Peter Schiff Warns “Americans Are In For A Rude Awakening”

Peter Schiff Warns “Americans Are In For A Rude Awakening”

Via SchiffGold.com,

All eyes have been on the stock market in recent weeks as it has reflected the fears about the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown and the hopes of massive stimulus. It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride. But in his podcast on March 27, Peter Schiff said there’s an even bigger problem looming on the horizon that people aren’t paying any attention to – the potential destruction of the dollar. He said Americans are in for a rude awakening.

The Dow Jones finished its best week since the Great Depression with a 915.39 point drop. But even with that big plunge, the Dow was up about 13% on the week, all on the strength of the spectacular rally on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. In fact, the Dow had a bull market condensed into three days. But Peter said it was not really a bull market. He called it a “vicious correction in a horrific bear market.” And he said that bear market is “a long way from over.”

But while most eyes are on the stock market, Peter said we’re missing a more significant looming bear market — the bear market we’re going to have in the US dollar.

Peter has already explained how the actions of the Federal Reserve and the US government has set the stage to devalue the dollar, saying the dollar is cooked. He said that with the central bank and government response to the coronavirus, hyperinflation has gone from being the worst-case scenario to the most likely scenario.

A bear market in the dollar can mask some of the other problems in the economy. Consider in the 1970s, the dollar fell by nearly 70%. That means that while nominal stock market losses in the decade weren’t terrible, the real losses were significantly larger.  It was a destruction of the value of US stocks and Peter said it’s going to happen again.

A plunge in the dollar means losses on all dollar-denominated assets — stocks, bonds, real estate. It also means price inflation and rising interest rates, which pushes down the value of bonds even lower. Peter said he thinks the dollar is going to be a lot weaker in this decade than it was in the 1970s.

I think the US is certainly starting off the decade in a much worse financial position.”

The main reason the dollar fell in the 1970s was because the US went off the gold standard. But the dollar remained the reserve currency, even though it was backed by nothing.

It got marked down, but it didn’t get knocked out.”

During the 80s, the US enjoyed the privilege of being able to issue the world’s currency without having to back it by gold.

That basically gave us a license to print and we’ve been abusing that ever since.”

Peter said this time he thinks the world is going to kick out the dollar as the reserve currency. If that happens, the dollar will just be another currency.

And that means Americans are going to have to have to abide by the same economic rules that govern everybody else. That means if we want to consume, we’ve got to produce. If we want to borrow, we’ve got to save. And Americans are going to be in for a rude awakening.”

Peter said this may well crush the retirement dreams of many Americans. With the erosion of the dollar’s purchasing power, retiring simply won’t be an option for many people.

Most Americans who are already retired, well, they’re going to have to go back to work. And the people who were planning on stopping working, well, they’re just going to have to keep working until they’re dead, basically. Unless you can do something now to protect yourself.”

Peter also talked about the passage of the massive stimulus bill. He said it’s possibly the most socialist bill ever passed. Basically, America is already a socialist nation.


Tyler Durden

Mon, 03/30/2020 – 14:52

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Did Pensions Just Kill The Rally: Quarter-End Rebalancing Suspended Until Further Notice?

Did Pensions Just Kill The Rally: Quarter-End Rebalancing Suspended Until Further Notice?

Last week, with stocks at 2016 lows, without a buyer in sight, with stock buybacks dead and buried, we first reported that according to JPMorgan calculations, some “$850 Billion In Stock Buying Is About To Be Unleashed” largely due to pension fund quarter-end rebalancing, which promptly served as the straw clutched by bulls everywhere who were hoping that with at least one set of investors forced to buy, the S&P500 may have hit a bottom, if only for the time being.

This is what we said:

According to JPMorgan estimates, balanced or 60:40 mutual funds, a $1.5tr universe in the US and $4.5tr universe globally, need to buy around $300 billion of equities to fully rebalance to 60% equity allocation.

At the same time the $7.5 trillion universe of US defined benefit plans, would need to buy $400 billion to fully rebalance and revert to pre-virus equity allocations.

Finally, there are the “balanced” sovereign pension funds such as Norges bank and GPIF, which before the correction had assets of around $1.1tr and $1.5tr, respectively, and which according to JPM would need to buy around $150 billion equities to fully revert to their target equity allocations of 70% and 50%, respectively.

