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Market Talk – July 31, 2020




Buoyed by a construction boom, China’s economic recovery continued apace in July, new sentiment data suggested. The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for July stood at 51.1, with a reading above 50.0 suggesting expansion in factory output. This was slightly better than June’s reading of 50.9 and was better than analysts’ expectations, with the median result of a Bloomberg survey standing at 50.8.

President Donald Trump plans to announce a decision ordering China’s Byte Dance Ltd. to divest its ownership of the music-video app TikTok, which is popular with US teens, according to people familiar with the matter. The US has been investigating potential national security risks due to the company’s control of the app, and Trump’s decision could be announced as soon as Friday, the people said.

India’s gold demand in 2020 is expected to fall to the lowest level in 26 years with domestic bullion prices hitting a record high and as falling disposable incomes could curtail retail purchases, the World Gold Council (WGC) said on Thursday. India’s gold consumption in the first half of 2020 plunged 56% on-year to 165.6 tonnes. Meanwhile, the coronavirus-triggered lockdown also slashed demand by 70% in the June quarter to 63.7 tonnes, the lowest in more than a decade, the WGC said in a report published on Thursday.

A government audit of India’s flagship payments processor last year found more than 40 security vulnerabilities including several it called “critical” and “high” risk, according to an internal government document seen by Reuters. The audit, which took place over four months to February 2019, highlighted a lack of encryption of personal data at the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) which forms the backbone of the country’s digital payments system and operates the RuPay card network championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The major Asian stock markets had a mixed day today:

  • NIKKEI 225 decreased 629.23 points or -2.82% to 21,710.00
  • Shanghai increased 23.18 points or 0.71% to 3,310.01
  • Hang Seng decreased 115.24 points or -0.47% to 24,595.35
  • ASX 200 decreased 123.30 points or -2.04% to 5,927.80
  • Kospi decreased 17.64 points or -0.78% to 2,249.37
  • SENSEX decreased 129.18 points or -0.34% to 37,606.89
  • Nifty50 decreased 28.7 points or -0.26% to 11,073.45

The major Asian currency markets had a mixed day today:

  • AUDUSD decreased 0.00497 or -0.69% to 0.71453
  • NZDUSD decreased 0.00616 or -0.92% to 0.66328
  • USDJPY increased 1.29 or 1.23% to 105.99
  • USDCNY decreased 0.01274 or -0.18% to 6.98600

Precious Metals:

  • Gold increased 8.80 USD/t oz. or 0.45% to 1,968.30
  • Silver increased 0.47 USD/t. oz or 1.99% to 24.013

Some economic news from last night:


Chinese Composite PMI (Jul) decreased from 54.2 to 54.1

Manufacturing PMI (Jul) increased from 50.9 to 51.1

Non-Manufacturing PMI (Jul) decreased from 54.4 to 54.2


Jobs/applications ratio (Jun) decreased from 1.20 to 1.11

Unemployment Rate (Jun) decreased from 2.9% to 2.8%

Industrial Production (MoM) (Jun) increased from -8.9% to 2.7%

Industrial Production forecast 1m ahead (MoM) (Jul) increased from 5.7% to 11.3%

Industrial Production forecast 2m ahead (MoM) (Aug) decreased from 9.2% to 3.4%

South Korea:

Industrial Production (YoY) (Jun) increased from -9.6% to -0.5%

Industrial Production (MoM) (Jun) increased from -7.0% to 7.2%

Retail Sales (MoM) decreased from 4.6% to 3.4%

Service Sector Output (MoM) (Jun) decreased from 2.4% to 2.2%


Housing Credit (Jun) remain the same at 0.2%

PPI (YoY) (Q2) decreased from 1.3% to -0.4%

PPI (QoQ) (Q2) decreased from 0.2% to -1.2%

Private Sector Credit (MoM) (Jun)decreased from 0.1% to -0.3%

Some economic news from today:

Hong Kong:

M3 Money Supply (Jun) increased from 0.1% to 1.4%


Household Confidence (Jul) increased from 28.4 to 29.5

Housing Starts (YoY) (Jun) decreased from -12.3% to -12.8%

Construction Orders (YoY) (Jun) decreased from -6.1% to -13.4%


Federal Fiscal Deficit (Jun) increased from 4,663.43B to 6,623.63B

Bank Loan Growth decreased from 6.1% to 5.8%

Deposit Growth decreased from 11.0% to 10.8%

FX Reserves, USD increased from 517.64B to 522.63B

Infrastructure Output (YoY) (Jun) increased from -22.0% to -15.0%


The British government is going to the UK’s Supreme Court to challenge the return of a woman who ran away from home as a teenager in London to join the Islamic State group. A lower appeals court ruled earlier this month that Shamima Begum had the right to come back to her home country to mount a legal challenge aimed at restoring her British citizenship, which was revoked on national security grounds.

