Friday, July 10, 2020

Trump Derangement Syndrome The "Next Pandemic"? Don't Make Me Laugh!

"Da Donald can do no wrong! He da man! It da left dat derange!"

One of the tropes still circulating amongst the Trumpkins is that the Left is hysterical and over-reacting to their beloved, brain dead buffoon - manifesting in TDS or "Trump Derangement Syndrome".  In the fantasies of these Right wing pundit knuckle draggers, most of the Left  as well as Democrats are in the throes of TDS and now even going through "five stages".  So writes the latest imp to make such a claim, Joseph Epstein (WSJ, July 10, p. A17,  'The Next Pandemic: Trump Derangement Syndrome' )

  This balmy bozo-  because that's precisely what Epstein i, given  his reputation for sloppy thinking and misleading  journalism precedes him, e.g.

Anyway in his WSJ op-ed  he considers five stages as integral to the TDS   onset  and I cite these below:

Stage 1) The "afflicted decides before 2016 that Trump has serious, even strenuous character flaws that disqualified him from the presidency or any other public office".

Well, let's see. How about advocating pussy grabbing as well as assaults on various women including at Miss Universe pageants?  One of the women  (Summer Vernos)  even brought a lawsuit after Trump "thrust his genitals at her."  Sounds disqualifying enough to me and I will take Summer at her word 1 million times before the lying Trump.  (Who's now amassed over 16,000 lies according to WaPo tally over the last 3 1/2 years.

Stage 2) "One dwells upon Donald Trump's looks", the hairdo and golf apparel.

Actually, I could care less about this bloated buffoon's looks.. But I do castigate the orange imp for how he's consistently disparaged the appearance of women,   e.g.

whether calling 2016 Reep candidate Carly Fiorina and  the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels "Horseface,"  or calling other women "sluts", "dogs" or worse.  All of these examples say more about this reprobate's basic character than anything any critic could say about his appearance.   Knowing that, it's incredible to me Epstein would even go there.

Stage 3)  "One is ready to believe anything- pernicious or salacious- about Mr. Trump - and to reject anything that might be good for the country."

Oh, oh, you mean like Stormy Daniels taking  the Donald across her knee and spanking him with a copy of FORBES?   E.g.

Image result for brane space, stormy daniels
Wherein we learn:

The spanking was revealed in a string of emails.  Subsequently,  Mother Jones basically confirmed all the sordid details that Daniels described from her 2006 encounters  For reference, see:

"According  to a trove of  2009 emails exchanged between political operatives (advising Daniels at the time on a possible political campaign), the adult film actress claimed that her affair with Trump included spanking him with a copy of Forbes.  By one account,  a political consultant to Andrea DubĂ© related in an email that:

"He made her sit with him for three hours watching Shark Week. Another time he had her spank him with a Forbes magazine,

The magazine used evidently had Dotard's  face on the cover which no doubt provides endless material for any Freudian school psychiatrists and psychologists. "

Stormy having sex with this turd then whacking his fat ass?  Sounds pretty perverse - and convincing to me. Not to mention allowing Russian prostitutes to urinate all over him in a Moscow hotel while the Miss Universe pageant was held in Moscow in 2013.  All integrated into the dossier prepared by Christopher Steele - which the Right's  nitwits now try to disparage.

According to an earlier (2017)  AP report in the Denver Post ( 'Ex Spy Regarded as Dependable') :

"Three British intelligence agents interviewed by the Associated Press described Steele as well regarded in the intelligence community, with excellent Russian skills and high level sources."

According to one Financial Times account, Steele was the "UK intelligence expert on Russia".

James Nixey, the head of Chatham House's Russia and Eurasia program, informed the AP that sections of the dossier document created by Steele
"read exactly as reports from the secret services"

In other words, professional through and through, no exaggerations and no fillers that hadn't been  sourced.  So the Trumpkins and their hacks like Epstein,  Dan Henninger,  Holman Jenkins Jr. or Kim Strassel can squawk all they want about the "corrupt Steele dossier"  but I will make a Vegas bet on its veracity any day before anything coming out of Trump's piehole. Or that of his enablers and acolytes.

