Flying During Christmas Travel Period? Still in Collapse Mode

But don’t fear for airline shareholders & creditors; they get to benefit from another $15 billion via “Taxpayer Capitalism.”

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The days around the Christmas holidays have always been huge for leisure travel. Last year was huge too. But this year, with all the discouragements about traveling, the exhortations to stay at home, and with lots of people refusing to set foot inside an airport?

TSA checkpoint screenings of passengers that entered the secured areas at US airports during the Christmas travel period from Friday, December 18, through Sunday, December 28, ranged from 616,000 on Christmas Day to 1.28 million yesterday, the largest day since the collapse of airline traffic in March. But that biggest day yesterday was still down by 50% from Sunday after Christmas last year (2.58 million).

The seven-day moving average (bold line) was down 57% over the last few days, compared to a year ago. But it was the smallest plunge since the collapse of the air passenger business in March. The chart shows the daily percent decline (fine line) from the same weekday in the same week last year, and the 7-day moving average (bold line):

The Pandemic has given rise to numerous high-frequency data sets, including daily data sets that are reported the next day. They give an immediate picture of the that segment of the economy, but they’re somewhat raw.

One of them is the TSA’s data set on checkpoint screenings, released every morning for screenings the prior day. It compares these daily number of air passengers to the same weekday in the same week last year. This metric gets caught up in calendar shifts; for example, Christmas Day, which fell on Friday this year, is being compared to Friday, December 27, last year. The seven-day moving average irons out most of those calendar shifts.

In mid-December, TSA checkpoint screenings of passengers had dropped sharply as they normally do after the Thanksgiving travel burst, but they did so even more sharply than last year, and were between -67% and -72% compared to 2019, with the seven-day moving average at around -68% for nine days in a row. But then the ramp-up of the Christmas leisure travel burst began.

The chart below shows the number of TSA checkpoint screenings in 2020 (red) and 2019 (green) for each day and the seven-day moving average (bold):

Health experts may consider the travel numbers this year a big risk factor in spreading the virus – not necessarily being on an airplane, as we’re constantly being re-re-reassured, including by the airlines themselves, that the risks of contagion on an airplane are minimal; but the risks associated with the rest of the trip, including being in an airport, and whatever mixing and mingling people are doing at their destination with people that are not in their household.

But even the biggest travel days this year in terms of checkpoint screenings were still a pale imitation of last year.

For the airlines, this is tough. But fear not for the airlines. We the taxpayers will hand them another $15 billion via the new stimulus package just signed into law over the weekend, in addition to the tens of billions of dollars from the prior stimulus package, to bail out and enrich shareholders and creditors.

This is Taxpayer Capitalism – a new entry into the WOLF STREET lexicon – whereby taxpayer capital is used to enhance private profits. That system isn’t new; it’s as old as taxpayers themselves. But the term, Taxpayer Capitalism, is new, I think. If it is, you heard it here first.

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  147 comments for “Flying During Christmas Travel Period? Still in Collapse Mode

  1. Gerry says:

    For the guys at the paying end, middle class taxpayers who don’t own airline stocks, maybe the name should be Taxpayer Crapitalism.

    • Joe in LA says:

      That’s really it. I’ve been toying with just shutting my business and leaving the country. I’m paying a lot of taxes, I get nothing in return, and national debt is just piling up, making my savings worthless unless I successfully speculate. This is just insane.

      I have a buddy who works for a big telecom. He pays taxes on 250k and none at all on his 20m (per year) stock package. So he’s got a lower tax bill than I do. He’s a nice guy, but seriously….

      Unless America curbs the rich, it’s just going to collapse.

      • RightNYer says:

        It’s also clear to me that the Republicans in the Senate will cave and go along with the $2,000 per person printed “stimulus.” Meaning that the dollar is devalued further and Apple, Amazon, and Walmart get stimulated.

        I no longer even recognize this country anymore, and I’m certainly not proud of it.

        • Right, if I didn’t have to learn Russian, Siberia has an appeal for those of us who are part polar bear! Actually, Norway has always intrigued me, but learning Norwegian could be a challenge also and some of their fish dishes are just plain stinky.

        • Robert says:

          It’s also clear to me that the Republicans in the Senate will cave and go along with the $2,000 per person printed “stimulus.”

          I’ll bet you a dollar they won’t. The Republicans are the opposition party now, and so they have to pretend to care about fiscal to hamstring the democrats. I’m sure Biden is praying they oppose the $2000, since it’s obvious he’s a fiscal hawk.

          Trump’s $2000 ploy will likely fail because it was designed to fail. If Trump wanted to get more money to people he would have gone with a figure like $1200, which was much more likely to pass. He’s just looking for viewers for the Trump news network.

        • Massbytes says:

          Not only that, but Biden has pledged even more stimulus after he takes office. I would assume that will be the bailing out of every state and city underwater from years of poor budgeting and over spending.

        • endeavor says:

          They will devalue the dollar without that 2 grand going to the plebes. Let us eat cake for once.

        • David G LA says:

          @david y
          Norwegian is the easiest language for an English speaker to learn.

      • Paulo says:

        And where will you and David go?

        Despite what many people think, the World is not actually clamouring for expats from America. It was acceptable during the Viet Nam war as an expression against the war, but now not so much.

        I remember my wife talking about the 18 months she spent in Australia. (Canadian gal). She said all the Aussie men called the American men ‘Tanks’ instead of Yanks. They would puff out and roll their shoulders not understanding that tank was inside slang for toilet tanks. That was in 1990. I don’t imagine sentiment has improved any these past 4 years.

        And for the down below comment, Norway is doing just fine…even with their stinky fish.

        Talk of emigration requires a seriousness of intent, with skills and resources others find attractive. We had an old family friend visit us from California. You cannot imagine our embarrassment and humiliation when he insisted our waitress should speak, ‘American’.

