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. Harry McGibbs says:

    A personal account:

    “A coronavirus survivor has lifted the lid on what it’s like to contract the killer disease – including a soaring temperature, pains, and a cough so bad ‘I thought I might die’.

    “The 21-year-old student, going under the pseudonym Tiger Ye, said he first noticed symptoms on January 21 while at home in Wuhan, ground zero for the disease.

    “Ye said that the first signs he was ill came when he was too weak to finish his dinner, and noticed that he had a raised temperature…

    “Speaking about the first four days of his illness to Bloomberg, he said: ‘I suffered from a high fever and pains that tortured every part of my body.

    “‘I was coughing like I was going to die.’

    “…Ye said his temperature soared to 102F (39C) and he thought he was ‘knocking on hell’s door’.”

    • Chrome Mags says:

      Interesting personal account from someone 21 years of age w/Corona virus. Sounds like no picnic. Now I can see how so many elderly with it pass on.

  2. Titania says:

    And the “DAX” and “Dow Jones” rising and rising……..

    • Even crude oil prices are up right now. WTI = $52.01. The Euro keeps falling relative to the dollar, however.

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        Crazy and utterly unfounded optimism. But then if that is the glue needed to keep the global economy from falling apart right now I suppose we should cheer it on:

        “Stock markets across the world ticked higher on Friday, as investors bet that the damage to the global economy from China’s coronavirus outbreak would not be long-lasting…

        “Oil edged higher and was on track for its first weekly gain in six weeks, backed by expectations that producers will implement deeper output cuts to offset slowing demand in China caused by the coronavirus epidemic.”

    • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “And the “DAX” and “Dow Jones” rising and rising……..”

      Covid-19 is the major news, but the Dow will soon hit 30,000 and Nasdaq will hit 10,000…

      doesn’t mean a thing to the real economy, and these numbers might never be reached if the virus continues to spread exponentially…

      but I bet we will see these levels before the 2020 global Great Depression hits later this year…

      we live in interesting times…

  3. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Exuberant equity markets have been telling one story since the coronavirus first escaped control in Wuhan. The bond, currency, and commodity markets are reading from a different, darker script.

    “Safe-haven flight into the Swiss franc, the Japanese yen, and the dollar suggests that some large funds are battening down the hatches. The Australian dollar, a proxy for risk appetite, is plumbing depths last seen during the Lehman crisis.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Coronavirus outbreaks effect on economy could push Australia into a recession… Economist Martin North said coronavirus could spark new GFC, hit house prices.”

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “JCB, the British digger maker, has cut working hours and suspended overtime for 4,000 UK employees after the coronavirus outbreak prompted a shortage in parts coming from China… JCB’s decision came as companies around the world counted the mounting cost of disruption caused by the coronavirus,

        “The boss of China’s biggest listed company, Alibaba, described the coronavirus outbreak as a “black swan” event…”

        • Xabier says:

          One may imagine the harvest failing, if this is prolonged, as there is a distinct shortage of men with scythes, and rather too many large machines dependent on parts from China.

          Moreover, the harvest is often done in a short window of opportunity when the weather is favourable. Miss that and it can all be lost.

          Same with the big dryers for cereal crops I imagine.

          JIT: lovely until it breaks down.

          I see Foxconn are denying they can resume 50% production in China by the end of February.

          What did CTG say once? You may find that your country doesn’t even make toothbrushes……

          • Xabier says:

            A ‘Korowicz Cascade’ is underway…..

            • Chrome Mags says:


              Xabier, I got curious from your post and found a link on David Korowicz. One scenario he talks about is the potential damage from a pandemic outbreak in South-East Asia w/comparable or greater impact than the Spanish Flu, which is very interesting especially considering he wrote it in 2013 with the article is dated in 2014.

