My “Wealth Effect Monitor” for the Money-Printer Economy: Holy Moly, October Update

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Editor’s Note: It is amusing, if not tragic, that those who complain the most about “inequality”, pursue monetary, fiscal, and tax policies, that make it much worse for the poor.  Asset price inflation favors obviously those with the means to own assets: stocks, bonds, and real estate. While inflation is a tax on all of us, and a regressive tax at that, lacking the ability to own assets means the poor get hurt the worst by precisely the economic fallacies peddled by those who say they help the poor.

 

The bottom 50% need not apply. They just get to eat the soaring costs of housing. How the Fed totally blew out the already gigantic wealth disparity during the pandemic.

On Friday, the Fed released the detailed data about the wealth of households by wealth category for the 1%, the 2% to 9%, the “next 40%” (the top 10% to 50%) and the “bottom 50%” for the second quarter, after having released less detailed figures on September 23. You read the stories at the time about how the Fed’s money-printing and interest-rate-repression has enriched American households.

But the detailed data, just now released, show whose wealth jumped the most, and who got left endlessly further behind. It wasn’t households in general that benefited, but only the richest households with the most assets. The more assets they had, the more they benefited.

My Wealth Effect Monitor divides the wealth (assets minus liabilities) for each wealth category by the number of households in that category, which produces average per-household wealth within each category. The wealth of the bottom 50% is reflected by the jagged green line on the bottom, essentially on top of the horizontal axis:

Not shown separately are the truly rich – the 0.01% – and the Billionaire Class.  The Fed wisely doesn’t provide any information on them separately, but includes them in the Top 1%.

But according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the top 30 US billionaires are worth on average $69 billion per household currently, having gained on average $2.2 billion in wealth each over the quarter.

The bottom 50% of US households (green line above) – 63.2 million households – are worth on average $47,900 per household. But this includes $25,970 in “durable goods” (cars, phones, furniture, etc.), which for consumers are normally considered consumables, not assets, because their values are declining, and they don’t produce incomes.

The bottom 50% gained $7,900 per household over the quarter, and those gains included $2,085 from purchases of durable goods!

*****

Continue reading this article at  Wolf Street.

The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in America: Holy Cow, September Update

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Even the Fed is getting antsy about this raging mania house-price inflation. Housing Bubble 1 is starting to look cute in comparison.

House prices spiked 19.7% from a year ago, the biggest year-over-year increase in the data going back to 1987, according to the National Case-Shiller Home Price Index today. But the national index of this raging mania doesn’t do justice to individual metropolitan areas, where price spikes reached up to 32%.

The Fed is getting seriously antsy about this massive house price inflation, on top to the regular consumer price inflation that has hit 30-year highs. Just today, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, James Bullard, who’d been fretting months ago about the “threatening housing bubble,” came out with a proposal to reduce the assets on the Fed’s balance sheet right after the taper is completed by mid-2022, which would purposefully allow long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates, to rise significantly.

“Everything can occur much faster than it could have in the previous recovery,” he said.

Markets have started to anticipate the end of QE. Long-term interest rates have started to rise. The 10-year Treasury yield is currently at 1.55%, the highest since mid-June. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate today was 3.16%.

The mind-boggling price spikes in the charts below for individual metropolitan areas are based on the “July” Case-Shiller Index. The July data are a three-month moving average of closed sales that were entered into public records in April, May, and June. That’s the time frame we’re looking at here.

House price inflation. The Case-Shiller Index uses the “sales pairs method,” comparing the sales price of a house to the price of the same house when it sold previously, and includes adjustments for home improvements. By tracking the amount required to buy the same house over time, it is a measure of house price inflation.

Los Angeles metro: Prices of single-family houses rose 1.4% in July from June and spiked by 19.1% year-over-year.

All Case-Shiller Indices were set at 100 for January 2000. The index value for Los Angeles of 359 means that house prices have soared by 259% since January 2000, despite the Housing Bust in between. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has risen by 62% over the same period.