Epstein then inserts the example of TDS "afflicted" going so low and over the edge as to aver "he secretly admires King Jong Un's wardrobe"".   Actually, i was more concerned with how he's openly professed love for the North Korean tyrant, i.e after saying numerous times he's "in love" with Kim.  And Kim sent him a "love letter."  These are all well documented, not fantasies or ideations.

Stage 4) "One imputes evil to Mr. Trump."

Actually, as an atheist I am averse to appending the term "evil" to anyone.  Having said that,  I do maintain a human can over time reach such a level of moral turpitude and character degradation he can at least asymptotically approach evil.  That is Trump, as when he had  migrant children locked up in cages, separated them from their parents.  Also, when he equated Charlottesville (2017) protesters with the Nazis and white nationalist scum who attacked them, including killing one woman (Heather Heyer).  Trump  claiming there were "some very fine people" on both sides. No, only on one!  As Nicole Wallace put it at the time:

"There are not two sides to this. There are hideous, hateful enemies of America, enemies of freedom, and there were people truly exercising their free speech."

Stage 5)  "One is weighted down with all the symptoms of the first four stages but brings to them an added choleric intensity of anger."

If you mean, anger at the way he has totally fucked up the response to the coronavirus so that over 130,000 fellow citizens are now dead- you have it right!  Or how he has not  only botched the initial response but is now actively instigating an even larger death toll for a premature opening of schools.  As Chris Hayes put it two nights ago:

"Also today he said he disagreed with the CDC guidelines for opening the schools. So he's now pushing the CDC to override their own guidelines.

So if I've got that right, we don't want the guidance of the nation's top health agency on how to stay safe in a pandemic to be the reason why we don't send our kids to school,  while we're suffering from the worst outbreak in the world.  So the president will tell them to change the guidance.  And it's not the first time he's done that.  He did it back in April and May when he didn't like the CDC reopening guidance for business.  He even pressured governors to ignore that guidance, just like he pushed the CDC to change their guidance for reopening churches. And now he's not happy with the CDC guidance on schools.

So what do you think is going to happen? Look, the last person in the world you can trust right now with the safety of your kids is Donald Trump."

 Epstein ends by saying those he fancies suffering from TDS can end the malady and "they don't even have to put on a mask" only "turn off the television set."  

Yeah, but see, Eppie, Trump will find a way to get back into our attention by again insinuating himself in some other outrageous way, whether via a new, demented executive order - maybe trying to fire Anthony Fauci, or threatening to send active military against Black Lives Matter protesters.

Methinks Eppie has got the wrong derangement syndrome and the wrong cast of victims who are afflicted.

Using Observations & Deductions To Infer The Identity Of The Nearest Black Hole

Stars in the sky
Astronomers deduced the closest black hole to Earth in the constellation Telescopium.

Supermassive black holes—millions or billions of times more massive than the Sun—anchor the centers of most galaxies. We examined how the history of such monsters has been documented in a previous post, based on a presentation at the 236th AAS meeting, i.e.

But we know that smaller  (stellar) black holes,  i.e. at just a few solar masses, exist and should theoretically be scattered throughout galaxies. A few hundred candidates have been found in the Milky Way, including Cygnus X-1,. Now, as reported in Eos: Space Science Journal,  we learn  that Thomas Rivinius, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory in Santiago, Chile, and his team have recently identified another one of these stellar mass black holes.  Further, it holds a special importance given  it’s the closest black hole to Earth yet discovered. The ESO team's findings also shed light on the dynamics of supernova explosions that create black holes, the team suggested.

Let's be clear it isn't easy to find any of the many black holes that aren’t consuming matter—since they don’t produce X-rays like Cygnus X-1. Sometimes serendipity strikes, however, and the universe aligns itself just right to reveal these "wallflower" black holes. That’s what Rivinius and his collaborators found when they examined HR 6819, a seemingly ordinary pair of stars about 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Telescopium.

In 2004, Rivinius and his colleagues trained a 2.2-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile, on HR 6819.  According to Rivinius:

We thought it was only two stars,”

But to their surprise, they discovered that one of the stars was wobbling in a circle, or "being flung around" in the parlance of Rivinius.  That’s the telltale sign of a companion star, a nearby object that’s tugging gravitationally on the observed celestial object. So HR 6819 wasn’t just a pair of stars—it was three objects: one star on a relatively wide orbit and one star paired with something unseen, the team concluded.