A report by the London School of Economics claims “Brexit will have a profound impact on the UK economy,” as it warns business conditions will worsen for most sectors, even those that managed to avoid the negative impact of the coronavirus lockdown. The report titled ‘COVID-19 and Brexit: Real-Time Updates on Business Performance in the United Kingdom’ by the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance, warns Brexit will negatively impact the UK economy as new structures arise at the conclusion of the EU transition period. It states that transitioning to new trade and investment rules will be difficult and costly for many businesses. Govt representative has criticized the report and argues the coronavirus will have the largest and most overarching impact on the UK’s economy.

France’s economy shrank by nearly 14% in the second quarter when the country was in coronavirus-related lockdown, a third consecutive quarter of negative growth in a worsening recession, the national statistics agency said on July 31. The startling plunge of 13.8% from April-June starkly illustrated the punishing economic cost of the two-month lockdown. The pain was so damaging to jobs and industries that the government is talking down the possibility of another nationwide lockdown as infections tick upward again.

Huawei’s top manager in Germany has appealed to the government not to shut it out of building 5G mobile networks, Der Spiegel said on Friday. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has put off a decision on tougher certification rules until after the summer break, amid pressure from some lawmakers who sympathize with US calls to ban Huawei outright.

The major Europe stock markets had a negative day:

  • CAC 40 decreased 69.25 points or -1.43% to 4,783.69
  • FTSE 100 decreased 92.23 points or -1.54% to 5,897.76
  • DAX 30 decreased 66.29 points or -0.54% to 12,313.36

The major Europe currency markets had a mixed day today:

  • EURUSD decreased 0.00728 or -0.61% to 1.17946
  • GBPUSD decreased 0.00085 or -0.06% to 1.31028
  • USDCHF increased 0.00366 or 0.40% to 0.91247

Some economic news from Europe today:


French GDP (QoQ) (Q2) decreased from -5.9% to -13.8%

French Consumer Spending (MoM) (Jun) decreased from 37.4% to 9.0%

French CPI (YoY) increased from 0.2% to 0.8%

French CPI (MoM) increased from 0.1% to 0.4%

French HICP (MoM) increased from 0.1% to 0.4%

French HICP (YoY) increased from 0.2% to 0.9%


Nationwide HPI (YoY) (Jul) increased from -0.1% to 1.5%

Nationwide HPI (MoM) (Jul) increased from -1.6% to 1.7%


German Retail Sales (YoY) (Jun) increased from 3.2% to 5.9%

German Retail Sales (MoM) (Jun) decrease from 12.7% to -1.6%


Retail Sales (YoY) (Jun) decreased from 6.2% to 1.1%


Spanish GDP (YoY) (Q2) decreased from -4.1% to -22.1%

Spanish GDP (QoQ) (Q2) decreased from -5.2% to -18.5%

Spanish Current account (May) increased from -1.53B to 0.75B


Italian GDP (QoQ) (Q2) decreased from -5.4% to -12.4%

Italian GDP (YoY) (Q2) decreased from -5.5% to -17.3%

Italian CPI (YoY) (Jul) decreased from -0.2% to -0.3%

Italian CPI (MoM) (Jul) decreased from 0.1% to -0.1%

Italian HICP (YoY) (Jul) increased from -0.4% to 0.9%

Italian HICP (MoM) (Jul) decreased from -0.3% to -0.6%

Italian Retail Sales (MoM) (Jun) decreased from 24.0% to 12.1%

Italian Retail Sales (YoY) (Jun) increased from -10.5% to -2.2%


Central Bank Currency Purchase (Aug) increased from -2,500.0M to -2,000.0M

Unemployment Rate n.s.a. (Jul) increased from 4.80% to 4.90%

Euro Zone:

Core CPI (YoY) increased from 0.8% to 1.2%

CPI (YoY) (Jul) increased from 0.3% to 0.4%

CPI, n.s.a (Jul) decreased from 105.69 to 105.36

GDP (YoY) decreased from -3.1% to -15.0%

GDP (QoQ) decreased from -3.6% to -12.1%

HICP ex Energy & Food (YoY) (Jul) increased from 1.1% to 1.3%


The Trump administration is considering granting asylum to those wishing to escape Hong Kong due to China’s new laws that violate the “one country, two systems” agreement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated the administration is “actively considering how we ought to treat those who seek asylum coming to us from Hong Kong, or to grant a visa program that surrounds that.” The consideration has unsurprisingly angered Beijing, and came a day after the US demanded that China pay for the coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan. “I’m very confident that the world will look at China differently and engage with them on fundamentally different terms than they did before this catastrophic disaster,” Pompeo said in a separate interview this week.

