New research finds sharply focused ETFs are not good for investors

For any topic that’s hot or new, there’s probably an ETF. Last year, ETF marketers concocted COVID-19 vaccine ETFs, work-from-home ETFs, and SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) ETFs, each filled with stocks positioned to gain from those suddenly strong trends. When Bitcoin’s price peaked during the week of Jan. 3 this year, so did Google…

COVID had a surprising impact on income inequality: It went down

Much of what we thought we knew about the pandemic’s economic impact appears to be wrong. So says Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton, a professor at Princeton, based on a new analysis of worldwide COVID-19 data through 2020. Among the surprises he found: There’s no tradeoff between saving lives and saving the economy, despite the opposite widespread…

Biden’s attire progressed through three distinct and deliberate phases as candidate, President-elect, and President

Women’s attire attracted heavy attention at President Biden’s inauguration, and rightly so. When Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton all show up wearing purple, it must mean something. The consensus view is that it stood for unity; Republican red + Democrat blue = purple. Also, purple was in the suffragist flag (1908), and Harris’s…

The lesson lenders learned from the Great Recession: Forbearance works

Lenders and the federal government apparently learned a lesson from the financial crisis of 2008–09. As a result, the financial pain of the pandemic has been much gentler than it otherwise might have been. So says a just-released paper from researchers at the business schools of Columbia University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, and the University…

Round 2 of PPP loans could be open to even more fraud

Will PPP Round 2 attract fewer fraudsters than Round 1 did? Don’t count on it.Getty Images On Monday the Small Business Administration began accepting applications for new Paycheck Protection Program loans authorized in the stimulus package enacted last month. On the same day, the SBA’s inspector general announced that more than 57,000 potentially ineligible borrowers had wangled…

Retired brigadier general says Trump loyalists in military need rooting out

The violent attack on the Capitol raises the question of the U.S. military’s potential role in any other transition-related violence that might occur in coming days. President Trump did not deploy active-duty troops in response to the riot; the National Guard was deployed at the request of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser by Vice President Mike…

The fundamental flaw in cap-weighted index funds

Could the investor stampede into index funds create an opportunity to beat the indexes? Ironically, it might—but only for investors with a long investing horizon and a strong stomach. This intriguing possibility emerges from a new paper by researchers at Michigan State University, the London School of Economics, and the University of California at Irvine, which focuses on…

The COVID recession may kill more Americans than COVID-19 does

The economic effects of COVID-19 could prove deadlier than the disease itself. So says just-released research, which concludes that the total lives lost to the virus in the U.S. may “far exceed those immediately related to the acute COVID-19 critical illness…The recession caused by the pandemic can jeopardize population health for the next two decades.” The…