Then, a few days later, as stocks exploded higher, entering a bull market a record short 4 days later, yet with nobody knowing exactly why, the same strawman reappeared and as we reported according to desk chatter, “Traders were Betting That “$850BN Buyer” Is In The Market.”

It didn’t take long for desperate permabulls everywhere, both institutional and retail, to hang their hats on the pension rebalancing strawman, with that relentless optimist, JPMorgan’s Kolanovic, doubling down and after last week’s bull market, betting that the forced buying would continue, with supposedly another $125BN in buying on deck.

By now we had entered “make up numbers” territory: since nobody can determine for sure how much pensions are buying, may as well throw out very big numbers. After all, the whole point of the exercise is to spook the market into covering shorts, starting a buying cascade.

And while this self-fulfilling prophecy certainly worked last week and for much of Monday’s ramp, a glitch emerged late on Monday when Reynolds Strategy strategist, the eponymoys Brian Reynolds, said that this most transparent exercise in stirring stock euphoria may have just suffered a potentially terminal blow after “a large California pension has postponed their scheduled quarterly rebalancing” adding that as California pensions are the “thought leaders in the pension community”, it is likely that “others will either follow along in postponing or reducing anticipated rebalancing.”

Reynolds was referring to an article in P&I online, according to which “Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System’s board temporarily modified its asset allocation and rebalancing policies, which includes allowing the staff to defer rebalancing its asset allocation if deemed appropriate, said Rodney June, CIO of the $15.1 billion pension fund, in an email.”

“The market conditions are unusual and volatility is well beyond historical norms,” said a staff memo for the board’s meeting Tuesday. “Staff believes that while extreme market volatility is present owing to the decline in the total portfolio value … shoring up liquidity within the UCA (unallocated cash account) is important to ensure that LACERS can readily meet ongoing cash flow obligations of approximately $95 million per month.”

The memo also said suspending rebalancing during extreme periods of volatility is prudent.

Understanding that an out-of -balance asset class due to large market swings may later ‘self- balance’ due to a stabilization of the market may help prevent premature rebalancing that may incur costly market impact and transaction costs,” the memo said.

To many efficient market supporters (what’s left of them now that the Fed has nationalized capital markets) this comes as a long overdue measure: after all, why do Pensions wait until the last few days of the quarter to buy stocks, knowing well that they will be frontrun by other investors who are all too aware of their buying intentions, in the process yielding far lower returns for their stakeholders by buying stocks at higher prices; which one can argue is a breach of their fiduciary duties as pension funds can easily get far better prices if only they kept their rebalancing times and dates a secret.

By the looks of things, that’s precisely what they are doing.

In short, pension rebalancing – which so many bulls have relied upon it to stir up buying demand in the last few days of the month – may have just gone extinct. The only question is whether this revision is effective as of this quarter, and are investors not frontrunning pension buying but merely themselves… first on the way up and then on the way down.


Tyler Durden

Mon, 03/30/2020 – 14:42

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Early and Broad Testing Helps Explain Why COVID-19 Looks Less Lethal in Germany

One relative bright spot in the COVID-19 pandemic has been Germany, where the number of deaths as a share of confirmed cases—the crude case fatality rate, or CFR—is currently about 0.9 percent. Since the number of actual infections is likely to be several times larger than the official figures suggest, the true CFR in Germany may be somewhere near the lower end of the (very wide) range that U.S. public health officials consider reasonable based on current (very limited) data: 0.1 percent (the estimated CFR for the seasonal flu) to 1 percent (10 times as deadly as the seasonal flu).

By comparison, the crude CFR for COVID-19 is currently 1.8 percent in the United States, 4 percent in China, 6.4 percent in the U.K., 8.6 percent in Spain, and a jaw-dropping 11.4 percent in Italy. Is Germany doing something right, or has it just been lucky so far?

Writing from Berlin in The New York Times, German journalist

“Between countries, there are several reasons why the death rate might vary, but they’re very small compared to the impact of how many people get tested,” Liam Smeeth, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told Time. “Germany very rapidly rolled out testing to a very large number of people, relative to the population.”