The astronomers calculated that the mysterious third object in HR 6819 had to be at least about 4 times the mass of the Sun. Given a star of that mass we know it would generate light to be visible even if it belonged to the dimmest class of stars (spectral class M),  Rivinius and his collaborators ruled out fainter objects like white dwarfs and neutron stars because they’re typically of much lower mass. That left only one logical conclusion: The unseen object was a black hole.

That hypothesis based on this deduction languished for several years, however, after tragedy struck unexpectedly: A team member died in a car accident in June 2014.    In Rivinius' words: “The study stalled,”.  But last year, new results spurred Rivinius and his colleagues to revisit their findings. Another team of researchers had reported finding a black hole using the same method. Rivinius then recalled seeing a press release and thinking, “Wait a second—I have something in the drawer that looks exactly the same.”

Rivinius and his collaborators estimated that the black hole in HR 6819 was about 1,000 light-years from Earth, making it the closest known black hole. Its proximity implied that systems like this one are common.  In Rivinius' words (ibid.):

Our neighborhood is nothing special.  If it’s here, it must be everywhere.”

These results were published this month in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

As for the relevance to the dynamics of supernova explosions,  the existence of HR 6819 sheds light on how these create black holes.  It’s long been believed that such explosions are antisymmetric, meaning they send matter flying preferentially in one direction, with the result that the black hole is launched in the other direction. However,  finding a black hole gravitationally bound to a star implies that in some cases, black holes aren’t flung from their birthplaces. That means supernova explosions are sometimes symmetric.

Determining what fraction of supernovas are symmetric versus antisymmetric clearly requires a larger sample size for these less massive black holes. According to  Todd Thompson, a theoretical  astrophysicist at the Ohio State University in Columbus not involved in the research, that is entirely possible.  In his words (ibid.):

There are probably a million black holes in the galaxy that have binary companions that are stars. That’s a very big sample that we should get busy trying to understand.”

Indeed.  And if black hole astrophysics is to progress it means the dynamic problems associated with the initiating supernova explosion are essential to solve.   This will requires excellent observations in tandem with improved theoretical astrophysics.

See Also:

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Controlling This (Likely Airborne) U.S. Covid -19 Disaster May Have To Await Getting Rid Of Trump

Image may contain: one or more people
Covid patient in Houston is transferred to another room as hospital is inundated with those ill from the virus.
No photo description available.

"What we're seeing now is worse than 9/11 and the Great Recession combined."  Sarah Nelson, United Flight Attendant, last night on 'All In'.

"Remember when we were locked down and we all said we need to use the time to suppress the virus and put infrastructure in place?   Testing, tracing, ppe and all sorts of stuff to keep it  from coming back.  We did none of those things and then the CDC issued guidelines on how to open safely. But Trump pushed states to ignore those guidelines, which many did and they reopened too early.  And now, what do we have? We have a curve that looks like this. (See graphic).  Unlike anywhere else in the world the virus is on a huge upward spike in this country, setting records with the number of cases nearly every day. ..Cases are increasing in 38 states and we've now seen more deaths than anywhere else in the world.

All the while this president has been focused on one thing, his re-election. He believes that depends on economic growth and getting back to normal. So now Trump, his administration and the Republicans are out pushing the message so hard that 'things are good and we're moving in the right direction'.  But it is so preposterous that even Trump TV is not buying it.

I mean, there's 130,000 people dead, it's a burning garbage fire. A bit hard to sell that message.  Yet, instead of dealing with the virus this president pushed everyone to reopen to get the economy restarted. So jobs could come back and he could get his growth and get re-elected.  And so he is doing the same thing with schools right now.

There are a long list of problems that need to be solved before schools can reopen, but the president is incapable of solving them.  He just wants them to reopen so people can go back to work. So things can be normal and he can get re-elected.  And he actually threatened to cut off funding if they do not reopen. Also today he said he disagreed with the CDC guidelines for opening the schools. So he's now pushing the CDC to override their own guidelines.

