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Oscar Ratings Tank

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TV Ratings: Oscars Fall to All-Time Lows

I didn’t watch.

Who needs to see a throng of self-important lefties revel in their fabulousness while they promote their fatuous work?

Yes folks, movies have become baseball in a land of football that is being challenged by soccer.

In other words, the theatrical experience doesn’t hold a candle to the home/flat screen one and series are much more appealing than two hour snoozefests and shoot-em-ups.

So it’s not only the paywall of theatres, it’s also the form, it doesn’t fit today’s world where if you’re into something, you want to go deep, if you stop and smell the coffee you don’t want a cup, but the whole pot.

Used to be the Oscars were a religious experience, at least for me. I’d gather with friends in front of the screen, which was much smaller back then, and there would be no talking as we watched the shapers of culture vie for victory, even though Woody Allen refused to attend because he believes competition in the arts is pointless, which is true, but everything needs to be quantified in today’s society, no matter how fallacious the judging.

Movies drove the culture. We wanted insight into those in front of the camera and behind. We learned the lingo. We knew the studio heads (quick, name one today!) and had to go to the theatre not only for the experience, but in order to participate in conversation at parties.

But then the producers went solely for the bucks and everybody we knew stopped going and we did too. Talk to friends, either they go all the time or not at all. I’m in the latter category, it just takes too much time, and I hate the audience and the timing…I want to watch when I want to watch, we live in an on-demand culture, that’s what streaming is all about!

As for rallying around the set with your brethren…

We call that the Super Bowl. And it’s about the ads and the ability to discuss the halftime presentation more than the game, if the game is good it’s a bonus. The Super Bowl is now a national holiday, if you’re not invited to a party you feel like a loser.

But the mainstream media did not get the memo that things have changed. The L.A. “Times” has its inane “Envelope” section, puff pieces published to satisfy clients that their publicists are doing the work.

And then there are the endless ads in both the aforementioned L.A. “Times” and “New York Times.” Who are these for? Oh, I get it, oldsters who still get the physical newspaper, the same ones who won’t vote for women and people of color.

Not that I think sexism or racism or even politics are the reasons people don’t watch, but the fact that THEY HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIES!

There, that’s the number one problem. Believe me, if they premiered a new movie every Friday night on a streaming service I’d watch it, because I’d want to be part of the conversation, feel like I belong in a culture where we’re all on our own avenue.

That’s why awards show ratings are going down, they’re out of time, just like variety shows and westerns. We don’t want to be glued to the screen in an era where we avoid commercials at all costs, come on, you use an ad-blocker don’t you? You should, your web pages will load that much faster! And Amazon is so cluttered with ads you can’t even find what you’re looking for anymore. Never mind Google, with all its paid ads on top.

But ain’t that America, where you sell, sell, sell.

But movies used to be different. Before it was all about the tie-ins, the sponsorships, the merch. When you oversell you deplete desire.

And the content in the awards shows? People with personal trainers and plastic surgery acting like everything they say is so important while they break for a musical number almost no one has heard to fill in the broadcast.

Want me to watch? Make it like the original Academy Awards, just the awards, twenty minutes, half hour top. I’d watch that, but I’m not dedicating an evening only to find out I consumed empty calories and want all that time back.

And it’s true that if anything happens, we’ll find out about it immediately online, if we care, and we can consume the entire show in a matter of minutes, if that long. Kinda like SNL.

But no one wants to mess with the formula, no one wants to blow the show up.

Or the movie business itself, other than Netflix, which can’t stop being excoriated by the wankers who produce and attend this fiasco.

Netflix will make your movie. Netflix will green light you. Because that’s the agreement they have with their audience, you pay us and we make a cornucopia of new stuff. And they know it’s about mass and niche. As in you need a mass of subscribers but many verticals of product. If they only made supernatural and superhero programming, I’d unsubscribe, but I can watch “Narcos” (coming back this week!) and “Money Heist” and a bunch of personal stuff I dig, like the films of the Duplass brothers, who are at least trying to reflect reality, where we all reside the last time I checked.

Oh, there’s a business in making two-dimensional dreck for international consumption by youngsters and nitwits, but it’s kinda like terrestrial radio, it gets the biggest slice of an ever-decreasing pie. So, these Marvel movies make more than any other ones, but most of us never bother to go to the movies anymore, we’ve been ignored and we checked out.

And don’t tell me about the grosses… If you want to talk about grosses, let’s talk video games, which can be a billion in a matter of days!

Everyone thinks their world is forever.

