Covid-19 Fatalities, Excess Fatalities, Forecasts, Again

From CDC, Atlantic/Covid Tracking Project, and IHME:

Figure 1: Weekly fatalities due to Covid-19 as reported to CDC for weeks ending on indicated dates (black), excess fatalities calculated as actual minus expected (teal), fatalities as tabulated by The Covid Tracking Project/Atlantic (dark red), IHME forecast (light red), all on log scale. Source: CDC accessed 8/7/2020 vintage, Covid Tracking Project/Atlantic accessed 8/7/2020, IHME forecast of 8/6/2020, and author’s calculations.

Three observations: (1) the unofficial count was rising; (2) recent weeks’ (about a month’s worth) CDC data are subject to severe undercounting, so inferring recent trends on the basis of CDC data is not advisable; (3) IHME forecasts are for about constant pace of fatalities going forward. As far as I can tell, IHME is right now about in the middle of the pack of models surveyed by Fivethirtyeight.

From week ending February 29th through the week ending July 18th, the cumulative CDC fatality tally is 143.1 thousand. Cumulative excess fatalities is 185.2 thousand, implying an additional 42.1 thousand Covid-19 fatalities above the official tally over this period.

88 thoughts on “Covid-19 Fatalities, Excess Fatalities, Forecasts, Again

  1. Moses Herzog

    Off-topic, but important

    The last link, a YT video link, is a 13 minute video from PBS News Hour (I watch this show pretty regular, and I don’t recall ANY vulgarity ever being broadcast on the show) discussing donald trump tampering with the U.S. Postal Service delivery of mail. This is happening NOW. Your post mail is already being delayed. Many rural communities and elderly in any locale are highly highly dependent on this service.

    This is a blatant attempt by donald trump to hijack the mail-in ballot system. It is a direct attack on America’s democracy.

    1. Bruce Hall

      Melanie McElroy, election protection manager for Michigan Voice, a non-partisan voting rights and social advocacy group, said “a lot of people” in Detroit never received their requested absentee ballots.

      McElroy said it was unclear whether the problem with delayed absentee ballots was with the Postal Service or from overwhelmed local election officials, but she added it was frustrating for voters.

      Jake Rollow, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office [Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, Democrat Party], said it had heard reports of people not receiving their absentee ballots in the mail “but by no means an overwhelming number.” Those who did not get their ballot could cast a vote in person, he said.

      1. pgl

        Bragging about how your boys are suppressing the vote we see. Hey maybe Putin will give you a job in the Michigan KGB!

        1. Bruce Hall

          Who are the “my boys”? Is describing a situation “bragging”? Is identifying a problem “suppressing”? Do I apply for the Michigan KGB through the governor’s office?

          1. pgl

            Deny. Deny. Deny. Oh wait – you may have never seen the 1963 classic A Guide for the Married Man. Check out the Joey Bishop scene.

          2. Moses Herzog

            I used to eat at the Denny’s near the truckstop around central Denver back in the day and they had a killer meal for under $6 as I remember it. Most truckstops would give you a plate of grease for $11 to $15 and this was before if you decided you wanted to tip the waitress or not. So if I was in Denver it was Denny’s Denny’s Denny’s. They had pretty good pie too. I do not Deny I liked Denny’s and have never denied I like Denny’s. What were we talking about??

          3. Moses Herzog

            I should designate I was directly alluding to the Denny’s in Denver that I would definitely never Deny that I Dined at. But darned if I didn’t digress.


      1. pgl

        Bruce Hall hates New Yorkers so he wants to blame Trump’s incompetence on us. OK – Trump did grow up here.

      2. pgl

        Today’s news from NY. Of those tested only 0.78% had any signs of COVID19. Not sure what this percentage is in in Trumpland but if it is 7.7% match challenged Bruce Hall would claim our rate is higher.

        We alas had 7 new deaths but let me make Brucie boy all happy – they were all Biden supports. New cases? 515 which is low for a large state like NY. Oh wait – let’s take the ratio of deaths to new cases even though this is the dumbest ratio ever. But Trump and his minnie me have declared you cannot look at deaths per capita.

        Good to know when we are approaching 160 thousand needless death those wearing MAGA hats do not nee Viagra to jack off over meaningless ratios!

    1. pgl

      Partly true? As opposed to your comments which are 100% false. Huh – blaming it all on New York City again. But come on Bruce – look at the date. May 11? We are 3 months down the road and my state is doing so much better than Trump country that we have decided morons like you are not invited to come here.

      1. Bruce Hall

        pgl, yes New York has successfully “moved on” …

        But the overall death rate in New York is much higher than other states. Unless you agree with me that recent “cases” are not really the same as they were in April when New York was the leader of the pack. In which case, the focus on the increase in cases is misplaced, but that would not fit the narrative. So, either New York/NYC did things terribly wrong or what was testing in April [obviously symptomatic persons] is not the same as what is currently being tested [those with and without symptoms] which means comparing cases between those time periods is improper and the calculated death rates are not comparable. That, of course, would mean that NY/NYC had to have many more cases based on today’s testing processes than has been officially recognized in order to be consistent with the death rates in other states currently experiencing more positive tests.

