23 April 2021

The Tyranny of Average Cost - part the fifteenth

Well, well yet another episode in this continuing series, a paean to the power of amortization. Here's a tidbit from today's news. Regular reader clearly understands the notion underpinning the titles of this series: the more physical capital a production process requires, the less flexible it is in regard to profitable output level. The arithmetic is straightforward, by counter-example: with a labor intensive production function (say, plantation cotton), the bidnezzman hires (or just acquires) more workers to increase output; vice-versa should demand and output fall he simply sheds workers one way or another (unemployment insurance? we don't need no none of dat).

When the production function hits the tipping point (calculating that is no simple task) of capital/labor ratio, adjusting output to meet demand, i.e. reducing output, the cost of capital must still be paid, and average cost increases as that cost is spread over fewer units. The advantage of this mini-factory approach is a one-way street. It supports the idea of adding incrementally to capacity as demand builds, thus not having to build a River Rouge in the expectation that, some day, its full capacity can be sold. But the vice-versa does not happen; whenever demand slackens, some number of those mini-factories are just as redundant as a corner or two of a River Rouge, and their capital cost also does not disappear. The Piper still must be paid in either circumstance.

It is a problem. And, for the only time in recent memory, a Master of the Universe admits it. Be still my heart.
"The assembly line approach is very capital-intensive, and you have to get to very high production levels to make any margin," said Avinash Rugoobur, Arrival's president and a former General Motors executive. "The microfactory allows us to build vehicles profitably at really any volume."
[my emphasis, and Holy Shit!!! Who knew my readership went so far?]
Note well: Arrival isn't proposing to reduce capital content in its production function, if anything Arrival will end up with a higher capital/labor ratio in toto (all of those wonderful robots, which don't get sick or take lunch breaks, but you can't fire, either), but because of this mini-factory structure, they have convinced themselves that such yields a lower average cost. I doubt it.

Alas, Rugoobur is delusional. What matters: total sunk cost in physical capital and total output. It simply doesn't matter if that physical capital is embodied in The River Rouge plant or dozens of small plants scattered across the land. Shutting down one plant to reduce output still leaves the bill for the physical capital to pay. The Tyranny of Average Cost never goes away. Thinking that, by chopping capital into smaller bits, the Grim Reaper of amortization disappears is delusional. (I suspect this guy is an MBA. Let's see if we can find out. Perhaps goodly, not an MBA by that name. His last qualy is in Library Science.) The Tyranny of Average Cost applies to all costs and output levels. Slicing and dicing doesn't vanquish The Tyrant. The Tyrant lives in the production process, not the output level.

As a reminder: this basic idea, of dicing production into discrete bits and pieces, was attempted decades ago. It was/is called Cellular Manufacturing. The prime example: from 1987, and Volvo.
Building on concepts it pioneered at its 13-year-old plant here, Sweden's A. B. Volvo is now intent upon entirely jettisoning Ford's assembly line approach at a $315 million plant it is constructing at Uddevalla on the west coast of the Swedish peninsula. If all goes as planned, the plant will be organized into work teams - each of which will ultimately assemble a complete car by itself.
IOW, Arrival is old wine in new bottle. So, what happened to that Volvo plant? Let's see if we can find out. The plant was closed in 1994.

More detail here
Both are in southern Sweden, and negotiations began immediately with union leaders on the possibility of transferring some workers to Torslanda, on the west coast. Concentrating Volvo's car production in Sweden at one plant will save nearly $60 million annually, Mr. Jeansson said.
[my emphasis; how embarrassing]
Is past prologue? The Tyranny of Average Cost cannot be avoided. There is no veronica in physical production; you cannot escape The Bull by waving a red cape.

22 April 2021

About Those Wolves and Sheep

Did you or yours ever believe that the Right Wingnut assault on Big Tech was to protect Joe Sixpack from the ravaging Coastal High Tech wolves? Or, due to keeping up with the news, you clearly saw that the Right Wingnuts, not satisified with owning all of Murdoch and the vast Right Wing Conspiracy Network, they are determined to own the innterTubes, too? Yet another case of wolves in sheep's clothing.

