Morning brief: Oil Jawboning, Cellphone data for social distancing

A family member’s word-a-day calendar yesterday was “jawboning” and that was apparently what the President was doing related to oil markets and Russia and Saudi Arabia (New York Times link). I will not say that is not a surprise, nor that it is unwarranted. What remains to be seen is if it works. In the past some Presidents could get away with such an announcement and force the desired outcome, but that does not seem to be the world we live in right now.

I am a bit skeptical of some of the data coming out about cell phone use and social distancing (see this story). In particular when you look at the situation with states like North Dakota I do not think there is adequate consideration of changes in behavior, nor the underlying population density at the start. In addition, when based on miles traveled for example it clearly fails to recognize the standard distance traveled for such simple tasks as groceries. I think these data have an ability to call to light the issue of food deserts in urban and rural areas and perhaps start a discussion about a policy response.

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