Mortality with Meep: Huge Increase in Death by Drug Overdose in 2020

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-with-meep-huge-increase

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In 2020, there were over 93K deaths due to drug overdoses — a 30% increase over 2019.

This is super-bad, and worse than what I have seen for increases in other causes of death. I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn’t realize it was going to be this bad.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 14 July 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Mortality with Meep: U.S. Life Expectancy Fell 2.4% in 2020, and Death Rates Increased 16.1%

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-with-meep-us-life-expectancy

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The Spanish flu pandemic gives us the demonstration of what happens when there is a short-term large increase in mortality.

Using Social Security records of period life expectancy, there was a huge drop in life expectancy in 1918…. and then a huge increase in 1919. But going from 1917 to 1919 wasn’t really that big of a difference.

The period life expectancy drop was 12% for females, 13% for males in 1918.

Then there was an increase of 15% for females, 20% for males in 1919. The Spanish flu hit the U.S. hard in 1918, and let up in 1919.

If you compare 1919 against 1917, the life expectancy from birth increase was 1% for females, and 4% increase for males — male life expectancy was down in 1917 compared to 1916, probably related to World War I.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 29 June 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Mortality Nuggets: NYT Misleads, COVID Deaths Down, and Car Crash Fatalities Up

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-nuggets-nyt-misleads-covid

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I want you to notice something — the blue bars are the “with COVID” portion of deaths, and the chartreuse bars are the ones “without COVID”. The bars are weekly counts of deaths when they occurred. Ignore the most recent weeks because they don’t have full data reported yet.

The red pluses indicate excess mortality, defined as exceeding the 95th percentile for expected mortality for that week (so it includes seaonality). You can see the excess mortality from the 2017-2018 flu season, which was bad for a flu season.

The non-COVID mortality has been in excessive mortality range for almost all 2020 after March. But since the beginning of 2021, it has dropped off…. and COVID mortality has also dropped off.

I think we may be almost in “normal” range soon. We shall see!

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 13 June 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

National Public Pension Coalition vs. Truth in Accounting: Who is Accurate With Public Pension Unfunded Debt?

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/national-public-pension-coalition

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NPPC, I recommend you think through what will actually inform and protect your members. The TIA folks are not distorting the message, except to the extent that state and local governments are undervaluing their pension and OPEB promises.

Complaining about TIA will not make the pensions better-funded. Complaining about TIA will not prevent the worst-funded pensions from running out of assets, which will not be supportable as pay-as-you-go, as the asset death spiral before that will show that the cash flows were unaffordable for the local tax base.

And don’t look to the federal government to save your hash. So far bailout amounts have been puny compared to the size of the promises.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 9 June 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Not With a Bang, But a Whimper: Demographic Decline Undermines Public Finance

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/not-with-a-bang-but-a-whimper-demographic

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The last time the Census Bureau did a population projection, the estimated population for even 2020 came in a little high. From March 2018: Demographic Turning Points for the United States: Population Projections for 2020 to 2060 — they estimated a total population of about 332.6 million, and the apportionment Census results were 331.1 million. To be sure, this is a less than 0.5% difference, so no big deal.

This is the growth rate they projected, even in 2018:
2020-2030: 7%
2030-2040: 5%
2040-2050: 4%
2050-2060: 4%

Those are full-decade growth rates. That’s before the pandemic has shaved our numbers down a little.

Would you like to know the growth rates from prior decades?
2010-2020: 7%
2000-2010: 10%
1990-2000: 13%
1980-1990: 10%

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 28 May 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Mortality with Meep: On Excess non-COVID Mortality in 2020

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-with-meep-on-excess-non

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All of the excess mortality for age 85+ can be explained by COVID, essentially

Very little of the excess mortality for those age 15-24 can be explained by COVID

There is a lot of excess mortality for those age 25-44 not explained by COVID

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 22 May 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Mortality Nuggets: Global Excess Deaths, Memento Mori, and Mortality News Round-up

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-nuggets-global-excess-deaths

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In particular, it is pretty clear to me that specifically in the U.S., the non-COVID excess mortality has been very high. I do not think that’s under-counted COVID deaths. I think it’s due to other causes. We’ve already seen that car accident deaths were up, even though total miles driven was down by a lot.