              “The globalized economy has become more complex (connectivity, interdependence, and speed), delocalized, with increasing concentration within critical systems. This has made us all more vulnerable to systemic shocks. This paper provides an overview of the effect of a major pandemic on the operation of complex socio-economic systems using some simple models. It discusses the links between initial pandemic absenteeism and supply-chain contagion, and the evolution and rate of shock propagation. It discusses systemic collapse and the difficulties of re-booting socio-economic systems.”

              “Consider the following scenarios:
              ◾A highly contagious pandemic outbreak in South-East Asia (of comparable or greater human impact than the 1918 influenza outbreak) .
              ◾A disorderly break-up of the Eurozone and global financial system implosion.
              ◾A “perfect storm” during a time of major global financial instability – there are terrorist attacks on North African oil installations (partially driven by social unrest arising from record food prices) & a category 5 hurricane hits a major population/ industrial/ oil producing regions of the US east coast.”

              “These are all examples of potential global shocks, that is hazards that could drive fast and severe cascading impacts mediated through global systems.”

            • I hadn’t remembered that Dave Korovicz wrote about the possibility of an epidemic being part of collapse. Of course, it can be. We have just assumed that this is not possible.

          • Robert Firth says:

            “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”
            “Save for a rainy day”
            “A chain is no stronger than its weakest link”
            “Keep your powder dry”
            “God helps those who help themselves”

            Centuries of folk wisdom, accumulated by peasants and yeomen through bitter experience, all abandoned by the architects of our global economy. Verily, whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.

            • “A chain is no stronger than its weakest link” is a particularly good one. Too much dependence on China, and on its leader, Mr. Xi, is a problem.

              Of course, Donald Trump would like to be in charge of US policies in the same way as Xi is in China.

          • Good point about the harvest.

            Also, China now has several animal epidemics going on at this time. These continue, regardless of how the human epidemic plays out.

      • A 40% decline in housing prices (something talked about in this article) would hugely affect whatever organizations (banks?) are holding the mortgages on this debt. I am sure that some Chinese owners will simply default on their loans. Finding enough non-Chinese owners will take much lower prices.

        • Robert Firth says:

          Gail, I paid over EUR 250,000 for my house. If its value falls by 40%, I shall still sleep easy, in my house. It won’t lose 40% of its roof, walls, floor or furniture. Money is not wealth; things of enduring value are wealth. And value is whatever makes your life more worth living. Such as my five children, who are value beyond price.

          I grew up in that world, and then found a monetised economy being built around me. Yes, I take advantage of it as an investor, but in my personal life try to insulate myself from it as much as possible. If others also find their way out, good for them.

          • My husband and I bought a home we could easily afford and paid off the mortgage quickly. Since it is a modest home, the taxes are not high either.

            This approach (if you can manage it) leaves money for other expenses and few concerns about what the sales price of the house might be today. It is easy to keep up with the Joneses, next door, because most of the people living nearby are of modest means.

            The choice of part of the city is important. If we had chosen to live in a more upscale part of the Atlanta area, we might have spent a whole lot more on housing.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Thank you, Gail, we seem to be in agreement. I bought my house on a small island with minimal property speculation, from owners who could afford to have their furniture made locally of solid wood and with good craftsmanship. And where there are no property taxes. With 1800 sq ft of space, and about 1000 sq ft of roof terrace, it was a bargain. A few home improvements, about EUR4000 overall, and it is eminently liveable.

              Yes, at a certain age it is important to create a nest and be prepared to live in it until called to another place, and I wish you well with your own plans and hopes.

            • Dennis L. says:

              We live similarly, I never sought an expensive home although one was presented to me and in terms of value, the price was good and it did appreciate greatly. A good roof over one’s head is a blessing and gives great comfort.

              Dennis L.

            • You live in one of the most walkable cities in the world. However, you had excellent timing.

    • I can see why people would want to get away from the Australian dollar.

      I can understand fleeing to the US dollar and Swiss Frank. But fleeing to the Japanese yen? Japan gets too many imports from China and too many tourists from China. It has too many elderly people who are likely to be affected by the virus. It seems like Japan will be hit relatively early on.