        • RightNYer says:

          Where did I say that I wanted to emigrate somewhere else?

        • Zantetsu says:

          Terrible post Paulo. Off topic and just expressing a clear desire to bash Americans for no reason.

          This board has become overrun with people who want nothing more than to express how much they don’t want others “encroaching on their land”. It’s a particularly combination of NIMBY-ism and xenophobia to feel a need to tell people who aren’t even expressing a desire to move how unwelcome they would be where you are.

        • RightNYer says:

          Zanetsu, as bad as America is, the rest of the West is worse. I would never want to live in any of those places.

        • The Original Colorado Kid says:

          The irony here is that Paulo’s dad emigrated to Canada from the U.S.

      • Beardawg says:

        JOE

        While I sympathize with your point, are you trying to say your friend makes $20M / Yr in stock profits and pays no tax on those profits? If in a 401K or in options, he will eventually sell and pay cap gains taxes and/or reg income taxes.

        If he wills that wealth to heirs, it will be stepped up in value, but as they consume, taxes WILL be paid.

        • Joe in LA says:

          It’s even worse than it sounds. Cashed stock options can be invested directly into “opportunity zones,” thus avoiding the taxes from the stock sale. It’s a complete scam.

        • doug says:

          sure, capital gains taxes at a much lower rate, while most of us pay income taxes only. Most of us pay SS taxes on our entire income. In Joe’s example that is capped for the rich dude.

      • OneSilverDollar says:

        I don’t think curbing the rich would help anyone. Everyone believes rich people’s money is enough to solve any problems. Politics sell this idea, but governments are spending in trillions, that’s taking 1 million from 1 million people who have 1 million, and how long will it last? I believe the real problem is the size of government, the fact that government is allowed to borrow and to print money. A flat tax for everyone and every business, with a rate fixed in the constitution, that cannot be changed, let’s say, 5%, and they will have to spend what they have and no more, like the rest of us. The power of government in all its forms, around the world, is just disgusting.

        • Joe in LA says:

          Big-government vs. small government isn’t the issue. The current reality is, as Wolf says, taxpayer capitalism in which the state is a shell of what it could be for the people, and everything it could ever be for corporations. We have a loving nanny state for rich people, and a cheapskate uncle for everyone else.

          America has been socializing corporate losses for a long time now. That, and these idiotic “trickle down” tax cuts, are where all the money is going.

        • lenert says:

          “The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths” – Mariana Mazzucato

        • Felix_47 says:

          I am well into the 1% and we do need to either raise taxes not necessarily by raising rates but by eliminating loopholes that are legal. We need to fund the IRS like we mean it. Current enforcement is a scandal. Very few in my peer group are paying their fair share. And we need to crack down on tax lawyers and accountants who insulate us from prison. One thought would be to add significant penalties to some brilliant tax evasion idea by a Harvard Law School graduate that is not approved. And we need to cut spending where we need to like defense, agricultural subsidies, pork, medical care with some sort of national care system with the doctors on salary with no production bonus. At least with lawyers when we stop paying no one dies right away. And we need to get rid of government programs and simply transfer payments to the poor perhaps with a national child support program since poor men have a lot of kids and can’t pay child support. Enforcement costs exceed the amount of money a minimum wage worker can pay by a wide margin. So child support enforcement is really a make work program for less competitive government attorneys from lower ranked law schools.

        • makruger says:

          I’m fine with a flat tax as you propose as long as the first 50K or so is exempt, all forms of revenue are taxable at the same rate, and all exclusions are abolished. Naturally under those circumstances it’s going to need to be a lot higher than 5%.

        • Zantetsu says:

          Then it’s not a “flat tax” anymore is it Makruger?

          5% for everyone is totally doable. If you make less than $50k per year that’s less than $2,500 per year, which is very reasonable.

          I think 10% for everyone is probably more practical though. Yes, if you only make $15,000 per year, you are on the hook for $1,500 per year in taxes. But if you are in that position, you are going to need public assistance anyway, which the benefits of which will more than offset that $1,500.

          Will never happen though. We are screwed because our politicians have no will to do the right thing, ever, and they don’t need to have any such will, because the people who elect them are stupid, selfish, and in many cases, willing to destroy everything good as long as it sticks it to “the other party”.

        • Stephen C. says:

          The next step for the IRS is to sell it off to Blackrock or Bezos or some other. I’m not sure we’ve reached the point of mass revolt and violent revolution until we get well into officially sanctioned tax farming. Until then, the public sleeps.

        • lenert says:

          Apparently we need to review Marginal Rates.

          A flat tax is regressive – it falls more heavily on lower incomes.

          If you want to redistribute the money you have to change the income flows before the taxation otherwise you raise taxes too high and it’s worthwhile for the wealthy to spend a little to avoid them.

          For example, if we eliminated the patents on pharmaceuticals, drug company CEOs would make a lot less money and our prescriptions would only cost us $6.

          For another, If the minimum wage had been raised with productivity over the last 30 years then wages would be much higher today and CEO compensation would be much less.

          And another, if US doctors had to compete with doctors from other countries, like automakers and IT workers, we would spend less for health services.

          The economy is structured this way, it can be restructured but instead we’re told “it is what it is.”

        • polecat says:

          The reality, viewed through the macroscopic lens, is that we’re 7-8 billion bits of yeast that are rapidly using up all the nutrients in the carboy. We can’t just rack-off into a sanitary fresh one .. despite whatever exalted SO2 emissions the musks of the batch would have you believe.

          But we’re still gonna argue over whose selfish policies of ‘who gets their’s??’ .. as the entire batch goes to waste!

