Saturday, July 31, 2021

Weekly Indicators for July 26 - 30 at Seeking Alpha

 

 - by New Deal democrat


My Weekly Indicators post is up at Seeking Alpha.


Ironically, as the bond market smells weakness ahead, driving long term rates down, it also sets up a rebound from that weakness further out. In the meantime, Q2 corporate profits are through the roof.

As usual, clicking over and reading should bring you up to the virtual moment, and bring me some change for a libation or two.

Friday, July 30, 2021

June personal income and spending show pandemic cushion approaching depletion


  - by New Deal democrat

How well personal income and spending held up throughout the pandemic is one of the best things about the government response.


For June, nominal personal income increased 0.1%. After inflation, however, it decreased -0.4%. Nominal personal spending increased 1.0%. After inflation, it still increased 0.5%. Here are the real figures for both personal spending and disposable income:


Expenditures are up 2.7% since right before the pandemic, while income is up 3.3%.

Here is how real personal spending compares with the other side of the coin, real retail sales:


Both of these have returned to basically normal levels m/m. While the stimulus has abated, spending hasn’t crashed. That’s a good thing.

The cushion of the increased pandemic stimulus has also largely faded in the personal savings rate:


This tells us that within the next few months that cushion is probably going to be exhausted, and consumers are going to have to stand on their own.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Q2 2021 GDP: goodbye recession, hasta la vista recovery, hello expansion

 

 - by New Deal democrat

Nominal GDP before inflation increased 3.1%, while real GDP for the 2nd Quarter increased 1.6%. The real annual rate of growth was thus 6.5%. Real GDP is now 0.8% higher than its last quarter before the onset of the pandemic:



The recession is over, as was declared by the NBER last week. In fact, so is the recovery, if one measures by GDP, since once all of the decline during the recession is made up, that qualifies for calling it an expansion.

Real income and spending are also at higher levels than at any point before the recession, while industrial production and - especially - employment have continued to lag.

Initial claims continue two-month stall

 

 - by New Deal democrat

Initial jobless claims declined 24,000 this week, but at 400,000 this was the 2nd week in a row starting with a “4” handle. The 4 week average of claims also increased by 8,000 to 394,500:



Significant progress in the decline of initial claims has stopped for the last 2 months.

Continuing claims rose 7,000 to 3,269,000:


This is the third week within 10,000 for continued claims. This level was last seen at the end of 2012 during the last expansion.

Whether claims will continue to stall, reverse, or improve from here is under the control of the Delta variant, and whether new vaccinations continue to stall.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Coronavirus dashboard for July 28: you’re reading the right blog, ghoulish edition

 

 - by New Deal democrat

In writing about the economy, I make use of long and short leading indicators to forecast coincident indicators. In writing about COVID, the template isn’t much different: cases lead hospitalizations by about 2 weeks, which in turn lead deaths by about 2 weeks. Put another way, cases lead deaths by about 4 weeks.

Four weeks ago I wrote:


we have to start worrying about COVID again, because the delta variant has now taken hold in up to 8 States with rising new cases. All of those States have fewer vaccinations per capita than the national average, and most of them much below the average. By the end of July, I anticipate that it will be clear there is a new ‘wave’ of cases in the relatively unvaccinated States.”

In the past 4 weeks, cases have nearly quintupled from about 11,300 to 55,000. Hospitalizations have risen about 2.5x. And here is what deaths nationwide look like, vs. cases:


Deaths have been trending slightly higher and just made a 1 month high.

And here are deaths in the bellwether States that were first hit with Delta, plus a few others:


Deaths in some of those States have started to go parabolic.

In the last 4 weeks, the US has gone from about 47% fully vaccinated to just under 50% fully vaccinated - i.e., not much of a change.

Here is what is going to happen in the next month. Deaths are going to follow cases. Cases have nearly quintupled. Deaths are going to nearly quintuple - I.e., to a level of about 1,000/day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Housing sales decline, while price surges continue

 

 - by New Deal democrat

So I take a little one day road trip on my vacation, and come back to find much weeping and gnashing of teeth and generalized whining about a big decline in new home sales. Well, what exactly were they expecting?


