The Iranian Coup that Led to 67 Years of Reckless Intervention

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If you want to understand the past 70 years of U.S. foreign policy, look to the 1953 CIA- and MI6-backed coup in Iran that removed Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and brought back to power the Shah, an authoritarian dictator friendly to American and British interests.

In the new documentary Coup 53, director Taghi Amirani argues that this covert operation became the template for subsequent American interventionism all over the world, from Guatemala to Vietnam to Iraq. American diplomats and intelligence officers saw the coup as a fast, effective, and low-cost way to effect regime change. They didn’t anticipate that their interference would ultimately set the stage for an Islamic revolution and a repressive theocracy that rules Iran to this day.

In a wide-ranging conversation about filmmaking, foreign policy, and immigration, Amirani tells Nick Gillespie that he doesn’t think relations between the United States and Iran will get better any time soon, regardless of who wins the presidential election in November. Policy, he says, is “the product of the military-industrial complex and that, ultimately, matters more” than whatever a particular president thinks as he enters office.

Edited by John Osterhoudt. Intro graphics by Lex Villena.

Photos: akg-images/Newscom; AlfvanBeem/CC0; Maryam Zandi / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0); Gage Skidmore/Flickr; Pictures From History/Newscom; Pictures From History/Newscom; Arash Khamooshi/Polaris/Newscom; MARTIN FRIED/UPI/Newscom; GARY I ROTHSTEIN/UPI/Newscom; CHRIS KLEPONIS/UPI/Newscom; Yuri Gripas—Pool via CNP/Newscom

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The Iranian Coup that Led to 67 Years of Reckless Intervention

coup53_thumbnail

If you want to understand the past 70 years of U.S. foreign policy, look to the 1953 CIA- and MI6-backed coup in Iran that removed Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and brought back to power the Shah, an authoritarian dictator friendly to American and British interests.

In the new documentary Coup 53, director Taghi Amirani argues that this covert operation became the template for subsequent American interventionism all over the world, from Guatemala to Vietnam to Iraq. American diplomats and intelligence officers saw the coup as a fast, effective, and low-cost way to effect regime change. They didn’t anticipate that their interference would ultimately set the stage for an Islamic revolution and a repressive theocracy that rules Iran to this day.

In a wide-ranging conversation about filmmaking, foreign policy, and immigration, Amirani tells Nick Gillespie that he doesn’t think relations between the United States and Iran will get better any time soon, regardless of who wins the presidential election in November. Policy, he says, is “the product of the military-industrial complex and that, ultimately, matters more” than whatever a particular president thinks as he enters office.

Edited by John Osterhoudt. Intro graphics by Lex Villena.

Photos: akg-images/Newscom; AlfvanBeem/CC0; Maryam Zandi / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0); Gage Skidmore/Flickr; Pictures From History/Newscom; Pictures From History/Newscom; Arash Khamooshi/Polaris/Newscom; MARTIN FRIED/UPI/Newscom; GARY I ROTHSTEIN/UPI/Newscom; CHRIS KLEPONIS/UPI/Newscom; Yuri Gripas—Pool via CNP/Newscom

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Nat Gas Plummets 10%, Slides Under $2 In Biggest One-Day Drop In 20 Months

Nat Gas Plummets 10%, Slides Under $2 In Biggest One-Day Drop In 20 Months

Tyler Durden

Mon, 09/21/2020 – 11:22

Natural gas futures tumbled below $2 amid a broad rout in commodity markets and on speculation that Tropical Storm Beta may spur power outages and curtail LNG exports along the Gulf Coast (as Bloomberg notes, Beta is a slow-moving storm that will bring flooding rains in Louisiana as it toward Texas to come ashore near Corpus Christi).

The day’s 10% drop was the biggest since Jan 2019.

“Tropical Storm Beta is definitely a big driver,” says Christin Redmond, an analyst at Schneider Electric. “Although overall it’s a short-term effect, each week that we have this lower demand, we get higher storage injections. And with three storms hitting in less than a month, we’re getting those effects building on each other.”

“Although it’s not hurricane strength anymore, it could cause significant flooding and may cause some LNG export facilities to temporarily shut in” Redmond added noting that these storms have resulted in 12% y/y losses in power demand for gas since start of Sept. At the same time, data provider Refinitiv added that the amount of gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants was on track to slide to a two-week low of 5.2 bcfd on Monday from a four-month high of 7.9 bcfd last week.

