In coronavirus shutdown, Britain will pay self-employed people 80% of average monthly profit

Wouldn't it be amazing if the United States did this?

Britain’s finance minister Rishi Sunak said Thursday all self-employed citizens will receive a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly profits as part of the government’s coronavirus response plan. Read the rest

Dow jumps over 11% in largest one-day gain since 1933

Today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced its largest gain in a single day since 1933. Read the rest

Right-wing websites are weighing the pros and cons of letting people die from coronavirus to help the economy

It's already been reported that Trump is getting antsy about all the social-distancing quarantines intended to flatten the curve of coronavirus deaths, and that he's eager to return things to business-as-normal. Who cares about a million deaths as long as the economy is moving, amirite?

I'm sure his decision has nothing to do with the fact that his own hotels are hurting from the shutdown. Again, what's a few million lives compared to the President's personal profits?

Unfortunately, Trump is not alone in his mass-murdering sentiment. Republicans have been parroting a new refrain this week, that, "The cure cannot be worse than the disease." But this implies that a few billionaires losing some money is objectively worse than a million dead. And that's just absurd.

Jonathan Ashbach took to The Federalist to complain about the ways that coronavirus impedes on that uniquely American value of "freedom."

It seems harsh to ask whether the nation might be better off letting a few hundred thousand people die. Probably for that reason, few have been willing to do so publicly thus far. Yet honestly facing reality is not callous, and refusing even to consider whether the present response constitutes an even greater evil than the one it intends to mitigate would be cowardly.

First, consider the massive sacrifice of life Americans are making in their social distancing campaign. True, nearly all are not literally dying, but they are giving up a good deal of what makes life worth living — work, classes, travel, hugs, time with friends, conferences, quiet nights out, and so forth.

Read the rest

Oil consumption "just fell off a cliff"

CNN reports that the spread of the coronavirus has greatly reduced demand for oil, "as schools and offices close, airlines cancel flights worldwide and a growing number of people hunker down at home."

"This is a sudden, instant demand shock — and the scale of the decline is unprecedented," said Jim Burkhard, vice president and head of oil markets at IHS Markit.

The warning comes ahead of a critical meeting Thursday for OPEC members and allied producers in Vienna. The cartel, is under pressure to announce yet another round of coordinated production cuts, its preferred method of propping up prices.

Coronavirus fears have already driven oil into a bear market, with Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, trading at $52.65 per barrel, more than 23% below their recent peak in early January. US oil is trading at $48.22, nearly 24% below recent highs.

Read the rest

Dow drops 1,000 over Coronavirus

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummetted more than 1,000 points as news of a spreading coronavirus outbreak suggests wider coming damage to the global economy. Read the rest

This chart reveals why the rising GDP hasn't helped the middle class

The Manhattan Institute issued a report that reveals that a year of middle class wages no longer pays for major household expenditures.

From The Washington Post:

Lead author Oren Cass distills it as follows: “In 1985, the typical male worker could cover a family of four’s major expenditures (housing, health care, transportation, education) on 30 weeks of salary,” he wrote on Twitter last week. “By 2018 it took 53 weeks. Which is a problem, there being 52 weeks in a year.”

Image: Washington Post Read the rest

'We are desperate — we need more immigrants.' Mick Mulvaney, Trump's Office of Management and Budget chief

“We are desperate — desperate — for more people,” Donald Trump cabinet member Mick Mulvaney said in a recording obtained by The Washington Post. “We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we’ve had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants.” Read the rest

Wuhan virus puts airlines on high alert around the world

Here’s a good explainer from Reuters on the airline industry’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak so far. If the virus spreads becomes a pandemic, this could impact world financial markets as did SARS in 2003. Read the rest

Trump and Apple's Tim Cook to meet at Davos

Impeached phony president and utter turd of a man Donald Trump will attend a breakfast meeting on Wednesday at Davos with Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Reuters reports. Read the rest

BLS to remove computers from data 'lockups,' chief denies it's aimed at Michael Bloomberg

The U.S. Labor Department Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today announced changes to BLS economic data “lockup” procedures that involve removing a number of legacy computers from its Washington newsroom, effective March 1. There has been controversy around whether the change initiated today by the federal government under Donald Trump may have been aimed at Michael Bloomberg, which BLS denies. It's complicated. Read the rest

The median household income of each state in the USA

New US Census Bureau data shows that while the median household income for the United States (and 14 states within the USA) increased a bit from 2017 to 2018, "income inequality was significantly higher during the same period for the nation and nine states.... Maryland ($83,242) was among the states with the highest median household income and West Virginia ($44,097) was among the lowest."