Well, the latter has been my view from the start. The Right Wingnuts are the essential zero-sum contingent, thus they only see progress for themselves as driven solely by the deprivation of their Enemy.

So, today's news brings us the 'revelation' that Republicans are pushing Big Tech aside. For how long? We will see.
The lawmakers said in a letter that the companies had limited the reach of conservative voices, citing bans on the chat app Parler after it was used by participants in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and had abused their market power.
No mention, of course, of the flagrant lying that goes on in the Right Wingnut (so-called) News Organs. Of course not. Does it strike you as a tad odd that the Big Tech targets of the Right Wingnuts are within the sphere of the innterTubes? What about chip makers? Or AI outfits that shape public opinion? And let us not forget the estimable Palantir/Thiel. I have not heard any squeals of opposition about such entities from the Republicans; no bleating about the tyranny of corporations. And you would not expect them too, after all, politics as advertising got its rocket fuel from Atwater before and during Reagan.

21 April 2021

Karma's A Bitch

Oh, my!! Although Bordain sat down with Nugent, I still have no use for such a moron. Now we get the news that his claim of hoax has beat his ass nearly to death. Couldn't happen to a nastier guy.
[O]ver the last year he has spent most of his energy on denying the existence of Covid-19. Now Nugent, whose age at 72 makes him one of the most vulnerable to the virus, has admitted he has contracted the coronavirus.
I have never been so sick in all my life. I could barely crawl out of bed.
Good for him.

19 April 2021

Almost Heaven

Back in the early 80s I was a faceless bureaucrat in Washington. A woman I worked with frequently joked that if her domestic situation went sufficiently sour, she would run away to Nitro, West Virginia. The first few times she said it, I was not sure that any place would name itself Nitro. As you can see, there is such a place. So far as I can recall, she never headed that far west. Even then, some people decided to earn metro DC Damn Gummint salaries (which earnings were scaled, more or less, to local cost of living) and stretch its buying power through the expedient of living in the far eastern part of the state. It was one hell of a commute, to say the least; mitigated by the fact that 'flex time' work hours were allowed in DC Metro. Well, lo and behold!! The wiki just blew my socks off. Some 40 years later, Jefferson County is defined as part of an extended DC MSA (can't tell how long this has been true). What I do recall is that the commuters in my agency lived in Charles Town (not Charleston or Charlestown). Again according to the wiki, it is a 73 mile trek to DC.

This brief history of bureaucratic thriftiness is brought to you by Gov. Jim Justice, erstwhile Democratic now Republican governor (that was all a ruse, of course). Today's report is about the bounty the state is offering to 'remote workers' to move to the state.
The first three host cities are Shepherdstown, Lewisburg and Morgantown.
Let's see. Shepherdstown is also in Jefferson county and about the same time/distance as Charles Town; could be home of some bureaucrats today. Lewisburg is the SW corner and at least a 4 hour drive to DC, so not even flex time will help. One hopes. Lastly, Morgantown. It is on the PA border, due south of Pittsburgh, and 205 miles and three and a half hour drive. Not likely to be housing bureaucrats at this time.
The $12,000 West Virginia is offering is paid over two years, with $10,000 divided in monthly payments for the first year and $2,000 paid at the end of the second year, according to the program's website. If you move early, you keep the money that you've earned so far.
This grift is only likely to work IFF post-Covid, at the epidemic levels currently, is the New Normal, which is to say there is no post-Covid. The worry in Blue Cities, of course, is that irregardless of the waning of Covid to (really, in fact) 'just the flu', business will find it's just a whole hell of lot cheaper to not have offices in skyscrapers, or any offices anywhere. The hope of grifting Red states is that they'll not only gain more voters, but that such voters will morph from Leftist Snowflake to Right Wingnut tout de suite. They should take note of TX, which has been turning ever deeper Purple with the influx of Snowflakes. Be careful what you wish for.
Fear that Texas — a state once synonymous with Republican strength — could actually tilt Democratic this year, as recent transplants from California and other blue states help reshape the Lone Star state's electorate.
Be careful what you wish for. Remember that old wive's tale: your first love is your best love and time never changes that.

