Bitcoin’s Inequality: 40% owned by 0.2%

Bitcoin is one of the most unequally distributed assets in the world, with just under half a percent of all bitcoin investors owning more than 80% of all bitcoins, and should they liquidate, the market could see a substantial sell-off, said Ryan Giannotto, director of Research at GraniteShares ETFs.

0:00 – Bitcoin is ‘cornered’

5:50 – Bitcoin’s volatility

8:17 – Bitcoin ETF coming soon?

11:44 – Economy, inflation, and gold

Krystal and Rachel: Nancy Pelosi’s Inequality Commission Is A Joke

00:00
[Music]
00:00
speaker pelosi with a big announcement
00:02
about her major commitment to fighting
00:04
inequality because that’s something she
00:05
definitely really really cares about
00:07
rachel
00:08
um here’s the announcement she’s
00:10
creating a committee
00:11
a select committee in fact on economic
00:14
inequality
00:15
you see there her official press release
00:17
on the website and this was actually
00:18
something that really jumped down as you
00:20
at you as like part of a normal
00:24
system that is employed here in
00:25
washington to make people
00:27
feel like things are happening and make
00:29
activists feel like they’re really
00:31
engaged in the process but really it’s a
00:33
way of sort of stiff-arming their
00:34
demands and concerns
00:36
yeah it’s all theater here in washington
00:38
but this one in particular is something
00:40
i call the hamster wheel
00:42
right it’s designed to put her most
00:44
activist members the members most likely
00:46
to cause her problems on this issue
00:49
she’s gonna put them on this commission
00:50
they are going to run on this hamster
00:52
wheel and feel like they’re doing
00:53
something really important
00:54
when in reality they’re just being kept
00:56
uh busy away from the house floor the
00:59
only place that actually matters for
01:01
actual change on anything
01:02
they’re gonna be running on the hamster
01:04
wheel of this commission which will
01:05
eventually put out a report that no one
01:07
will read and it will accomplish nothing
01:09
avoid these things like the plague if
01:11
you are someone who cares about change
01:12
and i say this to conservative activists
01:14
i say it out let me say here to
01:15
progressive activists
01:16
don’t do this yeah well i mean it
01:19
reminds me very much
01:20
of the biden sanders task forces
01:24
that you know was the only thing
01:27
that bernie managed to extract from joe
01:29
biden before exiting the race that you
01:31
knew from the jump like
01:33
it didn’t matter who you put on those
01:34
committees it didn’t matter how good the
01:36
recommendations were that were coming
01:38
out of them
01:38
like here we are days away from the
01:41
biden administration and i’m not hearing
01:43
anything about the recommendations that
01:45
came out of the task forces
01:47
whatsoever what pelosi says in this
01:49
press release she says we’re creating
01:51
the select committee
01:52
to be a resource to the congress to make
01:54
policy related
01:55
to economic fairness access to education
01:57
workforce development
01:59
working with the committees of
02:00
jurisdiction the select committee will
02:01
study and recommend
02:02
proposals to make our economy work for
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everyone powering american economic
02:06
growth
02:07
while ensuring that no one is left out
02:09
or left behind in the 21st century
02:11
economy
02:11
all fancy way of saying like like you
02:14
said
02:15
they’re gonna study it they’re gonna put
02:17
on a report and that’ll be the end of
02:19
that so basically your point is here
02:21
when you see these committees purporting
02:23
to be about
02:25
fighting inequality or fighting into
02:27
whatever it is left or right
02:28
what they’re really doing is putting up
02:30
a roadblock putting up like
02:33
a sort of obstacle course to jump
02:35
through rather than actually taking
02:37
issue on that issue
02:39
this commission has two goals the first
02:41
is to make pelosi look like she’s doing
02:43
something and the second
02:44
is to distract you know the act the
02:46
members who actually want to do
02:47
something
02:48
from taking any meaningful action and
02:50
this goes back to something we talked
02:52
about earlier in the week which is
02:53
look the only thing that matters in the
02:55
house is action on the house floor
02:58
progressive activists can learn a lot
03:00
from the freedom caucus who presented
03:01
themselves as a political power block
03:04
by really only focusing on action on the
