Today's Liberal News

Derek Thompson

The Crypto Crash Is Just the Start

Sign up for Derek’s newsletter here.The American economy isn’t looking great right now. U.S. GDP shrank last quarter, despite a hearty showing from American consumers. Inflation is high; markets are down; both wages and personal-savings rates show some troubling statistical signals. Is the U.S. destined to have a recession in 2022? I don’t know for sure. But here are nine signs that worry me.1. Everybody’s stock portfolio is disgusting right now.

Elon Musk Buying Twitter Is Weird, Chaotic, and a Little Bit Awesome

To be honest, I still can’t believe this happened. Earlier today, Twitter accepted Elon Musk’s offer of $44 billion to buy the company and take it private. In one of the largest and weirdest tech acquisitions in recent memory, Musk fought off initial opposition and a poison-pill threat to buy the social-media service.News of the deal has polarized Twitter users and employees.

A Stanford Psychologist Says He’s Cracked the Code of One-Hit Wonders

Sign up for Derek’s newsletter here.In September 1992, the band Blind Melon released their self-titled debut album. The record was mostly ignored until a music video for the song “No Rain,” featuring a girl in glasses dressed as a bumblebee, went berserk on MTV. The song rocketed up the Billboard Hot 100 charts. But that was the last time the band ever struck gold. Two decades later, Rolling Stone named “No Rain” one of the biggest one-hit wonders of all time.

How the Crisis in Ukraine May End

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has already led to a crisis—not only for Ukraine but also for the Kremlin. As Russian troops have advanced toward Kyiv, the European Union and the United States have responded with dramatic financial punishments that could deep-freeze the Russian economy and send inflation on an upward spiral.There are now five ways that the aggression in Ukraine can end, according to Paul Poast, a professor of foreign policy and war at the University of Chicago.

Why Simple Is Smart

Sign up for Derek’s newsletter here.A few years ago, a young writer asked me if I had any tips for an aspiring journalist. My first instinct was to say no. My career has been full of hard work but also quirky luck, and I think everybody should distrust individuals who claim that the path to success is a highly specific set of circumstances that just happens to match, step for step, the story of their life.A rant about selection bias seemed misplaced, though.

The Atlantic Daily: Three Reasons to Be Optimistic About the 2020s

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.This year was … a lot. Delta, Omicron, inflation, threats to democracy. I get why most people are feeling exhausted.I still believe that better times are coming.

We Know a Lot More About Omicron Now

Sign up for Derek’s newsletter here.The flood of Omicron news can be overwhelming. The endless data, anecdotes, and studies are hard enough to synthesize. But what makes the information even harder to parse is that so much evidence (i.e., what people are seeing) is intertwined with opinion (i.e., what people are hoping and fearing).

Joe Biden’s Year Was Ruined. Whose Fault Is That?

Sign up for Derek’s newsletter here.Imagine it’s November 2020, and I offer you the following vision of Joe Biden’s first year in office:Stocks will soar. Consumer-spending growth will set land-speed records, and the president will oversee the best labor market of this young century. Coming off a flash-freeze recession, the U.S. unemployment rate will dip under 5 percent, lower than it was in every month of 2016. Blessedly, pay is rising fastest for low-wage workers.

Joe Biden’s Year Was Ruined. Whose Fault Is That?

Sign up for Derek’s newsletter here.Imagine it’s November 2020, and I offer you the following vision of Joe Biden’s first year in office:Stocks will soar. Consumer-spending growth will set land-speed records, and the president will oversee the best labor market of this young century. Coming off a flash-freeze recession, the U.S. unemployment rate will dip under 5 percent, lower than it was in every month of 2016. Blessedly, pay is rising fastest for low-wage workers.

America is Running on Fumes

Sign up for Derek’s newsletter here.Let’s start with a simple mystery: What happened to original blockbuster movies?Throughout the 20th century, Hollywood produced a healthy number of entirely new stories. The top movies of 1998—including Titanic, Saving Private Ryan, and There’s Something About Mary—were almost all based on original screenplays. But since then, the U.S.

Democrats Are Getting Crushed in the ‘Vibes War’

To explain the Democrats’ poor performance in state and local elections Tuesday, various commentators have made very specific claims: It was mostly about critical race theory, or mostly about Terry McAuliffe’s flaws as a candidate for Virginia governor, or mostly about suburban white women voting like it’s 2012 again.But none of these explanations is fully satisfying. The turn against Democrats wasn’t limited to parents, or Virginia, or white women.

Where Did 7 Million Workers Go?

The U.S. economy right now is a little bit like Dune.Not Frank Herbert’s magisterial sci-fi epic novel, or Denis Villeneuve’s new and reportedly sumptuous film adaptation. I mean David Lynch’s infamously bewildering 1984 movie version, which is remembered mostly for being a semi-glorious mess. Like that space oddity, today’s economy is too strange to neatly categorize as “clearly great” or “obviously terrible.

