Blogroll Category: Current Affairs

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Liberian president reopens country for worship, but the churches are staying closed for now

Anglican Ink - Tue, 19/05/2020 - 03:24

The president of Liberia has lifted the government’s March ban on public worship in response to the Coronavirus. President George Weah on Friday, May 8

On Friday 8 May 2020 President George Weah stated Churches, Mosques and temples may hold public worship if they limit attendance to 25 percent of their regular worship hour capacity. Mosques may resume services on 15 May and churches on 17 May. As of last Saturday Liberia reported 226 confirmed coronavirus cases. Out of this number 85 remain active, 21 patients have died  and 120 have recovered.

The Most Rev. Jonathan Hart, Bishop of Liberia and Archbishop of West Africa released a statement welcoming the news, but asked Episcopal churches to remain closed due to the lingering threat of infection from the virus. The Lutheran and Baptists churches of Liberia have also postponed reopening, while the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Monrovia Lewis Zeigler asked all pastors to delay the opening of their churches for regular church activities until the end of May 2020. 

“This will enable us to monitor the reduction in the cases of the Coronavirus pandemic in the Archdiocese. By early June we shall observe and decide how to go forward with the resumption of our church activities,” he wrote on 13 May 2020.

The New Dawn newspaper of Monrovia reported the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Peter Coleman, believed it would be unwise to resume public worship, telling the senate the risk of disease transmission remained high.

The post Liberian president reopens country for worship, but the churches are staying closed for now appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Update on COVID-19 and South Africa from the Archbishop of Cape Town

Anglican Ink - Tue, 19/05/2020 - 03:01

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

With no end in sight to coronavirus lockdowns, we are having to plan ahead for Provincial meetings to take place online. Already, retired bishops are communicating on WhatsApp, as are members of the Synod of Bishops. Other groups are being encouraged to connect and pray together online, and Liaison Bishops are meeting with bodies such as the youth, Provincial organisations and the like.

Now our legal team, the Provincial Executive Officer, the Ven Horace Arenz, and the Provincial Treasurer, Rob Rogerson, have worked out a way in which we can hold “virtual” meetings of the Synod of Bishops and Provincial Standing Committee in September. More planning for the PSC will take place in an online meeting of its Service Committee this week.

As South Africa enters a new level of lockdown, we face a difficult path ahead. We are having to adjust to the reality that the virus will be with us for a long while to come, and that to balance the need to save people’s lives with the necessity of preserving their livelihoods, we have to relax some of the restrictions – even as the epidemiologists are projecting an increase in Covid-19 cases that will likely peak in late August or early September.

As two of our leading experts, Professor Salim Abdool Karim and Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, said recently, there is no way of stopping the virus from spreading. Instead, they warn, we have to find a way to live with outbreaks, trying to “flatten the curve” when they happen, while the government adjusts lockdown levels as part of a risk-adjusted approach to mitigate their effects. As President Ramaphosa said in his latest address to the nation, adjustments will be made according to the rate of infection in an area and the state of readiness and capacity of its health facilities to cope with treating infections.

For the Church, learning to live with the coronavirus means developing our own risk-adjusted approach to returning to worship. Over recent weeks, I have been heading a task team of church leaders put together by the SA Council of Churches which has done a thorough examination of when and how we can reopen our churches. The SACC has had constructive encounters with government, at which we have been represented by our bishops in the Gauteng dioceses, and we look forward to an agreement on the conditions under which we can open our doors again. We cannot stay in lockdown in perpetuity.

In the meantime, I urge you as parishioners to continue to give whatever financial and material support you are able to our ongoing ministry. Today I joined a meeting of the Deans of cathedrals in ACSA and heard some of their challenges, as well as the innovations which these senior clerics are effecting. I am grateful for their ministry. Another part of my rhythm is keeping up with young people. I was most encouraged by their postings this last weekend, and how they are keeping hope alive. At the invitation of Father Chesnay Frantz of Cape Town I have shared a two-minute message for them to help them keep up their hope.

The most distressing sights during the lockdowns have been the long queues of people lining up for food parcels. HOPE Africa and a number of dioceses have been working hard to alleviate hunger and the Deputy Provincial Registrar, Canon Rosalie Manning, has helped to access more resources as we partner with others in feeding programmes. We also support the SACC’s efforts to advocate making food vouchers available, which both feed those in need as well as generate business for traders and thus support livelihoods.

Despite the challenges, I pray that we will keep up hope for the future even as we work through the reality of the pandemic, however long it takes. Hope, as Denise Ackermann has written, “is not that blithe sense that all will end well”. Hope is about acknowledging our fears, dealing with the pain, the reality and the uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus. It is a journey beset with headaches, a journey with and in Christ and during which we know for certain that He is not here in the grave, but He has gone ahead of us. Hope is the story of our salvation, our lives lived with the assurance that “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.” (1 Thess. 5:24)

During this time, I have begun to join Archbishop Emeritus Desmond once a week in prayer, and have found it strengthening. I urge you too to pray without ceasing, and as we move towards Ascension Day, I want to challenge you: what are you planning to do as we move into the next season in the Church’s rhythms of worship and celebration?