  4. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The coronavirus outbreak could leave the world economy in its worst state since the global financial crisis, with economic activity tipped to shrink through the first quarter of the year as manufacturing and travel falters…

    “Capital Economics believes global GDP will shrink by 1 per cent annualised through the start of 2020.

    “It would be the first global economic contraction since the first quarter of 2009, which was during the depths of the GFC.”

  5. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    Hyundai bet big on China. Now coronavirus is twisting its supply chain
    By Joyce Lee and Hyunjoo Jin
    ReutersFebruary 12, 2020, 9:16 PM EST
    South Korea sources more than 80% of wiring harnesses from China, according to the government, as the parts require labour-intensive assembly and lower labour costs are crucial.
    “Suppliers have no choice but to go to China because of cost pressure,” said one of the sources of the supply disruption.
    Another of the sources, a senior industry figure, told Reuters the latest disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak had underscored how exposed Hyundai’s South Korean operations were to problems in China.
    “This is an opportunity to address that,” the source told Reuters.
    Analysts said that, while the disruption would put pressure on Hyundai to rethink its China strategy, diversifying supplies would take time, money and diplomacy.
    “Hyundai had close relationships with local suppliers. It was not easy to go beyond the relationships,” said Jo Hyung-je, an adviser to Hyundai and its union, referring to how many suppliers like Kyungshin have grown up with the automaker.
    “They share a common destiny.”
    (Reporting by Joyce Lee and Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Pravin Char)

    Boy, costs are too high in South Korea!?

  6. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    We have sooo🚀much gas we don’t know what to do with it all!

    Gas Writedowns Hit Europe With $1.4 Billion Blow to Centrica
    (Bloomberg) — Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.

    Centrica Plc became the first energy company to book a major writedown on production assets in Europe as the global natural gas glut slashed valuations on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The U.K.’s biggest energy supplier to homes followed oil majors from Royal Dutch Shell Plc to Chevron Corp. in feeling the pain from a worldwide slump in the heating and power-plant fuel that’s sent prices to their lowest level in a decade in Europe.

    Centrica booked a net exceptional charge before tax of 1.1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) for a lower value of its exploration and production arm, as well as a stake in U.K. nuclear plants. The writedown also includes restructuring costs of 356 million pounds.

    While gas is preferred to coal as a power generation fuel because it is much cleaner to burn, there are no signs of the glut coming to an end anytime soon. Nations from the U.S. to Australia are exporting record amounts of the commodity at the same time as the coronavirus is curbing demand in China, sending prices down further.

    “The gas market is very oversupplied right now because of associated gas from shale oil in the U.S. and lower levels of demand in Asia and to trump it all the coronavirus,” Centrica Chief Executive Officer Iain Conn said on a call with reporters on Thursday.

    The gas slump adds to the company’s woes after millions of customers have left in the past few years and lawmakers clamped down on prices utilities can charge their customers

    Enjoy the fantasy age of plenty now…it’s being flared up😘in smoke as fast as possible

    • We have too little demand for gas. Many economies around the world are doing poorly. Adding natural gas demand is tricky. It requires adding a whole system of distributing this natural gas. It also requires places to store the natural gas for use in winter and end users who can afford this natural gas.

      The US made the mistake of believing that high-priced LNG would be salable in Europe and Japan, but prices have fallen greatly there as well. The shipping cost of LNG is absurd. It only makes sense to send natural gas as LNG, if extraction is incredibly cheap and the country is very nearby.

      • Apart from selling their own stuff, the US hoped that newly constructed land based natgas pipeline will be laid down from Gulfies across Syria and then via Turkey to Balkans and the EU. Plus dropping the sanction regime on the next branch of the traditional Geman-Russian connector. This largely failed, but not everything in vain, Syria democratically and in humanitarian fashion bombed to stone age (and post conflict continued expenses to prop it up on Russian shoulders), refugee waves banging on EU’s door. Hence on balance and in relative terms the US “wins enough” to allow for yet another day of privileged opulent consumerism. Pirate-gangsterism for the win.

