Archive for the ‘Phil’s Favorites’ Category

Here’s how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

 

Here's how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

Why do scientists care about mutations on the coronavirus? Alexandr Gnezdilov Light Painting

Niema Moshiri, University of California San Diego

When you hear the term “evolutionary tree,” you may think of Charles Darwin and the study of the relationships between different species over the span of millions of years.

While the concept of an “evolutionary tree” originated in Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” one can apply this concept to anything that evolves, including viruses. Scientists can study the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 to learn more about how the genes of the virus function. It is also useful to make inferences about the spread of the virus around the world, and what type of vaccine may be most effective.

I am a bioinformatician who studies the relationships between epidemics and viral evolution, and I am among the many researchers now studying the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 because it can help researchers and public health officials track the spread of the virus over time. What we are finding is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus appears to be mutating more slowly than the seasonal flu which may allow scientists to develop a vaccine.

Charles Darwin’s first diagram of an evolutionary tree, drawn in 1837. Cambridge University Library

How do sequences evolve?

Viruses evolve by mutating. That is, there are changes in their genetic code over time. The way it happens is a little like that game of telephone. Amy is the first player, and her word is “CAT.” She whispers her word to Ben, who accidentally hears “MAT.” Ben whispers his word to Carlos, who hears “MAD.” As the game of telephone goes on, the word will transform further and further away from its original form.

We can think of a biological genetic material as a sequence of letters, and over time, sequences mutate: The letters of the sequence can change. Scientists have developed various models of sequence evolution to help them study how mutations occur over time.

Much like our game…
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Corporate debt is in serious trouble – here’s what it means if the market collapses

 

Corporate debt is in serious trouble – here's what it means if the market collapses

Stand well back. Oatawa

Jefferson Frank, Royal Holloway

Markets abhor uncertainty. The coronavirus pandemic is a severe supply shock that will substantially reduce the world’s economic output, and there will potentially be several waves as the contagion returns in the autumn or spring 2021.

Many governments are trying to form a bridge over the lockdown period to allow economic activity to be restored. This involves keeping viable businesses in operation with a furloughed workforce that can quickly re-open when appropriate. One major impediment is that the private corporate debt market is likely to completely implode, which risks pushing a substantial number of businesses over the edge.

Corporate debt is traded on the open market in several ways: bonds issued directly by companies, and bank loans that are sold on to investors by the bank that agreed them, either individually or in packages of multiple loans. Bonds make up the majority of the market.

There are three direct measures of the state of this corporate debt market. One involves credit ratings. The three leading ratings agencies have been downgrading corporate debt at a rapid pace, including big names like Ford and Goodyear.

Downgraded. Darren Brode

Ratings agency Fitch is forecasting a doubling in defaults in 2020 on US leveraged loans, which refers to bank loans to businesses considered more risky. The agency expects a default rate of 5% to 6% this year, compared to 3% last year. The dollar value will exceed the previous high of 2009, and for retail and energy companies, the default rate could approach 20%.

Fitch then expects defaults of between 8% and 9% next year in this market, amounting to a total of US$200 billion (£161 billion) in bad debt over two years. Other sectors at risk include airlines, hotels, restaurants, casinos and cinemas.

That 2008 feeling

A second measure of corporate debt is the market price of credit default swaps (CDSs), which are tradeable…
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What if the Bull Market Didn’t Actually End?

 

What if the Bull Market Didn’t Actually End?

Courtesy of Joshua Brown

 

Barry Ritholtz and Michael Batnick discuss the possibility that the events of this spring turn out to be just a cyclical bear market within the context of a longer term secular bull market. It’s happened before.

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How economies can survive a period of ‘suspended animation’ to deal with coronavirus

 

How economies can survive a period of 'suspended animation' to deal with coronavirus

Oxford Circus without shoppers. Shutterstock/heardiniondon

Michael Yaziji, International Institute for Management Development (IMD)

As coronavirus spreads across the world, politicians are confusing the current economic situation with a recession. The current decline in production and employment is not due to declining demand or supply, as is normally the case in a recession spiral.