God bless you.

††Thabo Makgoba

The post Update on COVID-19 and South Africa from the Archbishop of Cape Town appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

No, Hayek Didn't Support the Pinochet Regime

Mises Institute - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 22:30
Hayek is guilty of pointing out what should be abundantly obvious: both democratic and authoritarian regimes can commit grave crimes against human rights.

This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Millian Quinteros.

Original Article: "No, Hayek Didn't Support the Pinochet Regime"

Categories: Current Affairs

State Lockdowns Are Creating a Mental Health Disaster

Mises Institute - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 20:30

With their bizarre and extreme lockdowns, governments are forcing very low-risk populations to endure social isolation and unemployment. The mental health effects will be significant.

This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Millian Quinteros.

Original Article: "State Lockdowns Are Creating a Mental Health Disaster"

Categories: Current Affairs

The Shutdown May Soon Collapse in Pennsylvania Thanks to Local Resistance

Mises Institute - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 20:00

As in the rest of the country, life in Pennsylvania has been greatly disturbed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the chaos that has resulted from the state government’s attempts to handle the situation. On March 16, Governor Wolf ordered that all “nonessential” businesses be closed for at least two weeks. They are still closed today, and as a result, 1.8 million Pennsylvanians have filed for unemployment. At the end of December of last year, the state estimated that there were roughly 6 million employed persons in Pennsylvania. If we set aside all the workers whose incomes have been reduced through pay cuts or reduced hours, or who for various reasons have not filed for unemployment, still nearly a third of people who were working in December are now out of work.

Such an astounding figure is truly hard to comprehend, and its consequences likely haven’t been fully understood. It is therefore very understandable that Pennsylvanians around the commonwealth are eager to return to work and salvage the situation as much as possible before we are all left destitute. However, Governor Wolf, having assumed emergency powers, seems loathe to let that happen on anything other than his administration’s opaque and poorly understood timetable. Under the current plan, all counties are currently categorized as either red, yellow, or green, with red counties having the strictest restrictions and green ones allowing all businesses to reopen. By May 15, thirty-seven of Pennsylvania’s sixty-seven counties will officially become yellow zones. These counties will include nearly all of western and north-central Pennsylvania.

From the beginning, the entire shutdown process has been wracked with confusion over which businesses are essential and which ones need to apply for waivers to keep running. The waiver process has not been very transparent, and it is little wonder that the granting of a waiver to Wolf Home Products, the furniture manufacturer formerly owned by the governor, caused an uproar. As of May 10, the state had only processed 70 percent of the unemployment claims it had received.

There is not only confusion regarding the economic shutdown rules, but also over the public health approach as more and more data becomes available. On May 6, it was revealed to lawmakers during a phone briefing that of the roughly 3,100 virus deaths by that date, 68 percent had occurred in nursing homes and similar care facilities, that the average age of those who had passed was 79 (in a state where the average life expectancy is 78.5 years), and that 84.4 percent of the victims suffered from one to four comorbidities.

These shocking figures are even more tragic in light of the fact that the state’s aggressive plan for protecting nursing homes was never fully implemented. The state government’s incompetence is even more egregious considering the fact that the state health department issued a memo on March 18 stating that "Nursing care facilities must continue to accept new admissions and receive readmissions for current residents who have been discharged from the hospital who are stable….This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus."

Although the administration apparently lacked the ability to enact their own plan for protecting nursing homes, Wolf did have the time to make sure to include radical progressive demands in his state recovery plan, such as an increase of the minimum wage to $12 which would be set to grow to $15 and an expansion of mandatory paid leave policies.

With such chaos, confusion, and incompetence in the background, it is little wonder that there is a growing sense of rebellion among both the inhabitants and local government officials throughout the state. All of southwestern Pennsylvania was declared free to move from red- to yellow-level restrictions on May 15 except for Beaver County. This exception, the county government believes, is largely due to the county’s stats being skewed due to a particularly lethal outbreak at a nursing home in the county that killed at least seventy-one residents. As a result, they declared that as far the county government and law enforcement were concerned the county would be moving to yellow-level restrictions along with all of its neighbors on May 15. Local officials also pointed out that many residents who work in the surrounding counties will be free to travel in and out of Beaver to work, defeating the entire purpose of keeping the county locked down. This is not an insignificant number of people given that Beaver is part of the greater Pittsburgh area. What’s more, the district attorney announced that his office would not be prosecuting any violations of the shutdown orders and had advised all local police departments to not get involved in state enforcement orders.

This defiance was echoed by two other counties in the central part of the state, including Dauphin County, where the state capital of Harrisburg is located, whose officials released statements effectively saying that they would no longer participate in the enforcement of the red-level shutdown orders. The county sheriffs of two additional central counties also released statements saying that their offices would not participate in any enforcement activities. A few days later, these counties have been joined by an additional eight counties that are variously demanding that the state let them move on to the yellow phase or simply declaring that they are planning to do so. With nearly a third of the state now out of work, such rebellion is not surprising in the least.