        • Anthony says:

          Agree with you 100%

      • Frederick says:

        Put your savings in silver and gold and you will protect their purchasing power I did exactly what you’re thinking about in 2015 Lifeis much easier and simpler now and at 66 that’s just what the doctor ordered

      • Matt says:

        Until it becomes a state, Puerto Rico offers great tax incentives. I got my wife, four kids and in-laws to move here. I own a business and operate stateside. My taxes are 4%. I pay nothing on capital gains. I bought a great home in Dorodo with all cash. In the states, I could never have done this. My sister and family is looking to move down (again, provided it doesn’t become a state). Private schools are a fraction of what we were paying in Miami and they are better. Don’t bring a nice car. Too many potholes.

        • RightNYer says:

          The business taxes aren’t taxed by the U.S. before you grab dividends in Puerto Rico?

      • Old School says:

        You have to determine how much you are getting out of pulling the wagon and how long you want to do it. When you are ready to cash out there are plenty of low cost freedom loving communities in the US. I am sure there are many that I don’t know about. The coastal area around border of NC and SC is inexpensive and moderate climate. Northern Eastern Tenn is very nice if you like mountains. Biggest problem is finding a culture you fit into.

    • roddy6667 says:

      The name for the form of government in which a partnership of state and the largest corporations rule is…

      fascism.

  2. Cas127 says:

    It isn’t capitalism of any sort…it is state sponsored krapitalism (state action using the facade of the free market).

    At bottom though, the only thing that really allows this misbehavior to survive is the carefully cultivated public misperception that “bankruptcy” somehow results in the physical destruction of physical assets (vs. a simple change in shareholders) and therefore threatens long term welfare loss to the general public.

    And a pandemic is probably a bad beach to die on for the general principle of absolute shareholder responsibility, since there are plenty of actors more responsible for the general chaos/loss than the airlines themselves (the banks skated on implosion 1.0 because of the newness of general ruin, the airlines are skating in implosion 2 because of the generalness of the ruin)

    By the time implosion 3.0 rears up (ZIRP driven mis valuations making it a certainty) my guess is that the general public will be experienced, impoverished, and angry enough to require shareholder blood (note that even now cruise lines aren’t getting a direct bailout).

    And note that DC has been bailing itself out via the manipulative transgression of norms/laws for far longer and for far, far, far more of its citizens wealth.

    I’m not condoning the airline bailout, merely pointing out that it is predictable in the Era of the Sh*t State.

  3. roddy6667 says:

    I think the airports are more of a hazard than the planes. In July we arrived in LA because it was the only way to get out of China and comply with the terms of our visas. The problem was that we were going to CT. Tickets from Beijing to JFK were $20,000, one way. LAX only cost $5000 for two people. The airports where you would change planes were Petri dishes. Atlanta had 40 TSA employees out sick with COVID and one dead. They closed the airport to disinfect it. Flying directly to JFK seemed like an option until I saw that they had 116 TSA employees sick with COVID and a 39-yr-old dog handler dead.
    So it was road trip time. It wasn’t too bad. Hotels were almost empty, and we lived off takeout food to avoid restaurants. It made up for the road I had planned 50 years earlier.
    The country had a huge bump in cases from the Thanksgiving travel. Any day now the Christmas season should be turning a new crop of sick and dying.

    • Joe Saba says:

      and to think in summer only 7 flights per day(don’t here these numbers) had covid sick people
      wonder what it was over holidays

    • David G LA says:

      Was this in coach or business?

      • roddy6667 says:

        Coach was $10,000 each, one way, Beijing to JFK. Only $2500 each to LAX. The 777 was 1/3 full. I didn’t see any business class. You could fold down armrests and lie down in coach. Meals were bag lunches.

    • Roddy, I remember all too well since I had to visit a carwash after getting off a plane, how the smoke from the smoking section on the flight would circulate throughout the cabin before the plane landed. The fresh air doors would be primarily closed to avoid the drag created, esp. in the days of much higher jet fuel prices.

      My question is: How is the air being filtered, sanitized (UV light would be nice if it kills the Bat Flu!), and diluted with fresh air at 10,000 ft. during the flights today. My little bro took a flight from Denver this summer, the roughest takeoff and landing airport in the country in my experience, and I held my breath until he had been on the ground void of the bug for about 3 weeks. Me not flying anytime soon, turbulence or not.

      • roddy6667 says:

        The air is compressed, dehumidified, and HEPA filtered. I worked building the 747 and L-1011 environmental systems 40 years ago at Hamilton Standard. The problem is that unless you have a hood over your head, the air you exhale visits your neighbors before it is sucked into the vents.

        • Martha Careful says:

          Virus transmission, related to our pandemic is all about breathing in viral loads and as you suggest, the filtration of air on a plane is basically oxymoronic, because a few filters will not stop viral shedding from someone breathing out cells during a 4 hour flight.

          Flying on a plane is super dangerous and we will see a massive spike of infections within the next month, compounded by a tsunami wave of people that pretend the virus is a hoax. I assume many hospitals in the US will be overwhelmed through the winter, into spring — even as the slow vaccine effort sprinkles hope on this out of control fire — I mean, literally, the vaccine effort is like dropping a 100 gallons of water from a helicopter onto a raging forest fire …

          It’s beyond sad that people contribute to chaos, through their stupidity!!

  4. MCH says:

    Taxpayer capitalism. That’s another phrase you’ll have to coin, Wolf.

    You know you should have a list of patented Wolfrases that you trademark and make money off.

    For example, your TSLA charts should be copyrighted, and a royalty be paid.

  5. timbers says:

    Isn’t the “in” slogan amongst our leaders of a feather “Build Back Better”? They must be referring to stock portfolios because when it comes to the Peasants shirley they mean “Build back? Never!”

