In A Nutshell: Seeking Something Closer to Normal

January 2022

During recent weeks we’ve witnessed more Americans speaking out against a wide array of nonsense and finally seeking more “common sense”.  Maybe that’s one reason the stock market has been so robust – foreseeing a long overdue return to sanity. 

Many Americans have also retreated to their Covid cabins rethinking the value of vaccinations, lockdowns and the newest more transmissible strain, Omicron.  One result might be the beginning of the end of legalized madness.  It appears that more Americans realize that if we let the crazies preside over us recent insanity could continue for the rest of our lives.  Unfortunately, some extremists still think they hold the high ground, but recent signs of sanity hopefully will show them they do not.

How and when will this China originated pandemic be over?  As the less deadly Omicron variant sweeps across the U.S. infection numbers are surging and hospitals stress due to a shortage of healthcare workers. New Jersey reinstated a public health emergency due to this situation, while California has even ordered COVID-positive medical staff (that are asymptomatic) to stay on the job. Hospitalizations are climbing higher than last winter’s peak – before the widespread distribution of vaccines – due to Omicron’s extraordinary case number spread.

Despite the toll on the healthcare system and other essential services, Omicron patients are 74% less likely to end up in ICUs and 91% less likely to die than Delta strain patients (according to the Kaiser Permanente in Southern California).  Other studies indicate that Omicron is less severe but will likely herald in a new era of weaker forms of COVID becoming an endemic illness, comparable to the flu.

White House policy makers, trying to salvage this incompetent Presidency, are focused on stimulus, voting rights, and inflation.  However, the President’s misunderstanding of where inflation comes from is hindering that response. Two solutions he has pursued so far — giving people more money so they can afford more expensive stuff, and treating a macro problem as if it is a micro problem (blaming corporate greed) — are more likely to make inflation worse by fueling demand and exacerbating shortages. We need solutions which will increase supply and unblock supply chains. But Congressional Democrats instead see the constant threat of Covid as the top issue. Let’s see how the Biden promise to deliver 500 million Covid test kits to households throughout the US works out.

Inflation is all over the news, whether it is in business, consumer, or political news. We simply cannot escape it and will continue to suffer from it.  Even though economic growth remains strong, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index recently fell to a 10-year low as both inflation and product shortages are making Americans angry. When President Biden cites robust economic growth for the surge in inflation and shortages, few believe him. It is very odd for a President’s popularity to be plunging when economic growth is reported to be “resurging”, but that is exactly what is happening.  Biden’s credibility is near zero.

In this inflationary environment, despite the lack of trusted Washington leadership, millions of Americans are pouring more money into the stock market, seeking higher yields and protection from inflation.  Gold is also at five-month highs. Internationally the Chinese economy is in disarray and the globe is struggling with the ongoing Omicron outbreak. As you look around the world the U.S. still looks like an oasis, with higher interest rates, a capitalistic culture, and 50 states that compete with each other for business and workers.  Hopefully two sane Democrat Senators will continue to block the current leftist insanity being pushed by most Washington Democrats!