Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has condemned possible new US sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline as “deliberate termination of the transatlantic partnership.”
A draft law currently under discussion in the US Congress is “a widespread, unjustified attack on the European economy and an unacceptable interference with EU sovereignty and the energy security of Western Europe,” Schröder writes in his statement for a public hearing of the Economic Committee scheduled for Wednesday in the Bundestag.
The article closes:
Schröder sees the relations with the USA as “heavily burdened” by “escalating tariffs and going it alone” policy by the Americans.
Schröder writes: “Economic fines against a NATO ally during the current economic recession are nothing other than a deliberate termination of the transatlantic partnership.”
This is as if Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama were to say that EU policymakers had a trade policy toward the U.S. that is so hostile and uncooperative that in order to comply with it, the U.S. would have to subordinate itself to the EU and lose some of its own sovereignty, and as if he were to tell the U.S. Congress that for them to okay the EU’s demands in this matter would be “nothing other than a termination of the transatlantic partnership.”
Both of Germany’s main political Parties (Schröder being SPD) support strongly the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which will be considerably more economical for supplying natural gas to the EU than would be the U.S. Government’s demand that American shipped fracked liquified natural gas be used, instead of Russian pipelined natural gas, in Europe. Though this U.S. legislative initiative is called “Protecting Europe’s Energy Security,” its overwhelming support in the U.S. Congress is instead actually for protecting U.S. fracking corporations.
The bill’s title is only for ‘patriotic’ propaganda purposes (which is the typical way that legislation is named in the United States — as a sales-device, so as to sound acceptable not only to the billionaires who fund the Parties but also to the voters on election day).
Both of America’s political Parties are significantly funded by America’s domestic producers of fracked gas. One of the few proud achievements of U.S. President Obama that has been proudly continued by President Trump has been their boosting U.S. energy production, largely fracked gas, so as to reduce America’s foreign-trade deficit.
However, if this control over the U.S. Government by frackers continues, then there now exists a strong possibility, or even a likelihood, that the transatlantic alliance will end, as a result.
France Suspends Role In NATO Naval Mission, Outraged Over “Turkish Aggression” Tyler Durden
Thu, 07/02/2020 – 02:45
France has notified NATO command that its military is suspending involvement in an ongoing Mediterranean operation called Sea Guardian in protest of a June 10 incident wherein Turkish warships off Libya’s coast “engaged” a French frigate via radar. This means the Turkish ship essentially had missile lock on the NATO allied ship.
The AP detailed in the days after the hostile encounter between two NATO members that “the frigate Courbet was ‘lit up’ three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to approach a Turkish civilian ship suspected of involvement in arms trafficking.” The Turkish military ships were allegedly escorting the smaller civilian ship, suspected by the French of illegal gun-running.
The French vessel was then forced to back off as it tracked a civilian Turkish vessel suspected of smuggling arms into Tripoli amid a blanket UN arms embargo. The two sides have since blamed the other for the act of “aggression”.
Paris had declared it a “hostile act” – something which Ankara has rejected. The French Foreign Ministry further accused the Turkish ships of “extremely aggressive” intervention against a NATO ally.
Ironically, Operation Sea Guardian is meant to enforce the arms embargo on Libya — but Turkey allegedly intervened against the French ship to thwart inspecting and seizing weapons in transit. Needless to say the incident highlights severe cracks in the NATO alliance.
The incident came also amid worsening relations between Turkey and France over Turkey’s increased “adventurism” of late in defending Tripoli against Haftar forces, which has involved drones, aircraft, and even sending Turkish national troops to the region along with mercenaries from Syria.
On Wednesday France reportedly sent a formal letter to NATO command in Brussels informing the alliance that it is effectively suspending support for the Mediterranean operation until necessary “clarifications” are made as a result on the NATO investigation into the incident.
Specifically, the letter addressed to NATO’s Secretary-General makes“four demands to clarify the role of the Sea Guardian operation, including its cooperation with an EU mission that is enforcing a UN arms embargo to Libya.”
Though an arms embargo has been in effect on Libya since last year, the multiple players supporting opposing sides in the proxy war have essentially treated in as a joke. Since the UN declaration, more arms than ever have poured into the conflict, as well as mercenaries.
The ban would remain in effect until the U.S. infection rate falls to a level comparable to or lower than the European rate and the number of new cases nationwide starts trending downward.
Although the guidance approved by the European Council is non-binding on EU member states, the economic repercussions of the action could be severe on both sides of the Atlantic.
Prior to the pandemic, Europe was earning fully 10% of its revenue from tourism, with much of that from the U.S. Further, a new IMF report concludes it’s the advanced nations of the world that will take the biggest hit from coronavirus fallout, so there are powerful economic incentives for the EU and the U.S. to mutually relax travel restrictions.
While Europe’s ban on travel from countries with high infection rates appears sound on the surface, the data underlying its exclusion of U.S. travelers is misleading to the point of being false.
At a glance, the rate of U.S. infections (or “cases,” whether or not infections result in COVID-19 symptoms) is vastly higher than that of any European country except tiny ones like the Vatican City and Andorra. And who wants visitors from a plague hotbed?
And yet, the U.S. infection “case rate” obscures something crucially important that is being missed — or ignored — by the media on both sides of the pond: Despite the high U.S. rate, six major European countries have a higher per-capita death rate than the U.S., and a couple of others are on about the same level. (Maybe U.S. healthcare for COVID-19 patients is better, but that much better?)
What really explains the higher U.S. infection is twofold.
First, U.S. testing per capita has soared far above that of the major European countries. As with any other disease, whether infectious or not — heart disease, cancer, etc. — the more you test, the more you find. So, in banning travel from the U.S. while ignoring the causal link between increased testing and increased infections rates, the EU is in effect punishing the rapid expansion of testing in the U.S.