This puts Los Angeles on the dubious pedestal of being the most splendid housing bubble on this list. All charts below are on the same scale as Los Angeles to show the relative heat of house price inflation in each market since 2000.

San Diego metro: House prices rose 1.6% for the month and by 27.8% year-over-year. Since 2000, prices have exploded by 255%:

 

Phoenix metro, holy cow: +3.3% for the month, +32.4% year-over-year. The reddest-hottest annual house price inflation among the most splendid housing bubbles here:

*****

Continue reading this article at Wolf Street.

FBI Narrative About the Jan. 6th Capitol ‘Insurrection’ Is IMPLODING

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Editors’ Note:  It appears that the two organizations often cited by Democrats as leaders of the “insurrection” on January 6, 2021, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, were not only penetrated by the FBI, but their top leadership were FBI informantsThe most recent attempt on September 18th to revive the “insurrection”, provoked again ringing the Capitol with a giant chain link fence and caused a media storm, came and went with hardly a peep.  It would seem the only people who showed up were law enforcement agents and their informants. The latter event, now almost comical, belies a more serious and perhaps sinister development. Federal Agencies have been involved in citizen demonstrations, penetrated the leadership of these organizations, and may have been used by the Democrats to create a false narrative for political purposes. Our law enforcement agencies should not be involved in this kind of political intrigue.  \At the same time, some 174 riots were perpetrated by Antifa and Black Lives Matter that did billions of dollars in damage. Yet according to the media and Democrats, Republicans supporting Trump or protesting terrible treatment of those arrested in the January 6th farce, are threats to national security. What the heck is going on?

 

An explosive report over the weekend claims to show that two alleged Capitol riot participants were actually government informants. The New York Times reported Saturday that “records, and information from two people familiar with the matter, suggest that federal law enforcement had a far greater visibility into the assault on the Capitol, even as it was taking place, than was previously known.”

The revelations in The Times reveal that there was no conspiracy on the part of the Proud Boys to storm the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, as alleged by the Department of Justice.

It’s already known that the Proud Boys leader, Enrique Tarrio, had been an FBI informant. The Times report concentrates on yet another FBI informant in the right-leaning group who reportedly warned his handler in real-time that some bad stuff was going on at the Capitol.

Recommended: Is It Any Wonder Americans Mistrust the Intelligence Community When They Pull Stunts Like This?

Though several Proud Boys are charged with a conspiracy, this latest informant maintains that there was never any plan by the group to violently storm the Capitol and, indeed, there’s evidence to back that claim.

Indeed, the paper concludes the obvious: that “the new information is likely to complicate the government’s efforts to prove the high-profile conspiracy charges it has brought against several members of the Proud Boys.”

Huh. You don’t say?

The report, based on documents seen by reporters, also raises questions about whether FBI Director Chris Wray lied to Congress about the FBI’s lack of foreknowledge of the melee. It also begs the question of why the FBI and other police agencies failed to harden the Capitol in advance.

*****

Continue reading this article at PJ Media.

4 Ways to Understand Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

House Democrats have unveiled pieces of the $3.5 trillion spending bill over the past several weeks.

Most legislation focuses on specific issues, which makes it possible to have constructive debate. However, this bill covers welfare, immigration, taxes, energy, families, and much more, making it extremely difficult to comprehend.

Providing context on this tax-and-spend bill’s size and cost helps bring into focus just how radical it is, and why some Democrats are now pushing back against it.

1. $27,000 Cost Per Household
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 data shows that there are 128.5 million households in the United States. If we divide the cost of the $3.5 trillion package across each household, the numbers are substantial in relation to a typical family budget.

This legislation would cost over $27,000 for every household in America. That’s more than the cost of a brand new Toyota RAV4 sport utility vehicle, or five years of groceries for a typical family, or 13 years of clothing purchases and tailoring for an average household.

The left tries to deflect from the exorbitant cost by pointing to tax increases focused on high-income households and businesses. Yet that fundamentally misunderstands how the economy works.