As Bloomberg further observes, citing BNEF data, gas demand from power generators is estimated at just under 30 bcf for Monday, lowest for any Sept. 21 since 2015. Scheduled gas flows to LNG export terminals -33% from Sept. 18 to ~5.6 bcf on Monday.

Meanwhile, as Reuters notes, gas speculators increased their net long positions on the New York Mercantile and Intercontinental Exchanges last week for the seventh time in eight weeks to the highest since May 2017 on expectations energy demand will rise as the economy rebounds once state governments lift more coronavirus-linked lockdowns, so there is also forced liquidations to throw into the mix. Those long positions came despite expectations stockpiles will hit record highs by the end of October, which should remove lingering concerns about price spikes and gas shortages this winter.

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Morgan Stanley Turns Bearish, Sees Tech Plunge Accelerating As Investors Dump Most QQQs In 20 Years

Morgan Stanley Turns Bearish, Sees Tech Plunge Accelerating As Investors Dump Most QQQs In 20 Years

Tyler Durden

Mon, 09/21/2020 – 11:05

“Fiscal Cliff +Peak Fed = Second Leg of Correction”

 Morgan Stanley

Back in March, just after the Fed nationalized the bond market, Morgan Stanley’s Michael Wilson quickly emerged as the biggest cheerleader for risk assets, correctly predicting that stocks would soar on the back of the biggest surge in global fiscal and monetary stimulus which according to BofA estimates is now well over $20 trillion.

Well, the party is now over.

As Wilson writes this morning, over the past few weeks US equity markets have experienced their largest correction since the new bull market began, and according to Morgan Stanley – which still sees the bull market continuing albeit at a slower pace – not only is this “correction due to the rally simply exhausting itself into long-term resistance” but the second leg of the correction has arrived.

The MS strategist also writes that “the correction also coincided with disappointing progress on the passage of CARES 2 and a very clear message from the Fed that it does not plan to enact yield curve control as they implement average inflation targeting. The Fed followed up that messaging this past week with further disappointment for bond bulls by not providing any formal guidance on their plans for QE.”

Focusing on the catalysts behind the correction, which Wilson says began on September 2 when equity markets failed to break through formidable longer-term resistance – he says that it simply followed markets going “parabolic” for “no reason.” Well, not “no reason” – as the strategist adds, at this point “everyone understands the speculative drivers from both retail and certain institutional buyer(s) of call options [ZH: read SoftBank] in large cap technology stocks. The subsequent reversal of that speculation was naturally concentrated in those stocks too.”

Next, as Wilson studies the correction from a technical standpoint, he can’t “help but notice how the NDX is finally breaking down on a relative basis. We think the breakdown began in early July. In fact, the NDX/SPX ratio broke down in July during earnings season as investors “sold the news” on the basis of valuation and very high forward expectations.”

However, the ratio quickly regained its 50-day moving average and then made new highs in what can be described as a blow off top in August. Fast forward to today when that same ratio is now breaking down in a way that is different than the recent past:

  • First, it took out the 50-day moving average in the first leg of this correction and then failed to recapture it on the subsequent rally. Instead, it rolled over again and is now making new lows.
  • Second, the negative divergence on the blow off top was significant.

This all suggests to Morgan Stanley the correction isn’t over and is in fact, restarting after the brief pause in the past two weeks: “while corrections in uptrends are to be expected and healthy, the next line of defense/support is considerably below Friday’s close (Exhibit 3). This is what happens when stocks get so extended – corrections can be much bigger while remaining in an uptrend.”

The same logic applies to both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 on an absolute basis, as shown in the next two charts, “as both indexes got too extended in August on speculative behavior from novice investors” with MS arguing that “this speculation needs to be wrung out before the bull market can continue.”

That said, Morgan Stanley’s Quantitative and Derivatives Strategy team notes that the declines are turning more orderly as short gamma exposures moderate – 5-day realized vol for QQQs fell to 27% this week from 56% on Sept 9th – something we touched on last week. Nevertheless, speculation clearly remains rampant in some areas, as witnessed by first-day performance of tech IPOs and other “spec” stocks.