Second, as The Atlantic reported last month in article entitled “How Could the CDC Make That Mistake?” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), under its controversial director Robert Redfield, is conflating antibody tests that indicate past infection with antigen (viral) tests showing current infection. That superficially scary U.S. infection rate thus includes antibody-positives, who actually make the most desirable foreign visitors because they won’t get sick on your soil and won’t be infecting your people. The commingling of the two kinds of tests, moreover, is made to order for double-counting, since a person who tests positive for the actual virus will later probably test positive for the antibody also.
So those articles you’ve been reading about U.S. case rates going back up (while deaths suspiciously stay flat or decline)? The best explanation may not be the easing of lockdown restrictions, as has been implied by innumerable scare headlines in the media. It may instead be the U.S. testing surge, plus case numbers misleadingly inflated by double-counting.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Ashish Jha, the K. T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard and the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said to The Atlantic when told what the CDC was doing.
“This is a mess,” he said.
Whether it’s somehow a “mistake” as both he and article state is debatable, but either way, the U.S. government has effectively invited exaggerated COVID-19 numbers in multiple ways, including:
If it’s hard to conceive why European governments would forfeit badly needed American tourist dollars simply because of surging U.S. testing combined with a counting methodology that overstates case numbers, perhaps it’s because the EU has an additional, unacknowledged motive beyond public health, namely retaliation: Remember, President Trump blocked travel to the U.S. from all 26 member nations of the European Schengen Area in mid-March, before Europe blocked the U.S.
The U.S. stands to take a big economic hit of its own by keeping its doors closed to Europeans. In March, Tourism Economics estimated the U.S. travel and tourism industry could lose at least $24 billion in foreign spending this year because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
With summer travel season in full swing and the worst of the pandemic now behind both Europe and the U.S., time is running out for both sides to open their doors and start helping each other back to economic health.
“Now I want to make the case for secrecy in government when it comes to the conduct of national security affairs, and possibly for deception where that’s appropriate,” Bolton said.
“You know Winston Churchill said during World War Two that in wartime truth is so important it should be surrounded by a bodyguard of lies.”
“Do you really believe that?” asked an incredulous Napolitano.
“Absolutely,” Bolton replied.
“You would lie in order to preserve the truth?” asked Napolitano.
“If I had to say something I knew was false to protect American national security, I would do it,” Bolton answered.
“Why do people in the government think that the laws of society or the rules don’t apply to them?” Napolitano asked.
“Because they are not dealing in the civil society we live in under the Constitution,” Bolton replied. “They are dealing in the anarchic environment internationally where different rules apply.”
“But you took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and the Constitution mandates certain openness and certain fairness,” Napolitano protested.
“You’re willing to do away with that in order to attain a temporary military goal?”
“I think as Justice Jackson said in a famous decision, the Constitution is not a suicide pact,” Bolton said.
“And I think defending the United States from foreign threats does require actions that in a normal business environment in the United States we would find unprofessional. I don’t make any apology for it.”
I am going to type a sequence of words that I have never typed before, and don’t expect to ever type again: John Bolton is right.
Bolton is of course not right in his pathetic spin job on the use of lies to promote military agendas, which just looks like a feeble attempt to justify the psychopathic measures he himself took to deceive the world into consenting to the unforgivably evil invasion of Iraq. What he is right about is that conflicts between nations take place in an “anarchic environment internationally where different rules apply.”
Individual nations have governments with laws that are enforced by those governments. Since we do not have a single unified government for our planet (at least not yet), the interactions between those governments is largely anarchic, and not in a good way.
“International law”, in reality, only meaningfully exists to the extent that the international community is collectively willing to enforce it. In practice what this means is that only nations which have no influence over the dominant narratives in the international community are subject to “international law”.
And this is also why so much effort gets poured into controlling the dominant international narrative about nations like Russia which have resisted being absorbed into the US power alliance. If you have the influence and leverage to control what narratives the international community accepts as true about the behavior of a given targeted nation, then you can do things like manufacture international collaboration with aggressive economic sanctions of the sort Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is currently calling for in response to the the completely unsubstantiated narrative that Russia paid Taliban fighters bounties to kill occupying forces in Afghanistan.
In its ongoing slow-motion third world war against nations which refuse to be absorbed into the blob of the US power alliance, this tight empire-like cluster of allies stands everything to gain by doing whatever it takes to undermine and sabotage Russia in an attempt to shove it off the world stage and eliminate the role it plays in opposing that war. Advancing as many narratives as possible about Russia doing nefarious things on the world stage manufactures consent for international collaboration toward that end in the form of economic warfare, proxy conflicts, NATO expansionism and other measures, as well as facilitating a new arms race by killing the last of the US-Russia nuclear treaties and ensuring a continued imperial military presence in Afghanistan.
We haven’t been shown any hard evidence for Russians paying bounties in Afghanistan, and we almost certainly never will be. This doesn’t matter as far as the imperial propagandists are concerned; they know they don’t need actual facts to get this story believed, they just need narrative control. All the propagandists need to do is say over and over again that Russia paid bounties to kill the troops in Afghanistan in an increasingly assertive and authoritative tone, and after awhile people will start assuming it’s true, just because the propagandists have been doing this.
They’ll add new pieces of data to the narrative, none of which will constitute hard proof of their claims, but after enough “bombshell” stories reported in an assertive and ominous tone of voice, people will start assuming it’s a proven fact that Russia paid those bounties. Narrative managers will be able to simply wave their hands at a disparate, unverified cloud of information and proclaim that it is a mountain of evidence and that anyone doubting all this proof must be a kook. (This by the way is a textbook Gish gallop fallacy, where a bunch of individually weak arguments are presented to give the illusion of a single strong case.)
This is all because “international law” only exists in practical terms to the extent that governments around the world agree to pretend it exists. As long as US-centralized empire is able to control the prevailing narrative about what Russia is doing, that empire will be able to continue to use the pretext of “international law” as a bludgeon against its enemies. That’s all we’re really seeing here.
Florida Sheriff To Deputize Gun Owners If Cops Can’t Handle Protesters Tyler Durden
Wed, 07/01/2020 – 22:45
A Florida sheriff says he’ll deputize lawful gun owners in the event BLM protesters overwhelm local police forces, according to WTSP.
Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels announced in a Tuesday video that he will “make special deputies out of every lawful gun owner” in the county if he has to.
In the three-minute video, the northwest Florida sheriff calls out “the mainstream media” and protesters as godless dissidents. He tells people to not “fall victim to this conversation that law enforcement is bad, that law enforcement is the enemy of the citizens that we’re sworn to protect and serve.”
Daniels then talks about law enforcement taking an oath “to support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the government…And we end that with, ‘So help me God.’”
“But God is absent from the media’s message or Black Lives Matter or any other group that’s making themselves a spectacle disrupting what we know to be our quality of life in this country,” Daniels says. –WTS
Daniels then warns protesters to stay out of Clay County.
“If we can’t handle you, I’ll exercise the power and authority as the sheriff, and I’ll make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county and I’ll deputize them for this one purpose to stand in the gap between lawlessness and civility,” adding “You’ve been warned.”
When traffickers in intellectual gobbledegook have free reign, the Truth Irrelevancy Project’s work is done.
Truth is always the enemy of power. Exposure of power’s motivations, depredations, and corruption never serves power’s ends. Truth is often suppressed and those who disclose it persecuted. Any illegitimate government (currently, all of them) that fails to do so risks its own termination.
What if, instead of suppressing the truth, a regime could render it irrelevant and not have to worry about it? That prospect is the Holy Grail for those who rule or seek to rule.
By now most people recognize war is being waged. “Make the Truth Irrelevant” was published before Covid-19 or the George Floyd protests and riots, but it offers the perspective necessary to understand who is waging war against whom, and what’s at stake.
Science is one way humanity searches for truth. The Covid-19 panic and response are a direct assault on what remains of science. All of the hysteria and the political reaction to it are driven by models and projections, which are nothing more than hypotheses.
It is said that models are only as good as the underlying data and assumptions they incorporate, but that’s misleading. They may use the best available data and assumptions and still be wildly off the mark. For any model of a complex phenomenon—the weather, the climate, financial markets, or the progression of a disease—substitute “our best guess” for the word “model” and you have a better understanding of what the model actually is.
“Our best guess” also depends on who’s doing the guessing. The Covid-19 models that have been accepted and heavily publicized are the ones with the most dire projections for cases and deaths. The projections have generated the fear and panic necessary to support unprecedented restrictions on freedom and individual rights—lockdowns, business closures, involuntary unemployment, social distancing, and face masks—and a concomitant expansion of governments’ power, essentially rule by decree.
The truth and logic were made irrelevant in many ways. Any opposition to the substitution of “our best guess” for actual science was roundly denounced as anti-science! The effectiveness of the totalitarian measures had never been established and still has not. There are in fact ample indications that they have made the outbreak worse. The use of hydroxychloriquine with antibiotics and zinc compounds, and other alternatives, as a treatment for Covid-19, based on doctors and other researchers’ observations, hypotheses, and experimentation—the scientific method—that too was anti-scientific. When non-science (sounds a lot like nonsense, doesn’t it?) becomes science and real science is scorned and discarded, the Holy Grail is within grasp.
Even after the models upon which the totalitarian measures were based proved dramatically wrong, questions and dissent were suppressed and the measures kept in place. Nobody was to question the motives or the political philosophies of the officially approved best-guessers or their sponsors, even after the best guesses were wildly errant. Nobody was to question the good faith of the government officials who imposed the totalitarian measures even as the dire consequences mounted. When the official story cannot be questioned and alternative stories are suppressed, what does it say about the official story?
Social media companies openly proclaim their fealty to the party line and remove anyone who has the temerity to challenge it. After a slow start most of the alternative media has woken up. Only a remnant cling to the official narrative, hoping any new uptick in cases anywhere heralds the kind of pandemic they predicted but never came, or at least a second wave of the one that did. Disappointingly for them, death rates keep going down and increases in cases are mostly driven by the increases in testing the coronavirus commissars have mandated.
Corrupting science is the penultimate step to making the truth irrelevant. The last step is obliterating thought. The chaos in the streets that erupted after George Floyd’s death is a flyspeck compared to the mental chaos it reflects, which finds the ostensibly opposing sides on the same side, waging full-on war against reason and logic. A small and lonely brigade does battle against huge armies marching under banners of intellectual gobbledegook.
Violence or its threat precludes discussion, which means you don’t have to rhetorically disarm and win a debate with someone who’s pointing a gun at you before you physically disarm, injure, or kill him in self-defense. Anyone who inflicts violence on people or property must be confronted by law enforcement with whatever force is necessary to stop the violence and subdue the perpetrator. Peaceful, law abiding citizens have the right to call upon what is, in a rational society, their agent the government to do it’s duty and arrest, try, and, once the violent criminal is convicted, incarcerate, regardless of the criminal’s beliefs and purported justifications.
George Floyd’s death raises a variety of disturbing questions and issues. The facts surrounding his death are not altogether clear, but will presumably be clearer after further investigation and the trials of the four police. Some have taken his death as an indictment of, among other things, police tactics, police in general, public laws, government, and the status of racial groups within the US. They have the right to peaceably protest. However, their questions, accusations, and condemnations, well-founded or not, afford no justification for violence and the destruction of property.
A society in which violence is initiated against people and property and is excused in the name of a cause is a society well down the road to its own destruction.People’s safety and freedom cannot be subject to the random and arbitrary terrors of political and ideological zealotry. To claim otherwise is to excuse the inexcusable.
The rioters are using the alleged murder of George Floyd and the alleged violation of his rights as a suspected criminal to justify the wholesale violation of rights of people who had nothing to do with the situation. You cannot protest a violation of yours or someone else’s rights while claiming the right to violate other people’s rights. It’s a double standard, which is the same thing as no standard – more gobbledegook.
