Camparing Covid-19

In the middle of May 2024 we tend to believe the Covid-19 pandemic is over. However, towards the beginning of the year 2024 in the U.S. we observed at the peak about 2500 deaths per week. In Germany deaths/week amounted to 250. Compared to the overall population size killing is more pervasive in the U.S. than in Germany. The map of the specialized agency “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” (CDC) in the U.S. shows the coastal regions to be more affected than the center. Population density seems to be still a driver of the spread of infections, illness and deaths. The timeline of deaths due to Covid-19 infections for Germany follows a broadly similar pattern, albeit on a lower level even if roughly accounting for population size (RKI-data). As we tend to forget what the pandemic caused as social and economic disaster in societies, we have to stay alert as the major prevention of Covid-19. Learn to live with the virus around us. This means to keep up our preventive levels of hygiene as well as monitoring of trends.
Many thanks to all those who do the sometimes boring number crunching for us. This includes the medical doctors who bother to do the timely reporting of new infectious diseases on a regular basis.


Some American presidents become famous due to specific economic policies they managed to formulate, get approved and implemented them. Reaganomics, of previous U.S. president Ronald Reagan, was coined in connection with an open market doctrine, favouring monetary policy instead of fiscal stimuli. Bidenomics, of incumbent president Joe Biden, is characterised by his “produce in America”, Inflation Reduction Act, and fiscal stimulus provided for green and social investments.
Whereas Reagon sat more with bankers and central bankers, Biden is keen to stand with unionised workers even on the picket line. Investments that favour good jobs, jobs that apply pay scales agreed upon through collective bargaining are part of the Bidenomics that seems to work to raise the wages of the middle-class people. In the medium-term there might even be effects to lift the lower wages in other sectors of the economy as well. However, this is the tricky part of the equation to support the middle-classes and somehow the median voter.
American elections are won in so-called swing states that have voted democrats or republicans by narrow margins. Many of these states are in the “Rust-belt” states that have or had a strong manufacturing base. Bidenomics works hard to make the economy work for those people in these states, who have felt threatened by declassification, job loss and undercutting of wages due to migration. Substantial wage gains from $32/h to $40/h over 4 years is a landmark achievement in the U.S (see New York Times below). Non-unionised firms like Tesla, Hyundai or BMW and Mercedes in the U.S. will be isolated if they do not follow General Motors, Ford and Stellantis in the coming months or years.
It is not just about cars and trucks and wages, but about the chances of Biden and the Democrats to stem the renewed populist tide in the U.S. German car makers appear to be in the camp with the Tesla X-Man avoiding to negotiate with trade unions in the U.S. If Biden stays on as president after the next election, Bidenomics will gain further support and production of batteries and cars will be favoured locally with good paying, unionised jobs. Despite the high interest rates currently it is astonishing to many economist that the U.S. has not fallen into recession like for example Germany in at least 2 quarters of 2023. (Image: extract of Ney York Times 2023-11-2)

Checks and balances

The principle of checks and balances refers back to the separation of powers introduced by the French political theorist Montesquieu in his writings “De l’esprit des loix” in 1748. 40 years later in 1788 James Madison wrote as §51 in “The Federalists Papers” explicitly about the system of checks and balances as part of the constitution of the USA. For maintaining the principle of separation of powers it is necessary to install a system of checks and balances between the powers to prevent one power dominating the others. These well-known principles of democracy face, nevertheless, continuous challenges as to the balance of the powers (legislative, executive, judiciary). In order to safeguard democracy a basic scepticism towards the exercise of power is warranted. “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” (Federalist Papers, 1788, p. 239).
The necessity of auxiliary precautions has led modern democracies to a multiplicity additional checks and balances. Independent Anti-fraud offices, disciplinary committees within the separate powers as well as the checks and balances between the separate powers play a role in the survival of democracy. Recently, in July 2023 services like the internal service of the police to overlook the adequate execution of the force applied by police have been much in the headlines. Checks and balances apply to each branch of separate powers internally, and if they prove inadequate, they have to be corrected by other powers. This is the procedural as well as fundamental interaction within the separation of power. Presidential systems, where this system of checks and balances has major deficiencies, are very likely to fail its people through an overpowering executive. Neither the country of Montesquieu, nor of the Federalists is free of these dangers. Freedom of speech, freedom of movement and to meet with people, all contribute to strengthen checks and balances in a democracy. “A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control of the government” (p.239).