So if I've got that right, we don't want the guidance of the nation's top health agency on how to stay safe in a pandemic to be the reason why we don't send our kids to school,  while we're suffering from the worst outbreak in the world.  So the president will tell them to change the guidance.  And it's not the first time he's done that.  He did it back in April and May when he didn't like the CDC reopening guidance for business.  He even pressured governors to ignore that guidance, just like he pushed the CDC to change their guidance for reopening churches. And now he's not happy with the CDC guidance on schools.

So what do you think is going to happen? Look, the last person in the world you can trust right now with the safety of your kids is Donald Trump. Not only because he's willing to change or ignore scientific guidelines to keep Americans safe, or because he's threatening to cut off funds for schools - when what they need is a massive amount of money- for all the changes needed in order to safely bring back students.  

But also because the best laid plans are not going to survive first contact with an outbreak.  This is the fundamental problem for everything right now, from elementary school to the NBA.  Other countries suppressed the virus and kept it suppressed. We NEVER did that!  And now we're trying to figure out how to live in a burning building, as opposed to putting the fire out. It's not going to work."

-  Chris Hayes intro on 'All In' last night

All you need to know about the metastasizing pandemic nightmare we find ourselves in can be gleaned from Chris Hayes' superb summary - from his introductory remarks on All In- in tandem wit the WSJ graphic above. Look at it, interpret it, read Hayes' words... and weep.  This is the gutter stage of hopelessness and incompetent response we're been brought to by Trump the  White Trash Traitor.   An infernal maggot, who as Chris Hayes has observed, is solely occupied with his re-election not the lives he was supposed to protect on taking his oath of his office. Putting all the unsavory aspects together it now appears we may not be able to get control of this virus until we get rid of the human virus - Trump.

It now appears the virus wreaking havoc is airborne and, if so, it means even more stringent procedures will be needed if the U.S. is to return to any kind of normality.  It also means we will have to get rid of Trump - the new virus ally - as soon as feasible.  Chris Hayes summary of Trump's  total feckless response and aggression in the cause of making more virus cases- makes that abundantly clear.  Put simply, we cannot expect the ship of state (the U.S.)to be steered through this Covid storm if the captain is drunk, demented and devoid of any moral character.

Some of the recent headlines that indicates Trump is part of the problem, not the solution:

WSJ, July 8, p. A3: 'White House Wants Classes To Open In Fall'

WSJ, July 8, p. A1, 'Trump To Pull U.S. Out Of WHO'

Washington Post:

Retail workers are being pulled into the latest culture war: Getting customers to wear masks

Mixed messaging and politicization have turned a public health safeguard into a lightning-rod issue. As a result, workers have been berated, even assaulted, by aggressive anti-maskers.

Trump Criticizes CDC Guidelines for Reopening Schools - WSJ

The preceding is a sampling of how the "great" leader is working at cross purposes to the welfare of the American people amidst this once -in -a -century pandemic. Faced with a severe test of rationality and intellect, Trump has failed miserably, even telling the atrocious lie that "ninety-nine percent of cases are harmless".  As if dealing with him alone is bad enough, we must now also deal with his verminous, brain-fucked followers as the WaPo piece about aggression by anti-maskers reveals. And Trump set these loons and baboons to such actions, i.e. beating up workers -even some health, frontline workers - because Trump shunned masks as "unmanly' and these mindless minions do as well.   

This is why Dr. Joseph Varon at Houston's United Memorial Medical Center decided to allow direct filming of scenes inside an ICU - as televised on Maddow last night. In an interview later he explained he hoped by actually seeing these scenes of what front line medical staff are doing, people will drop the infernal (and idiotic) belief that it's all a "hoax" or "Plandemic".  Yes, the scenes were intense and they will surely be able to achieve that end, but only for those with IQs over 100.  Meanwhile, masked patrons - on seeing the unmasked scofflaws running amuck at assorted businesses - may simply decide to stop patronizing them.  So you can pretty well chalk up many more Chapter 11 filings, and more economic devastation.  After all, in the end any economy prospers only at the whim of public confidence.

  Clearly then, with his mixed messaging (or none at all) we cannot afford to have a maggot of the malignant dimensions of Trump steering us out of the morass we're in - and all because of him.  As Chris Hayes said last night: "This is not a test you can get anyone else to sit for you."

