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How Did Yellen and Powell Get Inflation So Wrong?

The Atlantic (06/10/2022)
  • US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s support of trillions in government stimulus during Covid was seemingly motivated by fears of repeating past mistakes.
  • While the Fed slashed interest rates and Congress passed a then-record $787 billion stimulus package, the sluggish growth out of the ‘Great Recession’ (2008-09) was later partially blamed on too little government stimulus.
  • Yellen and Powell initially labelled current inflation as “transitory” that would ease with declining Covid given the limited inflationary impact of 2008-09 stimulus.

The Racist Researcher Cited in the Buffalo Gunman’s Manifesto

The New York Times (NYT) (06/09/2022)
  • Among others, the Buffalo shooter’s manifesto cited Michael Woodley, a 38 year-old British researcher affiliated with one of Belgium’s leading universities (Vrije Universiteit Brussel).
  • Woodley has claimed that France’s declining average IQ derives from rising North African migrants and he’s proposed links between ethnicity and intelligence.
  • The Buffalo shooter’s manifesto cited Woodley’s claim that humans can be divided into racial subspecies, a pseudoscientific theory historically used to justify racism.
  • Vrije Universiteit suspended Woodley shortly after the shooting.

Ukraine war: Russia earns $97bn on energy exports since invasion

BBC (06/13/2022)
  • Despite economic sanctions, Russia earned $97B from oil and gas exports during the first 100 days of the war in Ukraine.
  • While Russian oil exports are declining, daily revenues (over $1B) still exceed Russia’s daily military spending on the invasion ($876M).
  • The EU (received 61% of Russia’s oil exports during invasion) plans to reduce Russian oil and gas imports by two-thirds within the next year.
  • India’s share of Russian crude oil exports has increased from 1% to 18% during the invasion.

Kremlin Calls Captured Americans ‘Soldiers of Fortune’

The New York Times (NYT) (06/20/2022)
  • Russia captured American military veterans Alex Drueke (39) and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh (27), labelling them “soldiers of fortune” (mercenaries).
  • The men were volunteers in the Ukrainian military; the US State Department is urging Russia to abide by international law protecting prisoners of war.
  • They went MIA last week after their platoon came under heavy fire in Kharkiv (Ukraine’s 2nd largest city, 25 miles from Russian border).
  • Russia recently labelled British and Moroccan military volunteers as mercenaries and sentenced them to death.

Should Biden Run in 2024? Democratic Whispers of ‘No’ Start to Rise.

The New York Times (NYT) (06/11/2022)
  • Democratic Party leaders are growing wary of Biden running again in 2024 as he struggles to advance the bulk of his agenda (eg infrastructure, voting rights).
  • Biden’s approval rating among Democrats recently hit a rock-bottom 73%.
  • Voters are growing increasingly frustrated with persistent inflation and Biden’s supporters don’t believe he’s using his full powers to enact change on key issues (eg gun-control, abortion rights).
  • Article also details concerns about Biden’s age, growing apathy and uncertainty about Biden’s potential successor.

Fish Farm Startup Hopes Deep-Ocean Technology Can Fuel Growth

Bloomberg (05/13/2022)
  • Acquatic fish farming startups such as Forever Oceans have developed specialized enclosures, sensors and robotics that will allow fish farms to operate further offshore.
  • The growing global population has sparked a 527% increase in fish farming since 1990.
  • Up to 90% of fish farms are overfished (available fish supply rapidly depleting).
  • “Fish farmers like Forever Oceans raise hatchlings in big tanks on land, then transport them to open-water farms to mature”.
  • While promising, Forever Oceans’ technology could damage ecological systems (waste dumpage, pesticide usage).

China’s Massive Community-Buying Industry Is Collapsing

Bloomberg (05/08/2022)
  • Widely viewed as a “sure bet” after launching a few years ago, China’s online platforms selling discounted goods in bulk to communities face widespread failure.
  • Operated by tech giants (eg JD.com, Meituan) as well as startups, these platforms have been derailed by logistical hurdles (China’s strict Covid lockdowns) and recent government crackdowns on anti-competitive business practices (eg mass giveaways to attract customers).
  • Despite raising $8.7B from investors since 2018, 80% of China’s 1,500 (peak) community-buying platforms have failed.

Covid-19 origins: Key takeaways from the WHO report on the pandemic

CNN (06/10/2022)
  • The WHO’s 27-member sponsored scientific advisory group recently published its 1st report on Covid’s origins.
  • While the report highlights current data suggesting Covid originated in animals before jumping to humans, the host animal(s) and spillover event remain a mystery.
  • The report also identified the Huanan Seafood Market (Wuhan, China) as an early hotspot; however, it remains unclear how Covid was introduced.
  • The group also also doesn’t rule out the lab-leak theory and recommends further investigation.
  • Russia, Brazil and China object to the investigation recommendation.

What Happens to Your Body on No Sleep?

Outside (04/02/2019)
  • Scientists have found that the effects of acute sleep deprivation, or all-nighters, kicks in after being awake for 16-18 hours straight.
  • The first sign is a sluggish mind, with reaction times lagging to the equivalent of being legally drunk by the 24th hour awake.
  • After 24 hours, your brain starts forcing you into 10-20 second periods of “micro-sleep”.
  • After 35 hours, the brain’s emotion-emitting amygdala becomes 60% more reactive and the ability to regulate emotions declines.
  • Hallucinations are common after 48 hours awake.