More data and an interactive version of the map: "2018 Median Household Income in the United States" (Census.gov)

Read the rest

Bill Gates debates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 'tax the rich' policy

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made some comments this week on the 'tax the rich' ideas making the rounds in America.

Taxing the rich is fine, he said in an interview with The Verge, and "more progressive" taxes on the ultra rich are okay.

Gates then went on to characterize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an 'extreme' politician who is missing the point by focusing on targeting high income brackets. Read the rest

Trump's touted ICE raids damaging California economy

California is the United States agricultural juggernaut. Produce from California feeds the world and drives one of the largest economies on the planet. A side-effect of Trump's beloved, family destroying ICE raids is a massive labor shortage.

Fruit rots on the vine. Children lose their parents.

Via Bloomberg:

Their absence threatens segments of the largest state economy, including retailers, restaurants and the Central Valley’s $47 billion agricultural industry, which provides more than half of the fruits, nuts and vegetables in the country. That broad, 450-mile swath of California yields an eighth of the country’s agricultural output.

The farm industry is already struggling to find workers like Maria’s husband. More than 55 percent of 762 farmers and ranchers surveyed in a California Farm Bureau Federation report from October 2017 said half of their land continues to go unattended because of an ongoing labor shortage directly related to U.S. immigration policy.

Of the state’s more than 2 million farm laborers, 1.5 million are undocumented, according to Tom Nassif, President of the Western Growers Association, a 92-year-old industry group representing farmers in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. Although Nassif and the association have supported Trump since the early days of his campaign, he says the raids and decades-old immigration policy for farm workers are harming the industry and state economy.

Read the rest

America's $4.5 billion legal weed market surpasses these massive consumer markets

Legal marijuana comprises only about 10% of the total U.S. weed market, but it already eclipses total sales of foods like frozen pizza and services like music streaming, according to Alternet, who looks at other markets that will soon be dwarfed by weed sales. Read the rest

How Americans spend their money in the last 75 years

Compared to 75 years ago, Americans spend less on reading, alcohol, tobacco, clothing, and food. They spend more on education, entertainment, and transportation, but the real bank-breaker is how much more Americans spend on housing, even adjusted for inflation. Read the rest

US has $2 trillion sitting in banks - it needs to be invested or we risk a new depression

I'm at Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA today (I'm on staff) at the Positive Platform Design Jam, where we had Cornell historian Louis Hyman give a presentation called "Unnatural Capitalism: How the New Deal Reinvented Capitalism and Why We Need to Do It Again." You can watch a video recording of his talk here.

In his talk, Hyman explained why today's economic climate is like that of the Herbert Hoover era -- lots of money sitting in banks because investment was too risky and there weren't that many big things worth investing in. Hyman said depressions happen when investment fails to connect with new leading sectors. The FDR government made it easy for banks to invest in high-risk industries (by insuring the investments and giving investors tax breaks), which jumpstarted the economy. We need to get that money out of banks and into new technology, or we risk entering a new depression. Unfortunately, the federal government has cut science funding, and it's likely the new administration won't invest in basic science research, either.

Hyman said his only choice is to remain optimistic:

What happens if I'm not optimistic? Well, it's over. Then Marx was right. Profits go to zero, and all of this falls apart as the strongmen take everything away from you. Why am I doubling down on optimism? It's my only chance for survival. It's definitely your only chance for survival.

Read the rest

Trump has never met or called his only Ph.D. economic advisor

UC Irvine economist Peter Navarro, a hand-picked Trump economic advisor: "Navarro has never met Trump in person. And as for speaking with him by phone, he acknowledges, 'I have never had the pleasure.'" Read the rest

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