Retail investors aside, institutional exposure also remains remarkably high, particularly in the context of higher realized volatility. According to Morgan Stanley’s Prime Brokerage Team, both Net and Gross Exposures are near the top decile of the past decade and when it is beta adjusted, it is even higher.

Drilling down, Wilson finds that from a sector and style perspective, hedge funds remain decidedly long tech/growth, which explains many hedge funds’ relatively strong performance YTD – at least relative to the S&P 500 (+4% YTD), if not the Nasdaq 100 (+26%). Which is also why the coming Nasdaq flush will prove especially painful.

This abnormal tech concentration may also explain why both gross and net exposure remain high even with realized volatility also near the highest levels of the past decade and expected to remain so through the election: “Many funds that are long tech/growth have significant P&L to play with and are letting it ride, not to mention this has been the right strategy for the past decade.”

Wilson thinks that may come into play and provide even more fuel for this correction to go a little further than most are  expecting.  Supporting this view is the fact that the beta for the NDX has declined sharply over the recent past, making many portfolios appear less risky than they might be should that revert back to “normal.” With the NDX 1-year rolling beta at just 0.91, “that reversion could be swift and meaningful.” The long-term average beta for the NDX is closer to 1.25 and is being artificially suppressed in Wilson’s view by the fall in real long-term interest rates and pull forward demand for many tech companies due to the COVID lockdown.

Making matters worse, a further reopening of the economy and higher nominal and real rates “will be the trigger for this reversion in beta and could feed into more aggressive reductions in both gross and net exposures given how many portfolios are currently skewed toward tech and growth stocks”, Wilson concludes.

Picking up on the technicals, BofA chief charist Stephen Suttmeier writes that just like the S&P, “the NASDAQ 100 (NDX) shows the risk of a tactical head and shoulders top” adding that while below first resistance at 11,535-11,566, key nearby support at 10,945-10,855 is exposed to downside risk. “The NDX failed to regain that resistance and enters this week pressuring support, with Friday’s low at 10,769, where a decisive break would suggest a tactical head and shoulders top and deeper risk to chart support at 10,300 and the prior high from February at 9736.”

* * *

Finally, none of this appears to be news to investors, because one week after a massive inflow into tech funds (as discussed last week), this morning Bloomberg notes that investors are dumping the largest tech ETF at the fastest pace in 20 years. Specifically, the $122 billion Invesco QQQ ETF suffered its biggest daily outflow since October 2000, losing almost $3.5 billion on Friday.

“There is more of a concern that in equity markets we shouldn’t be priced to perfection anymore,” said Brian Nick, chief investment strategist at Nuveen. “That’s the pullback you’re really seen, especially with the stocks with the higher valuations.”

Not exactly surprising, this comes just as the latest Fund Manager Survey published earlier this week found that Wall Street is “paranoid tech” because when asked what they think is the most “crowded trade”, 80% – an all time high consensus – said “long tech”…

… with fund managers declaring that the “tech bubble” is now the second biggest tail risk for the market after a “second wave” of COVID-19.

For once, Wall Street may have been right.

But if Wall Street was correct, Robinhood’s habit of buying every f**king dip is about to crush it, because at the same time as institutional and NHW investors were dumping QQQs, retail investors piled into the triple-leveraged version of QQQ that’s become popular among day traders (which we noted last week in Robinhooders Discover 3x Levered ETFs), as the $7.9 billion ProShares UltraPro QQQ notched a third straight week of inflows.

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US Set To Pass 200,000 Deaths As UK Scientist Delivers Grim New Warning: Live Updates

US Set To Pass 200,000 Deaths As UK Scientist Delivers Grim New Warning: Live Updates

Tyler Durden

Mon, 09/21/2020 – 10:47

Summary:

  • US added 41,206 cases as post-LDW surge slows
  • Death toll across US: 199,531
  • Texas deaths near 15,000
  • India tops 5.5 million cases
  • Iceland closes bars, karaoke parlors
  • 4 more counties in Wales brace for lockdown
  • UK mulls new national restrictions
  • Jakarta scrambles to add beds
  • China says it finds COVID-19 genetic material on Russian frozen squid

* * *

The post-Labor Day Weekend surge in COVID-19 cases across the US – but particularly in certain new hot spots in the Midwest – appears to be abating, if only slightly, while the American death toll – still the highest in the world even as India reports more new deaths-per-day – rests on the cusp of 200,000. As the chart below shows, deaths haven’t yet picked up.

