Friday, January 22, 2021

The Coronavirus Status: Better, But Worse Than It Seems


As much as I want to focus on other issues, the pandemic has more effect on jobs and the economy than anything else.  It continues to change, so here we go again. 

The leading indicator, whether it should be or not, the 7-day average of number of new United States cases, as of Thursday was 188,110, down a whopping 27% from its all-time peak 13 days before.  Daily deaths measured the same way were 3,078, off 8% from its 9-days-before historic high, and hospitalizations, which also crested on January 12th, now average 124,008 or 5% lower. 

The American map of daily new cases, also from the January 22nd New York Times, has changed a lot.  With darker colors showing the highest rates, Thursday’s data came out thus:


The angriest-looking areas have moved from the upper Midwest to California, Arizona, and South Carolina, with Oklahoma, parts of Texas, and New York state not far behind.  The light colors in the former Nynex area in the Northeast, seemingly reflecting better social distancing, are no longer consistent, and Wisconsin, infamous for high drinking and its concurrent gatherings, now does not stand out at all. 

Another issue critical to track is vaccine distribution.  A national map in the January 20th New York Times showed little state-by-state difference – per the same publication and date “about 14.3 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine” and “about 2.2 million people had been fully vaccinated.”  As reported in the January 19th USA Today, almost half of distributed doses, which per the January 20th Times were “about 36 million.”  The lack of overall project management is still scandalous, but we are making progress.

We know that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the only ones approved for full United States use, but what it the status of the others?  As reported in the January 19th New York Times, eight more – products by Gamaleya, Oxford AstraZeneca, CanSino, Vector Institute, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sinopharm-Wuhan, and Bharat Biotech – have been approved in some countries for at least emergency use, and 58 others are in various development stages. 

Great further help is on the way, not only with vaccines but with the defensive struggle, as “Biden Unveils National Strategy That Trump Resisted” (Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times, January 21st), as now we have a president who calls his responsibility a “full-scale wartime effort” and says we are “still in a very serious situation.”  We now have a mask-wearing mandate on “interstate planes, trains and buses” along with “the creation of a national testing board and mandatory quarantines for international travelers arriving in the United States.”

Despite all that is positive, there remain real cautions.  One reason American pandemic numbers have improved is not only people getting vaccinated, but the estimated 1 in 15 who have already had the virus.  Factoring those things in, we are doing better than a week or two ago but not massively.  As before we should not confuse lower infection, death, and hospitalization rates with a safer country.  It is important for all of us to continue our precautions until we are fully protected – then, but only then, we can have those parties, go to large concerts and major sporting events, resume nightclub visits, and, for those without romantic partners, improve that situation.  In the meantime, watch this blog – I will keep you up to date. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Surveillance and Facial Recognition – Right and Wrong Ways to Deal with Them

With the Capitol insurrection and consequent second impeachment, it may seem like political stability will be the most important long-term American problem as Covid-19 infections, deaths, and hospitalizations come slowly down.  It is now more urgent, but should settle down almost completely by spring.  What we can’t forget are the two issues that loomed largest before the virus spread.

In February, I wrote a three-part series on widespread electronic surveillance, ending by recommending five courses of action.  They were allowing people to opt out from phone tracking and face comparisons, giving cellphone-system data the same legal protection as those from landline telephones, banning location sharing by phone apps, holding a referendum on what electronic information law enforcement agencies may collect and use, and having a public service campaign educating people on the existence of and their control of data-collection sources.  Soon after that, we got two articles furthering this issue – Mona Wang and Gennie Gebhart’s March 7th Truthout “Schools Are Operating as Testbeds for Mass Surveillance,” and John Seabrook’s March 9th New Yorker “Dressing for the Surveillance Age.”  The first, while as much an editorial as a news piece, informed us that some school districts send “”automated alerts” to school administrators, and in some cases, local police” when students explore “sites relating to drugs and violence, as well as terms about mental and sexual health.”  Online searches have long been less private than we, and especially our children, might think.

The second, showing an example of how the market can speak, asked “can stealth streetwear evade electronic eyes?”  Seabrook concluded that yes, at least some of the time with current technology, it can.  As with innocent looking stickers that fool driverless cars, clothing that to human eyes make someone “impossible to miss” has been designed under such names as “invisibility cloak” and “Jammer Coat.”  Incredible as it may seem, the right patterns can make someone seem transparent to artificial intelligence networks, with objects behind them visible as ever.  Unlike the automated-vehicle deterrents, the garments are clearly legal and ethical, but it seems only a matter of time until surveillance technology software catches up. 