Rather, it is because governments are shutting down vast swathes of the economy. It is their reactive policies which will take us into a recession that we can avoid.

An extreme hypothetical example will help clarify this. Consider a government mandate to shut all businesses on one random Tuesday for a holiday. People are asked to stay home. What happens on Wednesday? There is no significant economic impact. Employees, consumers and businesses start on Wednesday where they left off on Monday.

We could even imagine this market closure or “economic pause” being extended to two or three days, still with no significant impact. Indeed, the market closure could go on as long as consumers, employees, and businesses are able to go into a state of “suspended economic animation”. Everyone significantly reduces their economic activity, but, critically, maintains their ability to restart their economic activities where they left off.

An overly long market closure would lead us into a recession. Consumers wouldn’t be able to pay their rents and mortgages, and there would be chain reactions of unpaid bills across the economy. This in turn would reduce demand and businesses, in turn, would fire employees. We would be in a recession spiral.

To avoid this, there does need to be government intervention. Governments need to ensure that consumers, employees and businesses don’t degenerate during this state of suspended animation. They must be able to start up after the market closure where they left off before.

A different kind of crisis

Unfortunately, too many of our generals are fighting the last war. The mistaken approach currently being pursued in the US and some other countries is to simply try to inject vast sums into the economy. This is what worked in the…
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Democratic governors are quicker in responding to the coronavirus than Republicans

 

Democratic governors are quicker in responding to the coronavirus than Republicans

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who did not issue a stay-at-home order for his state until April 1, 2020. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Luke Fowler, Boise State University; Jaclyn Kettler, Boise State University, and Stephanie Witt, Boise State University

While the coronavirus pandemic is a national and international concern, state and local officials find themselves on the front lines of the public health battle.

Governors, in particular, have been in the spotlight in recent weeks. New York’s Andrew Cuomo has been praised by news outlets for his leadership at the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, while others have been criticized for slow responses.

A clear partisan gap has emerged in how quickly governors have declared emergencies and issue stay-at-home orders. Democratic governors have issued orders three to four days sooner than Republican governors, on average.

Timing pivotal

We study state governments, including their interactions with the federal government. Our previous work on federalism and state politics has identified partisan conflict between national, state and local government. Federalism is the distribution of power and authority across levels of government, and partisan conflict involves disagreements and competition between political parties. Partisan conflict over policy is nothing new.

But the coronavirus has put some governors in an ideologically compromising position. Republicans, who traditionally advocated for states’ rights, now find themselves deferring to the federal government.

Meanwhile, Democrats are leading the nation on pandemic responses and reaping the political rewards. They are also pushing for more federal coordination efforts, especially in obtaining high-demand medical supplies.

Although the same policies are being used across the country, the timing of decisions is likely to prove pivotal in mitigating how hard COVID-19 hits communities, as experiences in South Korea and Italy suggest. Earlier emergency declarations and stay-at-home orders increase the chances of a better outcome for the health of people in the state.


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The CDC now recommends wearing a mask in some cases – a physician explains why and when to wear one

 

The CDC now recommends wearing a mask in some cases – a physician explains why and when to wear one

The change in CDC guidance comes in response to new research on how the new coronavirus can spread. Peter Denovo/Shutterstock.com

Thomas Perls, Boston University

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed its policy and is now advising everyone, whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19, to cover their face with a mask or cloth covering whenever social distancing is difficult to maintain. To be clear, the CDC is not saying you should wear a mask wherever you go, but rather in places where people congregate, including grocery stores and public transportation and ride-shares.

The shift in recommendations reflects growing evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by a person’s exhalations and normal speech but also the fact that people are not effectively covering their sneezes and coughs.

