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Ameribor’s Resilience To COVID-19 Stress

Ameribor’s Resilience To COVID-19 Stress




Comparison of Benchmark Performance Over the First Four Months of 2020

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With the expected sunset of LIBOR at the end of 2021, the banking community has been actively working to develop other potential benchmark rates.  The Federal Reserve sponsored Alternative Reference Rate Committee (ARRC),[1] has endorsed the Secured Overnight Funding Rate (SOFR) as its preferred replacement.  However, unlike the unsecured LIBOR rate, SOFR is a secured lending rate and is therefore expected to perform differently in a crisis period where credit spreads widen.  For this reason, many financial institutions have objected to the use of SOFR as the replacement rate for bank loans and called for the regulators to consider other rates.[2]

AMERIBOR, which has been up and running since December 2015 and meets all the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) criterial[3] for a benchmark rate, has become a viable alternative to SOFR.  Its performance during the first part of 2020 when compared to SOFR and LIBOR in the height of the COVID crisis illustrates why banks may want to benchmark more of their lending to AMERIBOR.


Table 1 below charts the performance of the three overnight rates, from January 2020 through May 2020, and shows the two major Federal Reserve rate cuts in early-March and mid-March.

  1. Ameribor, LIBOR, and SOFR Overnight Rates


Source(s): Bloomberg, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Global-Rates © 2020

Two things can be easily seen from Table 1, specifically: 1) that SOFR tends to be more volatile than either LIBOR or AMERIBOR; and 2) that just as various banks predicted, during a crisis period credit spreads between the secured SOFR rate and unsecured AMERIBOR and LIBOR, rates widened significantly (as can be seen subsequent to the second mid-March Federal Reserve rate cut).

Table 2 below further drills down into these spread differences by day.  SOFR, which is really a capital markets rate, exhibited significant volatility concurrent to the rate cuts.  For instance, on March 4th and 13th, 2020 SOFR spiked and was higher than AMERIBOR and LIBOR.  Likewise, on March 17th, 2020, probably the most volatile day in the money markets, SOFR was close to 30 basis points (bp) higher than both AMERIBOR and LIBOR due to market stress.

  1. Ameribor & SOFR Spread to LIBOR Overnight Rates


Source(s): Bloomberg, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Global-Rates © 2020

By the middle of the week of the second rate cut (once the action was absorbed by the market), the expected pattern developed where the unsecured AMERIBOR and LIBOR have a greater overnight risk premium than the secured SOFR rate.  For instance, on March 23rd, 2020, AMERIBOR had a 23 bp spread.

This spread slowly narrowed to 10 bp on April 14th, 2020 as the markets stabilized and has have since ranged from 15 to 7 bp, which is still much wider than observed during the first two months of 2020.

LIBOR in contrast, although widening out more than AMERIBOR to 28 bp, has gradually narrowed to less than 5 bp (although there was a slight negative spread for much of the first two months of 2020).  We believe this narrower spread is explained by the fact that LIBOR is expected to be replaced by SOFR, so we would expect to see the rates converge.

SOFR Rates

SOFR rates are based on more than a trillion dollars of daily repurchase transactions, executed by large-money center banks, so there is a deep underlying market.  However, that market can be extremely volatile.  This volatility was observed during several highly publicized periods in 2019.  A September 2019 spike in underlying transaction rates to more than 9% (when the normalized rate was in the 2.5% range), ultimately required the Federal Reserve to step in and commence stabilizing activities to restore better price equilibrium.  Even with the Federal Reserve’s stabilizing actions, similar volatility was also present during the peak of the COVID crisis, as seen below in Table 3.

  1. SOFR Rates; 1st, 25th, 75th, 99th Percentile


Source(s): Bloomberg, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Global-Rates © 2020

This chart shows the range of various repurchase agreement (repo) trades which are the basis for the underlying SOFR rate from those in the 99th percentile (highest 1 percent of rates) to the 1st percentile (lowest 1 percent of rates) which are denoted by the range of the blue line.  The range of the thicker orange line is the difference between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile and the black diamond is the actual median published SOFR rate.

The chart clearly shows that there was a tight band of rates leading up to early March.  Then as the COVID crisis hit the capital markets, the range between the 99th percentile and the 1st percentile widened significantly.  On March 16th, some trades were at 2 percent where as others were only at 20 bp.  The chart also shows that for three days at the end of March, many SOFR trades transacted at negative rates.  The range between the 99th and 1st percentile has remained elevated for some period but has slowly reverted to a narrower band noted pre-crisis.