Of course, Governor Wolf did not take such defiance lightly and unleashed a torrent of threats and abuse on the recalcitrant offenders, declaring that they had "decided to surrender to the enemy" and that they were "choosing to desert in the face of the enemy, in the middle of a war." He then threatened to withhold any discretionary federal funds from any counties that rebelled, and then went even further, warning businesses that he would unleash the regulatory goons on them to make them bend the knee. Restaurants' liquor licenses would be suspended, any business that reopened in defiance would no longer have business liability insurance, and they could risk losing certificates of occupancy and health certificates.

However, having already pushed thousands of businesses to the brink of extinction, it seems unlikely that Wolf’s threats have much persuasive power. The state simply doesn’t have the resources to hunt down every rebellious business owner, so at the worst, an owner is taking a gamble between going out of business for sure if the shutdown continues and facing regulatory headaches in the event that the state authorities actually manage to find out about it. Although the state department of health has set up a complaint form for people to inform on businesses, even state lawmakers have likened it to the East German secret police, and the form has reportedly been inundated with online trolls submitting bogus reports.

The situation in Pennsylvania is continuing to evolve, but it seems clear that Governor Wolf’s authority is collapsing by the day. The whole affair serves as an important reminder of the lesson at the heart of Etienne de la Boetie’s short book The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude: all political authority in rulers is, in the end, derived from the ruled. When such power is withdrawn, political authority is revealed to be impotent.

The governor may issue all the orders he desires, but without the cooperation of the lower levels of government and the people themselves, they are toothless. In the unlikely event that he desired to escalate the situation to enforce his emergency decrees, he would lack the resources to realistically do so, having only forty-seven hundred state police under his control who could not hope to replace the local police across the nearly forty-five thousand square miles that make up the state. Even if he tried, local district attorneys have already indicated that they will not prosecute such cases.

Pennsylvania has no shortage of problems and onerous laws and regulations, but we are very fortunate that our governance structure is decentralized to the extent that it is. With the third-highest number of local governments in the country, Pennsylvania is ideally suited for the kind of recalcitrance that is currently materializing against the centralized emergency decrees from the state government. Hopefully such resistance will lead not to chaos, but to more realistic policymaking that recognizes that disemploying a third of the workforce by decree is not a sustainable solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Categories: Current Affairs

Why Media Coverage of COVID-19 Has Been So Bad

Mises Institute - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 17:00

Media outlets, both left and right, are mostly narrative driven. Also, journalists have a tendency to lazily reprint whatever "experts" say. This makes media reporting thoroughly unreliable.

This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Millian Quinteros.

Original Article: "Why Media Coverage of COVID-19 Has Been So Bad"

Categories: Current Affairs

How Words Like "Essential" and "Need" Are Abused by Politicians

Mises Institute - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 17:00

Over the years, one of the most common trump cards used to justify government treating people differently, rather than equally, has been the word need. And when used to override individuals’ ownership of themselves and what they produce, its usage has created confusion rather than clarity. In public discussion, “need” has increasingly morphed into one of its synonyms—essential, as in “essential jobs.” But it still suffers from many of the same analytical problems.

“Need” has the logical disadvantage of lacking a clear meaning. But that is also its biggest political advantage, because careful thinking is the enemy of inappropriate policy. The same is true for government determination of essential jobs.

“Need” implies agreement on what and how extensive the need is. However, needs are in the eye of the beholder and vary dramatically from person to person. That is why attempts to determine how much of something is needed never seem to come to the same answer (e.g., how many calories we “need” or how much money is “needed” to live in an area). When we don’t actually agree on its extent, “need” just pretends there is agreement anyway, which is hardly a reliable basis for making policy. The same is true for what jobs and products are essential. In some states, that list included lotto sales and liquor stores, because state revenues rank near the top of government essentials.

“Need” also tries to finesse away an essential aspect of economics—the fact that in a world of scarcity, choice is unavoidable. Calling something a need in contrast to other things falsely suggests that “there is no choice.” We must simply provide it. And that can be illogically taken to justify coercing others to provide that need. But we commonly trade off various “needs,” including between healthcare and other goods and services. Similarly, calling some jobs essential but not others substitutes government dictates for what citizens would choose.

In fact, the main difference between “need” and “essential” jobs in this sense seems to be that “need” is used to take resources that people have earned and give them to people and purposes that they did not choose, while lockdowns exempting only “essential” jobs prevent others from being productive and earning their incomes by benefitting others in the first place.

“Need” also relies on all-or-nothing thinking, in which one thing is categorically more important than others, when the relative values people place on different goods depend greatly on circumstances and preferences. One could assert that food is categorically more essential than sleep, but many of us disagree when our alarm goes off in the morning. In fact, the vast majority of our choices are marginal ones between somewhat more of one thing and somewhat more of other things, not between categorical needs and other things, or categorically essential jobs and categorically nonessential jobs.

Such an approach also lets politicians trumpet how much they are “for” something, without having to carefully consider the costs. With respect to COVID, the governing classes are all are for saving lives today, but too few seem to ask how many lives will be sacrificed via other mechanisms and in the future (via increasing poverty, depression, deferred healthcare of other kinds, among others) as a result.

The mirage of centrally planned “solutions” also illustrates a failure to think in marginal terms. Those who prescribe a planning cure for everything ignore the fact that markets and the prices they generate are the only way we accurately discover people’s willing tradeoffs. When government short-circuits such market processes, it makes that crucial information unknowable.

“Need” has long been a rhetorical garnish to justify the coercion of those who disagree about the extent of those needs. “Essential” is just the latest version, with similar disabilities. And we must remember that the only way we can ultimately help individuals meet their needs and accomplish what they find essential, without infringing on others’ rights, is freeing them from the power others have to dictate to them, so they can make whatever voluntary arrangements satisfy them better. Government solutions that override voluntary arrangements cannot provide that as well, however many times we invoke the words “need” and “essential” as a smokescreen.

Categories: Current Affairs

Anglican Unscripted 597 – The NEW

Anglican Ink - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 15:32

In two short months, the political and economic landscape of every country has changed. This has brought out good in some people and the evil in others. This and more on Anglican Unscripted with Kevin Kallsen and George Conger.

The post Anglican Unscripted 597 – The NEW appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Thanks to Shutdowns, Many Will Learn That Public Schooling Isn't All That Essential After All

Mises Institute - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 12:00

While some of America's most demagogic politicians try to exploit the COVID-19 outbreak, some Americans are trying to make the most of their de facto state of house arrest.

Government-imposed lockdowns have resulted in the shutdown of a number of schools across the nation. During this period some schools have gone online, while others have closed up indefinitely. Society is conditioned to believe that children cannot possibly be able to receive an education under such circumstances. After all, education can only take place in a classroom, at least in the social planners’ view.

However, some families are daring to do the unthinkable by experimenting with homeschooling. Counter to the opportunistic political class, which views every crisis as a moment to undermine people’s liberties, a number of homeschooling proponents have flipped the script to promote homeschooling. What better time to do so, when most families are stuck at home and don’t even know when schools will open up again.

Even in times of uncertainty, people have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to experiment and try different methods without the tutelage of central planners. Unfortunately, we live in a political culture in which voluntary alternatives to state-dominated institutions never show up on the chattering class’s radar. Public education happens to be one of the rituals in the American civic religion that one dares not question lest one is burned at the stake of public opinion.

When people start experimenting outside educational norms, ivory-tower elites feel almost obliged to nudge their disobedient subjects back to the government schooling plantation. Harvard Magazine had to make sure that the rubes did not stumble upon the benefits of homeschooling by publishing a piece skeptical of the practice. The article put particular emphasis on Elizabeth Bartholet’s perspective, the faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, and her call for “a presumptive ban on the practice” in the Arizona Law Review. Bartholet invoked some of the most egregious forms of newspeak by suggesting that homeschooling is “essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18.” In her ever so enlightened view, the very thought of homeschooling is “dangerous.”

There’s a lot to break down in Bartholet’s antihomeschooling screed, but let’s focus on her assertion that homeschooling is “authoritarian.” This notion is risible. Such claims don’t even pass a laugh test when considering that the majority of the curriculum in contemporary public schools puts forward progovernment narratives when it comes to taxation, social welfare programs, war, and every other pillar of the modern-day managerial state. Parents voluntarily making educational arrangements in their children's best interests is the polar opposite of authoritarianism, unless the definition of the word changed in our sleep.

Also, what does Bartholet have to say about the current public education system taking children away from their parents and subjecting them to more than fifteen thousand hours of school time over their K–12 careers? Some politicians don’t even think this amount of time locked up in school is enough. For example, California senator Kamala Harris proposed extending the school day to ten hours. Curious minds would like to know what Bartholet thinks about Harris’s idea. I, for one, would not hold my breath at this point. For the high priests of public education, more time interacting with the state represents virtuous behavior, whereas unplugging from the public education grid is tantamount to heresy in the managerial priesthood’s view.

Academics such as Bartholet should spare us the sanctimonious hand wringing over the dangers of homeschooling. Bartholet is concerned that homeschooling is an impediment to a child’s right to a “meaningful education” and their right to “be protected from potential child abuse.”

Education reformer John Taylor Gatto has demonstrated in his life’s work that public schooling is anything but education. In fact, he has a book titled Weapons of Mass Instruction in which he eloquently makes the case that public schooling is designed to create malleable cogs in the machine and discourage any form of independent thinking.

As far as child abuse goes, I’d invite Bartholet to take a look at what’s taking place in America’s allegedly “safe” government schools. During the 2017–18 school year, approximately 962,300 violent incidents took place across the nation according to a study from the Institute of Education Studies. In this report, violent incidents consist of rape, other forms of sexual assault, robbery, physical attacks, and threats of physical attack.