And long after the innovators are deceased, people without the same drive or understanding prop up the carcass until it dies. Yup, everything dies. Thomas Cook, Atari, 3-D…everything gigantic is a fad these days, everybody stops to look at the train-wreck and then they mash the pedal and continue to drive on by.

The record labels fought the internet for a decade.

The book business refuses to acknowledge the internet exists. They got prices raised on e-books and sales dropped but piracy has now gone through the roof! They’re repeating the music business debacle twenty years later, they thought they were immune when the truth is they were just ignorant: scroll down to “Book pirates are like termites: harmless as individuals, devastating in groups.”: bit.ly/3btTprJ

The movie business killed its essence when money became more important than story, they hollowed out the essence to the point where most people no longer care.

Furthermore, these big swinging dicks, and most do have dicks, refuse to play in the real marketplace, streaming television, where you find out instantly whether people want to watch your product or not. Just like oldsters decry music streaming, where it’s not that you’re getting screwed on payments, but just that most people don’t want to listen to your music!

But the great thing about life is it keeps on rolling along, and the will of the people always wins, especially in an era where the tools of construction have been commoditized, where you can create and market on a shoestring. Sure, a lot of dreck has been produced, but not all of it is junk. When you try to narrow the pipe, the mole pops up elsewhere, in a world where there’s endless shelf space and instant access to everything.

Come on, if the movies were launched on streaming services day and date they once again would be topics of discussion by everybody. But who wants to pay to see “Parasite” today, when everybody who went previously will put you down.

And how can you trust an industry that lauds “The Irishman”? We were subjected to endless stories about its production, its story, its actors, and the final product smells like a turd, overlong with little arc, like a typical Scorsese pic. But no, Marty is a genius, he cannot be crapped on. The insiders and critics are just like those guys in skinny jeans who used to tell you your music was crap and you had to listen to theirs. Now the hoi polloi no longer care, and speaking of the general public, I can’t find a single person who thought “The Irishman” was great, and when ballots were secret, the truth came out, it won no awards.

Yup, impeachment came and went nearly instantly, but we had to hear about the turgid “Irishman” for years, intensely for the last half of 2019 until up to now. No wonder the mainstream media is losing credibility.

Now I used to wait for these flicks to hit the flat screen. But then I found out it was too late, there was other stuff to watch. More people have talked to me about “Chernobyl” and “Succession” than any flick in a theatre this year, and I haven’t even made it around to them, right now I’m into the second season of “Trapped” on Amazon, an Icelandic noir/mystery series that is too slow for the fast and furious movie theatre but plays just right on the flat screen.

I’m inundated with suggestions. And when something is good, I can dig my teeth in deep, sometimes seven or eight seasons! I truly get to know the characters. “Spiral” is better than any movie I’ve seen in years.

But in today’s America you can never go backward, you can never lose a thing you’ve got, which is why the left wing elites are agitating for Bloomberg, because he’s one of them. Bernie? He’ll blow it all up, they’ll pay more money, they’ll have to get in the pit with the rest of us, fighting it out.

But it won’t happen in a movie theatre and it won’t happen watching the Oscars, because they’re HISTORY!

 

~~~

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Economy

10 Sunday Reads

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A note about Sunday reads: Normally, these are a cross section of policy, investing, economics, technology, arts, sports, etc. But these are not normal times, with the news is dominated by Coronavirus and the botched U.S. response to it.

Rather than let these Sunday reads become an exercise in negativity, they are now in two parts: Part 1 are upbeat, positive links to get help you get through these difficult times; Part 2 are the news stories of incompetence and corruption. Those negative now will get pushed below the jump. Read them, skim them, skip them entirely: your choice. Above all, stay safe! 

~~~

My easy like Sunday morning reads:

• FAQ: Coronavirus unemployment guide: What to do if you get laid off or furloughed (Washington Post)
• Millions Are Suddenly Working From Home. Can They Claim a Tax Break? (Wall Street Journal)
• The Cuomo brothers put on quite a show. (Washington Post)
• This Time is Different (The Belle Curve)
• How to Have a Social Life While Practicing Social Distancing (Real Simple) see also Apart, together (The Bellows)
• These Coronavirus Exposures Might Be the Most Dangerous (New York Times)
• Streaming spikes during pandemic lockdown (Axios)
• A Forest Submerged 60,000 Years Ago Could Save Your Life One Day (New York Times)
• Three shifts at the Scrabble factory: The inventor (VT Digger)
• (LOL) How to Buy a Private Jet (Worth)

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Jonathan Miller (of Miller Samuel), discussing the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the national real estate industry.

 

Randall Bell’s Bell Disaster Index Shows We Will Survive

Source: LinkedIn h/t Jonathan Miller

 

Sign up for our reads-only mailing list here.