The new home sales data is particularly volatile and heavily revised. So, in June, it was volatile, and May was revised substantially downward (blue in the graph below). Prices also declined, although they remain within the range of monthly noise (red):


When we look at the YoY% change quarterly (to reduce noise), the prices follow sales continues to be in evidence:


In absolute terms, sales peaked at the turn of the year, while prices continue to rise faster than the pace of overall inflation.

But of course, we really already knew this, because single family housing permits give us the same information, which much more signal and much less noise, with about a 1 month delay (red in the graph below):


Sales lead prices. Once sales decline enough, sellers will get the message about prices.

Meanwhile, this morning both the FHFA (red in the graph below) and Case Shiller (blue) house price indexes for existing homes were released, which I show YoY compared with median new house prices (green):


All three continue to show YoY acceleration in prices. As inventory of existing homes held back in 2020 continues to catch up, and supply chain disruptions dissipate, price increases will abate, and I further expect them to reverse.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Weekly Indicators for July 19 - 23 at Seeking Alpha

 

 - by New Deal democrat

My Weekly Indicators post is up at Seeking Alpha.

No visible impact on the economy yet due to the Delta wave. In March 2020, the first indicator to tip over was restaurant reservations. I would expect that to be the first item to suffer now as well.

As usual, clicking over and reading will not only bring you up to the virtual moment, but bring me a penny or two for my efforts.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Comments on existing home sale prices

 

 - by New Deal democrat

Existing home sales were reported yesterday. Since, although they are about 90% of the market, they have much less effect on the economy than new home sales, I normally don’t pay that much attention.


But I did want to emerge from my vacation hideaway to make a few comments.

1. Inventory is up 11% YoY. Inventory follows prices, and as prices rise, more and more people decide now is a good time to sell their house (especially if they are downsizing). A huge number of people held off selling during the pandemic lockdowns last year in spring. Those houses are going to come back on the market, and I expect inventory to surge as the pandemic recedes.

2. Prices are up 23.4% YoY, almost as insane an increase as last month’s 23.6%.

3. Prices are even more extreme compared with income as they were at the height of the housing bubble. Using average hourly income, here’s how many hours a person would have to work to buy the median existing home for sale last month vs. the two peaks of the bubble, August 2006 and May 2007:

6/21: 14,147 hours
8/06: 12,889
5/07: 12,585

4. But when we look at monthly mortgage payments as a multiple of average hourly income, prices aren’t nearly as extreme as they were at the peak of the bubble, because mortgage rates in June averaged 2.98%, vs. 6.52% in August 2006 and 6.26% in May 2007:

6/21: 59.5 hours
8/06: 81.6 
5/07: 77.6

So, as insane as existing home prices appear now, they could still rise substantially higher. Nevertheless, as they continue to rise, I expect sales to continue to decline (unless mortgage rates come down significantly more).

Thursday, July 22, 2021

New jobless claims rise sharply; is the Delta wave beginning to take its economic toll?

 

 - by New Deal democrat

New jobless claims are the most important weekly economic datapoint with regard to the effects of vaccination progress. At this point, it is also a test of how much the “delta wave” of new cases is setting economic progress back. Three weeks I wrote that, because progress in vaccinations had largely stalled, “that implies at least a stall in the decline in new claims, and - I actually suspect - an increase, perhaps to about 450,000 per week or so.”

This week’s number may just be noise, or may be evidence such an increase. New jobless claims rose by 51,000 to 419,000, the highest number in 9 weeks. The 4 week average of claims also rose - slightly - by 750 to 385,2500. Here is the trend since last August:


After trending down by roughly 100,000 per month from late February into May, as vaccinations increased quickly, the rate slowed sharply ever since, to a decline of less than 20,000 in the past 6 weeks in the 4 week average.

On the other hand, continuing claims, which are reported with a one week lag, and lag the trend of initial claims typically by a few weeks to several months, have declined gradually about 15% from roughly 3,800,000 over the past 4 months, did set another new pandemic low today at 3,236,000:


Some of this decline *may* be due to many States’ termination of all extended jobless benefits due to the pandemic.

A long term perspective shows that this week’s level is similar to early during other recoveries from most previous recessions, versus at 2,000,000 or below later in strong expansions:


My ultimate target for economic success from vaccinations has been for claims to average 325,000 or below. But with the Delta variant surging, and new COVID cases rapidly increasing to near last summer’s highs, I suspect that both employers and potential customers will become more cautious again. I remain skeptical that there will be a full return to employment until the disease has run its course.