Indeed, and especially given this test - which has now seen national failure on all fronts - as hospitals from Houston to Miami are overrun (WSJ, 'Coronavirus Cases Are Surging Amid Strains On Hospitals', June 30), and supplies again have to be rationed as medical workers burn out.  Where is Trump? Making every dimension worse!  This is particularly unsettling given we now have evidence that this virus is of an airborne variety which means rates of transmission are likely to go ever higher if we don't get our act together, and that includes testing and contact tracing. In regard to the former, we are currently doing 700,000 tests a day and it should be 3-4 million a day according to Dr. Ashish Jha of Harvard's School of Global Health.  Worse, some people are having to wait in line up to 8 hours to get a test, and then up to 7 days or more to get the result. This makes the test all but useless because in the interim said person can be reinfected.

What about the airborne aspect?  According to demonstrations using sophisticated videos tracking a sneeze, cough or loud talk,  the airborne droplets could spread as far as 9 feet in a closed space and last  an average of 1.5 minutes and up to 12 minutes.   See e.g.


The preceding  videos and demonstrations may help to explain the exponential increase in cases since Memorial Day and now the 4th (and again, I remind readers it's the cases with sick patients needing special care that will overrun hospital ICUs, not deaths) .  Indeed, any large gathering for any reason will be subject to the virus particles in droplets shot out by super spreaders, talking loud, laughing, or coughing - who are not visibly ill themselves.

The separation between what is referred to as ‘airborne spread’ and ‘droplet spread’ is really a spectrum,” especially when talking about relatively small distances, says Joshua Santarpia, an associate professor of pathology and microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  Airborne spread has also been hypothesized for other deadly coronaviruses, including the ones that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). A handful of studies suggest the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, can exist as an aerosol in health care settings.  But all the incoming evidence now indicates this is real and the latest aspect we need to treat seriously.

To put it bluntly, the coronavirus is finding new victims worldwide, in bars and restaurants, offices, markets and casinos, giving rise to frightening clusters of infection that increasingly confirm what many scientists have been saying for months: The virus lingers in the air indoors, infecting those nearby.

If airborne transmission is a significant factor in the pandemic, especially in crowded spaces with poor ventilation, the consequences for containment will be significant. Masks may be needed indoors, even in socially-distant settings. Health care workers may need N95 masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for coronavirus patients.

Ventilation systems in schools, nursing homes, residences and businesses will need to minimize recirculating air and add powerful new  (HEPA) filters. Ultraviolet lights may be needed to kill viral particles floating in tiny droplets indoors.  All this will cost money and Trump and his Repuke enablers have no intention of providing any.

In an open letter last week to the W.H.O., 239 scientists in 32 countries have outlined the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people, and are calling for the agency to revise its recommendations. The researchers plan to publish their letter in a scientific journal, and by then perhaps the WHO will accept the proof.

What's the WHO's problem? Mainly too little funding coupled with too large a portfolio and a tendency to operate in glaciation mode when new evidence emerges (Which can be counterproductive in a pandemic).  The infection prevention and control committee in particular, is bound by a rigid and overly medicalized view of scientific evidence, is slow and risk-averse in updating its guidance and allows a few conservative voices to shout down dissent.  

What all this means also is that Trump in his ignorance and yen to put re-election above all else, is actively trying to kill tens of thousands more of our countrymen with his reckless directives, pressures and autocratic B.S.  Like ordering the CDC to revise its rules for reopening schools, as well as pushing public schools to reopen without proper systems in place.  Is there a way to rationally get through this waking nightmare without killing ourselves and the economy too? Yes, and the basis was given in a superb WSJ piece yesterday, e.g.

Noting how this was achieved by focus on contact tracing (specifically retrospective tracing) and 'cluster busting'.. However, to implement this plan requires leaders of intelligence, courage and skill which alas, the current crop in power (starting at the top with Trump) lack. Hence, I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel until we first dispense with Donald Trump.

See Also:


Surge in hospitalizations strains hospitals in several states




Donald Trump thinks his voters are morons. This universal truth was once again demonstrated this week by a Facebook ad working Trump's new statue-oriented campaign strategy. The ad declared, "WE WILL PROTECT THIS" and featured a photo of ... no, not some racist-loser Confederate general astride a horse but "Cristo Redentor," the famous statue of Jesus Christ that sits atop Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, which, for those keeping track, is not in the United States but in Brazil, a sovereign nation in a different continent.