When the government increases taxes on investment, there is less incentive to start or expand a business, which is the source of the job creation and wage growth that all workers depend on.

In addition, the tax hikes in the massive spending bill would place American businesses at a severe disadvantage with our global competitors. Over time, high taxes mean lower wages, higher prices, and weak returns for individual retirement accounts.

In contrast, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (which would be gutted by the tax hikes) helped drive strong wage growth and low unemployment before the pandemic.

While we don’t yet know exactly how much the new legislation would add to the national debt, it would likely be somewhere between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. That burden would be layered on top of $28.4 trillion in existing debt, which amounts to $219,000 for every household in the country.

Adding recklessly to the debt would increase risks to the health of the economy and add to the immoral and unsustainable burden being handed down to future generations.

2. A 111-Year Spending Spree
Stores will occasionally have a contest where the winner gets to buy as much as he or she can over the course of a few minutes. Even under those circumstances, in most stores it would be impossible to grab $1,000 of goods per second.

The $3.5 trillion spending bill equates to spending $1,000 per second for 111 years straight.

Yet the spending would be crammed into just a decade, meaning that the legislation would enable a spending spree of over $11,000 per second for those 10 years.

What would Congress buy with all that money? An army of taxpayer-funded climate activists, new welfare programs that would disincentive work, corporate welfare for politically favored sectors like journalism and “green” energy, and an increased risk of 1970s-style inflation.

That’s not a good deal for the American public.

3. Far More Expensive Than Major Programs
The $3.5 trillion spending bill is enormous even when compared to other major pieces of legislation and long-term federal programs.

The inflation-adjusted cost of the interstate highway system through its completion in 1992 was $543 billion. The cost of veterans’ benefits from 1962 through 2020 was $2.9 trillion.

Amazingly, both decades-long federal efforts cost less than the $3.5 trillion spending bill.

A more recent example: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which was the key federal response to the COVID-19 outbreak, cost $1.9 trillion.

The initial 10-year cost of Obamacare was $1.1 trillion in today’s dollars. The cost of those two enormous bills falls well short of the current package.

4. Over 2,400 Pages of Jargon, Legalese

Although final legislative text is still in flux, what has been released by House committees weighs in at over 2,400 pages—and there will likely be some additions before it’s said and done.

Moderate Democrats have made a modest request: that they have at least 72 hours to review the bill before a vote on the House floor. Yet that would be nowhere near enough time to ensure that the final product doesn’t include big mistakes or hidden handouts.

Reading legislative text isn’t like reading a novel. Rather, legislation is a dense soup of legalese and references to existing federal laws that takes serious time to consider.

At a pace of five minutes per page, someone would need 202 hours straight—not 72 hours—to properly read such a mammoth piece of legislation.

This legislation is simply too long, too expensive, and would do too much damage to the economy to properly justify it.

Rather than rushing to centralize power and control in Washington, D.C., through a series of tax hikes and new entitlement programs, Congress should take a different approach: restraining spending, maintaining a pro-growth tax code, and reforming existing benefit programs to make them financially sustainable.

This would pave the way for a post-pandemic economic boom that would benefit all Americans.

*****

This article was published on September 23, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Daily Signal.

American Investors Are At Risk If Congress Continues To Give Fraudulent Chinese Companies A Pass

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Beijing’s refusal to comply with U.S. law while continuing to access our capital markets has subjected U.S. investors to the risk of enormous financial losses.

Concern this week about the possible collapse of China’s Evergrande, which has a massive debt burden of $305 billion, highlights one more reason Congress needs to act to protect U.S. investors from Chinese companies.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 mandates the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) inspect audit paperwork of all companies that issue securities in the U.S. The goal is to “protect investors and further the public interest in the preparation of informative, accurate, and independent audit reports.” More than 50 foreign jurisdictions comply with this U.S. law. But in the name of national security concerns, the Chinese government has prevented both domestic and foreign auditors of Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges from submitting audit reports to PCAOB and the SEC for inspection.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler issued a warning to Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges recently: comply with our audit rules or be delisted. But Gensler’s threat came with a caveat: Chinese companies will have a three-year grace period before they may have to face any consequences. Given all the known risks of investing in Chinese companies, Kyle Bass, Hayman Capital founder and a vocal critic of China, said the SEC’s delayed enforcement would allow Chinese companies to have an “open season on U.S. investors” for three more years.

For decades, Chinese companies have successfully tapped into the U.S. capital market and U.S. investors have helped fund China’s astonishing economic growth. As of May 2021, there are 248 Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges, with a market capitalization of $2.1 trillion.

Past Fraud at Chinese Companies Listed on U.S. Stock Exchanges 

U.S. regulators have good reasons to be concerned about investors’ risk exposure because corporate fraud in China is a well-known epidemic. In 2018, auditors in China declined to endorse 219 annual reports prepared by Chinese companies because the auditors either found problems with these companies’ financial statements or had expressed concern about the companies’ likelihood of survival.

Last year, Luckin Coffee, a Chinese startup that went public on NASDAQ in May 2019, disclosed that several of its employees, including its chief operating officer, had fabricated the majority of the company’s 2019 sales. Two months later, NASDAQ delisted Luckin stock. At the time, Luckin’s share price was only $1.48, a stunning 97 percent decline from its all-time high of $51 per share less than a year ago. Investors of Luckin stock suffered massive losses.

Shortly after Luckin’s financial fraud was exposed, another U.S.-listed Chinese company, TAL Education Group, one of the largest education providers in China that offer K-12 after-school tutoring services, revealed that one of its employees had inflated the company’s sales by “forging contracts and other documentation.” The share price of TAL dropped 23 percent in one day. The accounting scandals of Luckin and TAL renewed the concern that Beijing’s refusal to comply with the U.S. law while continuing to access U.S. capital markets has subjected U.S. investors to significant investment risk.

A succession of U.S. administrations has engaged many rounds of diplomatic negotiations with Beijing, hoping that China would comply with U.S. law and let PCAOB and SEC inspect audit reports for Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges. Beijing never budged. In 2012, a frustrated SEC filed administrative proceedings against five Chinese accounting firms (all of them global firms’ Chinese subsidiaries), for failing to hand over audit records of the Chinese companies under SEC investigation. The five firms claimed that if they followed SEC’s order, they would violate Chinese laws.

Even if PCAOB or SEC were granted access to Chinese companies’ auditors, another ongoing concern is that some of China’s homegrown accounting and auditing firms are just as unreliable as their corporate clients. Rather than acting as gatekeepers, these firms have turned a blind eye to their clients’ fabricated financial statements to maintain lucrative business relationships. For example, Chinese regulators launched investigations of China’s accounting firms Ruihua and GP in 2019. The regulator found that one of GP’s corporate clients inflated its cash holding by $4 billion, and one of Ruihua’s corporate clients overstated its profit for four years by $1.7 billion.

Shell Companies Are Another Risk

Widespread corporate fraud of Chinese companies and lax oversight from Chinese auditors are only some of the many known problems investors and U.S. regulators have to deal with. Another significant problem is Chinese companies’ circuitous corporate structure.

Since Beijing bars foreigners from taking ownership in what it deems strategic sectors of the Chinese economy, many large Chinese companies created offshore holding companies or variable-interest entities (VIEs) to raise capital outside of China. Since these VIE shares do not represent ownership, they offer foreign investors minimal legal rights or protections. According to Paul Gillis, an economics professor at Peking University, in the event of any dispute between foreign investors and VIEs, foreign investors “risk finding themselves owning shares in a shell company with no assets and no business if the contracts fall apart.”

Chinese Communist Party Influence on Chinese Companies

While foreign investors do not have ownership of Chinese companies they invested in, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has vast influence over Chinese companies and their management. For example, between 2016 and 2017, more than 30 Hong Kong-traded Chinese companies required their boards to consult Communist Party committees before making major business decisions.

Yet, Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges have yet to disclose either the CCP’s ownership stake or its power to influence their business operations. Without such disclosure, foreign investors in these Chinese companies are in the dark regarding the magnitude of risks they are exposed to.

Congress Must Authorize the SEC to Act Now

U.S. lawmakers sought to protect U.S. investors and address China’s decades-long refusal to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by passing the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (HFCAA) in 2020. President Trump signed it into law. HFCAA stipulates auditors of foreign public companies must allow PCAOB to inspect their audit reports of non-U.S. operations, and if “a company’s auditors fail to comply for three consecutive years, then the company’s shares would be prohibited from trading in the United States.”

The lawmakers clearly aimed at China when they drafted HFCAA, but a three-year grace period is too long to address problems we have known of for decades. While the SEC is still drafting new rules to implement HFCAA, new challenges from China have emerged.

Less than two months ago, foreign investors who have funded China’s economic growth by investing in Chinese companies had suffered their most significant loss since the 2008 financial crisis. The CCP launched a crackdown on China’s largest technology firms, private education businesses, video game makers, and food-delivery companies. Bloomberg estimates that the Chinese government’s action has wiped out $1.5 trillion in value of these companies. Even investors who do not own these stocks directly suffer losses because many mutual funds hold these Chinese stocks in their investment portfolios.

There are indications the CCP hasn’t finished its crackdown yet, as its leader Xi Jinping is determined to reshape China’s economy by will and consolidate power and control in his own hands. Xi announced in early September that China would launch a new stock exchange in Beijing to help small to medium-sized companies raise capital. China already has three stock exchanges: Shanghai, Shenzen, and Hong Kong. The establishment of the Beijing stock exchange is the latest indication that China intends to develop its own capital market further and reduce Chinese businesses’ reliance on foreign capital markets. The SEC would have very little leverage left if it waited three years to delist Chinese companies that don’t comply with U.S. law. By 2024, China’s capital market will be mature enough that these Chinese companies probably will be more than happy to take their businesses back to China and re-list on Chinese stock exchanges.

The U.S. Senate passed the Accelerating Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act this summer, which, if enacted, would reduce the three-year grace period to two. But even two years in the investment world is still a long time. American investors continue to face the risk of enormous financial losses as Beijing stonewalls U.S. laws. To truly protect American investors, the U.S. Congress needs to authorize the SEC to take action now, not two or three years from now.

*****

This article was published on September 22, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Federalist.

Biden Tax Proposal Would Cost Arizona Thousands of Jobs, ASU Report Estimates

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

President Joe Biden’s proposal to increase the United States’ Global Intangible Low-Tax Income (GILTI) tax will lead to job losses at 266 public companies in Arizona, according to research from Arizona State University.

The proposal doubles the GILTI rate to 21% from 10.5%. Ninety-four percent of U.S manufacturers believe the increase will harm their business, according to a National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) survey on Sept. 9.

The study by the Seidman Institute at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business and Ernst & Young’s Quantitative Economic and Statistics Team (QUEST) said the tax “is specifically targeted at the income earned by foreign affiliates of those companies from intangible assets including intellectual property such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights.”

The Seidman Institute and QUEST predicted a low of 1,508 direct annual job losses and a high of 27,728 direct annual losses if the current GILTI proposal is implemented, placing up to 47,000 jobs at risk in the next five years.

A $276.7 million loss to the state GDP was estimated in the first year after the tax increase implementation, rising to $348.9 million in the tenth year. This would mark an annual loss of 0.07% to 0.08% of GDP in Arizona, the study said.

The study concluded that the proposed GILTI changes could slow economic growth in the Grand Canyon state, resulting in a total annual job loss of 0.06% to 1.14% in Arizona.

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmins released a statement about the proposal’s potential effect on American businesses.

“The proposed tax increases would result in 1 million job losses in just the first two years,” he said.

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This article was published on September 20, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

Crashing Out

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

In Afghanistan, the United States succeeded only in creating a virtual fantasyland.

In the summer of 2002, Karl Rove arranged a meeting with journalist Ron Suskind to tell him that reality was a thing of the past. Rove was the most senior and best-known advisor to President George W. Bush, the mastermind behind his election almost two years earlier. The meeting with Suskind happened as the Iraq War was looming. Public debate about invading Iraq revolved around forensic evidence and intelligence reports, taken more or less seriously by the members of what Rove called the “reality-based community”—people emotionally attached to reality the way their ancestors were attached to God.

Suskind did not disagree. He liked to believe that solutions emerge from the “study of discernible reality,” but when he started to mumble something about the values of the Enlightenment and the ideal of empiricism, Rove cut him off. “Not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you are studying that reality . . . we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort themselves out.”

In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the point of the enterprise was to act decisively against an old foe and bring him down. What might happen afterward was not really considered. The connections linking the invasion to the surrounding context, the parallel plot lines, the vast network of unpredictable consequences that the wars would inevitably bring about or the new possibilities that they would open up—all these elements were mostly ignored. If the invasions and wars were a story, they were an adventure tale, composed of the simplest elements: the hero sets out to defeat a cruel enemy and returns home, covered in glory.

In the movies, everything is much simpler. Look at the credits: people are clearly identified as Nazis, and assigned actors play the roles. The real world is more ambiguous. What the American forces started to discover once they were on the ground in Afghanistan in December 2001 was that the Taliban were less a band of criminals or fanatics than a sociological reality. One could be a Taliban this week and something else the next. At the same time, they were deeply implanted in Pashtun society, and any attempt to extract the body of the Taliban from the body of the Pashtuns was by definition impossible.

Craig Whitlock’s recently published Afghanistan Papers include evocative passages describing the moments when Pashtun elders tried to explain the laws of sociology to the foreign generals they entertained for tea. “There are three kinds of Taliban,” they began. The Americans listened in wonder, as if being introduced to a new way of looking at the world.

Once these new thoughts were processed, the conviction in something like a final victory started to dissipate. How could the Taliban be defeated? They could certainly be overcome, but that would require a radical transformation of Afghan society, and the Americans weren’t really interested in that. The Soviets had tried to do it and failed, but for America it was never a serious project.

*****

Continue reading this article, published September 13, 2021 at City Journal.  

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Masks, and the Deadly Falsehoods Surrounding Them

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

In a terse essay titled “Science and Dictatorship,” Albert Einstein warned that “Science can flourish only in an atmosphere of free speech.” And on his deathbed, Einstein cautioned, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important affairs.”

With reckless disregard for both of those principles, powerful government officials and big tech executives have corrupted or suppressed the central scientific facts about face masks. The impacts of this extend far beyond the issue of masks and have caused widespread harm and countless deaths.

Despite the fog of contradictory claims and changing government guidelines, dozens of scientific journals have published consistent data that establish these facts:

