What’s interesting about the Senate age distribution is that though we have some difference in the lumpiness, when I look at the average age of the senators by party, they’re basically the same: 64 years old (and some change). On the younger end of the Boomers.
As you can see, Bleak House is the dying-est novels for named characters.
Obviously, if you really go by what was going on in the novel in general, A Tale of Two Cities, which has a huge part of its action take place in the middle of The Terror, really was set in the most murderous time.
Looking at this body count, I’d say Bleak House is the one that comes closest to accurate Victorian UK mortality. It was brutal, y’all.
The rates are per 100,000 people for the year, but the point is who has the highest, and we see that the answer is:
For 2019: age 85+
For 2020: age 20-24
I threw in the age 15-19 group as ringers, by the way. When we get to all the age groups, they’re not even #4 in the ranking.
Just in that little table, you can see that the rates went up for the youngsters and dropped for the seniors. Think about why that might be.
As noted in my polling question, I’m not adjusting for the number of miles driven, and I’m not going to dig for that data now. But would you like to make some assumptions about the driving habits of these different groups? Especially during the pandemic?
With this tile grid map, we can see that the two-year mortality experience has been horrible, even on an age-adjusted basis. I will be using age-adjusted death rates [using the standard 2000-reference-age-adjustment] for all the comparisons. The methodology is at the end of the post.
I warn against taking any meaning from North Carolina, as it has a data-reporting problem. Hawaii, however, really does have a low increase in mortality, and I believe it is credible that the mortality increase of the northeast is also low. I am not sure how credibly to take the increase in mortality of Wyoming, given its relatively small population.
However, we can see some patterns. In general, one has a “hot spot”, and then the increase falls off as you retreat from that peak. The large pattern is the high increase along the southern border — Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi — and then the next layer above is less bad, and so forth. There is the Wyoming peak, falls off around there. There is the midwest cluster – Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio. And then New York/New Jersey.
As well we know, the excess mortality is driven primarily by COVID, which I will get to in the next major section, but let me share some ranking tables.
The kinds of messages that are welcomed are “innovative” in terms of telling you that you don’t have to do the thing you really don’t want to do (put more money into the pensions, promise less, cut back on many things, tax more, etc.)
Actuarial News is a website Stu created for me to use as a place to collect all the articles, websites, data sources, etc. that I like to use for my research and writing. I tend to develop ideas over long periods, and I prefer my selections over trying to use regular search.
As noted in the video, I used to use the old Actuarial Outpost (RIP) as a repository for my articles on public pensions and finance, but now I use Actuarial.News.
I present the rates in percentages, as opposed to the more traditional number (which is per 100,000 people per year), because I do not want people to get this confused with the raw counts of people who died. Yes, that does mean there are a lot of small numbers. For children, I even had to extend some out to 4 decimal places to get a significant figure.
In adulthood, natural causes of death tend to increase in rate with increasing age. More below.
External causes (accidents, homicides, and suicide) will have the similar rates over broad ages but drop dramatically in ranking with increasing age — as the natural causes become more likely to occur.
COVID has a similar pattern in mortality as heart disease — indeed, the heart disease death rate is approximately twice that of the COVID death rate for the entire age range from 15 to 85+ on the table.
If inflation pushes up interest rates and accelerates wage growth, that could take some of the pressure off of public pension plan performance. Since the Great Recession, pension plans have been steadily lowering their assumed annual rate of return to better match the low-interest rate environment. Pension plan actuaries factor that rate when in calculating a government’s annual pension bill. Lowering that rate results in a higher bill because governments have to make up the difference.
More stable returns. Rising inflation can result in higher returns from a pension plan’s fixed-income assets. Unlike the volatile equities market, the nice steady investment return from fixed-income securities is much nicer to rely on from a planning perspective. In fact, bonds used to be pensions’ bread and butter until interest rates began falling in the 1990s.
That could result in lower pension bills for governments with healthy plans. Or in the case of struggling plans like Chicago or Kentucky, it could at least slow the pace of their rising pension bills.
Higher worker contributions. What’s more, noted Brainard, accelerated wage growth also means those workers paying into pension plans will be contributing slightly more. “What wages will do when inflation is 2% is a lot different than when it’s 6%,” he said.
The ranking tables do reflect where COVID hit hard in 2020 — the spring 2020 wave in the northeast, and the summer 2020 wave along the south and southwest (Texas, in particular). No, Florida didn’t show its big COVID impact until January 2021, so it’s pretty far down on this ranking table.
This way, we can see if there are any geographic patterns. We did know the hot spots of NY, NJ, IL (mainly around Chicago), DC, TX, Louisiana (around New Orleans), Arizona. I had not been aware of Mississippi being so bad, but maybe that was spillover from New Orleans.
The numbers below each cause are the total number of finalized deaths in CDC Wonder as of 11 January 2022 for the completed calendar year 2020.
COVID deaths for under age 15 weren’t in the top 10 causes for those age groups, which is why they aren’t seen in the table. But you may be interested in those numbers: at #12 for ages 5-14, with 49 deaths at #12 for ages 1-4, with 19 deaths at #13 for infant mortality (<1 year), at 35 deaths
In general, other than the new cause of COVID, most of the causes of death were in the same rank order as in 2019, with a few switches for causes that tend to be close in numbers.
Productivity gains in consumer electronics have not been able to exceed the erosion of the currency’s value.
Bills such as Build Back Better are just a piece of the reason — we have more coming. We have a huge demographic issue, and a huge Social Security and Medicare bill not yet paid. Shoveling out more money and writing more IOUs will not help matters.
The pandemic created a lot of uncertainty around state and local government revenues for much of 2020. That was a big reason for the dramatic boost in the rate of bonds issued with insurance that year: In total, $34.45 billion in new bonds carried insurance — the highest since the Great Recession ended in 2009. Even with the economic stabilization this year, insurance is still going strong. Through October 2021, wrapped municipal bond issuance totaled $31.5 billion, according to RBC Capital Markets.
Looking ahead, the chatter about municipal climate risk has been increasing in recent years. Extreme weather events linked to climate change have called into question the preparedness and resiliency of utilities and other government issuers, while studies point to the potential long-term economic effect. One BlackRock Investment Institute report estimated that some vulnerable cities could see economic losses of up to 10% of GDP without decisive action.
The bottom line: Insurance provided safety for muni market investors during the pandemic and its continued use indicates that investors and issuers are both finding it attractive in situations where there might be a little more long-term uncertainty. Climate risk plays right into this notion. While no one expects bond insurance to dominate the market as it once did, it’s likely that the pandemic spike in usage is here to stay.