18 April 2021

The Price of Hubris

Through most of Covid, Canada demonstrated a willingness to follow the science and keep the wee little critter at bay; certainly more effectively than wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 and his venal minions. There has been a drip, drip of warnings over the last couple of months that Canadians weren't going to behave rationally, any more. How things have changed, Canada is an epicenter of surge. How could this happen?
"The government didn't listen to scientists, they didn't listen to epidemiologists, they didn't listen to doctors other than their chief medical officer of health. And because they failed to listen to scientists, they thought they could negotiate themselves out of this virus, but the virus is too strong, the variant is a different disease," said Warner, telling CNN on Friday his ICU was working at 115% capacity.
Who knew that ex-President AuH2O 2020 could infect Canada? It looks like he did.
"Whatever we put into place though, it's going to take time to take affect so right now, the trajectories of Covid rises are really baked in and I think the next 2 to 3 weeks for Ontario and Canada are going to be very, very, tough." said Dr. Fahad Razak, who treats coronavirus patients at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
Recall, if you might, this earlier missive about the Vancouver hockey team
Faithful readers may recall, very early on, that Canada hard-closed our border to keep us out of their neighborhood. Mr. Rogers yelled, 'get off my lawn!' Eh? Now, we find P.1 making rapid inroads in BC and lesser variants in the eastern provinces. What might not have been predictable: while the new surge is more non-geezer than previously, Canada's vaccination initiative hasn't been stellar, thus taking geezers out of the infectionable pool.
"Meanwhile in Canada" is trending on social media as Canadians lament their wobbly vaccination program. More than 30% of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose compared to about 12% of Canadians, according to public health statistics from both nations.
In one respect, Canada has an excuse for lacking a national policy on Covid. Turns out provinces are more independent than USofA states.
In Canada, the courts (notably the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council, which, till 1949, was our highest court) have in general so interpreted the Constitution Act, 1867, as to narrow federal power and widen provincial power. The result is that the United States is, in actual fact, now a much more highly centralized federation than Canada, and Canada has become, perhaps, the most decentralized federation in the world.
This means, among other things, the public services granted in one province's government may be different from, more or less, any or all others.
It is up to the province in whose jurisdiction health[care] lies to run the program and determine how it is run. Each province has its own system and as long as it meets the basic requirements determine how its run. They often collaborate on best practice.
Thus, even if Trudeau wanted to, a national Covid program would be a departure from the norm. Here is a Canadian description (from a year ago) of the provincial Covid actions.
COVID-19 has also underscored how decentralized federalism enables provinces to innovate and learn from one another. Since March 9, when both Ontario and Nova Scotia restricted visits to long term care centres – a policy since adopted by all provinces – Canadians have witnessed this learning and innovating in real time. Provinces have responded to their own contexts in their own way, and polls published throughout the crisis indicate that the public has generally been satisfied by their province's handling of the crisis. ... While several provinces have restricted interprovincial travel, Quebec is the only province to have formally restricted intra-provincial travel.
Wouldn't it have been nice to wall-off Ronny VirusSeed©'s Florida and the entire mountain West early on? Yes, yes it would. Build the damn walls!!
The next important test for "COVID-19 federalism" will be how provinces lift the restrictions imposed since early March. What happens when one province decides to lift some restrictions, as Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is contemplating, and neighbouring provinces do not feel like they are ready to do so? And as some provinces lift restrictions one by one, public pressure will mount on those who do not.
We know, now, may be why BC and Ontario are in deep shit today. BC with P.1 and Ontario with most everything else.

Here in the USofA, one might be reminded of, not so long ago, Gym Jordan arguing with Fauci over exactly when we could get our freedoms back, as if mask wearing and distancing were such a grave assault on freedom. Back during the 1918 flu, San Franciscans were liable for a $5 fine if not wearing a mask. Granted, surgical masks of the day weren't as effective as today's Blue Bunnies, but five bucks back then went a whole lot further than today.
Cities that passed masking ordinances in the fall of 1918 struggled to enforce them among the small portion of people who rebelled. Common punishments were fines, prison sentences and having your name printed in the paper. In one horrific incident in San Francisco, a special officer for the board of health shot a man who refused to wear a mask as well as two bystanders.
That'll get your attention.

