Researchers Find 61.5% Of Coronavirus Patients With Severe Pneumonia Won’t Survive
Since the Wuhan coronavirus first appeared late last year, researchers have been studying it, though for the first month or so, only Chinese scientists had access to the data.
But now that China has shared its data with the world, research has been appearing more quickly, with more opportunities for peer review.
According to a study published in the Lancet on Friday, patients who are especially vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infections – a group that includes the very old, very young and those with co-occurring conditions – die at a higher rate from COVID-19 than they did from SARS and MERS.
A study of 52 critically ill adults at Wuhan Jin Yin-tan hospital found that 61.5% of patients requiring hospitalization and intense monitoring ended up becoming “non-survivors”, to borrow some of the researchers’ terminology.
The researchers concluded that COVID-19 – or SARS-CoV-2, as they call it – is more lethal for vulnerable patients than SARS or MERS was.
Like SARS-CoV and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 is a coronavirus that can be transmitted to humans, and these viruses are all related to high mortality in critically ill patients.12 However, the mortality rate in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection in our cohort is higher than that previously seen in critically ill patients with SARS. In a cohort of 38 critically ill patients with SARS from 13 hospitals in Canada, 29 (76%) patients required mechanical ventilation, 13 (43%) patients had died at 28 days, and six (16%) patients remained on mechanical ventilation. 17 (38%) of 45 patients and 14 (26%) of 54 patients who were critically ill with SARS infection were also reported to have died at 28 days in a Singapore cohort13 and a Hong Kong cohort,14 respectively. The mortality rate in our cohort is likely to be higher than that seen in critically ill patients with MERS infection. In a cohort of 12 patients with MERS from two hospitals in Saudi Arabia, seven (58%) patients had died at 90 days.15 Since the follow-up time is shorter in our cohort, we postulate that the mortality rate would be higher after 28 days than that seen in patients with MERS-CoV.
Researchers presented their findings in a series of tables which clearly broke down each patient’s symptoms and path to recovery (or death).
The mean age of the 52 patients who participated in the study was 59 years old. 35 (67%) were men, 21 (40%) had been diagnosed with some kind of chronic illness, and 51 (98%)were found to have a fever.
A new video released on Friday showed the Turkish military and their allied militants attempting to hit a Russian aircraft with an anti-aircraft missile in the Idlib Governorate yesterday.
In the short video, the Turkish forces and their allies militants can be seen on the roof of a building, where they later attempted to shoot down the Russian aircraft in the skies of the Idlib Governorate.
NEW – Video footage from yesterday shows #Turkey soldiers firing a MANPADS at a #Russia jet flying over #Idlib.
Prior to the release of this video, another film was released on Thursday that showed the militant forces in the Idlib Governorate trying to shoot down a Russian Su-24 aircraft that had just got done bombing their positions.
Below is the video that was released on Friday of the attempted downing of the Russian aircraft:
401(k) Millionaires Surge To Record Level Under Trump
A Fidelity Investments press release on Thursday said the number of customers with more than $1 million in their 409k 401k soared to record levels in 4Q19 fueled by higher savings rates and surging stock markets.
There’s a reason why President Trump touted 401k growth during his State of the Union address last week, because balances are increasing, and it will help him win the election.
Fidelity noted that 401k millionaires soared last quarter, reaching a record level. Customers with the brokerage house that have over one million dollars in their 401k hit 233,000, up from 200,000 in Q3, a 17% jump M/M.
The number of IRA millionaires increased to 208,000, also a record high and an increase from 182,400 in Q3.
All of these new 401k and IRA millionaires were created through President Trump’s pressure on the Federal Reserve to unleash easy money policies to boost the stock market.
And, of course, as we all know, JPM’s drain of liquidity via Money Markets and reserves parked at the Fed promoted a liquidity crisis that resulted in “Not QE,” which allowed even more liquidity to flow into the stock market starting last September, the same period when all of these investment accounts soared in value. Coincidence?
Kevin Barry, president of Workplace Investing at Fidelity Investments, noted in the release that “growth in savings levels over the last 10 years demonstrates the positive impact of taking a long-term approach to retirement, and recent Fidelity research demonstrates workers who do so have reason to feel increasingly confident about their retirement readiness.”
“However, as we enter a new decade and continue to see markets rise and fall, it’s more important than ever to remember some of the important elements of a successful retirement strategy – these include maintaining positive savings habits, ensuring your account has the right balance of stocks, bonds, and cash, and continuing to focus on your long-term savings goals,” Barry added.
Every chance Trump gets, he tweets or tells everyone that their 409k 401k is performing great.
Raoul Pal of Real Vision had a good take on it:
The irresponsiblity of this, telling the average person to take more risks this late in the cycle is simply staggering, regardless of what the markets do. To make them think a 50% return is low lacks any fiduciary responsibility. This is worse than the Greenspan housing comments. https://t.co/UqrFbYmoXM
Create a controversy that isn’t real to seed a narrative that there’s a problem in need of a solution. Facebook has been the center of this controversy to inflame passions on both sides of the political aisle to ensure the desired outcome.
They want regulation of all social media companies to create unscalable barriers to entry for new ones while curtailing free speech on the existing ones.
Warren Buffet would call that a moat. I call it tyranny.
Section 230 grants immunity to companies like Facebook and Google from prosecution for content hosted on their services as they argue they are not publishers but rather just pass-through entities or platforms of user-generated content.
Now, it’s pretty clear for the past few years the social media companies have been acting with open editorial bias to deplatform undesirables. They rewrite broadly defined terms of services and EULAs (End-User Licence Agreements) which they use to justify controlling what content they are willing to host.
And that’s where the Section 230 immunity comes into play. The big tech companies want to have it both ways, be a neutral platform legally but self-define ‘neutrality’ in such a way that benefits them politically, economically and socially while insulating themselves from breaching contracts with their customers.
What’s clear from Barr’s comments he’s approaching this from a law enforcement perspective.
“We are concerned that internet services, under the guise of Section 230, can not only block access to law enforcement — even when officials have secured a court-authorized warrant — but also prevent victims from civil recovery,” Barr said. “Giving broad immunity to platforms that purposefully blind themselves — and law enforcers — to illegal conduct on their services does not create incentives to make the online world safer for children.”
And this clearly doesn’t address the real issue. That’s your sign there’s something wrong here.
Both political parties are unhappy with the current situation and that should be your red flag that a great stitch-up is in progress. Because the end goal here is government oversight that has bipartisan support.
That support has to be manufactured from both sides. The left wants protection from ‘fake news’ and ‘Russian meddling’ while the right wants a level playing field to air ideas in the public square.
Didn’t you all notice how both of these things became issues right after the wrong person won the 2016 presidential election and the British people made the wrong decision about EU Membership?
I’m sure you noticed the blatant bias exhibited by Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and the rest of these protected platforms and wondered why they were allowed to act so egregiously with seemingly no recourse?
The big tech companies don’t want more government oversight, they simply want to continue to have their have their editorial take and enforce it too while taking your money and suppressing your voice.
Government intervention is not the solution here. In fact, it is the goal of the entire exercise.
I don’t want the government coming in and further defining the rules by which Facebook can deplatform everyone who tells inconvenient truths.
Because that’s all government does. And then it empowers a bureaucracy to enforce those rules.
I don’t need a Ministry of Truth to protect me from the bad people. I know where the bad people are and, in your heart, so do you.
So the question isn’t whether Barr should strip these companies of their Section 230 immunity. Of course he should if they exhibit any kind of editorial behavior.
But, in typical Swamp fashion, Barr isn’t concerned about that. He’s concerned with using Facebook to track down criminals; the implication being drug runners, murderers, etc.
That’s a sop to law and order conservatives to get their support politically.
But the real criminals are in the bowels of the compliance departments and algorithm factories of these social media companies pushing the bounds of indecency by trying to protect us from fake news to control the flow of information.
They’ve already done a great deal of this, altering search algorithms to ensure only approved news sources show up in the results.
We know they are all working in cahoots with the intelligence agencies here in the U.S. but no one will admit it publicly. The EU and China are more honest about their tyrannical impulses using their anti-democratic structure to create rules which they force onto these multi-national companies.
Now Twitter is testing new flagging abilities for verified accounts to act as community censors, creating the illusion of a user-controlled public space. It’ll only be for those that get blue check marks. And that’s a system clearly gamed to reflect a particular ideological bias as no one who dissents from the approved globalist message gets one of those anymore.
So, only journalists from official news outlets will have this ability to fact-check in real time the pronouncements of important influencers.
If you don’t think this is simply a means by which to make it seem fair to suppress the king of Twitter, Donald Trump, then you clearly haven’t had your morning coffee.
The Wire is simply a metaphor for the transmission of information. The Wire takes many forms. And if you aren’t sure whether something is The Wire just ask if you have control over it or not.
The Internet? The Wire.
Electricity? The Wire
Roads? The Wire.
Media? The Wire.
Money? The Wire.
In short, The Wire is the main conduit through which we communicate with each other. Money? Really? Yes, really. What are prices if not information about what we are willing to part with your money in exchange for?
Without The Wire modern society fails. So, government can’t shut it down but neither can it allow unrenstrained access to it.
Electricity, commerce, communications, everything, goes over The Wire.
Control of The Wire is everything. Soros is desperately trying to hold onto control over the social media companies he’s invested so heavily in to influence their influence.
And it’s clear we’ve entered the next phase of regaining control over it.
The solution to the Section 230 Immunity issue for these companies is to remove it and open them up to civil liabilities for their inconsistent enforcement of their own policies.
Because once you do that they have no protection under commercial contract law.
Those users that use these platforms for commercial purposes are materially harmed by the ever-changing rules of these platforms.
They entered into an agreement with YouTube or Facebook in good faith expectation of a certain level of service.
Facebook’s business is built on the implicit guarantee of that service. In turn, Facebook was built on the backs of those using the platform.
Unilaterally taking away that access without compensation simply because Facebook said so is a perversion of contract law. Why should Facebook be allowed to do that? Why hasn’t this clear inequity between parties to a contract been addressed by the courts?
And that’s what we should be addressing here.
And I’m not just talking about Facebook here. Remember when the social network Gab had its internet access revoked by GoDaddy? How does GoDaddy escape paying damages for unilaterally denying service?
There is clear opportunity for them to be sued into submission by the millions of users whose businesses and reputations have been destroyed due to arbitrary enforcement of company rules.
At the end of the day these companies create and use as excuses broad powers which have almost no precedent in contract law. Their EULAs are contracts the user signs which grants them no rights or guarantees of service in any way. They can be abrogated, updated and changed to suit the company’s whim with no redress for the breach of contract from the other party.
This is outrageous, unacceptable and flies in the face of hundreds of years of contract law.
If Facebook wants to ban Alex Jones from their platform fine. I have zero problem with that. If they want to act as a private business which is protected under the First Amendment’s protection of Freedom of Association, great!
I’m all for re-establishing that in this society.
Let’s open up that can of worms.
It would finally be an honest conversation. Because we are rapidly approaching the moment of reverse racism, whereby Facebook doesn’t want to host racist or sexist content.
And I’m fine with that. But I’m also fine then with restaurants not serving black people or people baking wedding cakes for gay couples.
Freedom OF association is also Freedom FROM association, folks.
The shit-libs and the oligarchs want it both ways. They want you to be forced to associate with others on their terms but deny you a place in society because you disagree with them.
That is, in a word, tyrannical.
So, in a just world, Facebook owes Alex Jones millions for lost revenue and damages to Jones’ business as well as, one could argue, a portion of Facebook’s revenue it generated during the time it hosted Jones’ content which brought the company users, revenue and market share.
Multiply that lawsuit by ten for the number of platforms Alex Jones has been banned from. Then multiply that number by the millions for everyone else these platforms have materially harmed.
And then we’ll see what the market cap of the NASDAQ 100 would truly be.
And that’s one way we should fight this, not by empowering more bureaucrats to police everyone’s speech on Twitter, but to sue Twitter for non-fulfillment of obligations under the reasonable expectation of service they are to provide as a party to a legal contract.
This is what I wanted to hear William Barr was focusing on in working on. But that is exactly what will not happen.
The other is to develop technology which resists the centralizing power of these companies to control our speech, democratizing it at the incentive level, through projects like Brave and other blockchain-based systems, which empower the user, not the platform to decide which content has value and which doesn’t.
* * *
Beware the deplatforming of Facebook, it’s just another brick in the wall. Join my Patreon if you believe in free and open exchange of ideas.
Libya Asks US To Establish Military Base To Combat Russian Presence
This is all we need: another American base located smack dab in the middle of yet another civil war we had a big hand in causing in the first place.
“Libya’s security chief called on the U.S. to set up a base in the North African country to counter Russia’s expanding influence in Africa,”Bloomberg reports.
It appears a desperate effort on the part of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) to gain Washington’s attention after Trump last year seemed to switch his preference to Gen. Khalifa Haftar.
The US president famously said last Spring that Haftar, who holds dual citizenship after living outside D.C. for two decades and is said to be close to the CIA, is “securing the oil”.
Haftar is being politically supported by Moscow, and it should be noted has Russian mercenaries in the ranks of his Libyan National Army, or LNA.
That’s just what we need — another indefensible American military base in a dangerous, remote, unwinnable, conflict where no side can claim moral purity. https://t.co/9kVkIsXCrE
The oil-rich nation across the Mediterranean from Europe has been one of the main stages for Russia’s push for influence over the past year. More than a thousand mercenaries deployed by a confidant of President Vladimir Putin have backed Haftar’s offensive to capture the capital from the internationally recognized government.
Bashagha warned that Russia’s backing of Haftar was part of a broader push for influence.
Pro-Haftar forces have been laying siege to the capital of Tripoli for months now, displacing tens of thousands of civilians, in what’s fast shaping up to be a major North African proxy war, given the UAE, Egypt and Russia have taken Haftar’s side, while Turkey and most major UN countries have stuck by Tripoli under Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
Though AFRICOM has been expanding rapidly over the past decade across the African continent, it doesn’t look as if the Trump administration is ready to commit any level of American troops to the Libyan War 2.0 any time soon.
Sanders Projected To Win Nevada Caucuses After Early Reporting Landslide
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is projected to win the Nevada caucuses after early reports suggest a landslide victory, according to Fox News, which named Sanders the winner.
While just four percent of the results are in, Sanders has 56% of the delegates, followed by Biden at 18.8% and Warren at 8.5%.
The closely-watched process began with Nevada Democrats optimistic that they would avoid a repeat of the technical glitches that plagued the caucuses in Iowa. Those fears led the state Democratic Party to decide to rely on traditional reporting by phone, rather than an app made by the same developer that created the app blamed for the debacle in Iowa. It has also scrapped a plan to use a Google Forms app loaded onto iPads. –Fox News
“”Nevada Democrats have learned important lessons from Iowa, and we’re confident they’re implementing these best practices into their preparations,” said DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. “We’ve deployed staff to help them across the board, from technical assistance to volunteer recruitment.”
On Saturday, DNC Chairman Tom Perez told Fox News that the party is in “great shape,” adding “We have all of the early vote results distributed to the caucus sites. People are checking now…. I think it’s going to be a really exciting day.”
As the world tries frantically to contain a rapidly spreading outbreak of Covid-19, schools, public venues, tourist attractions, and workplaces are being closed in an attempt to keep even more people from contracting the illness. Quarantines and self-isolation protocols are also being instituted across the globe for those who may have been exposed.
While the numbers cited here are outrageously large, obviously, these losses aren’t only going to affect “the economy” and “the businesses.” They’re going to have devastating effects on normal folks who just want to go to work, pay their bills, and keep living their lives normally.
Something nobody is really talking about is the financial hit that people will be taking during such closures. This is a very real concern, and for families who already live paycheck to paycheck, the loss of income could prove devastating.
How will containment efforts affect average folks financially?
All over the world, cities are frantically attempting to contain the virus.
Yesterday came the news that 10 cities in northern Italy had closed all public venues due to a new cluster of coronavirus patients. The towns, in the Lombardy region, have shuttered restaurants, stores, and schools. Public gatherings like carnival celebrations, church masses, and sporting events have been banned for at least a week. In one town, Casalpusterlengo, an electric sign reads, “Coronavirus: the population is invited to remain indoors as a precaution.” Seventeen people in the region have tested positive for Covid-19, and two have perished there from the illness.
All of these containment measures are certainly wise and in the best interest of peoples’ health. But what about their bank accounts?
Here’s a scenario that’s seeming less and less farfetched.
If you’re the owner of a physical business like a store or restaurant, you’re going to have to shut down under any of the kind of mandates mentioned above. When you’re closed, of course, you’re not making money. It’s the same thing with factories (who will be there to produce the goods?) and offices. Your business will grind to a rapid halt.
And what about employees? Obviously, if you don’t go to work, you’re not going to get paid. And this isn’t just a case of “evil capitalists” who are too stingy to give their employees paid leave. If the business is not running, there is no revenue coming in. That means that even if the business owners were the most generous people alive, they probably couldn’t afford to maintain payrolls for very long.
So how are you going to pay your bills? It’s safe to expect that the mortgage company, the credit card companies, the utility companies, and all those other businesses with their hands out each month are still going to want their money. And their businesses could potentially carry on to some degree, remotely. That stuff isn’t just going to magically disappear. You’re going to owe that money. Even if companies try to work with folks as they did during the most recent government shutdown, the money will still be owed and you’ll still be unpaid for a week, a month, or however long you were out of work.
This doesn’t include the cost of food, medication, general expenses, and medical bills – heaven help you if you do get sick.
What can you do to prepare for this financially?
Here’s where the situation becomes even more difficult.
Do you save your money for the possibility of being without work or do you spend your money to feed your family while you’re without work? It’s like a choice between the rock or the hard place.
If you have an emergency fund, avoid cracking into it for supplies. This will be your cushion for bills if you go for a period of time without work. If you do not have an emergency fund and you’ve been struggling with a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, things will be a lot tougher.
Temporarily halt your efforts to pay off debt faster. Pay only the minimum payment for a month or two while we see how this plays out. Put that extra money into your savings account and you can build a small emergency cushion. And if things don’t get bad, you can use it for debt later when things settle down. People always like to say I’m wrong when I suggest that paying off debt isn’t your first priority, but in this situation, keeping your utilities on and a roof over your head is more important than paying some extra interest.
Raise some money. Now’s the time to try and raise a bit of extra money. Do you have anything you can sell for a chunk of change? Is there a possibility of getting a second job temporarily? Put an ad on Craigslist for that exercise bike being used as a clothes-hanger in the basement. Sell a piece of unwanted jewelry. Get rid of the car nobody drives. Use this money for your emergency fund or for supplies. You will have a lot more difficulty selling it after a crisis because then everyone is going to be broke. If you’re going to do it, do it now.
If you’re flat broke, things will be more difficult. This isn’t news to you if you’re in this situation. Please know I’m not judging – I’ve been there, so broke that I literally cried over a gallon of spilled milk because it was a week until payday and I couldn’t afford to get more for my children. But this isn’t about emotional responses – it’s about practicality. If you have only a limited amount of money, you’re going to have to prioritize where you spend it. Your credit is most likely already shot if things are this tight, so don’t worry about that right now. Keep a roof over your head, utilities on, food in the kitchen, and a car in your driveway if your job depends on it. Credit card debt should be the last thing you pay in a situation like this. Go read this article, How to Survive When You Can’t Pay Your Bills, for more detailed information.
Prioritize your supply purchases. While people are frantically buying up N95 masks and PPE, spend your money on the things you need to have on hand during a month or more at home. Sure, I think it’s great to have medical supplies for a possible pandemic, but these measures are to be used if you go out into the germy masses. And your goal should be to avoid doing that. Other reasons you’d need these supplies would be if a family member became ill – you’d want to do your best to avoid contracting the illness yourself while you care for them and you’d want to protect your other family members. The more I learn about this virus though, the less convinced I am that gloves and masks are going to be preventative enough if you’re living in close quarters with an infected person. Look at the rapid rates of transmission aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship for more information on that. While of course, it is best to have both medical supplies and food, if you can only get one type of supply or the other, focus most of your money on food and other essentials – not PPE.
Use some of the money coming in for supplies you need to buy. Think about what you would need if you couldn’t leave your house for a month, two months, etc. (It’s pretty difficult to put a time on something like this. China has had people in some areas locked down for a month with no real end in sight.) Here’s some of the stuff I bought to top up our supplies and be prepared for lockdown. Use my list only as a general guideline – you know what your family needs and it will be different from mine. Be sure to include plenty of nutrients in your supplies – you want your immune system to remain highly functional when you could be at risk of contracting an illness.
At the same time, go for quantity over quality if money is an issue. Get some stuff that is cheap yet filling as the last resort of your pantry. Remember, you want to be able to stay home and not send someone out to be exposed while trying to acquire food. So if that means some peanut butter and crackers or mac and cheese in the back of your pantry, it’s better than getting sick to go out and seek fresh veggies. (And you most likely wouldn’t even be able to find them – expect the supply chain to break down pretty quickly.)
Talk to the people to whom you owe money. Contact utility companies, mortgage companies, banks, credit card companies, etc., and let them know about your situation. Everyone will be in a similar boat and these businesses may have some suggestions for you. Mortgage companies may be able to offer you a month of grace, credit card companies may make arrangements with you, etc. Do this early on and it will help you plan where your money is going to go during the crisis.
Prioritize your bills. You need a place to live (although I doubt they’re going to be running around evicting people during a pandemic, you could lose your house afterward unless you can work something out.). You need to keep your utilities on. You may have some other essential spending, too – this will be very individual. Credit card debt and unsecured loans come dead-last in bill-paying during a crisis like this. Other things that are not essential? Cable, which seems like a great option for whiling away the hours when you’re cooped up in the house, is not a priority. Nobody in your family will die without television although some people may act like they’re going to perish from the very idea of it. Each family member having an operable cell phone? Not a priority. Extreme situations may call for measures that people find less than pleasant. Make these decisions early on. A monthly cable bill of $120 would buy you quite a bit of non-perishable food.
Be frugal. Let’s assume you’re able to work out a deal with the utility companies to pay your overdue bill a month after the crisis has resolved. These aren’t going to be the only bills you are behind on. It would behoove you to be as frugal as possible with utility usage. Don’t leave on every light in the house, don’t crank your heat or air conditioner, and try to keep your bills low so that the amount you pay when things go back to normal isn’t quite as daunting. Trust me, paying 2-3 electric bills at a time will still be a big chunk of money, regardless of how careful you are. Don’t make it worse by acting like you’re in a hotel where you don’t pay for the power used.
Be ready for the long haul.
This is a crisis that could have snowballing repercussions and they could last for a very long time. Hopefully, it gets contained and blows over without affecting us too badly. Hopefully, we get lucky and in a few years, the Covid-19 outbreak warrants the same eye-roll that the 2014 Ebola scare does.
But if it doesn’t – if the scenario described in this article comes to pass – you need to be prepared for a long-haul. You need to be ready for your lifestyle to change fairly dramatically. A loss of more than a trillion dollars from the global economy isn’t something that we’ll bounce back from with “business as usual.”
Jobs will be cut as businesses struggle to stay afloat.
Businesses will fail.
Properties will not sell.
Shortages of food and other supplies will occur.
If people are unable to pay back debt, expect a banking crisis that makes 2008 look like a rainy Sunday afternoon.
The same measures taken to contain the virus can cause these economic effects.
…experts like Richard Schabas, Ontario’s former chief medical officer, worry that draconian measures that stoke fear in the population do more harm than good.
“Recessions kill people, in fact will probably kill more people than this virus does,” he told CBC News host Michael Serapio last week…
…”Our world has become so interconnected,” says Jia Wang, deputy director of the University of Alberta’s China Institute.
Wang suggests that the next few weeks will be critical, showing whether the epidemic, with its global economic impact, is moderating or getting worse…
…Fear and government restrictions mean people in China have been staying home, slashing the business of retailers and restaurants. Some reports say property sales are down by more than 80 per cent, affecting a business that represents about one-quarter of China’s gross domestic product.
Wang says that while the country’s giant companies are big enough to outlast the crisis, especially with government help, a significant and dynamic part of China’s economy is based on much smaller businesses that could disappear, leading to lingering economic effects.
“If the quarantines and shutdowns of many cities around China continue for a few more months or even just one month, many of the smaller companies may not survive,” she said.
Wang says there are also worries that the coronavirus and its economic effect will spread outside China. Last Friday, Singapore’s president, Lee Hsien Loong. warned the disease could push that country into recession.
Putting a figure on the global impact is not easy, and estimates of the damage vary widely. Oxford Economics says global growth will fall to 2.3 percent in 2020, the lowest level in more than 10 years and below the IMF’s global recession level. (source)
Currently, it’s impossible to predict how far this will spread and how bad it will be. There’s no way to know how long quarantine and containment measures will be put into place, or even if they’ll be necessary.
But be ready for anything, economically speaking. Covid-19 is the wild card that nobody expected.
Girl Who Sued To Stop Biological Males From Running Girls’ Track Defeats Trans-Runner For Championship
Now this is a story about actual “girl power”…
It was only two days after filing a lawsuit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) that Chelsea Mitchell made a much bigger statement than one she could have made in the courtroom.
She had sued because the CIAC was permitting biological males to compete in women’s sports, leading one trans runner to win “numerous titles” in women’s events, according to The Daily Wire.
So Mitchell decided not just to make a statement in court – but also to make one on the track. She defeated trans runner Terry Miller in the Class S 55-meter dash with a time of 7.18 seconds in the state championships.
“Mitchell also came first in the 300-meter dash, while Miller was 16th, and Mitchell won the long jump,” according to The Daily Mail.
The Class S girls 55 meter state championship goes to Canton senior Chelsea Mitchell, who edged out defending champ Terry Miller of Bloomfield. #cttrackpic.twitter.com/aDL7ieIEsx
And there didn’t appear to be any pleasantries exchanged between the two runners after the race, either. The Harford Courant stated: “There was no interaction between the two before or after the race.”
Mitchell didn’t think her win could negatively affect her lawsuit: “I don’t think it could go against, there’s still tons of girls that lose on a daily basis,” she said.
Mitchell is a senior at Glastonbury High School. Along with another athlete, Alanna Smith, she filed a Federal lawsuit with their families after the CIAC allowed two biological males to compete in girls’ athletic competitions. Those males went on to take a collective 15 women’s state championship titles, formerly held by 9 different girls. The males took more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher level women’s competitions between 2017 and 2019.
“The three plaintiffs have competed directly against them, almost always losing to Miller and usually behind Yearwood. Mitchell finished third in the 2019 state championship in the girls 55-meter indoor track competition behind Miller and Yearwood,” The Daily Mail said.
Mitchell is currently ranked the fastest biological girl in Connecticut and had lost four girls’ state championships and two all New England awards to the males.
She stated: “I knew that I was the fastest girl here, one of the fastest in the state. I remembered all my training and everything I had been taught on how to maximize my performance … I thought of all the times that other girls have lost. I could feel the adrenaline in my blood and hope that wafted from me. That just possibly, I could win this. Then, the gun went off. And I lost.”
Biological male Miller had stated in 2019: “I have faced discrimination in every aspect of my life and I no longer want to remain silent. I am a girl and I am a runner. I participate in athletics just like my peers to excel, find community, and meaning in my life. It is both unfair and painful that my victories have to be attacked and my hard work ignored.”
Bizarro World: Retail Investors Are Now Crushing Hedge Funds
As if financial markets needed one more reason to boycott the “smart money” and stop paying 2 and 20 for the “privilege” of underperforming the free S&P500 for the 10th straight year – an S&P which is now actively managed by central banks who step in any time there is even a modest 5% drop in stock prices – here it is: Retail investors are now crushing the smartest money on Wall Street.
… yet it was the impressive outperformance of the most popular longs, also known as the Goldman Sachs Hedge Fund VIP basket of stocks…
… that has saved the day for hedge funds, whose performance would have been far worse had it not been for the handful of stocks owned by most hedge funds.
During the last few months, the most popular hedge fund positions have enjoyed one of their strongest rallies on record. Our Hedge Fund VIP basket, which tracks the most popular hedge fund long positions has returned 24% since the start of 4Q 2019, sharply outperforming both the S&P 500 (+14%) and our basket of the largest short positions. The basket’s return relative to its realized volatility and its outperformance versus the largest shorts each rank as the strongest in the basket’s history. The outperformance of VIPs has continued in early 2020 (+9% YTD), contributing to a 1% YTD return for the average hedge fund.
And not just hedge funds have piled into the same small group of mega cap stocks: as we pointed out yesterday, it was retail investors, i.e., the “dumb money” that saved the day for the “smartest guys in the room” as they scrambled to buy the names most widely held by the hedge fund community.
Recall that the YTD period has been most notable because after a long absence, retail investors finally stormed back into the market with a bang, buying not just stocks, but call options – highly levered bets typically with a 1 week maturity – on stocks at a time when nothing seemed like it could go down, in the process creating a self-reinforcing tidal wave of buying that has risen all boats, especially those owned by hedge funds.
To be sure, it wasn’t just single-stocks as index and ETF options volumes have also soared to record highs…
… but yes, a handful of stocks were the biggest benficiaries.
Goldman confirmed as much, when Ben Snider and David Kostin said that “the most popular hedge fund stocks have also been bolstered by a surge in retail trading activity. The sharp increase in retail trading has lifted a basket of popular retail stocks by 14% YTD and 25% since the start of 4Q 2019.”
Which brings us to the most remarkable chart we showed yesterday in our recap of the latest quarterly Goldman Hedge Fund Monitor: retail investors, i.e., the “dumb money” has now trounced the performance of hedge funds, incorrectly known as “the smart money” not only YTD, as the 50 most-popular stocks among retail investors rallied 13% so far in 2020, nearly double the 8.7% return for the hedge fund favorites but since the start of 2018.
It’s not just the breadth of returns that has diverged between the two investor classes. Picking up on where we left off yesterday, Bloomberg writes on Saturday morning that retail investors have also been far better pickers of blockbuster stocks in 2020: “Only two of their popular holdings have gained at least 50%: Tesla Inc. and PG&E Corp. By contrast, individual investors scored seven such wins. Besides Tesla and PG&E, they reaped big pay-offs from Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., Plug Power Inc., Sprint Corp., Vivint Solar Inc. and Beyond Meat Inc.”
These, of course, as the berserker momo names that went parabolic as an army of retail investors staged a call buying spree in one momo name after another, orchestrated out of a peculiar source: the wallstreetbets section on reddit.
We also know the enabler, of course: the retail investing hordes have the Fed’s QE4 which was launched in October 2019 to thank for the outperformance. It was then that hedge funds had hunkered down and turned short, when Powell instead of allowing the market to drop, injected hundreds of billions in liquidity into the market, bailing out not hedge funds – he did that back in September with the return of repo operations, but retail investors.
“Retail investors tend to buy what’s just done well, and in a market like we’ve been in the last several years, that’s worked very well,” said Rich Weiss, CIO of multi-asset strategies at American Century Investments told Bloomberg, adding that “if that type of outperformance by the retail basket over the hedge fund basket would persist for another year or longer, that makes quite a statement, if not an indictment, on professional money managers.”
