AuthorTopic: The Trump Slump  (Read 177 times)

Offline Surly1

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The Trump Slump
« on: March 23, 2020, 01:57:18 PM »
Dow sheds another 3% after coronavirus stimulus bill fails in Senate for a second time

Stocks fell sharply on Monday as U.S. lawmakers failed to push through massive fiscal stimulus to curtail the economic blow from the coronavirus. Talks are ongoing, but investors believe the longer Washington waits, the greater the damage to the economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 582.05 points lower, or down 3.1%, at 18,591.93, its lowest closing level since November 2016. The S&P 500 slid 2.9% to 2,237.40. The Nasdaq Composite was down just 0.3% at 6,860.67 as investors began making small bets on technology stocks.

For a second time in less than 24 hours, a bill that would authorize giant fiscal spending to stimulate the economy failed to clear a key procedural hurdle. Earlier on Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that Congress was “very close” to getting a fiscal package done, noting it must be pushed forward “today.”

“We’re using some of the funds we have, but we need Congress to approve additional funds today so that we can move forward and support American workers and the American economy,” Mnuchin said.



Read the rest here:
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/22/stock-market-futures-open-to-close-news.html
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

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What a Plague Reveals
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2020, 02:27:38 PM »
Have followed and enjoyed the work of Frank Rich for forty years.

And I'd be all for that MAGA rally in Lynchburg on Easter Sunday.

Frank Rich: What a Plague Reveals

Lloyd Blankfein has a dissenting view on coronavirus. Photo: Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. Today, the argument, both from the White House and supposed centrists outside of it, that America should prioritize the economy. 

Though coronavirus cases continue to climb in the U.S., a number of businesspeople and commentators have begun to talk about “restarting” the economy, even at the cost of American lives. If even non-Trumpists are in part echoing Trump’s views on this, should we take them seriously?

A society reveals a lot about itself, heroic and not, when confronting a plague. But we didn’t need a plague to tell us that Trump places zero value on any life except his own, and it’s no surprise that many of his zealots are willing to blindly follow his example. Witness that so-called man of God, Jerry Falwell Jr., who decided to end social distancing and summon the previously dispersed student body back to Liberty University in Virginia, at whatever cost to themselves. Or Larry Kudlow, the White House economic adviser who had previously assured Americans that the virus was “contained” and advised them to buy stocks just before the bottom dropped out of the markets. Not content to speed the destruction of Americans’ 401(k)s, he has led the cheerleading for Trump’s kamikaze goal of getting the country back to work by Easter. Perhaps Trump can kick off this return to normalcy by holding the biggest and best MAGA rally ever on Easter Sunday at Liberty U.

But what does it say that ostensibly serious people like Lloyd Blankfein, Gary Cohn, Thomas Friedman, and the ABC analyst Matthew Dowd, among others, have in varying degrees taken up this cause? And done so with so little grounding in reality? Cohn, for instance, tweeted, “We should be able to handle incremental economic activity in appropriate locations while not allowing it in other geographies.” What are “appropriate” locations and what are those “other geographies,” pray tell, and who would designate them? Others take the tact of layering in caveats intended to shield them from criticism if such a plan goes wrong and corpses start piling up in genocidal magnitude across the land. Take Friedman, for instance, who points out how “urgent” it is to first “immediately rectify the colossal failure to supply rapid, widespread testing” and to get more N95 masks and hospital beds before initiating a scheme to start bringing back the work force “in as early as a few weeks.” Get those tests and masks “immediately” — great idea! And the White House agrees besides! “More testing is essential,” says Larry Kudlow, “and we’re loading up on tests right now.”