03:06
house floor they could deliver a block
03:08
of votes or they could withhold them
03:09
and that is where their power came from
03:11
was hanging together on these issues
03:13
they didn’t get distracted
03:14
by commissions they didn’t get
03:15
distracted by other promises because
03:17
this is just one
03:18
tool political leaderships have to
03:20
distract you know their problem members
03:23
my favorite one is the and we’ll vote on
03:25
that at some point or hey
03:26
this bureaucrat will call you or hey can
03:28
we just talk about it on the house floor
03:30
the only thing that matters at the end
03:32
of the day is voting
03:34
and the more you can pressure and push
03:36
action on that front
03:37
the more effective you’re going to be
03:39
because as we’ve learned from this whole
03:40
2000 check
03:41
2 000 check debacle the thing that they
03:45
hate most is going on the record for
03:46
anything because it’s a very
03:47
very powerful tool and can be used
03:49
against them or for them
03:51
uh in any number of ways and your point
03:53
is so well taken
03:54
that progressives really fall prey to
03:56
these types of tactics like they really
03:58
feel like when they get put on the task
04:00
force they
04:00
because there’s this like idealism there
04:02
of like they’re really listening to my
04:03
concerns and they really mean it and
04:05
these are my friends how many times we
04:06
hear bernie sanders they’re like joe my
04:08
friend joe biden you’re like
04:09
ugh um so it reminds me of
04:13
you know the forced to vote debate
04:15
that’s have it happening on the left
04:16
right now because on the one hand you
04:18
have a faction of people who are saying
04:19
we need a vote on this key issue that is
04:22
important to us that’s important to the
04:23
country in the middle of pandemic
04:25
medicare for all like let’s take a vote
04:27
and put everybody on their record
04:29
and what you’re hearing from at least
04:31
some in the progressive wing of the
04:32
party here in dc is like
04:35
let’s not do the voting that voting
04:37
doesn’t really matter that much any
04:38
we’re working behind the scenes to get
04:40
on key
04:40
leadership posts and committees etc etc
04:44
and all of that is ultimately just a way
04:47
to sort of
04:47
make them feel like they’re being heard
04:49
make them feel like they have some
04:51
sway and influence and power within the
04:53
system but ultimately to
04:55
crush them and keep them quiet and keep
04:57
them from causing trouble
04:59
everyone wants to feel like they’re a
05:00
cool kid right that’s how this town runs
05:03
and these positions you know these
05:05
acceptance on these commissions
05:07
everything always feels like oh i’m
05:08
getting invited to the table
05:10
you have to be comfortable not being
05:13
invited to the table because it’s the
05:14
only way you’re actually going to be
05:16
able to force
05:17
you know that kind of political action
05:18
on the floor which is the
05:20
again i’m going to be a broken record on
05:22
this but the only thing that matters at
05:23
the end of the day
05:24
is what you do on the floor it’s voting
05:26
so so true rachel
05:27
rachel thank you so much for being with
05:29
us all week it’s been phenomenal having
05:31
you here
05:32
um always you have such incredible
05:34
insight so thank you so much for that
05:35
and happy new year to you my friend
05:37
happy new year to you as well
05:39
and to all of you risers thanks for
05:40
having me sagar will be back next week
05:42
to talk about aliens i know there’s a
05:44
lot to say
05:44
yeah there’s an alien update we missed
05:46
an epstein update this week as well
05:48
without sauger here so we have been
05:49
falling down on the job a little bit
05:51
but don’t worry friends because sagar
05:53
will be back next week with all of those
05:55
important stories and more
05:56
we’re going to kick off the new year
05:57
with friends of the show chuck rocha
05:59
kyle kalinski brown and joy gray and so
06:01
many more ben smith is going to join us
06:02
to talk about what biden can expect from
06:05
the media versus what trump got from the
06:07
media
06:08
remember to hit that subscribe button so
06:10
you don’t miss any of our videos also
06:12
don’t forget to like and share as well
06:14
happy new years guys appreciate you all
06:17
so much
06:18
you made it you survived 2020 on to
06:21
what’s next
06:21
enjoy everybody

Biden-voting counties equal 70% of America’s economy. What does this mean for the nation’s political-economic divide?