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        Talk about converging crises! Also depressing demand:

        “Last month was the warmest January on record across the northern hemisphere, sending demand for heating oil, natural gas and coal plunging in all the major consumption centres of the world…

        “The massive and widespread warm anomaly has cut fuel consumption in all the major centres by probably the largest weather-driven amount in history.

        “Coupled with a global economy that is still sluggish after the U.S./China trade war, and is now hit by a coronavirus-driven downturn, the warm winter has worsened the existing oversupply of oil, gas and coal.”

        • I know that it has been warm here. We had daffodils blooming in January. It is hard to believe that fruit trees have had enough “chill hours.” February has been perhaps more normal, so far.

    • ssincoski says:

      I wish some of that cheap gas was available here in Poland. After my bill last month (751PLN) I essentially turned off the central heating and just used the fireplace/stove. Next bill was only 286 PLN. We are comfortable(house stays around 20C during the day) and we like it cooler in the bedroom. We have good blankets. Of course it heps that we have had a very mild winter.

  7. Chrome Mags says:

    Regarding official corona virus numbers out of China, which we know is likely only part of the count:

    We all know about the 15000+ jump in corona virus count out of China yesterday, but what isn’t being reported much is today’s jump of 4,854. Compared to the daily increases before yesterday’s big jump, today’s is a big jump. The total official count is now 65,247 of which 10,608 are in serious/critical condition.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      Wow, really good video by Martenson about the virus. He says an independent study was done of the virus and they estimate the Ro transmission rate is 4.7-6.6 which is huge! And that even with all the draconian measures taken by the Chinese govt. to stop the spread only reduced the Ro to 2.3-3. But here’s the interesting part, it would have had to have reduced it to an Ro of less than 1 to stop the spread. So it’s failing.

      Martenson is convinced it will become a pandemic, that it is unstoppable. You can get the summary at 17:20 of the video. I highly recommend seeing this video.

      • Thanks! Very interesting!

        I looked up the Los Alamos academic paper referred to in the video. It is a preprint that has not been peer reviewed.

        • squideater says:

          2 days is a rather short doubling period.
          The Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, is Highly Contagious and More Infectious Than Initially Estimated
          Steven Sanche, Yen Ting Lin, Chonggang Xu, Ethan Romero-Severson, Nick Hengartner, View ORCID ProfileRuian Ke
          This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed [what does this mean?]. It reports new medical research that has yet to be evaluated and so should not be used to guide clinical practice.
          AbstractInfo/HistoryMetrics Preview PDF
          The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a recently emerged human pathogen that has spread widely since January 2020. Initially, the basic reproductive number, R0, was estimated to be 2.2 to 2.7. Here we provide a new estimate of this quantity. We collected extensive individual case reports and estimated key epidemiology parameters, including the incubation period. Integrating these estimates and high-resolution real-time human travel and infection data with mathematical models, we estimated that the number of infected individuals during early epidemic double every 2.4 days, and the R0 value is likely to be between 4.7 and 6.6. We further show that quarantine and contact tracing of symptomatic individuals alone may not be effective and early, strong control measures are needed to stop transmission of the virus.

          Competing Interest Statement
          The authors have declared no competing interest.

          Funding Statement
          SS and RK would like to acknowledge funding from DARPA (HR0011938513). CX acknowledges the support from the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

          • The study sees the growth rate of infections in China falling from an increase of 29% per day to an increase of 14% per day after the Wuhan travel restrictions were put in place. At this lower rate, the doubling time increases from 2.4 days, to between 5 and 6 days. I had to calculate the alternative doubling time myself; it is not shown in the paper.

            At the original doubling time, the entire world population could theoretically be infected in 90 days (my calculation, not the paper’s). At the slowed rate, it takes about six months.

            Hopefully, the rate slows from this lower level as it crosses borders, or as the weather gets warmer, but we don’t know.