If a white person is racist by virtue of being born white, but those using that pejorative and rationale are not racist for doing so, the words racist and racism have lost all meaning. Definitions of those words contingent on who’s using them and to whom it’s being applied render them meaningless. The guilt and apologies from some whites for racism and acceptance of their accusers’ claim that it is congenital is akin to guilt and apologies for attributes they actually are born with—blue eyes, curly hair, etc. An accusation that has no meaning or force is an accusation that must be ignored.
Similarly, “medical science” that warns of the dangers of anti-lockdown and Trump rallies but blesses George Floyd protests destroys the meaning of that term. A double standard is no standard and consideration of either the warning or the blessing is precluded by their self-contradictory idiocy. It is yet another indication of the corruption of medical science, already glaringly evident since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak.
The premise essential to the argument against racism is that individuals as a matter of logic must be judged as individuals, on their individual merits and flaws, not on their race. The concepts of racial guilt and racial pride are equally fatuous, a cover for people who want to either artificially inflate or deflate their own or someone else’s worth based on the accomplishments or transgressions of people to which they have no connection other than race and who often lived before they were even born. While the motivations of such people vary, it’s a plausible speculation that they stem from feelings of personal inadequacy.
Any racial generalization—commendatory, pejorative, or benign—is disproven by at least one individual member of the race who does not conform to it. Other than the characteristics which define a race, it is virtually impossible to make any true and universal generalizations (including generalizations about privilege or its lack) about any particular race. That’s on the questionable assumption that race can be even a definable concept in societies where races intermarry. What race is a child with a white and black parent? What is the race of the grandchildren if that child procreates with an Asian or Hispanic?
To paraphrase Ayn Rand, don’t bother analyzing nonsense, instead ask what it accomplishes. The premise of individuality and the impossibility of generalization cannot be acknowledged because this “war” is actually just another skirmish in the endless battle between the individual and collectivism, which at root is violence against the mind.
The rioters, looters, and vandals, and their political and rhetorical enablers have been forthright about their desire to destroy, stop, or cancel any form of individual expression that does not conform to their ever-shifting whims and dictates. They are more honest than the Covid-19 totalitarians, who want the same things but are hiding behind the spurious rationale of protecting public health. Both groups claim the collective good as they define it transcends individual rights, meaning it transcends the individual mind.
Undoubtedly there are people behind the scenes who are pulling the strings of the coronavirus commissars, peaceful protestors, and rioters. Many believe the string-pullers’ long-term goal is to install their version of order from the chaos they are fomenting. However, order out of chaos is a historical and intellectual canard, still more gobbledegook.
What will come out of chaos is what has always come when that crowd gains control: suppression, submission, stagnation, decay, tyranny, totalitarianism, and mass murder. Coronavirus totalitarianism and the open embrace of Marxism by many of the rioters tell you all need to know. One question undercuts Marxism: why will the people of ability continue to produce for the people of need? It’s a question whose only correct answer is that they won’t, not for long, and it should have relegated Marxism and its collectivist fellow travelers to intellectual dustbins from the moment they were promulgated. Instead, those ideologies drove the murder of at least 100 million people in the twentieth century.
Misery and death will always be Marxism and its collectivist way stations’ end product. Collectivism, whether the product of an uprising from below or some grand plan from above, inevitably degenerates to the “order” of the prison, the concentration camp, the Antebellum plantation, the gas chamber, or the graveyard. It’s also the order of the pressure cooker, as such measures always generate intense counter-pressure from the irrepressible human mind and spirit.
“Order” imposed and enforced by arbitrary violence is not order, it’s violence, destruction and death, a different and often more pernicious version of the same chaos it ostensibly replaces. To say that the communists replaced the chaos of Tsar Nicholas II’s regime with order is to equate the infliction of incalculable misery and despair and the death of tens of millions at the hands of their violent dictatorship with a scientific laboratory, a factory, a library, or any other endeavor dedicated to the peaceful pursuit of knowledge, production, and human advancement. That equalization stretches the definition of “order” beyond the breaking point.
Order is a human value, produced by rational human minds, not intellectual gobbledegook and chaotic violence. Order is a consequence of freedom and the protection of individual rights. There is nothing spontaneous about such order, it doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because people have discovered its necessary conditions and requirements, instituted corresponding social, political, legal, and economic arrangements, and find it in their self-interest to support and defend such arrangements (it’s not easy). The order that emerges results from voluntary choices, not violent control, which ultimately leads to chaos.
Sense and nonsense cannot peacefully coexist, either intellectually or in real life. Sense will be the first to realize that. Nonsense cannot recognize it—sense provides its sustenance. The desirability of separation is seeping into the alternative media. Terms like “secession” and “divorce” are used more frequently, especially among people who espouse freedom and liberty as their ultimate goal. They understand the totalitarian designs of the globalists, coronavirus commissars, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the politicians, celebrities, and businesspeople kowtowing to them, and know full well who has the ability and who has the need.
The first requirement of collectivism is victims. Its proponents can’t let their victims (sustenance) walk away, so there won’t be an amicable divorce. It will come down to history’s perpetual victims—the capable, competent, and honorable who ask of government only that it protect their rights—confidently asserting their own value, refusing to be victims, establishing one or more enclaves, defending their right to their own lives and free and peaceful order, and ignoring the collectivists’ screams as they consume themselves.
Ahead of tomorrow’s June non-farm payrolls, consensus expects an increase of 3.1 million jobs, however with great uncertainty across estimates. Here is the rest of consensus expectations from tomorrow’s report:
Nonfarm Payrolls exp. 3mln (range 405k to +9mln, prev. +2.51mln);
Average workweek hours exp. 34.5hrs, prev. 34.7hrs.
According to Standard Chartered’s Steven Englander, dropping the top and bottom 10% of payrolls forecasts still leaves a central range of 1.65-5.00mn jobs, an extremely wide band that reflects the multiplicity of shocks hitting US labor markets.
According to NewsSquawk, the March and April jobs reports saw a cumulative 22.1 million jobs shed from the US economy, and as such, analysts will be looking at the cumulative pace of recovery too; if the June consensus is realized, we will have seen around 5.5 million of those jobs return highlighting the uphill task the economy faces in ‘normalizing’.