        Pick your poison.

        1. pgl

          How much stupid word salad can you produce? You remind me of those monkeys typing away hoping one day they might produce a Shakesperian play. Yea – you can twist and turn numbers incoherently. That is your forte. But when you predicted death counts in other states would not rising – you were flat out wrong. So go ahead – write your usual gibberish. It is what you do.

        2. 2slugbaits

          Bruce Hall What exactly is your point? And with whom do you think you’re arguing? No one disputes that NYC death rates were exceptionally high during the first weeks of the pandemic. No one disputes that asymptomatic New Yorkers were being missed in the case counts. So what’s your point? You’re stuck in the rut arguing something that’s not in dispute. Why not address the real issues under discussion? No one is saying that new cases will result in new deaths at the same rate as what happened in NYC early on. The real concern is that certain parts of the country cases are still resisting efforts to contain the virus despite having 5 months warning. The real concern is that deaths reversed their downward drift despite improved therapeutic treatments. Other countries such as France or Spain or Italy or Germany managed to get their case counts to very low levels. According to Worldometer, yesterday France had zero new cases and zero new deaths. The same with Spain. Italy had only 463 new cases and zero deaths. Germany had only 385 new cases and zero deaths. Meanwhile the US had 47,849 new cases and (at least) 534 new deaths. The US had advance warning that EU countries did not, but yet we’re doing godawful 5 months into this. Other countries are succeeding where we’re failing miserably. You should be asking why that’s the case.

          recent “cases” are not really the same as they were in April when New York was the leader of the pack. In which case, the focus on the increase in cases is misplaced, but that would not fit the narrative.

          But how do you explain the increase in cases since the beginning of summer? How do you explain the reversal of the downward trend in deaths per million over the last 6 weeks? That’s the discussion you want to avoid, so instead you try and distract with irrelevant comments about NYC in the first weeks of the pandemic. The uncomfortable fact that you keep wanting to ignore is that the US was on the same downward trajectory as advanced EU countries up until Trump decided to “liberate” states and allow people to get drunk at the bar of their choice. MAGA hatters simply lack self-discipline.

          1. Bruce Hall

            “But how do you explain the increase in cases since the beginning of summer? How do you explain the reversal of the downward trend in deaths per million over the last 6 weeks?” Older people are still becoming infected. Explained.

            Unless there are details regarding the nature of “cases” available, any comparison has to be, by default, on a macro basis. Interestingly, while all of the discussion has been about younger people, deaths are still among older people. Why do you suppose that is? All of those college kids running off to nursing homes to party?

            At what point do you say that without a “cure” or at least effective treatment (you wouldn’t take HCQ, azithromycin, and zinc if you became infected) and without a vaccine and without completely shutting down everything for a few months and without banning all foreign travel and immigration, “we are going to have to live with this virus”.

            But, you know what, if I started to exhibit the signs of C-19, I would get tested and immediately go to the Henry Ford Medical Center to be treated with their protocol… and probably ask for a serving of dexamethasone or prednisone on the side if I should get quite ill. Of course, that’s all off-label without clinical trials.

            Would I worry about heart arrhythmia? I think not.

            What’s your Plan A and Plan B for your treatment? I know, I know; you are holed up in your apartment, living on C-rations, and dressed in a hazmat suit, so you don’t have to worry.

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Bruce Hall: Well, as they say (validated by plenty of research – please don’t make me look it up), the average person is pretty bad at risk assessment.

          3. 2slugbaits

            Bruce Hall In other words, if you became infected with COVID-19 you would choose to be treated with something that has no proven effectiveness and decline treatment with some other therapeutic that does have proven effectiveness. You’re very stupid. As Menzie said, there’s a mountain of evidence that shows people are exceptionally bad at evaluating risk.

            all of the discussion has been about younger people, deaths are still among older people.

            So what’s your point? Those deaths don’t count?

            Why do you suppose that is? All of those college kids running off to nursing homes to party?

            How about aging dinosaurs on motorcycles trying to recapture their lost youth in Sturgis, SD?

      1. Menzie Chinn Post author

        Bruce Hall: Two observations: (1) consider what “NMD” after her name means. You should look it up. (2) The procedure she used is not the procedure typically used to calculate excess fatalities, and (2a) there is a reason why we don’t use 19 years of previous data — i.e., trends…

        On (2), (2a), I think it’s good to learn a little statistics before…doing statistics.

  2. Dr. Dysmalist

    Yes, the recent “official” CDC numbers certainly have an off-putting odor about them, given what we know of the virus and what’s been on countless news reports lately.

    I am very curious about why the excess death curve seems to exactly meet the CDC curve on 7/25. Has the data for computing expected deaths been corrupted somehow so that we should expect zero deaths beyond those due to Covid-19?

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Dr. Dysmalist: Excess is calculated as reported over expected; expected is estimated, so it could be very well just chance. Also most recent weeks are missing many death certificates, so if non-covid certificates lag further, one could see the excess number drop more than covid. I don’t know if this is the case but I’d be wary about attributing intentional miscounting when bad reporting infrastructure is a plausible explanation. Of course, if I thought Florida were a big source of the implied drop, I’d worry about it all more, given what Governor De Santis has done in the past.

