The fourth U.S. wave of COVID-19 cases has started.
It’s not yet clear whether the wave will be a big one, or a little swell tamped down by masks, vaccines and successful social distancing efforts. But the total number of new cases in the United States increased to 422,980 in the seven-day period ending March 27, up 11% from the total for the week ending March 20.
The number of cases per 100,000 residents increased to 127. That was up from 115 per 100,000 U.S. residents a week earlier, and up from a recent low of 113 per 100,000 U.S. residents two weeks earlier.
The first observation in the United States motivating the GSG hypothesis is the protracted decline in long-term real interest rates, as shown in figure 1. This figure depicts both a Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) rate and an expected long-term real interest rate, computed by subtracting from the nominal yield on ten-year Treasury securities the measure of ten-year expected inflation from the Survey of Professional Forecasters (SPF).8 From 2003 on, the TIPS rate is for the ten-year TIPS. Before 2003, we use a 30-year TIPS rate, data for which are available starting in 1998, subtracting 40 basis points from it to reflect the average term premium observed in the years when both the ten-year and 30-year TIPS are available. At the time Bernanke first articulated the GSG hypothesis, much of the focus was on Greenspan’s conundrum—that is, the continuing drop in long-term rates in 2004–05 despite repeated hikes in short-term rates during a strong economy. However, with the benefit of hindsight, the much longer-run, apparently secular nature of the drop in long-term real interest rates is evident. Very roughly, it seems fair to say that the ten-year real interest rate in the United States declined about 150 basis points between the latter half of the 1990s (when it averaged around 3.5 percent) and the prelude to the global financial crisis (when it averaged around 2 percent), and then it fell another 200 basis points commencing with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and continuing to the present. While the first drop of 150 basis points is very plausibly a consequence of capital inflows, the post-crisis drop of 200 basis points is unlikely to be attributable primarily to the GSG;9 instead, that second drop suggests a somewhat parallel story of weak domestic investment in the United States.
Those who substituted some or all of their typical in-person work for telework tended to have higher household incomes than those who did not switch to telework.
In the highest-earning households — those with annual incomes of $200,000 or more — 73.1% switched to telework (Figure 1). This is more than double the percentage (32.1%) of households with incomes between $50,000 and $74,999, a range that includes the 2019 median U.S. household income ($65,712).
Lowest-earning households were less likely to switch to telework. Only 12.7% of households earning under $25,000 reported teleworking in lieu of in-person work.
Author(s): JOEY MARSHALL, CHARLYNN BURD, MICHAEL BURROWS
But Moosa Tatar, the lead author of the study featured by Yahoo, said the story’s framing of his analysis was incorrect, and he does not yet know how many of the excess deaths are attributable to COVID.
“The impact of COVID-19 on mortality is significantly greater than the official COVID-19 data suggest. But we need further research to determine specific reasons for this,” he told National Review. “These deaths may have been directly or indirectly associated with COVID-19.”
Nazaryan went on to imply that Governor Ron DeSantis could be pressuring the state’s medical examiners, who have “some discretion,” to deliberately undercount COVID deaths. “In Florida, the state’s 25 district medical examiners are directly appointed by the governor,” he noted.
Objectives. To determine the number of excess deaths (i.e., those exceeding historical trends after accounting for COVID-19 deaths) occurring in Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods. Using seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average time-series modeling and historical mortality trends in Florida, we forecasted monthly deaths from January to September of 2020 in the absence of the pandemic. We compared estimated deaths with monthly recorded total deaths (i.e., all deaths regardless of cause) during the COVID-19 pandemic and deaths only from COVID-19 to measure excess deaths in Florida.
Results. Our results suggest that Florida experienced 19 241 (15.5%) excess deaths above historical trends from March to September 2020, including 14 317 COVID-19 deaths and an additional 4924 all-cause, excluding COVID-19, deaths in that period.
Conclusions. Total deaths are significantly higher than historical trends in Florida even when accounting for COVID-19–related deaths. The impact of COVID-19 on mortality is significantly greater than the official COVID-19 data suggest.