  6. Seneca's cliff says:

    I think Covid is a kind of trend amplifier. It is not like old fashioned plagues that mostly just kill people. The corona virus seems to use our civilizations bad habits against us. We thought it was a good idea to give up a manufacturing economy and replace it with services, ” bada bing” the stool gets kicked out. We thought it was a good idea to globalize and create a trade system and tourism based on global air travel, ” bada bing” the stool gets kicked out. We thought we could replace factories and warehouses with shopping malls and office towers, ” bada bing” the stool gets kicked out. We should be taking a good hard look at these things ,especially air travel, and see if they ever had a future. Maybe we should take the hint and move on to something else.

    • The next big thing in transport will be Molecular Reconstructive Transport. BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY!!! You definitely will not get stale peanuts on that flight.

    • andy says:

      VR travel. Zooom. And you’re in Japan. Watching people eat sushi.

    • MattPR says:

      Is travel really travel anymore. My generation (cusp of X and whatever follows, born in 1977), people are more or less on cruises or resorts for that great instagram shot. I kid you not. Maybe travel will exist in the eyes of the beholder. Behind a phone. On someone else’s social media page. And we will be left to question whether or not they are actually where they say they are. My sister just traveled to Hawaii and stayed in a Airbnb. Apparently, it was all set up for instagram rooms. There wasn’t even a big pool, but there were instructions letting her know where to stand to get that great shot.

      • GirlInOC says:

        You’re a Xennial.

        And airbnbs are an industry I pray gets the stool kicked out someday soon 🙏

    • MCH says:

      Trend amplifier, and I think also a disruptor would be the better way to characterize C19.

      Some of the existing trends on remote working was actually starting to see some push back in the last few years, but C19 thoroughly disrupted that situation. Now, it’s full steam ahead the other way.

      Time will tell how things change. Tourism is another industry that I think is being disrupted in a very permanent way, at least for the next few years.

    • polecat says:

      It seems, that perhaps the world will become big again once more.

      New Sea Monsters may appear, to shake us in our boots .. traps.

  7. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    We should get shares in company stock!

    • GregS says:

      And some seats on the board of directors!

    • Chris Herbert says:

      Yes. Shares with full voting rights, in proportion to the subsidy or grant or ‘bail out.’ If the proportion is greater than 50%, nationalize the corporation. Also, when property values collapse, the US should bid for the properties, making the PE parasites work a little. And if they do outbid the US, they should pay a stiff ‘land appreciation’ tax when they sell. And it goes without saying that our regressive tax code must get a progressive ‘re-do.’

      • Lynn says:

        No need to have the US bid on the properties. Just allow regular people to buy them. In the last recession in many or most areas the properties had to be bought all cash. They did not allow regular people loans to buy them. Foreclosed homes did not qualify for loans. Only large corporations got loans. You could not even get a loan on them with 50% cash down! It is completely rigged.

        ” If the proportion is greater than 50%, nationalize the corporation.”

        Yes. Fair is fair. We are paying for it. Probably the same with the medical system if we look deep enough. Nationalized medicine would greatly improve financial security for society.

    • polecat says:

      SouthSeas venture 2.0 .. What’s not to like … worked for Newton,

      Right?

  8. Anthony A. says:

    Maybe it’s time to buy airline stocks with the vaccine roll out coming to your local pharmacy soon and the Fed free stimulus money for the airlines.

    Plus, the folks who bought all those RV’s this Spring that they used this summer will have them for sale (or already sold) since they figured out it is not much fun in crowded campgrounds with cold showers.

    • lenert says:

      “Mr. Fox, I’m Henry Patterson with the Postal Inspection Service.”

    • DawnsEarlyLight says:

      In the shower, sometimes it’s not a bar of soap you step on!

    • Rumpled Bemused says:

      The RV phenomenon is just so odd to me. People spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to vacation in a trailer park along the highway.

      • Lynn says:

        We don’t know what percentage of the buyers are living full time in them. Or using them temporarily while they rebuild a house.

  9. David Hall says:

    Thailand had its first COVID fatality since November and is shutting down as infections spread.

    Once you vaccinate the vulnerable and older people you might lower the fatality rate. Somehow the price of hospitalization went up. Medical bills are a leading cause of personal bankruptcies. The leading cause of death in America is not the flu.

  10. Heinz says:

    Okay, lemme see if I got this straight.

    This new airline stimulus deal will have taxpayers pay the wages for non-working airline employees who would have otherwise been furloughed because there is not enough work for them to do (air travel is way down).

    Such a sweet deal. No wonder I feel like I am trapped in a never-ending Twilight Zone episode.

    • lenert says:

      It’s for paying the compensation of airline executives that would have been out of work if their companies were allowed to fail after they distributed retained earnings to themselves and had nothing to pay workers during a major disruptive event.

  11. Sherry R Bonner says:

    Taxpayer Capitalism or just good old fashioned robbery?

  12. richard benfield says:

    Where is the daily chart of total TSA airport employees?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I don’t know. But the TSA announced today that a 12th TSA employee (a New Orleans Supervisory Explosives Specialist) has died of Covid.

      • Whatever says:

        How many total TSA agents are there? How many TSA agents die in in a non Covid year? How many died of pneumonia and flu last year? How many died of other causes this year? Why do people bandy numbers on Covid without reference?

        Statements like this without reference are part of the problem.

      • Jeremy says:

        Obese, diabetic or pre-diabetic, metabolic disorder.
        Multiple co-morbidities.

        A significant section of the US population have hit the trifecta.

        It’s gonna get ugly beyond your wildest nightmares.
        And don’t forget ‘long covid’.

        The rest of the world is learning to spell ‘schadenfreude’.

      • polecat says:

        Compared to what, Wolf? These recent Holidaze? .. past weeks? .. months? .. the entirety of 2020?? … What?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Whatever, polecat,

          A group of terrorists walks into a TSA facility and shoots hundreds of TSA employees, 12 of whom are now dead, and many more will die of their injuries over the next few months. Others live but have long-lasting health issues. This would be a horrible scenario that would attract global attention and reactions. And the right-wingers would be furious.

