With Congress poised to give states and local governments $350 billion, pandemic budget hit for many was smaller than predicted

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/05/politics/state-budgets-covid-relief-package/index.html

Excerpt:

“If the point of the stimulus bill is to just prevent state and local governments from having to cut back on spending or having to implement tax increases, then the $350 billion is way too much,” said Dan White, director of public-sector research at Moody’s Analytics. “Is that money better spent directly in terms of federal fiscal stimulus, as opposed to it flowing through states? If you use that money for PPP or for enhanced unemployment insurance, does it have a bigger bang for the buck in terms of economic stimulus?”

Moody’s Analytics now pegs the state and local budget shortfall at $61 billion when taking existing federal help into account. The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently estimated that the budget gap is around $225 billion, but it noted that that doesn’t include states’ and localities’ costs to continue fighting the virus or helping their struggling residents and businesses.

Author(s):  Tami Luhby

Publication Date: 5 March 2021

Publication Site: CNN

US life expectancy dropped a full year in first half of 2020, according to CDC

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/18/health/life-expectancy-fell-pandemic/index.html

Excerpt:

“A year of life expectancy lost doesn’t really give you a true sense of how serious this has been. Millions of life years were actually lost,” Eileen Crimmins, a professor at the University of Southern California who has researched changes in mortality, told CNN. “Covid is on track to cause more deaths than cancer or heart disease, and that’s important.”Most deaths due to Covid-19 have been among older adults, which would have a small effect on overall life expectancy.

But Theresa Andrasfay, a researcher at the University of Southern California who has published work on the potential impact of Covid-19 on life expectancy, notes that while deaths among younger adults may be less common, the numbers are still substantial.

Author(s): Deidre McPhillips

Publication Date: 18 February 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing home deaths calls for serious investigation

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/17/opinions/cuomo-covid-nursing-home-deaths-rodgers/index.html

Excerpt:

Late last month, New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued a scathing report about how nursing homes in the state handled Covid-19, including a finding that the state’s Department of Health undercounted Covid deaths at nursing homes by approximately 50%. While the discrepancy didn’t change the overall number of New York Covid-19 deaths, it attributed deaths where a nursing home resident had been transferred to a hospital for treatment to the hospital instead of the nursing home.

This undercount (a term New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker has pushed back on) downplayed the high rates of transmission at nursing homes, at a time when the state mandated that nursing homes re-admit patients with Covid-19 who had been receiving treatment in a hospital, a policy that was reversed a couple of months later. (Cuomo has long said the decision to send recovering Covid-19 patients back to nursing homes was based on federal guidance to do so.)

Last year both the US Department of Justice and New York State legislators issued requests for information about nursing home Covid statistics in New York State, but the Cuomo administration, according to a recent admission by a top Cuomo aide, delayed the release of the figures out of concern about a possible politically motivated federal investigation.

Author(s): Jennifer Rodgers

Publication Date: 17 February 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Silver is surging but users on WallStreetBets say they’re not behind the rally

Link: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/31/investing/silver-price-squeeze-reddit-wallstreetbets/index.html

Excerpt:

Silver futures surged as much as 13% to Monday, touching eight-year highs. That follows a 6% rally last week when some posts on the WallStreetBets group on Reddit called for betting on silver as a way to hurt big banks they believe are artificially suppressing prices.

Meanwhile, retail sites warned customers over the weekend they could not meet skyrocketing demand for silver bars and coins. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said it is monitoring the silver markets and “remains vigilant in surveilling these markets for fraud and manipulation.” And “#silversqueeze” is trending on Twitter.

However, it’s not clear who the Reddit users are — nor whether their market moves match the claims online.

Author(s): Matt Egan

Publication Date: 2 February 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Despite Covid-19 and stay-at-home orders, 2020 saw an increase in homicides across the US

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/01/us/homicides-2020-increase-coronavirus/index.html

Graph:

Excerpt:

Despite less activity outside with the closing of businesses and schools, 2020 saw a dramatic increase in homicides.

Between January and October, there was a 29% increase in homicides compared to the same timeframe in 2019, according to a November report from the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice. As of December 27, some of America’s largest cities saw dramatic increases as well, including Chicago (55%), New York (41%) and Los Angeles (30%).

Author(s): Amir Vera

Publication Date: 1 January 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Inside the Reddit army that’s crushing Wall Street

Link: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/29/investing/wallstreetbets-reddit-culture/index.html

Excerpt:

This past week has been a banner one for Reddit’s island of misfit investors.

WallStreetBets exploded into the mainstream, moving from the front page of Reddit to the front page of the New York Times and nearly every other major news site. The subreddit’s short-squeeze of GameStop helped shoot up the price of the video game retailer’s stock a mind-boggling 1,700% from the beginning of January to Wednesday (before it fell again Thursday), captivating the minds and wallets of investors — both casual and institutional — and financial regulators.

But while millions are now discovering WallStreetBets for the first time, it has been building momentum throughout the pandemic. One can trace its epic rise to a perfect storm of favorable conditions: the exponential growth of the app Robinhood and its no-fee options trading, the extreme volatility Covid-19 brought to the markets, the stimulus checks mailed to millions of Americans, the lack of televised sports for much of the year, and the unwanted free time stuck at home the pandemic has forced on many people.

Author: Jon Sarlin

Publication Date: 30 January 2021

Publication Site: CNN