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February 2023

The new year began amid optimism among investors. Equities and bonds rallied in January, clawing back some losses from last year. The dollar traded heavily,…



The new year began amid optimism among investors. Equities and bonds rallied in January, clawing back some losses from last year. The dollar traded heavily, falling against most G10 and emerging market currencies. However, after the February 1 FOMC meeting, the dollar's sell-off exhausted the near-term selling pressure. An upside correction may be seen in the first part of February. We see this as a countertrend move and expect dollar weakness to re-emerge. 

The reopening of supply chains and the still strong labor markets have seen the pendulum of sentiment push away from the pessimism seen in the waning months of 2022. There is increasing speculation of soft landings in the US and Europe, including by the vocal Fed critic Lawrence Summers and the International Monetary Fund. A relatively warm winter so far in Europe, conservation efforts, and securing ample supplies have averted the crisis that had threatened. The reopening of China and early data from the Lunar New Year holiday also boosted optimism. Still, sentiment is fickle, and the inversion of various parts of the US and European yield curves caution against thinking that the risks have passed.

Four developments are shaping the international economic and investment climate. First, US inflation continues to moderate. This allowed the Federal Reserve to slow its pace of tightening. The market thinks the Fed's tightening cycle that began in March 2022 is nearly over. The Fed funds futures strip continues to price a strong chance of a 5% terminal rate. The market is also confident that a rate cut will be delivered before the end of the year, even after the strong January employment report (flattered by updated seasonal adjustments and benchmark revisions). As the interest rate support weakened, the dollar continued to retrace the gains seen broadly since early 2021. To illustrate the change of trend for the dollar, consider that the 50-day moving average has crossed the 200-day moving average for G10 currency pairs, but the Canadian dollar. 

Second, despite the lack of transparency, many are hopeful that the pandemic in China can be brief. Reports suggest increased traffic (pedestrian, auto, and public) in several large cities within a few weeks of the abandonment of the zero-Covid policy. Even though the government will reportedly take "golden share" stakes in Alibaba and Tencent, Beijing is expected to pursue stimulative measures, including boosting quotas for local government borrowing. New video games have been approved, and the crackdown on the tech sector may be over. Foreign investors have returned to Chinese stocks that trade on the mainland exchanges and in Hong Kong. The yuan's gains, in line the dollar's broad weak did not appear to meet much resistance from Chinese officials.

Third, European data mostly surprised on the upside. Even in the UK, where the Bank of England does not anticipate growth returning until next year, the economy is proving more resilient than expected. The European Central Bank delivered the half-point hike President Lagarde pre-committed to in December, and another 50 bp hike is likely at the next meeting in mid-March. 

Weaker energy prices lower the cost of fiscal support and ease pressure on trade balances. The EU's ban on imports of petroleum products from Russia begins February 5. The focus of the energy risks is not on natural gas, which has seen the European one-month benchmark fall below 55 euros per megawatt hour from a peak of more than 340 euros at the end of last August. The new concern is about diesel, where supplies are low. It appears that some European buyers were stocking up on Russian diesel ahead of the embargo. The euro extended Q4 22 gains, while sterling consolidated the gains that took it from about $1.0350 in late September 2022 to $1.2450 in mid-December. 

Fourth, the Bank of Japan surprised everyone in December by doubling the cap on 10-year Japanese government bonds to 0.50% and surprised again in January by doing nothing. Many remain wary of additional moves toward the exit from its extraordinary monetary policy. The BOJ is the last country with a negative policy rate (-0.10%). A continued unwinding of short-yen hedges and the continued pullback in US rates helped the yen extend its recovery.

After peaking near JPY152 last October, the dollar fell to around JPY127.25 last month, giving back half of its 2022 rally. However, the recent experience and extreme volatility indicate the eventual end of the Yield Curve Control will likely prove tumultuous and expensive. In the four days before last month's BOJ meeting, the central bank spent about JPY14 trillion (~$100 bln) buying Japanese government bonds. The Bank of Japan's balance sheet has risen by almost 20% in the past three months, while the ECB and Fed's balance sheets have been reduced. Nevertheless, the yen is the strongest of the G10 currencies over this period, rising by around 14.3% against the US dollar and around 4.4% against the euro. 