The stealth virus

COVID-19’s middle name should be “stealth.” People can be shedding virus for one to three days before showing any symptoms – including no coughing, sneezing or fever – in what’s called “presymptomatic transmission.” A Singapore study suggests that 10% of infections are attributable to presymptomatic spread.

A study of the 3,711 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess cruise ship indicates that close to 1 in 5 COVID-19 carriers never develop symptoms. Some these people transmit the virus through “asymptomatic transmission.” The proportion of infected people that never develop symptoms could be more like one-third for the general population that is younger and healthier than typical cruise takers.

The virus’s ability to spread so easily from one person to the next is why people are being asked to physically distance themselves from one another. But people still have to go out to get essentials at places where people gather.

If a person is not coughing or sneezing, how are they spreading the virus? One way is by contact. The virus lives on the mucous membranes in the throat and nose. With people touching their faces every two-and-a-half minutes, on average it’s easy to see how the virus gets on our…
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Netanyahu Announces Full Lockdown Of Israel Ahead Of Passover

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the entire country will enter complete lockdown starting 4 pm on Tuesday until 7 am Friday.

This will also include a mandated home-confinement for all citizens from Wednesday?s Passover Seder until 7am on Thursday, with citizens only allowed to venture outside up to 100 meters from their home during that time. All travel between cities will be banned, which appears to have already begun to be enforced by police.

Netanyahu further indicated some restrictions will remain in effect for the full holiday week, with some likely to be lifted gradually following the Passover holiday. It's being interpreted as a controversial move to prevent families from traveling to gather for Passover.

Quarantined Haredi neighborhood in Israeli, file image.

Local media reports have suggested the move is in part a bid to open up the economy again after the intensive period of 'stay at home' orders.

Passover typically includes large family gatherings and heightened travel across the Jewish state, and the PM framed the drastic nationwide police-enforced lock down as aimed at preventing large-scale transmissions during the festivities.

He also said during his statements, "we see positive signs on the horizon" at a moment over 8,400 Israelis have been confirmed for COVID-19, including 53 deaths as of Monday afternoon.

In the ultra-Orthodox Israeli city of Bnei Brak, via AFP.

Netanyahu in his remarks touted that Israel has successfully initiated testing on a more expansive level than any other country currently hard-hit by the pandemic, and emphasized health officials are determined to reach 10,000 tests a day.

Police have been particularly active


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The Fed Apparently Thinks It’s Going to Lose $454 Billion on Its Wall Street Bailout

Courtesy of Pam Martens

On Thursday, March 26, in the midst of a growing panic on Wall Street over a lack of liquidity for toxic debt, the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell did something unprecedented. He appeared live on the Today show. His interviewer, Savannah Guthrie, opened the interview by noting that one writer had said that the Fed can simply conjure money out of thin air. (It can.) Guthrie asked Powell if there was any limit to the amount of money the Fed was willing to put into the economy to keep it afloat. Her question should have been: is there any limit to the amount of money the Fed will conjure out of thin air to keep Wall Street afloat?

Powell said this:

“In certain circumstances like the present, we do have the ability to essentially use our emergency lending authorities and the only limit on that will be how much backstop we get from the Treasury Department. We’re required to get full security for our loans so that we don’t lose money. So the Treasury puts up money as we estimate what the losses might be…Effectively $1 of loss absorption of backstop from Treasury is enough to support $10 of loans.”

Powell was forced to do damage control on Thursday because White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow had let the cat out of the bag at a press briefing the Tuesday evening prior that Main Street would be getting less than $2 trillion from the stimulus bill while the Fed would be getting $4 trillion as a result of its ability to leverage its share of the stimulus money, making this actually a $6 trillion stimulus bill. When the final stimulus bill was signed, the Fed got $454 billion of taxpayer money to cover its losses, which it can thus leverage up to $4.54 trillion to buy up the toxic debt that is exploding all over Wall Street.