As we first reported last night, the US added 41,206 new cases, a 0.6% rise, on par with the seven-day average, while another 693 people died of virus-related illness, bringing the toll to 199,258 on Sunday morning. At last count, the US had counted 199,531 deaths.

In Europe, Germany’s health minister warned the trend of growing COVID-19 cases is “worrying” as HMG’s top scientific advisor cautioned that the daily rate of new cases could top 50,000 per day – compared to roughly 4k per day currently – a rate that he said “is not a prediction but it is a way of thinking about how quickly this can change.”

Four more counties in South Wales are preparing to reenter lockdown beginning Tuesday evening local time. PM Boris Johnson on Tuesday morning will chair a meeting of the emergency committee – known as “Cobra” – which will also be attended by the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Cases are increasing, hospitalizations are following. Deaths unfortunately will follow that, and there’s the potential for this to move very fast,” said Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance.

With India’s outbreak still raging amid a surge in testing, the country’s virus tally is approaching 5.5 million, while Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, is adding thousands of beds to house patients as its health system groans under the weight of one of the worst outbreaks in Southeast Asia.

India added almost 87,000 cases to its virus tally Monday, pushing the total to nearly 5.5 million in the nation that already has the world’s second-largest coronavirus outbreak. Deaths increased by 1,130, topping 87,800, according to the India’s health ministry.

After reportedly detecting traces of viral genetic material on packaging of imported seafood products from Norway and South America, Chinese authorities from the northeastern city of Changchun on Monday claimed that they had detected pieces of viral material on packaging of frozen squid from Russia. Russia has seen its outbreak accelerate in recent days, with daily cases climbing more than 6,000.

Circling back to the US, Texas is approaching the 15,000 death threshold after recording 45 new deaths on Sunday, bringing the total to 14,893. Cases climbed by 2,241 to 688,534, the Department of State Health Services said on its website.

Source: COVID Tracking Project

New cases in California topped 4,000 for a 2nd straight day while the number of new deaths tumbled below the 14-day average, according to the health department’s website. There were 4,265 new coronavirus cases, higher than the 14-day average of 3,304. Deaths increased by 75, compared with an average of 91, raising the state’s toll to 14,987.

Source: COVID Tracking Project

France’s daily coronavirus cases rose by 10,569 on Sunday, after surging above13,000 twice in recent weeks, notching the highest daily increases since the national lockdown ended in May on Saturday.

Still, the seven-day average, which smooths out reporting spikes, rose above 10,000 for the first time, indicating a significantly higher pace of infections than just one week ago. The authorities have been calling on the population to step up social distancing measures as new clusters are emerging across the country.

Iceland’s Health Ministry ordered the closure of all pubs and nightclubs until Sept. 27. The decision comes after a number of infections were traced to pubs and karaoke bars in central Reykjavik.

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​​​​​​​Microsoft To Buy ‘Doom’-Maker Bethesda Softworks For $7.5 Billion

​​​​​​​Microsoft To Buy ‘Doom’-Maker Bethesda Softworks For $7.5 Billion

Tyler Durden

Mon, 09/21/2020 – 10:56

Microsoft’s gaming business is about to massively expand, in a new deal announced by the company Monday to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, the largest privately-held game developers and publishers in the world, for $7.5 billion in cash.

Bloomberg reports the acquisition is expected to close sometime in the second half of 2021 and have an insignificant impact to non-GAAP operating income in 2021 and 2022.

The deal will allow Microsoft’s Xbox to have direct ownership to top-selling games, including “Fallout,” “The Elder Scrolls,” “Doom,” “Quake,” “Wolfenstein,” “Prey” and “Dishonored.” Microsoft will also integrate Bethesda’s franchises to its Xbox Game Pass cloud-based service, which has about 15 million subscribers. 

The acquisition is expected to boost Microsoft’s creative studio teams from 15 to 23. The deal is three times bigger than Microsoft’s largest game acquisition, “Minecraft,” in 2014 for $2.5 billion. 