  • Covid-19 is mainly spread by microscopic aerosols generated by breathing, talking, sneezing, and coughing. The vast bulk of these infectious aerosols easily penetrate common masks because 90% of the aerosols are less than 1/17th the size of pores in the finest surgical masks, and less than 1/80th the size of pores in the finest cloth masks.
  • Aerosols are light enough to stay airborne for minutes or hours, and hence, they also travel freely through gaps around the edges of cloth and surgical masks.
  • Governments enacted mask mandates based on the false assumption that C-19 is mainly transmitted by large droplets generated by coughing, sneezing, and spittle. These droplets are bigger than the pore sizes of most masks and only remain airborne for a few seconds after they are emitted.
  • For more than a year, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention denied and downplayed the threat of aerosol transmission while issuing guidelines that don’t amply prevent it. This enabled C-19 to decimate the most vulnerable members of society, like those in hospitals and nursing homes.
  • The CDC and WHO quietly admitted in the spring of 2021 that aerosols pose a major threat of transmission but have still not adequately updated their guidelines to reflect this reality. This has allowed countless preventable deaths to continue.
  • The risk of aerosol transmission can be greatly reduced by disinfecting air with ultraviolent (UV) light, which is part of the energy spectrum emitted by the sun. This simple and safe technology neutralizes airborne microbes and has been successfully used to control the spread of contagious respiratory diseases for more than 80 years.
  • Randomized controlled trials—which are the “gold standard” for clinical research—have repeatedly measured the effects of masks on preventing the spread of contagious respiratory diseases. These trials have found inconsistent benefits from N95 masks in healthcare settings and no statistically significant benefits from any type of mask in community settings.
  • The only randomized controlled trial that evaluated cloth masks found that mandating them causes significant disease transmission in high-risk healthcare settings.
  • Observational studies—which are a weaker form of evidence than randomized controlled trials—find that masking schoolchildren provides negligible or no benefits.
  • Lab studies—which are the weakest form of clinical evidence—don’t support the notion that surgical or cloth masks reduce the transmission of Covid-19.
  • Masks of all types have negative impacts on some people, including headaches, difficulty breathing, increased cardio-pulmonary stress during exercise, marked discomfort, and weakened social bonds.
  • Because humans create carbon dioxide as they breathe, the CO2 concentration of the air they exhale is about 100 times higher than in fresh air. Masks restrict airflow and thus cause the wearers to rebreathe some of the air they exhale.
  • The average CO2 concentrations inhaled by people wearing N95 masks range from 2.6 to 7.0 times OSHA’s work shift limit for CO2. These levels cause headaches and chest pains in some people.
  • The average CO2 concentrations inhaled by people wearing cloth and surgical masks range from 2 to 3 times the government CO2 limits for classrooms in many countries. These levels may impair certain high-level brain functions like initiative, strategic thinking, and complex decision-making.

The leaders of big tech corporations like Facebook, Twitter, and Google/YouTube have empowered government officials who misled the public about every matter above and others. Together, they continue to do so by engaging in actions that resemble common disinformation tactics. These include but are not limited to cherry-picking, censorship, muddying the waterscitation bluffsnon-sequiturs, half-truths, and outright falsehoods.

Summary

With remarkable consistency, the comprehensive facts detailed above prove that:

  • governments enacted mask mandates based on the false assumption that Covid-19 is mainly transmitted by large droplets that are bigger than the pore sizes of most masks and only remain airborne for a few seconds.
  • Covid-19 is mainly spread by microscopic aerosols that remain airborne for minutes or hours, easily penetrate common masks, and travel freely through gaps around their edges.
  • the CDC and WHO minimized the threat of aerosol transmission for more than a year while issuing guidelines that left people vulnerable to this mortal danger.
  • the CDC and WHO finally admitted that aerosols pose a major threat of transmission but tried to cover their tracks and failed to adequately update their guidelines—thus allowing countless preventable deaths to continue to this day.
  • UV disinfection systems are highly effective at killing airborne viruses and have been successfully used to control the spread of contagious respiratory diseases for more than 80 years.
  • the strongest and most relevant studies have found inconsistent benefits from N95 masks in healthcare settings and no statistically significant benefits from any type of mask in community settings.
  • the CDC is scraping the bottom of the scientific barrel by cherry picking and distorting low-quality and unrealistic studies to support the claim that masks control the spread of C-19.
  • masks of all types, and especially N95s, cause headaches, difficulty breathing, increased cardio-pulmonary stress during exercise, marked discomfort, and weakened social bonds.
  • the average CO2 concentrations inhaled by people wearing masks are far above what many governments permit for indoor settings, and this may impair certain high-level brain functions like initiative, strategic thinking, and complex decision-making.
  • Google/YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are acting as a megaphone of the deadly falsehoods propagated by the CDC and WHO while silencing their critics.