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Coronavirus dashboard for July 21: brace yourself for the surge in deaths

 

 - by New Deal democrat

I have been warning since late June that the situation would likely look very different by the end of July. By 2 weeks ago, I wrote:

In the near future, there appears to be bad news and *relatively* “good” news for the US. The bad news is that the “delta wave” is spreading, and we should expect a real outbreak on the order of last summer’s by early August. The *relatively* “good” news is that the death rate is likely not to be nearly so bad, if the experience in the UK is any guide.”


Cases have nearly tripled in the US in the past 2 weeks:

Since deaths lag by about 28 days, we haven’t nearly begun to see the kind of increase that is already baked into the cake.

In the UK, the government has been congratulating itself over the low death rate. And in comparison with the number of deaths last winter, they are correct. To some extent, this is due to the fact that 15% more of the UK population has been vaccinated during the Delta wave there:


But over the last 2 weeks, the death rate in the UK has actually increased *faster* than the rate of new cases:


If we compare the increase in deaths in the UK over the past two weeks with the increase in cases 2 to 4 weeks before, it isn’t clear at all that the death rate there isn’t going to follow cases proportionately higher over the next month.

Turning to the US, deaths have only risen slightly so far, but again, since deaths follow cases by about 4 weeks, we are probably only 2 weeks away from a proportionate increase in cases. And in the US, there has been no comparable surge in vaccinations since the onset of the Delta wave. In fact, there has been a subsidence.

For a taste of what is in store, here are new cases and deaths in Arkansas, one of the States where the Delta wave increase started the earliest:


Deaths have risen just as fast as cases, and started to rise very quickly after cases did.

So, brace yourselves. Cases have nearly tripled in the US over the past 2 weeks. Deaths are likely to increase to nearly 1000/day over the next 2 to 4 weeks.

One more thing: as I wrote a few days ago, the virus is essentially a parasitic copy machine. Its adaptive mechanism is chance mutation. But the human *reaction* to the virus, and to knowledge about the trend in cases and deaths, is fiendishly difficult to model. For example, almost certainly after hearing from their lawyers, Fox News issued a spate of “get the vaccine!” messages from their hosts. Will that continue, or even intensify? Will Congressional GOPers and Red State governors change their tunes? As cases and even more importantly deaths go parabolic, panic is likely to set in. What will the unvaccinated do then? Impossible to know.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Housing permits continue decline in June; more challenging YoY comparisons ahead

 

 - by New Deal democrat

First, a brief comment about the NBER’s declaration yesterday that the COVID recession ended in April 2020. I am not surprised at all that they chose that date. It has been clear for a year that the trough in economic activity across the board was that month (which we’ll see below as to housing, for example).  Remember that a recovery starts when economic activity improves, even if that improvement is from totally awful to almost totally awful. The only thing that surprised me about the NBER announcement was that I expected them to wait for next week’s GDP report, which will probably show that Q2 set a new all time peak, surpassing Q1 2020 just before the pandemic.

Now, to housing ...

Housing permits, both in total (gold in the graph below) and the less volatile single family permits (red), both continued to decline in June, to the lowest level since last August. The more volatile and slightly lagging measure of housing starts (blue) increased, although they remained below their recent peak from this March and also last December:


Both as to permits and starts, the level of construction activity remains higher than its pre-pandemic peak. At the same time, the decline of slightly more than 15% in permits is consistent with a slowing down of economic growth next year.

Finally, here is the YoY change in mortgage rates (red)(*10 for scale), inverted so that up = economic positive, and down = economic negative, compared with total permits (blue):


As I have said many times before, mortgage rates lead permits and starts. The big pandemic decline evaporated last July, so beginning next month, the YoY comparisons are going to be much more challenging. On the other hand, the renewed decline in mortgage rates in the past few weeks will at least temporarily put a floor under the decline in housing purchases.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Coronavirus dashboard for July 19: The UK as Delta wave trailblazer for the US

 

 - by New Deal democrat

An initial note: I am on vacation this week, so posting is likely to be sporadic. I’ll still hit the important data.


Now that the Delta wave is well and truly here in the US, let’s compare it with the UK experience, which has been about 7 weeks ahead, to get an idea where we are going.