      1. Dr. Dysmalist

        I should have chosen a different word than “corrupted.” When I wrote it, I wasn’t consciously thinking of the negative connotation of that word. My meaning was more along the lines of inadvertent error, incompetence, or delay.

        Although, thinking about it, Florida and Georgia are always at the back of my mind when I look at this data, so maybe a Freudian slip?

  3. Steven Kopits

    Menzie –

    I owe you an apology. I stated that I thought the US death rate per million would never reach Italy’s. Well, my current forecast says that in fact the terminal US death rate will in fact exceed that of Italy.

    I never thought I would see the level of incompetence in US pandemic management that we have seen, to the level of emerging economies, and frankly worse than many of them.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Steven Kopits: Apology accepted. I had hoped to be wrong. It is indeed mind-blowing that an administration could be so incredibly incompetent. However, extrapolation from other bits of Trump decisionmaking would have easily led us to conclude we’d get where we are now.

    2. joseph

      You’ve got to admit, you were exceedingly slow on the uptake. Didn’t you get a clue when the president was babbling incoherently about injecting bleach? And Trump put in charge of his coronavirus team the fail-son Jared Kushner whose only two notable accomplishments in life were being born rich and then marrying richer?

      Anyone paying attention knew this train wreck was coming when the President of the United States spent his entire first day in office lying and complaining about the size of his inauguration crowd. Just ponder the absurdity of that for a moment. Didn’t that at least give you a hint that Trump was mentally unwell and not up to the job?

      1. Barkley Rosser

        Well, he is getting weirder and weirder. It has now been reported that he asked Gov. Neom of SD if she could help get his sculptured face on Mount Rushmore. Supposedly she laughed, but this was in the Oval and he was serious. Of course she has no say in the matter as it is on federal land. Maybe Trump will issue an “executive order” for it to happen from one of his golf courses. I mean, Peter Navarro has just informed us that God invented executive orders to overcome divided government. Really, anything is possible now.

        1. pgl

          Remember what Senator Hatch told Trump after they got their 2017 tax cut for the rich passed. “You a hell of a leader. We are going to put you on Mt. Rushmore”. Hatch was spoon feeding Trump’s ego but Trump took that seriously.

        1. pgl

          Wow Bruce Hall is still pushing cherry picked nonsense on the hope he can peddle hydroxychloroquine? Folks – have fun with the latest quack Bruce Hall dug up. Hatfill gets published in RealClearPolitics? Now that is impressive medical journal – right?

        2. pgl

          Bruce Hall picks some weird dudes as his COVID-19 “experts”. The name Steven Hatfill rang a bell so I did some checking. Back during Bush43’s first term, the government investigated him for possibly those anthrax mailings. He was cleared of those charges but not before all sorts of lawsuits.

          More importantly was his false claims during the Ebola crisis:

          “Earlier this week, The Atlantic ran an interview on the current Ebola epidemic with Steven Hatfill, a former employee of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease (USAMRIID) who is famous for being wrongly accused of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Hatfill, presented as a world-leading expert on Ebola virus, gave his perspective on topics ranging from transmission of the virus to preparedness for an outbreak in the United States. Some of Hatfill’s concerns about our preparedness to stamp out outbreaks quickly are sound, but the bulk of the interview, about the virus and the disease it causes, goes well beyond the data. The misinterpretations and misrepresentations of data that Hatfill espouses can be found in many places online, and especially on TV. In light of this, we can’t be surprised so many Americans really don’t know what to think and who to believe on Ebola. Going point-by-point through an interview is boring, unnecessary, and would make Hatfill the core issue. He isn’t. Misrepresentations of the scientific literature on Ebola aren’t unique to him. But I picked some of the most common and dangerous misrepresentations he upheld and dug into the primary scientific literature.”

          Read this rest of this excellent account as it shows what a lying hack Hatfill has become. Bruce Hall’s kind of guy!

          1. Bruce Hall

            pgl, that was a good article by Stephen Goldstein, a doctoral candidate at University of Pennsylvania. And so, Hatfill was incorrect. First doctor to ever be wrong about a disease. Now does what happened 6-years ago vitiate the article he wrote on Covid-19 … and why?

            Our granddaughter’s doctor and hospital radiologist just diagnosed her with biliary atresia which would require surgery followed by a transplant. A quick trip to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital dispelled that diagnosis. But real doctors are never wrong.

            No doubt Hatfill would be described as eccentric or at least unusual, but the “norm” is not always correct. He certainly has not taken the path of the pusillanimous (I read The Atlantic, too).

          2. pgl

            “I find it amusing that those who disagree with Hatfill feel compelled to say he is famous for being wrongly accused of the 2001 anthrax attacks. That’s like saying “we can’t prove it, but we know it.”

            Bruce – can you be more pathetic. #1 – I noted he did not do the anthrax thing. #2 – I noted his Ebola dishonesty, which a lying little baby like you skips over. #3 I actually read his stupid rant and noted how incredibly dumb it was. But of course you can’t address a damn thing I noted.

        3. pgl

          I took the time finally to read that rant from Hatfill which was a total waste of my time alas. Paragraph after paragraph on how your miracle drug does not always kill the patient which of course dodges the real question – its efficacy. BTW Bruce – efficacy in preK English just for you asks does it work against COVID-19. It doesn’t.

          But Hatfill managed to find a few nations with lower death rates per capita than the US and the UK. He dusted it up with a lot of word salad that does not mean a damn thing.

          But since this notorious hack writes a totally unfounded conclusion that agrees with your incessant dishonest spin – you put this clown up as the expert on this topic.

          This is weak even for you. But do keep dragging up intellectual garbage. It is what you do.

          1. pgl

            “pgl, was there a misspelling? Oh, my. I’ll have to speak to my proofreader.”

            I never said you misspelled anything. I did note a lot of places where your boy was a hack but I guess you are incapable of reading that. OK – you spelled your words correctly but they remain dishonest as always.

    3. Bruce Hall

      Steven, the U.S. may reach Italy’s C-19 deaths per million, but if you look at these statistics, it would appear that the countries with the highest rates are those with the densest urban areas and international travel. So, there may be more to the story than not enough testing or not shutting down the economies completely. Also, there is a pretty good correlation between median age of a country’s population and it’s deaths per million inhabitants. About 80% of the C-19 deaths in the U.S. are in the population segment 65-years and older. About 40% (according to The New York Times) were nursing home residents which begs the question about the policies implemented by the governors of New York and Michigan.

      So, Steven, where exactly do you place the “level of incompetence”? And why?

      1. Ulenspiegel

        “it would appear that the countries with the highest rates are those with the densest urban areas and international travel.”

        Explains perfectly the performance of the Rhein-Ruhr-Area in Germany….

        (that’s sarcasm – to avoid confusion)

        1. Bruce Hall

          Ulenspiegel, ah those Germans; so efficient.

          There are areas of the U.S. not highly infected either. But do you disagree with the proposition in general? And, if so, why? And should the U.S. have shut down completely for six weeks regardless of the needs of its citizens? And then should the U.S. have banned all travel, foreign and domestic?

          I’m sure the Germans did not require nursing homes to accept infected patients (New York and Michigan). I’m sure the Germans did not allow a vector origin (like New York City) to spread disease throughout their country. On the other hand, the British, French, Spanish, and Italians….

          But you might be interested in this analysis.

          “Germany was able to react to the situation unfolding in China in January and have testing established by mid-February,” said epidemiology professor at Yale School of Public Health Nathan Grubaugh. “They could do this in part because Germany doesn’t have a centralized diagnostic system so labs around the country were free to establish tests.” In fact, as of April 2, private labs in Germany have helped the country test 1 million people for COVID-19.

          Germany was one of the first countries to develop a testing system for COVID-19. It’s early access to reliable tests for COVID-19 meant that Germany could “get a much better handle on who was infected, isolate contacts, and treat those who need care,” Jennifer Kates, the senior vice president and global health and HIV policy director at the Kaiser Family Foundation said.

          Meanwhile, the U.S. relied on the CDC.

          So, our large, bureaucratic health department system couldn’t react properly to the epidemic. That’s hardly a shining endorsement of big government healthcare.

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Bruce Hall: Have you ever wondered why CDC fell on its face under Trump, why FEMA fell on its face under G.W. Bush, when in the past they had worked well? Could it have something to do with leadership, with cuts in funding, with having the head of the International Arabian Horse Association running FEMA and so forth?

          2. Bruce Hall

            Menzie, I understand that Trump went to the CDC and fired all of the staff and replaced them with his hand-picked minions. Then Trump required all research and projects, including the specifications for the Covid-19 tests, to be sent directly to him for approval. I can’t remember where I read that, but it must be true.

            Oh, wait. I think I might be mistaken about that. Wasn’t Dr. Fauci, who has been around for decades, in charge?

            As for budget cuts, I don’t have the specific CDC funding history, but in DC-ese that usually means a smaller increase than initially requested.

          3. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Bruce Hall: I didn’t write what you claimed I wrote. I have written on how Trump cut the CDC’s foreign watch funding, emergency funding, before the pandemic. In fact a big cut was proposed for the *this* FY. Do you *really* want me to dig up the specific posts. (Mr. Fauci was, is, not in charge of CDC.)

          4. Moses Herzog

            Fauci was head of NIH, I must confess to being tempted to make this mistake (making Fauci head of CDC) 2-3 times myself. Hopefully I never typed that out as fact on this blog. But I will embarrassingly confess I had nearly made this mistake a couple times myself.

            Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, I will let others weigh, but NIH is a good 50 years older than the CDC. I think the advantage of the CDC is that it is probably more focused in its mission by the definition of its name.

            If CDC are worth a tinker’s damn after donald trump played “enter my lapdog” with the leadership like he has with so many other important agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service, my bet is against it.