News on the other concern, though, did not stop with the coronavirus.  “Even the Machines Are Racist.  Facial Recognition Systems Threaten Black Lives,” by Eisa Nefertari Ulen in Truthout on March 4th, summarized the main objection to use of this knowledge, that it gives erroneous matches more often for nonwhites.  That problem hit to the core, as, on June 9th we saw that “IBM Says It Will Stop Developing Facial Recognition Tech Due to Racial Bias” (Hannah Klein, Slate), and that, one day later, “Amazon Pauses Police Use of Its Facial Recognition Software” (Karen Weise and Natasha Singer, The New York Times).  Both were for the same general reasons, problems with “Asian and black faces” (Klein) and in response to “misidentifying people of color” (Weise and Singer).   

It is possible that such technology has been used more than its level of reliability has justified, though it has had large successes.  The core problem, though, may be something many Americans may not be willing to accept.  While the people we call “whites” have origins all over Europe, the Middle East, and beyond, those we call “African Americans” in this country are mainly only from the western African coast, and were often bred together, and with whites, after that.  The vast majority of Americans of eastern Asian descent are from the ethnic Han areas in Japan, China, and Korea.  It may be that the faces of people in those groups simply vary less than those in others, so will require more work to differentiate. 

Why did IBM not focus on further improvement instead of halting efforts?  Why did Amazon not continue using these tools for groups with which they have been more effective?  Why did I read, in “Facial Recognition Technology Isn’t Good Just Because It’s Used to Arrest Neo-Nazis” (Joan Donovan and Chris Gilliard, Slate, January 12th, 2021), that “those who have looked deeply at the values underlying it see (this capability) as deeply flawed, racist, and a debasement of human rights”?  The reason is that the ability to automatically recognize faces has been pulled into our national racial impasse.  That means, as in too many other areas, that truth in their design and results is no longer universally sought out, accepted, or even primarily valued. 

Where will we go with identification and tracking of people?  We don’t know, and it is important.  Can we get the most from allowing these things without letting them end our privacy forever?  That is something we need to focus on, as soon as politics and Covid-19 calm.  For now, though, we must be aware that letting these issues solve themselves may be the worst resolution we could have.               

Friday, January 8, 2021

December Jobs Data: Unemployment Holds; First Net Employment Loss Since April Only Part of Reason AJSN Showed Latent Demand for Work Up 273,000 To 21.2 Million

The only projection I saw for the number of net new nonfarm payroll positions in this morning’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Situation Summary was plus 71,000, and it missed by more than 200,000.  The 140,000 loss was the first since April.

Fortunately, the other numbers did not consistently follow.  Seasonally adjusted and unadjusted unemployment stayed the same and gained 0.1%, to 6.7% and 6.5% respectively.  There are still 10.7 million Americans officially jobless.  The count of those on temporary layoff rose over 200,000 to 3.0 million, consistent with the 800,000-averaging weekly unemployment claims.  Those out for 27 weeks or longer edged up 100,000 to 4.0 million.  The two measures of how common it is for people to be working or one step away, the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio, did not suffer, with the former still 61.5% and the latter up 0.1% to 57.4%.  The number of those working part-time for economic reasons, or keeping less than full-time employment while looking for that with longer hours, surprisingly fell almost 500,000 and is now 6.2 million.  Average private nonfarm hourly earnings shot up 23 cents per hour, not a good sign since that means more lower-paid people are not working, and is now $29.81.

The American Job Shortage Number or AJSN, the metric showing how many people would work if getting a job were known to be as easy as buying a six-pack, increased for the first time in eight months, as follows:

Almost half of the AJSN’s monthly gain was from higher official unemployment, with most of the rest from those not looking during the past year.  With the share of the AJSN from unemployment unchanged at 44.1%, rises in the other categories above kept pace with December’s job losses.  Do not be fooled into thinking that the count of those claiming no interest in working is permanent – it consistently decreases when more work opportunities become available.  Since a year ago, the AJSN has gained over 6.2 million, about 70% from increased official joblessness.