Impact Beyond Overnight Rates

Currently, both SOFR and AMERIBOR only have an overnight rate (unlike LIBOR there is no term structure)[4] whereas LIBOR rates extend to one-year.  Therefore, the above analysis of credit spread widening on overnight rates is muted, as the probability of a counterparty defaulting in a week to a month to a year is much greater than simply overnight.   The concern banks express about using SOFR as a benchmark rate for loans is illustrated in Table 4 below.

  1. LIBOR Tenor Spread vs. Overnight

Ameribor SOFR

Source(s): Bloomberg, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Global-Rates © 2020

This table compares the overnight LIBOR rate to the for 1-week, 1-month, 3-month, 6-month and 1-year LIBOR.  As the charts shows, spreads over the maturity stack did not exceed 45 bp for the first two months of 2020. However, once COVID was absorbed by the market, tenor spreads blew out almost three times to more than 130 bp (between the 3-month and overnight rates).  Since early April, spreads over the tenor stack have been narrowing but remain much wider than observed during the first two months of the year.

It should be noted that most banks tend to lend based on 1-year or 3-month LIBOR, therefore this widening of credit spreads is extremely material to banks.  If their loans were denominated in SOFR (rather than as they currently are in LIBOR), banks would experience significant net interest margin compression.  This was invariably one of the key reasons (system readiness being the other), why banks raised significant concerns about using a SOFR rate in the Federal Reserve Main Street Lending Program.[5]  If AMERIBOR had term rates extending to 3-month and 1-year, we would expect them to parallel the more extensive spread widening observed with LIBOR (in fact they may even be wider as demonstrated with the overnight rate).

LIBOR Volumes

Scandals aside, the key concern with LIBOR and why it is slated for sunset is that in many cases, it is not based on actual transactions, but instead on theoretical rates where banks would stand-ready to transact (also known as “expert judgement”).

This lack of submission by LIBOR panel banks was highlighted in the Bank of England’s May Financial Stability report, which shows that during the week of March 16th (the peak of the turbulence), the majority of the 35 published LIBOR rates across the five currencies contained no submissions based on primary bank funding transaction, such as unsecured term deposits and commercial paper.[6]  Even in US dollar LIBOR, which tends to be the currency with the most underlying submissions by panel banks, transaction volume shrank during this core week particularly in the 1-month and 3-month categories.[7]


In contrast to LIBOR activity, AMERIBOR volumes became more robust over the peak COVID period.  Although AMERIBOR does not have a trillion dollars of daily transaction activity like SOFR, the activity it does have is broad based.  Arguably, SOFR trades are dominated by relatively few large capital markets participants, as well as the Federal Reserve, which has sought to stabilize the rate through its interventions.  The American Financial Exchange has approximately 180 primary members (generally mid-size regional banks) and hundreds of other smaller institutions participating via these primary members.  Although AMERIBOR is based on only a fraction of the SOFR volume, it has good market breadth and is not subject to “stabilization” by the Federal Reserve.  Therefore, it is a true unsecured market rate.

Table 5 below shows daily transaction volumes for AMERIBOR from over the last five months.  What can clearly be seen from this chart is that volumes did not decrease or evaporate during the peak of the COVID market dislocation, instead they became more robust.

  1. Overnight Unsecured Ameribor Volume

Ameribor SOFR

Daily Trade Volumes by American Financial Exchange (AFX)

For instance, for the first two and a half months of 2020 (through March 13th), American Financial Exchange (AFX) transactions underlying the AMERIBOR rate average $1.9 billion per day.  The remainder of March (the last 15 days) saw volumes increase to $2.7 billion per day, this is a 42 percent increase in volume during a period where base LIBOR trades became even more scarce. Clearly the AFX interbank lending market and the corresponding AMERIBOR rate has both a resiliency and stability that was significantly lacking in both SOFR and LIBOR.

Table 6 shows the average daily transaction volume over certain periods to more dynamically show how robust underlying market activity has been during the COVID period.

  1. Average Daily Transaction Volume Overnight Unsecured Ameribor

Ameribor SOFR

Daily Trade Volumes by American Financial Exchange (AFX)

For the first month post the key crisis date of March 16th (note that the Federal Reserve cut rates on Sunday March 15th), AFX transaction volumes were $2.649 billion or 36 percent higher than the first two and half months of 2020.  And for the first 45 days (March 16th to April 30th) they were $2.597 billion or 33 percent higher.  Therefore, the AFX has proved to be uniquely resilient during this period and has significantly deepened its transaction volume during a period of severe market stress which is particularly commendable for a benchmark.