          Covid – due to catastrophic chaotic willfully reckless mishandling at the top that politicized the virus and control measures – has done exactly that. And now the line is: It’s no big deal because there are 60,000 TSA employees??? And because it took months for the 12 to die??? And because it will take a few more months for the next 12 to die???

          Get it?

        • polecat says:

          Ok, ok, I get it. Was looking what the context was, of your pryor comment. No offence.

        • polecat says:

          I have immediate family members – one working retail, in a small, tight interior space, in an older building without proper ventilation .. the other in a medical-like setting, where patients are having to seen, so I have my own personal anxieties where my family is concerned on the one hand .. while having to wade through the corruption, propaganda, and politicking we’re all being exposed to .. with what I feel are janky vaccines of questionable efficacy, to be forced on a panicked public, by authorities, someone whom at least, seem to be in it for their own gain! It is, in all ways, a huge clusterf#ck!

          I was not trying to be glib!

  13. I am currently studying my old geological maps to see if there is a tectonic plate under Washington D.C., hopefully right under Congress. We as Sane Citizens who balance our checkbooks each and every month can only pray that this plate will dislodge, even if it takes a rare earthquake on the East Coast, sending this legislative body truly out to sea since it is so BADLY ADRIFT already.

    When we have such imbeciles controlling the purse strings of the country with few members pointing out the FISCAL INSANITY of this Phase Two Pandemic Bailout bill (PTPB), we could recruit from St. Elizabeth’s nearby for equally qualified replacements. So once again in modern history, the patients are running the asylum. No offense intended to these unfortunate patients.

    For anyone who thinks the Greenback is going to hold value and, even survive, this kind of nonsensical/ indiscriminate fiscal policy VIA money printing, you just have to look at the history of modern currencies around the world that have crashed and burned to nothing, some multiple times in the same century. George Washington on the One Dollar bill has tears in his eyes (or is that a grimace???).

    What is the best way to short the Dollar? I think you already know the answer.

    • RightNYer says:

      Other than buying gold, what is the best way?

      • Right, silver and colored diamonds are two tangible assets, non-financial, that can be purchased and sold anywhere in the world in any currency. Highly fungible, although the ice is, of course, less liquid, requiring evaluation by a potential buyer. Pink diamonds have been going thru the roof for the last 20 plus years. Ice is very easy to ship internationally (Malca-Amit), fully insured.

        • Jeff T says:

          David W. You must be very rich to invest in “ice”. For common folks diamonds are the worst place to put money. Buy a $5000 ring, get married, get divorced and sell your ring for $500. Even a new car depreciates less the moment you own it.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        Sure, buying gold at the top always makes sense! 🙄

        • RightNYer says:

          The arguments for buying stonks at the top are the same as for buying gold at the top. An inflation hedge

        • Frederick says:

          Who in their right mind would believe Gold is at its top? Gold doesn’t have a top or bottom It’s a store of value and it’s price is actually an indication of the strength or weakness of the fiat currency you measure it in I don’t believe we’re anywhere near a top with all this monetization and we are still below the 2011 high by the way

        • DawnsEarlyLight says:

          Exactly Fredrick, its current top. You are going to buy by 2011’s top? A store of value….lol….puhleeeez.

        • DawnsEarlyLight says:

          I guess I’m upset when I bought in 2000 @ $390+, and it kept going down. These prices just look crazy!

        • Anthony says:

          Frederick

          Gold in the UK is up over 9,600 percent since 1970 against the Pound,,, That is what you call a store of value….. lol

      • makruger says:

        There are dollar bear ETF’s as well as other Forex ETF’s (€, £, ¥, etc.) that increase in value as the dollars loses value against them. Alternatively, a bond fund denominated in foreign currencies can provide the same effect.

    • Zantetsu says:

      The imbeciles are the electors, not the elected. The elected are just scum. They are certainly not stupid given that they are benefitting from this arrangement. It is the voter who is to blame for this mess. Like it or not, you are going to get what 350 million stupid Americans deserve.

      • roddy6667 says:

        There is an old saying–“People get the government they deserve”.

      • Lynn says:

        It takes millions or hundreds of millions to run a campaign and most people today are voting against someone or something rather than for someone. The options are kept very very slim. I don’t see any good options available. Certainly none without some party’s donors approval.

        • Zantetsu says:

          Vote third party or accept your fate. That’s all there is to it.

        • Lynn says:

          Of course. I think most did in a way. Both Trump and Bernie, like them or not, ran on populist rather than establishment campaigns. I hope someday we can do better than either of them. More backbone and perhaps honest populism. The only thing keeping a third party from being viable is big money. But it is doing a very very good job of it right now.

    • Chris Herbert says:

      Anytime I see or hear someone refer to ‘taxpayer money’ I know that person has no clue whatsoever how Congress pays its bills. I know the narrative frontwards and backwards. It’s a narrative of nonsense. With 20 million people getting welfare assistance, where is the inflation going to be? It will be inflated asset prices, such as property, stocks, bonds and derivatives. And that’s just where it is. Don’t worry, those bubbles will collapse eventually, as they are not reality based. Then there will be deflation, not inflation. When prices collapse, the dollar strengthens. That’s why banks always need bailing out. Their business model is based on inflation, issuing debt in cheap dollars and getting paid back in expensive ones. AKA the Gold standard way of screwing everyone.

    • polecat says:

      Ahhh! That Ca$cading CONgressional upChuck Thrust (No, not Trust!) Fault- where accreted riches slide right into place – parked!, as it were … with the hellp of a mighty conveyor push, from those vaunted Silicon rich ‘Tech’tons ..