*****

Read the entire article published September 13, 2021 at Just Facts. Seize The Data.

Bank of Japan Ends its Massive QE that Started When Abenomics Became Economic Religion of Japan

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

One of the largest central banks ends QE. End of an era for Japan: Large-scale money printing was one of the three official legs of Abenomics.

In terms of the absolute mountain of assets the Bank of Japan purchased over the years, it is one of the top three QE monsters, along with the Fed and the ECB. In relationship to GDP, the BoJ’s total assets are #2, behind the tiny Swiss National Bank, which runs the unique racket of using the overhyped strength of the Swiss franc to print large amounts of it and buy securities denominated in foreign currencies, including large amounts of US stocks; but it’s not buying securities denominated in Swiss francs.

Total assets on the BoJ’s balance sheet generally decline every third month as large amounts of long-term bonds mature and are redeemed, which is when the BoJ gets its money back, and the bonds come off the balance sheet. For this reason, we look at the three-month moving average of the increases in total assets.

As of its balance sheet through August 31, the three-month moving average of total assets increased by an average of only ¥690 billion ($6.3 billion) per month, the smallest increase since 2012, before Abenomics became the economic religion of the land. This marks the end of Abenomics QE:

The BoJ’s blistering QE binge started with “Abenomics,” the economic religion imposed on the land in 2013 under Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister from September 2012 to September 2020. One of the three official legs of Abenomics was massive amounts of money printing. It culminated with the huge burst in the spring of 2020. But all that is now history.

While the Fed has set the stage to begin tapering its asset purchases later this year, and while the ECB is ogling the Fed for inspiration, the Bank of Japan, without making a lot of hoopla, has already cut its asset purchases to the bone.

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Continue reading this article, published September 7, 2021 at Wolf Street.

Sweden Has Disappeared

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The entire nation of Sweden seems to have disappeared.

So far as we can tell, no scientific investigation into the disappearance of Sweden has been conducted. In fact, it is among scientists that Sweden seems to have pulled off an amazing vanishing act. Politicians around the world also have lost complete contact with the country. The media is not even aware of the countries existence. However, tourists and geographers have confirmed to us that the country still exists.

Frankly, we don’t know what to believe.

To our best knowledge, Sweden is still in the United Nations and we still have diplomatic relations with them. But being an ambassador to a country that has simply vanished, must be quite an unusual posting. Embassy parties must be quite subdued.

It is not certain how this disappearance act is performed, as Sweden is a rather large country that makes quite good automobiles, trucks, heavy earth moving equipment, arms, and jet airplanes. They produce a substantial amount of pop music ranging from vintage ABBA to First Aid Kit.

Quite a number of Swedes came to the US in the late 19th century and we are told they can be found in the Dakotas. We have met them, and they are nice people. But this only confirms that Sweden did exist at one time and is not proof it exists today.

Now personally, we have been able to completely disappear in front of clerks, bureaucrats, and people at airline ticket counters, but we don’t understand how an entire country can pull this off.

It really is one of the wonders of the world.

The reason we mention this is the chart shown above. The chart shows new cases of Covid in Sweden versus Israel.

Israel has is one of the most vaccinated and face-covered countries on earth while Sweden decided to deal with the Wuhan virus by doing very little if anything.

You would think this chart would be of interest to public officials in the US who are busily re-masking school children and requiring vaccination and revaccination through coercive mandates. But it would seem that evidence is not really required in their decision-making process.

While we make no pretense of being a medical doctor, we can read a chart, and likely so can you. It would seem to us that vaccination and mask-wearing have very little to do with the number of virus cases.  If so, destroying our economy, dividing our people into bitter camps, destroying personal liberty does not seem like a fair trade-off.

Strangely, it appears there may be an inverse relationship. That is to say, the more you do the worse the medical results, and the less you do, the better the results.

It really is a shame that Sweden has disappeared. We read the other day that ABBA was coming out of retirement and was going to cut a new album. We were looking forward to that.