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Bill Owens: Confounding And Confusing Events 7/20/20

This past week large banks announced significant declines in net profit as a result of significant increases in reserves for loan losses.  This same phenomenon occurred in 2008-2009, when banking institutions suffered significant losses, as well.  These loan losses are estimates of what the anticipated losses will be, and as a result, if those loan losses do not come to fruition, those reserves are reversed and treated as profit in a later year.  Hopefully that is what we see.

It appears the Canadian border will not open at the end of July, and likely, not for many months.  As a result of Canadian concerns, both individual citizens and the government about how we are handling COVID-19 here in the United States.  It is worth noting that Canada has had about 8,000 deaths, which even if one applies a multiple of 10 due to the difference in population, that would give them 80,000 deaths to our 135,000 deaths, so they are doing significantly better.  It may be that in Canada they wear masks and social distance, and use a level of common sense.  The real blame lies with the current administration and many members of Congress, including our own Congresswoman, who do not feel that those types of protections, masks and social distancing are even needed. 

The $600 federal payment for unemployment is expiring soon, which will reduce incomes for millions of people in all 50 states.  Republicans are wrangling about a new Care Act, but take no action.  In my view, although it creates significant angst for me in terms of the ever-increasing debt and deficit (which was surging largely due to the President’s tax relief bill of 2017) and now is increasing even more due to COVID-19.  No one in Congress is talking about what comes after the economy stabilizes nor are they thinking about a plan from a practical standpoint to reduce debt/deficits.   

Economists are predicting a significantly more inconsistent recovery now that COVID-19 has made a resurgence in so many states.  It is interesting to note that the CDC indicated that if everyone wore a mask, in 4 to 8 weeks we could have the virus under control.  Anyone paying attention out there? 

It appears our Congresswoman had an exchange with Jake Tapper of CNN.

Congresswoman Stefanik: “Hi at Jake Tapper, thanks for your speedy response. The world knows you smear the President.  That fact is not newsworthy.  What is news worthy is that you are attacking Cuomo so effectively with an eviscerating tweet threat, very grateful, truly breaking character for CNN.”

Response from Jake Tapper: “Interesting that reporting facts about the President is “smearing”, but facts about the Governor is “reporting”.  I know people from the Bush who knew you before you became like this, they are sorry to see it.  I personally have no opinion, but I see their point.”

This goes to what I have pointed out previously, that Congresswoman Stefanik has moved from a person of by-partisanship to extreme hard-right views.  It may be that the district has moved from a more moderate place when it was represented by Congressman O’B Martin, Congressman McHugh and myself, and if so, I can accept that.  The question is, has it? 

The Republican Governor of Mississippi who has a degree in economics and worked as a banker before entering politics, provided a seven-step analysis utilizing mathematics as its core to establish that wearing masks was the only way to get control of the virus.  Maybe someone will listen on the right.  I am not holding my breath.  The White House announced that all hospital data collection was being removed from the CDC, and was to be delivered to the White House.  We can surely rely on the expertise and impartiality of the White House to collect and analyze the data.  Will the White House only report those facts which might lead to the President’s reelection. 

It appears that some significant progress has been made on a vaccine for the virus, and that we may be moving to a place where a vaccine will be available at least to some segments of the population, presumably first to healthcare providers, and then on to the public, at large.  The production of the vaccine and its distribution will be welcome problems to deal with. 

President Trump commuted Roger Stone’s sentence after Bill Barr, the Attorney General, called the conviction righteous and is opposing the appeal by Mr. Stone.  It has also been reported, although not confirmed, that President Trump ignored the advice of many senior members of his administration including his Chief of Staff and Attorney General Barr, not to issue this pardon.  What could be their reasoning.  Could it be that Michael Cohen spoke against Mr. Trump – no pardon.  Roger Stone stayed silent on POTUS – gets a pardon.  Looks like a Quid Pro Quo to me? 

Florida broke new COVID-19 records last week, yet Governor DeSantis and the President continue to push to open schools and do not push the use of masks. This will only change, unfortunately, when those who are taking this position suffer significantly or have close family members that do, and even then, I am not sure they will get it.  I think it is important to remember that none of us like the situation we are in, and we are all going a little stir crazy, and probably feeling a little more irritable than normal, but that should not interfere with rational thought. 

Bill Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher and Trombley in Plattsburgh, NY and a Strategic Advisor at Dentons to Washington, DC.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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