Here is the long term view: 


As I said, the UK resurgence due to Delta started about 7 weeks before that in the US.

So the experience in the UK is likely to give us a good idea where the US will be in about 7 weeks. 

So here is a look at cases (narrow line) and deaths (wide line) in the UK:


In the autumn and winter wave last year, as well as the Delta wave this year, deaths followed cases with about a 4 week lag.

As similar 4 week lag between cases and deaths shows up in the long term view of the US data:


Now let’s take a close-up look at cases in the US (blue) and the UK (orange) over the last 8 weeks:


Cases in the UK have doubled roughly every 2 weeks, from a low of about 1900 to over 45,000 now. In other words, cases now are over 20 times higher than they were 8 weeks ago. Cases in the US bottomed about 3.5 weeks ago at 11,300, and have since risen to over 32,000, roughly a tripling during that time.

So if we project US cases to double every 2 weeks over the next 8 weeks, as they have in the UK, that puts us at 512,000 cases daily in the US by mid-September (more than double the US’s peak last winter).

Now let’s look at deaths:


In the UK, deaths bottomed at 8 per day about 6 weeks ago. As of now they have risen to an average of 42 daily, an increase of over 5x. In the last 2 weeks, they have more than doubled. In the US, deaths bottomed at about 215 per day less than 2 weeks ago, and have risen to about 270, a slow increase that is similar to that of the UK in the first several weeks after their bottom in deaths.

If the US follows the same course as the UK, 1 month from now the US will have about 1000 deaths per day. 

But remember, deaths follow cases with a 4 week lag. So if the US has 16x more cases in mid-September, then by mid-October there will be over 4000 deaths per day.

The question in the US is whether there will be government interventions at the State level to slow down the spread of these new cases, such as reinstating masking and distancing restrictions, and shutting down certain businesses. Unsurprisingly, that is unlikely to happen in the Red States. The other alternative is that individuals reinstate some precautions, such as masking indoors, that they may have recently abandoned. At some point I believe that *will* happen, even in the Red States (as it did last winter), but I do not know how severe conditions must be first.

What I can say is that, if cases and deaths double every 2 weeks, then in about 4 months the Delta variant will have ripped through virtually the entire unvaccinated US population, with deaths following suit about a month later.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Weekly Indicators for July 12 - 16 at Seeking Alpha

 

 - by New Deal democrat

My “Weekly Indicators” post is up at Seeking Alpha.

All timeframes continue positive, but the renewed outbreak of COVID - indeed, its uncontrolled exponential spread - is the proverbial elephant in the room, and is quite likely to Bigfoot the entire forecast and nowcast. And with the many crosscurrents, is effect on the economy is fiendishly difficult to forecast.

As usual, clicking over and reading should be rewarding for you, and for me as well to the tune of a penny or two.

Friday, July 16, 2021

June retail sales decline after taking inflation into account, but overall pandemic gains “stick”

 

 - by New Deal democrat

As usual, retail sales is one of my favorite indicators, because it gives us so much information about the consumer economy. 

The news for June was mixed. Nominally retail sales were up +0.6% for the month. But after taking into account consumer inflation, real retail sales declined -0.3%. Still, nominal retail sales are up over 18% since just before the pandemic started, and up +12.9% taking into account inflation:


Here’s what the monthly changes in real retail sales look like compared with the other side of the consumer ledger, real personal consumption expenditures (which haven’t been reported for June yet):


The two have moved pretty much in tandem, so this gives me more confidence in the numbers.

But what is going to happen when the pandemic stimulus ends in a couple of months?  This is a legitimate concern, if spending is suddenly going to crash. The good news there is, even with recent drawdowns, consumers have increased their personal savings by 65%, or just over $900 Billion since the pandemic started:


This cash, which essentially is being held in reserve, should help cushion consumers, at least in the aggregate, when supplemental payments run out. And the enhanced Biden child tax credit, which is sending checks to millions of American families starting this month, is also going to help immensely.

Next let’s turn to employment, because as I have pointed out many times, real retail sales (blue) tend to lead employment (red) and aggregate hours (gold) by about 3-4 months. Here’s the long term YoY look from 1993 through the end of 2019:


The long lags after the 2001 and 2008 recessions reflected the “China shock” as manufacturing jobs in particular were re-sourced to China in large wages after both recessions.

