It Is Easy to Overreact to the Chinese Coronavirus

Recently, a new coronavirus has been causing many illnesses and deaths. The virus first became active in Wuhan, China, but it has already spread to the rest of China. Scattered cases have been identified around the rest of the world as well.

There are two important questions that are already being encountered:

  • How much of an attempt should be made to limit the spread of the new virus? For example, should businesses close to prevent the spread of the virus?
  • Should this disease be publicized as being far worse than flu viruses that circulate each year and cause many deaths among the elderly and people in poor health? The median age of those dying from the new coronavirus seems to be about 75.

Unfortunately, there aren’t easy answers. We can easily see the likely outcome of under reaction. More people might die of the disease. More people might find themselves out of work for a couple of weeks or more with the illness. We tend to be especially concerned about ourselves and our own relatives.

The thing that is harder to see is that reacting too vigorously can have a hugely detrimental impact on the world economy. The world economy depends on international trade and tourism. China plays a key role in the world economy. Quarantines of whole regions that last for weeks and months can have a very detrimental impact on the wages of people in the area and profits of local companies. Problems with debt can be expected to spike. The greater the reaction to the coronavirus, the more likely the world economy will be pushed toward recession and job loss.

The following are a few of my thoughts regarding possible overreaction:

[1] The Chinese coronavirus seems to be extremely contagious, even before a person who has been exposed shows any symptoms. The only way we can be certain to contain the virus seems to be through quarantines lasting up to 14 days.

China’s National Health Minister, Ma Xiaowei, has provided information that seems quite alarming. With the new virus, a person may become communicable shortly after he/she has been infected, but symptoms may not appear for up to 14 days. This allows the infected person to infect many others without realizing that he/she is a carrier for the disease.

Today, the United States and many other countries screen for the virus by checking passengers arriving on planes from affected areas for fevers. Given the information provided by China’s National Health Minister, this approach seems unlikely to be sufficient to catch all of the people who may eventually come down with the disease. If a country really wants to identify all the potential carriers of the disease, it appears that a 14-day quarantine for all travelers from infected areas may be needed.

Such a quarantine becomes administratively difficult to handle for the huge number of people who are likely to travel from China. Such a quarantine would make it impossible for pilots and other airline workers to make a living, for example. They would be spending too much of their time in quarantine to do the work needed to support themselves and their families.

A related concern is that person-to-person transmission is very easy with the Chinese coronavirus. We don’t know for certain how many people each infected individual infects, but one estimate is that each infected person transmits the disease to an average of 2.5 other people. With this transmission rate, the number of people having the disease can be expected to grow exponentially, perhaps for several months.

Based on these concerns, it seems to me that funds spent on trying to contain the coronavirus are likely to be largely wasted. The new Chinese virus will spread widely, regardless of attempts to contain it. At most, quarantines will slightly slow the transmission of the disease. At the same time, quarantines will be quite disruptive of commerce. They will tend to reduce both total wages and total output of goods and services of the area.

[2] Deaths from pathogens are part of the natural cycle. They help prune back the population of the old and weak.

We know that in ecosystems, one of the functions of naturally occurring fires is to clear out “deadwood,” to allow healthy new growth to occur. In fact, some types of seeds seem to require smoke for germination. When inadequate natural burning takes place, bushfires as seen in Australia and forest fires as seen in California become an increasing problem.

Deaths from pathogens seem to play a similar role in human economies. This is especially the case with pathogens that especially target the weak and old. Most flu viruses have this characteristic. Early reports of deaths from the coronavirus suggest that this same pattern of targeting the old and weak is occurring with this virus as well. As noted above, the median age of those dying from the new coronavirus seems to be about 75 years.

Since the 1940s, modern medicine has been able to develop antibiotics and vaccines to counteract the impact of many pathogens. This, of course, makes citizens happy, but it has the disadvantage of changing the population in a way that leaves the economy with a much higher percentage of elderly people and others in poor health. This higher level of elderly and medically needy people makes it easy for viruses and other pathogens to make their rounds, just as leaving deadwood on the forest floor makes it easier for fires to spread.

With this rising population of people who cannot support themselves, tax rates for the remaining citizens tend to become very high. Young workers may become discouraged because they do not have enough income remaining after paying taxes to raise their own families. In effect, they cannot support both their young families and the many old people.

Viewed from this unusual perspective, the operation of the Chinese coronavirus might even be considered a benefit to society as a whole. The world has overcome the impact of measles, typhoid, polio, and many other diseases. In some sense, it “needs” a new disease added to its portfolio, to replace the ones that have been mostly taken care of by modern medicine. In this way, pensions and other payments targeting the old and weak don’t become too great a burden on the young.

[3] If the Chinese coronavirus were simply allowed to run its course, without publicity that it was in any way unusual, somewhat less than 1% of the world’s population might be expected to die. 

To see what would happen if the Chinese coronavirus were to run its course, we might look at what happened with the Spanish Flu, back in 1918. At that time, doctors did not have a way of treating the virus and authorities downplayed concern for the disease. The US Center for Disease Control reports that 500 million people, or one-third of the world’s population, became infected. At least 50 million people (about 10% of those infected) died.

We don’t yet know with accuracy how many of those infected will die from the current virus. A recent estimate is that about 2.3% of those who are infected will die of the disease (based on 107 dying out of 4,600 infected). If we assume that the percentage of the population that will ultimately catch the new virus is 30%, then the share of the world’s population that would be expected to die would be about [(1/3) x 2.3% = 0.76%].

The UN estimates that the world’s population can be expected to grow by about 1.05% in 2020. If this is the case, the effect of the Chinese virus would be to sharply dampen the population increase for the year. Instead of population rising by 1.05%, it would rise by only 0.29% (= 1.05% – 0.76%), assuming all of the deaths associated with the Chinese coronavirus take place within a year. While this would be a change, it would be a fairly small, temporary change.

All of these deaths would be tragic for the families involved but, in a way, they would be less of a problem than the deaths that took place back in 1918. At that time, mortality was high for healthy 20- to 40-year olds, making the flu particularly disruptive for families. The total percentage of the population that died was also much higher, about 3% instead of 0.76%.

[4] A major danger of the virus seems to be one of overreaction.

Today’s world economy is fragile. China, like other countries, has a large amount of debt. Debt defaults related to poor profits of companies closing their operations for a time and workers losing income could easily skyrocket.

Closing down transportation from China would risk pushing the world economy into a very bad recession. In fact, simply having a very large number of people out sick from work would be expected to have an adverse impact on the economy. Spending a large amount of money on hospitalizations and face masks cannot compensate for the loss of productivity of the rest of the economy. Thus, the tendency would be toward recession in China, even if no action toward cutting off travel were taken.

China is a huge supplier of goods to the rest of the world. In fact, in 2016, it used more energy in producing industrial output than the United States, India, Russia and Japan combined.

Figure 1. Chart by the International Energy Agency showing total fuel consumed (TFC) by industry, for the top five fuel consuming nations of the world.

China’s economy has been growing very rapidly since 1990. Figure 2 shows this one way, in GDP comparisons using inflation-adjusted US dollars.

Figure 2. GDP of China and the United States, computed as percentages of World GDP. All amounts in 2010 US dollars, as provided by the World Bank.

Figure 3 is similar to Figure 2, except the growth comparison is made in “2011 Purchasing Power Parity International Dollars.” This adjustment is made because typically the currencies of less developed nations float far below the dollar, in terms of what the local currency will buy. The inflation-adjusted PPP comparison compares output on a basis that is expected to be more consistent with what the local currency will really purchase.

Figure 3. Ratios of the GDP of China and the United States to the World GDP. All amounts in 2011 Purchasing Power Parity International Dollars, as provided by the World Bank.

On this PPP basis, China’s GDP surpassed the US’s GDP in 2014. Figure 3 also shows that the United States has slipped from about 20% of the world’s GDP to about 15% on this basis.

We cannot simply cut off trade with China, regardless of how bad the situation is. China is too big and too important now. The rest of the world desperately needs goods and services produced in China, in spite of what is going wrong from an illness perspective. China plays too key a role in supply chains of many kinds for the country to be left out.

Even cutting off tourism becomes a problem. The share of China’s revenue from tourism amounted to 11% in 2018. While not all of this would drop off, even a dip would lead to lower employment in this part of its economy. Jet fuel use would drop as well.

[5] A particular problem today is low prices for many commodities, including oil and other fossil fuels. These prices are likely to fall further, if China’s economy falters further. 

We used to hear that the world would “run out of” oil and that oil prices would rise very high. In fact, if the people who were concerned about the issue had studied history, they would have figured out that a far more likely outcome would be “collapse.” In such a situation, prices of many commodities might fall too low. Revelation 18:11-13 provides a list of a number of commodities, including humans sold as slaves, for which prices dropped very low at the time of the collapse of ancient Babylon.

The problem is a different squeeze than a high-price squeeze. It is more of a growing wage disparity problem, with fewer and fewer of the world’s workers being able to afford the goods and services made by the world economy. This problem feeds back to commodity prices that fall too low for producers of many types. The problem is an affordability issue, rather than one of running out. I have written about this issue many times.

Prices of fossil fuels have been low for a very long time–essentially since late 2014. OPEC has cut back its oil production because of low oil prices. Several US natural gas producers have taken big write offs on natural gas investments. China’s coal production has remained below its 2013 level, because of low prices.

Figure 1. China energy production by fuel, based on 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy data. “Other Ren” stands for “Renewables other than hydroelectric.” This category includes wind, solar, and other miscellaneous types, such as sawdust burned for electricity.

If China finds it necessary to cut back on production of goods and services for any reason (excessive sickness within China, visitors aren’t traveling to China, tariffs, customers around the world aren’t buying cars), this reduction in output would be likely to further lower the prices of commodities. More producers would go bankrupt. Countries exporting products as diverse as oil, iron ore, copper and lithium might have economic difficulties.

Lower fossil fuel prices may lead to a cutback in their output, but it is doubtful that this cutback would be offset by an increase in the production of renewables. Falling fossil fuel prices would make the price comparison of renewables to fossil fuels look even worse than it does today. China has cut back on its subsidies for solar panels, and this has led to decreasing Chinese solar installations in both 2018 and 2019.

[6] The best approach might just be to let the Chinese coronavirus run its course. Authorities might also discourage stories about how awful the illness is.

Today, we seem to think that we can fix all problems. Unfortunately, this medical problem doesn’t seem to be fixable in the near-term. We should probably do as governments through the ages have done, which is not very much. We should not publicize the disease as being a whole lot worse than flu viruses in general, for example.

We should certainly look for inexpensive treatments for the disease. For example, there seems to be an effort to examine the possibility of using existing antiviral drugs as a treatment. It seems like an effort could be made to look into ways of treating the disease at home, perhaps using supplemental oxygen for a period. In time, perhaps a vaccine can be developed.

Individuals around the world should be encouraged to get themselves in as good health as possible, so that their own immune systems can fight off pathogens of all types, not just this particular virus. Common sense should be used in washing hands and in avoiding being with sick people. I doubt that it makes sense to encourage the use of masks, goggles and other protective devices.

We, as individuals, cannot live forever on this earth. We also cannot spend an unlimited percentage of GDP on health care: It becomes too high-cost for most citizens. At some point, we need to call a halt to the expectation that we can fix all problems. We live in a world with limited resources. We need to start lowering our expectations, if we don’t want to make our problems worse.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,772 Responses to It Is Easy to Overreact to the Chinese Coronavirus

  1. Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    “7:05 am: Hubei province reports additional 94 deaths
    China’s Hubei province reported an additional 94 deaths and 1,638 newly diagnosed, confirmed cases related to the deadly pneumonia-like coronavirus as of the end of Tuesday.

    According to the Hubei Provincial Health Committee, 1,068 people have died in the province from the disease and there have been a total of 33,366 confirmed cases thus far. Most of those cases and deaths occurred in the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected.”

    that’s a 3% death rate, though there are doubts about the accuracy of their reported data…

    3 is a big number, and perhaps shows how the very polluted Wuhan air may raise the chances of getting pneumonia from the virus…

    which could also mean that other parts of the world will see a rate below 3%…

    3% would also help to explain the very strong (over?)reaction by the Chinese government…

  2. squideater says:

    The chinese economy is SHUT DOWN. If they could barely escape financial contagion b4 this now? Somthing is up. This is not like previous illnesses. They know the economic risks so why? The whole world goes inside and hides for 3 months to a year… How does infrastructure get maintained? How does food get produced and distributed let alone get payed for? How is this different from a nuclear exchange and fallout?