 

 

 

Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures reads:

• The Cult Comes for Dr. Fauci (The Bulwark)
• It’s a sh– sandwich’: Republicans rage as Florida becomes a nightmare for Trump (Politico)
• Joe Biden, January 2020: Trump has weakened our capacity to deal with coronavirus (USA Today) (But I was told nobody could have seen this coming?)
• Excuses (Popular Information)
• How Tea Party Budget Battles Left the National Emergency Medical Stockpile Unprepared for Coronavirus: Fiscal restraints imposed by Republicans in Congress in the early years of the Obama administration left the U.S. less prepared to respond to the coronavirus pandemic today (ProPublica)
• Inside the coronavirus testing failure: Alarm and dismay among the scientists who sought to help (Washington Post) see also As Trump declared coronavirus under control, local leaders faced confusion and chaos as cases piled up (Washington Post)
• Taxpayers Paid Millions to Design a Low-Cost Ventilator for a Pandemic. Instead, the Company Is Selling Versions of It Overseas. (ProPublica)
• Authoritarian Populists Have Six Classic Moves. Trump’s Response to COVID-19 Uses Five of Them. (The Atlantic)
• DHS wound down pandemic models before coronavirus struck: A vital modeling program was sidelined amid a bureaucratic battle, former officials say, leaving U.S. less prepared to face the virus (Politico) see also U.S. axed CDC expert job in China months before virus outbreak (Reuters)
• The Military Knew Years Ago That a Coronavirus Was Coming (The Nation) see also ‘Inside the National Security Council, a rising sense of dread (Politico)

 

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Jonathan Miller (of Miller Samuel), discussing the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the national real estate industry.

 

Trump’s 75th Fox interview as president

Source: Washington Post

 

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Economy

Q&A

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QUESTION #1: Dear Martin,

Could you offer a comment on how these increases in deaths can affect the latest predictions that you and Socrates offered? Will we still have the sling effect? Even with reduced liquidity, with millions unemployed, with the economy in a state of war, is the Dow Jones able to react and find the strength to rise?
how will the emerging countries be?

how can the dollar remain strong with more than 5 trillion to be injected and with the cancellation of the euro preventing the flight to the dollar?

I agree with your comments on the great farce and that afterward they will be small numbers of sick people compared to other diseases, but what would you do at a time like this where the smell of death and the tears are multiplying?

How can we move forward if hospitals are full and have no vacancies for those who need respirators?
Please update us at this moment so dramatically.

Thanks,

S

ANSWER: The transformation of the Euro to digital will not impact the dollar negatively, but has the risk of driving it higher. Even in Japan when the government lost the ability to even issue money for 600 years, people used Chinese coins and bags of rice. As for the increase in deaths, I have first-hand info that this is also being contrived. Elderly people are dying from the flu and they simply put down the Coronavirus. We still show the trend should top out this week. Nevertheless, it is still 1/10th of those who die from the flu. Hospitals are not full. The virus will run its normal course. It peaked in China in less than 30 days. It has already peaked in Italy on March 20th. Any claim that it continues beyond this week of April 6th is bogus and fake. Even New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who many see as trying to be in the running to be drafted for the Democratic nominee came out and confirmed that the number of deaths may be declining. My bet is on Socrates. It has not bee wrong yet.

In Europe, SPD leader Norbert Walter-Borjans (Socialist) called for the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to be used as a crisis aid, but in the long term to use Eurobonds. “I am in favor of Eurobonds, but the seriousness of the situation leaves us no time for principle riding. It looks as if consent can be obtained that the ESM can be used without the frowned upon requirements,” said Walter-Borjans in an interview with the newspapers “La Repubblica”, “Il Messagero” and “El Pais”. In other words, we have the Socialists claiming emerging powers to circumvent democratic processes.


QUESTION #2: Is it possible that the markets don’t recover this year? Given the craziness will people trust anything at all?  I wonder if this virus thing is what you described in your report about herd mentality–everyone is scared and paralyzed?    Will this create the energy for any type of bounce back?  or is a society just doomed?  What good if the markets recover if everyone is out of work?  Money won’t be good since society will be turned back into the stone age.

ANSWER: We are running Socrates on all inputs. So far, it still shows a 2nd quarter low. Note also the forecast I have been touting for the past 6 years at least that this new wave would be an inflationary one driven by SHORTAGES in agriculture. The first major producers of staple foods such as wheat and rice have restricted exports. Although there is enough food in the world, supply bottlenecks and rapidly rising prices are threatening in some regions. In Germany, there may be bottlenecks with certain types of vegetables and fruits. However, with transportation shut down to prevent the virus from spreading, this is also impacting agriculture. Socrates forecasts the trend. It does not sort out the fundamental causes behind those trends. There is a clear distinction between the two.