Meanwhile, the jobless rate is seen falling to 12.3%; the Fed has projected that rate would fall to 9.3% by the end of this year, and fall further to 6.5% at the end of 2021. Analysts will pay particular attention to the participation rate, given the long-term impact participation can have on employment and wage growth levels. Heading into the data, we are deprived of some of the usual proxies we monitor to gauge the US labor market conditions; benchmark revisions diminishes the usefulness of the ADP survey, while we do not have a complete set of business surveys (notably, the services ISM will be released after the jobs report), leaving a degree of uncertainty around projections.
As Englander adds, the consensus for job gains reflects a drop in weekly initial unemployment claims and a clear but more modest drop in continuing unemployment claims, as well as less established mobility and restaurant reservation data. Even with COVID-19 resurgence fears, activity indicators were much higher in the June survey week than in May.
According to the strategist, given the multitude of stimulus programs in place, a weak number is unambiguously weak. The ambiguity lies in how much the job maintenance requirements of some programs induce temporary hiring. A strong number could reflect economic improvement or fiscal incentives to hire. Job losses have taken employment back to 2011 levels. The Fed worries that workers will be laid off if programs are scaled back, so it will likely maintain an aggressively stimulatory policy stance. That said, once benefits start tapering out after the month of July, a second wave of mass layoffs is widely expected unless the imminent fiscal cliff is not refreshed with trillions in new stimulus.
In its preview of the payrolls, report, Goldman writes that the bank will again pay special attention to the number and share of workers on temporary layoff, which spiked to a record high 18.1mn in April and remained elevated at 15.3mn in May. Over the last 50 years, the three recessions with the highest share of temporary layoffs were followed by the fastest labor market recoveries (both absolutely and relative to consensus forecasts at the time). If year-to-date job losses remain concentrated in this segment, it would increase the scope for continued rapid payroll gains this summer.
On the other hand, if the BLS fixes the “survey error” its admitted to have made in previous months which reduced the unemployment rate by up to 3%, it is possible that a far worse number could be reported tomorrow.
To this effect, Goldman also expects that about half of the 4.9mn excess workers that were employed but not at work for “other reasons” in May will be reclassified as unemployed in the June household survey, applying upward pressure on the unemployment rate. Additionally, Goldman expects the labor force participation rate increased as business reopenings encouraged job searches. Correcting for misclassification of unemployed workers, the bank estimates the “true” unemployment rate declined more significantly, but to an even higher level (-2.4% to 14.0% in June from 16.4% in May).
Below are some other considerations heading into tomorrow’s jobs report:
Analysts have suggested that in the current environment, the participation rate may hold more informational value than usual. That rate has declined sharply, and since March, there has been a surge in the number of people out of work but ‘not in the labor force’ (so are not looking for a job); UBS argues that they may not have looked because they believed they would be rehired; or they may not have looked because of mobility restrictions; their detachment from the labor force may prove to be temporary. “However, sustained lower-levels of labor force participation have long-running effects on employment probabilities and wages,” the bank writes, “the slow recovery in employment after the last recession was an example, and the path of labor force participation will be key to this recovery.”
INITIAL JOBLESS CLAIMS: In the week which corresponds with the BLS jobs report data, initial jobless claims again disappointed expectations. “It’s not clear why claims are still so high; is it the initial shock still working its way up through businesses away from the consumer-facing jobs lost in the first wave, or is it businesses which thought they could survive now throwing in the towel, or both?” Pantheon Macroeconomics says; either way, it argues that the numbers were disappointing, and serve to emphasize that a full recovery is going to take a long time. It is also worth noting that after the May jobs report confounded expectations, and some reason that the analyst community may have been wrong-footed by putting too much weight onto the weekly claims data, which have recently pointed at only limited improvement in labour market conditions.
ADP: The ADP’s gauge of payroll growth in June disappointed expectations, seeing 2.37mln jobs added versus the 3mln expected; the prior, however, was significantly revised up from -2.76mln to +3.07mln; Moody’s economists said that there is no information in the revisions, which was more a reflection of the benchmarking of ADP data to the official BLS data, adding that the May payrolls were significantly overstated. Indeed, other analysts explain that the ADP data is based on a model which includes lagged official BLS data, which diminishes the usefulness of the ADP data. However, there were some interesting details in the release: leisure and hospitality sectors added 961k jobs as restaurants reopened; health care added 246k jobs, and the housing sector added 394k jobs as demand firms within the market; meanwhile, manufacturing employment was subdued, adding 88k jobs, which might indicate factories are not opening up as quickly as had been hoped. Capital Economics said the data suggests some downside risk to its above-consensus forecast for a 5mln increase in nonfarm payrolls, but notes that a research paper from the Brookings Institute last week argued that the raw ADP microdata, rather than the model-based estimates the ADP publicly release, was consistent with the stronger 5mln rise.
BUSINESS SURVEYS: The ISM manufacturing report saw the employment sub-index jump 10 points to 42.1, the largest M/M increase since April 1961; it was however the eleventh straight month of employment contraction. Nevertheless, three of the six big industry sectors saw expansion as stay-athome orders were lifted, but long-term labor market growth remains uncertain, the report stated, though signs were positive given the moderately strong new order levels and a softening of backlog contraction were encouraging signs. The ISM non-manufacturing data has not been released yet (will be published on Monday), depriving us of glimpse at employment conditions in the non-manufacturing sectors of the US.
CHALLENGER JOB CUTS: Layoffs came in at 170k in June vs the prior 397k. Challenger noted the “job cuts are trending down, as expected, as businesses begin the difficult task of reopening. However, with a resurgence in cases, millions of Americans out of work, and enhanced unemployment benefits coming to an end soon, we may expect more companies to make cuts as consumer and business spending slows.” Of the job cuts this year, COVID has been the main cause, while market conditions and demand downturn have also been cited; both knock-on effects of COVID. The fall in oil prices was cited as the reason behind some of the job losses this year, it adds. The majority of the job cuts in June comes from Entertainment/Leisure companies, retailers were second, services sector third, followed by the automotive sector.