          5. Ulenspiegel

            “Ulenspiegel, ah those Germans; so efficient.”

            No, they are not so efficient, see Korea. You obviously do not check data before posting. The German high quality stuff published by the Robert Koch Institut is available in English:

            “There are areas of the U.S. not highly infected either. But do you disagree with the proposition in general?”

            The point you miss is that Germany has the highest PER CAPITA infections and deaths in rural areas. Cities have an initial high rate of infections but rural areas have larger households, health authorities are usually better equipped in cities, when the virus creeps into rural areas the situation becomes “interesting”, you may see the same in the USA.

            Yes, I disagree with your prposition in general.

          6. Barkley Rosser

            Anthony Fauci has been Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the NIAID, since 1984, which is a part of the NIH. The Director of the NIH has been Francis Collins since 2009, whose parents I used to know. Really, very cool people, no longer among the living unfortunately.

          7. Ulenspiegel

            “Germany was one of the first countries to develop a testing system for COVID-19. It’s early access to reliable tests for COVID-19 meant that Germany could “get a much better handle on who was infected, isolate contacts, and treat those who need care,” Jennifer Kates, the senior vice president and global health and HIV policy director at the Kaiser Family Foundation said.”

            That is a half truth. The German group at the Charite developed the tests for the WHO and you could have got a validated system on 15th January 2020 like other countries.

            The US screw-up was twofold, the CDC decided to develope an own test and made a beginner mistake when constructing the primers.
            But more important was the decision for a central testing system, that destroyed all chances for effucient testing.

            The crucial decision in Germany was to distribute the tests very fast to all university hospitals and larger hospitals with own labs. In a second wave private labs were allowed to run the tests. That gave Germany and Austria a good start, much better than the UK and USA.

      2. pgl

        “it would appear that the countries with the highest rates are those with the densest urban areas and international travel.”
        OK so why does this not apply to New York City. I guess you think we are like Montana this way. Bruce Hall – no coherency but he does manage to write one sensible sentence which of course he cannot apply generally!

      3. Steven Kopits

        So, about trends. The initial US rate of new daily cases was high, and high because we were very cavalier about letting people in through airports (and we still are!) So the East Coast was really whacked. But within a few weeks, cases were trending down, even if slowly. And then, at the end of June, there was a huge lapse of focus, in no small part supported by rhetoric out of the White House. And then everything fell apart — but this was predictable. Partly it was quarantine fatigue, partly summer, partly a desire to restart economies, and it was enabled through a lack of a unified leadership view. I used to compare Italy — which was a disaster at the outset — to the US. I can’t do it anymore. Today, Italy has typically fewer than 10 deaths / day and 200 – 300 new cases. In US per capita terms, that would be 54 deaths — versus about 1200 in reality — and 1500 new cases, versus 50,000 in actuality. The US looks like a banana republic, save that a number of banana republics are comfortably outperforming us.

        You can slice it and dice it, but the US has performed miserably.

        1. pgl

          Well said and in plain English. The serial liar known as Bruce Hall likely read and understood every word but guaranteed that this Trump troll will not acknowledge what you have plainly said.

    4. Moses Herzog

      @ Steven Kopits
      I have in the past held very low regard to you. However you have earned a modicum of my respect with this comment. Some people have an inability to apologize or admit mistake. So, you have shown you are not in that group.

    5. Barkley Rosser


      I also congratulate you on apoloizing for making a mistake. I have done this here myself on occasion, such as for misspelling the last name of Ronald McKinnon and also for having thought previously that quarterliy changes in variables were measured from end of quarter to end of quarter rather than for averages of whole quarters compared to each other. I am also pleased to see that not just Menzie but even Moses are also willing to accept your apology.

      Moses notes that there are others who do not apologize when they are found to be wrong. There are several such folks here, but one of them appears to be Moses himself, who has yet to even recognize that he has been wrong in denying that we have seen something like a V pattern of the GDP in recent months, even as most of us are expecting this to soon flatten out, if it has not done so already. He did apologize for calling somebody an “idiotic jackass” for suggesting we might see such a V pattern, while then saying he does not regret the sentiment behind his statement, which I find very weird indeed. But, we continue to await him admitting that indeed we have been seeing a V pattern, although since he now claims not to have made any forecasts on this matter, it may be that he wished to go further and claim he is unwilling to judge what any such pattern looks like, although he is now also claiming that he described a past recession (not clear which one) did look like an “L,” although I have argued without anybody proving me wrong that we have never seen an L pattern in all of US history.

      Oh yes, John Cochrane has described what went on with the Great Recession as having been an “L,” but that is only true if one looks at it from the standpoint of deviations from a long run trend. What happened was that there was this sharp and deep decline in 2008-09 that then was not followed by the GDP returning to its old trend level, but renewing its previous trend growth rate, but from a new lower level trend level. He never argued that if you looked at GDP itself it looked like an L, although it may have been from Cochrane’s misleading account (designed to make the Obama admin look bad) that our Moses got his deluded ideas about there maybe having been an L shape in some past recession.

  4. joseph

    Speaking of idiots, today ace trade negotiator Peter Navarro said “The Lord and the Founding Fathers created executive orders because of partisan bickering and divided government.”