‘Maybe the Coronavirus Was Lower-Hanging Fruit’

Two years ago, approximately nobody on Earth had ever heard of mRNA vaccines. This was for the very good reason that no country had ever authorized one. As a scientific experiment, synthetic mRNA was more than 40 years old. As a product, it had yet to be born.Last year, mRNA technology powered the two fastest vaccine developments in history. Moderna famously prepared its COVID-vaccine recipe in about 48 hours.

How America Dropped to No. 36

In April, when I received my second Moderna shot, America was on a roll. Adjusted for population, the United States had distributed more COVID-19 vaccines per capita than any country but Israel, Chile, the United Kingdom, and a smattering of small nations and islands. With a surge of doses, we could have been No. 1 in the world.Five months later, the U.S. is no longer in the top five in national vaccine rates. We’re not in the top 10, or the top 20, or top 30.

The Masks Were Working All Along

The most urgent question in the world for the past 20 months has been: What’s the best way to stop the spread of the coronavirus? But it’s a frustrating question to answer definitively, since even the most logical solutions have been shrouded in what I’ve called the fog of pandemic.For example, covering your nose and mouth seems like a sensible way to block virus particles that come out of the mouth and go into the nose.

World War II’s Lesson for After the Pandemic

On June 14, 1940, the day the German army invaded and occupied Paris, a small group of scientists marched to the White House with grave news for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. U.S. military technology, they said, was utterly unprepared to take on the Axis powers. They urged the president to create a new agency—a dream team of techies and scientists—to help win the war.

The CDC’s Big Mask Surprise Came Out of Nowhere

Yesterday, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated Americans can stop wearing masks in most indoor and outdoor places. The new guidelines still advise the fully vaccinated to mask up when entering certain public areas, such as doctor’s offices.This is a moment to celebrate. It is not quite the pandemic’s equivalent of V-E Day; after all, thousands of people are still dying around the world each day from a virus that, far from surrendering, may be endemic.

3 Explanations for the Vaccine Slowdown

For a few weeks this spring, the United States was a world leader in vaccines, administering shots to a larger share of its population than even the United Kingdom or Israel. But since the middle of April, our vaccine campaign has stalled. The average number of people getting a first or single dose is down almost 50 percent from its peak on April 13.

Why America’s Great Crime Decline Is Over

Americans are experiencing a crime wave unlike anything we’ve seen this century. After decades of decline, shootings have surged in the past few years. In 2020, gun deaths reached their highest point in U.S. history in the midst of a pandemic. In 2021, although researchers can’t yet say anything definite about overall crime, shooting incidents appear to be on the rise in many places.

‘This Is Unprecedented’: Why America’s Housing Market Has Never Been Weirder

If you think the U.S. housing market is behaving very, very strangely these days, that probably means you’re paying attention.In almost any other year, a weak economy would cripple housing. But the flash-freeze recession of 2020 corresponded with a real-estate boom, led by high-end purchases in suburbs and small towns. Even stranger, in America’s big metros, home prices and rents are going in opposite directions. Home values increased in all of the 100 largest metros in the U.S.

The Surprising Key to Combatting Vaccine Refusal

Why wouldn’t someone want a COVID-19 vaccine?Staring at the raw numbers, it doesn’t seem like a hard choice. Thousands of people are dying of COVID-19 every day. Meanwhile, out of the 75,000 people who received a shot in the vaccine trials from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax, zero died and none were hospitalized after four weeks.

The Surprising Key to Combatting Vaccine Refusal

Why wouldn’t someone want a COVID-19 vaccine?Staring at the raw numbers, it doesn’t seem like a hard choice. Thousands of people are dying of COVID-19 every day. Meanwhile, out of the 75,000 people who received a shot in the vaccine trials from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax, zero died and none were hospitalized after four weeks.

COVID-19 Cases Are Dropping Fast. Why?

Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. One month ago, the CDC published the results of more than 20 pandemic forecasting models. Most projected that COVID-19 cases would continue to grow through February, or at least plateau. Instead, COVID-19 is in retreat in America. New daily cases have plunged, and hospitalizations are down almost 50 percent in the past month.

The Deep Story of Trumpism

As a White House resident, President Donald Trump is a goner. But his stranglehold on the GOP seems as tight as ever: Three in four Republicans say they believe their man won the 2020 election. Can the GOP channel the energy of his most fervent supporters and advance a sort of Trumpism without Trump? The answer depends on what Trumpism is—a populist prototype, a personality cult, or something stranger.To some, Trumpism marks the beginning of a new Republican Party.

How Civilization Broke Our Brains

This article was published online on December 13, 2020.Several months ago, I got into a long discussion with a colleague about the origins of the “Sunday scaries,” the flood of anxiety that many of us feel as the weekend is winding down and the workweek approaches. He said that the culprit was clear, and pointed to late-stage capitalism’s corrosive blend of performance stress and job insecurity.

Forget the Exit Polls, Watch Florida, Ignore Pennsylvania

Updated at 6:13 p.m. ET on November 3, 2020. The election will be weird, no matter what. If the polls are right, and Joe Biden wins the states where he’s favored, tonight could bring the most resounding defeat of an incumbent president since Herbert Hoover lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. If the polls are wrong, and Biden concedes to President Donald Trump early tomorrow morning, it would mark the most catastrophic polling disaster in modern history.