But in the reality-based world, the idea that we’ll have enough capacity anytime soon should be given as much weight as Mike Pence’s weeks-ago promise that 4 million tests were on the way. So whether you’re Kudlow or Friedman or a former partner at Goldman Sachs, to posit that a return to normal in “a few weeks” would be preceded by the sudden advent of “rapid, widespread testing” is disingenuous on its face. Tests are nowhere near as available as promised, or as they need to be nationally if the density and speed of South Korea’s testing regime is used as an effective model. And even if we had the needed quantity of tests, the coronavirus has already left the barn in the United States; it is too late for mass testing to map the contours of a return-to-normal plan any time in the near or nearish future. Masks and other PPE, not to mention hospital beds and ventilators, also remain in desperate demand, and the White House, having lied for weeks that they’re on the way, is still refusing to use the federal government to mobilize their production.

So why are these return-to-normalcy enthusiasts so willing to roll the dice on public health? It depends on who’s making this pitch. Clowns like Glenn Beck, Brit Hume, and the lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, who have volunteered that older people risk sacrificing their lives for younger generations, are just Trump lapdogs. But when someone like Lloyd Blankfein proposes that we “let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work” in “a very few weeks,” it’s another story. They are revealing their arrogance, of course — masters of the universe know more than, say, a mere civil servant like Anthony Fauci — but also their own economic isolation from the masses they are purporting to help. It’s behavior reminiscent of the titans who tried to rally Wall Street after the 1929 crash by making a big show of buying large blocks of stock. And let’s face it: Most, if not all, of these public notables who are preaching get-back-to-work-soon schemes have a cushion most Americans don’t — the means and the clout to cut the line for a coronavirus test and to secure immediate and attentive medical care away from an overflowing public hospital. This class divide is most ostentatiously exemplified by Richard Kovacevich, the former CEO of one of the most predatory banks in American history, Wells Fargo, who in giving his endorsement to a get-back-to-work scheme, said “Some may even die, I don’t know.” Doesn’t know and doesn’t care to find out, clearly. This is a guy who served on the board of Theranos, whose marketing of fraudulent blood tests was a potentially moral threat to the national health ecosystem.

It is cheering that some businessmen will have none of this. As Mark Cuban succinctly put it, “Ignore anything someone like me might say. Lives are at stake.” Bill Gates, who actually has devoted his own fortune to the amelioration of world health, implicitly called out the Cohns and Friedmans and Blankfeins by stating without equivocation that “there really is no middle ground, and it’s very tough to say to people, ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner.’” He added that “it’s very irresponsible for somebody to suggest that we can have the best of both worlds.”

These exceptions are to be applauded. But overall the pandemic has revealed in particularly stark terms that the extreme economic inequalities unmasked by the 2008 economic collapse remain unaddressed. There’s a Titanic dynamic playing out now in real time. Celebrities and the wealthy are first in line for the lifeboats of coronavirus tests. Rupert Murdoch and his family protect their own healthwhile profiting from a news empire that downplayed and outright disputed the threat of the coronavirus. The permanent residents of resort towns on the Eastern seaboard are being shoved aside by prematurely returning summer vacationers who are stripping shelves of food and flooding the limited local health facilities.

As the virus spreads from its current epicenters throughout the country, the grotesque discrepancy between the elites and the have-nots is going to make Parasite look as benign as an episode of Modern Family. The anger and despair that have fueled populism in America, even to the point of inducing voters to hand power to a charlatan like Trump, may metastasize at least as fast as the plague.


Offline JRM

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Re: The Trump Slump
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2020, 02:59:08 PM »
A real facepalm moment, for sure.
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline Surly1

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Trump and His Allies Have Decided to Preserve Capitalism at Any Cost
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2020, 05:26:21 AM »
Trump and His Allies Have Decided to Preserve Capitalism at Any Cost


Donald Trump speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in the press briefing room of the White House on March 26, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images


Published

Pastor Tony Spell of Baton Rouge knows what you can do with your social distancing. “The virus, we believe, is politically motivated,” said Spell regarding the 1,170 people who attended services at his Life Tabernacle Church on Sunday. They came on 27 buses from five parishes, and will do so again, because “it’s not a concern,” according to Spell.

Under the circumstances, it is comforting to imagine Spell as an outlier, just another flake flailing against the tide of rational medical advice coming from all corners about controlling the now-exploding spread of COVID-19.