The appointment of BOJ Governor Kuroda's replacement and two deputy governors may be one of the biggest political events in February. The latest reports suggest the government may submit its appointments to the Diet around February 10, and the candidate would face both houses in around February 16-21. The market will try to read into Kuroda's successor the trajectory of policy. If the current deputy, Amamiya Masayoshi gets the nod, it is seen as the strongest signal that the current thrust of policy will persist. Still, the spring round of wage negotiations (March) is a critical input. Last year's negotiations resulted in slightly less than a 2% increase. Pay raises are expected to average around 3% this year.

Starting with the January US CPI that will be released on February 14, the Bureau of Labor Statistics that compiles the data will update the weighted in the basket annually rather than its current practice of biennial adjustments, using two years of consumer expenditure data. It will use expenditure data from 2021 for the new weights for this year's basket. We expect  US to fall sharply in the first half of this year, beginning with the January report. 

A few days before the January CPI is reported, the BLS will also announce its new seasonal adjustment factors to reflect the price movements of the past year. This routine and technical recalculation could include revisions to the seasonal adjustment indices for the previous five years.

The now-customary brinkmanship over the US debt ceiling has begun again. The brinkmanship tactics look scary, but few genuinely think there will be a default. The US Treasury has a playbook to extend the time for the political negotiations, and these are seen lasting until at least late Q2. Investors have also become accustomed to this peculiar expression of American exceptionalism. The spending has been authorized, but the paying for it is used for partisan purposes to extract new concessions.

In the past, T-bills maturing in the period around when the Treasury runs out of room to maneuver have been avoided on the margins, resulting in slightly higher rates. Meanwhile, the cost of insuring against a possible default jumped. The one-year credit default spiked from about 14 bp to a little more than 75 bp, which is around where it peaked in 2013. In 2011, it was slightly higher. Still, the brinkmanship tactics look scary, but few genuinely think there will be a default. At the same time, contrary to a popular narrative about the lack of interest in US Treasuries, the coupon and bill auctions in January were strongly received, generating rates that were often lower than the activity in the when-issued market.

Emerging markets saw renewed interest in January, though flows into Chinese equities seemed to dominate. MSCI's Emerging Market Index rose nearly 9.2% last month. Its index of the developed markets rose a more modest 6%. The premium of JP Morgan's Emerging Market Bond Index over US Treasuries narrowed for the fourth consecutive month in January. Near 370 bp, it is the lowest since March 2022, when the Fed began hiking rates. The JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index rose by a little more than 3.5% in January to stand at a seven-month high. With the Federal Reserve perceived to be nearly over with its rate hikes, and China reopening, emerging markets have a favorable backdrop. They are vulnerable to the risks of recession in the US and Europe and weaker than expected growth in China. 

Bannockburn's World Currency Index, a GDP-weighted basket of the dozen largest economies, appreciated by about 1.7% in January as the world's currencies outperformed the dollar. It was the third consecutive monthly gain, and it has recovered a little more than half of what it lost since the mid-2021 peak. Leaving aside the Russian rouble, which is a special case, the Brazilian real and Mexican peso were the strongest currencies in BWCI, appreciating by 3.8%-3.9%. The Australian dollar was the strongest among the developed market currencies, with around a 3.3% gain. None of the currencies fell, but the Japanese yen (~0.8%) and the Indian rupee (~1.0%) were the weakest performers.

We see the appreciation of the BWCI confirming a significant trend reversal in Q4 22. The dollar's rally that pushed measures of valuation to historic proportions, is over, barring a new shock. The dollar's rally seemed increasingly driven by Fed policy, and that fuel looks spent. Still, the magnitude corrections have been modest at best, and for many pairs, the greenback moved broadly sideways to consolidate its losses.  That said, a more significant correction appear to be unfolding.  We suspect the BWCI could give back January's gain. 

Dollar:   The dollar fell against all the G10 currencies in January but the Swedish krona and Norwegian krone. US real sector data mostly disappointed, while price pressures are eased faster than expected. Real final sales to domestic private purchasers (excludes trade, inventories, and government spending), a measure of the underlying momentum of the US economy, ground to a near-halt in Q4 22 (0.2% annualized), even though the headline pace was 2.9%. Economic activity is set to slow further in the coming quarters. The Federal Reserve insists that additional hikes may prove necessary, but the market favors one more quarter-point hike in March. We expect US inflation will fall sharply in the coming months. Recall that CPI rose at an annualized pace of more than 10% in both Q1 22 and Q2 22. This surge will drop out of year-over-year comparisons. The labor market remains resilient, though the 517k rise in January nonfarm payrolls likely overstates the case. Before the Fed meets in March, it will see another employment report. The Dollar Index briefly traded below 101.00 after the FOMC meeting, but this may make a near-term low before corrective forces carry it back toward 103.80-104.00. That said, we anticipate that the dollar's upside correction may end before the January CPI report on February 14.