Even with a new president and political party soon in charge of the White House, the nation’s economic standoff continues. Notwithstanding President-elect Joe Biden’s solid popular vote victory, last week’s election failed to deliver the kind of transformative reorientation of the nation’s political-economic map that Democrats (and some Republicans) had hoped for. The data confirms that the election sharpened the striking geographic divide between red and blue America, instead of dispelling it.

Most notably, the stark economic rift that Brookings Metro documented after Donald Trump’s shocking 2016 victory has grown even wider. In 2016, we wrote that the 2,584 counties that Trump won generated just 36% of the country’s economic output, whereas the 472 counties Hillary Clinton carried equated to almost two-thirds of the nation’s aggregate economy.

A similar analysis for last week’s election shows these trends continuing, albeit with a different political outcome. This time, Biden’s winning base in 477 counties encompasses fully 70% of America’s economic activity, while Trump’s losing base of 2,497 counties represents just 29% of the economy. (Votes are still outstanding in 110 mostly low-output counties, and this piece will be updated as new data is reported.)

Table 1. Candidates’ counties won and share of GDP in 2016 and 2020

Year Candidate Counties won Total votes Aggregate share of US GDP
2016 Hillary Clinton 472 65,853,625 64%
Donald Trump 2,584 62,985,106 36%
2020 Joe Biden 477 75,602,458 70%
Donald Trump 2,497 71,216,709 29%

Note: 2020 figures reflect unofficial results from 96% of counties

Source: Brookings analysis of data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, The New York Times, and Moody’s Analytics

1

 

So, while the election’s winner may have changed, the nation’s economic geography remains rigidly divided. Biden captured virtually all of the counties with the biggest economies in the country (depicted by the largest blue tiles in the nearby graphic), including flipping the few that Clinton did not win in 2016.

By contrast, Trump won thousands of counties in small-town and rural communities with correspondingly tiny economies (depicted by the red tiles). Biden’s counties tended to be far more diverse, educated, and white-collar professional, with their aggregate nonwhite and college-educated shares of the economy running to 35% and 36%, respectively, compared to 16% and 25% in counties that voted for Trump.

In short, 2020’s map continues to reflect a striking split between the large, dense, metropolitan counties that voted Democratic and the mostly exurban, small-town, or rural counties that voted Republican.  Blue and red America reflect two very different economies: one oriented to diverse, often college-educated workers in professional and digital services occupations, and the other whiter, less-educated, and more dependent on “traditional” industries.

With that said, it would be wrong to describe this as a completely static map. While the metropolitan/ nonmetropolitan dichotomy remained starkly persistent, 2020 election returns produced nontrivial movement, as Biden added modestly to the Democrats’ metropolitan base and significantly to its vote base. Most notably, Biden flipped seven of the nation’s 100 highest-output counties, strengthening the link between these core economic hubs and the Democratic Party. More specifically, Biden flipped half of the 10 most economically significant counties Trump won in 2016, including Phoenix’s Maricopa County; Dallas-Fort Worth’s Tarrant County; Jacksonville, Fla.’s Duval County; Morris County in New Jersey; and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.’s Pinellas County.

Altogether, those losses shaved about 3 percentage points’ worth of GDP off the economic base of Trump counties. That reduced the share of the nation’s GDP produced by Republican-voting counties to a new low in recent times.

Why does this matter? This economic rift that persists in dividing the nation is a problem because it underscores the near-certainty of both continued clashes between the political parties and continued alienation and misunderstandings.

