[News] Why the Stock Market Is Healthy as Americans Die

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sun Apr 12 11:04:36 EDT 2020


https://theintercept.com/2020/04/12/why-the-stock-market-is-healthy-as-americans-die/
Why
the Stock Market Is Healthy as Americans Die
Jon Schwarz - April 12, 2020
------------------------------

[image: stockmarkter-theintercept-2]

Photo illustration: Soohee Cho/The Intercept, Getty Images

This past week the S&P 500 went up 301 points, or 12 percent, its best
performance in 46 years.

During the same week, the reported number
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/coronavirus-us-cases-deaths/?itid=hp_rhp-banner-low_web-gfx-death-tracker%3Ahomepage%2Fstory-ans>
of Americans killed by Covid-19 went up 11,499, or 161 percent, the
coronavirus’s best performance ever.

So this seems like a good time to reevaluate our treasured belief
<https://theintercept.com/2020/03/06/coronavirus-covid-19-stock-market-economy/>
that a rising stock market reflects general human flourishing.

Consider a few more events that happened this week around the same time
as this excited tweet from Donald Trump, who somehow is the president of
the United States:

Hurrah! Meanwhile, the Covid-19 death toll that day topped 2,000 for the
first time. It is now, according to a San Diego gerontologist, the leading
cause of death in the U.S.
<https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/1727839/>, beating out the
traditional champions heart disease and cancer. New data showed that
Covid-19 is killing African Americans and Latinos in New York City at
rates twice
that
<https://theintercept.com/2020/04/09/nyc-coronavirus-deaths-race-economic-divide/>
of whites, with a similar disjunction in rates appearing across the country.

Also last week, over 6 million Americans filed for unemployment. The chief
economist at RSM, one of the largest accounting firms in the U.S., said
<https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-unemployment-claims-shockingly-high-70061804>
this demonstrated that “the carnage in the American labor market continued
unabated.” The recent cumulative total of newly-unemployed is 16.8 million
people, or about one in ten workers.

As Americans were thrown out of work and into sudden fear of hunger, our
economic system encouraged farmers to intentionally destroy their crops
<https://www.wsj.com/articles/farmers-deal-with-glut-of-food-as-coronavirus-closes-restaurants-11586439722>.
At least 60,000 gallons of milk were dumped into dairy farm manure pits,
traditionally the last place you like to see food. Milking cows were sent
to slaughter. Fertilized chicken eggs were crushed rather than hatched.

A report <https://www.nap.edu/download/25771> sent to the White House on
Tuesday from the National Academy of Sciences cast doubt on hopes that the
novel coronavirus will naturally diminish in the spring and summer. “A
decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere
should not be assumed,” the report explained. “Pandemic influenza strains
have not exhibited the typical seasonal pattern of endemic/epidemic
strains.”

Amid all of this, Trump demonstrated that he apparently believes
<https://twitter.com/joshtpm/status/1248699275355328512> Covid-19 is a
disease caused by bacteria, rather than a virus. The difference between
bacteria and viruses is often taught around 5th grade
<https://www.qacps.org/cms/lib/MD01001006/Centricity/Domain/44/5th%20Grade%20Family%20Life%20Unit%20Lessons%20.pdf>,
when children are ten years old.

The combination of this bad news with the stock market’s ebullience makes
it tough not to think that it actively delights in human suffering. During
the 1990s in particular, it was notorious for leaping upward
<https://www.jstor.org/stable/3088174?seq=1> when corporations announced
massive layoffs.

What would truly make the stock market skyrocket, you might think by now,
would be nuclear war followed immediately by a gigantic asteroid striking
Manhattan. A hideously-mutated Jim Cramer, the last man on earth, would
shriek “Dow 10,000,000!” just before expiring.

This is not the case, however. Rather, the stock market is simply agnostic
about human happiness. It’s just a best-guess measure of future post-tax
corporate profitability. If future post-tax corporate profitability is
compatible with people being alive and having enough to eat, that’s okay.
If not, that’s likewise totally fine. We’re just not part of the equation.

Looked at through this lens, the stock market’s latest behavior is easy to
understand. As Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and
Policy Research in Washington, D.C., puts it: “We should take the recent
jump to mean that investors are betting that Congress and Trump just gave
them lots of money.”

[image: The Coronavirus Crisis]
<https://theintercept.com/collections/the-coronavirus-crisis/>

That’s the true meaning of this week’s odd combination of events. Your
grandmother can die of Covid-19 minutes after being discharged
<https://nypost.com/2020/03/29/elderly-queens-woman-dies-of-coronavirus-minutes-after-being-discharged-from-hospital/>
from the hospital. Nurses can be forced to protest
<https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/04/01/when-we-are-infected-no-one-safe-nurses-nationwide-protest-over-lack-coronavirus>
their
employers failing to provide them with basic personal protective equipment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could fail completely
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2020/04/03/coronavirus-cdc-test-kits-public-health-labs/?arc404=true>
at developing a test for the virus. All of that is irrelevant.

What matters is that the Trump administration will pay any price, bear any
burden, meet any hardship
<https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/kennedy.asp> to keep big
corporations alive and profitable. That is, from the GOP’s perspective, the
sole legitimate function of the U.S. government. And given their ferocious
commitment and the government’s financial firepower, they have a plausible
shot at success.

So get ready for further triumphalist tweets from Trump anytime the stock
market goes up. You may be reading them while picking up sanitized food
containers from a soup kitchen, or auctioning off the wreckage of your
bankrupt small business, or attending a funeral via Zoom. Or you may just
hazily hear them being celebrated on Fox while intubated and sedated.

None of that will matter, from the perspective of the stock market. What we
should all see clearly now is that it can giddily thrive, even as America
disintegrates around it.
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