Trump supporters attack the Capitol
Insurrection in America
On Wednesday, January 6th, Congress was set to meet to certify the election held November 3rd.
At the same time, the Trump Administration held a “Save America” rally, where the president, his son and his personal attorney encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. He stated “… we will never concede” and “… you will never take back our country with weakness”. He added, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Trump’s warm-up act Rudy Giuliani called for “trial by combat” against the Democrats to overturn the election. Trump’s eldest son warned Republicans who didn’t support the pro-Trump efforts: “We’re coming for you”.
Thousands of the president’s supporters marched to the Capitol and hundreds attacked security personnel and invaded the building. They vandalized offices and stole materials. A Capitol Police officer was beaten to death by the mob. Journalists and press photographers were threatened and some were assaulted. One person who stormed the building was shot by security, while congressional representatives had to be evacuated from the building for their safety.
Mr. Trump initially declined to mobilize the National Guard, only relenting after his staff convinced him of his potential personal liability for the mayhem and violence. National Guard troops and police eventually expelled the rioters and regained control.
That evening, Congress reconvened to complete the certification of the election of Joe Biden as the 46th president. Despite the unprecedented chaos and violence, six GOP senators still voted against certification: Cruz, Hawley, Tuberville, Hyde-Smith, Marshall and Kennedy. The group has been labeled the “Seditious Six” for their continued efforts to overturn the results of a legitimate election.
On Thursday morning, Twitter removed two controversial posts by the president, and both Twitter and Facebook later temporarily banned the president’s accounts. Facebook later banned trump indefinitely.
On January 8th, Twitter permanently banned the president from its platform, citing the “risk of further incitement of violence”. His last tweet was a message saying he wouldn’t attend the inauguration – the first to do so since 1869.
Now, under intense pressure from citizens and politicians across the political spectrum who are concerned about what the president may do in his remaining time in office, Congress is facing demands to invoke the 25th Amendment or impeach him a second time.
And so ends the most disgraceful presidency in modern American history. His legacy of enabling and supporting far-right extremism will regrettably linger for some time.
As we noted last week, 2020 was an extraordinary year for the markets, with US stocks collapsing in March as the pandemic erupted, only to rally strongly near year-end on the news of multiple vaccines being rolled out.
Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained a bit less than 2%, closing at 31,098, while the broader S&P 500 index rose 2% for the week, closing at 3,825. The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose about 2.5% for the week, to close at 13,203. All three indexes are near their all-time highs.
US 10-year government bond yields rose to 1.13%, their highest since March, under expectations of more federal spending to support the struggling economy.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits decreased to 787,000 for the week ended January 2nd, below market expectations of 800,000. Claims remain well above pre-pandemic levels and will likely remain elevated for some time.
An additional 161,000 people applied for help from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance scheme, which covers workers that do not qualify for initial claims.
Source: Trading Economics
The Public Health
The incoming administration of President-elect Biden has taken the step in reexamining the vaccine distribution plan put in place by the Trump administration. Biden’s team has decided to release the vast majority of available vaccine doses at once, rather than keeping half the doses in reserve to make sure that every person who received their first dose can receive their second dose.
Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, called the move “a prudent move that will help expand Covid vaccine access to more high-risk patients at a time when the epidemic is worsening.” Gottlieb, who is also a member of Pfizer’s board of directors, has been pushing the idea of distributing doses as they are manufactured since vaccine distribution began.
Globally, across 191 countries and territories, there have been over 90 million confirmed cases and nearly 2 million deaths. In the United States, over 22 million have been infected and nearly 375,000 have died.
The chart below shows the number of daily tests, and the percentage of tests that are positive. Worryingly, the positivity rate has climbed sharply over the past few weeks. This is likely attributable to the presence of a more contagious variant of the virus, and to rampant community spread.
The Spread of the Virus
The virus continues to spread across the country. The chart below shows the rolling 7-day average of confirmed cases. Because testing remains inadequate, the actual number of cases is higher.
Source: Our World in Data
As we noted over the past few weeks, the nation’s healthcare system is again under strain from the rising number of infections requiring hospitalization. The chart below shows the number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19. The number has remained over 100,000 for more than a month, and is now consistently over 120,000.
Source: COVID Tracking Project
All of the metrics – or “numbers” – for the pandemic remain terrible. Testing is lagging, but the number of infections and hospitalizations continue to rise, as does the positivity rate. The chart below shows the trend in four key metrics since April 1.
Source: COVID Tracking Project
The past week will go down in history as one of the most dangerous in American history. Our descendants will no doubt read about this remarkable period in textbooks (on on iPads…).
The good news is that our democratic institutions appear to have worked, and withstood the assault, at least so far.
And we can expect the Biden Administration to take the pandemic response more seriously than the outgoing administration did, increasing the likelihood that more people will be able to get vaccinated more quickly.
Until then, following “best practices” – like physical distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing – remains the best way to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
We remain available to support you any way we can.
Keep the faith, be safe, and stay healthy.
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