Similarly, the Associated Press found approximately seventeen thousand cases of sexual assault committed by students from 2011–15. Moreover, the number observed in that period does not portray the full extent of the problem, because a significant number of sexual assaults are unreported. For example, some states don’t even track the stats, and those that do record have different standards for how they categorize sexual violence.

Although public schools may be “safe spaces” for politically correct curricula, they do not guarantee safe environments for students’ physical and mental health. According to a study from the US Department of Health and Human Services, 49 percent of school children in grades 4–12 reported being subjected to bullying by other students on a monthly basis, while 30.8 percent reported that they themselves engaged in bullying. How’s that for constructive socialization?

Allow me to come down somewhere in the middle: some children will require traditional schooling models, albeit in a privatized setting. On the other hand, other students will thrive in homeschooling environments. Markets serve to satisfy the demands of diverse sets of consumers, not the political desires of central planners. For the political left, who claim to be “pro-choice” and “diverse,” they sure love sticking to one-dimensional models for education. The idea of nonstate education is not a radical proposition.

Throughout American history, countless Americans have built parallel educational institutions without the central direction of the state. Americans have always found ways to get around government-imposed obstacles and will continue to do so despite the draconian measures that state governments have taken during the current pandemic.

American homeschooling has increased considerably in the last two decades despite the government barriers in place and the social pressure that naysayers exert to make sure America’s youth don’t veer away from the government schooling conveyor belt. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of homeschooled students doubled from 850,000 in 1999 to 1,800,000 in 2012. Such numbers will likely grow as more families begin experimenting with education at home.

I tip my hat to the homeschoolers. They’re the ones who are engaging in revolutionary acts by categorically rejecting the public school industrial complex. Hopefully, more Americans learn about the benefits of homeschooling while government shutdowns continue and millions of Americans are kept under house arrest. As for Bartholet, she can continue decrying homeschooling all she wants. The good news is that markets don’t care about the opinions of ivory-tower elites. Regular people are the ones in charge, and they determine how services will be provided. As long as Bartholet’s idea of homeschooling prohibition does not become a political reality, she can continue yammering on about the supposed authoritarianism of homeschooling in the confines of her Ivy League pedestal for all I care.

Millions of homeschoolers and other Americans who opt for nonstate education programs will go on with their lives without having to worry about what some Harvard elite has to say about their educational choices. Once the pandemic subsides, we should start focusing more of our time on a different public health problem. That is government schooling. I’ll gladly support a permanent lockdown of government schools; that way, we can prevent the statist mind virus from spreading even further.

Categories: Current Affairs

Money Supply Growth in April Ballooned to a New High

Mises Institute - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 11:45

Fueled by unprecedented quantitative easing, central bank asset purchases, and various stimulus packages, the money supply growth rate ballooned in April to an all-time high. The growth rate has never been higher, with the 1970s as the only period that comes close. It was expected that money supply growth would surge in recent months. This usually happens in the wake of the early months of a recession or financial crisis. The magnitude of the growth rate, however, was unexpected.

During April 2020, year-over-year (YOY) growth in the money supply was at 21.30 percent. That's up from March's rate of 11.3 percent, and up from April 2019's rate of 1.94 percent. Historically, this is a very large surge in growth both month-over-month and year-over-year. It is also quite a reversal from the trend that only just ended in August of last year, when growth rates were nearly bottoming out around 2 percent. In August, the growth rate hit a 120-month low, falling to the lowest growth rates we'd seen since 2007.

tms

The money supply metric used here—the "true" or Rothbard-Salerno money supply measure (TMS)—is the metric developed by Murray Rothbard and Joseph Salerno, and is designed to provide a better measure of money supply fluctuations than M2. The Mises Institute now offers regular updates on this metric and its growth. This measure of the money supply differs from M2 in that it includes Treasury deposits at the Fed (and excludes short-time deposits, traveler's checks, and retail money funds).

The M2 growth rate also increased to historic highs in April, growing 18.01 percent compared to March's growth rate of 10.95 percent. M2 grew 4.0 percent during April of last year. The M2 growth rate had fallen considerably from late 2016 to late 2018, but has been growing again in recent months. As of March, it is following the same trend as TMS.

Money supply growth can often be a helpful measure of economic activity. During periods of economic boom, money supply tends to grow quickly as banks make more loans. Recessions, on the other hand, tend to be preceded by periods of slowdown in rates of money supply growth. However, money supply growth tends to grow out of its low-growth trough well before the onset of recession. As recession nears, the TMS growth rate climbs and becomes larger than the M2 growth rate. This occurred in the early months of the 2002 and the 2009 crises.  February 2020 was the first month since late 2008 that the TMS growth rate climbed higher than the M2 growth rate.  The TMS growth rate again exceeded M2 in March and April 2020. As of mid-April 2020, it does appear that the decline in money supply growth has again preceded a recession. While some observers will likely claim that the current economic crisis is a result solely of the COVID-19 panic and resulting government-forced shutdowns, several indicators do suggests that the economy was primed for a recession. The decline in TMS is one, as is the late 2019 liquidity crisis in the repo markets. The Fed's moves to drop interest rates and to once again grow its balance sheet speaks to the weakness of the economy leading up to April 2020. 