Speaking to viewers of the Today show, Powell made it sound like the U.S. Treasury putting up taxpayer money at the Fed to absorb losses on Wall Street’s bad bets is the most normal thing in the world and a long-established practice. We’ve been studying the history of the Fed for the past 30 years and we…
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What the coronavirus does to your body that makes it so deadly

 

What the coronavirus does to your body that makes it so deadly

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (pink dots) on a dying cell. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Benjamin Neuman, Texas A&M University-Texarkana

COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Coronaviruses belong to a group of viruses that infect animals, from peacocks to whales. They’re named for the bulb-tipped spikes that project from the virus’s surface and give the appearance of a corona surrounding it.

A coronavirus infection usually plays out one of two ways: as an infection in the lungs that includes some cases of what people would call the common cold, or as an infection in the gut that causes diarrhea. COVID-19 starts out in the lungs like the common cold coronaviruses, but then causes havoc with the immune system that can lead to long-term lung damage or death.

SARS-CoV-2 is genetically very similar to other human respiratory coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. However, the subtle genetic differences translate to significant differences in how readily a coronavirus infects people and how it makes them sick.

SARS-CoV-2 has all the same genetic equipment as the original SARS-CoV, which caused a global outbreak in 2003, but with around 6,000 mutations sprinkled around in the usual places where coronaviruses change. Think whole milk versus skim milk.

Compared to other human coronaviruses like MERS-CoV, which emerged in the Middle East in 2012, the new virus has customized versions of the same general equipment for invading cells and copying itself. However, SARS-CoV-2 has a totally different set of genes called accessories, which give this new virus a little advantage in specific situations. For example, MERS has a particular protein that shuts down a cell’s ability to sound the alarm about a viral intruder. SARS-CoV-2 has an unrelated gene with an as-yet unknown function in that position in its genome. Think cow milk versus almond milk.

How the virus infects

Every coronavirus infection starts with a virus particle, a spherical shell that protects a single long string of genetic material and inserts it into a human cell. The genetic material instructs the cell to make around 30 different…
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JPMorgan Chase Has $2.9 Trillion Exposure in Off-Balance Sheet Items Vs $2.3 Trillion on Its Balance Sheet

Courtesy of Pam Martens

JPMorgan Chase On and Off-Balance Sheet Exposures, 2014 to 2019

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 5, 2020 ~

According to the Uniform Bank Performance Report for December 31, 2019 at the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), JPMorgan Chase, whose Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, has perpetually bragged about its “fortress balance sheet,” has $2.3 trillion in exposure on its balance sheet and $2.9 trillion in off-balance sheet exposure.

The off-balance sheet exposure includes things like credit card lines of credit that have been issued but not tapped as of December 31, 2019; corporate standby letters of credits that have been issued but not yet tapped; securitized assets that have been sold with recourse back to JPMorgan Chase’s balance sheet; real estate loans committed but not yet funded; and a staggering $1.2 trillion in credit derivatives – the same instruments that brought on an FBI probe and congressional investigations of the bank in 2012 and cost the bank over $1 billion in fines for what became infamously known as the London Whale scandal.

On May 10, 2012, Jamie Dimon testified before the House Financial Services Committee regarding its London Whale scandal, where traders in its London office had gambled in credit derivatives with funds from its federally-insured bank and lost $6.2 billion. During that hearing, Dimon said this about off-balance sheet activities at his bank:

“Remember, we have higher capital standards, higher liquidity standards, far more rules. Most banks are stronger. There’s far more — boards are more engaged, there’s management committees that are engaged. There’s no off-balance sheet vehicles. There’s no more subprime mortgages.”



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Phil's Favorites

Here's how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

 

Here's how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

Why do scientists care about mutations on the coronavirus? Alexandr Gnezdilov Light Painting

Niema Moshiri, University of California San Diego

When you hear the term “evolutionary tree,” you may think of Charles Darwin and the study of the relationships between different species over the span of millions of years.