Of course, let's not forget what Maxine Waters did to Jordan when he kept at it
"You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth," Waters, 82, told Jordan, 57, after he kept talking over House Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jim Clyburn, who had recognized another lawmaker in order to move on.
Mouth, and face, covering are important acts to stem Covid. Even in Congress.

As opined in an earlier missive, present may be prologue.

16 April 2021

Not Just Pure Speculation

Previously in this story -
TL;DR The Pill.


What we know, from public reporting, is that the six blood clot patients:
- all women
- age range 18 to 48

Does that spark a memory? Of course it does. The Pill has been implicated in blood clots from the beginning. It will be this time, too. What is not yet reported:
- did these women all use any form of The Pill?
- did they all/most use the same Pill?
- does this Pill formulation have higher incidence of blood clots?

So, today we get new reporting, and lo and behold
It's also not clear who's at highest risk, Dr. Douglas Cines of the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. James Bussel of Weill Cornell Medicine wrote in a commentary. "Most of the patients included in these reports were women younger than 50 years of age, some of whom were receiving estrogen-replacement therapy or oral contraceptives. A remarkably high percentage of the patients had thromboses at unusual sites," they wrote.
"Some" makes the correlation not a slam dunk, of course. "All" would be a much better signal; perhaps we'll find out soon.

15 April 2021

I Told You So - 15 April 2021

Just under three years ago, based on my experience with spooks in DC I offered
My time in DC convinces me that the intelligence community, the NSA in particular, has the Trump Tapes. It's perfectly legal for NSA/CIA/FBI to sweep up Americans who engage with foreigners in treasonous activities. Doesn't matter where their feet are at the time. The cabal knows what it did, and was counting on not winning to keep their activities from public view. Thus the FISA nonsense. They just wanted the money. Just as Jared extorted from Qatar. In due time, the community will release the tapes. Whether Orange Julius Caesar spends time in prison is the only question.
So, tonight it's all over the news (well, modulo Fox and the rest of the Right Wingnut organs) that it has been concluded that the ball went from Manafort to Gates to Kilimnik to the FSB. The NSA has known this from the jump. Just my humble opinion, of course, though based on reporting I did while in DC. The NSA knows all.

14 April 2021


How to explain Michigan being Ground Zero for the fourth surge? Well, it's kind of easy.

1) The NYT Hotspot map shows, by county, what Michigan is (not) doing. That map will change, more or less, by the time you go visit, but as I type, eastern Michigan sticks out like a sore thumb. A long time simile for the LP.

2) How about income level? We know, at least the Effete Eastern Intellectuals do, that poor, rural folks have drunk deeply of wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's Flavour Aid and refuse to adhere to public health measures which reduce transmission. Boy howdy, this map shows that eastern Michigan is both poor and rural.

3) How about education level? Again, the poorly educated also have drunk deeply from the Flavour Aid, which this map demonstrates.

The report which follows below that map is well worth reading, if for no other reason that a later map, US education deserts, maps almost exactly with the counties that fueled the fall-winter surge. It is as if one were a tracing of the other. Eerie.

To the extent that poor, uneducated, rural folk are angry about their situation, and looking to blame the Effete Eastern Intellectuals, they really can only change the trajectory, if not for the middle aged and older but for the kiddies, if they admit they have been electing Right Wingnut politicos whose intent has been to keep them poor, uneducated, and unhealthy. As the ancient adage goes, 'insanity is continually doing the same thing and expecting a different result'.

Of course, those older adults complain that if kiddies get good education, they'll just up and leave the county for Detroit or Chicago or New York. Well, likely so. But, why begrudge them a better life?

Whitmer does her damnedest to keep Covid at bay, and Wolverines try to kill her? About what one would expect from such folks.

Pure Speculation

TL;DR The Pill.


