Editorial | Republicans, Who Do You Think Is Bailing Out Your State? – The New York Times

“Of the 20 states with the most favorable balance of payments, a handfulat most, are blue. For every dollar in federal taxes it pays, New York receives 91 cents in return, behind only Connecticut (which receives 84 cents for each dollar), New Jersey and Massachusetts (which both receive 90 cents per dollar). Mr. McConnell’s home state, Kentucky, by contrast, rakes in $2.41 for every tax dollar it sends Washington.

In other words, Mr. McConnell’s state is effectively subsidized by blue states like New York and New Jersey. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York reminded Mr. McConnell of this during his Thursday news briefing. “Senator McConnell, who’s getting bailed out here?” the governor demanded. “It’s your state that is living on the money that we generate.” “

Opinion | Will Warm Weather Slow Coronavirus? – By John M. Barry – The New York Times


Mr. Barry is the author of “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.”

Credit…Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

“Will there be another wave of Covid-19? And if so, how big will it be, and will there be more waves after it?

The answer to those questions depend on seasonality, the susceptibility of the population to the disease, the rate at which the coronavirus mutates and how we come out of lockdown.

Colds and influenza are seasonal because those viruses generally survive outside the body for a shorter time in high heat and high humidity than in cold weather and low humidity. People also spend more time indoors in winter, coming into close contact with others with less ventilation, so respiratory infections are far more common in winter, although of course they can sicken people in summer, too.

But in 1918 and 1919, the years of the world’s deadliest pandemic, the seasons seemed to have little impact on the influenza.”

Opinion | Let’s Get Real About Coronavirus Tests – The New York Times

By Michael T. Osterholm and 

Mr. Osterholm is an infectious disease expert. Mark Olshaker is a writer and documentary filmmaker.

Credit…China Daily/Reuters

“In the world’s ongoing quest to respond to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, one of the tools most often invoked and hailed is testing — testing for current infections, to determine who is ill and contagious, and testing for antibodies, a sign of past infection and possibly, too, of future immunity.

The goal is to identify people who might spread the virus and isolate them, and to allow anyone protected from reinfection to resume an active social and professional life.

Democrats in the United States Senate have proposed a plan for “fast, free testing in every community.” At a recent news briefing, Andrew M. Cuomo, the governor of New York State, declared: “The more testing, the more open the economy.” President Trump’s new business advisory council has warned that the American economy will not rebound until wide-scale screening takes place.

But there are major problems with this approach. Far too few tests are available in the United States. Some are shoddy. Even the ones that are precise aren’t designed to produce the kind of definitive yes-no results that people expect.”

Why Zoom Is Terrible – By Kate Murphy – The New York Times

“Last month, global downloads of the apps Zoom, Houseparty and Skype increased more than 100 percent as video conferencing and chats replaced the face-to-face encounters we are all so sorely missing. Their faces arranged in a grid reminiscent of the game show “Hollywood Squares,” people are attending virtual happy hours and birthday parties, holding virtual business meetings, learning in virtual classrooms and having virtual psychotherapy.

But there are reasons to be wary of the technology, beyond the widely reported security and privacy concerns. Psychologists, computer scientists and neuroscientists say the distortions and delays inherent in video communication can end up making you feel isolated, anxious and disconnected (or more than you were already). You might be better off just talking on the phone.

The problem is that the way the video images are digitally encoded and decoded, altered and adjusted, patched and synthesized introduces all kinds of artifacts: blocking, freezing, blurring, jerkiness and out-of-sync audio. These disruptions, some below our conscious awareness, confound perception and scramble subtle social cues. Our brains strain to fill in the gaps and make sense of the disorder, which makes us feel vaguely disturbed, uneasy and tired without quite knowing why.

Jeffrey Golde, an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, has been teaching his previously in-person leadership class via Zoom for about a month now and he said it’s been strangely wearing. “I’ve noticed, not only in my students, but also in myself, a tendency to flag,” he said. “It gets hard to concentrate on the grid and it’s hard to think in a robust way.”

Opinion | Who’s Profiting From the Coronavirus Crisis? – By William D. Cohan – The New York Times


Mr. Cohan is a former investment banker and the author of four books about Wall Street.

Credit…Richard Brian/Reuters

“The invisible killer is testing global capitalism as never before.

