Sunday, April 5, 2020

April 5th Links

  • When I wrote my first observation of this crisis three weeks ago, I noted that there is a strange set of missing items from my local grocery store. I went back today and found, to my surprise, the list of missing items has increased. Not much, but a little. The list of missing items has expanded even though I thought we had all already got the panic-buying out of our system a month ago. [Spectator]
  • There are no investment-grade operators of fitness clubs, early childhood education facilities, building supply companies, veterinary clinics or virtually all 112 industries represented by our tenant base. Therefore, presuming a lack of resiliency would be to presume that entire essential sectors of our economy that people rely on every day would be at risk. [STOR]
  • It's March 18, and he’s staying calm and optimistic, using cheery phrases like "V-shaped recovery" and "major snapback potential." He says he's still "gung-ho" about the mall and the train, convinced that such a rapid deterioration in the market—faster than the 2008 financial crisis—augurs an equally speedy rebound. [Bloomberg]
  • There's a decile or so of the income/wealth distribution that is highly intelligent and doesn't really benefit from the demographic growth and attendant increasing rents and stagnant wages. These are non-oligarchs, they are upper middle class and drink good coffee but their kids don't inherit a franchise from them (professors, architects, lawyers). Spiraling rents mean that their children, who are reverting toward the mean of population IQ, are going to have to move to a cheaper part of the country and so they won't be able to see their grandchildren. This decile has access to high quality information about what is happening in the world thanks to the internet and is very slowly starting to organize for its interests. [CBS]
  • Wikipedia says it's either 165,000 or 174,100, PIMCO said 155,000, and the goldbugs think it is less due to exaggeration and double counting of paper gold. Call it 150,000 metric tons. That's 4.8 billion ounces. Only 2/3 of an ounce per person on Earth is the "fair share". So it would be pretty trivial to own a multiple of your fair share of gold. Incredibly little per person! There are about 12 million square miles (8 billion acres) of arable land in the world. That's just over one acre per person. The U.S. has about a million square miles, or 640 million acres, of arable land, which is just over two acres per person. M1 money supply is about $8,000 per person in the U.S. and M2 is $30,000. Try getting $30,000 in cash from a small bank branch someday. If oil reserves are 1.5T barrels (generous) than the amount per person is 250 barrels. You could buy that for the price of a decent car. The deliverable on an oil futures contract is 1,000 barrels and the initial margin for that contract is only $4500! There's only one cow for every three people in the U.S. What I am getting at is: it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to own more than your fair share of all of these resources. [CBS]
  • Mustard is a regional staple, ubiquitous in the humblest and the most exalted of restaurants. And while visiting Beaune, I would advise confining one's dietary program to a single major meal, followed or preceded by a delicious if more modest regimen of charcuterie, bread and mustard. The reason is that Burgundian cuisine's enduring reliance on butter is a constant with which one should reckon. [NY Times]
  • i think the USA is flopping hard. social justice and identity politics and modernity and intersectionality are ruining everything. and there is a non-zero chance it all burns down in my lifetime. so while the country may never recover, the spirit lives on. a spirit of individuality, respect for capitalism, and a shared belief that we are all created equal by God. i take this spirit wherever i go, and Korea is about to get a booster shot. [Ryan Kulp]
  • You don't do many RCTs on the effectiveness of masks during viral outbreaks for the same reason you don't do many RCTs on the effectiveness of parachutes during plane crashes. I know of no Western IRB that would approve a study like that. That's Tuskegee lab-level stuff. The thing is, we don't need a clinical RCT to make valid conclusions about mask effectiveness. It's directly observable. Take a white sheet of paper and cough into it. Put a mask on and do the same thing. Count the droplets deposited. There you have it, masks work. If the number of droplets is less when you're wearing a mask, that means those droplets aren't on a doorknob or somebody else's face. This should be enough for everybody who thinks about it for a second, but some people work themselves into an epistemic lockup. [SSC]
  • The terrible truth the virus has revealed is that the US and UK — as opposed to post-Communist Asia and post-Napoleonic Europe — are not even countries. They are free-trade zones. Our governments are not governments. They are bureaucratic anarchies with ceremonial elected monarchs. Pitting them against this ruthlessly objective virus is sending Don Quixote to Vietnam. We thought we had the best government in the world. It is quite a shock to find we have the worst — outside the Third World, of course. [Moldbug]
  • Let us assume that you, for reasons of choice or necessity, are spending time in close quarters with another person. You are then less inclined to visit corona-dangerous locations. In part you are altruistic toward the other person, and in part for selfish reasons you do not wish to lower the common standard of care. If you go to a dangerous location, the other person might decide to do the same, if only out of retaliation or frustration. In essence, by accepting such a tethered pair relationship, you end up much closer (physically, most of all) to one person and much more distant from the others. You are boosting your locational extremes. [Marginal Revolution]

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