The other data side remains the status of Covid-19 in the United States.  How did we do with that when the BLS information was taken?  Not well at all.  From November 16th to December 16th, per The New York Times, the 7-day average number of new daily cases went from 155,532 to 211,008, or 36% more.  The two other measures did worse, with the average count of hospitalized patients up from 73,268 to 109,969, or 50%, and average daily deaths up a shocking 120% from 1,155 to 2,545.  All three numbers have increased further since then, and are now at all-time national highs. 

Overall, the picture is bleak.  We cannot blame the steady upward coronavirus march on too many people at work – with the population increase, the jobs loss had more effect than 140,000 – but we’re clearly doing plenty of things wrong as a nation.  However, relief from vaccinations, of which 4.5 million Americans have received their first of two doses and about 500,000 more join them each day, should help both employment and pandemic figures as soon as next month.  In the meantime, we still cannot afford to put jobs ahead of health.  Help is on the way, but this time the turtle staggered backwards once more.

Friday, January 1, 2021

American Changes for 2021-2022 – II

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future” – Yogi Berra

Last week I looked at some of the many 2021 jobs-and-economy forecasts and semi-forecasts.  Now it is time for my views.

There are four general patterns of change and non-change.  The first could be called “pent-up demand,” either what happened after World War II with housing and previously unavailable consumer goods, which created tens of millions of civilian jobs, or simple resumption.  The second is “acquiescence,” or situations where people decide they preferred what they had to do during the pandemic, including innovations and efficiencies discovered, tested, and at least partially debugged over the past year.  Third is “as expected,” in which trends, whether interrupted or not, go back to either where they were or where they were headed before Covid-19.  Fourth is “new perspective,” when, on the edge of resuming an activity after a break, people decide they do not want to do it in the same way they did before, do not want to do it at all, or wish to start something new. 

To project how something will be different is to determine which pattern will apply.  Sometimes that seems easy, and otherwise we have to look at the strength of the factors involved – how much incentive people have to follow certain methods.  There will always be a great deal unknown, as anyone associated with commercial success of any kind of art can relate.  Yet we can still do better than chance.  Accordingly, I extend the following.

On working at home, the second and third patterns will operate.  Before March, there was a movement by large organizations to bring employees back into the office, with amenities designed to encourage longer hours there, but many workers discovered how much they liked not needing to commute.  (The nasty things, such as slanted toilets and self-serving messages on water-cooler cucumbers, though, will be nipped in the bud – a perfect application of the fourth pattern.)  Outcomes here will vary greatly by company, and after a year or two will resume being in effect an employee benefit.  Zoom calls, though, which nobody seems to like, will go away, replaced again by conference calls or in-person gatherings.

One thing teachers and school administrators have discovered is that remote learning for students below high school, to which the first pattern applies, does not work.  Its disadvantages, from students losing snow days to uncorrectable income and home-setting differences, have become known, with little on the other side.  Expect distance classes to end for junior high and below as soon as pandemic infection levels drop substantially, probably with the 2021-22 school year.  The same will pertain to wearing masks and practicing social distancing, for the same reasons.    

As for permanent changes to restaurants, we don’t see any, except for thinning of their numbers caused by many forced out of business.  The fourth pattern, in which many people notice how much less money they have spent on eating out, will apply, and demand, not helped by insufficiently worthwhile high-end takeout meals, will drop.  There will be new places, but fewer prospective entrepreneurs than before will feel motivated to start such ventures.  Other storefront businesses will do better, but indefinitely lower demand for space in the likes of New York City will force rents down.

Per the third pattern, I do not predict significant changes to labor laws.  What looked like a push to raise wages and provide benefits such as paid sick days to low-level customer-facing workers, such as grocery clerks and cashiers, seems to have petered out, with some seeing the stimulus payments and possible preferential vaccine treatment as close enough to fair compensation.  The cases against mandating broad-based pay increases are as strong as ever, and with a moderate president will continue to stop the passing of laws requiring the likes of $15 per hour for everyone.  The struggles between Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and their resource providers will continue, with the companies getting the worst of them most of the time.

Will proof of vaccination become a credential needed for many 2021 activities?  Yes – and it will indicate a two-class society, not by race or income but by the choice of whether to get injected.  It will probably be required for travel to certain states and countries without quarantining, for entry to some restaurants, bars, or social clubs, and elsewhere.  I don’t know about large spectator events, as such numbers make fraudulent credentials hard to stop, and all it would take would be one case of some such liar superspreading the virus to make us all realize that, once again, a few people can ruin things for the rest of us.  By mid-2022, with these advantages and the taming of Trumpism, about 95% of Americans will have had one of many vaccines long since readily available.