Arguing for a better-than-consensus report:
Big Data. Alternative datasets generally validate this message, with sizeable increases in mobility data from Google and Homebase and an 8% increase in the employment ratio in the Dallas Fed’s Real Time Population Survey.
Seasonality. There should be a seasonal bias in education categories to boost job growth by roughly 0.5mn, as some of the janitors and other school staff who normally finish the school year in May and June stopped work in April.
Job availability. The Conference Board labor differential—the difference between the percent of respondents saying jobs are plentiful and those saying jobs are hard to get—rebounded meaningfully to -3.0 from -12.7 in May and -15.7 in April (but remains in contractionary territory).
Employer surveys. Business activity surveys improved on net in June but generally remained in near contractionary territory, and the employment components of Goldman’s survey trackers rebounded somewhat less sharply (non-manufacturing +5.2 to 37.6; manufacturing +5.1 to 43.8).
Arguing for a worse-than-consensus report:
Jobless claims. While initial jobless claims indicate that layoffs proceeded at an elevated pace (averaging 1.8mn per week), continued claims declined by 1.3mn from survey week to survey week. Furthermore, the decline in continuing claims likely understates the pace of job growth because underemployed part-time workers are still generally eligible for benefits (and the $600 benefit top-up increases the incentive to continue to file).
Census hiring. Census temporary workers are set to decline by 4k in June due to the coronavirus.
ADP. Private sector employment in the ADP report rose by 2,369k in June. While below expectations, the implications of the miss for are clouded by large swings in the statistical inputs to the ADP model this month, in our view. Our main takeaway from the report was the upbeat remarks in the report itself, which presumably is a reflection of the underlying ADP data.
Job cuts. Announced layoffs reported by Challenger, Gray & Christmas pulled back 51% in June to 182k after falling 45% in May and rising 266% in April. Despite the decline, they remain 304% above their June 2019 levels.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Port of New York/Newark seized a shipment of human hair from China suspected of being “forced labor products,” according to a press release.
The packages weighed nearly 13 tons and have an estimated value of over $800,000.
“It is absolutely essential that American importers ensure that the integrity of their supply chain meets the humane and ethical standards expected by the American government and by American consumers,” said Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner of the CBP Office of Trade.
“The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in U.S. supply chains.”
The hair came from Lop County Meixin Hair Product Co. Ltd., which is located in China’s Xinjiang region, an area where the Chinese government has imprisoned Uighurs, a Turkic-ethnic minority.
The PRC’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang put businesses at risk of exposing their supply chains to forced labor and other abuses. Businesses must do their due diligence to avoid reputational, economic, and legal risks. Don’t be complicit.
In recent days, the Trump administration has expressed condemnation over reports indicating that Beijing is attempting to control the Uighur population through mass forced sterilization, Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices, and abortions.
According to the AP’s extensive investigation into what some are calling the Chinese government’s genocidal campaign, birth rates among the majority-Muslim group have dramatically dropped to unprecedented numbers in recent years.
Rushan Abbas, a Uighur activist living in America who spoke to the Associated Press, warned of China’s human rights abuses in detention camps where she suspects her missing sister is right now.
“This is so heartbreaking for us,” Abbas said.
“I want people to think about the slavery people are experiencing today. My sister is sitting somewhere being forced to make what, hair pieces?”
In May, CBP made a similar detainment of hair, that time synthetic hair weaves, from a company called Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories Co. Ltd. That company is also located in Xinjiang.
Moreover, the two hair companies have both been placed under CBP Withhold Release Orders, meaning CBP can seize the products for suspected ties to forced labor allowing the producer an opportunity to make their case.
Rehired Workers Get Axed As States Pause Or Reverse Reopening Tyler Durden
Wed, 07/01/2020 – 21:25
Wall Street opened higher on Wednesday as optimism flourished following a positive COVID-19 vaccine headline (one of many we’ve seen in the last several months). It appears the hope and hype of vaccine headlines and President Trump’s pumping of a V-shaped economic recovery could be in the latter innings as confirmed cases surged across the country as governors are pausing reopenings.
On Tuesday, more than 48,000 confirmed virus cases were reported across the US. Most of the cases were centered in these states – Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress on Tuesday that confirmed virus cases could spike to 100,000 – now resulting in some states to press the pause button or even reversing reopenings.
Many of the states pausing or reversing reopenings are across the Sun Belt region. The emergence of the virus is due to Memorial Day parties.
Bloomberg notes reversing of planned reopenings could spark the next wave of layoffs, adding that newly hired workers are getting the ax once again.
Jeffrey Bank, who heads Alicart Restaurant Group, was in the process of reopening his restaurant based inside the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City last week but was greeted by new communication from Governor Phil Murphy that a delayed restart of indoor dining will be seen due to a recent surge in virus cases.
Bank said he’ll lose $100,000 on the false restart and will layoff 100 people whom he’d just recently rehired.
The surge in cases could derail nationwide reopenings – along with President Trump’s economic V-shaped recovery that he routinely touts on Twitter. Data this week shows Florida’s Miami-Dade County reported its highest numbers of hospitalizations and Houston, intensive-care units soared to 97% of capacity.
In recent days, Arizona, Florida, Colorado, and Texas closed bars and nightclubs to contain the spread – while Arizona shutdown gyms, water parks, and movie theaters.
Bahram Akradi, a gym owner in Arizona, said he was furious when the governor’s office told him his facilities had to close for a second time.
“No grocery store has taken our measures,” Akradi said. “No Home Depot has taken our measures. No business has taken the measures we have.”
Ron Smith owns 13 McDonald’s stores in the Las Vegas area, said his dining rooms are closing again due to the emergence of the virus.
“We were incorrect, meaning the country,” he said, on opening up certain areas this spring. “It’s disappointing,” said Smith.
He was not hopeful about reopening dining rooms until the spring of 2021.