Here is the monthly update since the beginning of 2020 (note the huge difference in scale!):


Since it is hardly surprising that there has been a big YoY jump in jobs in the past few months, given the 22 million loss in jobs in April 2020, the below graph compares the absolute data, normed to 100 as of February 2020 (with an adjustment for the increased volatility of retail sales compared with employment):


We had another big positive month for jobs (+850,000) in June, and the above graph argues that there is more to come. The biggest reasons that there hasn’t been even better numbers are (1) the supply bottlenecks in important industries like autos and home construction; and (2) continuing issues with things like arranging child care, and continued fear of the pandemic.


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Jobless claims make new pandemic lows; but the virus is back in control

 

 - by New Deal democrat

New jobless claims are the most important weekly economic datapoint with regard to the effects of vaccination progress. At this point, it is also a test of how much the “delta wave” of new cases is setting economic progress back. Two weeks I wrote that, because progress in vaccinations had largely stalled, “that implies at least a stall in the decline in new claims, and - I actually suspect - an increase, perhaps to about 450,000 per week or so.”

That certainly didn’t happen, at least this week. New jobless claims declined by 26,000 to 360,000, a new pandemic low. The 4 week average of claims set a new pandemic low, declining by 14,500 to 382,500. Here is the trend since last August:


After peaking last year at roughly 7 million, claims declined sharply into winter, then rose again during the winter wave of infections. This year, from late February into May, claims had trended down an average of roughly 100,000 per month. This has slowed sharply since then, to a decline of only about 20,000 in the past 5 weeks in the 4 week average.

Continuing claims, which are reported with a one week lag, and lag the trend of initial claims typically by a few weeks to several months, have declined gradually about 15% from roughly 3,800,000 over the past 4 months, and also set another new pandemic low today at 3,241,000:


Some of this decline *may* be due to many States’ termination of all extended jobless benefits due to the pandemic.

A long term perspective shows that this week’s level is similar to early during other recoveries from most previous recessions, versus at 2,000,000 or below later in strong expansions:


My ultimate target for economic success from vaccinations has been for claims to average 325,000 or below. 

But at this point nearly all States are showing an increase in new cases, and overall the average daily count of new COVID cases has more than doubled from 11,300 to 25,255 in the past 22 days. Deaths have also started to increase again. Thus the virus is back in control, especially in the relatively unvaccinated States. How employers and potential customers will behave in response to that is very much open to question, and so I am skeptical that there will be a full return to employment until the disease has run its course.

Industrial production slightly positive overall, but with negative revisions

 

 - by New Deal democrat

Industrial production is the King of Coincident Indicators. It is the single datum that most frequently coincides with the NBER determination of the beginning and end of recessions.


Production increased 0.4% in June, but May’s result was reduced by -0.2%. The manufacturing component declined less than -0.1%, and May’s result was also reduced, by -0.3%. As a result, overall manufacturing remains 1.2% below its pre-pandemic level, and the manufacturing component is -0.2% below that level:


While this wasn’t a poor report, it was only weakly positive overall. I don’t think the NBER will feel comfortable declaring the COVID recession over until at least the manufacturing component is all the way back to February 2020 levels.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Real wages decrease sharply - at least, if you include used vehicle prices

 

 - by New Deal democrat

As I pointed out yesterday, the big increase in inflation over the past few months has made the YoY change in real wages for nonsupervisory workers negative. Let’s take a little closer look.


Here is a graph of wages for nonsupervisory workers taking overall inflation into account, normed to 100 as of January 1973 (its peak previous to the pandemic):


Wages had been gradually increasing in real terms for several decades before the pandemic. The big surge in spring 2020 was due to the massive layoffs in the low wage sectors of the economy. Much of the decline since then has been attributable to their being rehired.

Here is a close-up over the past 2 years:


Average wages are still 2.4% higher than before the pandemic.

The same data YoY shows a decline of -3.9%:


But when we take used vehicles out of the inflation equation, YoY inflation is less explosive than the total number appears, at +3.9%:


So now here is the YoY% change in wages, leaving out used vehicles:


If you’re not in the market for a used vehicle, YoY real wages have risen ever so slightly (less than 0.1%).