To start with, the 2020’s sharpened economic divide forecasts gridlock in Congress and between the White House and Senate on the most important issues of economic policy. The problem—as we have witnessed over the past decade and are likely to continue seeing—is not only that Democrats and Republicans disagree on issues of culture, identity, and power, but that they represent radically different swaths of the economy. Democrats represent voters who overwhelmingly reside in the nation’s diverse economic centers, and thus tend to prioritize housing affordability, an improved social safety net, transportation infrastructure, and racial justice. Jobs in blue America also disproportionately rely on national R&D investment, technology leadership, and services exports.

By contrast, Republicans represent an economic base situated in the nation’s struggling small towns and rural areas. Prosperity there remains out of reach for many, and the party sees no reason to consider the priorities and needs of the nation’s metropolitan centers. That is not a scenario for economic consensus or achievement.

At the same time, the results from last week’s election likely underscore fundamental problems of economic alienation and estrangement. Specifically, Trump’s anti-establishment appeal suggests that a sizable portion of the country continues to feel little connection to the nation’s core economic enterprises, and chose to channel that animosity into a candidate who promised not to build up all parts of the country, but rather to vilify groups who didn’t resemble his base.

If this pattern continues—with one party aiming to confront the challenges at top of mind for a majority of Americans, and the other continuing to stoke the hostility and indignation held by a significant minority—it will be a recipe not only for more gridlock and ineffective governance, but also for economic harm to nearly all people and places. In light of the desperate need for a broad, historic recovery from the economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic, a continuation of the patterns we’ve seen play out over the past decade would be a particularly unsustainable situation for Americans in communities of all sizes.

We Have a Question for Jeff Bezos and Other Billionaires

Will you finally let your workers unionize?

As this was unfolding, most of Big Tech, including Amazon, sent white-collar workers home to “flatten the curve” and fight the pandemic. Tim saw company leadership go to great lengths to make sure this new system was working and actively seek feedback from the remote workers. Christy heard from a warehouse employee who said productivity targets made it difficult for workers to take a break even for hand washing without a mark on their record. Pay for warehouse workers starts at $15 an hour with minimal access to time off; in May Amazon ended the unpaid leave policy that for a few weeks allowed them to stay home if they had Covid-19 symptoms.The contrast in the treatment of knowledge and warehouse workers couldn’t be starker. Equally clear is the cause: One group has power, the other doesn’t.

Amazon’s decision to fire the activists was easy to make in the United States, where Amazon workers have no union and are left to fend for themselves. With no right to paid sick leave or protection from unfair dismissal, American workers are among the most vulnerable in the world to pressure from any employer, not just Amazon.

Union-represented Amazon workers in Spain, Italy, France and Germany initially failed to resolve their concerns through negotiation, but with court action, regulatory intervention and strikes, they got their needs addressed.

Let’s look at France: Unions there brought a civil case arguing that Amazon had taken inadequate steps to protect workers from infection risk and that it had sidestepped the unions’ statutory role. The court ordered Amazon to limit its sales to only “essential” items, or face harsh penalties until it could reach a safety agreement with the unions. Rather than negotiate, Amazon closed its French operations and appealed. But the appellate court also sided with the workers, who ultimately negotiated a settlement including mandatory union consultation over safety measures, union hiring of external experts to assess the measures’ effectiveness and a continued increase in workers’ hourly pay. The news from Europe shows that Amazon can work with unions and get good results.

Both of us want Amazon to share the wealth with workers and stop putting the relentless pursuit of revenue growth ahead of all other concerns. One way or another, this requires putting more power in the hands of workers. Regulation and legislation are part of the solution. But there’s no need to wait; power can be taken, not just given. That’s what unions are for.

Amazon is a data-driven company. It should recognize the evidence showing that countries with more collective bargaining have a stronger social fabric and better growth, and are more able to weather economic ups and downs. Businesses with collective bargaining relationships, including Auchan Retail and Carrefour, navigated the Covid-19 crisis with less disruption to their businesses and emerged with their reputations intact and even enhanced.