The Canadian government is cracking down on non-citizens traveling to Canada via Alaska. The Canada Border Services Agency announced, beginning today, foreign nationals will only be allowed to return from Alaska through five border crossings in Western Canada. Drivers will receive a “to support compliance,” tag on their car after receiving inspection. “We look forward to the day when our borders are open and we can welcome travelers from all over but we aren’t there yet,” BC Premier John Horgan stated. Currently, Americans wishing to travel to or from Alaska have 24 hours to cross the Yukon and are required to stick to a preset route.

Today’s report from Statics Canada shows that the Canadian economy is nearly 15% away from returning to pre-pandemic (February 2020) levels. In May, GDP rose to 4.5%, beating analysts’ expectations of 3.5%. The agency anticipates GDP rising 5% in June, and expects manufacturing, retail, and construction sectors to see notable uptick. If June’s forecast is correct, Canada’s GDP will be close to returning to normalcy.

Brazil’s President Bolsonaro claimed that he “might have mold” in his lungs as he recovers from the coronavirus. The president stated that he is cured of the coronavirus, but has a different infection, he speculated, that is a result of quarantining. “It must have been those 20 days inside the house, we catch other things. I’ve caught mold, mold in my lungs. It must be that,” Bolsonaro stated on Thursday. First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro recently tested positive for the virus as well. Bolsonaro also praised the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine for his recovery. “I’m healed from COVID. I have antibodies, no problems. In my particular case, I first thank God, and secondly, the medication prescribed by the presidential doctor: hydroxychloroquine,” Brazil’s president stated.

US Market Closings:

  • Dow advanced 115.09 points or 0.44% to 26,428.74
  • S&P 500 advanced 24.99 points or 0.77% to 3,271.21
  • Nasdaq advanced 157.46 points or 1.49% to 10,745/28
  • Russell 2000 declined 14.67 points or -0.98% to 1,480.43

Canada Market Closings:

  • TSX Composite declined 130.09 points or -0.8% to 16,169.2
  • TSX 60 declined 9.64 points or -0.99% to 968.67

Brazil Market Closing:

  • Bovespa declined 2,090.87 points or -1.99% to 102,917.83


The oil markets had a mixed day today:

  • Crude Oil decreased 0.2 USD/BBL or -0.50% to 39.7200
  • Brent increased 0.06 USD/BBL or 0.14% to 43.0000
  • Natural gas decreased 0.033 USD/MMBtu or -1.79% to 1.8110
  • Gasoline decreased 0.0832 USD/GAL or -6.75% to 1.1488
  • Heating oil decreased 0.0087 USD/GAL or -0.71% to 1.2199

The above data was collected around 12:29 EST on Friday.

  • Top commodity gainers: Silver (1.99%), Coffee (2.90%), Sugar (4.05%), and Cocoa (2.52%)
  • Top commodity losers: Cotton (-1.80%), Gasoline (-6.75%), Steel (-3.40%), and Natural Gas (-1.79%)

The above data was collected around 12:33 EST on Friday.


Japan 0.02%(-0bp), US 2’s 0.12% (-1bps), US 10’s 0.54%(+0bps); US 30’s 1.21%(+1bps), Bunds -0.53% (+2bp), France -0.19% (+2bp), Italy 1.08% (+5bp), Turkey 12.70% (+12bp), Greece 1.10% (+0bp), Portugal 0.36% (+3bp); Spain 0.34% (+2bp) and UK Gilts 0.10% (+1bp).


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TikTok dust up



This week’s Goodfellows conversation was a bit more contentious than usual. The most interesting part, I think, is our little dust-up over TikTok, following Niall’s Bloomberg commentary.

As in the rest of this series I am the skeptic of jumping in to Cold War II — or at least against lashing out against all things China without an overall strategy. So I pushed hard on my colleagues — Be specific. Just exactly what is the danger you fear about allowing a Chinese social media company to operate in the U.S?