      • polecat says:

        Lastly, in all of what was once formerly the ‘Stable Craton’ .. has now geomorphed into the bubbling-hot caldera .. of LowerMokestan .. who are afraid they’ll all be jelly, cuz the ‘jammed’ don’t shake like that!

  14. Rowen says:

    Is there any difference between Taxpayer Capitalism and Corporate Socialism?

  15. Uncle Bill says:

    It’s not the big business/government cabal that will go.
    They’re going to crush small business.

  16. Beardawg says:

    Would be interesting to know the strings attached to these bailouts. Are the Execs allowed to take bonuses etc? Is it more like a giant PPP ?

    If there is some oversight to the bailout, then I guess airline workers will get paid while small / med businesses get PPP for their employees and all us Giggers get our unemployment.

    The whole 2.0 package is a bailout for everyone. Not sure why airlines should be separated from everyone else though.

  17. Ed C says:

    Could “build back better” consider the elimination of stock buy backs? Capital is supposed to go toward plant and equipment and not be used to manipulate the price of a stock.
    It used to be illegal.
    They were smarter back then.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Capital goes towards bidding up stock prices, little goes to the actual companies. They get a small amount during IPOs and new issues.

  18. MarMar says:

    While there’s a lot of material about how safe flying itself is in terms of an individual catching COVID on a flight, I can’t find much on how air travel, by facilitating the mixing of households across long distances, is increasing COVID spread.

    It seems to me that it’s probably substantial. SoCal hospitals are swamped while “[a]ir travel substantially increased surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas, and tens of thousands of travelers are expected to pass through LA’s international airport this week, officials say”.

    These officials should consider closing the airports or severely limiting air travel.

    • lenert says:

      The study of the Sturgis outbreak showed clearly that the local COVID infection rate went up but the study was criticized for drawing conclusions about the spread to other areas afterwards due to a lack of baseline testing data in those areas.

    • Happy1 says:

      The current outbreak in SoCal cannot be attributed to air travel, most of the rest of the country had similar rates of travel over Thanksgiving and is seeing decreasing rates. It’s more likely that people in SoCal have started to give up on very strict isolation and are now quickly catching up with the rest of the country that has already had a substantial wave.

  19. Michael B Davis says:

    TSA checkpoint figures are only part of the story. The result of depressed demand for air travel is that fares are at historic lows. A week ago my friends and I found fares from Houston to LAX for $27.00 each way. You can’t take an Uber from IAH to downtown Houston for that. Airlines are bleeding cash even on full flights.

    • Sam says:

      Bleeding? No, massive hemorrhaging ongoing and the only reason the patient is still alive is vast transfusion of ___________ (use your own metaphor).

      Btw PDX to SAN (Portland, OR > San Diego) mid Jan: $19 one way
      No idea as to the air carrier.
      Source: a doughnut/pastry shop owner’s journey to see extended family.

      He asked (in innocence*) “Can they (air carriers) make money at that price?”

      *Owner is a Somali Islamic Cleric: five times a day his small shop is jammed with cab/lyft/uber drivers for prayer. Word(s): Eccentric & Ethereal.

  20. Cobalt Programmer says:

    1. If there were no mutated strain news, there would have been higher travelers.
    2. The same news lead lot of UK subjects, to leave the country coughing all the way to their warmer and little bit relaxed destination.
    3. Even within USA lot of people opted for road trips to relaxed states. Like NY to DC, LA to AZ and so on.
    4. The packages are not “stimulus” packages, they are simply “simulate” packages
    5. I still don’t know whats holding the facade of stock market still up. Actually I fear the market will grow further and further.
    6. Common people do not have savings. They were told to “Capre Diem”, not to save and invest in smartphones. They really do not care about falling dollar. May be they are right. Just print more Benjamins.
    7. The real part of USA that need stimulation is the infrastructure. The roadways and railways which are very important alternative to air travel.
    8. Happy new year to everyone. I hope everyone have a good “Hindsight 2020”

  21. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Weekly NDX , take a RSI line from Feb 2016 low to
    Trump election Oct 31 2016 red bar close.
    2) Since Dec 2018 NDX showed weakness.
    3) For two years NDX is trying to catch up with the RSI line, but so far it can’t.
    4) The weekly DOW is floating in the air for two months. Two months of suspicious tranquility bars.
    5) Week #9. All on #9.

  22. Micheal Engel says:

    USD weekly : Aug 24 & Dec 14 Bullish Divergence,
    In accumulation.

  23. Randall Uncapher says:

    All I have to say is DON’T FLY AMERICAN AIRLINES !

    Again, DON’T FLY AMERICAN AIRLINES !

    They should be shut down immediately because of their distancing policies. It’s sickening (literally).

    Any studies been done on Covid outbreaks resulting from non social distanced AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHTS?

    I believe that we should let all of these chronically mismanaged airlines go bankrupt,. That is what would happen if you and I would had dramatically mismanaged our businesses for decades, and treated our customers like S%*#.

    “Bankruptcy” is a very cleansing process. Let a new management team clean up the airlines messes.

    We all know an investors group would rush in to buy American Airlines assets at their true value in a bankruptcy scenario. Then they would reopen at a realistic level.

    Please STOP giving the airlines my money congress -let them fail!

    Stop propping up these companies that have had terrible policies on all levels for decades. Readers – has your business gotten a check from a 15 billion dollar “free for all” fund like the airlines? I did not think so.

    Let them fail. It is their own fault. Just look at their “stock buy back” policies on the internet. It will sicken you.