      • squideater says:

        If there indeed long term debilitating damage to a significant number of those infected by CV19 could actions taken contain it thus reducing RO transmission rate until herd immunization is provided via vaccine actually make sense economically?

      • Alfonso says:

        Well, in truth, theoretical results for epidemic spreading in scale-free networks (to which real-world networks may resemble more closely) say that in the thermodynamic limit, that is for very large number of nodes/components, the epidemic threshold vanishes. That is, the epidemic may occur at any R_0 value. On the other hand, it is said that the network heterogeneity allows to develop a more efficient immunization procedure since it is easier to identify the most influential spreaders.

        • A major problem is that people seem to be spreading the virus, even before they come down with the illness. They have no symptoms at all.

          A second issue is that we don’t have any way of immunizing people. In fact, we cannot even determine who has already had the disease and has antibodies to it in their blood.

          Anyone who has been exposed to the disease and enters a public space (rides a train or bus, or attends a concert, for example) is quite possibly a spreader. We can’t know who these people are.

  8. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    No way Jose is this going to be contained…😭

    By Phuong Nguyen

    HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam has quarantined a community of 10,000 people near the capital, Hanoi, for 20 days because of fears the coronavirus could spread there, two local officials told Reuters on Thursday.

    The rural commune of Son Loi, in the northern Vietnameseprovince of Vinh Phuc, 44 km (27 miles) from Hanoi, is home to11 of the 16 coronavirus cases in the Southeast Asian country,including a three-month-old baby.

    “Over 10,000 residents of the commune will not be permitted to leave for the next 20 days, starting from today,” the second of the two the officials told Reuters on Thursday.

    “As of this evening, we will still allow those who wish to return home to enter but, in the next few days, this place will be totally be sealed,” the official told Reuters by phone.

    Both officials declined to be identified citing the sensitivity of the situation.

    The coronavirus arrived in Vinh Phuc after people from the province who had been in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, returned home to Vietnam for the Lunar New Year holiday.

    The province is home to factories operated by Japan’s Honda and Toyota.

    On Wednesday, state media indicated that Vietnam’s Communist-ruled government could completely seal off the Son Loi commune.

    On the same day, a Reuters photographer could see checkpoints manned by police and marked by coronavirus warning signs already in place outside Son Loi. People were still allowed to enter and leave the commune, which has a population of 10,641, according to official data.

    Health officials wearing protective suits sprayed disinfectant on vehicles at the checkpoints. Local authorities have set up shops and provided food and face masks for residents there, the first official said.

    “Everything is still under control,” said the official. “We are trying very hard to stop the virus spreading to other areas and provinces.”

    Vietnam declared a public health emergency over the epidemic on Feb. 1 and banned all flights to and from China, where more than 1,300 people have died from the virus.

    The southeast Asia country has made plans to quarantine hundreds of Vietnamese citizens returning from China, including 950 at military camps outside Hanoi, and another 900 at temporary facilities on the Vietnam-China border.

    • China sets the pattern and others try to follow. The camps are likely to be places where the infection is passed around. Same with the city of 10,000. It will spread and spread.

  9. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    More bad news…
    Newspaper chain McClatchy files Chapter 11 bankruptcy after pension woes, print declines
    Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY
    USA TODAYFebruary 13, 2020, 8:49 PM UTC
    Newspaper chain McClatchy, owner of publications such as the Miami Herald and Kansas City Star, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday after grappling with a pension crisis and the news industry’s financial challenges.
    The Sacramento, California-based company, whose 30 newsrooms also include the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Charlotte Observer, proposed a deal to transfer ownership to one of its lenders and its largest shareholder, hedge fund Chatham Asset Management, and other lenders.
    As part of the deal, the McClatchy family is expected to give up control of the company after more than 160 years.
    “McClatchy remains a strong operating company with an enduring commitment to independent journalism that spans five generations of my family,” Kevin McClatchy, chairman of McClatchy’s Board of Directors and great-great grandson of the company’s founder, James McClatchy, said in a statement.
    “This restructuring is a necessary and positive step forward for the business, and the entire Board of Directors has made great efforts to ensure the company is able to operate as usual throughout this process.”
    The newspaper chain also said it expects to transfer management of its $1.4 billion pension plan to the U.S. government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The costs of the company’s pension plan, a legacy of an era in which the newspaper industry was rich with profits, weighed it down in recent years.