Let us remember TikTok is a private company, not a direct arm of the Chinese Communist Party. It loudly says it keeps data private and locates that data outside China. Certainly, one could and should ask for long lists of assurances on data privacy to be allowed to operate in the US. Yes, under Chinese law, the Chinese government can demand data. And then we’ll see what happens. But let us not confuse the facts on the ground as they are.

But admitting all that, be specific. Exactly what is the danger to US national security if the Chinese Communist Party gets TikToks data that finds Suzie Derkins really likes fluffy cat videos? What is special about Chinese ownership that makes TikTok super-dangerous? 

Judge for yourself, as it is unfair for me to post too many late hits at my colleagues’ responses, but I remain unconvinced. Sure, 40 years from now Suzie might be a Supreme Court nominee and China might release an embarrassing video from her teenage years. But China can archive Reels or twitter or YouTube just as easily.

Many other answers seemed to me to veer off to other issues. Niall thinks TikTok is like crack cocaine, addictive to young and feeble minds, because it has AI algorithms that feed what you want to read. OK, but that has nothing to do with China and national security. Reels will be just as bad. HR is back to countering China’s quest for “economic dominance.” But I guess that means cutting off all Chinese companies, and we’ve had the argument before whether strategic mercantilism or innovation is the right answer there.

The argument broadened to one of general freedom of speech and regulation of the internet. Niall is still worried about all the fake news, and thinks that by regulating internet platforms as publishers all will be well. I notice current publishers are full of fake news too, and that the internet allows much more freedom to respond, and provide a counter-narrative. There is a bottom line, I think, whether one trusts people with freedom of speech and counter-speech, or some hope that some regulatory system, either top-down (which Niall disavows) or through the legal system, being able to sue publishers for wrong stories, will stem fake news and protect people from their feeble-mindedness. It’s a second-best world — I notice all the gatekeepers are just as feeble minded, and trust caveat emptor a lot more, I think, than my colleagues. Facebook’s idea that all postings on covid-19 must conform to current CDC or WHO guidelines, for example, is laughable. The robust and acrimonious debate over policy in the current crisis has been enormously beneficial.

I do think traditional limitations on free speech are allowable, of course. Posting on Facebook “the cops are busy tonight, everybody meet at the Nike store on N. Michigan avenue,” as apparently happened in Chicago last weekend, falls under the crying fire in a crowded theater exemption to free speech.

I won’t prejudice the conversation further. We will surely return to these issues.

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Afranius & Petreius Fear Caesar’s Cavalry & Decide to Retreat: Liveblogging the Fall of the Roman Republic



Caesar faces Pompeian forces split in two: an army without a leader in Spain, and a leader without an army in Greece. Logistics and diplomacy reverse the situation at Ilerda in northeast Spain, as Caesar gains an advantage in allied cavalry that makes Afranius and Petreius fear their position will soon become logistically untenable. They decide to retreat:

Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War ‘When news of this battle was brought to Caesar at Ilerda, the bridge being completed at the same time, fortune soon took a turn. The enemy, daunted by the courage of our horse, did not scour the country as freely or as boldly as before: but sometimes advancing a small distance from the camp, that they might have a ready retreat, they foraged within narrower bounds…

…at other times, they took a longer circuit to avoid our outposts and parties of horse; or having sustained some loss, or descried our horse at a distance, they fled in the midst of their expedition, leaving their baggage behind them; at length they resolved to leave off foraging for several days, and, contrary to the practice of all nations, to go out at night.

In the meantime the Oscenses and the Calagurritani, who were under the government of the Oscenses, send ambassadors to Caesar, and offer to submit to his orders. They are followed by the Tarraconenses, Jacetani, and Ausetani, and in a few days more by the Illurgavonenses, who dwell near the river Ebro. He requires of them all to assist him with corn, to which they agreed, and having collected all the cattle in the country, they convey them into his camp. One entire cohort of the Illurgavonenses, knowing the design of their state, came over to Caesar, from the place where they were stationed, and carried their colours with them.

A great change is shortly made in the face of affairs. The bridge being finished, five powerful states being joined to Caesar, a way opened for the receiving of corn, and the rumours of the assistance of legions which were said to be on their march, with Pompey at their head, through Mauritania, having died away, several of the more distant states revolt from Afranius, and enter into league with Caesar.

Whilst the spirits of the enemy were dismayed at these things, Caesar, that he might not be always obliged to send his horse a long circuit round by the bridge, having found a convenient place, began to sink several drains, thirty feet deep, by which he might draw off a part of the river Segre, and make a ford over it. When these were almost finished, Afranius and Petreius began to be greatly alarmed, lest they should be altogether cut off from corn and forage, because Caesar was very strong in cavalry.