AMERIBOR – Ready for Prime Time

In the view of many market participants, AMERIBOR is now ready for prime time.  Its stellar performance over the COVID period of market stress, demonstrates that it is worthy of serious consideration as a viable benchmark alternative to LIBOR.  Not only did the rate experience low volatility and widened as expected versus secured rates, but underlying transaction volume materially increased.  The rate is IOSCO compliant and a corresponding regulated futures contract also trades.  Banks can currently use this combination of financial instruments to get cash flow hedge accounting.

The only thing lacking is a term structure, but we expect to see significant progress in this area over the course of the second half of 2020.  Therefore, banks may want to start to incorporate AMERIBOR into future lending plans as a possible benchmark successor to LIBOR.  They could also begin to include AMERIBOR within their current LIBOR based loan agreements as a potential fallback rate should LIBOR cease to be published or become non-representative.

About The Author

Paul Noring is Managing Director and Practice Leader of Berkeley Research Group’s (BRG’s) Financial Institutions Advisory Practice, where he focuses extensively on LIBOR transition efforts.  Prior to BRG, he lead Navigant Consulting’s Banking & Capital Markets Practice, was a senior officer at Fannie Mae and a Banking & Capital Markets Partner at PwC.


[1] The ARRC is a group of private-market participants convened by the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve Bank of New York in cooperation with other Federal Regulators to identify risk-free alternative reference rates for U.S. dollar LIBOR, identify best practices for contract robustness, and create an implementation plan with metrics of success and a timeline to support an orderly transition.

[2] On September 23, 2019, ten large regional banks sent a letter to the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation objecting to the use of SOFR as a benchmark rate for commercial lending given its secured nature.  They wrote “During times of economic stress, SOFR (unlike LIBOR) will likely decrease disproportionately relative to other market rates as investors seek the safe haven of U.S. Treasury securities.  In that even the return on bank’s SOFR-linked loans would decline, while banks’ unhedged costs of funds would increase, thus creating a significant mismatch between bank assets (loans) and liabilities (borrowings).”  On February 26, 2020 another group of ten banks, this time smaller mid-sized regional banks, sent a similar letter to the same group of Federal banking regulators outlining the same concerns.

[3] IOSCO is the International Organization of Securities Commissions (a global group of securities regulators) which issues Principles for Financial Benchmarks in July 2013.  The group identified nineteen individual benchmarks grouped into the following areas:  Governance; Quality of the Benchmark; Quality of the Methodology; and, Accountability.

[4] Both the ARRC and the American Financial Exchange, the Administrator of AMERIBOR, are actively working to create a term structure.

[5] On April 9, 2020 the Federal Reserve published a term sheet for two Main Street Lending Programs.  The new $600 billion facility for COVID response loans were initially proposed to be linked to SOFR.  However, the Federal Reserve received more than 2,200 comment lenders on the lending program, many of which objected to the use of SOFR.  On April 30, 2020 the Federal Reserve reversed its position and announced that the program would instead reference the loans to LIBOR.

[6] UK Regulator Rules Out Extending LIBOR Deadline,, Helen Bartholomew, May 18, 2020.

[7] Ibid.

The post Ameribor’s Resilience To COVID-19 Stress appeared first on ValueWalk.

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Gaslighting: The American People Are Trapped In A Textbook Abusive Relationship

Gaslighting: The American People Are Trapped In A Textbook Abusive Relationship

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,




Gaslighting: The American People Are Trapped In A Textbook Abusive Relationship

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

Imagine this.

A woman, for the sake of my story, is in a marriage with a partner who does not respect her. He insults her regularly, belittles her efforts to improve herself or her situation, and minimizes her feelings.

In fact, when she tries to stand up for herself, things get even worse. The partner calls into question her memories of the event. He dismisses the way things made her feel, calling the emotions “ridiculous” or “stupid.” He convinces her she’s overreacting and that he was only trying to do what was best for her. When she brings something up, he completely rewrites the event, causing her to doubt what actually happened because she’s in a vulnerable state due to the constant abuse.

