s working poor hustle to survive (Sparky1)

More than four out of five people in the global labor force of 3.3 billion have been hit by full or partial workplace closures, according to the International Labor Organization, which says 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy “stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed.”

As Secret Pentagon Spending Rises, Defense Firms Cash in (Roger B.)

Part of the reason for the secrecy is that the U.S. has not had a “comprehensive adversary” since the Cold War ended nearly three decades ago, according to Vice Adm. Stuart Munsch, deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy. But the rise of China and Russia as strategic competitors has the Pentagon reviving some of the practices that it used to hide information from the Soviet Union.

Doctors keep discovering new ways the coronavirus attacks the body (Sparky1)

Learning about a new disease on the fly, with more than 78,000 U.S. deaths attributed to the pandemic, they have little solid research to guide them. The World Health Organization’s database already lists more than 14,600 papers on covid-19. Even the world’s premier public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have constantly altered their advice to keep pace with new developments.

‘Do as I say, not as I do’: Virus exposes two standards of justice (thc0655)

All of this is neatly encapsulated in the outrageous case of the Texas hair salon owner sentenced to a week behind bars and a $7,000 fine for doing something that was considered an inalienable right just a few short months ago: operating her hair salon business. I’m old enough to remember when working hard, feeding your family and employing others was aspirational. But in the age of coronavirus and the government’s wisdom, doing so can be made into a serious crime.

The Enslavement Of Infinite Money (thc0655)

My position has always been that the Fed has no intention of saving the economy, only making it appear as if they care. This is evident in the fact that they created the Everything Bubble in the first place with years of near zero interest rates, then abruptly hiked interest rates into economic weakness, just like they did during the Great Depression. All it took was a few rate increases to cause stock markets to plunge in December 2018; liquidity was strangled and repo markets became unstable. Jerome Powell knew perfectly well that this would be the result; he openly discussed it in the minutes of the October 2012 Federal Open Market Committee.

‘It’s gone haywire’: When COVID-19 arrived in rural America (Sparky1)

As the world’s attention was fixated on the horrors in Italy and New York City, the per capita death rates in counties in the impoverished southwest corner of Georgia climbed to among the worst in the country. The devastation here is a cautionary tale of what happens when the virus seeps into communities that have for generations remained on the losing end of the nation’s most intractable inequalities: these counties are rural, mostly African American and poor.

Antiviral Therapy Combining Power of Three Drugs Shows Promise in Treating COVID-19 Patients (Roger B.)

A two-week course of antiviral therapy that combines the power of three drugs has shown promise in treating hospitalised patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 in a carefully undertaken phase 2 clinical trial. The results of the trial, published in the journal The Lancet, involved 127 adults from six public hospitals in Hong Kong.

Famotidine Use is Associated with Improved Clinical Outcomes in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients: A Propensity Score Matched Retrospective Cohort Study (Reza K.)

1,620 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 were identified including 84 (5.1%) who received famotidine within 24 hours of hospital admission. 340 (21%) patients met the study composite outcome of death or intubation. Use of famotidine was associated with reduced risk for death or intubation (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 0.42, 95% CI 0.21-0.85) and also with reduced risk for death alone (aHR 0.30, 95% CI 0.11-0.80). After balancing baseline patient characteristics using propensity score matching, these relationships were unchanged (HR for famotidine and death or intubation: 0.43, 95% CI 0.21-0.88). Proton pump inhibitors, which also suppress gastric acid, were not associated with reduced risk for death or intubation.

Giant Asian gypsy moth threatens trees in Washington, governor says (Sparky1)

Hokkaido gypsy moths never have been observed before in the United States. They are exotic pests that can do “widespread damage” when hundreds of voracious caterpillars hatch, Karla Salp, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Agriculture, told UPI.

Potato farmers reduce planting as demand plummets during pandemic (Sparky1)

“Sixty percent of our business is food service,” said Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council, a Washington D.C.-based trade group. “When that market slammed shut, basically overnight, the supply chain for the potato industry started to back up. And now we’re dealing with a huge oversupply.”

Yosemite employees evicted amid coronavirus pandemic (Sparky1)

One unidentified Yosemite employee told the newspaper that leaders with Aramark — the Philadelphia-based company that owns Yosemite Hospitality — stressed that the company has the right to evict them because their housing is contingent on employment. Aramark employees in Yosemite pay around $100 a month to live in shared employee housing.

Among the evicted are people without close family or any nearby, including former foster youth and some elderly, longtime Yosemite workers.

As U.S. meat workers fall sick and supplies dwindle, exports to China soar (Sparky1)

Processors including Smithfield Foods, owned by China’s WH Group Ltd, Brazilian-owned JBS USA [JBS.UL] and Tyson Foods Inc temporarily closed about 20 U.S. meat plants as the virus infected thousands of employees, prompting meatpackers and grocers to warn of shortages. Some plants have resumed limited operations as workers afraid of getting sick stay home.

The emergence of heat and humidity too severe for human tolerance (travissidelinger)

In the ERA-Interim reanalysis, the highest values are similarly located over the Persian Gulf and immediately adjacent land areas, as well as parts of the Indus River Valley. The spatiotemporal averaging inherent in reanalysis products causes ERA-Interim to be unable to represent the short durations and small areas of critical heat stress, causing its extreme TW values to be substantially lower than those of weather stations across the tropics and subtropics. In the Persian Gulf and adjacent Gulf of Oman, these differences are consistently in the range of −2° to −4°C. Larger bias but similar consistency is present along the eastern shore of the Red Sea, presenting a basis for future studies examining the reasons for this behavior, as well as further comparisons between station and reanalysis data.

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