For its own future and the future of the global economy, Amazon should become more responsive to the women and men who’ve enriched shareholders and be willing to recognize and bargain with their representatives. When it comes to the rights of its workers, it should be a leader, not a laggard.

It’s not just Amazon: The need for more unionization is urgent across Big Tech. Amazon stands out because it combines the extraordinary profit margins of these companies with employing hundreds of thousands of front-line workers. There are fewer of these workers at the other iconic tech companies, but nevertheless their employees also deserve a voice over the issues that matter to them.

The question for Mr. Bezos and the billionaires of the world is: Are they ready to rise to the occasion? Will Big Tech listen to and work with its employees to help the world overcome the worst economic and social crisis in recent history?

Colonialism Made the Modern World. Let’s Remake It.

This is what real “decolonization” should look like.

“Decolonize this place!” “Decolonize the university!” “Decolonize the museum!”

In the past few years, decolonization has gained new political currency — inside the borders of the old colonial powers. Indigenous movements have reclaimed the mantle of “decolonization” in protests like those at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline. Students from South Africa to Britain have marched under its banner to challenge Eurocentric curriculums. Museums such as the Natural History Museum in New York and the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Brussels have been compelled to confront their representation of colonized African and Indigenous peoples.

But what is “decolonization?” What the word means and what it requires have been contested for a century.

After World War I, European colonial administrators viewed decolonization as the process in which they would allow their imperial charges to graduate to independence by modeling themselves on European states. But in the mid-20th century, anticolonial activists and intellectuals demanded immediate independence and refused to model their societies on the terms set by imperialists. Between 1945 and 1975, as struggles for independence were won in Africa and Asia, United Nations membership grew from 51 to 144 countries. In that period, decolonization was primarily political and economic.

As more colonies gained independence, however, cultural decolonization became more significant. European political and economic domination coincided with a Eurocentrism that valorized European civilization as the apex of human achievement. Indigenous cultural traditions and systems of knowledge were denigrated as backward and uncivilized. The colonized were treated as people without history. The struggle against this has been especially central in settler colonies in which the displacement of Indigenous institutions was most violent.

South Africa, where a reckoning with the persistence of the settler regime has gripped national politics, reignited the latest calls for decolonization in 2015 with the #RhodesMustFall movement. Students at the University of Cape Town targeted the statue of the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes, but saw its removal as only the opening act in a wider struggle to bring white supremacy to an end. Under the banners of “more than a statue” and “decolonize the university,” students called for social and economic transformation to undo the racial hierarchies that persist in post-apartheid South Africa, free university tuition and an Africa-centered curriculum.

Now, partly riding the global surge of Black Lives Matter mobilizations, calls for decolonization have swept Europe’s former imperial metropoles. In Bristol, England, last month, protesters tore down the statue of Edward Colston, the director of the Royal African Company, which dominated the African slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. Across Belgium, protesters have focused on statues of King Leopold II, who ruled the Congo Free State (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) as his personal property from 1885 to 1908. King Phillipe II of Belgium recently expressed “regret” for his ancestor’s brutal regime, which caused the death of 10 million people.

Colonialism, the protesters insist, did not just shape the global south. It made Europe and the modern world. Profits from the slave trade fueled the rise of port cities like Bristol, Liverpool and London while the Atlantic economy that slavery created helped to fuel the Industrial Revolution. King Leopold amassed a fortune of well over $1.1 billion in today’s dollars from Congo. His vision of the Royal Museum for Central Africa, which opened in 1910 soon after his death, reproduced a narrative of African backwardness while obscuring the violent exploitation of the Congolese.

By tearing down or defacing these statues, protesters burst open the national narrative and force a confrontation with the history of empire. This is a decolonization of the sensory world, the illusion that empire was somewhere else.