While the concept of an “evolutionary tree” originated in Darwin’s “...



more from Ilene

Biotech/COVID-19

Here's how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

 

Here's how scientists are tracking the genetic evolution of COVID-19

Why do scientists care about mutations on the coronavirus? Alexandr Gnezdilov Light Painting

Niema Moshiri, University of California San Diego

When you hear the term “evolutionary tree,” you may think of Charles Darwin and the study of the relationships between different species over the span of millions of years.

While the concept of an “evolutionary tree” originated in Darwin’s “...



more from Biotech/COVID-19

ValueWalk

Activists demand revamp of anti-redlining law

By Anna Peel. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Over 100 California Community Organizations and Leaders Call for Banking Regulators to Stop Planned Revamp of Anti-Redlining Law during COVID19 Crisis

Q1 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Worker, Housing, and Small Business advocates call on all resources to be dedicated to saving lives and responding to Coronavirus

San Francisco--Amongst an unprecedented public health crisis that threatens hundreds of thousands of lives, as small businesses are shuttered across California and the nation, and as millions file for...



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Zero Hedge

"They've Left Me High And Dry": Here Is The Real Reason Companies Have Drawn Down A Record $293 Billion In Revolvers

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

One week ago, we reported that starting exactly one month ago on March 5, an unprecedented wave of corporate revolver draws was unleashed, resulting in what JPMorgan calculated was a record $208BN in revolving credit facilities being fully drawn (for the full list of companies see ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

S&P Repeating 2000 & 2007 Patterns Almost Exactly?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Does History Repeat? Is does rhyme sometimes!!!

This chart looks at the S&P 500 on a weekly basis over the past 20-years.

The S&P declined by 50% during the 2000-2003 bear market. On the week of 3/23/2001, it experienced its first counter-trend rally, which lasted 8-weeks, before the bear market resumed.

The S&P declined by 50% during the 2007-2009 bear market. On the week of 3/21/2001, it experienced its first counter-trend rally, which lasted 8-weeks, before the bear ...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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The Technical Traders

Founder of TradersWorld Magazine Issued Special Report for Free

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Larry Jacobs owner and editor of TradersWorld magazine published a free special report with his top article and market forecast to his readers yesterday.

What is really exciting is that this forecast for all assets has played out exactly as expected from the stock market crash within his time window to the gold rally, and sharp sell-off. These forecasts have just gotten started the recent moves were only the first part of his price forecasts.

There is only one article in this special supplement, click on the image or link below to download and read it today!

...

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Chart School

Big moving Averages and macro investment decisions

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

When price is falling every one wonders where demand will come in.


RTT black screen Tv videos study the simplest measure of price (simple moving average). What has happen before guides us now. 














Changes in the world is the source of all market moves, to catch and ride the change we believe a combination of Gann Angles, ...

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Members' Corner

10 ways to spot online misinformation

 

10 ways to spot online misinformation

When you share information online, do it responsibly. Sitthiphong/Getty Images

Courtesy of H. Colleen Sinclair, Mississippi State University

Propagandists are already working to sow disinformation and social discord in the run-up to the November elections.

Many of their efforts have focused on social media, where people’s limited attention spans push them to ...



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Digital Currencies

While coronavirus rages, bitcoin has made a leap towards the mainstream

 

While coronavirus rages, bitcoin has made a leap towards the mainstream

Get used to it. Anastasiia Bakai

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

Anyone holding bitcoin would have watched the market with alarm in recent weeks. The virtual currency, whose price other cryptocurrencies like ethereum and litecoin largely follow, plummeted from more than US$10,000 (£8,206) in mid-February to briefly below US$4,000 on March 13. Despite recovering to the mid-US$6,000s at the time of writin...



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Promotions

Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

TODAY's LIVE webinar on stocks, options and trading strategy is open to all!

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of TradeExchange.com. It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

...

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Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

 

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:

Lee,

The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.