In a situation like this, the abused partner often feels powerless, confused, and unable to leave the situation. They are at a disadvantage because they’ve been influenced to doubt their own reality. This leaves them trapped deeper and deeper in the abusive scenario. They feel unable to escape because they’re really not sure what actually happened. Were they blowing things out of proportion? Are they, in fact, stupid, forgetful, and inept?

Abusive relationships follow a pattern. There’s a period of breaking the victim down, isolating them from their support systems, and making them dependent on the abuser. Then, the abused partner is maneuvered into the belief that she can’t get by on her own.

This master manipulation is how people become trapped in abusive relationships.

And, as I’m about to show, not all abusive relationships are one-on-one romantic relationships.

What is gaslighting?

Medical News Today defines gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a person or group causes someone to question their own sanity, memories, or perception of reality. People who experience gaslighting may feel confused, anxious, or as though they cannot trust themselves.

The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1944 classic film (and before that, the play), Gaslight. In the story, a husband tries to make his wife believe she is suffering from a mental illness. Starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, it’s well worth a watch.

Gaslighting is a form of narcissistic abuse. For a quick refresher on the definition of a narcissist and the techniques they use, go here.

Forbes offers the following signs you are being gaslit:

Signs to watch for include:

The “Twilight Zone” effect. Victims of gaslighting often report feeling like a situation is surreal—like it’s happening on a different plane from the rest of their life.

Language describing you or your behavior as crazy, irrational or overemotional. “When I asked women about their partners’ abusive tactics, they often described being called a ‘crazy bitch,’” Sweet writes in “The Sociology of Gaslighting” in American Sociological Review. “This phrase came up so frequently, I began to think of it as the literal discourse of gaslighting.”

Being told you’re exaggerating.

Feeling confused and powerless after leaving an interaction.

Isolation. Many gaslighters make efforts to isolate victims from friends, family and other support networks.

Tone policing. A gaslighter may criticize your tone of voice if you challenge them on something. This is a tactic used to flip the script and make you feel that you’re the one to blame, rather than your abuser.

A cycle of warm-cold behavior. To throw a victim off balance, a gaslighter may alternate between verbal abuse and praise, often even in the same conversation.

Gaslighting is a deliberate attempt to provoke self-doubt, confusion, and dependence.

How does someone gaslight another person?

Again, let’s look to the experts. Medical News Today provides these examples of how gaslighting might take place:

  • Countering: This is when someone questions a person’s memory. They may say things such as, “Are you sure about that? You have a bad memory,” or “I think you are forgetting what really happened.”
  • Withholding: This involves someone pretending they do not understand the conversation, or refusing to listen, to make a person doubt themselves. For example, they might say, “Now you are just confusing me,” or “I do not know what you are talking about.”
  • Trivializing: This occurs when a person belittles or disregards how someone else feels. They may accuse them of being “too sensitive” or overreacting in response to valid and reasonable concerns.
  • Denial: Denial involves a person refusing to take responsibility for their actions. They may do this by pretending to forget what happened, saying they did not do it, or blaming their behavior on someone else.
  • Diverting: With this technique, a person changes the focus of a discussion by questioning the other person’s credibility. For example, they might say, “That is just nonsense you read on the internet. It is not real.”
  • Stereotyping: An article in the American Sociological Review says that a person may intentionally use negative stereotypes about someone’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, or age to gaslight them. For example, they may say that no one will believe a woman if she reports abuse.

After a period of time, this emotional barrage results in the target of the gaslighting suffering from confusion, doubt, and self-blame.

  • feeling uncertain of their perceptions
  • frequently questioning if they are remembering things correctly
  • believing they are irrational or “crazy”
  • feeling incompetent, unconfident, or worthless
  • constantly apologizing to the abusive person
  • defending the abusive person’s behavior to others
  • becoming withdrawn or isolated from others

The Forbes article offered these specific examples of gaslighting in romantic relationships.

“Ebony’s partner would steal her money and then tell her she was ‘careless’ about finances and had lost it herself.”

“Adriana’s boyfriend hid her phone and then told her she had lost it, in a dual effort to confuse her and prevent her from communicating with others.”

“Jenn described her ex-boyfriend as a ‘chameleon’ who made up small stories to confuse her, like lying about what color shirt he had worn the day before to make her feel disoriented.”

“Emily described her ex-husband stealing her keys so she could not leave the house and then insisting she had lost them ‘again.’”

But if you think this phenomenon is limited to women being abused by their husbands or boyfriends, you’d be wrong.

Gaslighting doesn’t just happen in romantic relationships.