Happy new year.  I hope 2021 is as good to all of us as I believe it will be.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

American Changes for 2021-2022 – I

A worthy topic is what our country will be like once this pandemic has greatly faded, which it will do over the next two years from some combination of deaths, people immune from vaccines, and people immune from previous infection.  There has been a steady stream of declarations.

The first, David Brooks’s “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake,” was actually pre-COVID, turning up in the March 2020 Atlantic.  Brooks has written books on cultural issues, and here made a 30-page case that our most common three-plus-member family arrangement, relatively new to our species, is not optimal.  A full review of this thoughtful work would take much more than a paragraph, but the main points he made were that extended families better withstand relationship breakups such as divorces, they socialize children more effectively and more representatively, lower-income people would suffer less with them, kinship would be strengthened, and in them loneliness is vastly less of a problem.  We have moved on economically from the Industrial Revolution, when the nuclear family became predominant, and it may be time to do that socially.

The same publication on April 15th featured Olga Khazan’s “How the Coronavirus Could Create a New Working Class.”  It was misnamed, as it was about a new movement, and focused on making a case for better treatment of low-paid, infection-susceptible employees instead of explaining why that might actually happen.  True, “in 2021, the American working class might seize their moment,” but since publication the impetus for that seems to have faded. 

Ravin Jesuthasan, Tracey Malcolm, and Susan Cantrell looked at employment itself in “How the Coronavirus Crisis is Redefining Jobs,” on April 22nd in the Harvard Business Review, suggesting “three ways to shift work, talent, and skills to where and when they are needed most, thereby building the organizational resilience and agility necessary to navigate uncertain times and rebound with strength when the economy recovers”:  they were “make work portable across the organization,” “accelerate automation,” and “share employees in cross-industry talent exchanges.”  All are good, especially with the second suggested as it at least ostensibly “can speed up response times and free agents from transactional tasks so that they can focus on responding with the empathy and emotional intelligence that customers need now more than ever,” and all have surely been practiced more as the pandemic has rolled on.

There’s merit in never saying never, and in forever avoiding the last title word in Derek Thompson’s April 27th The Atlantic “The Pandemic Will Change American Retail Forever.”  Thompson saw “the big acceleration” of trends, such as department stores and the malls they anchor going away, along with “the flattening of the American city” with small business closing, “the end of the golden age of restaurants” especially in the likes of New York where “thin margins require filling every square inch with paying customers,” and “the all-delivery economy” assuming that such utility would continue even when need for it has gone.  I like better his thought that open storefronts and resulting lower rents will let neighborhoods such as Greenwich Village become eccentric again – thirty dollars might never again pay the rent on Bleecker Street, but it might not take $3000 either. 

Uri Friedman’s May 1st The Atlantic “I Have Seen the Future – And It’s Not the Life We Knew” is now obsolete, as it did not consider the effect of vaccines and was written before Denmark and South Korea, which Friedman praised for beating the pandemic, had serious relapses.  This story displayed the dangers of assuming present trends will continue, which in 2020 have not.  David Brooks returned, in the June 25th New York Times, with “America is Facing 5 Epic Crises All at Once” – in addition to “losing the fight against Covid-19,” he named “a rapid education on the burdens African-Americans carry every day” about which “public opinion is shifting with astonishing speed,” a “political realignment” especially around what it means to be Republican, “a quasi-religion” which he named “social justice” “seeking control of America’s cultural institutions” with opinions actually “weapons” meaning “words can thus be a form of violence that has to be regulated,” and that “we could be on the verge of a prolonged economic depression.”  Brooks ended with “the pragmatic spirit of the New Deal is a more apt guide for the years ahead than the spirit of critical theory symbology.”  Well, now that we will soon have a normal president…