Wider testing not only helps limit transmission. It also reduces the gap between confirmed cases and total infections, which in turn reduces the crude CFR.

“Germany has also been better at protecting its older residents, who are at much greater risk,” States banned visits to the elderly, and policymakers issued urgent warnings to limit contact with older people. Many seem to have quarantined themselves. The results are clear: Patients over the age of 80 make up around 3 percent of the infected, though they account for 7 percent of the population. The median age for those infected is estimated to be 46; in Italy, it’s 63.”

The median age of the general population is actually a bit higher in Germany than in Italy. But in Germany a disproportionate number of people who have tested positive for the virus are young. may have to do with infections that young people contracted while skiing in the Italian Alps or participating in pre-Lent carnival events.

Germany’s crude CFR has nearly doubled since last week, and it may climb further as the virus spreads and people who are already infected develop symptoms. But COVID-19 still looks far less lethal in Germany than it does in many other countries, a contrast that underlines the importance of early and wide testing—something the United States conspicuously failed to do.

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Platts: 5 Commodity Charts To Watch This Week

Platts: 5 Commodity Charts To Watch This Week

Via S&P Global Platts Insights blog,

Demand destruction from the coronavirus outbreak will be top of mind for power and gas traders this week, while the ripples in the oil market are being felt in Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, albeit in different ways. The iron ore market, which is faring better, rounds out this week’s pick of commodity charts by S&P Global Platts news editors

1. Lockdowns in Europe, Asia push TTF gas price to 16-year low…

What’s happening? The coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and now India are hitting gas prices hard, with the TTF month-ahead falling to its lowest level since S&P Global Platts began assessments in 2004 of just Eur7.15/MWh. Reduced industrial activity in Europe has led to lower gas demand while declarations of force majeure by Indian LNG buyers mean deferred cargoes are likely to land on European shores.

What’s next? With the lockdowns likely to endure for weeks if not months, the bearish sentiment is not expected to lift, especially as maintenance work on gas fields and pipelines offshore Norway has been largely shelved on coronavirus fears. That means a market share battle between Norwegian gas, LNG and Russian supplies is set to intensify.

2. …and US sees power demand decline as coronavirus pandemic spreads 

What’s happening? New York City electricity loads have been weaker year-over-year this winter so far due to milder weather, but are now trending significantly below the recent five-year average, indicating a virus-related slowdown, according to Manan Ahuja, manager of North America power at Platts Analytics. These demand numbers could slow down even further as people stay home and businesses remain shuttered to prevent spreading the virus.

What’s next? US power system impacts from the coronavirus pandemic are beginning to emerge, with shifting load patterns, significant load declines in a number of areas and projections that mild weather and business shutdowns will continue to suppress load during the coming weeks.

3. Saudi Arabia poised for ramp-up in production, exports

What’s happening? Saudi Arabia has directed state oil company Aramco to supply 12.3 million b/d of crude to the market starting in April, once the OPEC+ accord expires. Aramco CEO Amin Nasser has said that 300,000 b/d of that amount will come out of the company’s inventories, leaving 12 million b/d to come from production. That is Aramco’s maximum production capacity, and Nasser has said the company can maintain that level of output for a year without any additional investment.

What’s next? Aramco, which has the exclusive right to pump all crude within the kingdom, has never produced that much before, and some analysts doubt its ability to sustain such high volumes. Aramco may also have difficulty finding enough buyers for its barrels, with many refineries cutting runs due to the coronavirus outbreak’s hit to gasoline and jet fuel demand. Countries seeking to fill up their strategic reserves may snatch up the barrels, but for commercial buyers, inventory costs are getting more expensive, especially for floating storage, amid a growing crunch in tank space availability.

4. Low prices to hurt Vietnam’s sweet crude output and sales

What’s happening? Vietnam, a major participant in Southeast Asian spot trade, is suffering from low global oil prices. Crude sales and export earnings for the country are estimated to fall by $225,000/day for every $1/b decline in outright prices. If prices are quoted at around $30–$35/b, state-run PetroVietnam said the company is likely to lose $3 billion in annual sales. Platts assessed Vietnam’s Bach Ho crude at record lows in March. The grade had an average outright price of $42.45/b to date this month, falling more than $25/b from $68.34/b on average in 2019, Platts data showed.

