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Member since: Tue May 13, 2014, 06:50 PM
Number of posts: 6,862

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3-31-20 DOW 21917

Previous close 22327. 52 wk high 29568. *** 52 wk low 18213. Today's low 21852. *** High 22480.

NASDAQ : 7700 ▼

S&P : 2584 ▼

WTI Oil 20.11 ▼

Soybeans : 8.86 ▲

3-30-20 DOW 22327

Previous close 21636. 52 wk high 29568. *** 52 wk low 18213. Today's low 21522. *** High 22378.

NASDAQ : 7774 ▲

S&P : 2626 ▲

WTI Oil 20.27 ▼

Soybeans : 8.83 ▼

no comment

Corruption in the Time of Coronavirus

Mar 29, 2020

As part of Congress’s CARES act (ha, nice try!), the Treasury will create (or resuscitate) a series of special-purpose vehicles (SPVs) to buy all manner of financial assets, backed by $425 billion in collateral conveniently supplied by the US taxpayer via the Exchange Stabilization Fund. The Fed will lend to SPVs against this collateral which, when leveraged, could fund $4-5 trillion in asset purchases.

That includes municipal bonds, non-agency mortgages, corporate bonds, commercial paper, and every variety of asset-backed security. The only things the government can’t (transparently, yet) buy are publicly-traded stocks and high-yield bonds.

Mnuchin won’t have to do all the heavy lifting however, his old friends at Goldman Sachs are happy to help out, just as they did in 2008. And the Fed tapped asset-management giant BlackRock to direct three of its bond-buying programs, which can purchase some of its own funds on behalf of the central bank. No conflict of interest there!

Democrats in Congress made a big show of their supposed oversight of these programs; in reality, there is none. The final draft removed most of the SPV reporting requirements. Even the Sunshine Law that governs the release of Fed minutes has been waived for the duration of these programs.

Secretary Mnuchin is permitted to dispense with the already-feeble limits on CEO compensation (they can get only two times what they earned in 2019!) as well as the suggested restrictions on stock buybacks and dividend payouts by bailed-out companies. Last but not least: these firms are not required to share any upside from the rescue (in the form of an equity stake) with the US government. Heads: company CEOs and investment banks win. Tails: the taxpayer loses.

If you thought 2008 was bad...

Briton faces punishment for violating self-isolation rules

Posted : 2020-03-29 14:22
Updated : 2020-03-29 14:22

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun declared last week the "no-tolerance principle" for those ignoring self-isolation rules, under which violators will face up to one-year in jail or a 10 million won ($8,196) fine ― and deportation in the case of foreigners.

According to Suwon City, the Briton in his 30s returned from Thailand on March 20 with symptoms of coronavirus infection. At Incheon International Airport, he was ordered to stay at home in Suwon for two weeks, monitoring his health.

But he broke the instruction the following day ― he visited several public places in the city using a friend's car, bus or subway, having contact with at least 23 people.

As symptoms continued developing, he received a virus test at a triage clinic in Yeongtong-gu at 3:30 p.m. on March 23. He was supposed to stay at home until the outcome was announced, but he ignored this.

He played indoor golf the next morning and roamed outside not wearing a mask.

He was informed he was infected with coronavirus at 12:50 p.m. and health workers took him to Seongnam Citizens Medical Center.

City officials confirmed he had broken the self-isolation rules to visit Suwon, Yongin, Gwacheon and Seoul. All people whom he contacted are being quarantined.

Baby, parents re-infected with coronavirus 10 days after recovery

Posted : 2020-03-29 13:06
Updated : 2020-03-29 22:05

A 17-month-old baby and her parents have been re-infected with coronavirus 10 days after they had recovered from the virus, health authorities said on Sunday.

According to Gimpo City, the baby and a parent are being treated at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital and the other parent at Myongji Hospital in Goyang.

"An investigation is under way to find out why they got infected again," a health official said. "The virus that survived the treatment in their bodies could have revived with their immune system weakened. Another possible assumption is that they were exposed to fresh pathogen."

They first tested positive for coronavirus in late February after attending a wedding ceremony at Queen Vell Hotel in Daegu, which the 31th patient also attended.

**********Daegu was the hotspot in SK where the church was that found to be the super spreader.

The U.S. Tried to Build a New Fleet of Ventilators. The Mission Failed.

March 29, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

Thirteen years ago, a group of U.S. public health officials came up with a plan to address what they regarded as one of the medical system’s crucial vulnerabilities: a shortage of ventilators.

Money was budgeted. A federal contract was signed. Work got underway.

And then things suddenly veered off course. A multibillion-dollar maker of medical devices bought the small California company that had been hired to design the new machines. The project ultimately produced zero ventilators.