Author(s): Moosa Tatar, Amir Habibdoust, Fernando A. Wilson
Publication Date: 10 March 2021
Publication Site: American Journal of Public Health
The impact of the pandemic in Florida “is significantly greater than the official COVID-19 data suggest,” the researchers wrote. They came to that conclusion by comparing the number of estimated deaths for a six-month period in 2020, from March to September, to the actual number of deaths that occurred, a figure known as “excess deaths” because they exceed the estimate.
There were 400,000 excess deaths across the United States in 2020, a spike closely correlated to the coronavirus pandemic.
The lack of testing early in the pandemic may also have undercounted COVID-19 deaths, explains Daniel Weinberger, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health who has also studied the coronavirus and excess deaths.
The issue was further complicated because each state has its own death-counting methodology. “Some states classify a death as due to COVID if a positive molecular test was obtained, while other states allow the death to be classified as due to COVID if there is a suspicion that it was caused by COVID (even without a molecular test),” Weinberger wrote in an email to Yahoo News.
LAST YEAR was a woeful time for people suffering from a drug addiction. Government shutdowns brought job losses and social isolation—conditions that make a transportive high all the more enticing. Those who had previously used drugs with others did so alone; if they overdosed, no one was around to call for help or administer naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses.
Fatal overdoses were marching upwards before the pandemic. But they leapt in the first part of last year as states locked down, according to provisional data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths from synthetic opioids—the biggest killer—were up by 52% year-on-year in the 12 months to August, the last month for which data are available. Those drugs killed nearly 52,000 Americans during the period; cocaine and heroin killed about 16,000 and 14,000, respectively (see chart). Once fatalities are fully tallied for 2020, in a few months’ time, it is likely to be the deadliest year yet in America’s opioid epidemic.
Kentucky lawmakers voted Monday to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of a bill that would change future teachers’ pension benefits.
The House and Senate, both with GOP supermajorities, voted to override Beshear’s veto of House Bill 258, which would create a “hybrid” pension tier blending defined benefit and contribution components for new Kentucky teachers hired starting in 2022.
That means teachers hired starting next January would be required to pay more toward their retirement and work longer before they can earn full benefits.
As The Daily Poster reported back in January, congressional Democrats in states like New York and New Jersey have been pushing for a repeal of the SALT deduction caps. Biden declined to include the SALT cap repeal in the American Rescue Plan.
If the SALT cap was fully repealed, nearly all — 96 percent — of the tax benefits would flow to the top quintile of earners, and more than half of the benefits would go to the top 1 percent of earners, according to data from the Brookings Institution. Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation found that the majority of the benefits of a SALT cap repeal would flow to households earning more than $1 million.
About 2.3 million women have exited the U.S. labor force since the pandemic began, compared with about 1.8 million men, according to government data. Many were driven out by layoffs in food service, health care, and hospitality — sectors that employ a majority of women and that have been most affected by the economic slowdown. Others left their jobs voluntarily, forced to stay home and care for children suddenly unable to attend school or daycare.
As a result, female participation in the workforce has dropped to 57%, a level not seen since 1988. The situation is dire enough that U.S. President Joe Biden called it “a national emergency.” With schools reopening and vaccines becoming more widely available, there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, but questions remain about whether working women will recover from such a deep setback.
Since I can’t find where they define time-weighting the best I can do is assume that the 3.04% rate of return for June 30, 2015 was mistakenly augmented to 3.41% which was enough to drop the rate of return below the 6.36% barrier.
In January, Beth Pearce, the state’s treasurer, dropped a political bomb, recommending painful cuts to the state employee and teacher pension systems in an effort to keep the system afloat in the long term. Top lawmakers in the lower chamber kept their cards close to the vest for months, working behind the scenes to craft a response, which was finally released Wednesday in the House Government Operations committee.
Between trimming benefits and asking for higher contributions, the House proposal would cost school workers a cumulative $300 million. For state employees, the cost would be about $200 million. Legislators are offering to pitch in more state dollars, too — an extra $150 million one-time contribution. (The proposals in play would not touch benefits for current retirees or those within five years of retirement.)
There are many reasons why Vermont finds itself staring down the barrel of a nearly $3 billion unfunded liability in its state employee and teacher pension systems. The funds have consistently fallen short of expected returns, and demographic trends also contribute to the problem. But one of the biggest culprits has been several generations of Vermont’s political leaders, who for decades shorted their contributions to the system.