What we know, from public reporting, is that the six blood clot patients:
- all women
- age range 18 to 48

Does that spark a memory? Of course it does. The Pill has been implicated in blood clots from the beginning. It will be this time, too. What is not yet reported:
- did these women all use any form of The Pill?
- did they all/most use the same Pill?
- does this Pill formulation have higher incidence of blood clots?

13 April 2021

Car Pdot1 Where Are You?

The 'Brazil' mutation, P.1, is finally getting some ink. In this report it is found that existing vaccines are protective
The inactivated vaccine, CoronaVac, proved effective in combatting COVID-19 in the city of Manaus, Brazil, where the highly transmissible P.1 variant emerged and has devastated the local population, researchers from Brazil and the Yale School of Public Health have found.
Background: CoronaVac is 'the' China vaccine which is of the long standing inactivated-virus type.

On the other hand, our friendly friends to the North have a problem.
As provinces across Canada break records for new cases of the virus, experts have grown increasingly troubled by the rapid and covert spread of variants. With 877 confirmed cases of P1, the province of British Columbia is now the centre of the world's largest sequenced outbreak of the variant outside Brazil – and nearly a quarter of those cases have been linked to Whistler [ski resort].
Illinois leads the pack with 7.6% P.1
Michigan leads the pack with 57.6% B.1.1.7

Anyone who thinks we're near the finish line is an idiot.

12 April 2021

You Should Read This

The Covid Tracking Project has wrapped up. This is a closing statement, of sorts.

It is a harrowing tale, especially for those who really, truly believe Suits who say, more or less, "We are a data driven organization." The reality is exactly different. The CTP dealt with, they imply, incompetent data creation and collection, yet the real enemy of data is Policy. Policy is driven by power to enforce the wishes of the Suits. Data don't matter; what matters is that Policy supports power and punishes the powerless.

More times then regular readers may want, these missives have pointed to situations where Data was ignored by Policy. It will always be true. Very occasionally Data will support Policy a priori. Rarely.

What is particularly disappointing: even these folks, up to their necks in data, don't offer an explanation for the cliff dive from 6 January. In other words, in the jargon of the stat/data scientist, what was/is the data generation process? WHY, for crying out loud, could so much Covid just disappear in a few weeks. Until someone without an agenda makes a sensible statement, I will continue to believe we have been snookered by Policy.
"What CDC is not accounting for is that we have been flying blind for weeks with essentially no [testing]," Carter Mecher, a medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote to an email list of federal officials on March 13. "The difference between models and real life is that with models we can set the parameters as if they are known. In real life, these parameters are as clear as mud."
It was wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's intent to flick Covid away, as one might a fly from one's desperate coif. In other words, until 20 January 2021, Policy prevented Data from existing. Birx's latter-day confession should not have been a surprise.

I have long found that the mathifacation of economics led to two related Bad Things. - at the micro level, from the individual organization to its aggregation(s), census data is routinely available. all the convoluted math and stat models are the result of believing that reality is really what is measured. - over time, following from Samuelson, macro practitioners succumbed to the pressure to 'mathify' the study, but, naturally, macro is all about Policy, and Data has but one job: to demonstrate that those affilated with Power got what they wanted from change in Policy. Sometimes, when Snowflake Lefties are in power, 'affilation' means most of the country.
The COVID Tracking Project clung to one principle: We told people the truth as we could discern it. We didn't say what we wanted to be true, nor what we hoped would engender a specific public response.

Parallax View - part the fifty third

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   339
100 to 999 - 1,167
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,067. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

[8 April] What did earlier missives say? 'What about P.1?' Well, today we find that the Vancouver Canuks (they play hockey in the NHL) are nearly 100% infected with that variant.
The P.1 variant has seen a spike in the Vancouver region over recent weeks. On Tuesday, the province announced 1,068 new cases of Covid-19, including three deaths and 207 new cases from variants of concern.
Taking out, to all intents and purposes, an entire team is saying something.

One might surmise that P.1 is slipping across the border, but not so mucn.
As of April 6, 2021, there had been 356 reported cases of the P.1. COVID-19 variant, with Florida accounting for the highest number of cases. COVID-19 variants act differently than the original disease and therefore may spread more quickly or cause more severe disease.
[my emphasis]
Great oaks from little acorns grow.