  3. chrish618 says:

    Ok, the apparent current mortality rate from this virus in China as around 1%. Everyone else gets better in a few days.

    Extrapolating this to the whole world, if all 8 billion people contracted the virus then the resultant mortality would be 80 million people = approximately the population of, say, Taiwan albeit spread worldwide. Most of these would be people who are weak or who have compromised health. But have to add that this simple extrapolation presumes no mutation to another, more aggressive, form.

    Bad news for any family who experiences a death, but the virus’s impact on the global economy and even political stability looks like being immense by comparison.

    • Jason says:

      I’m not saying its going to be bad but your view is simplistic. How many people end up in ICU, and how many others will be displaced from ICU because its filled. Other diseases and conditions need ICU too, so those people may die because of lack of access. There is no way to know one way or another what the impact will be. We don’t even have accurate information to start with.

      • chrish618 says:

        Yes and no, Jason. I’m saying it’s easy to over react to the coronavirus. The above is almost a worst case scenario. 8 billion people are very unlikely to get infected with it. But, of course, there are other factors at play. It is possible to under react to it to. The economic impact of the disease is already being hugely felt. Economic collapse is likely to kill many more people than the disease itself. So it’s still a good idea to stem the virus regardless.

        • Dennis L. says:

          The workers at a nuclear plant become ill, unable to operate it, what then? People are not fungible, people work in teams and teams are not interchangeable immediately. Even with strict protocols it takes awhile for people to adapt, read one another. This is a just in time world, very difficult to start a long chain up once it is stopped.

          Boeing will be an interesting case, can the lines ever be restarted? If a supplier goes bust, the equipment is sold or scrapped, a restart takes time and in that time other suppliers go broke, rinse and repeat. Boeing was due to mechanical failure, this is biological but it is similar in that Boeing was/is such a large player in the economy.

          Prescription drugs seem to be problematic with the starting chemicals, they too are sourced in China. Those would be very skilled workers maintaining quality, lose a few and replacements will be far and few between. Worse yet, are the pharmaceuticals themselves contaminated?

          We are a very specialized world, many capital investments serve very limited purposes and are not easily repurposed, entropy again.

          It is not a trivial problem.

          Dennis L.

          • squideater says:

            Good post. There are several indicators that this is a unusual event. the authorities actions. The behavior of the Chinese people even far from Hubei province. Word gets around.
            There is something else too. The perception that we as a species have solutions. Solutions not just for cv19 but for the effects it will have on the complex systems we have created. If that perception dissipates It will have effects too IMO

      • The disease is likely to start multiple chain reactions throughout the economy.
        1. Health care costs in total will rise, leaving less to spend on other parts of the economy, such as education and transportation.
        2. As you say, some people with other diseases won’t get the treatment they need and will die.
        3. People who are off work for several weeks are likely to default on loans.
        4. People who die will leave cars and apartments that need to be sold. In some cases, the sales price will be insufficient to pay back the debt, leading to problems for banks.
        5. Businesses will not be able to operate for a long period, but they will continue to have fixed expenses. Some will default on loans.
        6. Businesses around the world will discover they are missing essential parts. In some cases, substitutes can be found, but often they cannot. Sales people and others will be laid off, because there is not enough sales work.
        7. Wind turbines may stop working because essential replacement parts are not available. (Certain parts are often imported from China.)
        8. The government of China will have difficulty collecting enough tax revenue.
        9. Vacationers will stop coming to China. The many people in the travel industry will need to find jobs elsewhere.
        10. Commodity prices, such as oil prices, will fall to levels that are far too low for producers. There will be many bankruptcies.

        • chrish618 says:

          In other words it’s downright sensible to overract to the coronavirus.

        • Chrome Mags says:

          Also Gail, it makes me think of when there’s road work and vehicles get backed up – even once they can start moving again, it’s very slow which is what will happen to the economy even after the dust settles on this virus (at least until next winter).

    • beidawei says:

      Taiwan has 23 million. 80 million would be comparable to the population of Turkey.

  4. Hubbs says:

    What do you expect?

    • Denial says:

      Yep I am sandwiched between both generations and it sucks on the baby boom generation you have debts don’t matter… long as you keep inflating the stock market so I have my retirement….screw the rest of you! And then you have the gen z and millennials with there give me free …free …..If debts don’t matter give me a million dollars then where is mine!!!

    • That poor girl. I do work for an older lady who expects work to be returned to her promptly. Life is so unfair sometimes!

  5. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    I’m outta HERE…BOOMER👍😘
    Career Builder’s CEO: Young people are ‘ghosting’ employers
    Denitsa Tsekova
    Denitsa TsekovaReporter
    Yahoo MoneyFebruary 10, 2020, 1:10 PM EST

    Gen Z, currently aged 8 to 23 years old, are the youngest generation entering the workforce. And they’re already forcing employers to make changes to company culture, diversity, and inclusion.

    However, they do other things a bit differently, according to Career Builder’s CEO Irina Novoselsky.

    “We’re actually seeing ‘ghosting’ [by] Gen Z,” Novoselsky told Yahoo Finance (video above). “So they just take a job and do not show up. Or they quit a job and do not let their employer know, they just don’t show up and leave a badge
    And it turns out Gen Zers are not the only ones giving their employers an Irish goodbye. So are millennials, who are currently aged 24 to 39 and the largest generation in the workforce.

    Half of millennials and Gen Zers have ghosted an employer for a higher paying job opportunity elsewhere, the Randstad 2020 U.S. Compensation Insights survey finds.
    The two youngest generations in the workforce not only find it unnecessary to say goodbye before quitting. They are also bolder in salary negotiations. Nearly 3 in 5 millennials and Gen Zers say they have leveraged a potential job offer as a negotiation tactic to get a pay raise at their current job.

    Good compensation is not the only thing these two generations are looking for in an employer: For them, the company’s mission and culture is a priority.

    “They’re helping to drive companies really highlight their mission and purpose,” Novoselsky told Yahoo Finance. “That is one of their number one criteria for joining a business.”

    Millennials are more likely to place culture over salary than adults over 45 when it comes to job satisfaction, with 65 percent of millennials and 52 percent of older adults prioritizing culture, according to Glassdoor’s 2019 mission and culture survey.

    • We don’t know yet.

      Interestingly, there was ~2017 astrophysics paper, which expanded on the space traveling viruses and bacteria, namely that during solar minima they can more easily travel through our planetary system and cascade down through the upper levels of atmosphere. The key novelty in this topic (for me) was they singled out China as the primary target because of the geographical position downwind from Himalaya, where this mountain range is said to further weaken/alter the stratospheric layers formation.

      In other words, hinting the Chinese are unlucky bunch to be pummeled by space pandemics during decreased solar activity.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Ah, “panspermia”, popularised by Svante Arrhenius, who also was the first to discuss global warming, and is a distant relative of Saint Greta. There was a great trashy SF story based on this theme, whose title and author i quite forget.

        • Yorchichan says:

          The Andromeda Strain?

        • Nope, that’s legit science research published in one of the Astrophysics journals..
          As to whether there is material link to contemporary virus outbreak in China is another question, I simply posit there are scientist putting out a thesis that China is good place to hatch incoming viruses in times of lower solar activity..

      • Chrome Mags says:

        “In other words, hinting the Chinese are unlucky bunch to be pummeled by space pandemics during decreased solar activity.”

        What?! The virus has links to its source a bat or snake, but either way it originated from an animal – that much they know from analyzing it. Now whether or not it was bioengineered at a Wuhan bioweapons lab is up for debate, however many sources place the first one’s getting sick to the wet market in Wuhan, China. There has never been an epidemic or pandemic from something falling into Earth’s atmosphere. The movie ‘The Andromeda Strain’ was, but that was fictional and not a virus, but a crystalline structure that fed off of energy. People’s blood turned to dust. Very good fictional stuff.

        • Malcopian says:

          When the Earth passes through comets, we apparently get covered with strange germs which – allegedly – can cause disease epidemics. This is why the ancients associated comets with misfortune and disaster. Or so scientist Fred Hoyle thought.

          • The book Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee talks about the importance of material from the outer solar system falling on earth. According to the paperback version of the book (p. 49),

            …, the accretion process never really ended. The rate is many orders of magnitude less than it was 4.5 billion years ago, but, as in any solar system where planets form by the accretion of solids, the process still goes on. The annual influx of outer solar system material falling to earth is 40,000 tons per year.

            Somewhere, he mentions that passing comets bring some of this material.

            Later, page 56, the book mentions viruses, and their possible connection to the beginning of life on earth.

            Somewhere in between atoms and the living cell there is the entity known as a virus. Viruses are smaller than the smallest living cells and do not seem to be alive when isolated, yet they are capable of infecting and then changing the internal chemistry of the cells they invade.

            The book doesn’t say specifically that viruses came from comets, but it talks about very complex structures perhaps coming from comets.

          • Chrome Mags says:

            “When the Earth passes through comets, we apparently get covered with strange germs which – allegedly – can cause disease epidemics. This is why the ancients associated comets with misfortune and disaster. Or so scientist Fred Hoyle thought.”

            Do you have a link?

    • Robert Firth says:

      And I demand Tom Cotton prove he isn’t a lizard man from the fifth planet of Alpha Lyrae. Conspiracy theories are useless without a little style to leaven their insanity.

  6. Dennis L. says:

    Where did the virus originate? This is an emotional subject, we don’t know, there is speculation.

    Attached is a ZeroHedge article regarding this which includes quotes from Senator Cotton.

    I briefly researched Senator Cotton, Graduated Harvard in 3 years, honors, graduate school, Harvard Law and then enlisted in US Army, Infantry, bronze star, declined offers to serve in J.A.G. Okay, that shows guts. Conclusion, he is not a tin foil hat guy.

    I have no opinion on this matter, if this virus is designed to be a problem, that is a world problem. The world is a sort of self governing organism, it seems to understand when some things are “wrong.” Germany in WWII would be an example, the world gangs up on groups like this. China’s concern over world perception of this virus’ source is understandable. Gail has pointed out Chinese people are very intelligent; sometimes that leads to hubris, sometimes to unfortunate events not unlike the scientists at Los Alamos who were “tickling the dragon’s tail” using screwdrivers which several times got out of hand, once with a very painful death of the experimenter. After that, playing with plutonium at near critical mass using screwdrivers was stopped. Simply put, a group of supervisors said, “This is not a good idea.” Average people sometimes see a general picture better than those very focused individuals to whom everything is a “game.”

    Economically, assuming we make it through this event and being a very positive person we will, single sourcing for many items is most likely history, it works until it doesn’t. People seem to like making a profit even if it is to gift that profit as Gail points out frequently, some profit is better than no profit even if that some profit is not optimal.

    With leadership goes tremendous responsibility, China is a world leader in manufacturing, the world depends on China. Their efforts to contain this problem are to be respected even if they appear heavy handed; their concerns over the origin of this problem are understandable.

    Dennis L.

  7. Snow fall in Baghdad, while southern France was ~28-31C two-three weeks ago..

  8. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Puerto Rico’s fragile economy is facing an uncertain future after the island’s governor rejected a settlement announced late Sunday with bondholders that would reduce the U.S. territory’s public debt by 70%.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said on Saturday that the government will not pay “even half a cent” of its debt back to the International Monetary Fund before the country has exited recession.”

      • The IMF needs to be lending more, not less, to countries that are doing poorly. They like will never pay it back.

        Perhaps just giving the money would be preferable.

    • The reason for the Governor of Puerto Rico rejecting the settlement was given as:

      . . .Gov. Wanda Vázquez saying it places too heavy a burden on the island’s retirees and noting that it still requires legislative approval. The deal also has to be approved by a federal judge overseeing a bankruptcy-like process for Puerto Rico.

      “If the bondholders receive better treatment in the bankruptcy process, so should retirees,” she said. “This is an issue of basic justice.”

      • Robert Firth says:

        A simple proposal. The bondholders receive better treatment courtesy of the government of Puerto Rico. The retirees are made whole by seizing all the assets of the members of the government of Puertp Rico. Simple justice: those who made the promises should be compelled to keep them. Pacta sunt servanda.

