Sorted by New

Wiki Contributions


Technically the current recession won't be an official recession until the end of Q2, after two months of GDP decline. But this won't be a recession like any other we've seen in the 21st or 20th Centuries, so let's not quibble over definitions.

We've never before seen 10 million jobs lost in two weeks. And still haven't. The actual number is likely far higher, but most unemployment is run by the States, and many States have antiquated systems that couldn't handle the application load. Here in April it's months too soon to see how fast tens of millions of jobs can be lost, and how far down unemployment ends up.

In terms of history, the official unemployment rate at the height (depth?) of the Great Depression was 25%. We could very well be there by June, less than four months from the first pandemic lockdowns. At best, it'll take years to re-hire that many employees.

Add to that a highly likely repeat of the Panic of 2007-2008. The $2 trillion CARES Act allows for a three month moratorium on all mortgages backed by FannieMae and FreddyMac. Almost 70% of all mortgages. 90 days without payment puts every RMBS at risk of default, and failed RMBSs were the root cause of the last economic crisis. Is there another AIG betting long in the RMBS market? Are there more Lehman Brothers at risk? We don't know as nothing was actually done to fix the stability of the financial markets after the last financial crisis. We're just as much in the dark here in 2020 as Bernanke and Paulson were in 2007. (

What we do know is that the Federal Reserve does work as a backstop to the money markets and financial markets. At least we know it worked the first time. But we didn't have a chance to unwind the $3.2 trillion of extra money the Fed printed to solve the last crisis. The Fed was authorized in March to print another $4 trillion to keep the markets working in 2020. Given at least half of the GDP currently on pause, that is probably not going to be enough. We don't know what happens if the Fed's balance sheet reaches 50% of GDP. All we know is that when Germany tried the equivalent back in 1920's, it didn't go well for the Papiermark. For that matter, the Franc and Pound might have both defaulted if not for the U.S. backing the Entente powers after WWI. (

Lastly, no previous recession or depression included the risk of death. Yes, the Great Depression ended with the industrial production of WWII and troops being sent off to fight a war, but the masses of citizens on the home front were safe from the daily fear of death. Not so this time. Until there is a 100% cure or proven vaccine, the economy can't simply switch back on. No doubt some Governors will lift the lockdowns as soon as the numbers look small, but until a cure or vaccine (or a massive plan for weekly testing), we will be 45 days from 100 community cases to overflowing hospitals. We have a long way to go before we can start rebuilding the economy, and that recovery will be a lot longer and more arduous than the Great Recession or the Great Depression. Let's hope it doesn't speed up due to World War III.

I suspect the lack of learning is primarily due to the expectations set in the school closures. Here in Seattle they announced schools would only be closed until April 24. So that is a few weeks before and after the already schedule Spring Break. Not a closure for the rest of the school year, which is the more likely reality.

I wonder what happens to all the High School seniors this year. Will the governors just give them a bye and graduate them? How about the universities if the lock downs don’t end by late August? How many freshman would show up for online orientation, paying tens of thousands of dollars for an accredited MOOC vs. deferring freshman year to January or Fall 2021?

Teaching online is way harder than most people think. I taught a hybrid Executive MBA for years and the 1 hour weekly online sessions were way harder to make useful and to teach than the six hour long in-person days once per month. My wife teaches 100% online, fully asynchronous classes at a local college and it took her many years to prep and tune her classes to make them work for all of the various learning styles.

Given that, expect a lot more talk about whether the move to online classes is effective in a month, once most teachers fail at making the transition and with that, the high achieving students complaining.