The overall M2 total money supply in February was $17.2 trillion, and the TMS total was $16.3 trillion.

tms

The growth in the money supply in recent months is in part tied to the fact that the Federal Reserve grew more accommodative in late 2019, and embraced unprecedented monetary stimulus in March and April. The Fed drove down the target key interest rate to 0.25 percent and began broad and unprecedented new "quantitative easing" programs. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) cut the target fed funds rate more than once in the months preceding March 2020, but in response to government-forced shutdowns of several sectors of the economy, the Fed responded by cutting the federal funds rate by 150 basis points in less than a month. The Fed has flooded markets with new money by purchasing a variety of assets from US government debt to securities. The Fed's balance sheet is now at an all-time high.

Another change partially driving the increase in the TMS is the large increase in Treasury deposits at the Fed that we've seen in recent months. In April 2020, this sum surged to a new all-time high of $783 billion. This is well in excess of the previous high of $423 billion reached during February of this year.

tm
Categories: Current Affairs

The ECB Has Been Hiding Risk. They Won't Be Able to Do It Much Longer.

Mises Institute - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 11:30

Despite the unprecedented increase in the European Central Bank’s asset purchase program, the spread of southern European sovereign bonds versus German ones is rising.

 

 Italy 10Y vs GER 10Y, Spain 10Y vs GER 10Y, Portugal 10Y v GER 10Y White: Italy 10-Year vs. German 10-Year | Orange: Spain 10-Year vs. German 10-Year | Yellow: Portugal 10-Year vs. German 10-Year

The ECB balance sheet has soared to more than 42 percent of the eurozone’s GDP, compared to the Fed 27 percent of US GDP. However, at the same time, excess liquidity has ballooned to more than €2.1 trillion.

EBBSTOTA Index  ECBLXIQ Index White: ECB Balance Sheet | Blue: ECB Excess Liquidity

The ECB has been implementing aggressive asset purchases as well as negative rates for years, and the reality is that the eurozone economy has remained weak and close to stagnation already in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The eurozone's main problem is that most governments have abandoned all structural reforms and bet all the recovery on monetary policy. The excessive government spending, high tax wedge, and burdens to growth remain, while an increasing percentage of growth is coming from travel and leisure (around 22 percent of gross added value in 2019).

The transmission mechanism of monetary policy is not the problem. Banks are eager to lend and businesses and families have no problem accessing credit. The problem is that the eurozone leaders and central bank managers believe that the eurozone's challenges are demand problems, when there is evidence that the output gap was very small if existent at all. If there was any evidence, it is that monetary policy in the eurozone did not work as an incentive for productive investment and growth, but rather as a perpetrator of massive imbalances from almost bankrupt governments.

With the crisis of COVID-19, the eurozone finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place. Its fiscal and monetary policy will perpetuate overcapacity in the wrong sectors and excessive government spending, while its tax policy will likely drive innovation, technology, and productive investments further away.

Now that the European Commission has allowed partial nationalizations of industries, the road to permanent stagnation has been paved. First, governments ignore the risks of the pandemic. Then, they close the economy by government decision. Then, they announce tighter controls on foreign investment and capital inflows…and present themselves as the solution.

The eurozone seems to want to use the COVID-19 crisis to advance its interventionist agenda and its so-called Green Deal strategy. The problem is that higher government intervention in the economy will likely lead to more malinvestment, higher unemployment, and lower growth.

The ECB can disguise the risk for a while, but the reality of the mounting debt and tax burden ahead is probably going to end in a debt crisis. This could put the entire European Union at risk as governments in the northern countries are passed the bill for the excess spending of some southern members.

Monetizing risk will not eliminate it. The euro will lose importance as a global reserve currency, and its utilization in cross-border transactions may fall further, leading to a currency crisis just as the debt burden soars.

Originally published at Dlacalle.com

Categories: Current Affairs

The Importance Of Collaboration, Open Trade, And Innovation In Tackling COVID-19

Adam Smith Institute - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 11:15

Today, the Geneva Network is launching its declaration on the importance of open trade and innovation in tackling COVID-19, with the ASI as a signatory. The 31 signatories all recognise the importance of a global response to this global issue.

Protectionism will prolong the crisis and lead to shortages of medical supplies. Abolishing tariffs on medical supplies and medicines will, on the other hand, allow countries to import them with ease and ensure the supply of goods to countries in need. 

Most states are not self reliant. Nor would we want them to be. Specialisation means we can focus on what we’re good at, and trade allows us to have access to all manner of goods. We’re all the richer for it. 

Individuals should not be victims of national pride — they should not prevent free trade and the efficient supply of necessities. Similarly, countries must reject export bans on medical supplies. 

Global markets for medical supplies are essential for a global pandemic. Our concerns do not stop at borders and nor should our supplies. We benefit from the ability to procure components from across the world to construct a final product. Put up in haste by populist politicians looking to be seen to do ‘something’, we must commit to remove export bans. In doing so, countries will be allowing their manufacturers to do their bit and contribute to medical equipment across the globe.  