Explained by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, the deal will allow the company to control more of the gaming market worldwide. 

“Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialize and play with their friends,” said Nadella. “Quality differentiated content is the engine behind the growth and value of Xbox Game Pass—from Minecraft to Flight Simulator. As a proven game developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games, and together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide.”

Phil Spencer, executive vice president, Gaming at Microsoft, said, “This is an awesome time to be an Xbox fan. In the last ten days alone, we’ve released details on our two new consoles which go on pre-order tomorrow, launched cloud gaming in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and now we’re making another investment in the most critical part of our strategy: the games.”

ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman said both companies had worked together for decades. 

“The big winners today are our fans,” ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman said in a statement. “Our games can only get better.”

The move comes 49 days before Xbox is expected to launch its next big video game consoles on Nov. 10. 

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Gold Dives Below $1900 As Dollar Surges, Stocks & Bond Yields Tumble

Gold Dives Below $1900 As Dollar Surges, Stocks & Bond Yields Tumble

Tyler Durden

Mon, 09/21/2020 – 10:36

The brief – ubiquitous – opening dip-buying in stocks has been erased entirely and all major US equity indices are dep in the red with The Dow down over 800 points…

All the majors are also down below their 50DMAs…

Gold is also getting monkeyhammered, with futs back below $1900…

Is everything so much better now that we don’t need gold as a hedge?

As the dollar surges higher (with offshore yuan spanked)…

And bonds are aggressively bid…

Somebody do something!!

 

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The President’s and Senate’s Duties When a Supreme Court Vacancy Arises During an Election Year

A couple of dozen progressive constitutional law professors, including several very prominent ones, have written a letter that, taken seriously, means that President Trump has a constitutional duty to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice and the Senate has the duty to hold a floor vote this year. Here’s an excerpt from their argument:

Article II of the Constitution is explicit that the president “shall nominate . . . judges of the Supreme Court.” There is no exception to this provision for election years. Throughout American history, presidents have nominated individuals to fill vacancies during the last year of their terms. Likewise, the Senate’s constitutional duty to “advise and consent” – the process that has come to include hearings, committee votes, and floor votes – has no exception for election years…. We urge the President to nominate as soon as reasonably possible an individual to fill the vacancy existing on the Court and the Senate to hold hearings and vote on the nominee.

Of course, they wrote this in 2016, and almost certainly did not mean it to be taken seriously now that the shoe is on the other foot. But it might be worth asking them.

Note that the letter in question has mysteriously disappeared from the American Constitution Society’s website, but still can be found via the Wayback Machine.

UPDATE: Note: The argument in the letter regarding the Senate’s duty was silly when it was made, and it’s silly today, but any law professor who publicly makes a constitutional law argument when it benefits his “team” should be willing to stick by it when it benefits the other side. Yet I doubt that any of the signators will be publicly repeating this argument this Fall.

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After the Stimulus Binge, Brace for a Crash

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As anybody who has ever snorted a few lines of white powder to enhance an evening knows, there is a price to be paid for that artificial energy. The short-term boost is followed by a crash of longer duration. Well, America, get ready for a hell of a hangover. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the federal government’s recent stimulus spending—intended to offset the economic distress caused by voluntary social distancing and, especially, by mandatory lockdowns—is bound to be followed by an epic crash.

In a report published September 18, the CBO looks at the impact of four federal laws that are supposed to reduce the pain of social distancing as well as forced business closures and resulting job losses: the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act; the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Those laws increased funding for federal agencies and for state and local governments, in addition to requiring employers to grant paid sick leave to employees, providing payments and tax credits to businesses and individuals, and offering loans and payments to businesses and health care providers to help keep them operating.

The idea was to keep America coasting as manufacturing, buying, and selling were sharply curtailed. But simulating economic prosperity in the absence of an economy is an expensive proposition.

Here’s how the CBO characterizes these stimulus laws’ effects on the U.S. economy:

Short-Term Effects. CBO estimates that the legislation will increase the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by 4.7 percent in 2020 and 3.1 percent in 2021. From fiscal year 2020 through 2023, for every dollar that it adds to the deficit, the legislation is projected to increase GDP by about 59 cents.