They therefore resolved to quit their posts, and to transfer the war to Celtiberia.

There was, moreover, a circumstance that confirmed them in this resolution: for of the two adverse parties, that which had stood by Sertorius in the late war, being conquered by Pompey, still trembled at his name and sway, though absent: the other which had remained firm in Pompey’s interest, loved him for the favours which they had received: but Caesar’s name was not known to the barbarians. From these they expected considerable aid, both of horse and foot, and hoped to protract the war till winter, in a friendly country.

Having come to this resolution, they gave orders to collect all the ships in the river Ebro, and to bring them to Octogesa, a town situated on the river Ebro, about twenty miles distant from their camp. At this part of the river, they ordered a bridge to be made of boats fastened together, and transported two legions over the river Segre, and fortified their camp with a rampart, twelve feet high…


.#history #livebloggingthefalloftheromanrepublic #politics #2020-08-11
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Foreshadowing from Gaius Sallustius Crispus A strongly unconventional high politician facing the expiration of his term of office. He knows that there is a very high probability that, because of his actions in office, his adversaries will try and convict him of crimes after he lays down his power. Let us start with some foreshadowing from Gaius Sallustius Crispus…

Pompey’s Strategy and Domitius’ Stand In his The Civil War Gaius Julius Caesar presented “just the facts” in a way that made Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus look like a cowardly and incompetent idiot. The attractive interpretation is that Ahenobarbus was just trying to do the job of defeating Caesar, but had failed to recognize that Pompey was not his ally. Pompey, rather, was somebody whose first goal was to gain the submission of Ahenobarbus and the other Optimates, and only after that submission was gained would he even think about fighting Caesar. Still an idiot, but not an incompetent or a cowardly one: Alfred Burns ‘In early 49, the alliance confronting Caesar consisted of the old republican senate families who under the leadership of [Lucius] Domitius [Ahenonbarbus] tried to maintain the traditional institutions and of Pompey who clung to his own extra-legal position of semi-dictatorial power. Both parties to the alliance were as mutually distrustful as they were dependent on each other…

Marcus Tullius Cicero’s Take on the First Three Months of -49 ‘We have a primary source for the start of the Roman Civil Warin addition to Gaius Julius Caesar’s deceptively powerful plain-spoken “just the facts” narrative in his Commentaries on the Civl War—a narrative that is also a clever and sophisticated lawyer’s brief. Our one other primary source: Marcus Tullius Cicero’s letters to his BFF Titus Pomponius Atticus. Caesar, in his The Civil War, makes himself out to be reasonable, rational, decisive, and clever. Cicero, in his Letters to Atticus is a contrast. He lets his hair down. He is writing to someone he trusts to love him without reservation. He is completely unconcerned with making himself appear to be less flawed than he appears. And the impression he leaves is absolutely dreadful: he makes himself out to be erratic, emotional, dithering, and idiotic…

Reflecting on the First Three Months of -49 ‘The key question for the first three months of the year -49 is: what did the factions anticipate would happen in that year? The Optimates seemed to think that they had Caesar cornered: Either he surrendered… and then submitted to trial… or he… was quickly crushed…. Cicero appears to have believed that either the Senate surrendered to Ceesar and let him… put Cataline’s conspiracy into action but legally… and then ruled With the support of his electoral coalition of mountebank ex-debtors and ex-veterans to whom he had given land; or… Pompey… crushed Cesar militarily… follow[ed] up with proscriptions and executions after which he would rule as a second Sulla. What is not at all clear to me is what Pompey thought would happen…. My guess, reading between the lines of Plutarch, is that Pompey found himself allied with the Senate in January-February of -49, but not in command of anything—as shown by Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus’s behavior at Corfinium, attempting to trap Pompey into fighting alongside him in central Italy. And so he retreated to Greece, where he was in undisputed command…

Caesar Offers a Compromise Solution (or So Caesar Says) The Beginning of Caesar’s Commentaries on the Civil War, in which Caesar says that he had proposed a compromise solution to the political crisis…. ‘The dispatch from Gaius Caesar was delivered to the consuls; but it was only after strong representations from the tribunes that they gave their grudging permission for it to be read in the Senate. Even then, they would not consent to a debate on its contents, but initiated instead a general debate on ‘matters of State’…. Scipio spoke… Pompey, he said, intended to stand by his duty to the State, if the Senate would support him; but if they hesitated and showed weakness, then, should they want his help later, they would ask for it in vain…

