Daily Digest 5/14 – Warren Buffett Regrets $10B Bet On Oil, The Sickness In Our Food Supply

Economy

How To Reopen America Safely (tmn)

So what does a new, safer status quo look like? It looks different in different parts of the country. Not all reopenings are created equal. Areas with continuing outbreaks or rising cases should postpone nonessential activity, and those with a declining case trend should engage in some basic practices.

‘Finally, a virus got me.’ Scientist who fought Ebola and HIV reflects on facing death from COVID-19 (Adam)

After fighting viruses all over the world for more than 40 years, I have become an expert in infections. I’m glad I had corona and not Ebola, although I read a scientific study yesterday that concluded you have a 30% chance of dying if you end up in a British hospital with COVID-19. That’s about the same overall mortality rate as for Ebola in 2014 in West Africa. That makes you lose your scientific level-headedness at times, and you surrender to emotional reflections. They got me, I sometimes thought. I have devoted my life to fighting viruses and finally, they get their revenge. For a week I balanced between heaven and Earth, on the edge of what could have been the end.

Zinc might boost effectiveness of malaria drug against COVID-19, experts say (Sparky1)

The findings breathe new life into a treatment regimen that has been touted by political and business leaders even before the results of clinical trials were in, experts said Wednesday.

Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin plus zinc vs hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin alone: outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients (Kevin V.)

Results: The addition of zinc sulfate did not impact the length of hospitalization, duration of ventilation, or ICU duration. In univariate analyses, zinc sulfate increased the frequency of patients being discharged home, and decreased the need for ventilation, admission to the ICU, and mortality or transfer to hospice for patients who were never admitted to the ICU. After adjusting for the time at which zinc sulfate was added to our protocol, an increased frequency of being discharged home reduction in mortality or transfer to hospice remained significant.

Cancel The Rent (jdargis)

The crisis of stagnant wages and rising rents certainly predates covid-19. Forty-seven per cent of renter households in the U.S. were already “cost-burdened,” meaning that they pay at least thirty per cent of their income in rent. More than half of African-American and Latino renters are cost-burdened. Twenty-five per cent of renters are “severely” cost-burdened, meaning that they pay at least half of their income in housing. From June of 2018 to July of 2019, Harvard researchers found that the median rent for an unfurnished apartment in a new building was sixteen hundred and twenty dollars, a thirty-seven-per-cent increase from the median rent in 2000. To state the obvious, that’s more than Trump’s one-off stimulus check. For almost everyone, housing is their greatest monthly expense.

The Gym As You Know It Is a Thing of the Past (tmn)

After weeks of closures, states like Georgia, North Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee recently gave fitness facilities the green light to open their doors, with varying new rules (and varying degrees of enforcing them). But all were hungry for business. Since shuttering two months ago, gyms and boutique fitness studios have taken a huge financial hit, losing $2.8 billion in revenue in total, according to IHRSA, a gym trade group that has lobbied hard to get fitness facilities included in Phase 1 of the federal government’s reopening plan. Earlier this month, Gold’s Gym filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and Planet Fitness reported a 67 percent drop in net income.

COVID-19 Special: After The Lockdown (James W.)

It is important to note that many epidemics follow the bell-shaped curve of Farr’s Law with no second wave arriving later on. Certainly G&R, in their commentary, are sceptical of the notion that a terrifying second wave is inevitable in relation to our current pandemic. What I am reasonably confident in saying is if, and it remains an if, a second wave occurs later on this year, our governments and public health systems will be in a far stronger position to test, isolate and contain any renewed local outbreaks of Covid-19. Apps will be installed, armies of human trackers will be trained and the world, in general, should be much closer to the successful South Korean model of “test and isolate”.

Anti-Semitic incidents hit record last year: ADL (tmn)

“This contributed to a rising climate of anxiety and fear in our communities. We are committed to fighting back against this rising tide of hate and will double down on our work with elected leaders, schools, and communities to end the cycle of hatred,” he added.

In 2019, the ADL reported five deaths directly linked to anti-Semitic violence and an additional 91 individuals targeted in physical assaults.

Warren Buffett regrets $10B bet on oil (Bill M.)

Buffett noted that “government entities” could also support greater deployment of renewables, which can have higher upfront costs than other energy installations but have no fuel costs. The energy business, he said, is “not a way to get real rich, but it’s a way to stay real rich.”

Berkshire lost money on its investments in the nation’s four largest air carriers — another “mistake,” according to Buffett. He told investors Berkshire had offloaded its stakes in American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., Southwest Airlines Co.and United Airlines Holdings Inc. That puts more pressure on an airline industry that’s been battered by plummeting demand for air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global Oil Demand Could Take Years To Recover (Michael S.)

The IEA said in its April Oil Market Report that the coronavirus pandemic had wiped out a decade of oil demand growth amid the unprecedented lockdown measures in many countries to curb the spreading of the virus. In mid-April, the IEA expected global oil demand to drop by 29 million bpd in April, and by a record 9.3 million bpd year on year in 2020.

April was indeed a ‘black April’ for the oil markets and the industry, Birol told Gulf Intelligence, recalling the first-ever drop of WTI Crude futures into negative territory.

Calgary Zoo’s pandas returning to China after COVID-19 disrupts bamboo supply (wotthecurtains)

The facility had originally been importing bamboo from China to Calgary directly but when those flights were cancelled due to the global health crisis, they began receiving the bamboo via Toronto thanks to the help of WestJet. However when flights from China to Toronto were scaled back, it affected the regularity of their shipments. Delivery times were also slower than normal causing poor quality bamboo.

It’s ‘Damn The Torpedoes’ As California Eyes Electric Truck Mandate Despite COVID-19 (Bill M.)

Some truck makers have asked Nichols to postpone the vote during the pandemic, and they can cite plenty of grim statistics. In the Class 8 highway freight-haul segment, North American manufacturers are on pace to build 120,000 trucks in 2020, according to Columbus, Indiana-based ACT Research. That compares to 225,000 in ACT’s pre-pandemic forecast and 345,000 last year.

The Sickness In Our Food Supply (tmn)

The juxtaposition of images in the news of farmers destroying crops and dumping milk with empty supermarket shelves or hungry Americans lining up for hours at food banks tells a story of economic efficiency gone mad. Today the US actually has two separate food chains, each supplying roughly half of the market. The retail food chain links one set of farmers to grocery stores, and a second chain links a different set of farmers to institutional purchasers of food, such as restaurants, schools, and corporate offices. With the shutting down of much of the economy, as Americans stay home, this second food chain has essentially collapsed. But because of the way the industry has developed over the past several decades, it’s virtually impossible to reroute food normally sold in bulk to institutions to the retail outlets now clamoring for it. There’s still plenty of food coming from American farms, but no easy way to get it where it’s needed.

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