What’s next? The Southeast Asian sweet crude market may witness spot cargo volumes decline sharply as Vietnam scales back exports. PetroVietnam aims to produce 10.62 million mt of crude oil in 2020, down 18.9% from 13.09 million mt in 2019. Vietnam will pay more attention to building crude reserves than exports as low prices open new opportunities for PetroVietnam to stock up at lower costs, general director Le Manh Hung said. Building strategic reserves to ensure energy security is becoming more relevant to Vietnam as its import requirements have risen sharply in recent years, according to JY Lim, oil markets adviser at Platts Analytics.

5. Iron ore prices hold firm in face of lockdowns

What’s happening: Iron ore prices have held firm in recent weeks on supply side factors, even as steel prices have slumped on weaker demand as automotive and other industries have closed amid coronavirus-related curbs.

What’s next: Disruption to shipments due to 21-day lockdowns announced last week in South Africa and India – where iron ore exporters have declared force majeure – and new government directives from Canada may continue to support iron ore prices, offsetting the current collapse in European demand, which accounts for 9% of seaborne iron ore demand.


Tyler Durden

Mon, 03/30/2020 – 14:20

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Jim Grant Warns Fed’s ‘All-In’ Actions Are A “Clear-And-Present-Danger” To US Creditors

Jim Grant Warns Fed’s ‘All-In’ Actions Are A “Clear-And-Present-Danger” To US Creditors

In a veritable treatise on all that was wrong with The Fed’s actions, Jim Grant – founder and editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer – was somehow allowed nine minutes on CNBC’s Squawk Box to put America straight on what we are facing and the consequences of these unelected and unaccountable officials terrifying experiments.

Grant began by slamming Jay Powell’s seemingly blinkered proclamation that “he sees no prospective consequences with regard the purchasing power of the dollar” as “very concerning” adding more pertinently that he thinks “that wilful ignorance is a clear-and-present-danger for creditors of The United States.

It appears his fears are starting to be warranted as USA Sovereign credit risk is rising…

“I am in favor of life going on,” says Grant when asked by the anchor, “shouldn’t The Fed do something amid this massive global shutdown?”

The alternative, the venerable bond guru exclaims is the direction we are heading – “shutting everything down and putting the government in charge.”

Bernie Sanders may (or may not) be out of the presidential race but, as Grant highlights, “his programs are being implemented in fact daily.”

“One can die of despair as well as disease,” warned Grant, reminding viewers of the consequences of mass self-incarceration.

“There are health consequences to isolation, and health consequences to unemployment.. and life as it must go on is is a precious thing too and we ought to at least consider what we are condemning ourselves to if we choose to shut everything down for another month or two or three.”

“I think it would be a fatal error.”

Once again, the CNBC anchor urged Grant to support massive intervention but exclaiming “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

His retort shut down her argument quickly:

“experts are not expert in a dis-positive way, there is no certainty about this, just as there is no certainty in finance or indeed life,” and Grant adds ominously that “the cure is prospectively worse than the disease.”

“The delegation of political and economic authority to the US government to suppress this crisis is a clear and present danger.”

Finally, Grant, whose wife is a physician, reminded the anchors that the current actions (and consequences) have a direct analogy with the opioid crisis, as “in the early 2000s, the medical profession got it into its head that pain was the vital sign, and that no one ought to be in pain… this led to the deadly over-prescription of opioids.”

By the same token, Grant analogizes, “The Fed has intervened at ever-closer intervals to suppress the symptoms of misallocation of resources and the mis-pricing of credit. These radical interventions have become ever-more drastic and the ‘doctor-feel-goods’ of our central banks have worked to destroy the pricing mechanism in credit.”

Simply put, credit and equity markets “have become administered government-set indicators, rather than sensitive- and information-rich prices… and we are paying the price for that through the misallocation of resources.”

Grant ends on a hanging chad of a rhetorical question “what do corrections correct? Is there no salutary role for recessions and bear markets?”

Of course there is, he answers, “they separate the sound from the unsound, they separate the well-financed from the over-leveraged and if we never have these episodes of economic pain, we will be much the worse for it.”

