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March 23, 2020

Rand Paul Tests Positive for Coronavirus

This Day in History | 1775

During a speech before the second Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry responds to the increasingly oppressive British rule over the American colonies by declaring, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Good morning Middle Americans, 

Senator Rand Paul, was the only person in the senate to vote against the initial phase of the Coronavirus aide package that passed last week. Now he’s the only one who’s tested positive so far. Ironic, no. Congress continues to ‘dicker’ over the next phase of the deal. And the stock market are really looking bleak as a result.  We have also have a few additional stories today about the economic impact of COVID-19, including a plan to suspend mortgage payments for up to a year. 

Also today we are taking a look at our security versus our freedom vis a vis this COVID-19 Crisis. Specifically today – we are looking at the effectiveness of these lockdowns. Will they be enough to contain the spread and ‘flatten the curve’ – or will the medicine be worse for our economy than the virus itself. In other words – are will killing the economy in the course of fighting this war on the invisible enemy. 

Congressional Rescue Talks Churn as Viral Crisis Expands

(AP) – Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Sunday voted to block a coronavirus response bill as they pushed for more funding to help hospitals and others hurt by the outbreak.

With a 47-47 vote on a shell bill, which would be a placeholder for the for the text of the final bill, Republicans failed to get the two-thirds majority needed for the bill to advance.

Privately, negotiations were continuing on a revised bill after Democrats said this one was skewed too heavily toward helping corporations at the expense of workers and families. 

Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said he believes an agreement could be reached within 24 hours.

President Donald Trump tweeted “many things to discuss” ahead of an evening press briefing.

At the otherwise emptied out Capitol, the draft aid package was declared insufficient by Democrats, who argued it was tilted toward corporations rather than workers and healthcare providers. The setback sent Republicans back to the negotiating table.

With a population on edge and shell-shocked financial markets poised to reopen Monday, all sides were hoping for an agreement that would provide some relief against the pandemic’s twin health and economic crises, now believed likely to stretch for several months.

“Americans don’t need to see us haggling endlessly.”

“Our nation cannot afford a game of chicken,” warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., his voice rising on the Senate floor Sunday night. His goal is to vote Monday. The Senate will re-convene at noon.

Read more here

Related: (Politco) – Pelosi pushes forward with her own emergency coronavirus package

The Economic Impact

NYSE See its Ever All-Electronic Trading Day

(CNBC) – The Securities and Exchange Commission published rule changes on Saturday that allow the New York Stock Exchange  to conduct all-electronic trading. 

On Monday, the first day the trading floor will be closed, the NYSE opening at 9:30 a.m. ET should happen immediately for almost all stocks, subject to certain trading bands. Existing circuit breakers that would halt trading briefly should the S&P 500 decline by 7%, 13% and 20% will continue to be in effect.

The SEC noted the rule filings were temporary until May 15 or sooner if the trading floor reopens.

Find out more here

Related: Decline in Stock Futures Worsens as Investors Await a Stimulus Agreement

(CNBC) -U.S. stock futures dropped again as Wall Street waits on Washington to agree to an economic stimulus and rescue plan to cushion blow from the coronavirus outbreak.

As of 6:28 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped more than 500 points. S&P 500 futures were off by nearly 3%. Nasdaq 100 futures declined by 2.6%. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF was off by 3% in premarket trading.

Futures were well off their worst levels of the overnight session. Earlier, futures hit their “limit down” levels, falling 5%. Downside limits to futures contracts are implemented to ensure orderly market behavior once trading hits a certain threshold. No trades below that level are allowed. 

Get informed here

U.S. Orders Up To A Yearlong Break On Mortgage Payments

(NPR) – Homeowners who have lost income or their jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak are getting some relief. Depending on their situation, they should be eligible to have their mortgage payments reduced or suspended for up to 12 months.

Federal regulators, through the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are ordering lenders to offer homeowners flexibility. The move covers about half of all home loans in the U.S. — those guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie. But regulators expect that the entire mortgage industry will quickly adopt a similar policy.

Under the plan, people who have suffered a loss of income can qualify to make reduced payments or be granted a complete pause in payments.

Get the info here

COVID-19: Security vs. Freedom

Here’s a map of states w/ stay at home orders as of this morning

NY, OH, CA, LA, NJ, IL, CT, PR

Health Official: Lockdowns are not enough

(REUTERS) –  “Lockdowns not enough to defeat coronavirus: WHO’s Ryan”: “‘What we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them,’ Mike Ryan said in an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. ‘The danger right now with the lockdowns … if we don’t put in place the strong public health measures now, when those movement restrictions and lockdowns are lifted, the danger is the disease will jump back up.’”

Learn more here

Are Lockdown, doing more harm than good? 

According to Politico Playbook – “President DONALD TRUMP is growing sympathetic to the idea, promoted by the WSJ ed board last week, that closing down big chunks of the economy causes more harm than good. (Jonathan Swan of Axios has heard the same.) This comes after a big NYT article that gives you the exact opposite view — that public health experts believe we need more drastic measures to stop this virus.”

Here’s more from the Wall Street Journal – Financial markets paused their slide Thursday, but no one should think this rolling economic calamity is over. If this government-ordered shutdown continues for much more than another week or two, the human cost of job losses and bankruptcies will exceed what most Americans imagine.

Here’s the opposite view from the New York Times

Medical Supplies to Fight Coronavirus Dwindle Around the World

(Fox Business) – The coronavirus pandemic has advanced Sunday after the U.S. and Europe are reporting soaring new cases, prompting a scramble in some regions to set up additional hospital beds and replenish much-needed medical supplies.

Italy announced its biggest day-to-day increase of infections, which rose by 6,600 with nearly 800 new fatalities from the virus that causes COVID-19. The country’s total death toll of more than 4,825 has surpassed the number of deaths in China, where the first cases emerged late last year.

In the U.S., where multiple states have ordered residents to stay indoors, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the government is “literally scouring the globe looking for medical supplies.” Health care workers from Oklahoma City to Minneapolis sought donations of protective equipment. Staff at a Detroit hospital began creating homemade face masks for workers. Even rural hospitals were strained as people increasingly felt the pandemic closing in.

Find out more here


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