Gaslighting is a complicated thing. While it’s common in abusive romantic relationships, it can also occur in unhealthy parent-child relationships, sibling relationships, or even workplaces. But that’s not all. It can also occur on a much broader scale.

Racial gaslighting

According to an article in Politics, Group, and Identities, racial gaslighting is when people apply gaslighting techniques to an entire racial or ethnic group in order to discredit them. For example, a person or institution may say that an activist campaigning for change is irrational or “crazy.”

Political gaslighting

Political gaslighting occurs when a political group or figure lies or manipulates information to control people, according to an article in the Buffalo Law Review.

For example, the person or political party may downplay things their administration has done, discredit their opponents, imply that critics are mentally unstable, or use controversy to deflect attention away from their mistakes.

Institutional gaslighting

Institutional gaslighting occurs within a company, organization, or institution, such as a hospital. For example, they may portray whistleblowers who report problems as irrational or incompetent, or deceive employees about their rights.

This often occurs to cover up a mistake that could result in the person who erred facing punitive consequences or to keep people “in their place.” It’s a control mechanism, pure and simple.

Have we been gaslit by our own government?

I don’t think it’s farfetched to say that we, the people of the United States of America, have been gaslit.

Does this sound familiar? Lockdowns that keep you away from friends and loved ones? Losing your income and becoming dependent on handouts doled out by the government? Being censored and mocked when you say anything that is not in line with the official narrative? Being treated like a crazy conspiracy theorist who should be punished because of the harm you’re causing to others if you refuse to go along?

When you look at it this way, it feels like the entire US government and media have colluded to abuse the people. Many of the Covid-related “truths” that were promoted by the government and the media that we were not allowed to dispute have now been proven to be false. Stories we couldn’t question about the origins of the pandemic have been proven false. In another incident of broad-scale gaslighting unrelated to the pandemic, a lot of evidence has been produced that shows the Biden family may have received money from influence-peddling, but the media tells us not to believe it.

And like good little victims, it seems like a hefty portion of the country is refusing to believe the evidence, instead believing in the good intentions of their abusers. They’ve been gaslit, brainwashed, and are unable to break free of the manipulation.

And it’s still going on.

Recently Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a scathing opinion of the US government’s handling of the Covid pandemic, saying that we “have experienced the greatest intrusions on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country.”

“Executive officials across the country issued emergency decrees on a breathtaking scale. Governors and local leaders imposed lockdown orders forcing people to remain in their homes. They shuttered businesses and schools, public and private. They closed churches even as they allowed casinos and other favored businesses to carry on. They threatened violators not just with civil penalties but with criminal sanctions too. They surveilled church parking lots, recorded license plates, and issued notices warning that attendance at even outdoor services satisfying all state social-distancing and hygiene requirements could amount to criminal conduct. They divided cities and neighborhoods into color-coded zones, forced individuals to fight for their freedoms in court on emergency timetables, and then changed their color-coded schemes when defeat in court seemed imminent,” he said.

At the federal level, he highlighted not only immigration decrees but vaccine mandates, the regulation of landlord-tenant relations and pressure on social media companies to suppress “misinformation.”

The gaslighting blowback was immediate, with breathlessly outraged headlines.

Slate eloquently opined, “Neil Gorsuch’s List of “Civil Liberties Intrusions” Is, Uh, Missing a Few Things.” making sure to throw plenty of insulting talking points into their introductory paragraph in their attempt to liken a Supreme Court Justice who was educated at Harvard Law, Oxford, Georgetown, and Columbia, to an ignorant relative one merely tolerates. And they insinuated he was a racist.

Gorsuch has long railed against such policies, and his opinions have taken on an increasingly shrill tone, like the Fox News–poisoned uncle who hectors you about the plandemic in 3,000-word Facebook comments. The justice’s rant in Arizona v. Mayorkas, however, hits a new low, moving beyond the usual yada-yada grievance parade to issue a thesis statement of sorts…

…As Vox’s Ian Millhiser quickly pointed out, this sweeping claim leaves out two “intrusions on civil liberties” that any person with a basic grasp of history and sanity would surely rank as worse than pandemic policies: slavery and Jim Crow.

An opinion piece published in the NY Times gasped, “Neil Gorsuch Has Given Himself Away,” made it seem as if the Justice was belittling every other civil rights mishap in the history of America while also blithely disregarding the folks who died during the pandemic.