The goal was for the machines to be approved by regulators for mass development by 2010 or 2011, according to budget documents that the Department of Health and Human Services submitted to Congress in 2008. After that, the government would buy as many as 40,000 new ventilators and add them to the national stockpile.

The contract was officially awarded a few months after the H1N1 outbreak, which the C.D.C. estimated infected 60 million and killed 12,000 in the United States, began to taper off in 2010. The contract called for Newport to receive $6.1 million upfront, with the expectation that the government would pay millions more as it bought thousands of machines to fortify the stockpile.

The medical device industry was undergoing rapid consolidation, with one company after another merging with or acquiring other makers. Manufacturers wanted to pitch themselves as one-stop shops for hospitals, which were getting bigger, and that meant offering a broader suite of products. In May 2012, Covidien, a large medical device manufacturer, agreed to buy Newport for just over $100 million.

Covidien — a publicly traded company with sales of $12 billion that year — already sold traditional ventilators, but that was only a small part of its multifaceted businesses. In 2012 alone, Covidien bought five other medical device companies, in addition to Newport.

In 2014, with no ventilators having been delivered to the government, Covidien executives told officials at the biomedical research agency that they wanted to get out of the contract, according to three former federal officials. The executives complained that it was not sufficiently profitable for the company.

The government agreed to cancel the contract. The world was focused at the time on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The research agency started over, awarding a new contract for $13.8 million to the giant Dutch company Philips. In 2015, Covidien was sold for $50 billion to another huge medical device company, Medtronic. Charles J. Dockendorff, Covidien’s former chief financial officer, said he did not know why the contract had fell apart. “I am not aware of that issue,” he said in a text message.

Robert J. White, president of the minimally invasive therapies group at Medtronic who worked at Covidien during the Newport acquisition, initially said he had no recollection of the Project Aura contract. A Medtronic spokeswoman later said that Mr. White was under the impression that the contract had been winding down before Covidien bought Newport.

Last week, the Health and Human Services Department contacted ventilator makers to see how soon they could produce thousands of machines. And it began pressing Philips to speed up its planned shipments.

The stockpile is “still awaiting delivery of the Trilogy Evo,” a Health and Human Services spokeswoman said. “We do not currently have any in inventory, though we are expecting them soon.”

Americas lost month: How the U.S. fell behind on coronavirus testing.

As the coronavirus spread across the United States between late January and early March, large-scale testing of people who might have been infected did not happen because of technical flaws, regulatory hurdles, business-as-usual bureaucracies and lack of leadership at multiple levels.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trusted the agency’s veteran scientists to develop a test for the coronavirus. But when the test turned out to have a flaw, it took the C.D.C. much of February to settle on a solution. In the meantime, the virus was spreading undetected.

Dr. Stephen Hahn​, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, was supposed to help build national testing capacity by approving diagnostic tests developed by the private sector. Yet he enforced regulations that paradoxically made it tougher for hospitals and laboratories to deploy ​such tests in an emergency.

Alex ​M. ​Azar​ II​, ​the health and human services secretary, oversaw the ​two other agencies and coordinated the government’s public health response to the pandemic. ​Yet he ​did not manage to push the C​.​D​.​C​.​ or F​.​D​.​A​.​ to speed up or change course.

Bnei Brak rabbis join call to ban all public prayer

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Bnei Brak join a call by Haredi spiritual leader Chaim Kanievsky to ban all public prayer and heed by Health Ministry rules to stem the outbreak.

In a ruling, the Haredi rabbis prohibit all prayer gatherings. Under current Health Ministry guidelines, prayer is permitted outdoors if it is in a group of 10 or fewer, and participants stand 2 meters apart.

The rulings come after a rabbi’s funeral in Bnei Brak drew hundreds on Saturday night, causing widespread fury and warnings by doctors that the densely populated Haredi city in central Israel, where many were flouting the lockdown rules, would soon become “like Italy.”

Kanievsky, in his ruling, had said those who violate the virus rules fall under the Jewish legal category of a rodef, or one who endangers the public, and against whom sanctions may be taken. He said residents may inform the authorities if they witness violations and suggested that a person who is meant to be in quarantine and infects others, causing deaths, is akin to a murderer.

This should help in the US. Lakewood NJ in particular.

US Death Toll From COVID-19 Tops 2k After Doubling In 2 Days: Live Updates

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 18:51

Meanwhile, in New York, the state worst hit by the outbreak, Gov. Cuomo has said that the outbreak will peak in “14 to 21 days." While the situation in New York worsens, the surgeon general warned that Detroit, New Orleans and Chicago are quickly developing into "hot spots," New Orleans in particular has been trending in a worrying direction for days.

Of the 17,412 tests run by New York State on Friday, 44% of them (7,681) were positive.
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