Laying a flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the statue of King Leopold or hauling the Colston statue into the sea, where thousands of enslaved women and men lost their lives, tears apart the blinders and boundaries between past and present, metropole and colony. Insisting on the presence of the past, the protests reveal Europe’s romance with itself, unmasking its political and economic achievements as the product of enslavement and colonial exploitation.

This historical reckoning is only the first step. Acknowledging that colonial history shapes the current inequalities and hierarchies that structure the world sets the stage for the next one: reparations and restitution.

Reparations is not a single act. The Caribbean Community has already demanded reparations for slavery and Indigenous genocide from Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands. Although there is little movement at the level of states, the University of Glasgow agreed last year to pay 20 million pounds (about $25 million) for development research with the University of the West Indies in recognition of how the university benefited from the profits of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The Herero of Namibia, who suffered the 20th century’s first genocide at the hands of Germany, have also called for redress. Their efforts follow the successful bid for reparations by the Mau Mau of Kenya, many of whom were tortured during Britain’s brutal suppression of their independence movement in the mid-20th century. In other contexts, activists have focused on the return of the looted artifacts that fill Europe’s great museums. France, for instance, has committed to returning 26 stolen artworks to Benin.

But reparations should not focus only on the former colonies and their relations with European states. Colonialism lives on inside Europe’s borders, and Europe itself must be decolonized. Black Europeans experience discrimination in employment and education, are racially profiled and are subject to racist violence at the hands of the police and fellow citizens.

The European Union recently avowed that “Black lives matter,” but its policies deprive Black people of equal rights, imprison them in camps and drown them in the Mediterranean. Overseas imperialism was once believed to be a political necessity for European states; today, anti-immigrant politics plays the same role. In either case, European policymakers disavow responsibility for the misery they bring about.

Repair and redress is owed as much to Black Europeans as it is to former colonial states. It would mean treating Black Europeans, and all migrants from the colonized world, as equal participants in European society. And this form of reparation cannot be perceived as one-off transactions. Instead, it must be the basis of building an inclusive and egalitarian Europe.

This is no easy task and will not happen overnight. But we should remember that just 80 years ago, colonial rule appeared to be a stable and almost permanent feature of international politics. In just three decades, anticolonial nationalists had transformed the world’s map.

The struggle for racial equality in Europe is a fight for a truly postcolonial condition, and its creation is implied by each dethroned statue. If colonialism made the modern world, decolonization cannot be complete until the world — including Europe — is remade.

The Economy Is A Mess. So Why Isn’t The Stock Market?

We’ve said it before: The stock market is not the economy.

Usually, this simply means that fluctuations in the markets may have little to no real bearing on the underlying realities we think of as making up the economy. Or that there are many important structural factors that make the markets’ outlook different from how ordinary citizens view the country’s overall economic health.

But now, those usual bromides risk wildly understating the disconnect. In the time of COVID-19, the stock market couldn’t be more divorced from the United States’ broader economic situation. Although the S&P 500 tumbled sharply in March, as the coronavirus shut down large swaths of the economy, it had made back almost all of its losses by the first week of June — before dipping again and then quickly rebounding yet again.

Even beyond the markets, there has been some data to suggest that the worst fears about the economy in late March and April were too pessimistic. (Take May’s jobs report, for instance, which showed a surprising decline in unemployment even after accounting for a classification problem with laid-off workers.) But the overall state of unemployment is still quite bad by historical standards, which mirrors numerous important economic indicators that are almost uniformly down — to a significant degree — from last summer:

Obviously, not every core indicator has dropped off a cliff in the face of this recession. Inflation, as measured by the sticky-price consumer price index (excluding ever-volatile food and energy expenditures), has dipped some since February — from 2.8 percent year-over-year to 2.1 percent — but remains in a relatively normal range. New building permits (a sign of construction investment and activity) have rebounded from an initial dip and are almost back at last year’s level. And measures of credit risk, such as the TED spread, have stabilized, indicating a low implied risk of commercial-bank defaults.