Massachusetts is second, but Washington, which has a long-ish border with BC, sits at 13.

All these numbers are almost certainly to differ by Monday when this missive is transmitted. One hopes they, as wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024 said a year ago, they will fall to 0. Not the side I would bet.

[9 April] Aren't you glad they built a wall?
Canada's third wave of the pandemic is now more serious than the previous two, as hospitalizations and critical care admissions spike and the vaccine rollout is unlikely to change things over the next few weeks.
Faithful readers may recall, very early on, that Canada hard-closed our border to keep us out of their neighborhood. Mr. Rogers yelled, 'get off my lawn!' Eh? Now, we find P.1 making rapid inroads in BC and lesser variants in the eastern provinces. What might not have been predictable: while the new surge is more non-geezer than previously, Canada's vaccination initiative hasn't been stellar, thus taking geezers out of the infectionable pool.
"Meanwhile in Canada" is trending on social media as Canadians lament their wobbly vaccination program. More than 30% of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose compared to about 12% of Canadians, according to public health statistics from both nations.
A college friend of The Wife lives in greater Vancouver, and emailed a few days ago that she "lived in one of those shithole countries" that can't vaccinate. Said friend is 65+, so would have been eligible here at least a month ago.

It appears that the Topo map is less and less expressive of what is going on with Covid. Going forward, individually named missives. Farewell.

11 April 2021

By The Numbers - part the eleventh

So, today's reporting on vaccination includes the 'fact' that 40% of Marines decline to be vaccinated. Let us see what the reporting offers about why.
Officials say most of the vaccine hesitancy stems from concerns about the speed at which the vaccines were developed and fears over long-term effects.
Pretty tepid excuse. One might surmise (I surely will) that too many in the armed forces come from Red states where wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024-ism is rampant. Well, here are some numbers.
Looking at each state's share of recruits by the number of 18-to-24-year-olds in the state determines how well or how poorly a state is doing compared to its recruitable population. By that measure, the top five states in 2016 were: Hawaii, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Florida. The five places with the smallest share of recruits were: Washington D.C., North Dakota, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.
Except for Hawaii, Red. Hawaii had low unemployment and thus not a hot target for enlistment, but Hawaii is mostly about tourism and military and not higher education driven employment; the Islands can't even make enough public school teachers. On the other side, North Dakota looks out of place. The unemployment rate at the time of the survey was quite low in North Dakota. Hmm?? So it is not Patriotism, but moolah that encourages? Don't tell that to the Rabid Right Wing.

We know that police, military, and ex-military were disproportionately in The Insurrection. You are only a Patriot if you are in thrall to wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024.
As a violent mob descended on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, lawmakers and aides hid wherever they could, waiting for the military and police to arrive. But many of those who stormed the Capitol were military veterans themselves, who had once sworn to protect the Constitution. In fact, an NPR analysis has found that nearly 1 in 5 people charged over their alleged involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol appear to have a military history.
As to Hawaii, this report demonstrates that Hawaii has the second highest per capita military presence. And, naturally, that doesn't include civilians working for the various branches.

09 April 2021

Quants' Hubris - part the eighth

Everything you need to know, or a quant needs to know, about getting rich from Mr. Market:
[T]he Flow Show report from BofA Securities indicated that total global equity inflows over the past five months ($576 billion) has exceeded total inflows for the past 12 years ($425 billion)!
-- briefing.com/9 April 2021
IOW, Mr. Market gets phat when mo money comes in. So, if you know the tide is coming in before enough other quants, you can front run Mr. Market. Needless to say, once the information has made it to organs such as briefing.com, the advantage has gone poof.

05 April 2021

By The Numbers - part the tenth [update]

Sometimes a grift is just a grift. It's not always clear why some grifters bother. In today's example Asa Hutchinson vetoes an anti-trans bill. A really woke kind of guy, right?