Some highfliers are getting a long overdue comeuppance. Take, for instance, the Vision Fund, the $100 billion venture capital fund created by Masayoshi Son, a Japanese billionaire whose mantra is “We only live once, so I want to think big.” On April 13, Mr. Son’s conglomerate SoftBank announced it expects to lose $16.7 billion on its Vision Fund portfolio for the year ended March 31, after a string of bad bets on dubious Silicon Valley start-ups.

The Vision Fund invested not just in WeWork, which was a debacle even before the coronavirus outbreak, but also Opendoor, a real-estate start-up; Zume, a restaurant robotics company; Compass, an online real-estate brokerage; and Oyo, an Indian budget hotel chain, all of which have fired or furloughed huge numbers of employees in recent weeks. SoftBank has already written off its $300 million investment in Wag, a dog-walking start-up, and is likely to lose its $2 billion equity investment in OneWeb, a British satellite operator, which filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Vision Fund thrived for as long as it did in part because of a decade of super-low interest rates. Investors desperate for higher yields, like the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, flocked to the Vision Fund because Mr. Son promised them a 7 percent yield on most of what they invested, far higher than could be found investing in, say, Treasury securities. It was the same mentality that attracted other investors to the mountains of risky debt issued in recent years by companies with less-than-stellar credit ratings. (There were $9.6 trillion in U.S. corporate bonds outstanding at the end of 2019, nearly double the amount of a decade earlier.)

This corporate debt bubble has finally burst — another long-awaited reckoning. Companies with too much debt are in an existential struggle. On April 15, Neiman Marcus, the luxury retailer, skipped a $5.7 million interest payment on its outstanding bonds, setting the stage for its inevitable bankruptcy filing. Another large retailer, Macy’s, has hired restructuring advisers. Ford has seen its debt downgraded to junk status, as has Kraft Heinz.

The United States will soon be awash in corporate bankruptcies, which means a world of hurt for creditors, shareholders and employees of overleveraged companies or companies that have found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In fairness, no company could have anticipated the catastrophic effects of the pandemic. But the investors and employees of companies that for years gorged on cheap debt will pay the biggest price. There will be no soft landing for them.”

Opinion | Joe Biden Is Not Hiding. He’s Lurking. – By Michelle Cottle – The New York Times


Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Rarely has America been in greater need of competent, reassuring leadership. The pandemic has brought out the worst in President Trump, who continues to behave as if he’s presiding over a sick spinoff of “The Apprentice” during sweeps week. His misinformation briefings are such a disgrace that his advisers have sought to downsize them. His hawking of drugs of unproven efficacy and potential lethality is grossly irresponsible. His call for citizens to “LIBERATE” certain (Democratic-led) states from his own administration’s social-distancing policies was nuts. And just when you thought his performance could not get more erratic, there he was, musing about “cleaning” Covid-19 patients with a shot of disinfectant.

A majority of Americans, polling shows, are unimpressed.

For many Democrats, the remedy is obvious: Former Vice President Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee for president, should be elbowing his way into the conversation. He should be doing more interviews, issuing sharper critiques, proffering better plans — basically presenting himself as a smarter, steadier alternative to Mr. Trump. Since the pandemic took holdthere has been much discussion about Mr. Biden’s having become “invisible” and what it will take for him to break through. (Even he is said to be growing twitchy.) Why, frustrated supporters fret, won’t he fight for a higher profile?

There are plenty of good answers to this question. Some speak to the basic political reality of national crises and some to Mr. Biden’s particular quirks.

First, the basics: In times of upheaval — be it a war, terror attack, hurricane or pandemic — the commander in chief commands center stage. No matter how ill equipped a president may be, he is the nation’s daddy figure, and anxious Americans look to him for guidance and action.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT

Excellent op-ed Michelle Cottle, thank you. I started with horror, because I found the Headline insulting and derogatory. How dare you say that Joe Biden is Lurking. It slowly dawned on me that it is possible you did not write that insulting headline. You ended, “Much can happen in six months. But there’s no reason to believe that having Mr. Biden more in the president’s face at this time would help him in November. Better for now to keep the election a referendum on Mr. Trump. As one former Democratic operative put it, “When a guy is digging his own grave, you don’t fight him for the shovel.”” Well said! This is not the first time that I have been appalled by the headline of what turned out to be a well written op-ed. There seems to be a problem at this news organization with insulting or misleading headlines.