  9. Harry McGibbs says:

    “When the financial system was about to collapse in 2007-08, central banks were quick to step in and to buy falling assets. This avoided a complete economic meltdown. However, at present on world financial markets, monetary policy is not combating risk but adding to it. Central banks have become major creators of possible economic shocks.

    “Highly accommodative monetary policy can contribute to crisis through excessive debt. This happened in 2007-08. Inordinately easy monetary policy, with long-running negative interest rates in real terms, allowed too much leverage. Eventually, asset bubbles started to burst. We are facing a similar problem today. Global non-financial debt has grown 40% since the crisis, and debt quality has deteriorated.”

  10. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The coronavirus epidemic could spread to about two-thirds of the world’s population if it cannot be controlled, according to Hong Kong’s leading public health epidemiologist…

    “Even if the general fatality rate is as low as 1%, which Leung thinks is possible once milder cases are taken into account, the death toll would be massive.”

  11. kevin moore says:

    The Daily Beast is reporting that China government has changed definition of illness to give a lower infection count.

    • If you don’t like the numbers, change the definition!

      According to the article:

      Over the weekend, the number of newly confirmed infections was the lowest yet—so, just by looking at the official numbers, those resources appeared to have had an impact on containing the sickness.

      However, the reduced numbers were based on the Chinese National Health Commission’s modified definition of what a “confirmed case” is. Since last Friday, patients who weren’t showing pneumonia symptoms even if they tested positive as carriers of 2019-nCoV no longer count as “confirmed” in China. The commission’s definition runs counter to the World Health Organization’s guidance for verifying the disease’s presence—and plain common sense.

      Conclusion: Don’t believe the numbers!

  12. Tim Groves says:

    This article on air pollution in China is well worth reading.

    How a ‘Toxic Cocktail’ Is Posing a Troubling Health Risk in China’s Cities
    A recent study in Chinese cities found a potential link between a hazardous mix of air pollutants and death rates. These findings point to the need for a new approach to assessing the dangers of urban smog in fast-industrializing parts of the developing world.
    BY FRED PEARCE • APRIL 17, 2018


    In Europe and North America, there have effectively been two eras of smogs, with different chemistries. The first was characterized by heavy particulates and sulphur dioxide from burning coal in cities. It was in decline before the peak of the second phase, which arose from nitrogen oxides, fine particulates emitted by automobiles, and other compounds often combining photochemically in summer sunlight to create ozone.

    But in China, India, and other developing countries today, the two eras have come together. According to Han and his colleagues, “The development of coal-fired industries and increased automobile use have overlapped, which has resulted in the emissions of a complex mix of air contaminants.”

    China has the world’s most dangerous outdoor air pollution. The country emits about a third of all the human-made sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulates that are poured into the air around the world. The Global Burden of Disease Study, an international collaboration, estimates that 1.1 million Chinese die from the effects of this air pollution each year, roughly a third of the global death toll….

    China has 15 megacities with a population of over 10 million, but pollution was worst in cities with populations between 500,000 and 10 million. The reason, they suggest, is that the largest cities have implemented “extensive environmental protection measures,” leading many polluting industries to relocate to smaller cities.

    Unlike megacities such as Beijing, Tianjin, or Shanghai, these hidden hotspots have rarely grabbed the headlines and have not attracted the attention of state pollution controllers. The paper names four cities that suffered smogs in which all five of the contaminants were above WHO guidelines for more than eight days a year – Dongying, Linya, Weifang, and Zibo. All are in Shandong, an industrial province in northeast China. They have populations of between 1 and 3.5 million; none is among China’s 30 largest cities.

    Three other cities listed as regularly suffering dangerous levels of four or five of the pollutants are Jining, also in Shandong, Wuhan in Hubei province, and Jiayuguan and Jinchang in Gansu. None of the seven appear in the lists of the ten most polluted Chinese cities published by the WHO or Chinese environment ministry. …

    Kulmala, in his Nature article titled “China’s choking cocktail,” says we can expect “chains of chemical reactions” taking place among the multiple pollutants on Chinese smogs. Those reactions, he says, may have unexpected consequences that make conventional regulation of individual pollutants unpredictable and even counterproductive.

    • These pollutants no doubt make people’s lungs more vulnerable to the effects of any virus.

      This article is about China. I expect some cities in India have a similar problem.

  13. Hill Billy says:

    Is a factory not similar to a cruise ship? 130 people tested positive on that one ship. How many will test positive when you mix millions of factory workers together at Foxconn Toyota etc?

    • Chrome Mags says:

      Good Q HB. I’m thinking they’ve got to have a different strategy now people need to go back to work and the country needs that productivity, so in a sense they’re throwing a hail Mary pass hoping it doesn’t get out of hand, but like you point out, a factory is much like a ship. I’m thinking it’s not going to go very good.

    • I am afraid you are right. Factories will mix people together, leading to more infections. The more exposures a person has to other people, the more likely a person will be infected. Thus, public meetings of any kind will raise the chance of exposure. So will trains and buses.

      Public transport in general will mix people together. If a person rides in Uber car, there is a chance that the previous passenger had the virus. If a person drives a “rent-by-the-hour” car, the same issue exists. Private passenger autos may look like a luxury to the rest of the world, but they definitely cut back on the risk of picking up a virus using public transport.

      • Artleads says:

        There we go. Keep what we have. Hang on tho the wasteful old ways. Stay at home all we can, especially we older ones. We do have to buy food, and that may present unavoidable risks.

  14. Hill Billy says:

    This from a friend who lived in Shanghai for years and whose wife is from China:

    ‘A friend’s family is in Wuhan, they are all at home 4/5 people in the family are sick, just the kid is not sick and they believe one family member is on a deathbed (45-year-old male) the rest just have bad flu symptoms. These people are definitely not in the official statistics and are undocumented cases so I imagine the numbers are much much higher.’

    • Chrome Mags says:

      Another sideline to the undocumented infected multitudes is the rising percentage of critically ill patients. Early stats showed 13% but steadily that’s risen now to 19% of all infections and that’s from the official stats. In the critically ill it isn’t just attacking the lungs, its damaging the other major organs like the heart, liver and kidneys. Many of the sick that survived the virus are now looking at a 6 month recovery for their organs to regain good health again, if ever.

      Damaging organs is what Ebola did, so in a sense this virus has worst of the worst traits. 1) it has a very long incubation period providing great opportunity to be transmitted
      2) has multiple ways it can transmit including airborne droplets
      3) Near 20% infected become critically ill
      4) Attacks the vital organs
      5) Very long recovery for those that were critically ill

      That’s a lot to overcome in an attempt to stop it’s spread into a pandemic that brings down the world economy. Sure, it can be done but at best this will be a pyrrhic victory, i.e. won at a great cost.

      • Xabier says:

        Looking back again to when I had the first stage of pneumonia, which responded to the powerful drugs I was prescribed, I did not regain full physical strength for over a year – this was also exacerbated by the high diesel pollution here.

        I simply lacked stamina: one big task per day and that was it. It was extremely depressing when you are used to being actice! I imagine that those who recover from the last stage of the coronavirus will be gravely weakened.

        I suspect we are all going to get this in due course, given the infectiousness, and must hope to be among the mild cases.

      • I am afraid you are right!

    • Thanks for letting us know. The virus is definitely being passed around!

    • Chris Hamilton makes the important point that the growing economies (China, India, etc.) really need the higher wage economies to be growing as well, or they don’t have enough customers to sell to.

      Out of curiosity, I looked at the annual change in 0-60 year olds, on a worldwide basis, using the same 2019 UN data that Chris Hamilton uses. I only took my chart out to 2020, rather than extending it to 2040 using UN projections.

      My chart has a peak in 1988, which is almost the same as 1989. I think the reason for the peak then occurs 60 years earlier. Births were very low during the depression of the 1930s. They picked up a little later, but then there were other effects added as well, including the availability of antibiotics (keeping people alive longer) and the availability of birth control, reducing the number of births.

      My worldwide peak is more regular looking than the segment Chris is looking at.

      I am wondering if total population growth is also important. After all, people of all ages need to eat and have clothing. On a world basis, the annual population growth has not slowed down much at all.

      • MG says:

        His chart with 1989 and 2008 above tells a lot about the availability of the workforce, as it excludes the economies which are dependent on the influx of the immigrants and foreign workforce.

        What happend in 1989 and 2008 is that the supply of the workforce in the developed countries, which are dependent on the imported workforce, the imports of energy and raw materials and comprise the majority of the world GDP, is declining.

        “What is known before any pandemic is that the four regions of the world that make-up just 36% of global population but nearly 80% of global GDP (plus 70% of commodity / energy consumption) including East Asia (Japan, China, Taiwan, S/N Korea), Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and North America (US, Canada) all have declining under-60-year-old populations as of 2019.”

        The world is becoming weaker.

        • Right. The analysis is of people 0-60. If workforce were intended, ages 20-60 would probably be better, but it might give a similar result.

          We know that the number of children is down in these areas, but this is mostly irrelevant. Fewer children leave more mothers available for the workforce.

          • MG says:

            The problem is the care for the elderly and the disabled, not just for children. The rising number of those who need care, makes the workforce less mobile. Also the quality of the workforce is going down due to the worse conditions like food and healthcare etc. and the accumulating mutations in the population.

            That is why the benefits of the imported workforce go down and the populations like that in Great Britain feel that the immigration must be stopped.

  15. Chrome Mags says:

    Here’s a hard hitting video by an Indian woman about how China is handling the virus with neighbors being financially rewarded for turning in their neighbors for being infected, anti-corruption police being sent to Wuhan to stop word from spreading via the internet or to the press, people’s houses/apt’s being boarded up, people being dragged out of their domicile and taken to hospital warehouses, etc.

    • I agree. It is a very good video. China is taking very draconian steps, but they don’t seem to be working very well. There seems to be persecution of those who try to report on the issues.

      • Chrome Mags says:

        There seems to be persecution of those who try to report on the issues.”

        That is unfortunate because it’s the free flow of information that educates all of us on the reality of the situation. Trying to adjust the perception of reality to minimize it seems to have the opposite effect by frustrating those in the mess and those trying to get a handle on the actual truth. People tend to be smart from the standpoint that they can see enough telltale signs, like hospitals being erected, crematoriams running 24/7, doctors being silenced, those reporting on it being arrested, doors being nailed shut, people being dragged from their homes, and so on that we realize this is much worse than the official narrative and stats.

    • That’s actually pretty lame video by any standards. Rehashed fake ytubers, laps of logic in setting up the argument (strong/desperate vs. no response of gov to the huge crisis). And all veiled in the silly Indian nationalist urge “they deserve it afteral” while India remains even worse hell hole.. lolz..

  16. Sven Røgeberg says:

    «Of course, the Steyer-Bloomberg-Paulson investments are not solely responsible for the misuse of scenarios in the scientific literature, but they are clearly a significant part of the story.

    The corruption of climate science has occurred because some of our most important institutions have let us down. The scientific peer review process has failed to catch obvious methodological errors in research papers. Leading scientific assessments have ignored conflicts of interest and adopted flawed methods. The media has been selectively incurious as to the impact of big money on climate advocacy.

    This is a story of how wealth and power have corrupted science in pursuit of political goals. Climate change is important, there is no doubt. But the importance of climate change does not mean that we should abandon high standards of scientific integrity. We are going to need good science in the future — so it is best to keep it that way, no matter what cause it is enlisted to support.»

    • This article is about how a group of billionaires were able to fund an approach they liked, even though it was a misuse of the scenarios:

      The approach focused on characterizing the extreme RCP8.5 scenario as “the closest to a business-as-usual trajectory” and centered its economic analysis on that scenario: “we focus on RCP 8.5 as the pathway closest to a future without concerted action to reduce future warming.” In this way they guaranteed that the economic impacts would be eye-poppingly large.

      In my personal opinon, RCP 8.5 is absolutely absurd. To get as much fossil fuels out as it demands would require much higher prices than physics allows the economy to sustain. We would have to pull out the coal from under the North Sea and many other places.

      The article compares the approach of these billionaires to the introduction of a virus into the scientific system.