    Somebody help me out here. Was that in the Old Testament or New Testament of the Constitution?

    And you wonder why the public has a low opinion of economists.

    1. Steven Kopits

      “An executive order is a means of issuing federal directives in the United States, used by the president of the United States, that manages operations of the federal government.[1] The legal or constitutional basis for executive orders has multiple sources. Article Two of the United States Constitution gives the president broad executive and enforcement authority to use their discretion to determine how to enforce the law or to otherwise manage the resources and staff of the executive branch. The ability to make such orders is also based on express or implied Acts of Congress that delegate to the president some degree of discretionary power (delegated legislation).”,Basis%20in%20the%20United%20States%20Constitution,the%20United%20States%20of%20America.%22

      Nature abhors a vacuum, including a vacuum of power. Given the hopelessly divided state of Congress, other centers of authority will tend to emerge. One of these is executive orders, which have taken on a quasi legislative status per the latest SCOTUS ruling on DACA. Once again, the Roberts court has indicated that it is willing to provide quasi legislation, for example, with the DACA ruling and the treatment of Obamacare as a tax. Put another way, I think Roberts has indicated on a number of occasions that he is willing to step into the legislative role if Congress is unwilling to act for a protracted period in the public interest.

      Clearly, assuming the Democrats take the White House and Senate (predictit says they will), DACA will be passed in some form. I have further stated that I we should expect a large scale amnesty of illegal immigrants under a Biden White House. By the end of the first Biden term, I think we will have something like 6 million illegal immigrants who will have been here at least 15 years. At some point, I believe such illegals transition to ‘common law citizens’. If you haven’t thought it worthwhile to track down someone and deport them for fifteen years , then clearly they can’t be that big a problem or priority. You have tacitly accepted their permanent residency in the US, and my feeling is that the Roberts court is going to rule that way in some form in the next term. One reason the court rejected that Trump’s termination of the DACA EO is because it failed to consider ‘undue hardship’ to those affected. As a legal matter, this is undue hardship of non-citizen criminals. What kind of test is that? But if we accept that line of reasoning, wouldn’t deporting an illegal who had been here 15 years and committed no crime otherwise also be an ‘undue hardship’? The DACA ruling would seem to open the door for permanent residency because deporting ‘common law citizens’ would constitute an undue hardship. And importantly, this reasoning is correct in its moral fundaments, I think. It is the right thing to do, if we as a society have not found the will to deport the undocumented not over years, but over decades.

      It is for this reason that I have encouraged my friends at CIS, FAIR and Heritage to take a deal under the Trump administration. This would have yielded far more than they will get under Biden. Under Biden, they will hear a few token words about border enforcement, but that is all they will get as they have to swallow millions of illegals gaining legal status.

      So, to return to the original point. Chronic deadlock in Congress over very long periods eventually brings a change in the legislative system. I frankly do not like these developments at all, but they are there to see. If you want to break the deadlock in Congress, you will need an incentive system, of which I have written ad nauseam in here at Econbrowser over the years. Achieving good governance is relatively easy. Convincing the public, and particularly the experts, that the aligning of incentives is crucial to outcomes, is brutally difficult.

    1. CoRev

      What amazes is the misunderstanding of the fundamentals of infections, immunity and treatments. Not just pandemics levels of novel/new sources. Immunity is reached by exposure and treatment is important to lessen the impacts of being infected. Accumulated infections will always go up. Even after a cure is discovered/developed, if ever. Infection and death rates will go down with immunity and treatments.

      For some reason those here seem to think that there have been improvements in treatments, while the rest of the world is actively practicing them. Some of which the Anti-Trump haters have denounced. For the open minded this study is important: A conclusion ” The treatment group has a 79.0% lower death rate. ”
      Another conclusion is: “To the extent that the co-administration of zinc, Azithromycin, or other medication or supplements is important, we may underestimate the effectiveness of HCQ because not all countries and locations are using the optimal combination.” Accordingly, studies which do not use this “optimal combination” will result in less optimal conclusions.
      Even another conclusion: “Treatment regimen.
      There are differences in treatment regimens between and within countries. Details of timing, determination of risk, and dosages differ. Because not all locations are using the optimal regimen, this may reduce the effect observed.”

      You are can make your own conclusions and select your own scientific studies.

    2. 2slugbaits

      Bruce Hall This is yet another piece of misinformation propagated by Dr.(?) Steven Hatfill. The question mark after the “Dr.” is because his claim to hold multiple advanced degrees cannot be confirmed. In a March 2007 interview with “60 Minutes” Hatfill’s lawyer admitted that Hatfill had forged his PhD certificate. And his current employer only lists him as having a BA and MS; i.e., no MD and no PhD. He also has a history of holding grudges against the US government ever since his possible involvement with the anthrax scare. He also spread a lot of dangerous misinformation about the Ebola virus:
      I could go on, but you really should do a better job of checking out your sources for a lot of the garbage you post. It’s not that hard. He’s another crank quack, and it’s not the first time you’ve been caught appealing to cranks and quacks.