The Optimate Faction Rejects Caesar’s Compromise Caesar narrates the reasons that the leaders of the Optimate faction—Cato, Lentulus, Scipio, and Pompey—worked hard to set the stage for war, and how the majority of Senators in the timorous middle were robbed of the power to decide freely, and driven reluctantly to vote for Scipio’s motion to rob Caesar of his protections against arrest and trial…

The Optimate Faction Arms for War, & Illegally Usurps Provincial Imperium Caesar narrates: Whatever norms he may or may not have broken during his consulate—in order to wrest land from the hands of corrupt plutocrats and grant it to the deserving—he says, the Optimate faction does much worse. In the first seven days of the year of the consulate of Lucius Cornelius Lentulus Crus and Gaius Claudius Marcellus Maior, the Optimate faction goes beyond norm-breaking into outright illegality. And to that they add impiety. They illegaly seize power, as they grant themselves proconsular and propraetorial imperium over the provinces, without the constitutionally-required popular confirmation of imperium. They impiously violate the separation of church and state by seizing temple funds for their own use. They thus incur the wrath of the gods. And they incur the enmity of all who believe in constitutional balance, as opposed to armed plutocratic dictatorship…

Caesar Presents His Case to the 13th Legion, & Negotiates Unsucccessfully with Pompey Caesar presents his case to the 13th Legion, and wins its enthusiastic support. Caesar and Pompey negotiate, but Pompey refuses to give up his dominant position. He holds imperium over Spain and commanding the ten Spanish garrison legions, while also residing in the suburbs of Rome and thus dominating the discussions of the Senate. Pompey refuses to commit to setting a date for his departure for Spain…

The Optimate Faction Panics and Abandons Rome Caesar narrates: The Optimate faction panics at a rumor of Caesar’s approach, and flees from Rome with the looted Treasury reserve. The towns of Italy support Caesar. Even the town of Cingulum rallied to Caesar, even though its founder Titus Labienus, Caesar’s second-in-command in the Gallic War, had deserted Caesar for his earlier allegiance to Pompey. And Pompey’s attempts to reinforce his army by recruiting veterans who had obtained their farms through Caesar’s legislative initiatives did not go well…

Caesar Besieges Domitius in Corfinum Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus began raising troops, and by the start of February -49 had 13000 soldiers in the town of Corfinum. On 09 Feb -49 Domitius decided to stand at Corfinum rather than retreat to the south of Italy. So he wrote to Pompey… urged that the Optimate faction join its military forces together at Corfinum to outnumber and fight Caesar. Pompey disagreed. Why did he decide that he, Pompey, “cannot risk the whole war in a single battle, especially under the circumstances”?…

Caesar Captures Corfinum Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus’s deception that Pompey is coming to the Optimates’ aid in Corfinum falls apart, Ahenobarbus tries to flee, Lentulus Spinther begs for his life, Caesar grants clemency to all, and adds the three Optimate and Pompeian legions to his army. Before Corfinum Caesar had had two legions in Italy to the Optimate and Pompeian six. After Corfinum (with the arrival of Legio VIII plus new recruits) Caesar has seven legions in Italy to the Pompeian three. It is now 21 Feb -49: Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War: ‘Domitius’s looks, however, belied his words; indeed, his whole demeanour was much more anxious and fearful than usual. When to this was added the fact that, contrary to his usual custom, he spent a lot of time talking to his friends in private, making plans, while avoiding a meeting of the officers or an assembly of the troops, then the truth could not be concealed or misrepresented for long…

Pompey Refuses to Negotiate & Flees to Greece Pompey flees to the southern Adriatic port of Brundisium. Caesar catches up to him and begs him to negotiate. Pompey refuses and flees to Greece. Caesar decides not to follow, but to turn and first defeat the Pompeian armies in Spain. It is now 18 Mar -49…

Cementing Caesarian Control of the Center of the Empire: Late March -49 Caesar, now that the Pompeians and the High Optimates have fled, offers to share power with the dysfunctional Senate but, filibustered and vetoed by Optimate tribunes, he consolidates his hold on the center of the empire and heads for Spain…

Treachery at Massilia: April-May -49 The Massiliotes profess neutrality—until Pompeian reinforcements arrive, and then they go back on their word. Pompeians to whom Caesar had shown clemency at Corfinium have again taken up weapons against him: Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus at Massilia, and Vibullius Rufus to command the Pompeian legions in Spain…