Yet Spell has company, in the guise of no lesser a light than the Republican governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves. After a few days of social distancing discomfort, Gov. Reeves has blown off every safety recommendation on the books and reopened a wide swath of businesses via executive order — including gun stores and real estate offices — which he has deemed “essential.”

As of this writing, Mississippi has nearly 400 active cases of coronavirus, and at least five people in that state have died. That number will grow with the help of Governor Reeves.

When Donald Trump writes a letter to the governors of Mississippi, Louisiana and the other 48 states informing them all that he is softening the COVID-19 safety guidelines, in defiance of all expert medical advice, why shouldn’t people like Pastor Spell and Governor Reeves feel free to feed their people to the virus? It’s political! The president says it, so it must be true.

There’s a lot of that sort of thing going around right now. On Wednesday, four Republican senators — Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, Tim Scott and Rick Scott — very nearly blew the $2 trillion stimulus/bailout bill to hell because the unemployment benefits contained within were too generous.

Feel free to read that last sentence twice. It won’t make any more sense the second time. More than three million people have filed an unemployment claim in the last several days, a number that is likely vastly undercounted due to unemployment offices getting overwhelmed by both volume and illness.

Meanwhile, hospitals in cities like New York are being hammered by the sheer numbers of sick people coming through their doors. Health care professionals all over the country lack even the most basic equipment to combat the virus because Trump ignored the problem back in January — when something concrete could and should have been done — in order to look good on television for another day.

Doctors and nurses are wearing garbage bags as safety gear because they don’t have what they need to keep themselves safe, yet they come to workevery day, until they sicken, and until they die.

Almost 75 percent of the country supports a national quarantine.

Contrast that with our coward president and his lickspittle allies. Consider that we are only at the beginning of this thing, and that the worst is yet to come by orders of virus-multiplied magnitude, and already they are buckling under the pressure from the money to “get back to normal” as soon as possible.

Something interesting is happening in China, if The Wall Street Journal has the right of it. That nation is beginning to emerge from its own devastating coronavirus experience, but business as usual doesn’t appear to be kicking back in:

In some ways, China is where the U.S. and Europe hope to be within weeks or months. Yet many Chinese factories find demand for their products has evaporated. Consumers in China and elsewhere are reluctant to spend over worries about what they have lost and what lies ahead.

For U.S. businesses tied to global trade, exporters and multinational companies, China’s limited return to normal foreshadows the potential for a sluggish U.S. recovery. Consumption, which makes up more than two-thirds of the American economy, looks to be hobbled by lost jobs, fallen income and diminished confidence for an unknown period.

Want to know why Trump and his voracious pals want to herd us back into normal life even as the air is potentially lethal with the virus? Consumption. The machine that lines their pockets has ground to a halt because people decided they want to keep breathing instead of buy stuff. That is happening in China. Wait until it happens here.

For Trump and the capitalists, that is the end of the ever-loving world as they know (and own) it. They will wring the coppers from our bones and not think twice about consumers getting consumed. Someday soon, Trump may well announce the all-clear in defiance of the experts. What remains to be seen is whether people will listen.

This is still only the beginning. Stout hearts. Do not listen to the president.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

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Some would have you believe the news is all bad.

‘He’s killing his own supporters’: Administration insider admits Trump’s coronavirus response is tragically lacking



April 6, 2020 By Travis Gettys

President Donald Trump’s chaotic response to the coronavirus outbreak will lead to thousands of deaths — and even his associates concede it will hit the president’s supporters hard.

The president has been pushing the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment, but ventilators, virus tests and protective gear remain too scarce to meet growing demand as the outbreak spreads and the death count soars past 9,500, reported The Guardian.

Trump has offloaded responsibility for fighting the outbreak onto states and their governors, and one administration insider admits the outcome will be dire.

“The Trump organism is simply collapsing,” the administration insider told the newspaper. “He’s killing his own supporters.”
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

 

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