Watch the full interview below:


Tyler Durden

Mon, 03/30/2020 – 14:05

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Tent Hospital Erected In Central Park As Hospital Ship Arrives In New York City

Tent Hospital Erected In Central Park As Hospital Ship Arrives In New York City

With an unprecedented 66,000 coronavirus cases now reported in New York State, an emergency hospital was erected in tents in Central Park Sunday, as New York City’s staggering toll of coronavirus deaths rose to at least 776, pushing the statewide count past 1,000.

“We’re going to be using every place we need to use to help people,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “This is the kind of thing you will see now as this crisis develops and deepens.”

As SCMP reports, the emergency site will open at the park’s East Meadow on Tuesday and house 68 hospital beds for coronavirus patients, according to de Blasio. He said the Mount Sinai Health System, the faith-based charity Samaritan’s Purse – run by Franklin Graham, son of the late televangelist Billy Graham – the Central Park Conservancy and his own office were collaborating on the undertaking.



Samaritan’s Purse set up the field hospital in Central Park’s East Meadow lawn. Photo: AP

Graham put out a call for help on Twitter Sunday, and posted a video of workers building the tents to house the field hospital.
“If you are a Christian doctor, nurse, paramedic, or other medical professional interested in serving Covid-19 patients in our @SamaritansPurse Emergency Field Hospital in NYC, please visit http://samaritanspurse.org” he wrote. Samaritan’s Purse built a similar temporary facility in Italy to help deal with the crisis there.

As reported previously, US federal officials are also building an emergency 1,000-bed hospital at the Jacob Javits Convention Centre in Manhattan. The Army Corps of Engineers has also identified sites in Westchester County, home to the state’s first large cluster of coronavirus cases, and on Long Island for emergency hospitals.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose 10.8 per cent during the same time span, from 29,158 to 32,308. Between 9:30am and 4:15pm Sunday, another 98 people died and 1,166 more people were diagnosed with Covid-19, bringing the number of dead to 776.

“It’s so painful for everyone that we’re going through this and we have to fight back with everything we’ve got,” de Blasio said. “Every death is painful. I feel a particular sense of loss when it’s one of our public servants.”

It took Spain 18 days to go from its first death to its 1,000th, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Italy took 21 days. New York state took 16 days.

New Yorkers are hearing a constant wail of sirens as weary ambulance crews respond to a record volume of 911 calls. New York medical staff are struggling with long hours and a dire need for hospital-grade masks and other protective gear.

The city’s ambulances are also responding to about 6,000 calls a day more than 50 per cent more than average. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Sunday that the last five days have been the busiest stretch in the history of the city’s EMS operation. “This is unprecedented,” de Blasio said. “We have never seen our EMS system get this many calls – ever.”



A new makeshift morgue outside Lenox Health Medical Pavilion in New York City

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo offered a faint glimmer of hope in the crisis, saying the rate at which new cases was doubling slowed to once every six days, down from once every other day earlier this month: “The doubling rate is slowing and that is good news, but the number of cases are still going up,” Cuomo said. “So you’re still going up towards an apex, but the rate of the doubling is slowing.”

Nevertheless, he extended the state’s “pause” order shuttering most businesses and urging New Yorkers to stay at home as much as possible.

New York State’s confirmed number of coronavirus cases reached 66,000 on Monday – roughly 7,000 new cases according to Cuomo’s office. That came as US President Donald Trump extended nationwide guidelines urging residents to stay home and avoid social gatherings to April 30, and as US health officials warned the country’s coronavirus death toll could top 200,000 people.

The USNS Comfort, a US Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms and a full medical staff, arrived in the city on Monday, much to Rachel Maddow’s dismay. It will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients to free up space in city hospitals.


Tyler Durden

Mon, 03/30/2020 – 14:02

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Energy Collapse, Earnings Ennui, & Consumer Credit Cracks

Energy Collapse, Earnings Ennui, & Consumer Credit Cracks

Submitted by Peter Garnry, Head of Equity Strategy, Saxo Bank

Summary:

The energy sector has lost extraordinarily $1.15trn in market value this year as oil prices have plunged to almost unimaginable levels.