Rendezvous in Spain, at Ilerda Caesar’s first probing military moves demonstrate his position is very strong. From a central position in control of the heart of the empire, he moves first to deal with the Pompeian forces in Spain to his west: ‘The First Spanish Campaign: Fabius’s orders were to make haste to seize the passes over the Pyrenees, which at that time were being held by the troops of Pompey’s lieutenant, Lucius Afranius. He ordered the remaining legions, which were wintering farther away, to follow on. Fabius, obeying orders, lost no time in dislodging the guards from the pass and proceeded by forced marches to encounter Afranius’s army…

Caesar Begins His First Spanish Campaign A strongly unconventional high politician knows that his adversaries will try and convict him of crimes after he lays down his military command, so he lets the dice fly. His first probing military moves demonstrate his position is very strong. He moves first to deal with the Pompeian forces in Spain to his west. He has his men build a fortified camp close enough to the Pompeian base that the soldiers will inevitably start to fraternize…

Heavy But Inconclusive Skirmishing Between the Military Camps at Ilerda ‘From a central position in control of the heart of the empire, Caesar moves first to deal with the Pompeian forces in Spain to his west. Heavy but inconclusive skirmishing follows…

Floods and Supply Lines: Livelogging the Fall of the Roman Republic From a central position in control of the heart of the empire, Caesar moves first to deal with the Pompeian forces in Spain to his west: Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War: ‘Floods and Supply Lines: The enemy fortified the hill, about which the contest had been, with strong works, and posted a garrison on it. In two days after this transaction, there happened an unexpected misfortune. For so great a storm arose, that it was agreed that there were never seen higher floods in those countries; it swept down the snow from all the mountains, and broke over the banks of the river, and in one day carried away both the bridges which Fabius had built, a circumstance which caused great difficulties…

Caesar Turns the Tables on the Pompeian Skirmishers ‘Caesar faces Pompeian forces split in two: an army without a leader in Spain, and a leader without an army in Greece. With clever engineering and tactics, he overcomes his logistical difficulties and begins to turn the tables on the Pompeian army in Spain…

The Caesarian Navy Led by Decimus Brutus Wins a Victory at Massilia ‘Caesar faces Pompeian forces split in two: an army without a leader in Spain, and a leader without an army in Greece. While Caesar grapples with the leaderless Pompeian army in Spain, Decimus Brutus and Caesar’s navy win an victory over the traitorous Massilians and Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus…

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Dorothy Theresa Sawchak Mankiw



Above is a picture of my mother as a young woman. I would like to tell you about her.

My mother was born on July 18, 2020, the second child of Nicholas and Catherine Sawchak.

Nicholas and Catherine were immigrants from Ukraine. They came to the United States as teenagers, arriving separately, neither with more than a fourth-grade education. Catherine was from a farming area in western Ukraine. She left because her family wanted her to marry an older man rather than her younger boyfriend, who had been conscripted into the army. Her first job here was as a maid. Nicholas was from Kiev, where he had been trained to be a furrier. In the United States, he worked as a potter, making sinks and toilettes. When Nicholas and Catherine came to the United States, they thought they might return home to Ukraine eventually. But World War I and the Russian Revolution intervened, causing a change of plans. Catherine’s boyfriend died in the war. Nicholas and Catherine met each other, married, and settled in a small row house in Trenton, New Jersey, where they lived the rest of their lives.

Catherine and Nicholas had two children, my uncle Walter and my mother Dorothy. When my mother was born, her parents chose to name her “Dorothy Theresa Sawchak.” But because Catherine spoke with a heavy accent, the clerk preparing the birth certificate did not understand her. So officially, my mother’s middle name was “Tessie” rather than “Theresa.” She never bothered to change it.

Nicholas and Catherine were hardworking and frugal. They saved enough to send Walter to college and medical school. He served as a physician in the army during the Korean war. Once I asked him if he worked at a MASH unit, like in the TV show. He said no, he worked closer to the front. He patched up the wounded soldiers the best he could and then sent them to a MASH unit to recover and receive more treatment. After the war, he became a pathologist in a Trenton-area hospital. He married and had two daughters, my cousins.

My mother attended Trenton High School (the same high school, I learned years later, attended by the economist Robert Solow at about the same time). She danced ballet. She water-skied on the Delaware River. She loved to read and go to the movies.

In part because of limited resources and in part because of the gender bias of the time, my mother was not given the chance to go to college. Years later, her parents would say that not giving her that opportunity was one of their great regrets. Instead, my mother learned to be a hairdresser. She was also pressured to marry the son of some family friends.

