Do you really need the new iPhone?

Bloomberg Opinion Today

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Today's Agenda

Five Gs? In This Economy?

Of America's many religious holidays, few generate as much fervor as New iPhone Day, the annual Special Event when Apple unveils the latest iteration of a thing millions of us now can't live without. (Full disclosure: I'm typing this on a MacBook, in arm's reach of an iPhone, an iPad, a set of AirPods and various dongles needed to charge and connect all this junk.) 

The holiday is a bit weird this year, though. For starters, the coronavirus bumped the event back from its traditional September to next week. The delay may have just made investors even more amped; as Tae Kim notes, Apple's stock-market multiple has jumped to nearly twice its long-term average, on hopes the new phones will scream off the shelves. 

And that's where the next bit of weirdness comes in: Apple is touting these new phones' 5G wireless capabilities, and traders apparently think that will make them indispensable. But Tae points out 5G service is still spotty and lame throughout much of the country. Buying a 5G phone at this point might be kind of like buying a 4G phone a decade ago — a little too ahead of its time to be necessary. Visions are fine for the fervent, but maybe not so much for the wallet.

Election Mayhem Ahoy

Trailing badly in the polls, losing the race for money and possibly hobbled by coronavirus, President Donald Trump seems to be resorting to going full Joker by setting the election on fire. Part of this involves encouraging supporters to crowd around polling places, intimidating potential Democratic voters, warns Bloomberg's editorial board. Local officials should be ready to protect voting booths from violence and shenanigans

It's so bad for Trump right now that even Texas suddenly looks like a battleground state. Of course, the election is still 25 days away, an eon in which anything can happen. And come on, it's Texas. Still, Jonathan Bernstein writes, his home state is closer than ever, and not just for demographic reasons. Democrats have simply been doing the political grunt work to get their candidates closer. 

Further Politics Reading:

Seminars in Coronavirus Management 

Perhaps the biggest thing Trump lacks is a plan for fighting the coronavirus. Of course, fighting the coronavirus isn't exactly easy for anybody. Across the Atlantic, for example, Boris Johnson faces rising case counts and a menu of unappealing options, writes Therese Raphael. Should he lock things down as Scotland has or just let the virus rip as Sweden (sometimes, sort of) has? There are no easy answers, but it would help to have a clear plan, clearly explained. 

And early next year, once the new Congress and possibly new president are inaugurated, America needs to launch a bipartisan coronavirus commission to explore what happened and what to do about it, writes James Stavridis

Telltale Charts

We in the West often complain about China managing its economy, but the chart below suggests the U.S. is in some ways more centrally controlled right now, with the Fed keeping interest rates low even as China's jump, notes John Authers. It helps that China's superior handling of the coronavirus has boosted its economy without straining its balance sheet overmuch. Chinese investments, including those higher-yielding bonds, look pretty attractive as a result. 

Amazon has a chance to lock down a corner of the luxury market with its new Luxury Stores offering, write Sarah Halzack and Andrea Felsted. It just needs some big-name designers and to make sure they aren't just using it to get through a rough patch. 

Further Reading

Here's what to watch when industrials start reporting earnings next week. — Brooke Sutherland

Bankers will always favor London over Europe for its lighter regulation, ample talent and low costs. — Marcus Ashworth 

Russia's neighbors are increasingly in turmoil, exposing Vladimir Putin's weaknesses. — Clara Ferreira Marques 

Palestinian leaders can't count on the indulgence of Saudi Arabia anymore, as a prince's remarks make clear. — Zev Chafets 

Instead of defunding police, we should pay more for their training. Better weapon handling would save lives. —Stephen Carter 


Trump said he wants more stimulus than even Democrats are offering.

Anthony Fauci called the Amy Coney Barrett Rose Garden ceremony a "super-spreader event."

The CDC now says merely overweight people have higher Covid risks.


New, from Pabst Blue Ribbon: cannabis seltzer. (h/t Scott Kominers)

Handwriting may engage the brain more than typing

It pays to be a space case.

The rise and fall of Vanilla Ice

Note: Please send ice ice baby and complaints to Mark Gongloff at

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