It's small story in the grand scheme of things, but one that illustrates yet again that Trump doesn't really see Republican voters or politicians as fellow travelers, allies or even really as a "base" to whom he owes fealty. Trump sees Republicans primarily as marks, to be fleeced for all they're worth and then abandoned the second he sees no value in them. Trump's burning hatred for any American who didn't vote for him is well documented, but just as true and just as disturbing is his utter disregard for the lives or well-being of people who did support him, and continue to do so.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Make Trump Sit A Mensa Entrance Test -Then We'll See What A "Stable Genius" He Is

Related image
"Doh! I'm a very stable genius!  So I don't believe that stupid book! And I'll even take the Mensa test to prove it!"

The soon to be released book by Trump niece, Mary Trump ('Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man') ,  includes some real blockbuster revelations, many of which haven't appeared in earlier  Trump expose books  such as: 'Fire and Fury', by Michael Wolff,  'FEAR: Trump In The White House', by Bob Woodward,  'A Warning' by Anonymous, and 'The Room Where It Happened' by John Bolton.

Of particular interest to me was Trump having to hire a substitute kid to sit the SAT, on his behalf.   This was necessary because as a HS kid Trump had visions of "the best school in the world" and that was UPenn's Wharton School of Business. Trouble was, his less than stellar academic grades (according to Mary Trump) would not have enabled him entry on their own merits.  

The high score  (over 1400) the chosen proxy earned, assured Trump of an acceptance he'd otherwise never have had.   In the wake of the release of the book to journalists, some have debated whether the account is true.  But I have no doubt it is, first because I trust Mary Trump's word - and certainly over anything Trump or his retinue of liars says. And secondly because it fits in with his abysmal character traits as a narcissistic, compulsory cheat (who even cheats at games like golf) and a general moral reprobate.  A reprobate with no moral compass, period.  So why wouldn't he cheat?  It makes perfect, logical sense, especially for a crook and traitor who's already racked up over 5,000 lies. Oh, and sought sundry ways to enlist the help of other nations (like Ukraine, Russia) to help him win re-election.

Cheating by hiring a proxy to sit the SAT for him? A no brainer.  Here  are also some other explosive reveals about the maggot fouling the highest office:

1) Trump’s niece revealed how she leaked hordes of confidential Trump family financial documents to the New York Times in an effort to expose her uncle, whom she portrays as a dangerous sociopath,” This, according to Rachel Maddow's reporting on the book last night.  Maddow also reported that when  NY Times reporter Susanne Craig showed up at her door, Mary Trump “initially turned Craig away, telling her that she didn’t talk to reporters.” But she reconsidered,  especially after seeing how her uncle was "shredding every norm" and being enabled at every step.  So she decided to work with the Times, which directed her to the likely venue for Trump's tax records, and she hauled out 19 boxes worth.  from the law firm, Farrell Fritz,” Swan notes.

2) Trump’s world view was shaped by a desire to avoid his father’s disapproval. Here, Mary Trump paints a damning picture of Fred Trump, Sr., saying that he came to envy his son’s “confidence and brazenness.”   In the Washington Post, reporters Shane Harris and Michael Kranish explain that Donald Trump’s “view of the world was shaped by his desire during childhood to avoid his father’s disapproval, according to the niece, Mary L. Trump.”

Trump still claims,  despite his obvious mental -cognitive infirmities,  that he's a stable genius.  Well, let's see how he does on the Mensa entrance test, for which he will not be able to hire a substitute to try to gain admittance.  Of course, Mensa entry, i.e.  at the upper 2%  of IQ level, or roughly 132 on the Stanford -Binet scale, is "gifted" - but not genius.  That  level is at least 15 points higher.   

In any case, given Trump's severe mental deficiencies,  it is as likely he'd make either cut  (gifted or genius) as it is he sat that SAT himself ca. 1964. 

See Also:

This is what a Mensa IQ test looks like - YouTube

A 40 Percent Stock Rise Since March - Does That Signal A New Bull Market? Try "Bear Market Rally" (Temporary!)