      Like the introduction of a virus, the misleading reinterpretation of climate scenarios has subsequently expanded throughout the climate science literature and into leading assessments.


      There is no hidden conspiracy, all of this is taking place in plain sight and in public. In fact, what is going on here is absolutely genius. We have a well-funded effort to fundamentally change how climate science is characterized in the academic literature, how that science is reported in the media, and ultimately how political discussions and policy options are shaped.

      This effort has been phenomenally successful.

      In my opinion, the reason why this approach has been very successful is because it gives a way for politicians to gracefully stay away from the depletion issues. Instead of looking at one problem, people are pushed into looking at a different problem.

  17. Chrome Mags says:

    “Coronavirus cruise: There are 65 newly confirmed coronavirus cases on the Diamond Princess ship docked in Japan, bringing the total number on board to 135.”

    That’s worrying because at first it seemed like they had sequestered the passengers to their cabins and spreading the virus would slow or stop, but apparently many more were infected before that occurred, due to many people being contagions without showing symptoms. The trouble for the people on that cruise is they can’t get off until the virus has run its course. With that many people on board and more infections occurring, they could be on there for months.

    It would be interesting to do a poll at a later point in time to see how many of those passengers decide to take another cruise. Likely very few.

    This is going to be a hard one to stop. Likely it can’t and the only ray of sunshine ahead would be a possible vaccine, but how far off is that?

    • Right. A CNBC article says,‘Imagine being trapped in your bathroom’ — what it’s like on coronavirus-quarantined cruise ship

      Smith, who is from Sacramento, said the crew is handling quarantine “very well.”

      “I give Princess and the captain of this vessel an A plus-plus on their response on this,” he said. “They faced a situation that I expect they had no plans for.”

      Smith, who is confined in a suite, said the ship’s crew comes by at least three times a day for meals. Sometimes they deliver medication, bottled water and fresh towels, he said.

      If patrons are being confined to their rooms, perhaps it is crew members with the virus who are spreading the virus around.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Or perhaps it is the towels. Many viruses are not killed by temperatures around 100C, so even if the towels are being boiled, they could still be vectors.

        • DB says:

          Or the ventilation system, or the plumbing system (critical to SARS spread in several Hong Kong skyscrapers), or any other objects that go in and out of quarantined persons’ rooms. If windows open, plumes of viral particles (from coughing, sneezing, breathing, speaking) could travel over and around the ship (likely key to SARS transmission between adjacent Hong Kong towers).

          • DB says:

            Actually, I think the SARS spread I mentioned was in Singapore (Amoy Gardens) rather than in Hong Kong. Maybe you were still in Singapore at the time, Robert?

            • Robert Firth says:

              Yes, DB, I was. The first case occurred early in 2002, March if memory serves. Initially, the virus was confined to the one family, but a few weeks later it had spread.

              The main response of the government was (a) to tell people to behave sensibly, and (b) to extend the school holidays as they deemed necessary (because children do not always behave sensibly). There was no panic, our orderly society remained about 95% functional, and by early 2003 it was all over. The only change in my behaviour was that I was given a medical thermometer, told to take my temperature every day, and report myself a risk if it was above a critical threshold. Happily, it never was. By the way, I still have the thermometer; my souvenir of the “plague” that wasn’t.

              Later analyses claimed Singapore had “the toughest response”. That was not my perception. The government advised people what to do, for instance not to travel to infected areas and for those infected to report their contacts. All of which was duly done. At the end of the day, fewer then 50 people died (note added in proof: online research tells me it was exactly 33).

      • Dennis L. says:

        I don’t mean to “drone” on, but in a changing world some problems can be solved with modern technology, such as being stuck on a ship without your usual wine choice. Voila, a case or two flies in.

        Cabin looks like it needs maid service, but didn’t someone mention alcohol, ETOH in particular kills the virus? A novel solution to be sure, but the man does have a smile on his face and I don’t think his isolation is going as badly as some others. One could even think of wine as an ancient psychotropic medication not sourced entirely in China.

        There is always a silver lining somewhere.

        Dennis L.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Dennis, wine has been used as an antiseptic for thousands of years. The Ancient Greeks drank water adulterated with wine, because plain water was known to be problematic. In the Middle Ages people drank mead, beer or wine; sailors mixed their water with rum. It all worked.

          By the way, Greek wine was about 6% alcohol, and it was mixed 1:2 with water. How they ever got drunk on 2% liquor is a puzzle, and they certainly did, as at Plato’s Symposium. My theory is that the yeast and my ancestors coevolved ever greater tolerance for alcohol, so the yeast can now create 14% wine, and I can drink it neat. Dionysos is a good God to serve, it seems.

    • AlfredCairns says:

      It seems that Chinese people are more vulnerable to this virus. A non ethnic Chinese woman was positive when tested. She seems to be healthy and gave an interview. (from 1:10)

      • I think we need a sample larger than one to say anything about ethnic Chinese versus other. I cannot imagine Chinese ethnicity being an important variable. People would like to think it is, however.

        I expect women, in general, tend to get the disease more lightly than others. I usually get colds more lightly than my male family members, for example.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          The higher mortality rate in Wuhan and surrounds might just be due to the local health system being overwhelmed and possibly due to a higher incidence of existing pulmonary conditions, thanks to smoking and pollution.

          Some caucasians have already developed unpleasant flu-like symptoms from the virus so being white is no guarantee of remaining asymptomatic, although I am not aware of any deaths so far.

  18. Dennis L. says:

    Mish was referenced frequently by an editor(not Gail) of the OD in years past. Generally he seems to think clearly, conclusions forecasting the future are always a challenge.

    The article below relates to the increase in SO2 levels over China.

    The comparison to the flu often comes up a quote from

    “Trains were the primary mode of transportation; the trains stopped running. So many people died, cities ran out of wood for coffins. Churches cancelled services to slow the contagion. Hospitals across America erected canvas tents to cope with unprecedented numbers of patients. Despite desperate and contradictory advice on how to quell the epidemic, no medical effort existed that could help the people.”

    This site goes on to state the estimated death toll was about 1% of the global population.
    Apparently reporting of the actual state of affairs was subdued then too. Leaders have a job to keep things running on a macro scale, and in the end, none of us make it out of here alive; so my goal is to be one of the 99% that makes it.

    Dennis L.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      “The article below relates to the increase in SO2 levels over China.”

      Seeing that signature in Wuhan is downright eery. Some kind of thing they’d stick in a B sci-fi movie, but in this case it’s real. What we don’t know exactly is; What is the rate of cremating bodies to generate that visual signature?

    • I looked up information about the Spanish Flu earlier. This is a little of it, from memory:

      It turns out that Spain Was neutral in World War I. None of the countries that were actively participating in WWI would allow stories about the flu in their papers, so the only information was from Spain. So, it was called the Spanish Flu.

      WWI was at a time when the economy was doing poorly. The UK in particular was struggling with Peak Coal. Wages were too low for coal miners. They could make more money volunteering to serve in the war. Death rates in mines were high; the war wouldn’t necessarily be worse. Nutrition levels in the UK were probably low, before the war started, so young men were more vulnerable than they otherwise would have been to any virus.

      • Xabier says:

        The rations fed to the troops were also very poor, and often lacking due to bombardments.

        It was common for for ordinary soldiers to feed themselves up when they could at French cafes with eggs and chips and a glass of rather poor wine: a friend of mine remembers an old boy who had been a soldier telling him in the 1940’s how good the ‘oofs, frits an vin blonk’ were.

        Officers were better fed, on the whole, and usually ate very well indeed on leave.

  19. Tim Groves says:

    Wim Röst assumes that a virus is the cause of this epidemic, but theorizes that the path of infection explains why some people are affected more seriously than others. His idea is that if you contract it orally so that it begins as a gastrointestinal infection, your body will be able to mount a more effective immune response to it than if you breathe it in and get a chest infection.

    Becoming infected in Wuhan is more dangerous than becoming infected elsewhere

    Outside Mainland China, the disease has resulted in death only in Hong Kong and the Philippines. Both victims traveled from Wuhan in the province of Hubei where they were infected.*

    Outside of the province of Hubei (the origin of the epidemic) contamination by the virus seems to be much less deadly for individuals that were contaminated. Outside the province of Hubei there are only 14 deaths, out of a total of 563** deaths. Nearly all of that small number of deaths, in the rest of Mainland China, seem to have been infected in or near Wuhan, Hubei.

    This leads to the simple conclusion that individuals that have been infected in Wuhan are at greater risk than people that are infected outside Wuhan.

    The question is: why?

    Types of infections

    From tuberculosis we know that there are two main types: the so called ‘open tbc’ and ‘closed tbc’. Open tbc (lungs involved) is very contaminating and the consequences are far more severe.

    For the Wuhan coronavirus various ways of contamination are proposed ***:

    Spread from person to person through respiratory droplets emitted by coughing or sneezing.
    Airborne – meaning: the virus is able to travel across a large room.
    The fecal-oral route. Viruses from a diarrhea can be transmitted by hands or other means to the respiratory system of the infected person.
    This analysis leads to the conclusion that a fourth one should be added:

    4. The fecal-manual route. A first infection in the digestive system of the first person is transmitted by ‘shaking hands’ with secondary persons that may transmit the infection to their own digestive system, causing a primary reaction like diarrhea….

  20. Tim Groves says:

    For a rather more sanguine and cynical view of the current coronavirus epidemic, let’s turn to John Rappaport, who reminds us that some sources have estimated pneumonia is responsible for 2.8 million to 17 million deaths annually in China, and that you don’t need to catch a virus to die of pneumonia.

    He also repeats a quote from the lancet that globally “about 200 million cases of viral community-acquired pneumonia occur every year—100 million in children and 100 million in adults.”

    During 30 years of investigating “epidemics,” I’ve looked for causes that have nothing to do with the latest and greatest virus.

    In other words, what else could be causing the symptoms of the illness?

    In the current “coronavirus epidemic,” the one condition that has been emphasized is: pneumonia.

    Standard medical texts will tell you that viruses, bacteria, and fungi can cause pneumonia. Add to that, heavily polluted toxic air (as in Wuhan and other Chinese cities). Add in extreme malnutrition. YOU DON’T NEED A CORONAVIRUS TO EXPLAIN CASES OF PNEUMONIA IN CHINA.

    All right. So how many deaths from pneumonia occurred in China well before the “appearance of the coronavirus?”

    Estimates vary. Here is one, based on an analysis of studies: 2.8 million to 17 million deaths per year. Source: “Pneumonia Incidence and Mortality in Mainland China: Systematic Review of Chinese and English Literature, 1985-2008” (PLoS one, 2010).

    Notice the dates—1985-2008, long before the supposed coronavirus showed up. Before 5G technology, before a biowar research lab ramped up in Wuhan.

    2.8 million to 17 million deaths. No need for a mysterious virus.

    • Xabier says:

      There are of course numerous routes to pneumonia, including the average English Spring day.

      I am sure that one factor which does not bode well for the Chinese is lungs already reduced in capacity by such heavy pollution in their cities -this also leads to heart damage long-term.

      • Chrome Mags says:

        “I am sure that one factor which does not bode well for the Chinese is lungs already reduced in capacity by such heavy pollution in their cities -this also leads to heart damage long-term.”

        That’s an interesting point. How much is the critically sick/mortality rate increased from reduced lung efficiency due to cumulative damage from breathing particulates?

    • China has 800,000 cases of tuberculosis according to a CDC site I found earlier. Besides this, it has an air pollution problem.

      Something else is going on, to cause the big recent problem.

    • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “2.8 million to 17 million deaths. No need for a mysterious virus.”

      China 1.4 billion people… if 2% die per year, that’s 28 million dead…

      2.8 million fits neatly as 10% of all death would be by pneumonia…

      the 17 million per year seems irrationally high…

      now 2020:

      Wuhan 11 million people, so about 1% of the total Chinese population…

      1,000 confirmed dead… if all China was equally infected, that would be 100,000 dead in about two months…

      in 20 months = 1,000,000 dead…

      if it’s 10x worse than reported = 10 million dead…

      if it’s 100x worse = 100 million dead…

      to be continued…

      • Tim Groves says:

        I tend to agree with you on this. The official Wuhan numbers are bad and the projections would be terrifying if projected onto the entire Chinese or the entire world population.

        But at present, a thousand dead out of 11 million population is a little under one in 10,000 of the total Wuhan population or less than 1% of the total likely deaths there each year.

        I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  21. Tim Groves says:

    Off topic

    It seems apologies are in order, Norman. You were right! A Harvard University prof agrees with your view that Trump is the new Caligula.

    Yale history professor Glenda Gilmore is sounding the alarm that President Trump’s prospective executive order to favor classical architecture for new federal construction projects is one of the “warning signs” of “fascism” and even “genocide.”

    “This may not seem like the most dangerous thing we face, but it’s one of the warning signs of fascism and…wait for it…genocide,” Gilmore tweeted on Saturday, linking to a piece from the New York Times criticizing the move. “The cult of antiquity & the imposition of monuments to a nation’s mythical glorious past precede both of those disasters.”

    I shudder to think what will happen to Blighty if and when that classical architecture aficionado Charles III finally gets to sit on the Stone of Scone.

    • Xabier says:

      Poor Prof. Glenda, no doubt she looks for Trumpolini under her bed, too. In hope, maybe?

      Further evidence of the decay of academic standards.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Let us hope Charles III begins his reign by tearing down most of what has been built in Britain in the last 50 years. Before it rots, catches fire, or falls down of its own accord, and most “modern” architecture seems to do.

      Perhaps then the architects will rediscover sacred geometry, which is grounded in the mathematical theory of proportion, and so is eternal.

    • NikoB says:

      Kunstler talks about it today.
      I tend to think that there was a different perspectitive on architecture in 1939 than in 2020.
      Today we have had to live with most of the god awful modernist buildings and might find our selves preferring something on a more human scale with design that we can relate to rather than feel alienated by.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Thank you, I just read his article. My view of architecture goes back to 15 BC, to Vitruvius ‘De architectura’. The three key qualities of a building are “utilitas, firmitas and venustas”; ie usefulness, strength, and beauty. Modern architecture has none of these qualities, which at least give me hope it will fall down. Sydney Opera House, for instance, having overrun its construction budget by *fourteen times*, to $80 million, now needs an estimated $300 million in refurbishment, an estimate that is almost certainly a vast understatement. Far cheaper to tear it down and start over.

        By the way, tiny Gozo, population 31,000, has two opera houses, both charmingly neoclassical.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Caligula, for all his faults, was excellent at improving the infrastructure of the Empire. He built two new aqueducts (Aqua Claudia and Anio Novus), extended the harbourworks at Rhegium and Syracuse, and finished the Temple of Augustus. Major achievements. Of course, he also had sex with his sisters, which should perhaps earn the approval of “woke” commentators.

  22. Dennis L. says:

    More economic strain on Chinese family budgets.

    China’s coronavirus outbreak has delayed the launch of new pig breeding facilities and put even more pressure on pork supplies and prices, an official with the agriculture ministry told a briefing on Sunday.” From Successful Farmer.

    Many/most/all pig farmers are very reluctant to have a “guest” in their facilities. Disposable booties, coveralls, masks, and head covers are the rule. For those who think this is too “confining,” in Germany there is great concern the swine flu will come with feral pigs migrating from the south.

    Feral is natural, some deer have nasty diseases, very natural.

    Dennis L.

    • I can’t imagine that construction workers and factory workers are getting pay for the time that they are out sick or locked down. That would create a huge problem as well.

  23. The cruise ship off of Japan where people are being quarantined gives a mini-lab of how the incidence rises, even when those who seem to have the disease are immediately removed.

    The WSJ now reports, Coronavirus Cases on Cruise Ship Climb to 136

    This is the ship with 3700 passengers and crew, even as obviously sick passengers are removed.

    The number of cases identified goes up, day after day:
    Day 1 – 10 cases
    Day 2 – 10 cases; 20 total
    Day 3 – 41 cases; 61 total
    Day 4 – 9 cases; 70 total
    Day 5 – 66 cases; 136 total (later revised to 65 cases, 165 total)

    According to the article, “Authorities have been testing only those who have a fever or other reason to suspect infection.”

    • Xabier says:

      The mental strain on that ship must be awful. I feel we can thank the authorities for their honest reporting in this instance.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      Gail, Yes, we are seeing a test of sorts as to how the virus had spread between people before they were sequestered to their cabins. But also, these people are now in a world of hurt because they likely will be on that cruise ship for months as the virus runs it’s course.

  24. Xabier says:

    After recently crawling as far as he could possibly go up the nether regions of Xi, and arguing against travel restrictions of any kind, the head of the WHO now tells us what we all knew was coming, that the few cases outside China are ‘only the tip of the ice-berg’.

    I have only one uncharitable thought in my mind: that this virus somehow reaches this vile and mendacious, over-paid and index-linked pensioned, apparatchik in his Geneva bunker and does him in.

    Not charitable, and not Christian, but how I feel. It would only be justice.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      “…the head of the WHO now tells us what we all knew was coming, that the few cases outside China are ‘only the tip of the ice-berg’. I have only one uncharitable thought in my mind: that this virus somehow reaches this vile and mendacious, over-paid and index-linked pensioned, apparatchik in his Geneva bunker and does him in.”

      I agree, because the WHo response time on this was abysmal. Time is of the essence whenever a new virus is spreading, because the luxury of waiting to find out how transmissible it is, as international flight continue unabated from the infected area, is not a luxury us regular people have.

      • Xabier says:

        The thing is, I know just how well the top WHO people live in Geneva, hence my disgust with his sycophantic approach to China after the atrocious delays in their response.

        It went too far, even though one must allow for the need to avoid a general panic.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Xabier, I would dismantle the WHO neck by neck, stone by stone, throw the bodies into a ditch, grind the stones to powder, and sow the land on which they stood with salt. They are proven enemies of humanity and of Nature.

    • I looked on the WHO site and didn’t see any evidence of statements of this type. Just more of what we had seen in the past.

      I did find a reference using Google:

      On Sunday, the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged all countries to “step up efforts to prepare” for the international spread of coronavirus and encouraged leaders to share information about the outbreak in “real time” with the U.N.’s agency for public health. While pushing for donors to hit the fundraising goal of $675 million, Adhanom, Ethiopia’s former minister of health, provided a disconcerting perspective: Though he reiterated his “call for calm,” he also stated that the current level of the virus’s outbreak “may only be … the tip of the iceberg.”

      The article also references a couple of the Director-General’s tweets about the issue.

      The article also says,

      Foreign Policy senior editor James Palmer forwarded an idea that complements the WHO head’s suggestion that the global health crisis could worsen: “Notice how the coronavirus cases we’re seeing abroad are in the settings of the rich, such as cruise ships and ski resorts and business conferences? That probably means cases are going undetected among the poor.”

  25. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    This might be like some places China is NOW…God help us…just kidding about the God part…doubt “he” really cares….
    IndustrialRevolution #Hygiene #WeirdHistory
    What Hygiene Was Like During the Industrial Revolution

    We all “won” the lottery in being born here and now and in BAU land!👴
    Yes, I AM I. A Happy Place!

    • Interesting video about Industrial Revolution Hygiene. Of course, fixing the hygiene problem only led to a different issue: too much population relative to resources. This seems to have been related to the US Civil War, and perhaps wars in Europe too.

      It seems like a person can’t fix one problem without creating another one.

  26. Xabier says:

    Correction: Beijing under ‘partial’ lock-down.

  27. Xabier says:

    Beijing itself apparently now on lock-down: highly suggestive of the aggressiveness of the virus despite the severe containment measures, I should say.

    News on the advertised re-starting of industrial production in China seems ambiguous at best.

    Interesting that major companies are pulling out of a tech trade fair in Barcelona, due to….. FEAR.


    On a lighter, slightly surreal, note, guests on Bill Gates’ newly-commissioned $500 m mega yacht, powered by hydrogen – one fuelling takes it across the Atlantic – will be able to enjoy a Clean Green (TM) conscience, as the on-deck fire-bowls will burn an innovative ‘eco-friendly’ gel, not nasty old charcoal or wood. How lovely; dressed no doubt, in sustainable vegetable-dyed linens….

    When it finally goes to the breakers in a very, very poor country, I am sure the poor devils who cut it up will appreciate his magnificent gesture towards Mother Earth.

    If anyone suspects that my sense of humour is rather cynical, even dark, they may well be correct.

    Frankly, China looks awful, and our thoughts should be with the poor people going slowly mad in their homes, and dying in the crude facilities to which they are being ungently herded.

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Interesting that major companies are pulling out of a tech trade fair in Barcelona, due to….. FEAR.”

      We’ll see a lot more such cancellations, I’m sure, Xabier.

      “Organizers scrambled on Sunday to shore up the Singapore Airshow, which is going ahead under a cloud of health and economic concerns after dozens of exhibitors pulled out of Asia’s largest aerospace gathering due to coronavirus fears.

      “Few deals are expected at the biennial event…”

      • Xabier says:

        Good to see that some people have brains and don’t believe the spin on this ‘no worse than the flu’ virus.

        I see we can now be forcibly quarantined in the UK: on your island paradise, you and your clan got there first, Sir Harry!

        If I peg it, please repopulate the world in my honour. 🙂

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          Prone as I am to bouts of libidinous megalomania, the idea is not an unappealing one, Xabier, but I would worry that a version of humanity with me as progenitor would make an even worse hash of things than the current lot.

          • Xabier says:

            As you so modestly decline, I shall have to do my utmost to survive in order to complete the mission, for the good of all……

            They may need a good swig of whisky in order to submit happily, so do keep production going up there. Come to think of it, I may need some myself!

            The middle-aged brother of a friend went mad a while back, and declared that it was his duty to impregnate as many young females as possible, due to his undoubted genius. His campaign did not get very far.

            • Harry McGibbs says:

              Yes, I imagine the poor chap got more than his share of ‘swipes to the left’ if that was the substance of his on-line dating profile. Eugenics tends not to play well with the snowflake generation.

    • Do you have links on the Beijing Lock-down?

      I know that there have been some “work from home” suggestions.

      • Xabier says:

        Sorry, no, I just read everything and summarise, but I believe it was mentioned on Zero-hedge.

        Only partial, as far as I recall, in that people can still move about freely in the city and are not locked in their homes, yet.

        I think they have to report their temperatures though.

        Sensible move, really.

  28. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The virus that has spread through much of China has yet to be confirmed in Africa but global health authorities are worried about the threat to the continent where an estimated 1 million Chinese now live, as some health workers on the ground warn they are not ready to handle an outbreak.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Central bankers in Africa are joining a chorus of voices, which includes the International Monetary Fund, who are worried about surging public debt levels on the continent.”

    • friend of mine living on Canary Islands confirmed the first case there

    • Yes, the above linked ZH article interviewing the ICU doc mentions one Wuhan region ordinary hospital with ~70% infection rate among the staffers due to “going naked” with no protection vs ICU hospital with at least some gear and training. Now, let’s say the virus itself could be ~5-20% mortal rate for infected, so combining with that ~70% unprepared hospitals example statistics this would wipe any 2.5-3rd RoW country hospital system (ala African) in very short order..

    • Denial says:

      I thought the virus won’t thrive in hot humid climates….

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        Coronaviruses are supposed to be winter viruses, which favour cold and dry weather.

        Thailand currently has 654 cases of 2019-nCoV under investigation and 32 confirmed infected but I don’t what the situation is with transmission within Thailand. Bangkok temperatures are well into the 90’s F this week, so it will be an interesting test case for the heat tolerance of this particular coronavirus.

  29. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Uncertainty about work resuming at factories in China is setting in, with provinces or cities posting different dates for an extended shutdown as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread.

    “Authorities had initially said operations could pick up again on Monday, but the already-extended delay in reopening could be dragged out even further for many factories — including Apple’s largest manufacturer Foxconn.

    “Even if businesses were up and running again, their workers would still have to fulfill quarantine requirements of around two weeks.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “[Some economists are] warning that if the virus continues to spread and Chinese activity remains deeply disrupted for months, a contraction of the global economy is not impossible, particularly as central banks have little effective monetary ammunition for emergencies.

      “There is a risk that an adverse feedback mechanism and limited space for policy response could push the global economy towards recession,” said Christian Keller, the head of economics research at Barclays.”