Well, not so much:
state House 70 to 22 pass
state Senate 28 to 7 pass

In most states, override requires something more than 50% + 1. Not in Arkansas, merely that. Just a ploy, openly (snicker...) grifting. I suppose he thinks that he's feeling the breeze from next-door Georgia.

All of which raises the question: what are the rules of veto override among the states?

36 states require a two-thirds vote from both chambers of the legislature.
Seven states require a three-fifths vote from both chambers of the legislature.
Six states require a majority vote from both chambers of the legislature.
Alaska requires a two-thirds vote in a joint meeting of its legislative chambers.

So, Arkansas and five others have a worthless veto. Well, unless someone changes voting. Swell. But which ones?

The wiki to the rescue: the backward states with simple majority.
West Virgina

Parallax View - part the fifty second

Another week's up, so here are today's numbers:
  >= 1,000 -   333
100 to 999 - 1,227
(New) grand total of counties reads at 3,081. While I've not gotten into an argument with the Topo folks over this re-definition of 'affected' counties, it certainly looks like a move to bolster wannaBePresident Huey Long 2024's perpetual lying.

[4 April] Stupid is as stupid does
For example, just 22% of those who say they'll never get vaccinated say they have avoided public places in the last week compared to 54% of those who are fully vaccinated, according to Gallup polling.
We're now I think in that cycle where the Upper Midwest is just now beginning to start this fourth surge. I think it was a wake-up call to everyone yesterday when Michigan reported out at 8,400 new cases, and we're now seeing increasing number of severe illnesses, ICU hospitalizations, in individuals who are between 30 and 50 years of age who have not been vaccinated.
-- Michael Osterholm

One hopes he is just being paranoid. But he's been right before.

Well yeah, I tole you so many missives ago
Doctors are worried that coronavirus may end up being like influenza, which requires a new vaccine every year both because the circulating strains mutate fast and because immunity from the vaccine wears off quickly.
Not, naturally, because I'm a scientist expert in coronaviruses. But, as the saying goes, I can read, and reading up on coronaviruses led rather swiftly to reporting that recovery immunity to coronaviruses has been short with previous types. Ergo, absent specific new evidence, we would be smarter to err on the side of caution with this type of coronavirus. There's been some complaining on various retail plunger investor sites of late that Pfizer and Moderna and J&J aren't/won't get rich off these vaccines. Well, I expect they will. I expect that, call it a booster or re-vaccination, we'll be seeing a two-fer (flu and Covid) shot next fall. And the fall after that... Time will tell.

What's still disquieting: no mention in reports about USofA Covid situation taking into account the P.1 variant overrunning Brazil. As with the NYC situation last year, it will take only one plane load from Rio to set in motion a new epidemic here. And, of course, it's already arrived.

[5 April] Welcome to the party, kids! Combine B.1.1.7, which is vectoring towards the Young Sets, and Ronny VirusSeed©'s Spring Break Infectiathon, and will we see another January spike? If so, will that be sufficient to disabuse the Younger Sets of their belief and assertion that Covid is The Old People's Grim Reaper, ergo of no concern to them? Sacrifice more than the occasional individual kiddie might be enough of a slap upside the head? Only The Shadow knows.
In Florida's Orange County, officials reported late last month a rise in Covid-19 cases in the 18-25 age group.

And a third of all of the county's Covid-19 hospitalizations were people younger than 45, according to Dr. Raul Pino, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

Quants' Hubris - part the seventh

Blythe Masters rides again! Again! And again!!

So, let the post-mortems continue! This next one also in the NYT, puts more meat on the bones of the issue. Doesn't, alas, provide any insight into whether Hwang's shenanigans are widespread by others. Better hope not. Remember, Blythe's CDS scam happened in full view of regulators, more or less; derivatives have never been much regulated.
"That whole affair is indicative of the loose regulatory environment over the last several years," said Charles Geisst, a historian of Wall Street. "Archegos was able to hide its identity from regulators by leveraging through banks in what has to be the best example of shadow trading."
Couple that with the fact that Archegos is, officially, a non-public entity and thus not subject to SEC oversight... Regulators could, more or less, see the CDS situation among all those public entities. Didn't motivate them to keep the herd from stampeding.