As the mind virus of misplaced optimism and irrational exuberance continues to spark a rise in both the S&P 500 and the DOW, some of their mesmerized investors have been arguing a new bull market is dawning.  But that is premature, as I will show, especially given these investors may not fully appreciate the extent to which the economy (and stocks) hinge on controlling the virus, and hence the success of reopening without further lockdowns.  Let's say the jury is still out.

What we do know (cf. WSJ. July 7, p. C2) is that between February 19 and March 22, the S&P 500 fell by more than 30 percent, putting into Bear market territory. (By general definition, a "bear market" is taken to be a drop of at least 20 percent .  Similarly, a 20 percent recovery puts an index back in a bull market. However, if you've fallen thirty feet into a hole, does getting two thirds of the way out of the whole count as being "out of and above" the hole? Not really.

To be fair, the market has now rallied 40 % since March 22 - thanks to near zero interest rates (signaling cheap money, and other Fed support, i.e. buying up bonds)  to enter what many regard as legitimate bull market status.  So many are thinking, "Hey, we're out of the hole and now really in a proper bull market!"  But not so fast.  As the WSJ 'Business & Investing'  piece observes:

"Such rallies can be robust but short -lived. The bear market during the 2007-08 recession included a rebound from early March, 2008 to mid May 2008.  Then the downtrend continued."

That may well happen in this cycle as well. Recall in an earlier post I warned about the risks of excessive leverage, e.g.


"Both individual investors and whole companies have now taken to the leverage 'drug'  to place their market bets using borrowed money.  The losses they have accrued, along with decades of trillion dollar tax cuts,  have helped to monumentally add to the $164 trillion in global debt.  But WHO is being asked to pay now, even with the party still going on? Well, the average Joe and Jane on Main Street.

In a separate WSJ piece, Paul Hannon warns us:

"In the U.S. and elsewhere, government debt is set to soar this year, reflecting lower tax revenue and the cost of financial aid to households during lockdown. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that U.S. government debt will reach 131%  of annual economic output this year, up from 109% in 2019."

Hannon makes clear Joe and Jane American are going to have to pay the piper, especially if we are to avoid bank collapses" (Warned about in  a sobering article for The Atlantic’s July/August 2020 issue )"

The argument I made then and which I believe applies now, is that these hyper optimistic investors feeding the current rally are not factoring in the immense risks if we are unable to get the virus under control.  All they see now is a light at the end of the tunnel, but that light may well be illusory- especially if there's no real vaccine for 2 years or even more.   Couple that with Senate Republicans blocking any further stimulus even as the last financial cushion expires at the end of this month (not to mention the eviction moratorium ending in two weeks0 and you have a debt bomb going off and utter calamity.

This is also reinforced by the recent Business & Investing WSJ piece ('Crisis Upends Corporate borrowing Binge',  June 24, p. C1) noting how companies "had loaded up on debt after years of low interest rates, buyouts and increasingly lax lending standards."  Worse, with much of that debt "bankrolled by an elaborate ecosystem of debt funds called collateralized loan obligations, or CLOs".  Which we then learn (ibid.):

"Buy up risky corporate loans and turns them into supposedly safe  bonds, bought by banks".

Sound familiar It should because the "elaborate ecosystem of debt funds" also appeared back in 2007-08 but under the name credit default swaps, e.g.

The Financial Black Hole

 And those financial entities nearly brought the entire financial system crashing down.  See e.g.

The point being it is way, way too early to proclaim a viable bull market, given so many countervailing factors many of which carry vast hidden risk if elements go sideways.   Perhaps one of the few rational inputs on the situation comes from Anupam Damani, portfolio manager at Nuveen, who terms what we are seeing a "bear market rally".     As expressed in the earlier (July 7) WSJ piece:

"She says the rally since March was the result of extra liquidity provided by the Fed, and she sees a disconnect between the fundamental weakness in the economy and the strength of the stock market."

In other words, the investors already betting on a bull market are living in a fool's paradise.  Maybe that will change when they behold consumption dry up because of lack of stimulus $$$, and  millions tossed out onto the streets after being evicted from their apartments in the midst of a pandemic.  Oh yeah, and when they see the banks stuck with over a trillion in toxic business loans on their books.

Stay tuned.