But employment ratesoil pricesconsumer confidence and many other measures paint a clear recessionary picture. Even corporate earnings — which in theory help dictate the prices of shares on the market — suffered their worst quarter since 2008. (This is what has driven forward-looking price-earnings ratio forecasts for the S&P skyward.)

And yet stock indices continue to rebound much faster than the rest of the economy.

Why? As is usually the case in economics, it’s complicated — and everyone has a pet theory. A few include the idea that investors are betting on a quick “V-shaped” recovery (rather than the longer, slower “swoosh” shape many economists have predicted) and banking on corporate profits eventually rebounding in the medium and long run. (And why not? The Federal Reserve’s actions have made it clear this is a priority.)

Some prominent tech companies at the top of the market (such as Microsoft, Apple and Alphabet) actually have reason to think the pandemic could shift business in their favor, with so much emphasis placed on digital shopping, communication and entertainment. And the rise of algorithm-based trading has insulated markets somewhat from the shocks that could be created by big news events, such as political developments or the protests against racial injustice currently sweeping across the country, since dispassionate algorithms don’t get worried or scared by the news the way humans do.

But Tara Sinclair, an economics professor at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Indeed Hiring Lab, told me she thinks the markets are also providing a better place for wealthy people to stash their money than alternatives like bonds or banks.

“People, particularly the rich, have cut back their spending, so they need to park their funds somewhere like the stock market (especially since interest rates are rock bottom),” she said in an email. “Inequality can mean that even with millions out of work, there might still be a glut of funds from the high-earning and/or high-wealth individuals.”

As Paul Krugman of The New York Times pointed out relatively early in the crisis, the yield on Treasury bonds is so low (see the chart above) that stocks are an attractive option — even in the midst of a recession caused by a once-in-a-generation pandemic.

“Recent stock market performance could be more about something like a savings glut rather than optimism on the future value of companies,” Sinclair told me. “It may be more about the S&P 500 being better than anywhere else to put funds rather than about actual optimism.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no optimism driving investors’ actions, though. “Maybe (hopefully?) people are investing for the longer term and are viewing the current economic situation as substantially temporary,” Sinclair wrote.

And it’s worth noting that, despite everything, the markets are not totally separate from the virus that continues to afflict every corner of the world.

When news of the coronavirus first hit, the VIX — a measure of market volatility perhaps better known as the “fear index” — spiked to 82.7, its highest level ever. (The previous high was 80.9, which it hit in November 2008, when the Great Recession sparked a massive selloff.) News of a COVID-19 resurgence earlier this month caused the VIX to surge to 40.8, another abnormally high number — outside of recessions, the VIX usually floats between 10 and 20. Despite the rising indices, uncertainty rules the stock market right now.

What that means down the line is anybody’s guess. But for now, Wall Street has shown a shocking amount of resilience even as almost every other economic indicator has tanked. If nothing else, let this be the final confirmation that, once and for all, the stock market is not the economy.

The Bizarre Economics of Tax Havens and Pirate Banking: James S. Henry at TEDxRadboudU 2013

James S. Henry introduces a hot topic: offshore banking. The G8 and G20 are planning meetings to discuss it. Even the Netherlands is a tax haven for certain types of companies. The huge amount of numbers and graphs tells us that we are confronted with nothing less than a global tax haven industry. For example, Apple makes 100 billion dollars a year of tax free profits because of the games private bankers know how to play.

In medieval times people couldn’t hide their wealth when tax collectors came to inventory it. Nowadays they can. It is said that 64 percent of the global profits are parked offshore, for an important part by multinationals from the first world.

The third world is the victim of this practise. An example from the banana industry: exporting a banana from the Cayman Islands costs 13 pence. When it arrives in the UK to be consumed, the costs have grown to 60 pence. All of this money goes to other parties than the Cayman Islands.

Because of the tax havens, countries from the Third World are not able to receive the tax incomes they are entitled to. Henry even concludes that the debt problem of the third world is not a debt problem, but a tax problem. Both amount to almost the same.

About TEDx
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)