The New Republic condescendingly liberal-splained to the rest of us “What Neil Gorsuch Got Wrong About the Pandemic,” stating that “The justice’s vision of the judiciary’s role in public health may be more dangerous than any Covid-era restriction.”

The site Above The Law literally said Gorsuch was stupid in the piece, “For An Originalist, Gorsuch Is Clearly Slacking On His Definitions And Their Historical Meanings.” The subheading reads, “Is what he said stupid? Yes. But let’s be technical here.”

Law and Crime website also played the race card and did so right in the headline: Neil Gorsuch implies COVID restrictions were worse than slavery and Jim Crow, and the internet noticed.

Let’s look at that definition of political gaslighting again…

For example, the person or political party may downplay things their administration has done, discredit their opponents, imply that critics are mentally unstable, or use controversy to deflect attention away from their mistakes.

Oof. If that textbook case of gaslighting isn’t embarrassing, it should be.  Then again, narcissists are rarely embarrassed.

The gaslighting will escalate.

Another thing about narcissists: they just get angry when they’re called out. They will respond by gaslighting you harder or seeking to “ruin” you. (source) They’ll punish you with a loss of “privileges,” money, material goods, and freedom. We’ve watched it happen again and again in our cancel culture media. Some of us have been unfortunate enough to have personal relationships with narcissists and learned this the hard way.

The only way to end narcissistic abuse and gaslighting is to recognize it and remove yourself from the situation as much as you can. Obviously, when it’s our entire government and society, that becomes complicated. You may be stuck with just recognizing it. But that in itself gives you a certain amount of freedom and personal power. It helps you get off the hamster wheel, and you begin to spot the manipulations more easily.

One thing we can be sure of is that this will escalate as more and more people say, “No, that’s not what happened.” This is something we can expect, and in some small way, maybe we can take comfort in the response. Perhaps we can smile to ourselves because we know those who were trying to manipulate us all are on the defensive.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/29/2023 - 18:20

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Spread & Containment

The Great Silence

The Great Silence

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via,

The kids are two years behind in education. Inflation still rages. White-collar…



The Great Silence

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via,

The kids are two years behind in education. Inflation still rages. White-collar jobs are disappearing thanks to the reversal of Fed policy. Household finances are a wreck. The medical industry is in upheaval. Trust in government has never been lower.

Major media too is discredited. Young people are dying at levels never seen. Populations are still on the move from lockdown states to where it is less likely. Surveillance is everywhere, and so is political persecution. Public health is in a disastrous state, with substance abuse and obesity all at new records.

Each one of these, and many more besides, are continued fallout from the pandemic response that began in March 2020. And yet here we are 38 months later and we still don’t have honesty or truth about the experience.

Officials have resigned, politicians have tumbled out of office and lifetime civil servants have departed their posts, but they don’t cite the great disaster as the excuse. There is always some other reason.

This is the period of the great silence. We’ve all noticed it. The stories in the press recounting all the above are conventionally scrupulous about naming the pandemic response much less naming the individuals responsible.

Maybe there is a Freudian explanation: things so obviously terrible and in such recent memory are too painful to mentally process, so we just pretend it didn’t happen. Plenty in power like this solution.

Everyone in a position of influence knows the rules. Don’t talk about the lockdowns. Don’t talk about the mask mandates. Don’t talk about the vaccine mandates that proved useless and damaging and led to millions of professional upheavals.

Don’t talk about the economics of it. Don’t talk about collateral damage. When the topic comes up, just say, “We did the best we could with the knowledge we had,” even if that is an obvious lie.

Above all, don’t seek justice.

Where’s the National Commission?

There is this document intended to be the “Warren Commission” of COVID slapped together by the old gangsters who advocated for lockdowns. It is called Lessons from the Covid War: An Investigative Report.

The authors are people like Michael Callahan (Massachusetts General Hospital), Gary Edson (former deputy national security adviser), Richard Hatchett (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), Marc Lipsitch (Harvard University), Carter Mecher (Veterans Affairs), and Rajeev Venkayya (former Gates Foundation and now Aerium Therapeutics).

If you have been following this disaster, you might know at least some of the names. Years before 2020, they were pushing lockdowns as the solution for infectious disease. Some claim credit for having invented pandemic planning. The years 2020–2022 were their experiment.

As it was ongoing, they became media stars, pushing compliance, condemning as disinformation and misinformation anyone who disagreed with them. They were at the heart of the coup d’etat, as engineers or champions of it, that replaced representative democracy with quasi-martial law run by the administrative state.