David Leonhardt’s July 10th New York Times “It’s 2022.  What Does Life Look Like?” didn’t even attempt to answer that question.  He pointed out the ways Americans went back on track after financial crises (still bought stocks), after Obama’s presidency (no “racial conciliation”), after September 11th (more and more airplane passengers), and after the Vietnam War (“extended foreign wars without a clear mission” became even longer and more common), and then offered only three vague and obvious projections.  Brent Schrotenboer got more specific in the September 22nd USA Today’s “What could our lives be like in 2025?  Futurists think Americans may eat, fly and go to school differently post-COVID.”  He had “restaurant reinvention will follow decay” with emphasis on “smaller, more intimate experiences” and places being “more fluid in their offerings,” “’Frontier Spirit United’ will sort of be a thing” with
fewer brands in general,” “your reality will come by remote control” as organizations continue such practices after pandemic’s end, “air and gold will be sensible investments” with the former pushing demand for purification systems, and, continuing what Thompson wrote, “malls will be for Amazon, golf, pets and kitchens.”  All reasonable.

Finally and most recently, Farhad Manjoo threw a damper on forecasts of a great urban exodus, with “Why Should We Ever Return to Living and Working So Close Together?” in the December 22nd New York Times.  He answered that by saying that cities were “indispensable as engines of economic growth, catalysts of technological and cultural innovation,” as well as being “one of the most environmentally sustainable ways we know of for housing lots of people.”  Manjoo called the coronavirus crisis a chance for change, that it “does not have to kill cities – just our old idea of what cities were, how they worked, and who they were for,” and that “cities created the future” so “now we must secure theirs.”   

On New Year’s Day, what I think will happen and not happen.

Friday, December 18, 2020

A Week Before Christmas: Where We Are Going on Jobs, the Economy, and COVID-19


To start with the worst news, here is yesterday’s New York Times world map of coronavirus infection rates, with purple the highest: 

Our country comes in at 64 new daily cases per 100,000 population, exceeded, around the globe, only by eight in Europe, the most populous Serbia.  The 7-day average of new world infections, again on each individual day, was 631,803, another all-time high, as was the 11,319 deaths.

Back home, we had 935,000 new state unemployment claims filed last week, rising along with infection rates and over four times its consistent pre-pandemic result.  In the December 14th New York Times “What Happens to the Unemployed When the Checks Run Out,” Eduardo Porter cited a Century Foundation study showing that 12 million workers are now poised to lose their jobless benefits the day after Christmas.  However, a rescue is underway, documented in yesterday’s “Closing In on Stimulus Deal, Lawmakers Clash Over Fed’s Role,” by Emily Cochrane and Jeanna Smialek, also in the Times.  Headed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, now choosing to further marginalize the president now doing little other than babbling like a madman about having won reelection, “the emerging package was expected to include direct payments of $600 for American families and children… as well as an extension of more generous unemployment programs… (and) a revival of enhanced federal unemployment benefits,” this time $300 weekly, “along with billions of dollars for small businesses, vaccine distribution and schools.”  Per the title the senators and representatives still have a few bugs to iron out, but since McConnell said “we need to complete this work and complete it right away” and “the Senate is not going anywhere until we have Covid relief out the door,” it’s going to happen.  Kudos to McConnell and the others – legislative focus and horse trading have come back. 

On the vaccine front, progress is brisk.  With approval of Pfizer’s product last week, 2.9 million doses – which according to some reports may actually be well over 3 million – were shipped a week ago and are now being administered.  And yesterday, per Denise Grady et al. in the New York Times, “F.D.A. Panel Endorses Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine,” and formal authorization, expected today, “would clear the way for some 5.9 million doses to be shipped around the country starting this weekend.”  The Moderna product “can be stored at normal freezer temperatures” and so “can go to more places.”  There are other vaccines in the pipeline as well.  While I think choosing to participate is clear-cut, according to Simon Romero and Miriam Jordan’s “The Vaccines Are Coming.  A Divided and Distrustful America Awaits,” in the December 11th Times, other objections include possible side effects, the expected conspiracy theories, and even “a crushing guilt in getting a vaccine that my child would not have access to at the same time.”  Well, some concerns are better than others.

We end with good news, for investors anyway.  Still in the Times, Wednesday’s “Wall Street Sees Cold, Hard Cash in Vaccine Storage” by Andrew Ross Sorkin et al. reported that “private equity firms are pouring money into small companies that can store and help transport fragile coronavirus vaccines at required Antarctic temperatures.”  One well-positioned firm is CryoPort, “whose products can store matter at minus 180 degrees Celsius,” vastly colder than even the Pfizer vaccine needs.  When you consider that such a company can also provide household icebox-type capability, you have a fine opportunity – or would have a week or two ago. 