It seems a lot of the progress made during the initial lockdowns to flatten the curve are reversing: Lakeland, a Florida city, east of Tampa, has about a dozen restaurants and six bars that fear lockdowns are imminent.
Jack McHugh, a manger of Lakeland’s mainstays, Molly McHugh’s Irish pub, worries that curfews are coming to the downtown district.
Bloomberg notes that in states where virus cases are surging, the economy is starting to relapse as consumption plunges.
Customer transactions at major restaurant chains had been increasing in recent weeks, even if they were still down when compared with last year. However, that momentum reversed itself in the week ended June 21 after infections rose in much of the South and West, according to market researcher NPD Group.
In Arizona, transactions at major chains had roared back and were down only 1% in mid-June from a year ago, but now they’re down 7%, NPD data show. Transactions slipped by five percentage points in both North Carolina and Nevada. – Bloomberg
Teddy Vallee, CIO of Pervalle Global, a global macro research fund, tweeted a chart of confirmed virus cases rising in California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona, and said these states equate to 34% of US GDP.
As the Impeachment Farce neared its pathetic denouement, an optimist might have expected that the virulent Trump Derangement Syndrome infecting the MSM, the Dems and the Washington ruling class would finally die out.
Not at all. It’s back with a vengeance, lurking in the subtext and sotto voce of virtually every headline and utterance from the above precincts with respect to the Covid-19.
Indeed, the entire Covid narrative is so hideously distorted, exaggerated, mendacious and risible as to finally confirm what’s actually been at bottom of the successive waves of RussiaGate, UkraineGate, the Impeachment Farce, the Covid-Hysteria and now the Summer of Race Huckstering, too.
Namely: Orange Man Bad!
It’s as simple and primitive as that. In the present instance, only the filter of Orange Man Bad can possibly explain each new twist and turn of the MSM’s Covid narrative, which has essentially degenerated into a running show trial-like prosecution.
But finally they have gotten so desperate and hysterical that they are just flat-out fabricating, censoring and falsifying the evidence with respect to the so-called second wave allegedly hitting the Sun Belt states.
Their true purpose however, is nakedly evident. They are so infuriated about the Donald’s claims that the virus is abating (it is) and that it’s time to reopen America and get back to business (it really is!) that they are literally attempting to tag him with de facto genocide.
Needless to say, whatever is going on in Texas, Florida and Arizona, it isn’t an eruption of the Black Plague, even if you extrapolate the current elevated level of “positives” for several months into the future.
So let us go back to the basics. Even in the worst hit precincts of New York City, there never was a random sample Grim Reaper marauding through the general population. The very bad numbers of cases and deaths coming from the five boroughs were overwhelmingly the product of a catastrophic mismanagement of nursing and other long-term care homes and other abandoned elderly already afflicted with life-threatening morbidities.
But even then, when you compare the case and death rates per 100,000 for NYC’s three most rotten boroughs – the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn – with what is happening in the major Texas cities, for instance, it’s not the same zip code or even the same planet.
Covid Cases/Deaths Per 100,000 Persons as of June 27:
Fort Worth: 500/10;
San Antonio: 423/5;
The media drumbeat in recent days has especially focused on the alleged surge of new cases in Houston/Harris County, featuring the same old hoary prediction of overflowing hospitals and ICUs that turned out not to be true even in NYC – except for a few hospitals at the epicenter of the pandemic in the Bronx for a few peak weeks in March/April.
Yet just like in the case of the flooded NYC hospitals myth, the readily accessible facts with respect to Texas and Houston refute this weekend’s media blitz entirely.
And they also underscore the everlasting laziness and servility of the MSM. After all, if you start with a positive case rate per 100,000 in Houston that is currently only 17 percent of that recorded for the Bronx and a death rate that is only 3 percent of what occurred in the Bronx, why in the world would you even think that Houston is teetering on the edge of a medical calamity?
That’s especially the case if you happen to have the basic knowledge that Houston sports one of the great medical complexes of the entire world. That is, it’s a health care rich community experiencing only a tiny fraction of the Covid case load that happened in NYC.
Beyond that, we are no longer in the horse and buggy age, obviously. Given that patients can be reallocated to other communities if need be, the relevant hospital capacity is not just Houston’s, but capacity in other places around the state that are not experiencing the same level of Covid case increases now occurring in Houston.
So here are the statewide facts: As of June 25, Texas had 54,700 staffed acute care hospital beds, but only 41,950 were being used, implying a occupancy rate of just 76.7 percent and 12,750 empty beds still available.
Moreover, only about 5,000 beds representing 12 percent of the current census were occupied by confirmed or suspected Covid patients. So as of June 25 the state had nearly 2.5X more empty hospital beds than it had Covid patients, notwithstanding the surge of new cases and hospitalizations during the month of June.
In fact, that’s not the half of it. Owing to seasonal factors, the number of empty hospital beds has actually been rising during the spring months even in the face of the soaring Covid caseload.
That’s right. On March 18, Texas had 46,550 occupied hospital beds, reflecting an occupancy rate of 85 percent or well above the 76.7 percent level as of June 25.
But back in March virtually none of these occupied beds were attributable to Covid patients. That’s because at that point there had been only be 83 confirmed Covid cases and 2 deaths reported for the entire state!
By then what happened over the next three months, as the Covid caseload built up from zero to the present 5,000, is that even more beds emptied out due to:
– state orders prohibiting elective surgeries and other treatments;
– normal seasonal declines in occupancy; and
– aggressive reclassification of patients admitted for other reasons as Covid patients.
As to the latter point, it seems that Texas health officials started logging every single COVID-19-positive patient in the state as a COVID-19 hospitalization, even if the patients themselves were admitted seeking treatment for something other than the coronavirus.
As Lindsey Rosales, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Health Services, confirmed recently to an independent investigator:
‘The number of hospitalized patients includes patients with a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 even if the person is admitted to the hospital for a different reason,’ Rosales said.