The marriage did not work. With my mother pregnant, her new husband started “running around,” my mother’s euphemism for infidelity. They divorced, and she kicked him out of her life. But the marriage did leave her with one blessing—my sister Peg.

My mother continued life as a single mother. Some years later, she met my father, also named Nicholas, through social functions run by local Ukrainian churches. They both loved to dance. He wanted to marry her, but having been burned once, she was reluctant at first. Only when she realized that he had become her best friend did she finally accept.

In 1958, nine months after I was born, Mom, Dad, Peg, and I left Trenton for a newly built split-level house in Cranford, New Jersey. My father was working for Western Electric, an arm of AT&T, first as a draftsman and then as an electrical engineer. He worked there until his retirement. One of his specialties was battery design. When I was growing up, I thought it sounded incredibly boring. Now I realize how important it is.

My mother then stopped working as a hairdresser to become a full-time mom. But she kept all the hairdresser equipment from her shop—chair, mirrors, scissors, razors, and so on—in our basement. She would cut the hair of her friends on a part-time basis. When I was a small boy, she cut my hair as well.

I attended the Brookside School, the public grade school which was a short walk from our house. When I was in the second or third grade, my mother was called in to see the teacher. The class had been given some standardized aptitude test. “Greg did well,” the teacher said. “We were very surprised.”

At that moment, my mother decided the school was not working out for me. I was talkative and inquisitive at home but shy and lackluster at school. I needed a change.

She started looking around for the best school she could find for me. She decided it was The Pingry School, an independent day school about a dozen miles from our house. She had me apply, and I was accepted.

The question then became, how to pay for it? Pingry was expensive, and we did not have a lot of extra money. My mother decided that she needed to return to work.

She started looking for a job, and an extraordinary opportunity presented itself. Union County, where we lived, was opening a public vocational school, and they were looking for teachers. She applied to be the cosmetology teacher and was hired.

There was, however, a glitch. The teachers, even though teaching trades like hairdressing, needed teacher certification. That required a certain number of college courses, and my mother had not taken any. So she got a temporary reprieve from the requirement. While teaching at the vocational school during the day, she started taking college courses at night to earn her certification, all while raising two children.

My mother taught at the vocational school until her retirement. During that time, she also co-authored a couple of books, called Beauty Culture I and II, which were teacher’s guides. From the summary of the first volume: “The syllabus is divided into six sections and includes the following areas of instruction: shop, school, and the cosmetologist; sterilization practices in the beauty salon; scalp and hair applications and shampooing; hair styling; manicuring; and hairpressing and iron curling.” I suppose one might view this project as a harbinger of my career as a textbook author.

When my parents both retired, they were still the best of friends. They traveled together, exploring the world in ways that were impossible when they were younger and poorer. During my third year as an economics professor, I was visiting the LSE for about a month. I encouraged my parents to come over to London for a week or so. They had a grand time. I believe it was the first time they had ever visited Europe. When I was growing up, vacations were usually at the Jersey shore.

My father died a few years later. My mother spent the next three decades living alone. She was then living full-time at the Jersey shore in Brant Beach on Long Beach Island. The house was close to the ocean and large enough to encourage her growing family to come for extended visits. Two children, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren. The more, the merrier. Nothing made her happier than being surrounded by family.

My mother loved to cook, especially the Ukrainian dishes she learned in her childhood. Holubtsi (stuffed cabbage) was a specialty. Another was kapusta (cabbage) soup. One time, the local newspaper offered to publish her kapusta soup recipe. They did so, but with an error. Every seasoning that was supposed to be measured in teaspoons was printed as tablespoons. The paper later ran a correction but probably to no avail. I am not sure if anyone ever tried the misprinted recipe and, if so, to what end.

During her free time in her later years, my mother read extensively, played FreeCell on her computer, and watched TV. A few years ago, when she was about 90 years old, I was visiting her, and I happened to mention the show “Breaking Bad.” She had not heard of it. She suggested we watch the first episode. And then another. And another. After I left, she binge-watched all five seasons.

As she aged, living alone became harder. When she had trouble going up and down the stairs, an elevator was added to her house. But slowly her balance faltered, and she fell several times. She started having small strokes, and then a more significant one. She moved into a nursing home. Whenever I visited, I brought her new books to read. Her love of reading never diminished.

This is, I am afraid, where the story ends. Last week, Dorothy Theresa Sawchak Mankiw tested positive for Covid-19. Yesterday, she died. I will miss her.

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