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NeONBRAND

The Misinformation Epidemic is Funded by Brands we Trust Most

Misinformation is destabilizing our democracy and last week people who have become radicalized by it attempted a violent overthrow of the government and continue to plot terrorist acts against their fellow Americans. This did not happen in a vacuum, and it’s not solely due to irresponsible politicians . Corporate America has made the business of misinformation into a multi-billion dollar industry, sometimes due to their willful ignorance and other times with wide-eyed complicity. …


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mbolingrn instagram

Q-ANON IS A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION & 41% OF GOP SAY THEY ARE ‘GOOD’

According to PEW research a little more than 1/2 of Americans have heard of Q-Anon as of December ‘20, but that has probably increased since Jan 6th when they became a driving force behind the takeover of the US Capitol. While 74% of American adults think Q-Anon is ‘bad’, 41% of Republicans view them as net ‘good’. This is despite the FBI having labeled the group a domestic terror threat earlier in 2020.


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Edwin Hooper — Unsplash

DOL Reports 11M unemployed but 21M claims were filed in October

The massive shock that the pandemic had on the economy starting last spring also had a big impact on government agencies’ ability to process data accurately. The official unemployment ‘headline’ numbers come from a survey that asks people about their employment status. Early in the pandemic the ambiguity of ‘furloughed’ employees and parameters around government assistance to businesses that required them to maintain employees in order to receive funds led to misclassifications that were quickly identified as a 3.1m allocation error but was never adjusted for. That 3.1 million, however, is a far cry from accounting for the additional 10 million people collecting unemployment benefits not captured in the 11 million reported in the headline number. …


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What If Republicans prove more loyal to Trump than Democracy?

After 4+ years the media and politicians continue to underestimate Donald Trump and his ability to tear down the fabric of democratic process and convention. His refusal to concede was not a surprise, but it’s a mistake to think that he will stay within the rules or respect any constitutional or legal norms. If it were the President alone who was ready to toss American democracy to the gutter in order to stay in power, then perhaps the media would be justified in trivializing it. However, he has convinced millions that it was his opponents who toppled democracy, falsely accusing them of voter fraud to justify extreme measures and he has the support of the entire Republican power structure. We should be very concerned when the sitting President fires the Secretary of Defense who refused to use active military troops against US citizens. …


Every administration faces unique challenges but all are measured by the same yardsticks

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Average GDP Growth by Administration from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (Chart by InDataTruth)

While this election cycle feels different on many levels, one thing that isn’t different is that politicians always try to take credit for the great things that happened during their watch and disavow responsibility for anything bad that happened. Economic conditions during a President’s term has been one of the biggest deciding factor in elections, but how much control does a President really have over the economy? …


Spikes in Non-Covid Deaths During Virus Peaks Nullifies Conspiracists’ Over-count Assertions

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There is a pervasive conspiracy fallacy (I don’t give them the validation of calling them theories) in the US that the official tally of Covid deaths is being artificially inflated because crooked officials in hospitals and morgues across the country are falsifying documents and putting the cause of death as Covid-19 rather than the true cause of death. Yes, everything from car accidents to falling off a ladder is being attributed to Covid and of course all flu and pneumonia deaths regardless of whether they had additional Covid symptoms or not — or so the conspiracy fallacy goes. I had the misfortune just yesterday of being re-educated on how ill informed I was about how vast numbers of rank and file employees who are willing to risk their jobs, incur fines and even lose medical licenses for falsifying medical documents in order to inflate Covid-19 numbers. …


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The Soviet Ministry of Economic Central Control Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash

$7 Trillion Fed Bailout isn’t Enough: Republican Sponsored Bill Wants Treasury to Inject Equity to Save Real Estate Moguls

Every Republican talking point seems to start with an accusation that any attempt to support the average citizen through government safety net is akin to ‘Socialism’, while simultaneously they continue to use taxpayer money to back the Nationalization of the capital markets which is enriching their donors. In 2009 the Tea Party was in an uproar over the $1 Trillion TARP program that bailed out the banks by taking over the Collateralized Mortgage Bond Securities (CMBS) market. …


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www.axios.com

Poor minorities are dying in large numbers — a good excuse to bail out the rich… again.