      As to hydroxychloroquine, I know that you’re not familiar with standard statistical methods, but had a nice takedown of the Henry Ford hosipial “study”.

      The study that sparked the latest controversy was anything but randomized. Not only was it not randomized, outside experts noted, but patients who received hydroxychloroquine were also more likely to get steroids, which appear to help very sick patients with Covid-19. That is likely to have influenced the central finding of the Henry Ford study: that death rates were 50% lower among patients in hospitals treated with hydroxychloroquine.

      The Henry Ford study was not a clinical study, it’s what is called an “observational study”.

      observational studies simply cannot be used to determine whether a medicine is effective. Again and again they have been wrong. In one famous example, estrogen replacement therapy after menopause was thought to have benefits in preventing heart and other problems; large studies showed this was not the case. In another, a knee surgery for arthritis was shown to have no benefits over medical care…

      Observational studies are often used to decide what ideas to test in randomized studies, to make sure that results from randomized studies translate to the real world, and to detect side effects.

      Understand the difference? So quit trying to represent the Henry Ford “study” as a controlled clinical study.

      1. pgl

        To be fair Mr. (not Dr.) Hatfill was falsely accused on that anthrax mailings issue. Of course ever since Mr. Hatfill have gone over the Cuckoo’s Nest as that story we both linked to shows. The man is a lying nutcase which is exactly why Bruce Hall cites him as some sort of expert.

        1. Baffling

          He was probably accused of the anthrax for good reason. It does not bode well for ones character when the government credibly believes you are a bioterrorist.

      2. Bruce Hall

        There have been zero “clinical studies” regarding Covid-19. In the absence of such, we rely on observational. That’s how many off-label uses of medicine are established. Did you actually read the HFHS study? Doubt it. And did you stop referencing refuted studies against it? Doubt it.

        Besides, I don’t believe I ever wrote the words “clinical study”. Here is some non-political information for you:

        1. Alan Goldhammer

          Bruce Hall writes, “There have been zero “clinical studies” regarding Covid-19. In the absence of such, we rely on observational.”

          I’ve been doing a daily newsletter since mid-March and one of the things I have been tracking are the registered clinical trials and I’ve been reporting out all the trial results. If you want to read about this in a non-judgemental way all my newsletters are archived here: and I am now into the 21st week of reporting. You are absolutely wrong about HCQ. There are 247 clinical trials registered at the NIH database though many of these have been terminated in light of the evidence from well controlled trials that the drug does not work. Most hospitals suspended this drug as standard of care back in June. Now you might not want to believe the large UK RECOVERY trial that showed the drug did not work but they were also the first group to show that dexamethasone did work for severe COVID-19. The Oxford University trials group that is in charge of the RECOVERY trial are well respected and know how to run trials (there are still ongoing ones as part of this effort).

          You cannot cherry pick what might fit your own confirmation bias other than to look like a fool.

          1. baffling

            bruce hall is not interested in fact finding and the truth. he is interested in promoting a particular ideology. bruce no longer believes in right and wrong. you either win or you lose, even if winning promotes a wrong. the medical evidence is overwhelming: hcq is not helpful in the fight against the coronavirus. it is people like him who continue to bluster and cause the medical community to waste valuable time and resources chasing rabbits. bruce, you do understand that this results needless death and suffering, because medical folks are wasting time debunking rather than finding real solutions.

        2. pgl

          “There have been zero “clinical studies” regarding Covid-19.”

          Another bald faced lie. And yes Menzie has called you out on this one too.

        3. 2slugbaits

          Bruce Hall I don’t believe I ever wrote the words “clinical study”.

          So if you are conceding that the Henry Ford study was not a clinical study, why are you relying upon its reported results? That’s about as dumb as it gets. Your comments are becoming evermore unhinged. You were never this crazy a few years ago. Given your age it might be time to think about a dementia test. Or an MRI looking for a history of mini-strokes. I’m serious.

          1. pgl

            “Bruce Hall
            August 10, 2020 at 11:21 am
            There have been zero “clinical studies” regarding Covid-19. In the absence of such, we rely on observational.”

            And when this lie was proven wrong what does Bruce Hall do? Deny he ever used the term clinical studies. Like a dog chasing its own tail.

        4. 2slugbaits

          Bruce Hall Perhaps you missed it, but your own link identified it as an “observational study.” And note the date. It’s pretty stale.

          1. pgl

            How could he have missed that since we have told him what the Henry Ford results represented many times? Is Bruce Hall really this incredibly incompetent at basic reading?

  5. Moses Herzog

    Menzie has shown some appreciation for art on this blog, here and there, in sparing amounts. I was going through some old crinkly hardcopy NYTs in the house and thought he and a few others might enjoy this:

    Tablet magazine’s Jeremy Sigler called Peter Saul “the archetype of the ‘Rebel Jew’ who isn’t Jewish.” I’d say that’s very high praise.

    Especially when a virus has us sometimes “pent up” in our living quarters, some unusual visuals I think can give us greater pleasure than even normally.