    Randall

  24. Stonedwino says:

    A state run by, for and off corporations, with zero representation or regard for the people like the US is currently is not “Taxpayer Capitalism”.
    A term already exists that describes the US and its called Corporate Fascism. The US is Mussolini’s wet dream and it cannot last…

  25. fred flintstone says:

    The republicans have destroyed any reasoning for lower capital gain or corporate and personal taxes. At this point since the government has taken the risk from running a business out of the equation with the zero rates and government handouts to business…..we all own every business. So we might as well all get a big portion of the earnings. Its time to raise taxes substantially…….and I used to be a Reagan Republican.

    • lenert says:

      Oh calm down – you’re just upset that the two billionaire fracking brothers got over $30M in PPP “loans.” Or that the payroll tax is now all fucked up and congress will likely just have to forgive it or start double-taxing military and government employees who were forced into it. Or another billionaire, Adelson, paid $67M for the old US Ambassador’s residence in Tel Aviv. It’s just another Tuesday. /s

  26. Micheal Engel says:

    GA want $2,000 and the republican will cave in.

  27. c smith says:

    Much happier as a taxpayer supporting U.S. airlines rather than overseas “initiatives” that happen only because lobbyists can yank the money out of our pockets. This $17 billion (and the one before that and the one before that) is still a drop in the bucket compared to that.

    • Heinz says:

      That’s a ‘what aboutism’ type of argument.

      So hey, what about the porkulus provisions that include the foreign give-aways? Therefore it’s okay to give taxpayer dollars to the airlines.

      Uh no. It is still wrong on its merits.

      • c smith says:

        We’re never going to stop this behavior by politicians, so arguing for it is a fool’s errand. Politically it is much easier to limit the graft to within our borders, however, and that’s what I’m arguing for.

    • Lynn says:

      I agree. Although, that might change..

  28. Brant Lee says:

    2021 will just be stimulus part 2. Even if the vaccinations take hold perhaps by Fall, the damage is done. We can see that American production is finished, no factory jobs to return to, our government doesn’t even support domestic manufacturing. The money rolls continually out of the country.

    Anyone prudent is saving money and, as seen, avoiding the service sector in every possible way, especially corporate. Who needs a bank except for deposits and transactions? I don’t. Savings accounts are just for the bank’s benefit.

    The local small businesses and people are the ones who need support from everyone.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      I use the commercial banks for managing my monthly expenses and to cash checks. Everything else is in my credit union.

      I use Wells Fargo, the cleanest dirty shirt on the block. They’ve provided good service for me over the years after they bought out Wychovia.

      They have good employees.

  29. RightNYer says:

    Fred, I’m 100% with you. I’m a conservative, not a Republican. In fact, I used to support ZERO taxes on long term capital gains, as many other countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and some others.

    However, the justification for this was to encourage investing in risk assets. As long as the government (whether Congress or the Fed) is going to backstop risk assets so there’s no actual risk, then not only should these gains be taxed as ordinary income, but at a HIGHER rate.

    • lenert says:

      The only justification for it has always ever been that rich people would pay less taxes so everyone else has to pay more for healthcare, education, infrastructure and civil rights.

      • RightNYer says:

        This is nonsense, as civil rights don’t cost anything.

        • lenert says:

          Tell that to the people of Ferguson, Missouri.

        • lenert says:

          The NYPD paid out $230m in settlements last year. Chicago? LA? Houston? Billions nationally?

        • RightNYer says:

          That’s not the cost of “civil rights.” That’s the cost of government paying tort claims committed by its employees.

        • lenert says:

          It’s literally the price paid for granting police immunity to violate someone’s civil rights. Instead, we could spend on investigating and prosecuting claims of civil rights violations but we don’t. Either way though, isn’t free. At the very least we gotta pay cops, prosecutors, judges, recorders, bailiffs – just like we spend to defend the intellectual property rights of Pfizer or Apple.

  30. Not sure why government did not tell the airlines to stand down due to the pandemic. Fauci might have said that, but he equivicated on a travel ban to UK. (Even Trump gets good marks for his early travel ban) The corporate propaganda on airliners and Covid is only surpassed in audacity by the immunization does not correlate with autism debacle. The Economists won this round: stock market at new highs, tight labor market shattered, minorities thrown under the bus, and corporate hospitals indemnified, even if the liability clause for businesses did not make it into the relief bill. Health care workers are dropping like flies, burned out, infected, many of them minorities as well. Trump does not party on, but that only proves the rottenness in the system is bipartisan. Would like to see figures on what is the impact of 1/2 million premature deaths. Seems obvious at this point their economy moves ahead, whether you live or you die.

    • Happy1 says:

      Are you making a claim that immunization is linked to autism? If so everything you have ever posted here is suspect, that theory gas been throughly and completely debunked.

  31. SocalJim says:

    No one flys anywhere … Christmas or not. No vacations either. This is why Florida, which is a vacation capital, sees their real estate prices underperform the nation as a whole as reported today in the Case Shiller numbers. Florida needs people to start flying on vacation again. It seems that Florida real estate brokers have been pushing the great NYC to South Florida migration trend to whip up excitement in Florida real estate. The truth is Florida needs people to fly on vacation again because that is their economy.

  32. We flew this break. Airports were less crowded than I have seen them for a while (I have been traveling once a month since July). Airlines were not as full as last month.

    That said, I am in full agreement that the danger is the airports, not the airlines. The best thing to do in that case is get off, wash and sanitize your hands, touch nothing, and go find an isolated place to wait until your flight boards. Probably less risky than walking in a big box at this point.

  33. VintageVNvet says:

    Tourism per se in FL is approx 10% of the economy,,, and little more than 12 % of ”non farm” jobs Socalijim…
    Without reference, one could suppose the economy of CA is somewhat similar, and others just as much, NV, even AZ and UT, eh?
    Without a doubt, much of that tourism will be back in FL this ”season” as usual.
    All this is not the same as ”seasonal residents” who are now very numerous, as they have been for many decades. For instance, the population of one county in the early 1950s to 60s era was less than 3,000 all year, but swelled to over 20,000 in season, and most were actually residents in their homes.
    Used to be a paradise for kids/teens in the summer, walking, even swimming down the beach, etc., etc., and then jumping into swimming pools of empty beach front houses to ”bathe” before going home at crack of dawn all clean and innocent, etc.

