Book Bits: 19 June 2021

Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else
Jordan Ellenberg
Essay by author via The Atlantic
The fact is, binary classifications such as “safe” and “not safe” mostly don’t exist in real life, and those who seek them may well be led astray. No government agency or Anthony Fauci lieutenant ever said you can’t catch the coronavirus from six feet and one inch away—six feet was always an arbitrary “good enough” standard established so that the grocery stores knew how far apart to put the shoe stickers on the floor. But many people nonetheless experienced the recommendation as a sharp-edged boundary: danger within the six-foot circle, safety outside. This kind of all-or-nothing thinking reached its absurd climax in high schools in Billings, Montana, last October. Responding to guidance that coronavirus transmission was a danger when students spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of one another, the schools introduced a new mitigation strategy: Everybody changes desks every 14 minutes.

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Uncertainty In The Spotlight After Fed Meeting

Wednesday’s policy meeting was supposed to be a non-event. The Federal Reserve was widely expected to leave interest rates pinned near zero while the central bank reaffirmed that its view that the recent surge in inflation is temporary. Both forecasts proved to be correct, but the Fed hinted that it is considering raising rates sooner than expected. The news sent markets reeling and analysts reconsidering how vulnerable the economy is to tighter monetary policy.

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Macro Briefing: 18 June 2021

* Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, survives challenge in Supreme Court
* Reflation trades take a hit after Fed hints at hawkish policy shift
* US dollar on track for its best week since last September
* Commodities take a hit on China crackdown and stronger dollar
* US Leading Economic Index continued to increase in May
* Philly Fed Mfg Index continues to reflect solid expansion in June
* US jobless claims post unexpected gain, rising to highest level in a month
* 10yr-2yr Treasury yield curve slips to narrowest spread since early March:

Macro Briefing: 17 June 2021

* Biden tells Putin US may respond in kind to future cyberattacks
* Fed policymakers signal sooner-than-expected rate hikes in 2023
* Treasury Sec. Yellen expects US to decouple in some areas from China
* Infrastructure spending plan has firmer bipartisan support in Senate
* Real yield for US junk bonds falls below zero for first time on record
* Parts of the US are likely the hottest spots on earth
* US import prices continued to accelerate in May
* US housing starts rose less than expected in May as building permits fell:

Macro Briefing: 16 June 2021

* Biden meets Putin today in Geneva
* Israel bombs Gaza — first airstrike since last month’s ceasefire
* No policy changes expected for today’s Fed announcement
* Biden ban on new oil and gas leases blocked by federal judge
* China’s industrial output, retail sales rose less than expected in May
* NY Fed Mfg Index reflects slower growth for second straight month in June
* Producer price inflation continued to accelerate in May
* US industrial production rebounded in May following weak gain in April
* US retail sales fell more than expected in May: