12/31/20 Power Five

1. 2020: The Year Reaganism Died – “In times of crisis, government aid to people in distress is a good thing, not just for those getting help, but for the nation as a whole.

2. The Best Art of 2020 – We may not be going to museums or gallery openings, but art and artists always finds a way to create and inspire.

3. What Are You Paying For in a $300 Chess Set? – “The knights alone can account for as much as 50 percent of the cost of a nice wooden set. While the rest of the pieces can be machine-made, the knights are carved by hand to resemble the head of a horse, a tedious process to make sure all four are exactly the same...About 10 people specialize in carving knights for the World Chess sets, Mr. Merenzon said. It takes about two weeks to produce 100 sets, with a set of knights requiring about six hours to carve.”

4. State Budgets on the Brink “After the financial crisis of 2008—a rare instance when collective state revenue fell—many states created new (or supplemented existing) “rainy day” funds. As a result, state and local governments entered 2020 with a combined $119 billion in such savings, according to the Brookings Institution. But the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 has blown up budgets from coast to coast, and the impact will be lasting. Moody’s Analytics estimates that state and local government budget shortfalls could be a combined $450 billion over the next three years even as the economy recovers.

5. Ted Gioia’s 100 Best Albums of 2020 – The undisputed music king, Ted never ceases to amaze with his breadth and sheer level of consumption. Worth an hour of your time to click through his list with Spotify handy.

Charts of the Day: The Great Energy Switch – Bloomberg