In this equity update we provide investors with different ways to play the havoc in the energy sector. We also take a look at earnings this week with especially Carnival earnings being the most interesting to watch as the cruise industry is in a severe crisis due to COVID-19.

Lastly, we focus on consumer credit and the apparent weakness observed in China and how that could be a forewarning of what to come in the US and Europe. As a result we recommend investors to add Mastercard and American Express to their watchlists.

The global energy sector has been punched in the gut by first a slowing economy last year and then this year by an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Making things worst the sector is now experiencing an abrupt 20% oil demand reduction equivalent to 20mn barrels a day or the entire consumption of the US. The oil futures curve is in steep contango as the active contract in Brent today went below $23/brl and stories have recently surfaced that physical oil is being transacted at $8/brl and oil storage is running out of capacity. As we talked about on our Market Call this morning the constraint on physical storage and ongoing demand destruction could push the front-end of oil futures down even further.

The current oil price creates extreme shareholder destruction with the MSCI World Energy Index losing $1.15trn in market value this year.

High yield bonds in the energy sector have seen their option adjusted yield spread to Treasuries widen to the highest levels on record and implied default probabilities are rising fast. But how should investors play the energy sector from here? One way is to buy call options on ETFs tracking the US or European oil and gas industry preferably with expiry during the second half. Another option is to get long-term exposure through single stock but here we recommend opting for only the highest quality names (see table below). The most risky strategy is to buy into those names that have the highest bankruptcy risk when the market rebounds, but here we recommend traders to apply some short-term filter (moving average or the like) to get confirmation during the rebound phase.

This week many Chinese companies will report earnings such as Geely Automobile and Air China, but also outside China interesting names such as Dollarama, Carnival, Walgreens Boots Alliance, CarMax, H&M and Constellation Brands will report earnings hopefully providing a picture of the demand situation in the US and Europe as these geographies are impacted by strict lockdowns due to COVID-19. With Carnival shares down 75% from this year’s peak in January and the trouble regarding many cruises during the last two months related to infected passengers with COVID-19 there will be a lot of focus on Carnival’s earnings. The main question is whether the cruise industry can stage a comeback and survive this serious threat to the industry.

In past couple of weeks we have highlighted many times on our Market Call podcast that investors and traders should watch oil, USD and VIX for guidance on market temperature. We have had focus on credit as well but with central banks stepping in the bleeding has stopped for now, but in other parts of the credit market outside corporate bonds there are now cracks happening.

Especially consumer credit in China is weaker as the weaker employment is spilling into repayment ability and is likely an indicator of what is coming for the US and Europe. So we recommend investors to put Mastercard and American Express on their watchlists.

In China loans to households have risen by 22% annualised and our worry is that at some point this credit expansion will lead to an abrupt halt like we saw in 2008 in the developed world.


Tyler Durden

Mon, 03/30/2020 – 13:50

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Why Are the Mainstream Media Ignoring Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Accusation Against Joe Biden?

On September 14, 2018, The New York Times reported the existence of an unverified sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The story cited three people who had read a letter sent by the accuser—Christine Blasey Ford—to Sen. Diane Feinstein (D–Calif.). Ford was not interviewed for the story; indeed, she wasn’t named.

Unconfirmed reports of a teenaged Kavanaugh assaulting a teenaged Ford evidently merited coverage from The Times. This prompts an obvious question: Why is the paper of record now declining to publicize a very troubling allegation against former Vice President Joe Biden?

The Times is hardly alone in this regard. The mainstream media have remained baffling silent about Tara Reade, a former member of then-Senator Biden’s staff who claims that he sexually assaulted her in 1993. Reade’s name has only appeared twice in The Washington Post, and both were quick asides: A news roundup from April of last year briefly acknowledged an earlier, milder version of Reade’s accusation, and a recent rapid-fire Q&A asked a Post political reporter to weigh-in on the political ramifications “of the Tara Reade bombshell.” (The nature of the bombshell is not described.)

And while the coronavirus pandemic is obviously dominating news coverage, CNN has made plenty of time for Biden. Chris Cillizza is still ranking Biden’s potential veep choices, and the network conducted a virtual townhall event with the candidate last Friday. Reade’s name didn’t come up, and it has never appeared at CNN.com. At NBC, it’s the same story: Chuck Todd interviewed Biden but didn’t ask about the allegation.