Longer-Term Effects. By increasing debt as a percentage of GDP, the legislation is expected to raise borrowing costs, lower economic output, and reduce national income in the longer term.

The cost of this artificial boost—4.7 percent to GDP in 2020 and 3.1 percent in 2021—is $2.9 trillion in deficit spending over the same period, notes the CBO. The pandemic will pass, but we’ll be paying for government actions taken during this time for many years to come.

How much will we pay? “Federal budget deficits raise the ratio of federal debt to GDP from 79 percent in 2019 to 109 percent in 2030,” the CBO projects.

The growth of government debt to exceed the size of the entire economy for the first time since World War II was separately projected by the CBO earlier this month and is reiterated in the latest report.

In fact, deficits and debt may be worse than this report suggests. The CBO admitted in August that it tends to slightly overestimate government revenues. Lower revenues than anticipated will mean higher deficits unless government spending is reduced (don’t hold your breath). That adds up to higher debt pretty quickly.

Nothing in the CBO report is really a surprise, since experts all along have been pointing out that we’ll be paying for 2020’s spending binge for many years to come.

“All this needed borrowing will obviously have a profound consequence on the national debt,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and a supporter of federal stimulus spending, cautioned during July testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. “In the short run, borrowing is exactly what we need to be doing; in the longer-run, the debt accumulation will have to be dealt with.”

“Unnecessary borrowing will just make it that much more difficult to get the national debt under control and stabilize our fiscal and economic future once this crisis has passed,” MacGuineas added.

Other commenters have been more ambivalent, at best, about the wisdom of the stimulus packages.

“The increases in federal expenditures and the reduction in government revenue are being financed almost exclusively by borrowing and will push the federal debt to $30 trillion sometime during 2021,” warned James D. Gwartney, a professor of economics and policy sciences at Florida State University. “Interest rates will inevitably rise at some point, and the additional interest cost will have to be covered by either higher taxes or money creation. The former will slow future economic growth, while the latter will be inflationary.”

The CBO obviously agrees that government debt is unlikely to be under control anytime soon and that economic output is likely to suffer. The recent report also notes that “higher debt—coming at a time when the longer-term path for debt was already high—could eventually increase the risk of a fiscal crisis or of less abrupt economic changes, such as higher inflation or the undermining of the U.S. dollar’s predominant role in global financial markets.”

That’s pretty gloomy stuff. But given years of cautionary language about debts and spending from the CBO, it may not even register on a jaded public. Among those paying attention, nasty economic consequences from rising deficits and debt were expected years before the pandemic and policy responses to the virus imposed new costs. How much more can people be expected to fret about a federal government that has long been addicted to spending far beyond its means?

The latest spending binge was irresistible for elected officials who need slight excuse for their compulsive behavior. “Airlifting cash into American households is one of those rare concepts that almost every politician can embrace,” Michael Grunwald commented at Politico back when pandemic stimulus schemes were first floated.

It’s a special occasion. What harm could one more line do, anyway?

America got its short-term boost from stimulus checks. We’ll have plenty of opportunity to decide in the years to come whether it was worth the inevitable comedown.

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The President’s and Senate’s Duties When a Supreme Court Vacancy Arises During an Election Year

A couple of dozen progressive constitutional law professors, including several very prominent ones, have written a letter that, taken seriously, means that President Trump has a constitutional duty to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice and the Senate has the duty to hold a floor vote this year. Here’s an excerpt from their argument:

Article II of the Constitution is explicit that the president “shall nominate . . . judges of the Supreme Court.” There is no exception to this provision for election years. Throughout American history, presidents have nominated individuals to fill vacancies during the last year of their terms. Likewise, the Senate’s constitutional duty to “advise and consent” – the process that has come to include hearings, committee votes, and floor votes – has no exception for election years…. We urge the President to nominate as soon as reasonably possible an individual to fill the vacancy existing on the Court and the Senate to hold hearings and vote on the nominee.

Of course, they wrote this in 2016, and almost certainly did not mean it to be taken seriously now that the shoe is on the other foot. But it might be worth asking them.

Note that the letter in question has mysteriously disappeared from the American Constitution Society’s website, but still can be found via the Wayback Machine.

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