      • Robert Firth says:

        Sigh. Another idiot economist. If the factories are closed,no amount of “stimulus” will create the products that are no longer being made. If the supply chains collapse, no amount of “stimulus” will move one gram of good one centimeter towards its intended consumer. There are only two ways forward: relocalise, or go without.

      • All of these folks expect not too big an impact on the world economy, it seems like.

  30. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Minsky Moment” crises occur because investors, engaging in excessively aggressive speculation, take on additional credit risk during prosperous times, or bull markets.

    “The International Monetary Fund has been issuing global warnings of high debt levels and slowing global economic growth, which has the potential to result in Minsky Moment crises around the globe…

    “At some point, a reversion process will take hold. It is when investor ‘psychology’ collides with ‘leverage and the problems associated with market liquidity. It will be the equivalent of striking a match, lighting a stick of dynamite, and throwing it into a tanker full of gasoline.

    “…the next “Minsky Moment” is inevitable. All that is missing is the catalyst to start the ball rolling. An unexpected recession would more than likely due to trick.”

  31. What a busy schedule near term folks..

    ~2020 Wuhan Pandemics
    ~2025 Surplus/OFW threshold of MMT/QE no longer capable to hide energy problems
    ~2030 Zharkova Solar Minimum at its strongest point (not quite but almost strong as Maunder Min)

    • Tim Groves says:

      Ode to the Scheduled Competitors at this Summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo
      (with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

      Fukushima radiation to the left of them
      Wuhan virus to right of them
      Global warming before them
      No Russians behind them
      Into the valley of death rode the brave eleven thousand

      • I wonder how many Olympic visitors there will be. Not many, I am afraid.

        • Tim Groves says:

          I can see the games being postponed or cancelled this year, actually.

          • Cancelling the games would be a big hit to GDP, I expect. Of course some of the funds that would have been spent probably already have been spent. A stadium that is built, even though it isn’t needed for non-olympic purposes, would still be considered part of GDP, I expect. It doesn’t matter if there is no revenue to offset the cost.

  32. MG says:

    When we see the deteriorating quality of the human population, namely the increase of the elderly population that faces the lack of caregivers, the children with inborn defects that need to be repaired by the high-tech medicine, the working population that is not properly fed and works under constant stress and rising requirements, every deadly virus must be welcome with joy as redemption from this hell of rising complexity that we can not keep pace with.

    • Most people would not see it this way, even if it is true. Collapses in the past opened up opportunities for the young. There are different ways of seeing every story.

      • Chrome Mags says:

        “Collapses in the past opened up opportunities for the young.”

        That’s usually the case, however this coming collapse at the end of the oil age will be on the tail end of a 150 year unprecedented expansion in civilization and population. The bottleneck will be narrow and the majority of city/urbanites won’t get through, so it will be collapse on a scale never before witnessed.

        I’m wondering if the monetary injections, beyond the regular infusions to extend BAU, that are now needed to try and overcome reduced economic activity due to the Corona Virus mainly in China (the world’s manuf. hub), will be the straw that breaks the CB camel’s back.

        The irony of that would be future historians might get the narrative wrong, by concluding economic collapse came at the hands of an epidemic, when in reality the epidemic will just be the final nail in the coffin of the oil age that was coming sooner or later.

        • Xabier says:

          In earlier stages of civilisation, youth and muscle were prime assets and you could get work when gaps in the workforce opened; and if you were one of the rare very skilled workers left and not just a labourer, even more so. Plagues were indeed an opportunity. Not so much now.

          • Yep, it was often a career (social status) fast track.
            For example wider family of craftsman loosing some of their own kids, would adopt kids – future apprentices, and who possibly as adults could take over the biz with the proviso in written contract obligation of paying rents to widows of former boss (or marrying into the family) etc.. Lot of historical account and literature on these twists of (miss)fortune.

            • Xabier says:

              Quite so: in a traditional business or craft workshop, the death of the boss or the male heir was very often one’s step up in life. It was always very good policy to get friendly with the owner’s wife, for whatever reason….

    • DJ says:

      In Sweden
      115 000 born
      2 500 assisted conceivment
      20 000 cesarians

      20% of the babies wouldnt even be here without high tech.

      Without almost 100% safe cesarians as backups, many would maybe even not want to try.

      • Inside IC hubs are %%cesarians done of choice(frivolous luxury) not as necessity.
        But your overall point is correct, let’s say it’s ~15% babies thanks to high tech medical, and perhaps at least ~30% overall thanks to prevailing sanitary conditions and edu as well as healthy-strong nourished mothers throughout the pregnancy itself..

      • Robert Firth says:

        DJ, I am not so sure. In Sweden, and in the UK, and probably in most countries where the government runs the health system, caesarians are forced on pregnant women to ensure they do not give birth during weekends or holidays, thereby inconveniencing the medical staff. Remember that in every government run agency, the primary beneficiaries are the managers and workers, not he “customers”.

        • Planned caesarians and intentionally “induced” labors (leading hopefully to normal deliveries, but often leading to c-sections) used to be standard in the US just before holidays as well. I am not certain whether this is still true today. There have been medical articles discouraging the practice.

          I had one of my children on December 17, back about 40 years ago. The maternity ward was full of mothers of babies whose birth date had artificially been moved up a little.

          The share of births by C-section varies greatly around the world. This reference says that in the US, 32% of births were by c-section in 2015.

          In comparison 27% of births in Western Europe were by c-section, and 4% of births in Central and Western Africa were by C-section. The above reference says:

          In 2015, WHO released a statement indicating that “at population level, caesarean section rates higher than 10% were not associated with reductions in maternal and newborn mortality rates” and that “every effort should be made to provide caesarean sections to women in need, rather than striving to achieve a specific rate.

          • DJ says:

            Any day know the days a mother can go over time before induced inception will be cut in Sweden.

            That will improve child mortality is claimed. Despite many more births will end with vacuum extraction.

            Anyhow- the babies get cute alien shaped heads. But it passes away after a few months.

            • One of my babies came two weeks after expected. Is this the kind of thing that induced inception is trying to eliminate? I suppose the idea would be that late babies might be bigger than on-time babies, and thus have more problems getting through the birth canal. Induction would hopefully lead to fewer oversized babies, with difficulty getting out.

              My late baby wasn’t particularly big. He was quite long and had very big feet. He is now tall and wears long shoes. He needs to order shoes online, because few stores carry his size.

        • DJ says:

          No, cesarians aren’t forced because of scheduling constraints:)

          They encourage a planned cesarian if the birth is expected to be hard and end up with an emergency cesarian.

          Artificially started births are of course scheduled to avoid weekends and holidays.

          If I remember correctly half cesarians we’re dexided beforehand, mother not really suited for giving birth, not wanting to become wide and loose, or just chosing “wake me up when it is over”

          • In the US, second and third births, after the first birth has been a c-section, are commonly scheduled in advance (or at least, this used to be the case). I know that there is medical literature claiming that vaginal deliveries can work after c-sections, but doctors don’t like trying this.

  33. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    Ah, that’s too bad…
    Shipping Is Getting Smashed by Coronavirus in More Ways Than One
    (Bloomberg) — The shipping industry tends to do badly when Chinese demand disappoints, but the outbreak of the coronavirus has done more than just damage the amount of cargo that needs to be transported. It’s also preventing many owners from making their ships commercially viable.

    Giant Capesize carriers that take iron ore and coal to China are now earning just $2,660 a day, according to the Baltic Exchange in London. That’s a fraction of what they need even to pay their crew, and 93% below a 2019 peak. Supertankers transporting 2 million-barrel cargoes of crude have collapsed about 95% from their high point last year.

    That’s bad enough, but for a big part of the shipping industry the virus is presenting additional woes: many owners urgently need to have their vessels fitted with equipment called scrubbers at shipyards in China. The kit allows carriers to keep legally burning fuel that would save them millions of dollars a year. The coronavirus is preventing such installations, according to DHT Tanker Holdings Ltd., a vessel owner.

    “Getting people and parts to the yards for installation has been a massive quagmire,” because of the outbreak, said Randy Giveans, senior vice president for equity research at Jefferies LLC in Houston.

    From Jan. 1, vessels had to cut emissions of sulfur oxides. As that happened, the cost of ship-fuel that was prevalent last year collapsed because it contained too much of the pollutant. The new variety surged in price. Some owners gleaned a big commercial edge by fitting the scrubbers in advance of the new rules, allowing them to continue burning the cheaper old product. Now others are rushing to get their own fleets refitted.

    Coronavirus is closing down retrofit yards in China — naturally extending the waiting time for ships with a slot time for a retrofit,” said Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at industry group BIMCO. “The uncertainty of how long this is going to take is massiveCoronavirus is closing down retrofit yards in China — naturally extending the waiting time for ships with a slot time for a retrofit,” said Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at industry group BIMCO. “The uncertainty of how long this is going to take is massive.

    The Cosmos needs a rest…..

    • Prices for shipping are one of the first things to fall.

      Oil prices also fall. I see WTI is down to $49.56.

      The Euro seems to fall also. Its relativity to the dollar keeps falling.

      The US stock market (+134 now) and the Shanghai Composite Index seem to so far be doing well. It may be that the “Plunge Protection Teams” are hard at work at keeping the most easily affected stock markets rising.

  34. Denial says:

    Why are so few people stateside and outside china dying? I still don’t see the numbers??? In this day and age you have to be careful about any “news organisation” stories can be and will be manipulated. Maybe the chinese economy is failing and this is a way to start with martial law before it happens…but When I start to read about hundreds of people outside of china dying then yes I will say this is serious….Something is not adding up about this story… I see maybe 2 deaths out of 450 cases? That is a very low death rate for a virus to freak out about….I smell a rat….not a bat…

    • I think it takes three weeks to a month for a person to die of the disease, after they are exposed. The first exposures were in the Wuhan area, so they are the ones getting the first deaths.

      After a person is exposed, he first has to come down with a cough and a few other symptoms, perhaps a fever. Some patients get well, after these early stages. But some patients go farther and farther downhill. Coming down with the first symptoms can take as long as 14 days. The whole process can take quite a while.

    • Dennis L. says:

      I don’t know if this is accurate, there is really no way to fact check it, but it seems to make sense, The Straits Times is a good newspaper. “The Straits Times is an English-language daily broadsheet newspaper based in Singapore currently owned by Singapore Press Holdings. The Sunday Times is the Sunday edition of the newspaper. It was established on 15 July 1845 as The Straits Times and Singapore Journal of Commerce.”

      This article has gone through several versions, the original was in
      To read this article requires a subscription.

      A summary appears here, well it too is long and has a different viewpoint but it might help understand ZeroHedge a bit better.
      ZeroHedge does a great deal of the leg work on things and with a bit of effort what they write can generally be traced back to sources.

      The SO2 plum over Wuhan possibly indicates the cremation of a great number of bodies.

      This virus might well be the “Black Swan” of Taleb. The ecosystem is stressed, maybe this is , is, is, mere speculation. What a hell hole those two cruise ships must be.

      If you are in a hurry, skip down to the last paragraph in ZeroHedge, hospital staff going naked – humans when the chips are down can do some of the most noble things.

      Dennis L.

      • The first article you link to seems to give pretty good information about the virus. Usually, the critical period for recovery is about the second week. By that time, the patient’s immune system should have started to kick in and get rid of the virus. But in some, this doesn’t happen, and the patients start spiraling downhill. If lots of medical equipment is available (and perhaps some drugs, I would add), some/many these folks can recover. But with limited resources, quite a few die.

      • The ZeroHedge article gives more details about the progression of the disease in the hospital. It also mentions the shortage of equipment of all kinds, and the shortage of hospital bed.

        A shortage of protective gear is a major problem. According to the article,

        He [the Medical Director] found that two-thirds of the medical staff in the ICU were already infected.

        It is hard to keep up the effort when the medical staff are catching the disease as well!

    • Xabier says:

      Still too early: there is quite a long incubation/infectious without symptoms period, most cases are mild and wouldn’t even go to a doctor, just tough it out as ‘flu’.

      The next few weeks will be decisive outside China.

      Still no cases here, despite the large Chinese student population, which is encouraging for now.

  35. Yoshua says:

    Xi Jinping is supported by a power structure that controls China’s high tech industries and which are part of Xi’s Made in China 2025 vision.

    The high tech industries will operate normally, while toys and clothing industries will remain closed.