Reade’s story has garnered some coverage elsewhere, most noticeably from The Hill and The Intercept. Some left-leaning news sites—The Huffington Post, Vox—have written about it, and of course conservative media are all over the story. But the biggest mainstream print and TV outlets are, at present, silent.

I am not the only one to notice this. The Columbia Journalism Review notes that “media outlets on both the left and the right have covered Reade’s claim, yet mainstream news organizations have mostly avoided it.” That article links to a piece in The Guardian—part of a recurring feature called “The Week in Patriarchy”—that suggests the media may be ignoring the story because Reade’s accusations will be “difficult to prove.” To its credit, the Guardian piece acknowledges that if this would be inconsistent with how the Kavanaugh accusation was handled.

That’s what’s most frustrating about this lack of mainstream coverage. Ideally, all media outlets—mainstream or otherwise—would tread carefully with respect to decades-old accusations. They would not rush to publish unverified rumors, instead carefully vetting them to the best of their ability. They would consider whether every salacious or scandalous detail of an important person’s past is worth revisiting.

Perhaps that’s what reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other outlets are doing. (I have heard it third-hand that various stories might be in the works, but nobody at those publications would confirm anything to me.) But Reade has already come forward. She has already identified herself and told her story. At this stage in the process of the Kavanaugh accusation’s public reveal, the mainstream press was already actively covering it.

As I wrote last week, there’s a case for taking Reade’s accusation more seriously than Ford’s, since the behavior described by Reade (penetrative sexual assault during Biden’s Senate years) is even worse than what was described by Ford.

And while it’s certainly true that there’s currently a global pandemic unfolding, that isn’t a good excuse to avoid discussing Reade. In fact, there’s some reason to proceed quickly: The Democratic Party will soon nominate Joe Biden to be its presidential candidate, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) is technically still in the race, and he is still making the case that he should be the one to face President Donald Trump in November. Whether or not Biden is credibly accused of sexual assault is extremely relevant to this rapidly approaching decision point. This seems only slightly less urgent than covering Kavanaugh’s alleged misbehavior during the period immediately before his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

If the media’s rule is this—We’re going to proceed extremely cautiously when revisiting unverified sexual misconduct allegations that are several decades years old—then fine. But that’s a new rule, isn’t it?

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This Business Is Suing the Government Over a Coronavirus Closure Order

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the government to pay just compensation when it takes private property for a public use. Does that apply when the government orders a business to close its doors indefinitely in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19? Is the shuttered business entitled to compensation for its troubles?

These are not hypothetical questions. Schulmerich Bells, a small outfit that makes handcrafted handbells and chimes in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Gov. Thomas Wolf’s order indefinitely closing all “non-life-sustaining” businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak. “The Governor has placed the cost of these Orders—issued for the benefit of the public—squarely upon the shoulders of private individuals and their families, and has failed to justly compensate affected parties for these takings undertaken for their benefit to the public,” the suit states. “These uncompensated seizures violate the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.” The suit seeks the payment of just compensation by the state.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long said that the states may regulate—and even prohibit—certain property uses in the name of public health and safety without triggering the Takings Clause. In Mugler v. Kansas (1887), the Court ruled against a liquor manufacturer whose livelihood was destroyed when the state banned the sale and manufacture of “intoxicating beverages.” According to the Court, “a prohibition simply upon the use of property for purposes that are declared, by valid legislation, to be injurious to the health, morals, or safety of the community, cannot, in any just sense, be deemed a taking or an appropriation of property for the public benefit.” Such government action “does not disturb the owner in the control or use of his property for lawful purposes, nor restrict his right to dispose of it, but is only a declaration by the State that its use by any one, for certain forbidden purposes, is prejudicial to the public interests.”

Similarly, in Miller v. Schoene (1928), the Supreme Court upheld a Virginia law requiring the destruction of red cedar trees infected with cedar rust if those trees stood within two miles of an apple orchard (cedar rust is highly detrimental to apple trees). “The state does not exceed its constitutional powers by deciding upon the destruction of one class of property in order to save another which, in the judgment of the legislature, is of greater value to the public,” the Court said. “It will not do to say that the case is merely one of a conflict of two private interests and that the misfortune of apple growers may not be shifted to cedar owners by ordering the destruction of their property; for it is obvious that there may be, and that here there is, a preponderant public concern in the preservation of the one interest over the other.”