The declaration calls for Governments to commit to permanent tariff reductions on medical supplies, devices, medicines and vaccines via legally binding WTO commitment: this would be a tool not only in dealing with the present situation but also in future crises too. We should never tax our citizens for the audacity of buying essential goods from abroad. 

In today’s world it is neither possible nor desirable for entire countries to isolate themselves from others. In Britain, entrepreneurial spirit has helped to combat shortages of hand sanitiser. Spirit producing companies, such as BrewDog, have been able to shift production to meet the sudden change in demand while Burberry has flipped production to ‘designer’ personal protective equipment. This entrepreneurial spirit should be rewarded and allowed to help areas where supply is not so responsive through free trade. Market solutions should be allowed to help fill global demand, not just domestic.

As the Geneva Network points out “five Latin American countries (Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina) have the highest tariffs on protective facemasks, ranging from 17% to 55%”. These tariffs will hurt these countries’ citizens in the name of local business. It is the free market that will mean these necessities are available to all. By removing these extortionately high tariffs, the governments would be introducing greater competition in the provision of medical supplies which in turn forces lower prices and ensures not only adequate supply but also affordability.

The Geneva Network’s declaration advocates the free flow of essential epidemiological and clinical data across borders, a process which will facilitate a solution to this crisis. Having access to international sets of information allows scientists to work together to provide a vaccine. Just as sharing knowledge is important so is maintaining transparency in collecting and sharing epidemiological data. Skewing data to be more flattering to a country does not benefit the scientific cause since the need to assess the data is critical. Accepting decisions made by major drug regulatory authorities such as the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency will facilitate this process further — what’s good and safe for humans in one developed country is the same in another, we can cut time on approvals and save lives. Drug manufacturers can produce a speedy treatment and even a vaccine to face this silent killer and future threats without having to compromise on safety.

Innovation has shown itself vital to solving this crisis and will continue to do so. A key factor in encouraging innovation is intellectual property rights. These rights incentivise the private sector and spur on competition. Scientists need the security that their rights will be protected and not done away with by any state. If this is achieved, it will produce the greatest degree of innovation, the greatest degree of productivity when medicines are developed and greatest efficiency in distributing medicine.  

Now more than ever is the time for all countries to be following Pakistan, Brazil, Colombia and Norway’s examples of exempting COVID-19 related medicines, vaccines and medical supplies from import duties and taxes. These countries recognise the role of free trade in truly protecting their people.

We’re proud to join the call. We hope governments around the world will listen. 

Categories: Current Affairs

It's what you believe that ain't so that's dangerous

Adam Smith Institute - Mon, 18/05/2020 - 07:01

William Keegan tells us something - asserts as a foundational truth - something that just ain’t so. Which, as Mark Twain observed, is what really gets us into trouble:

What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so.

The assertion is that geography is the determinant of trade volumes:

At present we do 43% of our trade with what I can still call the rest of the EU, and 15% with the US. All serious authorities on this subject, including the great Paul Krugman – who won his Nobel prize for research on trade – insist that geographical proximity to markets is the most important factor.

This is the gravity model of trade. The amount of trade between two economies is, observably, connected to how large the two of them are plus the distance between them. Larger, closer, economies trade more with each other than smaller more distant and so on through the variations of small, large, close, distant. The advantage of the model being that it’s empirically sound, we can see it every time we go and look at trade figures.

The error here - and while you might have to push Paul Krugman a bit to get him to assent to the correction he would once the question is correctly posed - is to think that it is geographic distance which is being talked about. It isn’t, it’s economic distance.

Trade between Newcastle and London used to be very much greater than between Newcastle and Carlisle. Ships down the coast meaning less economic distance between the first two than the absence of roads between the second pair.

Trade barriers - and we’ve been lowering them among European countries even as we’ve been raising them across the Atlantic - have changed the economic distance between the various economies even as the geographic distance has changed only by those inches a year of continental drift. Trade patterns have been following those changes in economic distance - tariffs and quotas - not geographic.

The geography model of trade is indeed true but only if it is understood what it is actually saying. Which isn’t that trade depends upon geographic distance, but upon economic distance. Failure to get this right will lead us into trouble for we could end up asserting for sure that which just ain’t so.

Categories: Current Affairs

New South Wales & ACT bishops pastoral letter on reopening churches after COVID-19

Anglican Ink - Sun, 17/05/2020 - 16:10

(15 May 2020) The Diocesan Bishops of the Province of NSW meet regularly for prayer and fellowship throughout the year, but have been in greater contact by email and zoom meetings these past few months. The outcome of these meetings was our Public Statement on 18 March 2020 which announced the closure of our church buildings and the suspension of normal church services in early March, in the interests of public health and safety.

We met again this week to discuss the Prime Minister’s release of the three Step Roadmap for a COVIDsafe Community. While we acknowledge the lifting of restrictions on public gatherings, allowing up to ten persons at a religious gathering, we believe that Step 1 is not the time to recommence meeting in person for Sunday public worship.