    Foxconn will remain closed as well, which will cause problems for China’s high tech competitors.

    China’s army is now controlling the quarantined zones. With half of hogs gone, now half of population will disappear as well? There are reports that the Triads spread the African Swine Fever.

    Xi Jinping’s vision of Rejuvenation and Made in China 2025 is being implemented? China’s energy reserves would last longer with a smaller and younger population in a high tech society?

    • China will make only the things that they can use in their own supply lines, I am afraid. Those intended for export for use in other people’s supply lines won’t get the same priority.

  36. grayfox says:

    Excellent points, Gail.
    I especially like the last 2 paragraphs – well written.

  37. Xabier says:

    If this were to bring down the CCP at long last, there would perhaps a positive side to all of this: but they have a history of triumphing over piles of the dead.

    Even with his appalling record of murder, the common state-sanctioned saying in China now is ‘Mao was 80% right, not 100% as we used to believe!’ Mostly right, you see only human…….

    • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

      If it brings down another “great superpower” that too would be a positive side to all this!

      After all it is known up to now Chinamerica😘😜

    • Chrome Mags says:

      I tried to post this but it’s not showing, so this could be a 2nd posting:

      Xabier, had to reply down here because thread up above ran out of reply opportunities. That sounds like a good explanation for why mortality is higher. Also interesting your fight with pneumonia. A couple years back I got a pneumonia vaccine. Hope it helps if Corona comes to our area.

      Just found this YouTube link that discusses where the virus originated, either from a wet market or the bioweapons lab, which she says is 20 miles away. She says the concern regarding a lab is that the virus fits human cells. They contacted the lab, and the person in charge said he denied the lab having anything to do with the virus, but did not answer the question regarding this virus fitting on to human cells. So his limited response has to make one wonder if it was lab created or naturally just happened to make that jump from bat to human.

      That’s the same woman in the YouTube video regarding the numbers of infected, etc. I’ll be looking for her from now on, because she seems to have good info. and asks hard questions.

      • Chrome Mags says:

        That video shows a family with the virus forcibly being removed from their home. One guy required four men to get him out. My understanding is the authorities are going house to house to test people and then remove them to one of those warehouse hospitals if test positive for the virus.

        • That interviewed dude was a classic system trawler..
          Trust WHO! Don’t buy for yourself any preventive supplies, they are much needed in China..
          Little spillage of pandemics here and there (e.g. school in Alps) happen, don’t worry.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Chrome Mags, we have an almost perfect real world test of the true danger of the Wuhan corona virus: the quarantined cruise ships. To be honest, I find this an horrific scenario, akin to being trapped in a walled city when the Black Death hits.

          But in essence, everyone on those ships will be exposed to the virus, since their architecture makes quarantining the infected impossible. That will tell us the speed of spread, the number of new infections per victim, and eventually the recovery rate. Then, at last, we might learn the truth.

          These are the critical parameters: (1) how many people will be exposed for each infected person? Simple Markov modelling will tell us this. (2) how many exposed will acquire the disease? That is the crucial parameter, because it is the one that differentiates a nuisance from a pandemic. And I fear the number will be larger than we currently imagine. And finally (3) how many of those infected will recover, and how many will not.

      • Xabier says:

        Makes one reflect that virus labs should be in a desert somewhere, not in the middle of densely populated areas.

        The irony if all of this stems from an experimental vaccine programme…..

        • Chrome Mags says:

          “The irony if all of this stems from an experimental vaccine programme…..”

          Wow, hadn’t thought of that possibility. The women in the video says that lab has a history of mishaps. It’s starting to sound more and more like the lab is the culprit, but it also seems like virologists in other countries should be able to analyze its structure to help make the determination as to whether or not it was engineered. Likely the truth will surface sooner or later.

        • Dennis L. says:

          May I suggest any of the deserts on Mars, sufficient food and water for the trip to Mars, non reusable rocketship/space plane. Very reasonable tickets for those who wish to devote their lives to such experiments; one way reasonable tickets of course.

          As I recall, there are numerous Biblical admonitions about playing with fire, a contemporary quote might go along the lines, “A mans got to know his limitations.”

          Dennis L.

      • Denial says:

        I get it but something about that woman seems fake…..the voice does not match the body….not sure what to think about that….Why not use a real person?

        • Chrome Mags says:

          I think that is her real voice, just unusual sounding. Here’s another video by the same woman. She says people are having wood planks nailed over their doors so they can’t leave (but don’t door open in?). Also, people are fleeing to a province that still doesn’t have lock down. People dying in the streets, also a single parent’s challenged kid died from neglect while the single male parent was in forced quarantine. Getting very dystopian over there. Worse than a made for TV movie.

          • This is a link to the ADV China video I linked to before. It was made on January 30. It has two Americans who are married to Chinese women as narrators. It shows bars being nailed over doors.

            Most of the rest of the video is not as disturbing.

            • Gail these two guys are well suspected alphabet agencies (on the ground then) helpers in color revolution and foreign meddling. They even had to acknowledge lot of the wet markets they showed previously was decade+ old footage (closed by govs already pre Wuhan)..

            • Xabier says:

              I’d have to disagree with the ADV China people possibly being planted ‘colour revolution’ types: I’ve followed them for a few years,and they have actually put out lots of quite positive stuff on China.

              Their video on what they used to love about China, and how it is changing is excellent. A Brit I know -acknowledged published expert on the Chinese economy – who was married to a Chinese model followed the same trajectory of disillusionment, largely due to the omnipresent corruption and cynicism of Chinese people, resulting from the Mao years and their experience of the CCP.

              I’ve also cross-referenced their assertions with other people who know China well, and they have generally confirmed what they say.

              That said, one has to be aware that they might go for exaggeration just now so as to gain views – it is a commercial site, not a public service after all.

              But the CIA is not always under one’s bed: Putin is of course already there ….. 🙂

            • We agree to disagree here though.
              On the Chinese-Asian specifics, my sources tell me that there are several strange clues, like disrespecting-trash talking their wider families, especially only after they relocated back to W etc. In terms of my own deduction, these guys are simply front running too many of the meddling scripts from HK/TW msm sources to be genuine or impartial.

              Anyway, the bottom line remains the same, as I mentioned weeks before, even despite trade disruptions the act of demoting China status (to a degree) would provide several extra months – years of elevated living standards for other IC hubs, so why should one look for balanced referee.. me included..

      • The situation in China is clearly pretty awful. China can’t tell its own people how bad it is. It also can’t tell the rest of the world how bad it is. Eventually, the truth will come out. Now we can only figure out a little of what is happening out at a time.

        • Tim Groves says:

          The Coronavirus story is one of the best cases of conditioning we’ve seen in a long time. Health scares and quarantine requirements are the perfect excuse for authoritarian governments because they allow those in charge to set aside every form of due process there is.

          Are we going to see this sort of thing happening in the West next? Are we now being acclimatized or conditioned to accepting that uniformed officials can come along and seize our persons and our property or to “medicate” or “isolate” us “for the common good”, without us being under suspicion of committing any crime?

          That’s what I think they are going to do. We are all set to become wards of state, incapable of making our own decisions, but we aren’t going worry because the government will take care of everything. We are going to approve of this wholeheartedly. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. And China is looking like Ground Zero for beta-testing this new utopia.

          • Xabier says:

            Their aim is a condition of ‘learned helplessness’ for the mass of citizens, I’d agree.

            I notice that this was a term used by the two US psychologists who designed the Guantanamo torture system, and that used elsewhere by the US.

            People will always tend to accept the ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ meme, whether it is the economy or epidemics.

          • This is a frightening situation!

        • Xabier says:

          The CCP clearly are afraid of total economic seizure, global popular ostracism, and the exposure of gross incompetence and corruption.

          They have no incentive to tell the truth to anyone, and can control census stats, etc, after the epidemic is over to hide the real death-toll – just as the Nazis planned to do post-WW2, and would have done if they won.

          Ashes tell no tales……

          The information which is coming out about surveillance methods is fascinating.

  38. Xabier says:

    An engineered bio-weapon aimed at a civilian population would not have to have be as deadly as a battlefield nerve agent (a minute or so after exposure you are incapacitated or dead): it would merely have to overwhelm medical services over several weeks with a higher than usual severe complications rate, and create fear and disruption = economic collapse.

    Analagous to bombing infrastructure -eg Iraq – so as to induce total collapse, killing civilians indirectly.

    This may be what we are seeing in China; released accidentally.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      “…if serious complications develop it requires very intensive care, that would be impossible for large numbers, and the mortality rate would therefore rise dramatically as a logical consequence.”

      Xabier, had to reply down here because thread up above ran out of reply opportunities. That sounds like a good explanation for why mortality is higher. Also interesting your fight with pneumonia. A couple years back I got a pneumonia vaccine. Hope it helps if Corona comes to our area.

      Just found this YouTube link that discusses where the virus originated, either from a wet market or the bioweapons lab, which she says is 20 miles away. She says the concern regarding a lab is that the virus fits human cells. They contacted the lab, and the person in charge said he denied the lab having anything to do with the virus, but did not answer the question regarding this virus fitting on to human cells. So his limited response has to make one wonder if it was lab created or naturally just happened to make that jump from bat to human.

      That’s the same woman in the YouTube video regarding the numbers of infected, etc. I’ll be looking for her from now on, because she seems to have good info. and asks hard questions.

  39. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The Nigerian Senate yesterday raised the alarm over the outbreak of a strange epidemic on January 29 2020 in Oye-Obi Local Government Area of Benue State.

    “The Senate added that the strange disease has killed about 15 persons…”

  40. Harry McGibbs says:

    “…if the spread of the virus isn’t contained, disruptions to supply chains could undermine the outperformance of growth stocks that have been the primary beneficiary of central-bank liquidity efforts.”

    • The irony of it is massive, the long term TSLA short sellers (for years) just capitulated hugely ~week ago, and now with this increasing epidemic threat and supplier chain effects the company is acknowledging likely delays on their Chinese factory complex etc.. so the stock will plummet. Anyway the Muskian abductees claimed (some time ago) they are prepared with other friendly club of billionaires to take the corp home private any time, should it be necessary..

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        I am curious to see what happens tomorrow. Most Chinese factories are *supposed* to be re-opening but clearly the virus isn’t close to being under control.

        What wins out – economic/logistical concerns or their need to contain the virus?

        • Xabier says:

          Quite a dilemma.

          The Chinese government have already announced that the epidemic has peaked, so maybe they will force reopening – or businesses and workers will be ‘nailed to the pillar of shame’? I just love that phrase, so CCP, so very civilised……

          • Harry McGibbs says:

            I know. That Maoist gem was killing me, too. 😀

            • Xabier says:

              ETA in Spain still insist on calling their murders ‘political actions’: Maoism is very fertile in such euphemisms…..

              I suspect the CCP policy will be to use their powers to round up anyone who has a fever or might have made contact with an infected person and put them in a death camp, and force workers to go back equipped with masks and gloves, heavily monitored for symptoms.

              Very interesting article on ‘Automatic Earth’ on the use of technology to scan for possible infected people/ those with fevers. Scanners at the entrances to workplaces can detect fevers, scan faces through masks, etc.

              The refusal to allow the CDC and WHO teams in suggest to me at least that this is far, far worse than the CCP are leading us to believe. They are quite capable of covering up a huge death toll if there are no outside observers.

        • If I am reading the information correctly, the Shanghai Stock Exchange is now at about the level of the previous close. So it is not starting out badly, on Monday.

  41. Chrome Mags says:

    For those that think the numbers for the corona virus are larger, here is a video that at 2:14 is data with cases listed as 154,023 and deaths at 24,589. Who knows if they’re correct or not.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      Correction, here is the right link:

      • Chrome Mags says:

        I wonder what the number in yellow is – can’t be those in critical condition, right? That number is 79,808.

        • Chrome Mags says:

          It gets worse – the video shows a date of February 1st. So if those numbers are the correct one’s, then how much are they now on the 9th, 8 days later.

          • Chrome Mags says:

            This is my last post before getting some ZZZZZZZZZ’s. Based on those numbers the death rate would be 16%, but that’s much higher than for those far from the epicenter. So why would the virus be so much more lethal near the area it originated from? Either there are reasons for that a virologist could answer, or there are inconsistencies in the stats in the video vs. stats for people in other countries.

