It’s About to Get a Lot Worse

winter is coming

Axios aims at an audience of folks who think they are busy businessfolk whose time is very valuable. For that reason, I am happy to advise you that it will take you exactly two minutes to understand doomsday:

For months now, American workers, families and small businesses have been saying they can’t keep up their socially distanced lives for much longer. We’ve now arrived at “much longer” — and the pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon.

The big picture: The relief policies and stopgap measures that we cobbled together to get us through the toughest weeks worked for a while, but they’re starting to crumble just as cases are spiking in the majority of states.

Next week, the extra $600 per week in expanded unemployment benefits will expire. And there’s no indication that Congress has reached a consensus on extending this assistance or providing anything in its place.

    • But nearly half of the U.S. population is still jobless, and millions will remain jobless for the foreseeable future. There are 14 million more unemployed people than there are jobs, per the Economic Policy Institute.
    • Nearly a third of Americans missed a housing payment in July — and that was with the additional $600. Plus, most Americans have already spent the stimulus checks they received at the beginning of the pandemic.
    • “We should be very concerned about what’s going to happen in August and beyond” — starting with a spike in evictions, Mathieu Despard, who leads the Social Policy Institute at the Washington University in St. Louis, tells Axios.

Expect more furloughs and layoffs as more small businesses are pushed off the pandemic cliff.

    • By economists’ estimates, more than 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed since the pandemic began.
    • For those that are hanging on, loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) have not been enough, and the back and forth between re-opening and then closing again as states deal with new case waves has been devastating. In fact, rates of closure have started increasing, the New York Times reports, citing Yelp data.
    • The big firms aren’t immune either. Just last week, behemoths like United Airlines, Wells Fargo, Walgreens and Levi’s either cut jobs or told workers their jobs were at risk, Axios’ Dion Rabouin writes.

And the question of whether schools will reopen looms.

    • Since schools sent kids home in March, and most summer camps didn’t open their doors for the summer, working parents have been dealing with a child care crisis — attempting to do their jobs, care for their kids and homeschool all at once — and hoping that the stress will be temporary.
    • The situation is more dire for low-income families with kids who rely on school lunches or for single parents who are juggling work and parenting without any help.
    • Now the public heath crisis hasn’t abated, and school districts are running out of time to figure out what the fall will look like. Some, starting with Los Angeles, have already decided to go online.

The bottom line: “It’s the uncertainty that is anxiety-inducing,” says Despard. “If you give people a time horizon and say, ‘Look you have to get through these next 8 weeks of extreme shutdown,’ they’ll do it. Now it’s like, ‘How much longer?'”

Flying Blind

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Axios, The flying blind economy

The top post on Axios, as of 10:30 this moring, nicely complements my immediately preceding post. To summarize Axios’s summary:

  • Uncertainty is driving down corporate investment
  • “Businesses don’t know what to do about their operates in China, how to price their products and source their materials”
  • “Powerful central bankers are also throwing up their hands”
  • Small businesses on Main Street are finding it impossible to plan
  • Investors have no idea what to do with their money
  • A hedge fund leader laments, “There’s apperception that everything is find, and then that perception is shattered with the president announces he’s going to change the tariffs”

Axios Would Like their Wealthy, Powerful Readers to Know that the Trumpster is in Deep Doo-Doo in All the Battleground States

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From Morning Consult, via Axios.

“Net approval rating” means the percentage of Trump “approvers” minus the percentage of “disapprovers.” To state the obvious: if a given state has more approvers than disapprovers, the number is positive. But if the disapprovers outnumber the approvers, then the “net approval rate” is a negative number.

The numbers on the right show Trump’s “net approval rate” as of January 2017. The numbers on the left show “net approval rate” as of now.

For example, in January, 2017, in the state of New Hampshire, Trump’s “net approval rating” was plus one. Now it’s minus 17.

You will observe that in all these “battleground” states the arrows are pretty long and they all point left.

Bigly.

In Fairness to the Hand Wringers and Garment Renders, Let’s Give the Devil His Due

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Jonathan Chait, Benjamin Hart, and Margaret Hartmann, Will Trump’s Racist Tweets Work?

Jim VanderHei and Mike Allen, Trump’s premeditated racism is central to his 2020 strategy

I remain of the view that, when the facts are viewed objectively, and when they are viewed as a whole, the case that progressives should wring their hands and move en masse to New Zealand is not persuasive. But …

First, Let Us Give the Devil His Due

Giving the devil his due, Messrs. VanderHei and Allen channel the political thinking of Trump and his henchmen this way:

It might seem like improvisational madness when President Trump tells American citizens in Congress to “go back” where they came from, but those close to Trump say there’s a lot of calculation behind his race-baiting. …

The rough calculation goes like this: 

Trump knows that in 2016, he won the white vote by 20+ points.

He hopes he can crank their turnout even higher, especially among older, white evangelicals. He knows most of those voters are unlikely to ditch him, no matter how offensive his comments.

He watches Fox News and knows AOC, in particular, is catnip to old, white voters, especially men. She is young, Hispanic, female and a democratic socialist — a 4-for-4 grievance magnet. Last week, AOC got nearly as muchonline attention as all 2020 Democrats combined.

Trump believes he did better than Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters because many who came here and went through the legal process agree with his views.

Axios sat in ona focus group in Michigan where white swing voters agreed with Trump on immigration. Carlos Algara, a political scientist at UC Davis, told the N.Y. Times that a forthcoming analysis of the 2018 midterms found that even without Trump on the ballot, “white Democrats with high levels of racial resentment were likely to vote … Republican.”

Facebook is often his incubator. He has spentthree times more than all Democratic contenders combined on Facebook, with a mix of message-testing immigration lines to appealing to Hispanics who seem susceptible to his worldview.

So Trump calculates that (white voters + some Hispanic voters) * (tough immigration rhetoric + race-baiting language) = narrow 2020 win.

Evaluating the Tactic that’s Intended to Support the Strategy

So that’s the strategy. The Chait, Hart, and Hartman printed conversation elaborates on an important tactic intended to advance the strategy: flirt with open racism, stir up controversy, stir up your base, deny that you’re a racist, and claim to be victimized. (And, maybe as icing on the cake, simultaneously detract from the Epstein connection.)

Political genius or not political genius? Chait makes two points that persuade me. First, the political genius inherited peace and prosperity, and his political approval stands at 42 percent. Second, he came so close to calling his oponents ——– that a goodly number of his supporters felt uncomfortable.

And Let Me Add …

… a few more points.

Trump played the racism card in 2018 and it redounded badly against him. Not proof of what will happen in 2020, but, surely, it’s very relevant to the prognostication.

Also, don’t you think he’s in a bit of a box? That if he’s going with peak racism, then his racism has peaked too early?

Because, here’s the thing. When Trump says the next racism-flirtatiously thing, the headline will be, “Well, There He Goes Again.” Soon, the headline will no longer be on page 1, it will be on page 17L

“Trump Tweets Another Racist Tweet.”

And, in other news,

“Dog Bites Man.”

No, to keep on doing this, he’s going to have to come up with new shocks. Next time, he can’t just tell a black congresswoman to “go back to Africa.” He did that before. If he does it again, the shock value will have worn off. Next time, he will have to say something even worse. And the time after that, something worse still.

His strategy and tactics will drive him to bigger and better shocks. And we will learn more bad news about how many hard core, unrepentant racists live among us. And we will see whether they are enough to win the election.