Don't listen to those egghead epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control with their scary projections of 3,000 coronavirus deaths a day by June 1. Take it from White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett — we'll be down to zero deaths by May 15. Bye bye pandemic, hello booming stock market!

It's cool, you guys, because the CDC says those terrifying numbers were only preliminary, and the White House insists that Mike Pence and Jared Kushner's super genius task forces are using much better data. But a hot minute ago, the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), one of the more optimistic modelers, raised its projection from 60,308 deaths by August 1 to 130,000. Which ... yeah, no shit, since we crossed the 68,000 threshold yesterday. This is at least the third time IHME has revised its estimate upward to account for Americans' refusal to limit the spread of disease by staying the hell away from each other. Which doesn't really lead to the conclusion that it's time to LIBERATE AMERICA by ripping off our masks and racing to the mall.

Luckily, the White House has that grinning lunatic Kevin Hassett to juke the stats to lead to any old conclusion Der Furor wants. The Washington Post reports:

Even more optimistic than [the IHME model], however, is the "cubic model" prepared by Trump adviser and economist Kevin Hassett. People with knowledge of that model say it shows deaths dropping precipitously in May — and essentially going to zero by May 15.

There were 1,324 deaths in America reported yesterday (Mondays are always low), but Mike Pence is going on Hassett's bullshit projections that this whole thing will be over by next week? Cool, cool.


To be fair, numbers are hard. As is keeping track of the revolving cast of villains and dipshits in Trumpland. But Hassett stands out for his ability to deliver the most astoundingly disingenuous nonsense with a disarming smile. While Peter Navarro, the chief crank on Trump's Council of Economic Advisors, tends to come off on television as antagonistic and possibly insane, Hassett's genial delivery marks him an unthreatening idiot. He looks like the life insurance agent who coaches your kid's peewee baseball team. Which is exactly why he got sent out to pitch the disastrous trade war after Navarro's aggressive insistence that China was paying the tariffs on imports to the US failed to convince Americans that ripping the bottom out of the soybean market was just good, sound economics.

Here's Hassett telling CNN's Poppy Harlow that tanking stock prices for Apple and Google meant that China was just about to knuckle under and agree to buy Chevys, or ... something, who the hell even knows.

Here he is econsplaining how government workers who got stiffed during the shutdown were actually "better off" without a paycheck because they got to go on vacation.

This is the same genius who wrote a book called Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market in 1999, right before the dot com bubble burst and the market crashed. This guy is wrong about literally everything. Here's Paul Krugman tearing him a new one in the New York Times this morning.

He first attracted widespread attention as co-author of a 1999 book claiming that stocks were greatly undervalued, and that the Dow should be 36,000 (which would be around 55,000 today, adjusting for inflation). It quickly became clear that there were major conceptual errors in that book; but Hassett never admitted error.

In the mid-2000s Hassett denied that there was a housing bubble, suggesting that only liberals believed that there was.

In 2010 Hassett was part of a group of conservative economists and pundits who warned in an open letter that the Federal Reserve's efforts to rescue the economy would lead to currency debasement and inflation. Four years later Bloomberg News tried to reach signatories to ask why that inflation never materialized; not one was willing to admit having been wrong.

Finally, Hassett promised that the 2017 Trump tax cut would lead to a big boost in business investment; it didn't, but he insisted that it did.

OUCH.

And although the economist-on-economist cage match is hilarious, the outcome of Hassett's inane projections is anything but. Because he's not an epidemiologist, or a virologist, or a medical doctor, or a person who is ever right about anything at all. And the White House is sending Americans back out to spread disease based on this crackpot's "cubic model," whatever that is, which is entirely unmoored from observable reality here on Planet Earth. And it doesn't matter how cheerful the guy is who sends you out to breathe in a lungful of germ-laced sputum. BECAUSE YOU STILL WIND UP DEAD.

And that is not fucking funny at all.

[WaPo / NYT]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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