            • Xabier says:

              Hospital services can easily be overwhelmed in the centre, but still coping in outlying areas where fewer have been infected: if serious complications develop it requires very intensive care, that would be impossible for large numbers, and the mortality rate would therefore rise dramatically as a logical consequence.

              Easy to see how a condition with a mortality rate of say 2-3% given the best care would rise much higher with basic or no treatment. Two factors apply: the inherent lethality of the disease, and the level of care and drugs available. Most calculations of lethality assume good medical care, which in a true epidemic is most likely not to be available.

              I recall from having pneumonia in 2013, when I researched it online waiting to see if all the drugs worked, that if you reach the serious complications stage you rapidly move into the prospect of being more likely to die than live, even with top-notch treatment in hospital.

              I fact, I had lived with the early stage of pneumonia for several weeks, and had been surviving due to being very fit, well-fed and exercised (still cycling about but with chest pains and fever): my doctor lectured me that fit younger people can fight it off like that and then go into a very sudden decline killing them in only a day or two. ‘Don’t be a bloody hero next time!’ was his comment. I always had the attitude that you fight illness and don’t give in to it, but have since modified that. 🙂

    • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “It is also clear to me as a physician – listening to the Chinese doctors – and viewing footage from the hospitals and clinics – that this is many orders of magnitude worse than what they are saying. Common sense will tell you that as well – are they really going to torpedo their entire industrial heartland for months – just because 300 people have died? — I think not – I think this is way worse than we can possibly imagine.”

      to be continued…

      • Xabier says:

        Particularly as the CCP place no value at all on individual lives, except their own – which implies they are scared for their own survival if the outbreak is not contained. They see an existential threat.

  42. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    Oops, so sorry, me make mistake….
    China Reneges on Commodity Deals, Worsens Global Trade Chaos
    Stephen Stapczynski, Mark Burton and Jackie Davalos
    BloombergFebruary 6, 2020, 11:53 PM EST
    (Bloomberg) — Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world threatened by trade wars.

    Global commodity trade plunged deeper into chaos as Chinese companies started walking away from purchase contracts because of the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
    A Chinese buyer of liquefied natural gas and a copper importer declared what’s known as force majeure — meaning they are reneging on deals as the virus constrains their ability to take deliveries. The cancellations are among the first known cases of the legal clause being invoked in commodity contracts due to the epidemic.
    “Everything that we were afraid of, from trade wars or global growth, doesn’t compare,” said Jan Stuart, global energy economist at Cornerstone Macro. “This virus is an entirely different risk, especially in commodities where China’s role dominates.”
    China is the world’s biggest consumer of most raw materials, from energy products to industrial metals, and disruptions in its purchases create havoc across global supply chains. Now, while global markets bounce back from initial fears over the impact of the virus, the fallout in commodity trade is only worsening as Beijing keeps swathes of the country under lockdown and restricts travel.
    In a dramatic and rare step, China National Offshore Oil Corp., the nation’s biggest LNG buyer, invoked force majeure and told some suppliers it won’t take delivery of cargoes because of constraints caused by the coronavirus. French oil and gas giant Total SA rejected the declaration.
    Hours later, it emerged that Chinese copper smelter Guangxi Nanguo had also declared the same get-out clause, refusing to take delivery of raw materials.
    Meanwhile, copper buyers are requesting Chilean miners postpone shipments because of port shutdowns while China’s biggest oil refiner, Sinopec Group, is likely to ask Saudi Arabia to reduce crude supplies next month. Soybeans from Brazil and the U.S. are being held up on arrival in eastern ChinaChina Reneges on Commodity Deals, Worsens Global Trade Chaos
    Stephen Stapczynski, Mark Burton and Jackie Davalos
    BloombergFebruary 6, 2020, 11:53 PM EST
    (Bloomberg) — Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world threatened by trade wars.
    Global commodity trade plunged deeper into chaos as Chinese companies started walking away from purchase contracts because of the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
    A Chinese buyer of liquefied natural gas and a copper importer declared what’s known as force majeure — meaning they are reneging on deals as the virus constrains their ability to take deliveries. The cancellations are among the first known cases of the legal clause being invoked in commodity contracts due to the epidemic.
    “Everything that we were afraid of, from trade wars or global growth, doesn’t compare,” said Jan Stuart, global energy economist at Cornerstone Macro. “This virus is an entirely different risk, especially in commodities where China’s role dominates.”
    China is the world’s biggest consumer of most raw materials, from energy products to industrial metals, and disruptions in its purchases create havoc across global supply chains. Now, while global markets bounce back from initial fears over the impact of the virus, the fallout in commodity trade is only worsening as Beijing keeps swathes of the country under lockdown and restricts travel.
    When God Appears in Contracts, That’s ‘Force Majeure’: QuickTake
    In a dramatic and rare step, China National Offshore Oil Corp., the nation’s biggest LNG buyer, invoked force majeure and told some suppliers it won’t take delivery of cargoes because of constraints caused by the coronavirus. French oil and gas giant Total SA rejected the declaration.
    Hours later, it emerged that Chinese copper smelter Guangxi Nanguo had also declared the same get-out clause, refusing to take delivery of raw materials.
    Meanwhile, copper buyers are requesting Chilean miners postpone shipments because of port shutdowns while China’s biggest oil refiner, Sinopec Group, is likely to ask Saudi Arabia to reduce crude supplies next month. Soybeans from Brazil and the U.S. are being held up on arrival in eastern China and Indonesian palm oil shipments are also being delayed.

    Hope everyone trusts their partners….😭😜👍

    • In the 2008 crisis, the problem was banks not extending credit lines to small (but necessary) players in the supply line. Their credit ratings were too low. The interest rates that they would have to pay would make the entire transaction not worthwhile.

      This time, the problem is a virus leading to closures of businesses in China, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Also, the cut off of air travel from many countries around the world, in an attempt to keep the virus out.

      We have too much faith that the system will work.

      Models are based on the system as it operate as they have in the past. Systems do not operate in a linear fashion. Models tend to greatly overstate how well the economy will do in the future. This is why economists like them.

      • Xabier says:

        Just as our expectation of surviving an illness assumes the system will be operating at full efficiency and capacity……

      • Robert Firth says:

        Gail, once again I support your insight. Most system models are based on coupled linear equations, which enforce either stability or small perturbations from the stable state. They are easy to calculate, as I’m sure you know from the standard “supply and demand” curves of economic theory, but they do not match the real world.

        Real world systems as metastable; they can withstand small perturbations (a 2% rise in the price of oil), but when faced with large perturbations (a 30% fall in global cargo traffic), they transition to a different state, and in many cases one that cannot be predicted.

        Given that scenario, what would the response be? Curl up and die? Begin mass migration to a still reliable source of supply? Relocalise the economy to provide substitutes? We cannot tell: the response depends more on human, cultural, and historical factors, all hidden from economic theory.

        • One of the problems now is that derivatives are often used as “insurance” against large perturbations. Of course, there is no real funding behind this insurance. These derivatives cannot handle large perturbations. So, the thing we should expect from large perturbations is failures related to derivatives, especially.

          Of course, there are likely a lot of other things that go wrong as well.

    • Xabier says:

      This is why surviving Chinese workers will be forced back to work by the CCP: there is no alternative.

  43. Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    Wuhan cremations are many times higher than reported virus victims:

    “According to the Epoch Times, the crematoria were handling “4-5 times the usual cremation volume” per day. Few of those cremated were officially confirmed as coronavirus cases.”

    so is the mortality rate 4-5 times higher than normal?

    what could be causing the inflated mortality rate?

    how many die without being tested for the virus?

    so many questions with no reliable answers…

  44. Chrome Mags says:

    Good news regarding Corona Virus: For 6 straight days the reported number of new cases had plateaued in the 3,000’s, today has descended into the 2,000’s with 2676 new cases. Also deaths has plateaued in the past 2 days in the 80’s; 86 yesterday and 89 today.

    That’s good folks, because if this virus had gone exponential it would have been our undoing. Hopefully China will not go back to wet markets and or local bioweapon labs won’t do any open air experimentations. We may be on the back side of this now.

    • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      or it’s getting worse and they can’t keep up with the testing/counting before they swiftly cremate the bodies…

      • thestarl says:

        They really have no idea

      • Xabier says:

        Bit like the first year of WW1 when the authorities couldn’t keep up with the sheer volume of battlefield casualties which swamped the system – even the families of officers were left waiting months for news of relations.

      • Slow Paul says:

        Or the counters die before they can count to

    • Harry Winston says:

      How do you count new infections when the hospitals are turning people away and there are not enough testing kits leaving sick people to go onto the streets and spread the virus.

      Of 273 people tested on one of the cruise ships 61 were positive.

      Think about that

    • NikoB says:

      Coronavirus is master of math when it comes to death rate.

      1/30: 170/7821 = 2,1%,
      1/31: 213/9800 = 2,1%,
      2/01: 259/11880 = 2,1%,
      2/02: 304/14401 = 2,1%,
      2/03: 361/17238 = 2,1%,
      2/04: 429/20471 = 2,1%,
      2/05: 493/24441 = 2,1%
      2/06: 564/28605 = 2,1%

      Right now: 724/34677 AGAIN = 2,1%…

      • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        are you saying those numbers look SUSPICIOUS?

        • Thinkstoomuch says:

          Check the rounding. Not saying they are or are not suspicious. But the post is. *IF* I did my math right.

          170 7821 2.17%
          213 9800 2.17%
          259 11880 2.18%
          304 14401 2.11%
          361 17238 2.09%
          429 20471 2.10%
          493 24441 2.02%
          564 28605 1.97%

          I do not know enough to make any real statement on any of the rest.


        • The Chinese leaders cannot let their own people know how bad the situation is. They also don’t really know. So they put out very low guesses.

  45. Chrome Mags says:

    “A crew member on a cruise ship that was delayed in New Jersey after more than two dozen of its passengers were screened for the coronavirus was found dead on the ship due to what appears to be an unrelated cause, law enforcement sources say.”

    A crew member found dead but ‘appears’ to be an unrelated cause? How can it ‘appear’ to be an unrelated cause, unless they found a rope or something, and if they did why not disclose the messy truth? Oh, because it’s a cruise ship that makes a profit from people purportedly enjoying some time on a floating high-rise apartment. Oh, I see.

  46. Dennis L. says:

    If it is posted regarding solar minimum, I stated there are about 1200 universities in the world when in fact there are approx 8,000-10,000, it was noted that if the 1200 number was important it should be checked, I went back double sourced this number and assume the higher number is reasonable.
    The relevance is the rank of the university at which this professor teaches being a proxy for her rank as a researcher. It would appear it is in about the top 5% of all universities by this poll.

    I try and double source much of what I post and chose to quote that which seems the best summary in clarity and conciseness.

    Dennis L.

    • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “The relevance is the rank of the university at which this professor teaches being a proxy for her rank as a researcher.”

      I think “ranking” is not very relevant…

      is she right or wrong?

      NASA in 2019 seems to be agreeing that she is right:

      if NASA is also correct, then glowball temppps will be way down by 2025…

      we should trust the science…

      • Tim Groves says:

        I agree that the ranking of an academic’s university is not a very relevant indicator of how “on the ball” they are. While there are many many fine or even great academics doing commendable, dedicated and stalwart work; lamentably, for a lot of its inhabitants, academia is a relatively cushy cloistered cushioned, comfy-chair world where internal politics, back-biting and feathering of one’s own nest takes precedence over educating the young or engaging in the pursuit of knowledge in a spirit of free inquiry.

        It warms the heart to learn that although Prof. Zharkova has been exposed to a lot of flak from other academics and from partisans simply for releasing her results, and although the science journals have been leant on to try to prevent their publication, so far she has at least been allowed to retain her position and to get her research out into the public domain, unlike a long list of scientific dissidents and heretics who have been intellectually mugged, bludgeoned, tarred and feathered, and left bleeding outside the university gates for their sins.

        • DB says:

          Thank you, Tim — your comment matches my experience and observations exactly. And these problems seem to have only gotten worse over time.

    • Don’t worry about the number of universities. What you said before was “1200 recognized universities.” I don’t know who “recognizes” these universities, but presumably some agency thinks they know which universities are suitable for their list. There are many ways of counting universities.

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