Transitory inflation

Thursday. Veterans Day.

The days are getting shorter. And now with daylight savings in effect, darkness comes even earlier in the evenings. But we do get a little more light in the mornings, unlike in Reykjavík, where the sun doesn’t come up until almost 10 o’clock and then goes down at around the same time as it does here.

For those of us old enough to remember the stagflation of the 1970’s, the specter of runaway inflation looms as a serious threat. The latest numbers are not reassuring. A healthy rate of inflation is about 2%. The numbers for October show us jumping to over 6%. As recent as March it was below 3% before going up to around 5% over the summer. The trend is going in the wrong direction. Even the GameStop crowd is getting nervous. But then again, we’re recovering from a global pandemic and a constrained supply chain. You would expect higher rates as the economy restarts. Battleships don’t turn on a dime. And in the 1970’s, inflation was at around 20%. We’re nowhere close to that. All that said, it still bears watching. The only way out, if it does become entrenched, is a hike in interest rates and likely a follow-on recession. The ghost of Paul Volcker looks down.

The used car market has gone crazy. Kate Marino reports.

Farhad Manjoo writes about Apple’s latest chips, the M1 Pro and M1 Max. He thinks they’re transformative. I’ve been using a new Apple laptop with an M1 Pro chip and I have to agree with him. I have the entry-level model with lower specs and even that blows away any computer I’ve ever used, including an Intel-based pro desktop. It also has an amazingly bright screen, it’s quiet, cool and the battery lasts forever. It shouldn’t be this good.

And the West Side Rag has some scoop on the new West Side Story. Cool.

Breaking up is hard to do

Monday. Dark and rainy, just how I like it.

The holiday shopping frenzy has already started. Looks like it’s going to be one of those years.

There’s been a lot of discussion and concern generated by Robert Kagan’s opinion piece from a couple of weeks ago on the impending American rift. Certainly, some of the reaction has had a Chicken Little quality to it. Much of it is over the top. But resentment is growing across the ideological divide and fear mongering is rising. Count me as concerned – but not worried. Yet.

When it comes to economics, everything we know is wrong.

The future of the Internet is the Metaverse. But nobody knows what that is. So, like most things from the future, we’ll just have to wait around and see what happens.

And 90 year old William Shatner is scheduled to be a passenger on Jeff Bezo’s next space flight. Audacious.

Barn door open

Good morning. It’s Tuesday. Happy birthday to Edna O’Brien, who is 90 today.

The MBTA was told by lawmakers to do more with less. So that’s what they did. Sort of.

That massive hack of federal agencies, apparently by Russian operatives, was, well, massive. Solar Winds – Orion software is used for network monitoring and it is very widely deployed. It appears that the hackers gained a foothold through a modified software update to Orion. The networks impacted included those of some of the most sensitive intelligence agencies. Once in the network the intruders had free range, including the ability to elevate privileges to gain access to protected information, although it seems that they focused mostly on high-value targets. I’m assuming that classified systems have additional layers of security but that’s not a given and it’s possible that classified information was also accessed. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which has seen its leader recently fired in a political dispute over the election, is in charge of assessment and mitigation. In addition to government agencies, many Fortune 500 companies also use Orion, including the New York Times, which is still assessing damage.

Some economists are very worried about the state of the post-pandemic economy.

I don’t think the new Apple’s Fitness+ app will replace Zwift for me but I may give it a try for other workouts. It becomes available Monday. Todd Haselton, at CNBC, had early access and he likes it. Raymond Wong also tried it out and got hooked.

And Dolly Parton is an angel. In movies and in life.

A bridge to nowhere

Today is Saturday. A cool, snowy May 9th. Yes, you heard that right.

The summer of 2020 has been officially cancelled. And here’s where things start to get weird.

Yesterday’s unemployment numbers were cataclysmic. But the stock market keeps rising. Federal officials are taking a wait and see approach to pumping more money into the economy while some, like Elizabeth Warren, are advocating that we act now to help people who are out of work and send more money to local governments and small businesses that are hurting. Oh, and there’s an election in the fall. It’s a high stakes game for the future of the country.

Roy, of Siegfried and Roy, has succumbed to Covid-19.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that it was the DA that blocked the arrests of the father and son accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery.

And if you’re bored at home, Nicola Tröhler provides video instruction for channeling your inner Terry Gilliam. Or, you could just go to the master himself.

The money go-round

Saturday. In the Park. Everyone is wearing a mask.

He’s back. Kim Jong Un was seen cutting a ribbon at a fertilizer plant. Apparently it’s proof that he’s alive and well and all those rumors were just a big nothing burger.

Despite a few plunges in March, the stock market has had as many ups as downs recently, even in the face of devastating business closures and unprecedented job losses. It seems disconnected from reality, although to some people it all makes sense. But if investors aren’t worried about an economic collapse, regular people are, as are economists. Even Warren Buffet is bucking the trend. How this will play out is a mystery.

Local business leaders are anxious to get the economy back into gear but are worried that moving too fast will prolong the spread of the virus and result in rolling lockdowns into the future. The Mass High Tech Council released a roadmap that outlines a measured approach to avoid this. In Amsterdam, they’re going for the doughnut, an audacious plan that exploits the crisis for long term benefit. That will be interesting to watch.

Matty Simmons, the business mind behind the National Lampoon, has died.

Jerry Seinfeld has a good hour. He’s been working on material for the last few years and this week his highly anticipated Netflix special comes out. Great.

And for those of us who would like to beat back aging and live forever, this may be some good news. Also watch out for speeding buses.