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Thomas Jennett commented 3 hours ago

Thomas Jennett
Malibu, CA

@David Lindsay Jr. I’m thinking that since she’s on the editorial board she has some say so about her own headline. And it is a bad headline. “Lurking” never sounds good. In context with the creepy allegations – stealth hair sniffing/kissing and the Tarra Reade business – lurker sounds extra unsavory.

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‘Sadness’ and Disbelief From a World Missing American Leadership – By Katrin Bennhold – The New York Times

“BERLIN — As images of America’s overwhelmed hospital wards and snaking jobless lines have flickered across the world, people on the European side of the Atlantic are looking at the richest and most powerful nation in the world with disbelief.

“When people see these pictures of New York City they say, ‘How can this happen? How is this possible?’” said Henrik Enderlein, president of the Berlin-based Hertie School, a university focused on public policy. “We are all stunned. Look at the jobless lines. Twenty-two million,” he added.

“I feel a desperate sadness,” said Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European history at Oxford University and a lifelong and ardent Atlanticist.

The pandemic sweeping the globe has done more than take lives and livelihoods from New Delhi to New York. It is shaking fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism — the special role the United States played for decades after World War II as the reach of its values and power made it a global leader and example to the world.”

DL: I found this piece on Facebook from Seth Bates.

Opinion | What Will the Coronavirus Do to Our Deficit? – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times


Opinion Columnist

Credit…Bishara Mustafa/EyeEm, via Getty Images

“Almost a decade has passed since I published a column, “Myths of Austerity,” warning that deficit alarmism would delay recovery from the Great Recession — which it did. Unfortunately, that kind of alarmism seems to be making a comeback.

You can see that comeback in the gradually increasing number of news analyses emphasizing how much debt we’ll run up dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. You can also see it in the rhetoric of politicians like Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who is blocking aid to beleaguered state and local governments because, he says, it would cost too much.

So this seems like a good time to emphasize two key facts. One is economic: While we will run very big budget deficits over the next couple of years, they will do little if any harm. The other is that whatever they may say, very few prominent figures in politics or the media are genuine deficit hawks, who are actually worried about the consequences of rising government debt. What we mainly have, instead, are deficit peacocks and deficit vultures.

The term “deficit peacocks” was coined by the Center for American Progress for people who preen and posture about fighting deficits without offering realistic policy proposals. I’d broaden the term to include what I used to call Very Serious People — those who inveigh against the evils of debt not because they’ve done a careful analysis but because they imagine that it makes them sound earnest and tough-minded.

Who Pays For This? · by Morgan Housel – Collaborative Fund

 by Morgan Housel

“The federal government will run a $3.8 trillion deficit this year and $2.1 trillion next year.

Those estimates, from a budget-focused think tank, don’t include what’s almost certain to be another multi-trillion-dollar stimulus package or two, or three, in the near future.

We’re all just guessing, but when this is all over – however you want to define that – it would not surprise me if the direct federal cost of Covid-19 is something north of $10 trillion.

I’ve heard many people ask recently, “How are we going to pay for that?”

With debt, of course. Enormous, hard-to-fathom, piles of debt.

But the question is really asking, “How will we get out from underneath that debt?”

How do we pay it off?

Three things are important here:

  1. We won’t ever pay it off.
  2. That’s fine.
  3. We’re lucky to have a fascinating history of how this works.”

Source: Who Pays For This? · Collaborative Fund

John Houghton, Who Sounded Alarm on Climate Change, Dies at 88 – The New York Times

“John Houghton, a climate scientist and influential figure in the United Nations panel that brought the threat of climate change to the world’s attention and received a Nobel Prize, died on April 15 in Dolgellau, Wales. He was 88.

The cause was complications of the novel coronavirus, according to his granddaughter Hannah Malcolm, who announced the death, at a hospital, on Twitter.

A key participant in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Houghton was the lead editor of the organization’s first three reports, issued in 1990, 1995 and 2001. With each report, the evidence underpinning global warming and the role humans play in causing it grew more ineluctableand the calls for international action became more pressing. The group received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Al Gore, the former vice president and climate campaigner.”