Euro:  One of the most significant changes so far in the new year has been perceptions of the reduced downside risks in the eurozone. The fear of a full-blown energy crisis has abated by a relatively warm winter, conservation, shifts by German industry to other energy sources, and weaker energy prices. Rather than contract in Q4 22, as economists expected, the eurozone economy eked out a 0.1% expansion. Moreover, concerns about the Italian government under Prime Minister Meloni have eased. Italy's10-year premiumItaly’s10-yearhas fallen from over 250 bp in late September to around 170 bp in the middle of January, the lowest since last April. Expectations that the European Central Bank will be more aggressive than the Federal Reserve this year have also helped underpin the euro. The ECB delivered the 50 bp hike on February 2 that President Lagarde pre-committed to in December and strongly signaled another hike of the same magnitude in March. Even though speculators in the futures market have amassed a significant long euro position and momentum indicators are stretched, euro pullbacks have been limited to less than two cents since late November. Still, the move above $1.10 after the February 1 FOMC meeting may have satiated near-term euro appetites. Key technical support is seen in the $1.0700-50 area. 

(February 3 indicative closing prices, previous in parentheses)
Spot: $1.0795 ($1.0610)
Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast $1.0745 ($1.0590)
One-month forward $1.0815 ($1.0620)   One-month implied vol 8.1% (8.7%)    

Japanese Yen: The Bank of Japan made good on its claim that the adjustment of the 10-year yield band in December was not an abandonment of its extraordinary monetary policy. Not only did it stay the course in January, but it increased the flexibility of the facility that lends money to commercial banks for their purchases of government bonds. The BOJ also underscored its macroeconomic assessment that stimulus is still needed by continuing to forecast sub-2% inflation in the next fiscal years and shaving its growth forecasts. Many market participants are still skeptical of the sustainability of Japan's monetary policy. The swaps market continues to price in a positive target rate in Q2, which currently stands at -0.10%. While the balance sheet of other major central banks, including the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, have continued to be reduced, the BOJ's balance sheet grew more than 3.3% last month. Still, the yen rose by about 0.8% against the dollar last month.  It was the third month that the yen appreciated, and since the end of October, it has risen by by 14.3. With last month’s losses, the has given back almost half its gains against the yen from the pandemic low in March 2020 (~JPY101.20) to the late October high (~JPY152). Since the December surprise, the greenback has not traded above JPY135.00 but looks poised to re-challenge it in the coming weeks.  

Spot: JPY131.20 (JPY134.45)    
Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast JPY130.55 
One-month forward JPY130.70 
(JPY134.30) One-month implied vol 12.2% (12.5%)

British Pound: After recovering from the historic low at the end of September near $1.0350, sterling has gone nowhere since approaching $1.2450 in mid-December. It traded roughly between $1.1850 and $1.2450 in January. The inability to rise above there suggests the "bulls" are exhausted. A return to January's low seems likely, and a break of it would significantly damage the technical outlook. Indeed, a downside breakout could spur a move toward $1.1400 as a preliminary target. The British economy is in the poorest shape of the G7 and was the only major country for which the IMF cut its outlook. With the 50 bp rate hike on February 2, bringing the base rate to 4%, the Bank of England was not quite as pessimistic as it had been. It sees a shallower and shorter recession than it did late last year. The 0.5% contraction now expected is in line with the IMF's projection. However, the BOE is more pessimistic about 2024 and sees a contraction of 0.25%, while the IMF anticipates the economy growing by 0.9%. While inflation risks are still seen to the upside, the BOE's newest inflation forecast has CPI falling to around 4% this year from 10.5% at the end of 2022 and warns it could fall below 2% by the end of 2024. The swaps market anticipates one more hike for 25 bp, likely at the March 23 meeting.