So yay for their statistics in grabbing the excess deaths, but boo for assuming all those excess deaths were COVID.

Now, results of COVID and COVID policies, sure, I’d go with that. But do you want to start digging into the stats of suicides, drug overdoses, “accidental” deaths, and more? How about deaths of neglect? I bet that is involved in a bunch of non-COVID elderly deaths.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 18 May 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Which Public Pension Funds Have the Highest Holdings of Alternative Assets? 2021 Edition

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/which-public-pension-funds-have-the

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All the data for alternative allocation 2001-2020, with key percentiles plotted as lines

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What you see in that graph is a data point for each of the plans I know their asset allocation for, with the median, 25th percentile, and 75th percentiles marked out so you can see the allocations increasing.

That pattern does not make me feel good.

Allocating more to alternatives doesn’t seem to get asset managers higher returns. But the group is generally sliding upwards in their allocations, and I’m very unhappy about this.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 11 May 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Public Finance: Full Accrual Accounting and Governmental Accounting Standards Board Testimony

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/public-finance-full-accrual-accounting

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I will give a very simple example: suppose Netflix makes a deal where instead of you paying for a year’s subscription at a time, you can get a big discount if you pay for 2 years’ subscription.

Subscribers love the deal and pay for it….

….and then Netflix says their sales doubled in their financial reports. That’s IF they followed cash-based accounting, which records cash flows.

But they don’t, because accounting standards boards (outside the government sphere) know that this is just a trick to boost how financials look under cash accounting. And there are loads of these tricks. I just gave one simple example. The trick of getting people to pre-pay for sales to boost the numbers is a well-known ploy on the revenue side. A well-known ploy on the expenses side is to put off paying bills.

This is obviously distorting recognizing the true economic arrangement underlying these transactions, and some of the tricks make for a more fragile economic position for specific businesses. It was always the marginal businesses, which were barely hanging on, where cash-basis accounting tempts into trickery, which usually ends in financial failure. So accounting standards have developed to prevent this stuff.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 22 April 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at Substack

Mortality with Meep: Location of Death Data for 1999-2020, Entire United States

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-with-meep-looking-at-location

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For a few locations, it’s pretty clear that COVID explains almost all their excess deaths: inpatient healthcare facilities and nursing homes. Indeed, it looks like over 100% of the nursing home excess mortality came from COVID, which accords with what I see with excess mortality for older people.

However, there is a lot of excess mortality for people who died at home, and most of that is currently unexplained by COVID.

I don’t think it will be — I think we will find those excess diabetes, heart attack, and ‘unintentional injury’ deaths will have been at home, and because of lockdowns there weren’t other people around to get these people to treatment before they died. This accords with what Emma Woodhouse saw for Illinois – that pattern holds for the entire U.S., it seems.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 20 April 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

SALT Cap Tussle: NY Democrats Have an Ultimatum

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/salt-cap-tussle-ny-democrats-have

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It’s not just a matter of the state/local tax levels for each state, but also what income levels are like for the state.

In any case, the pattern of which states’ taxpayers get the biggest boost from SALT deductibility might surprise you a little, such as with Utah and Georgia. But many aren’t surprising at all, such as New York and New Jersey.

But even without considering the geographical footprint, obviously high-income folks get the biggest boost from removing the SALT cap. This has been known since the TCJA back in 2017 when they imposed the cap to begin with. It’s partly why it was done.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 15 April 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Mortality with Meep: Top Causes of Death in the United States in 2020

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-with-meep-top-causes-of

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You’ll see that among adults, the age range with the most suicides are people age 50-55. That’s due to two things: the number of people in that age range (early Gen X, so tailing off from Boomers) and the rate. For each age group far more males die by suicide than do females.

You can see that deaths by suicide in number drop off in old age…. but that’s because the population is dropping off in size (as mortality rates accelerate at high ages).

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 12 April 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack