- You don't need the audio, but you do need the video
- As researchers get closer to identifying an effective vaccine, bosses will face additional dilemmas about whether they can ask employees to be vaccinated. Ms. Vann says employers can require staffers get inoculated, but they must allow exemptions, for example, on medical or religious grounds.
Still, such decrees are tricky, she cautions. “Not everyone who gets the influenza vaccine is immune to the flu, so you want to be sure whatever mandate you’re putting into place will achieve the result that’s intended without creating a host of other issues, like employees being demoralized or feeling they have no choice,” she says.
Meanwhile in Morlocks v. Eloi news, Covid-19 Is Dividing the American Worker. Sad: K-street. Glad: K-shaped.
- A fundamental tenet of most economists’ thinking is that in the long run, innovation is a tremendous net benefit to human civilization. As long as we can thread the eye of the needle of environmental catastrophe, increased productivity has the potential to continue to reduce global poverty, quash childhood disease, better the lot of the world’s most vulnerable and expand the global middle class. The challenge, argue Drs. Autor and Acemoglu and many others, including world leaders like Emmanuel Macron, is reducing the short and medium-term harms meted out to those whose lives and livelihoods are being disrupted right now.
Dr. Acemoglu also agrees that policy, which in the U.S. is often crafted by corporations, plays a huge role in how underlying trends in technology, and its ability to give capital the upper hand over labor, play out. In one of his recent papers, he concluded that the current U.S. corporate tax system actually incentivizes companies to replace workers with robots, even when those robots are no more productive than humans.
Meanwhile, Austin city hits its limits: Austin Produced Willie Nelson and Others. Can Its Music Scene Survive Covid-19?
- Even before Covid-19, Austin music venues had been falling victim to redevelopment. On a sunny winter day in 2016, Mayor Steve Adler gathered with musicians to unveil a sweeping proposal aimed at saving live music in Austin. He often repeated that he didn’t want Austin to become like San Francisco, “once a city that created art, and now a city that consumes art.”
City Hall, which sits next to a statue of Willie Nelson and breaks every city council meeting for a live-music performance, took the charge seriously. City staff outlined dozens of recommendations and held years of meetings with the musical community to find out how to help. Few of their ideas came to fruition, however.
Many in the music community are angry that venues weren’t among the recipients of Covid-19 relief money that the city gave out under the Cares Act.
Mr. Adler said in an interview that there were too many immediate needs for city leaders to prioritize a single industry, but the city might have other funds that can help. The city is also lobbying in Washington, D.C., for venues that were found to be ineligible for other federal assistance to receive it, he said.
“Music came to Austin organically and the fear is that if we ever lost it, it would be hard for it to come back,” he said.
For the record I fucking hate Austin and everything it represents but this sort of thing is happening everywhere. 90% of independent music venues are doomed unless the government does something, and the government isn't going to do shit. The only modern artists most Americans know are Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe because while conservatives will go out of their way to point out how terrible art is, liberals always cower rather than stick up for anything that doesn't make Google money.
Coming in from the "of course they won't do anything" department, Coronavirus Lifts Government Debt to WWII Levels—Cutting It Won’t Be Easy.
- Among advanced economies, debt rose to 128% of global gross domestic product as of July, according to the International Monetary Fund. In 1946, it came to 124%.
For now, governments shouldn’t worry about mounting debt and instead focus on bringing the virus under control, said Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush.
“The war analogy is exactly the right one,” said Mr. Hubbard, dean emeritus of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. “We were and are fighting a war. It’s a virus, not a foreign power, but the level of spending isn’t the problem.”
After World War II, advanced economies brought down debt quickly, thanks in large part to rapid economic growth. The ratio of debt to GDP fell by more than half, to less than 50%, by 1959. It is likely to be harder this time, for reasons involving demographics, technology and slower growth.
In the optimistic era after the war, birthrates boomed, leading to gains in household formation and growing workforces. Circumstances were ripe to reap the benefits of electrification, suburbanization and improved medicine.
Through the late 1950s, economies soared. Growth averaged around 5% a year in France and Canada, almost 6% in Italy and more than 8% in Germany and Japan. The U.S. economy grew almost 4% a year.
“We’d be lucky to have half that over the next decade,” said Nathan Sheets, a former undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs and now chief economist at PGIM Fixed Income, the investment-management business of Prudential Financial Inc.
In recent years, the U.S., U.K. and Germany have grown about 2% a year. In Japan and France, it has been closer to 1%. Italy has barely grown at all.
Dunno if the "Alphabet Economics" video is above or below the paywall, but it's worth it just to see all the tea leaf reading masquerading as sober scientific thinking.
Meanwhile in non-American fuckups, Spain Caught Off Guard by Resurgent Coronavirus
- In Spain, famous for its particularly sociable way of life, coronavirus cases rose as nightlife and family gatherings resumed. Young Spaniards, eager to resume social lives suspended during lockdown, often flouted distancing guidelines. Crucially, some regions of Spain are still short of contact tracers, making it difficult for health authorities to identify and isolate potential virus carriers.
“We need to hire many more people,” says Ms. Legido-Quigley, lead author of a letter recently published in the Lancet medical journal, calling for an independent evaluation of Spain’s handling of the pandemic.
The government in Madrid responded that it was taking “appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus” and that it was being very active in tracking and detecting it.
Health experts point to signs that it isn’t doing enough. For instance, the percentage of positive tests among all virus tests conducted—a measure of whether testing is sufficiently comprehensive—has risen from around 1% to 7% in the past two months, higher than in other European countries, suggesting that many infections probably remain undetected. In Italy, by comparison, positive tests are 1.6% of total tests, according to figures collated by Our World in Data.
“Things are not going well,” Fernando Simón, the head of Spain’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies, said last week. “Although the epidemic is not out of control at the national level, it is in some specific areas.”
There's murmors (a murmur-rumor, get it? I'm going to call that an am_Unitionism) of primary kids going back to in-person schooling if we can get our cases per 100k under 75 for "a few weeks." We were under 75 last week. Our tests-per-case is at about 14, or 7%. Next door in Chelan County? Frickin' 20%.