Pollyanna’s Back on the Valium Today

oh no

I think she has some 3M and some Harley-Davidson in her portfolio.

Manufacturing is Going to Hell in a Handbasket

The Wall Street Journal informs us that Manufacturers Hit a Wall as Coronavirus Saps Demand: Caterpillar, Harley and 3M are among companies idling production and cutting costs:

Major U.S. manufacturers said some closed plants may never reopen and new product introductions could be delayed, after the coronavirus pandemic slashed demand for everything from motorcycles to industrial paint.

Caterpillar Inc. CAT -0.50% said Tuesday that its first-quarter revenue fell by a fifth, and Harley-Davidson Inc. HOG 12.46% said retail sales of its motorcycles slumped around the world during the quarter. 3M Co. MMM 2.03% said it would furlough workers and idle some factory lines apart from its booming N95 mask business, a sign of the broad economic malaise affecting even companies with a hot product.

“The impact of Covid-19 on our business has been significantly more severe and chaotic than any cyclical downturn we had envisioned,” Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby said on a conference call. …

Big chunks of the U.S. industrial base remain closed as part of the effort to contain the virus. Other factories are closed due to declining demand or parts shortages. Caterpillar and 3M said a quarter of their factories are offline. Harley, which idled assembly plants in mid-March, said it is restarting some production. The Milwaukee-based company also said, though, that the worsening economic outlook has prompted it to reconsider when to introduce some new models it is counting on to draw new customers. Nearly two-thirds of its U.S. dealers remain closed.

And so on, and so on.

Delusional Thinking Versus Political Survival: Guess Which One Wins?

“Political survival,” you might have responded, as your knee jerked.

Understandable, but: WRONG ANSWER!

Political aggrandizement would have dictated that Trump act in a totally different way than he has acted. Even today, even today, he might save his sorry political skin if he appointed a czar or czarina, put that person in charge, got the hell out of the way, and claimed all the credit.

But he is delusional. Not about everything—I assume he knows the difference between the dining room and the bathroom, and that he can distinguish between Melania and a Japanese sex doll. But he remains delusional about science, medicine, and the economy. And he demands that we sacrifice our lives, not to mention our jobs and our stock portfolios, so that he does not have to face reality.

Paul Waldman writes,

Consider what it says that we read this paragraph not on Feb. 27, not on March 27, but on April 27, after the pandemic has progressed so far:

Pressure mounted Monday on the White House and Congress to develop a national strategy to test Americans for exposure to the novel coronavirus, as health and economic experts said the current patchwork of testing efforts is insufficient to allow the economy to reopen safely.

A national testing strategy might indeed be helpful! Perhaps the Trump administration will get around to it one of these days.

We Report, You Decide

A good friend from downstairs, and a person of very advanced progressive views, has forwarded this from salon.com, Pulitzer winner Chris Hedges: These “are the good times — compared to what’s coming next”: Author of “America: The Farewell Tour”: We’re heading for a steep decline; Biden and the Democrats have no answers. The article makes a strong case for the rottenness of the American political economy and for the complicity of both political parties. Please read it, if you are interested in reading an argument along these lines.

Among (many) other things, the author allows as how

A vote for Joe Biden is a vote for more of the same. The ruling elites would prefer Joe Biden, just like they preferred Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump is vulgar and an embarrassment. But the ruling elites also made it abundantly clear about their interests: Many of these people were quoted by name saying that if Bernie Sanders was the nominee — or even Elizabeth Warren — they would vote for Donald Trump.

All that said, I would detect a material difference between the candidate who is utterly delusional about basic medical, scientific, and economic facts, and who is prepared to take the whole damn country down with him to protect his delusions about facts and his delusions of grandeur—versus another candidate who is able to absorb relevant facts and draw reasonable conclusions.

And I would hazard the guess that some of the folks at 3M, Caterpillar, and Harley-Davidson may be having the same epiphany right about now.