Not all the banks chose to jump later, after his spanking by regulators
Goldman later changed course, and in 2020 became a prime broker to the firm alongside Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley. Nomura also worked with him. JPMorgan refused. [my emphasis]
The rest of the story amounts to: once the avalanche starts rolling down the mountain, most everything gets scrubbed out.

02 April 2021

Voting Lefts - update

One may feel that Coke and Delta and American Airlines, and perhaps more, are finally doing the right thing. Although, in fact, all they're doing is back-pedaling some self-inflicted bad PR. Will they take steps? It didn't work out well last time.

Delta tried such a stunt before, when it went against NRA
Republican lawmakers in Georgia made good on a threat to eliminate a proposed tax break for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, after the carrier declined to reverse a decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association.
And given that Republican legislatures, and Republican state courts, are knee-capping Democratic governors (and may be some Republican ones too?) who are trying to keep Covid under control, ya think they might be just a tad eager to do the same with voting rights? Some hundreds of bills, and a few now law, across 47 states (at last report) to keep all those Left Wing Snowflakes from electing anyone. Everybody knows only Republican Autocrats are worthy of running governments. Vlad told them so.

Are you surprised that Georgia is trying the same thing, yet again.
Wednesday's action by the Georgia House, on the final day of the state's legislative session, sought to revoke the company's jet-fuel tax break and came amid an intense faceoff between Delta's CEO Ed Bastian and Georgia's Republican political leadership.
Back then
Georgia lawmakers have targeted the multimillion-dollar tax break on jet fuel before as political retribution. In 2018, state lawmakers killed the tax cut after Delta ended a discount for members of the National Rifle Association -- earning the ire of the assembly's Republicans.
Several months later, then-Gov. Nathan Deal suspended collecting the tax.

Quants' Hubris - part the sixth

Blythe Masters rides again! Again!

So, let the post-mortems begin! This one in the NYT, finally, ties Hwang to Blythe, although not by name.
During the 2008 crisis, the insurance giant AIG nearly collapsed under the weight of unregulated swaps contracts it wrote.
Those "swaps contracts" were made up by Blythe, who called them Credit Default Swaps. That tale has been chronicled here more than once.

As shown in the last episode, these are a different sort of swap from CDS, but, given the fact that they're untraceable by regulators, and of unknown control by the banks (individually or en masse), it may turn out that there are more Archegos out there, ready to immolate at any moment.

But, back to Archegos.
As banks tally up their losses and shareholders smart over the hit to their portfolios, the tactics that Archegos employed will draw the eye of regulators and renew calls for further regulation of swaps and similar financial products, called derivatives.
Ya think? The horses are out of the barn, once again.

There are, at least, two categories of derivatives: those that hedge an owned asset, and those that hedge somebody else's owned assests. And one might point out that the latter also births an evil twin, where the weight of the asset out weighs the assets of the holder of the derivative. That's the beauty, as they see it, to the finance wizards: leverage, aka Other People's Money. The key to being Instruments of Mass Destructions is when such derivatives are not just not regulated, but their volume and ownership is untracked. Multiple 'owners' of such instruments 1) unthered to the real asset, 2) there's no limit to how many 'swap owners' may bet on other peoples' assets, and 3) there's no guarantee that the 'sellers' of such swaps each, indivicually, keep track of how many bets are being made on each real asset.

Whether Archegos is a Lone Outlaw, or, as the Great Recession unfolded, one of many pulling the same stunt isn't known as I type. You'd better hope Hwang is a Lone Outlaw. Keep in mind that the players who enabled this stupidity were among the crew that fueled the fever dreams which led to the Great Recession.
"The disclosure system doesn't cover any of this," said Dennis Kelleher, chief executive of Better Markets, a Wall Street watchdog group. "These derivatives are designed for synthetic exposure which de facto conceals ownership interests."
Credit Suisse      check
Nomura Securities  check
Morgan Stanley     check
Goldman Sachs      check
Mitsubishi UFJ     check (although mostly from bailing out MS) 

Prepare for interesting times.