QUESTION #3:  Dear Martin,
as a retired bond dealer and fund manager I subscribe to your Facts of socialism against
capitalism –but couldn`t it be that some Ultra RICH ( companies ) have the idea to Profit from this fight by buying up the whole shop for Peanuts if f.instants the Indices are
crashing down to a 1/10 of the current value —THAT WOULD BE A CAPITALISTIC POWER GRAB? -Like in Formula ! you surpass your Opponent out of the wind shadow.
KEEP UP THE PRESSURE –TKU for your work

PZ

ANSWER: This is far greater. Forcing a company’s share down to buy cheap is an old ploy as we both know. But this is a play to undermine the entire economy for political gain. Every socialist political party is pitching this to be the worst disaster warranting emergency powers. This goes beyond that for the very players are losing even Warrant Buffet lost $80 billion in market value on by March 23rd. If the socialist seize control of the economy, even the capitalist will lose. The rise of Eurobonds in a free market means that the outstanding negative $12 trillion in individual government bonds will crash. There go the pension funds.



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Economy

Coronavirus job losses for the past two weeks could match two years of the Great Recession’s job losses: Estimates of new claims filed are 10 million

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In the last two weeks, Americans have experienced a net loss of jobs on scale with the two years of job losses in the Great Recession.

Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported that a record-breaking 6.6 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment insurance benefits in the week ending March 28, doubling the prior week’s 3.3 million, an eye-popping record that lasted only a week. New claims in each of the last two weeks dwarf any prior week in over 50 years of weekly data (Figure A).

Figure A

In the two weeks ending last Saturday, about 10 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment insurance. For a sense of scale, the Great Recession reduced total number of U.S. jobs by 8.7 million through 2 years of losses, from 138.4 million in January 2008 to 129.7 million in February 2010. The share of adults employed is now almost certainly below its lowest level since the start of the Great Recession.

Based on Americans’ internet search activity through the first three days of this week, our model predicts that, next Thursday, DOL will report that another 4.7–5.7 million Americans filed new claims in the current week ending tomorrow.

The Great Recession and the current one unfolded very differently. During the Great Recession, job separations—the sum of quits, firings, and layoffs—actually slowed (Figure B: dashed line) but hiring slowed even more rapidly (Figure B: dotted line). In any time period, the difference between the number of separations and the number of hires equals the net change in the number of jobs. Over those two years of net losses, 55.9 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment.

Figure B

Figure B

Throughout the Great Recession, new hires counterbalanced a large share of the job losses in any month.

The current labor-market shock is happening differently. It’s not driven primarily by a hiring slowdown but by skyrocketing layoffs. Hiring appears to be slowing as well, along with posted openings, though this is more difficult to observe and slower to show up in any official sources. A simple approximation implies that there may have been as many as 2 million hires over the prior two weeks, implying a net loss of at least 8 million jobs.

These job losses are happening across every state. Table 1 describes the official reports of new claims over the two weeks ending March 28 for each state and for each week separately. Applying the national seasonal adjustment factors would raise these by about 14%. Many states’ UI administrators are struggling to keep pace with the huge surge in demand, which is leading to intake, processing, and reporting challenges. And not everyone who loses work has tried to file for unemployment. So the true scale of labor income loss is undoubtedly larger than even these huge numbers show.

Table 1

Table 1

The surge in new claims was not a surprise, but the magnitude is enormous. Americans started searching for the phrase “file for unemployment” at unprecedented rates a couple of weeks ago, as the broad quarantines started and layoffs followed. Search activity rose again last week, above the record high levels of the prior week, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Figure C

Figure D shows the intensity of search activity by state in the last week, on the vertical axis, against intensity in the prior week, on the horizontal axis. It shows that search intensity increased in many states.

Figure D

Figure D

The federal government is the only entity in the country with the borrowing capacity to help families losing massive shares of their income through no fault of their own, as necessary to preserve life and ensure a speedy recovery. Given our failure to stand up wide-scale testing, we cannot distinguish who can work from who requires care and our only option for saving lives is indiscriminate social distancing. We had to put the U.S. economy into a medically induced coma. Without life support systems pumping resources where they need to go, vital parts of our economy will start to fail, diminishing our ability to quickly and smoothly revive.

We must address the public health challenges with every productive resource available, while also preventing families’ finances from deteriorating into desperation. It’s not about stimulus. It’s about survival.



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