The first sentence of the report is a complaint:

We were supposed to lay the groundwork for a National COVID Commission. The COVID Crisis Group formed at the beginning of 2021, one year into the pandemic. We thought the U.S. government would soon create or facilitate a commission to study the biggest global crisis so far in the 21st century. It has not.

That is true. There is no National COVID Commission. You know why? Because they could never get away with it, not with legions of experts and passionate citizens who wouldn’t tolerate a coverup.

The public anger is too intense. Lawmakers would be flooded with emails, phone calls and daily expressions of disgust. It would be a disaster. An honest commission would demand answers that the ruling class is not prepared to give. An “official commission” perpetuating a bunch of baloney would be dead on arrival.

This by itself is a huge victory and a tribute to indefatigable critics.

‘We Didn’t Crack Down Hard Enough’

Instead, the “COVID Crisis Group” met with funding from the Rockefeller and Charles Koch foundations and slapped together this report. Despite being celebrated as definitive by The New York Times and The Washington Post, it has mostly had no impact at all.

It is far from obtaining the status of being some kind of canonical assessment. It reads like they were on deadline, fed up, typed lots of words and called it a day.

Of course it is whitewash.

It begins with a bang to denounce the U.S. policy response: “Our institutions did not meet the moment. They did not have adequate practical strategies or capabilities to prevent, to warn, to defend their communities or fight back in a coordinated way, in the United States and globally.”

Mistakes were made, as they say.

Of course the upshot of this kvetching is not to criticize what Justice Neil Gorsuch calls “the greatest intrusions on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country.” They hardly mention those at all.

Instead they conclude that the U.S. should have surveilled more, locked down sooner (“We believe that on Jan. 28 the U.S. government should have started mobilizing for a possible COVID war”), directed more funds to this agency rather than that and centralized the response so that rogue states like South Dakota and Florida could not evade centralized authoritarian diktats next time.

The authors propose a series of lessons that are anodyne, bloodless and carefully crafted to be more-or-less true but ultimately structured to minimize the sheer radicalism and destructiveness of what they favored and did. The lessons are clichés such as we need “not just goals but road maps,” and next time we need more “situation awareness.”

There is no new information in the book that I could find, unless something is hidden therein that escaped my notice. It’s more interesting for what it does not say. Some words that never appear in the text: Sweden, ivermectin, ventilators, remdesivir and myocarditis.

‘Look, Lockdowns and Mandates Worked!’

Perhaps this gives you a sense of the book and its mission. And on matters of the lockdowns, readers are forced to endure claims such as “all of New England — Massachusetts, the city of Boston, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine — seem to us to have done relatively well, including their ad hoc crisis management setups.”

Oh really! Boston destroyed thousands of small businesses and imposed vaccine passports, closed churches, persecuted people for holding house parties, and imposed travel restrictions. There is a reason why the authors don’t elaborate on such preposterous claims. They are simply unsustainable.

One amusing feature seems to me to be a foreshadowing of what is coming. They throw Anthony Fauci under the bus with sniffy dismissals: “Fauci was vulnerable to some attacks because he tried to cover the waterfront in briefing the press and public, stretching beyond his core expertise—and sometimes it showed.”

Ooooh, burn!

“Trump Was a Comorbidity”

This is very likely the future. At some point, Fauci will be scapegoated for the whole disaster. He will be assigned to take the fall for what is really the failure of the national security arm of the administrative bureaucracy, which in fact took charge of all rule-making from March 13, 2020, onward, along with their intellectual cheerleaders. The public health people were just there to provide cover.

Curious about the political bias of the book? It is summed up in this passing statement: “Trump was a comorbidity.”

Oh how highbrow! How clever! No political bias here!

Maybe this book by the Covid Crisis Group hopes to be the last word. This will never happen. We are only at the beginning of this. As the economic, social, cultural, and political problems mount, it will become impossible to ignore the incredibly obvious.

The masters of lockdowns are influential and well-connected but not even they can invent their own reality.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/29/2023 - 16:00

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Pandemic babies’ developmental milestones: Not as bad as we feared, but not as good as before

Research findings are mostly reassuring for parents — despite the disruptions to nearly every aspect of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, most children…

Scientists and physicians raised concerns early in the pandemic that increased parental stress, COVID infections, reduced interactions with other babies and adults, and changes to health care may affect child development. (Shutterstock)

The COVID-19 pandemic created conditions that threatened children’s healthy development.