Rich is right, but only partially: it would make an even bigger statement on the Federal Reserve, which now finds it imperative to intervene in the market to rescue all investors, not just a given wealthy subset.
But what is worse, is that this intervention by the Fed, and the tremendous outperformance of retail investors over hedge funds, will further bolster optimism among small investors, who are rushing back to the market with the conviction that they are investing geniuses further facilitated after some brokerages eliminated commissions on trades. According to the latest sentiment reading from the Conference Board, the share of respondents expecting stocks to rise in the next year advanced to 43.1% in January, the highest since October 2018.
Some additional observations on the two stocks baskets.
Among the 50 favorite stocks for both hedge funds and retail investors, 13 overlap, with tech giants – Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp – at the top of both lists. That said, retail investors have gravitated more toward smaller companies, with sixteen of the top 50 picks having a market value of less than $10 billion, compared with six for hedge funds.
Ultimately it all really boils down to the far higher beta of the retail basket compared to the hedge fund VIPs: which means that while retail investors tend to win big, they also lose big when stocks tumble. As Bloomberg notes, seven of the top retail stocks have fallen at least 10% this year, including Chesapeake and Groupon. Meanwhile, all of the hedge funds’ top selections have fared better.
For those wondering, here is the full list of the Top 50 “VIP” hedge fund names as of Dec. 31…
… and the same list for retail investors.
And while it is certainly a novelty to see retail investors outperform hedge funds, we doubt this divergence will last long, especially once the Fed is forced to taper its QE4 in the coming months, at which point the retail panic will be a sight to behold, as will be the length of the list of those furious at Chair Powell.
Which is why the only thing that matters, in our view, is the list of Top 50 most shorted names. As discussed extensively here in the past, it is the 50 or so most shorted – or hated by hedge fund – names that has year after year been and a far better source of alpha (for those who buy them)as they have significantly outperformed the braoder market due to periodic and vicious short squeezes year after year…
Bernie Tells “Autocrat” & “Thug” Putin To “Stay Out” Of US Elections, But Also Slams WaPo For Hit Job
The newest evidence-free anonymously sourced claims of Russian interference ahead of the 2020 election is a return to and new twist on Trump and Putin’s supposed three-dimensional chess playing, this latest version which goes something like this:
…the Kremlin wants Trump for four more years, so the best way to do this is elevate Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee — ensuring a Trump win.
Sanders said he’s been briefed on the matter, however, The Washington Post admitted revealingly, “It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken.”
As we noted earlier this seemingly by design puts the Democratic front-runner in a difficult spot, given he runs the risk of being attacked for disbelieving (even disloyalty to) U.S. intelligence, and, by default, defending the Kremlin.
Naturally, he had to go full anti-Putin to satisfy the Russia-obsessed Democratic base, warning the “autocrat” and “thug” to “stay out out US elections”.
“Mr. Putin is a thug. He is an autocrat. He may be a friend of Donald Trump — he’s not a friend of mine,” Sanders said while in California.
“Let me tell Mr. Putin: The American people, whether you’re Republicans, Democrats, independents, are sick and tired of seeing Russia and other countries interfering in our elections.”
He also took the timing of The Washington Post’s reporting to task. Sanders’ intelligence briefing was about a month ago, but has only been made public a day before the crucial Nevada vote.
“I’ll let you guess, about one day before the Nevada caucus. Why do you think it came out?” he told reporters. “It was The Washington Post? Good friends,” he added sarcastically.
Sanders had previously questioned of the new allegations, “Show me the proof that Russia is trying to help me” — because, well… zero evidence has actually been presented.Sanders said additionally:
“I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president. My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do. In 2016, Russia used Internet propaganda to sow division in our country, and my understanding is that they are doing it again in 2020.”
But his opponents have predictably already seized on what appears a carefully timed and calibrated smear.
Joe Biden immediately on the heels of the Post report told a Las Vegas crowd that Russia is “engaged again, right now as we speak, trying to affect not only the general election but who becomes the nominee of the Democratic Party.”
Elizabeth Warren also chimed in, questioning why the “Russian efforts” were not made public earlier, saying further the Russians “continue to have too much influence”.
#BernieKnew that constantly feeding into establishment Russia hysteria for three years would bite him in the ass eventually, but he also knew opposing it would’ve been used to smear him as a Russian asset much earlier.
Though this is all clearly part of the Democratic establishment’s well-documented ongoing war to prevent a Bernie Sanders nomination, it must be remembered that Sanders himself for years added his own fuel to the Russiagate conspiracy fire when it came to Trump and the Republicans.
It’s now been repackaged and is coming back to bite him.