Spot: $1.2055 ($1.2015)   
Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast $1.2080 
One-month forward $1.2065 
($1.2020) One-month implied vol 9.8% (10.6%)

Canadian Dollar:  With the quarter-point hike last month, Bank of Canada Governor Macklem laid to rest any lingering speculation of a hike at the next meeting in March. His indication of a pause was explicit, and in so doing, became the first of the G7 central banks to suggest its tightening cycle may be over, provided the economy evolves as officials expect. It anticipates growth slowing this year to 1% from about 3.6% last year. Inflation is seen falling back into the 2%-3% range by midyear as 2% by the end of next year. The housing market has softened sharply, and business confidence is at a two-year low. Over the past three months, the US dollar has traded roughly CAD1.3225-CAD1.3800 and averaged about CAD1.3485. The CAD1.3550 area is a reasonable corrective target for the next couple of weeks. The correlation between changes in the exchange rate and the S&P 500 eased a bit last month but remains high enough (~0.67) not to ignoreWithout encouragement from the Bank of Canada, the market is pricing nearly 50 bp of cuts before year-end.

Spot: CAD1.3400 (CAD 1.3610) 
Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast CAD1.3400 (CAD1.3610)
One-month forward CAD1.3395 (CAD1.3615)   One-month implied vol 7.2% (7.7%) 

Australian Dollar:   Through the last full week in January, the Australian dollar appreciated 12 of the 15 weeks since mid-October. In fact, since then, the New Zealand and Australian dollars have benefitted from the US dollar's turn (~15.8% and 13.8%%, respectively). January's 3% gain was the best of the G10 currencies and was driven by the optimism about China reopening and a reassessment, considering the stronger inflation, of the outlook for monetary policy. With inflation still accelerating into the end of last year (7.8% year-over-year in Q4 22 from 7.3% in Q3 22), the market has come around a bit more to our expectation that the central bank will hike 25 bp when it meets on February 7. That would bring the overnight cash target rate to 3.35%. The swaps market sees a peak near 3.75%. With gains to about $0.7140 last month, the Australian dollar has retraced a little more than half of its losses from the February 2021 high slightly over $0.8000. The technical correction could see the Australian dollar test its 200-day moving average near $0.6800.


Spot: $0.6925 ($0.6735)     
Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast $0.6910 
One-month forward $0.6930 ($0.6740)    One-month implied vol 12.8% (12.5%)


Mexican Peso:  The dollar not only retested the Q4 low against the Mexican peso (~MXN19.04), but as we anticipated, it fell to almost MXN18.5665, its lowest level since March 2020 around the middle of January. The general risk-on optimism at the beginning of the year and softer-than-expected US CPI helped lift the peso. Moreover, even though AMLO has not pursued investor-friendly policies, its low funding needs, relative stability, and high-interest rates provide a conducive backdrop. Not only are fixed-income investors attracted to Mexico, but the Bolsa is among the best performers in January, rising about 12.5% and fully recouping last year's loss (~-9.0%). The central bank meets on February 9 and is expected to match the Fed's move, which would lift the overnight rate to 10.75%. The swaps market expects the terminal rate to be at 11.0%. It is also anticipating a cut later this year as growth is seen grinding to a halt in the middle two quarters and inflation falling below 6% from 7.8% at the end of last year. The dollar snapped back after testing MXN18.50. A near-term correction can see it recover toward MXN19.30-MXN19.50.  


Spot: MXN18.97 (MXN19.4375)  

Median Bloomberg One-Month Forecast MXN19.25 (MXN19.48)  
One-month forward MXN19.06 (MXN19.4580) One-month implied vol 10.1% (11.0%)

Chinese Yuan:  Reports of activity during the Lunar New Year holiday and the jump in the January PMI (composite of 52.9, the highest since last June) encourage investors to anticipate a strong reopening. Foreign investors have returned to Chinese equities. The CSI 300 rose nearly 7.4% in January, and the index of mainland shares that trade in Hong Kong rose by 10.7%. While the US tightens restrictions on China's access to semiconductor fabrication capability, China is threatening to impose export controls on solar wafers. The US gets around 80% of its solar panel supply from Asia. China appears to have toned down its "wolf diplomacy," but its aerial harassment of Taiwan continues, and the "spy balloon" over the US does not "help matters. The National People's Congress is in March. It is the next important event for Chinese policy and personnel changes. The JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index has risen by about 6.25% over the past three months. The yuan rose by about 2.15% against the dollar in January. It was the third consecutive monthly increase. Over the three months, it has risen by a little more than 8.1%, which is near the median gain of the G10 currencies. The upside correction for the greenback can see it rise toward CNY6.88-CNY6.90.

Spot: CNY6.7980 (CNY6.9820)
Median Bloomberg One-month Forecast CNY6.80 (CNY6.99) 
One-month forward CNY6.79 (CNY7.0150) One-month implied vol 8.9% (7.35%)  




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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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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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