There are various reasons for this decision which will be communicated to each diocese by their Bishop. We are grateful for the patience of our congregations as they endure the continuation of church online, rather than in their familiar church surroundings, but we believe the health and safety of our own community, as well as others, should be paramount.

Yet we welcome the increased flexibility for gatherings in private homes and would therefore recommend that small groups of people take advantage of this liberty, perhaps gathering for prayer and Bible study or meeting together to join in watching online church. However, in such cases social distancing and hand hygiene must be observed, as we should remain vigilant in preventing the spread of COVID-19, acknowledging the health guidelines that our State and Territory Governments have issued.

We continue to pray for the leadership of our Prime Minister, Premier and Chief Minister of the ACT as they lead the nation in these challenging times. We also pray for our health workers as they care for those affected, and for those seeking to develop a vaccine. We continue to urge all Christians to pray that our heavenly Father may be gracious to us in stemming the spread of this disease in our land and throughout the world.

The Rt Rev. Mark Calder (Bishop of Bathurst)
The Most Rev. Dr Glenn Davies (Archbishop of Sydney)
The Rt Rev. Dr Murray Harvey (Bishop of Grafton)
The Rt Rev. Donald Kirk (Bishop of Riverina)
The Rt Rev. Rick Lewers (Bishop of Armidale)
The Rt Rev. Dr Mark Short (Bishop of Canberra & Goulburn)
The Rt Rev. Dr Peter Stuart (Bishop of Newcastle).

The post New South Wales & ACT bishops pastoral letter on reopening churches after COVID-19 appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

New taskforce developing plan to reopen places of worship in Britain

Anglican Ink - Sun, 17/05/2020 - 16:07

Faith leaders and government have agreed to develop a plan to enable the phased and safe reopening of places of worship when the evidence shows it is the right time to do so, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed today (15 May 2020).

This follows the first virtual meeting of the new Places of Worship Taskforce which includes leaders and representatives from all the major faiths.

Earlier this week the government set out its ambition to reopen places of worship in step 3 of its plan to lift restrictions, which is expected to be no earlier than 4 July subject to further scientific advice.

In recognition of how difficult it has been for people of faith to not be able to practice their religion with their community, members agreed to work together to consider whether some forms of worship, such as individual prayer, might be permitted in places of worship before they fully reopen in step 3, where appropriate and safe to do so in line with social distancing guidelines.

Members of the taskforce also agreed to consult their faith communities on the measures being considered and to support ongoing engagement with their communities on this important work as it develops. The Communities Secretary also confirmed today that Faith Action will receive £125,000 to consult and engage with different community groups and places of worship up and down the country to ensure their views are represented at the Taskforce’s meetings.

The Communities Secretary was clear places of worship will only be opened when the government is confident that people can use these spaces safely and will not put themselves or others at risk.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

During this pandemic, significant spiritual moments such as Easter, Passover, Ramadan and Vaisakhi when families, friends and congregations traditionally gather together, have been celebrated at home.

I realise how challenging being separated from their communities has been for people of faith. That’s why I have convened the Places of Worship Taskforce to establish how religious practices can safely resume outside the home as soon as possible.  

Today’s first meeting of the Taskforce was very productive. We will now work together with all faith communities to understand how we can open places of worship as a priority, while continuing to prioritise safety. I look forward to working with the Taskforce over the coming weeks to reach a solution.

Faith Minister Lord Greenhalgh said:

Places of worship serve such an important role in supporting and providing spiritual leadership for this country’s diverse communities and in bringing communities and the generations together, but this also makes them places that are currently particularly vulnerable to the spread of the pandemic.

We realise that practical issues such as the size of both physical buildings and congregations are significant but we are determined to find a way to safely reopen places of worship as soon as possible, ensuring that people are not put at undue risk.

The Taskforce will jointly produce guidance with Minstry of Housing, Communities and Local Government which supports places of worship across England to reopen safely.

For the time-being, churches and places of worship must remain closed as set out in law. However, funerals are still able to go ahead in places of worship and in crematoria where possible to do so safely.

Members of the Taskforce that met today include:

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Cardinal Vincent Nichols,
  • Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis
  • Imam Asim Yusef, Board of British Scholars and Imams
  • Rajnish Kashyap, Hindu Council UK
  • Jasvir Singh, City Sikhs
  • Daniel Singleton, Faith Action

Other faith representatives and government officials may be invited to attend future meetings depending on the Taskforce’s priorities.

Further information

No place of worship will be able to reopen before a final decision by the government and the accompanying change to the legal position in the published regulations. Faith organisations will be able to reopen at a slower pace if they wish.

The Minister for Faith has held a series of roundtables and one on one meetings with faith and community leaders over the last few weeks and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead.

The funding for Faith Action has been awarded from the £360 million pot of funding recently announced by Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to provide targeted support to the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. As made clear at the time, this funding was not allocated via an open bid but awarded in line with agreed departmental priorities.

The post New taskforce developing plan to reopen places of worship in Britain appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

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