Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures:
• The pandemic’s true death toll: Millions more than official counts: Countries have reported some five million COVID-19 deaths in two years, but global excess deaths are estimated at double or even quadruple that figure. (Nature)
• China promised Trump a better deal for America; it didn’t actually deliver. While China did ramp up its purchases of U.S. agricultural products, when it comes to buying U.S. products and services overall, it still hasn’t even returned to buying the amount of stuff it had bought from America before the trade war began. (NPR) see also Trump’s trade deal with China turned out to be a huge, costly bust. The final tally is in, and the numbers are grim: Donald Trump’s huge trade deal with China — the deal he trumpeted as a “transformative” victory for the U.S. — turned out to be a massive bust. The deal, it may be remembered, required China to make $200 billion in new purchases of agricultural and manufactured goods, services and crude oil and other energy. (Los Angeles Times)
• Forget Apple and Google. Meta Has Another Existential Threat on the Horizon. Meta has warned in the past that it may have to leave Europe if no solution is reached—and a new trans-Atlantic data framework has been slow to materialize from politicians. The company has said it expects a final decision from Ireland on SCCs in the first half of this year. (Barron’s)
• An incomplete history of Forbes.com as a platform for scams, grift, and bad journalism That “rapper” accused of billions in crypto fraud was also a Forbes contributor. Is it finally time to move past the contributor network? (Nieman Lab)
• Frackers Restrict the Flow and Raise the Price After a decade of flooding the market with cheap fossil fuels, investors have cut back on production. (Prospect)
• Why freedom of numbers matters What do you do if you’re in charge of a country and things are not going your way? Last week, President Erdogan of Turkey was presented with the unwelcome news that the inflation rate in his country was close to 50%, with the Turkish lira in free fall. Rather than questioning his own policy, or blaming the pandemic, he opted to fire the chief statistician. He’s not the first. The Government of Greece prosecuted its chief statistician in 2013 over a dispute about economic statistics. The chief statistician of Fiji was marched out of his office by security guards a few months ago in a row over poverty data. (Medium)
• School boards get death threats amid rage over race, gender, mask policies. Local school officials across the United States are being inundated with threats of violence and other hostile messages from anonymous harassers nationwide, fueled by anger over culture-war issues. Reuters found 220 examples of such intimidation in a sampling of districts. (Reuters)
• How Telegram Became the Anti-Facebook: Hundreds of millions of users. No algorithm. No ads. Courage in the face of autocracy. Sound like a dream? Careful what you wish for. (Wired)
• ‘Don’t take the damn thing’: how Spotify playlists push dangerous anti-vaccine tunes Conspiracy theory songs claiming Covid-19 is fake and calling vaccine ‘poison’ are being actively promoted in Spotify playlists. (The Guardian)
• The Loan Shark Trump Freed From Prison Is Lending Money Again Jonathan Braun went to jail on drug charges after a successful career as a predatory lender. Thanks to a good word from Alan Dershowitz and commutation from Donald Trump, he’s back in business. (Businessweek)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business this week with Samantha McLemore, Miller Value Partners. She is the co-portfolio manager of the Miller Opportunity Trust and related strategies, and founder/CIO of Patient Capital Management. For the 10 years ending 1/31/22, LMNOX returned 16.42% annually and was in the top 1% of its Mid-Cap category.
Red Covid: The partisan gap in Covid deaths is still growing, but more slowly
Source: New York Times
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.