  6. sammy

    There is a complete lack of understanding of Donald Trump, and his supporters. Here is a story that gives some insight:

    “During remarks at the event, Chera’s son Haim revealed to the enthusiastic crowd that the president called his dad repeatedly while he was ill with the coronavirus.

    “You called us every single day to do everything in your power to help your friend Stanley. You were fighting a war against an invisible enemy, recklessly or maliciously released onto our shores from China, and you still made time to offer your assistance to us,” the younger Chera explained in introducing the president from the podium.”

    After the event, Trump told reporters that “[Stanley Chera] was a great person who was a very early supporter. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it. And he was a fantastic person. One of the most charitable people you’ll ever meet. He helped a lot of people.”

    Simple, direct, real, honest. Sun Tzu say “know yourself, know your enemy, and you shall win a hundred battles without loss,” and “To know your enemy you must become your enemy” You don’t know your enemy, at all.

    1. Barkley Rosser

      Of course, Sammy, Donald J. Trump has done this for every single one of his strong supporters who has died of Covid-19. No wonder his supporters are so fervently for him. Wow, thank you for this profound insight. No other president or politician has ever done anything like this before.

      1. pgl

        During Vietnam, LBJ visited the grave of every returning dead soldier. George W. Bush? None. OK – Trump will care about your relative if you donate a ton of money to his reelection. What a guy!

    2. Moses Herzog

      I wonder if Haim’s idiot father thought limiting testing was a great idea?? Do we know when Haim got tested and how far along the virus had progressed before he even knew he had it?? How many other Haims are out there that can’t get tested because donald trump and jared kushner were hogging federal resources that went to no one???

      1. Moses Herzog

        I guess Chera is the older one who passed away?? My mistake. Does it matter when both think a guy who doesn’t want to bother testing THOUSANDS in their exact same situation is their “friend”?? Gawd, to find anyone as dumb as you sammy I’d have scan all the local emergency rooms for candidates with severe cranial damage.

    3. 2slugbaits

      sammy How touching. The Grinch has a heart after all. The real question is whether or not the Grinch has a brain because that’s what it will take to get us out of this mess.

    4. pgl

      “President Donald Trump received high praise as “the greatest president in our country’s history” by the son of a good friend who passed on from COVID complications. A fundraiser on Sunday was held at the home of Trump’s pal, the late Stanley Chera, a billionaire real estate developer who died in April at the age of 78.”

      Let’s stop right there. So if you are billionaire and one of Trump’s friends, he gives a rats a$$. Otherwise, your death means nothing to Trump. Hey Sammy – thanks for making our point for us!

    1. Barkley Rosser

      Wow, a celebration of the University of Illinois, located in Champaign-Urbana, where, unfortunately, they do not produce champagne.

  7. Bruce Hall

    Just for pgl.

    Yes, as the notes say, death counts are provisional, but based on patterns from prior report dates, it looks as if the “second wave” will peak around the same level as just before Memorial Day when the “mostly peaceful” protests began.

    Note that new cases (7-day moving average) have been declining for three weeks and hospitalizations are already trending downward (for 3 weeks).

    The repeat of April in New York is not happening despite what has been going on in the rest of the country.

    BTW, the young professional couple who left NYC as soon as they realized shutdown was coming and moved in next door and had planned to return this fall, now say maybe they might buy the place they are staying in. NYC has lost its luster. The woman is Democratic Party enthusiast and even wanted to be some committee person now thinks de Blasio is an @&$!!. Apparently, lakefront living in Michigan with plenty of open restaurants is not a bad thing… especially when you can work from anywhere and your “office” has a view of water, birds, and lake activities. Welcome to remote working.

    1. pgl

      Gee I was thinking about making a salad for dinner but you made a huge word salad just for me. Thanks. BTW – I’m too busy to read your long winded BS as I’m cooking up some salmon to go along with that big bowl of word salad.

    2. noneconomist

      Well, Bruce, Metro Sacramento and N Cal are full of the same news stories featuring those who can work remotely and live more inexpensively. Lots of RE types talking SF (and Bay Area) workers looking to trade smaller more expensive digs for larger ones. Good news for sellers who’ll welcome that coastal cash (bad news for locals looking for housing who’ll compete against that cash windfall). Same is happening in N Nevada and Idaho (especially the Boise area) where home prices are rising rapidly.
      Longtime friend whose daughter and husband live in the East Bay are looking to make that change to the Sierra Foothills (i.e., the west slope of the Sierra) since both can work remotely with a day–maybe two–spent in the office.
      Problem? Access to broadband internet. Most metro areas have it. Many foothill areas do not. Hard to work remotely without it.
      Associated Problem for some? Those seeking larger properties tend to bring their values with them, not leave them behind. That will mean more purpling in the very red areas of NE California with more, not less, diversification. Don’t expect an influx of white evangelicals yearning to be free and seeking a fundamentalist education for their children.
      All good for me. My own property values are rising (at least according to Zillow) while my formerly white community becomes much more diverse.
      Those restaurants? Thai, Indian, Mexican, Italian. Chinese, Korean Chilean, French, , traditional American. We got ’em. With plenty more to come.

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