    • SocalJim says:

      True … Florida’s tourism revenue is about 10% of the states GDP. California has 40% more tourism revenue than Florida, but it only amounts to 4% of CA’s GDP.

      In a research report I saw, there is a big difference … Florida’s tourism dollars tend to come from longer distance travelers ( i.e. snow birds ) that require flights. Relative to Florida, a larger percentage of CA’s toruism dollars are CA residents. So, Florida is more exposed to air flights.

  34. Micheal Engel says:

    1) 300,000,000 x $2K is a small price to pay against socialism.
    2) If Mitch ok the $2K, to save GA, after a short spike, the DOW will slump.
    3) If Mich niet to $2K, the DOW will slump.
    4) The cause is not $2K.
    5) AAPL do nothing for x4 months. AMZN for x6 months. // Somebody is selling AAPL and AMZN.
    6) AAPL Total Equities is $65B. // Total Liabilities is $258B.
    7) $65B in Equities divide by Total Liabilities & Equities @ $324B is 20%. // Carl Ican cannibalized AAPL. // China might strike AAPL. // AAPL’s India assembly workers declared a strike.
    8) AAPL in the sky with DIA.
    9) Internet providing knowledge will raise their monthly fees for those on zoom, NFLX, WFH executives, and students schooling from their living rooms.

  35. sunny129 says:

    Covid-Vaccination-Immunity and air travel

    First of all there is uncertainty re the immunity obtained via post infection ( variable in duration and the load of virus while getting infected) let alone the so called immunity obtained via vaccination (after 2 doses).

    Then this:
    “I don’t believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines to be confident that it’s going to prevent people from actually getting the infection and therefore being able to pass it on”, says WHO Chief Scientist
    Soumya Swaminathan Dec 28, ’20
    ZH

    “Not going to prevent from getting infected or prevent transmission’
    Go Figure!
    As a retired MD, the whole ‘vaccination parade’ is a big FARCE!

    • Lynn says:

      I’m sure I got it twice. Tested pos end of Oct or early Nov and it was the same exact thing as what I came down with in January 2020. Except it was milder. A LOT milder. So mild that I would not have even bothered to get tested except that a friend told me that 5 of my neighbors tested pos. In January I thought I was going to die. It was not on the radar then and I thought I might have cancer. I still have some residual damage from January. None the worse from Oct.

      If the vaccines greatly reduce the intensity of the virus for most people then that is a good enough reason, really. You can’t account for every single person’s immune and coping systems in any vaccine or treatment.

      • RightNYer says:

        I got very sick in January, but never lost taste or smell, and the fever I had only lasted half a day. I’ve always wondered whether I had COVID back before anyone knew of it.

        What were your symptoms then?

    • Happy1 says:

      There is statistically valid evidence that the vaccines prevent infectionin the short term right now although the sample is small. The real question is how long immunity lasts. No one knows that.

      And in my health system, 92% of physicians are choosing vaccination, so you are an outlier.

  36. Malibu says:

    Why is everybody getting the stimulus check? Seriously do retired people or working people need $2500. They haven’t been layed off. Shouldn’t we have to do something for that money? I don’t know pick up trash along the freeway,shovel some old persons driveway.Sure free money is cool but not at the expense of the countries finances. This is plain stupidity.

    • polecat says:

      Why do Congressional/House Members get millions in kickbacks/insider-trading .. on top of their supposedy ‘earned’ Civil service salaries, as THEY further enrich Greater Corporate Griftistan??
      Riddle me That one, if you could.

    • sunny129 says:

      The so called Retired ‘people’ ( also savers, those on fixed income++) have been SHAFTED by Fed by financial repression by ZRP since March ’09 resulting in consistently reduced purchasing power of the dollar for their purchase estentials like food and Medicine! This doesn’t assume the myth of 2% inflation!

      Only those in upper 10% owning nearly 90% of Wall St wealth have NO need for stimulus checks!

    • Old School says:

      They are giving out tickets to buy real goods and services without creating more goods and services.

      They are issuing more stock shares against the same amount of income.

      It’s government policy which is more or less above our pay grade. It will probably cost you more than that in future financial repression. If you truly don’t need it, you can do something government can’t do well and find a truly deserving person to give the money to.

  37. Lynn says:

    This is in response to sunny129. I guess I hit the wrong reply button..

  38. Swamp Creature says:

    Going through a crowded airline terminal and then visiting people not in your household is a great way of spreading the virus. Much more dangerous than eating outside at a restaurant. And now they want us to bail out the airlines bad business practices, when they have been one of the leading causes of spreading the virus. It just shows you how corrupt the whole system is where the Congress and local politicians pass laws that are not about protecting the public but more about satisfying their donor class.

  39. Swamp Creature says:

    In addition to the CDC recommendations which I support, why are they not adding measures to increase a person’s natural immunity, like taking Vitamin D, C & K?? Why is Dr Fauci silent on this.

    80% of the people who contracted Covid-19 had a serious Vitamin D deficiency.

    I’m taking 4000 iu daily to get my level to the normal range.

  40. Another Schmoe says:

    The most infuriating aspect of all these outright cash gifts to politically connected industries is opening up the political press and hearing senators and whatnot weighing in about how a measly extra 1400 bucks for the economic losers is “socialism”.

    When I talk to “normie” friends, corporate lawyers and whatnot, they literally will repeat the talking points about how “we’re capitalist” and “requiring healthcare for Uber drivers is socialism”.

    It’s like living in the twilight zone

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