The surging stock market in the face of staggering unemployment, burning cities, and growing Covid-19 death toll has to take the prize for the biggest disconnect in these strange times. Despite a dozen rationalizations, from the anticipation of a V-shaped recovery and ‘reopening’ the economy to imminent vaccine development — it’s just hard to grasp how any reasonable investor can see great buying opportunities in the current market. Perhaps the best explanation for what’s happening in the markets comes in a recent article about how the Fed turned Carl Icahn’s investment in Herbal Life from a dud into a cash cow for Icahn. The Vanity Fair article aptly entitled “It’s Like, ‘Fuck You, America’”: Aided by the Fed’s Cheap Money, Carl Icahn Is Exiting Herbalife and Making a Killing” It’s a great anecdote that explains how, thanks to the Fed’s massive bond-buying program, Herbal Life was able to issue $600m in new junk bonds, initiate a massive stock buyback program and lift their stock price by 86% allowing Icahn to exit his investment with a tidy profit. This is just one high profile story of a famous investor whose investment was saved by the Fed, but it tells the story of what’s happening across many industries. The current bailout by the Federal Reserve is far deeper and wider than anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. No politician wanted to appear to be ‘bailing out’ companies through legislation or a well-defined program with oversight like the TARP program of 2009 (that would provide too much transparency and accountability), so instead, unlimited funds are made available to the largest companies through the debt markets instead. Of course, this is not ‘free’ it comes at the cost of an expanded Fed balance sheet, now at 7.1 Trillion that’s 4x the Fed balance sheet drove Tea Party “Conservatives” apoplectic in 2010. This is, of course, incremental to fiscal stimulus passed by congress — but the Fed’s action of becoming the buyer of all debt including ETF bond funds means that large companies don’t need to be subjected to the inconvenient restrictions of past congressional bailouts or the ones small businesses are subjected to through PPP loans. Companies that in normal times would not have been able to issue new debt are now issuing record amounts of debt with impunity. …


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Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

But the Quality of Published Analyses Keeps Getting Lower

For 20 years my profession has been to find the meaning hidden in data and pull it out to help business leaders use it to make better decisions. Early in my career I had to do 90% of each analysis myself, but over time my contributions were 90% about how I trained and developed others go through the process of analytical discovery. Over the years I’ve had the great pleasure of working with world class people, whose conscientiousness about their craft I still marvel at. I couldn’t begin to count the sleepless nights spent tracking down inconsistencies and validating results. When models turned out less accurate than expected, or god forbid, an error was discovered in the data — a pall of devastation would overcome the team that was hard to recover from. On more than one occasion I had to sit down with a devoted team member and try to put things into perspective. “Look — we got it wrong. Yeah, we may lose the account — but I’m not losing you. Mistakes happen with big data sets — and at the end of the day, in our business at least when we screw up nobody dies. They might make less money, but nobody dies. Not every profession gets off that lightly.” For a lot of people the idea that a person, or a team of people would have a breakdown over a data error sounds like an absurd overreaction. But in a micro-culture that lives and breaths the idea that data holds unknown truths and our job is to get to the truth, the integrity of the data and the analysis and the interpretation is everything. …


Despite the massive press coverage and social media attention, most Americans understand the need for stay at home orders

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Ipsos/Axios Survey, Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

With the amount of press coverage the anti-lockdown protesters it can start to feel like the whole country is clamoring to end the stay at home mandates early. It’s not. We are all in varying levels of isolation and we see the loud voices on social media and the news emboldened by the President trying to play both sides as if this tragedy is a political game. …

About

Michael Lukianoff

Data Science Entrepreneur, Inventor, Dad, New Yorker

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