Scientists and physicians raised concerns early in the pandemic, pointing out that increased parental stress, COVID infections, reduced interactions with other babies and adults and changes to health care could affect child development. Furthermore, some children could be especially vulnerable to the pandemic circumstances.

With these concerns in mind, we started a longitudinal study of pregnant Canadians to understand how pandemic stressors might influence later child development.

Our initial findings were alarming: the rates of anxiety and depression among pregnant individuals were two to four times higher during the early phase of the pandemic compared to numerous pregnancy studies prior to the pandemic. This worrisome increase in mental health problems was seen worldwide.

Impact on children’s development

To determine how the pandemic might be affecting children’s development, we measured developmental milestones in 3,742 12-month-old infants born during the first 18 months of the pandemic. We then compared these infants to a similar group of 2,898 Canadian infants born between 2015 and 2018.

A pregnant woman and a doctor both wearing face masks in the doctor's office
Rates of anxiety and depression among pregnant individuals were two to four times higher during the early phase of the pandemic compared to numerous pregnancy studies prior to the pandemic. (Shutterstock)

The study evaluated developmental milestones using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire-3. The ASQ-3 is a parent report of child behaviour that can help identify children at risk of developmental delays in five separate domains: Communication, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Personal-Social and Problem Solving.

In a study to be published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, we found that most children born during the pandemic were doing fine, with almost 90 per cent meeting their key developmental milestones in each area. This should be reassuring for parents, caregivers and communities, because it suggests that most children are developing normally despite adverse early circumstances.

However, a slightly higher proportion of children born during the pandemic were at risk of developmental delay in Communication, Gross Motor and Personal-Social domains, compared to children born before the pandemic. Our findings are consistent with prior smaller studies showing only small increases in the risk for poor verbal, motor and cognitive performance among 12-month-old infants born during the pandemic.

A woman smiling and playing with her baby in her lap
Engaging an infant in conversation or song (even a pre-verbal infant) is a powerful way to encourage language learning. (Shutterstock)

The largest effects we observed were in the Communication and Personal-Social domains. Infants born during the pandemic were almost twice as likely to score below cutoffs compared to pre-pandemic infants.

This represents an increase of about one to two additional children in 100 who are at risk, but highlights some potentially concerning effects of the pandemic on early child development. Across Canada, this could result in service demands for 20,000-40,000 additional preschool children.

Although small in absolute terms, these increases have important implications, since already limited resources will need to increase to meet the needs of more children. Certainly, it will be important to continue monitoring infants/children born during the pandemic to determine how long-lasting these effects are.

Reassuringly, early interventions can be highly effective for children who are struggling.

Concerns about child development

A smiling baby crawling towards the camera in the foreground, and a young man smiling in the background
Provide your child with many opportunities for one-on-one interaction with a caring and responsive adult. (Shutterstock)

Parents should be mostly reassured by these findings. Despite the disruptions to nearly every aspect of life during the pandemic, the majority of children continue to show healthy development. Parents with concerns about their child’s development may find these suggestions helpful:

  1. Provide your child with many opportunities for one-on-one interaction with a caring and responsive adult. The Harvard Center on the Developing Child describes the back-and-forth interactions that form the key processes of child development as “serve and return.”

  2. Believe in “ordinary magic.” This is the phrase that child development expert Ann Masten uses to describe how resilience emerges from ordinary, everyday processes and interactions. Children develop resilience when they have access to the right environments, the right relationships and the right chances to be able to safely explore themselves and the world around them.

  3. Talk and sing with your child. Engaging an infant in conversation or song (even a pre-verbal infant) is a powerful way to encourage language learning.

  4. There is a wide range of development that is considered “normal.” It is okay for your child to be at a different stage than other children their age, as long as your child is still showing signs of development.

  5. If you are concerned about your child’s development after some time of monitoring, discuss your concerns with a qualified health professional to determine if further investigation is needed.

Overall, the findings of our study (and others) suggest that the effects of the pandemic on infant development (at least to one year of age) have not been as bad as we feared. However, a greater number of children will likely require further evaluation and support compared to pre-pandemic.

Gerald Giesbrecht receives funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.

Catherine Lebel receives funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Brain Canada, the Azrieli Foundation, Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation, and the Canada Research Chairs program.

Lianne Tomfohr-Madsen receives funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Brain Canada, Calgary Health Trust, the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation and the Weston Foundation.

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