Expect next week’s post on Thursday, Christmas Eve.  Stay close – but not too close.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Small Businesses: Depressing Now, A New Life Later

It’s been sad to see Congressional Republicans putting large firms at the top of their pandemic stimulus bills.  Of all the people and organizations suffering, they probably need help the least, given extra-low interest rates, ample assets usable as loan collateral, and if all else fails great legal latitude in ridding themselves of debt while continuing operations.  Smaller enterprises are much more vulnerable, and employ most Americans, so need at least equal consideration anyway – what has been happening with them?

Many don’t exist anymore, as per Frank Miles’s November 29th Fox Business “Nearly one-third of NY, NJ small businesses reportedly closed in 2020,” which, per the subtitle and first sentence, only includes Covid-19-caused permanent shutterings.  He reported the national average as 29.8%. 

As for crisis payments, “More than half of emergency small-business funds went to larger businesses, new data show” (Washington Post Business Alert, December 1st), with “5 percent of the recipients” getting “more than half of the money from the Treasury Department’s loans for small businesses,” as “about 600 mostly larger companies, including dozens of national chains” got the Paycheck Protection Program’s $10 million maximum.  Alfredo Ortiz recommended extending that plan in the December 4th Fox Business “It’s Defcon 5 for America’s small businesses, this is what has to happen next.”  His statement that ”experts assume that the country will achieve vaccine-induced herd immunity by May,” on which he based the need to renew that program for only “a few more months,” is haywire, and he did not address where its money is going now, but even if it turns out to be for all of 2021 it would be worthwhile.

I don’t think, though, that we need to take the suggestion, “Let’s Talk About Higher Wages,” proposed by the New York Times Editorial Board on November 28th.  Valid points here are that people spending money instead of mainly hoarding it is good for the economy, and that tax cuts would not now be “a simple formula for economic growth,” but a time with many local businesses barely surviving is not one to force across-the-board pay increases.  The board called the stimulus effect of reducing taxes “tired,” but the other ideas they offer to support the vague notion of raising pay deserved that adjective more.

James Langford, in the November 27th Fox Business, forecast that “US economy sprints toward normal in 2021 but with coronavirus scars.”  In the piece, Bank of America’s head U.S. economist Michelle Meyer expected that “the country will welcome back experiences once it is safe, but we do anticipate there will be some scarring,” with the worst of the pandemic soon to follow and gross domestic product possibly now decreasing.  Indeed, there are three reasons why we won’t see March 2020 economic levels for a long time:  people’s reservations about spending money on many things even after the main danger is gone, what might be more than one-third of Americans refusing any vaccine, and yet-unknown changes in habits possibly reducing out-of-home activity.  Although we can project with confidence that most United States residents will be vaccinated in time for normal family holiday gatherings next year, we simply don’t know much more.  These developments would mean more small business failures in the next several months, but a solid chance of better times after that.

Except for the also nearly indisputable proposition that Joe Biden’s election will reduce Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, what might come from him and his Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen?  Unfortunately, Giovanni Russonello’s November 17th New York Times “Biden’s Economic Plan for the Virus” didn’t offer much beyond that after the president-elect met with them, “C.E.O.’s and the union bosses had had agreed that the government must act boldly to bring the economy back up to speed.”  Since then, Biden has encouraged people to wear masks and practice social distancing but has not proposed any legal requirements, a stance good for small ventures which can set safety standards as they see fit.

In the November 29th Business Insider, Ben Winck’s “Here’s how the US economy could transform under Biden after his appointment of Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary – starting with sizable stimulus,” offered what might be called educated speculation.  He projected a “multitrillion-dollar” 2021 relief package, better cooperation between governmental financial entities as Yellen, “if confirmed, will be the first person to have run the Treasury, the Fed, and the White House Council of Economic Advisors,” offers more “focus” on her specialty of understanding employment and the labor market, and has shown an attitude of “recovering first and dealing with government debt later.”  She is also likely to keep interest rates low, her bias in the past and especially well justified now.  All of these are favorable for local enterprises.

So how should small business owners view the future?  The ideas in the last three articles are remarkably consistent, pointing toward survival followed by real opportunity.  We have consistently heard from those working with the pandemic that people need to maximize their chances of arriving alive to the post-coronavirus world.  That goes for small businesses as well – it’s what we and our enterprises both need to do.