Moreover, nearly everyone admitted for some other medical condition – and presumably asymptomatic for Covid – gets tested for Covid-19 before other treatments or surgeries are permitted:
Texas Health Resources, one of the state’s largest hospital systems, says on its website that its ‘patients [are] tested before most procedures.’ Elective surgeries and other medical procedures in Texas have gone up in recent weeks as the state has gradually re-opened following its lockdown.
In other words, the first wave of Lockdowns created a huge backlog of demand for elective surgeries and other discretionary treatments, which were banned by state authorities. But once those bans were lifted and people got in the hospital for deferred treatments, they were tested for Covid and became the statistical gruel for the so-called second wave.
But even then, the Texas hospital statistics over the last three months make mincemeat out of the national media’s weekend narrative that Texas hospitals will soon be overflowing into the hallways. To wit, here is the trend of unused acute care beds in the Texas hospital system:
– 3/18: 8,155;
– 4/1: 18,411;
– 4/15: 21,489;
– 4/29: 19,432;
– 5/20: 16,035;
– 5/27: 15,315;
– 6/3: 15,219;
– 6/10: 13,271;
– 6/17: 14,993;
– 6/25: 12,571
In short, Texas had gone from virtually no Covid cases or deaths on March 18 to 131,917 cases and 2,296 deaths by June 25, but it actually had 56 percent more empty hospital beds on the latter date!
You can’t make this stuff up. The MSM is so intoxicated by Orange Man Bad that it has essentially turned journalism into a kangaroo court of juvenile imprecations.
Nor are we attempting to deceptively drown the case in statewide averages. As of last week, the Houston area alone had 12,458 staffed acute care beds (23 percent of the statewide total), but 2,675 or 21 percent of these were empty; and on top of that they had an additional surge capacity of another 925 beds.
That’s especially salient because the rise in cases in Texas and Houston has generally been among a much younger population than earlier in the pandemic, and the need has been for exactly these kinds of general beds, not ICU beds.
So the fact is, as of last week the Houston area hospitals had just 795 lab confirmed Covid patients, representing just 8 percent of their 9,785 daily census. That also means that given Houston’s 3,600 beds of remaining surge capacity, they could actually accommodate a 4X increase in their current Covid caseload.
As it happened, even the leadership of the Houston health care community finally had enough from CNN, NBC, and the rest of the Covid Calamity Howlers, and struck back this weekend with a resounding denial of this spurious crisis narrative.
For instance, the CEO of one Houston’s leading hospitals, Memorial Hermann, pulled no punches:
We actually still think we have plenty of capacity to meet the demand for Covid, as well as non-Covid patients. We’re always busy in the summertime, and what we’re seeing now is a typical summer for us.
Callender, whose not-for-profit health system has 17 hospitals in the Houston area, stressed that the medical network’s capacity is ‘constantly in flux’ and needing to be managed. ‘But right now, we’re able to do that very well,’ he said.
‘Across our system, we have about 4,000 beds that we can bring into play’ for intensive care, he said. ‘Right now, only about 30 percent are being utilized for Covid care, so we still have plenty of capacity for Covid patients as well as patients who need hospitalization for other illnesses.’
Doctors and nurses also have learned how to better treat Covid-19 patients after three months of its presence, said Callender, who joined Memorial Hermann in 2019.
‘We’re seeing a slightly lower rate in terms of the number of typical hospital bed patients who convert to a need for ICU hospitalization. We’re also using ventilators less frequently,’ he said. ‘We have more drugs at our disposable that we know help limit the severity and duration of the illness. So overall we’re faring better than we did just a couple months ago.’
Likewise, chimed in Dr. Marc Boom, President and CEO of another leading institution, Houston Methodist:
The number of hospitalizations are ‘being misinterpreted,’ said Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom, ‘and, quite frankly, we’re concerned that there is a level of alarm in the community that is unwarranted right now.’
‘We do have the capacity to care for many more patients, and have lots of fluidity and ability to manage,’ Boom said.
Boom pointed out that his hospital one year ago was also at 95 percent ICU capacity – long before Covid was a thing!
That’s right. Apparently, 95 percent utilization of the ICU is a typical June condition, not the sign of the Covid Apocalypse. And contrary to the heated headlines on the MSM, only about 25 percent of Houston’s fully occupied ICU’s are accounted for by Covid patients.
Again from Boom:
‘It is completely normal for us to have ICU capacities that run in the 80s and 90s,’ he said. ‘That’s how all hospitals operate.’
…the hospital ‘[has] many levers in our ability to adjust our ICU,’ he said, claiming that the hospital capacity regularly reported by the media is ‘base’ capacity rather than surge capacity.
Boom also alluded to hospitals’ ability to turn regular beds into ICU beds as well as to turn recovery, and pre- and post surgical areas into ICU areas if needed as a kind of coronavirus ‘flex area.’
Specifically, there are about 2,200 ICU beds in the Houston service area, but another 500 beds could be added to this after such planned for conversions and re-purposings. And Boom also pointed out an even more salient point:
Boom said overall, hospitals are seeing younger COVID-19 patients, who stay for a shorter period of time, and fewer deaths. Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom told CNBC on Monday that the demographics of the outbreak have ‘flipped’ and that the mostly-younger people arriving in the state’s hospitals often don’t require ICU beds, even though many do get very sick.
Finally, there was this rebuke to the smirking CNN anchor, who on Saturday had been bemoaning that the situation was allegedly so desperate that a Houston children’s hospital had been drafted into Covid service at great risk to the children.
Not at all, according to Mark Wallace, Texas Children’s Hospital president and CEO. Actually, this was just part of the systems’ surge plan:
Texas Children’s started accepting adult COVID-19 positive patients this week and is currently operating at a 74 percent ICU occupancy, Wallace said.
‘We have the ability to take care of all of the Houstonians that need a critical care environment, that need to be operated on, or acute care,’ Wallace said.
As we said, the MSM, the Dems and the Washington ruling class are literally rabid with Orange Mad Bad.
The recent ballyhooed Covid surge and hospital capacity crisis in Texas is just one more case in point.