I do expect the issue with vehicle prices to work itself out as microchips for vehicle manufacture become more available, but I have no insight as to how short or long a period of time that will be.

And of course, if you are looking to buy a house as well, you are really up the creek without a paddle.
 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Consumer inflation rises the most in over a decade; will it draw the Fed’s attention?

 

 - by New Deal democrat

Let me start my take on this month’s inflation report with my concluding remarks last month: “this is not a big deal if it only lasts another month or two. But if the trend continues longer than that, it will begin to impact consumer spending, and it will get the Fed’s attention.”

Well, it has definitely lasted another month. In spades.  The 0.9% increase in June was the highest since June 2008’s 1.0% increase (driven by $4+ gas).(red in the graph below) More importantly, the 5.3% YoY increase is also the highest since summer 2008, and well in excess of the YoY average wage increase for nonsupervisory workers of 3.7% (blue):

This is going to get the Fed’s attention. They may not even wait another month.

Be that as it may, the primary driver of this inflation is not wage increases, it is first and foremost a supply bottleneck in the production of new cars, which is driving insane demand for used cars (blue in the graph below), the prices of which are up 45.2% YoY. Secondarily it is the demand driven increase in gas usage, which has caused those prices to increase 44.8% YoY (red):

The spike in prices in used cars alone is responsible for about 1/3 of the total increase in prices last month. Used car prices, which are about 3.2% of the total weighting in the inflation index, rose 10.8% in just the past month! That nets out to over 0.3% of the total inflation number being just used cars.

On the other hand, rent continues to be somnolent (as is “owners’ equivalent rent,” which is how the Census Bureau tries to measure house prices):

By the way, ultimately the house price spike has been driven by the fact that during the pandemic last year, existing homes placed on the market (which are about 90% of the typical housing market) declined precipitously compared with the typical year:

I expect both house prices and gas prices to work themselves out. Not only have home sales declined, but I expect most of the houses that were going to be placed on the market in 2020 to go to market over the next 12 to 24 months. This surge in existing home inventory is going to drive house prices down. Similarly, the travel bug from being cooped up at home during the pandemic is going to pass as well.

That leaves motor vehicles. As I wrote last month, I have no special insight into vehicle part supply chains, and in particular microchips, which have been fingered as a primary shortage.

But, hypothetically, would the Fed raising rates do anything about that shortage? The answer seems a pretty clear “NO,” so why deliberately slow down the rest of the economy to deal with a bottleneck that is beyond their control?

Beyond that, as I wrote last month, there have been a number of 10%+ spikes in commodity prices in the past several decades that were brief in nature and worked themselves out without causing a recession:


Ironically, the only way I can see the Fed “helping out” with inflation, is in the area of their “blind spot” - actual house prices. If they were to raise rates just enough to trigger an increase in mortgage rates of 0.5%-0.75%, which would serve to cool down the housing market in a very substantial way without necessarily causing the economy as a whole to stall.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Coronavirus dashboard for July 12: the completely preventable “delta wave” is here

 

 - by New Deal democrat

The completely unnecessary and preventable “delta wave” of COVID infections, hospitalizations, and deaths is now in force - all three metrics are now rising nationwide.


Here are the 7 day average of confirmed cases (thin line) and deaths (thick):


Cases have gone up roughly 50% from their 11,300 trough 3 weeks ago. Deaths likely bottomed 7 days ago.

Hospitalizations (graph from the CDC) have also started rising in the past week or so:


There are July 4 artifacts in almost all the new data, which won’t pass out of the 7 day averages for several more days. Also, about half of the States have apparently decided that COVID is so “over” that they no longer need to report on the weekends. 

With those caveats, here are a few graphs of the worst-affected States.

Here are Arkansas, Missouri, and Nevada:


And here they are for spring and summer 2020 for comparison:


Arkansas and Missouri have already matched their worst summer 2020 levels. Nevada is at less than half of its worst levels.

Next, here are Florida and Arizona, both of which had the worst summer outbreaks last year:


Here they are for comparison last year:


Florida is currently only at a little over 1/4 of its worst level from 2020, and Arizona is at about 1/6th of last year’s worst levels.

I expect the situation for all of the above States, except possibly Arizona, to change considerably for the worse before the end of this month.

All of which was completely preventable.