In short, if this particular lawsuit is going to succeed, it will have to clear some steep precedential hurdles.

Related:Police Powers During a Pandemic, Constitutional, but Not Unlimited.”

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Why Are the Mainstream Media Ignoring Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Accusation Against Joe Biden?

On September 14, 2018, The New York Times reported the existence of an unverified sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The story cited three people who had read a letter sent by the accuser—Christine Blasey Ford—to Sen. Diane Feinstein (D–Calif.). Ford was not interviewed for the story; indeed, she wasn’t named.

Unconfirmed reports of a teenaged Kavanaugh assaulting a teenaged Ford evidently merited coverage from The Times. This prompts an obvious question: Why is the paper of record now declining to publicize a very troubling allegation against former Vice President Joe Biden?

The Times is hardly alone in this regard. The mainstream media have remained baffling silent about Tara Reade, a former member of then-Senator Biden’s staff who claims that he sexually assaulted her in 1993. Reade’s name has only appeared twice in The Washington Post, and both were quick asides: A news roundup from April of last year briefly acknowledged an earlier, milder version of Reade’s accusation, and a recent rapid-fire Q&A asked a Post political reporter to weigh-in on the political ramifications “of the Tara Reade bombshell.” (The nature of the bombshell is not described.)

And while the coronavirus pandemic is obviously dominating news coverage, CNN has made plenty of time for Biden. Chris Cillizza is still ranking Biden’s potential veep choices, and the network conducted a virtual townhall event with the candidate last Friday. Reade’s name didn’t come up, and it has never appeared at CNN.com. At NBC, it’s the same story: Chuck Todd interviewed Biden but didn’t ask about the allegation.

Reade’s story has garnered some coverage elsewhere, most noticeably from The Hill and The Intercept. Some left-leaning news sites—The Huffington Post, Vox—have written about it, and of course conservative media are all over the story. But the biggest mainstream print and TV outlets are, at present, silent.

I am not the only one to notice this. The Columbia Journalism Review notes that “media outlets on both the left and the right have covered Reade’s claim, yet mainstream news organizations have mostly avoided it.” That article links to a piece in The Guardian—part of a recurring feature called “The Week in Patriarchy”—that suggests the media may be ignoring the story because Reade’s accusations will be “difficult to prove.” To its credit, the Guardian piece acknowledges that if this would be inconsistent with how the Kavanaugh accusation was handled.

That’s what’s most frustrating about this lack of mainstream coverage. Ideally, all media outlets—mainstream or otherwise—would tread carefully with respect to decades-old accusations. They would not rush to publish unverified rumors, instead carefully vetting them to the best of their ability. They would consider whether every salacious or scandalous detail of an important person’s past is worth revisiting.

Perhaps that’s what reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other outlets are doing. (I have heard it third-hand that various stories might be in the works, but nobody at those publications would confirm anything to me.) But Reade has already come forward. She has already identified herself and told her story. At this stage in the process of the Kavanaugh accusation’s public reveal, the mainstream press was already actively covering it.

As I wrote last week, there’s a case for taking Reade’s accusation more seriously than Ford’s, since the behavior described by Reade (penetrative sexual assault during Biden’s Senate years) is even worse than what was described by Ford.

And while it’s certainly true that there’s currently a global pandemic unfolding, that isn’t a good excuse to avoid discussing Reade. In fact, there’s some reason to proceed quickly: The Democratic Party will soon nominate Joe Biden to be its presidential candidate, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) is technically still in the race, and he is still making the case that he should be the one to face President Donald Trump in November. Whether or not Biden is credibly accused of sexual assault is extremely relevant to this rapidly approaching decision point. This seems only slightly less urgent than covering Kavanaugh’s alleged misbehavior during the period immediately before his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

If the media’s rule is this—We’re going to proceed extremely cautiously when revisiting unverified sexual misconduct allegations that are several decades years old—then fine. But that’s a new rule, isn’t it?

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