    • These dinosaurs are no longer useful hence no PPT support for them, bankruptcy here we come. The key social-political control even moves (well already) moved from TV&Radio on the internet, especially these silly “social networks” where now censorship, propaganda and other forms of control are being massively phased in as we speak. The billions have been dully appropriated for this task and such support will continue as top priority. Only IC finally stumbling (Surplus/OFW crash) or volcano, perhaps asteroid could only stop this process. Sorry, this is a prison planet after-all.

      • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

        Not these Dino’s haven’t tried to adapt. The Miami Herald here in South Florida has been promoting web based issues at a very reasonable subscription. About $10.00 a month, with an intro rate of only 30$ for the first year.
        We still get the weekend editions in paper delivered and it is still a decent well written newspaper. Unfortunately, buying it at the newsstand is priced like 2$ for a weekday issue now in hard copy.
        Seems they are not getting online subscribers in enough numbers to offset the decrease in retail sales. When I go in stores that actually offer newspapers there as only a few there and doubt they sell. Some have stopped selling them.
        Seems the public doesn’t want to pay for journalism in enough numbers and the revenue from selling ads and advertising reflects the decline in readership.
        What does this mean for an informed public? I read recently that only for four major companies control 90% of the media in the United States.
        Concentration of wealth

    • One article headline says, McClatchy’s Bankruptcy Means Another Newspaper Chain Is (Very Likely) Going to a Hedge Fund

      McClatchy’s Chapter 11 plan, if approved, will cede control of the company to Chatham Asset Management, making it the latest newspaper chain to be taken over by a hedge fund or a private equity firm as local newspapers have struggled to survive due in part to dwindling ad revenue. . .

      Chatham also has controlling stakes in the Canadian newspaper chain Postmedia, which publishes The National Post, and American Media, Inc., which owns the National Enquirer.

  10. Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    if a virus multiplies quickly in a 99 degree human body, why should we think that the above-80 degree temperatures in Singapore will slow down or stop the virus?

    does the population density of Singapore make it a strong candidate for an epidemic?

    • Tim Groves says:

      Just a few thoughts, although I don’t know much about virology.

      Viruses need to attach themselves to living cells to replicate. Those that specialize in infecting humans can’t multiply outside of a human body, regardless of the temperature and humidity. They just hang around for a few days or weeks in most cases until they find a host to replicate in or they become inactive.

      I don’t think even the experts agree whether warmer or cooler temperatures are optimal for virus survival, but the coronaviruses and rhinoviruses tend to spread more effectively in the winter months. The reason may be more to do with the hosts than the viruses themselves.

      Possible reasons: Humans are tropical animals and they are not perfectly adapted to living at higher latitudes. In winter their immune systems are suppressed by living in cold conditions and lack of sunshine. Also, in winter people tend to spend more time inside with others, breathing each others’ air and sharing each others’ viruses.

      • Xabier says:

        A traditional treatment for illness in Europe was to eat a good meal, drink lots of brandy/wine, wear very warm clothes and get under as many sheepskins, etc, as you could, in order to ‘sweat it out’.

        My grandfather, who was a very sickly boy born 1909, did that, and lived to 93 yrs. His mother wrapped herself in a cocoon of blankets when she contracted the Spanish Flu in 1919.

        Some families had special shirts made of heavy wool to be worn by the sick and passed down through the generations: this saved the life of the writer Eric Newby during WW2 when an Italian shepherd made him sweat out a fever in his mountain hut.

        I have cured a very persistent chest infection by laying for a day on an electric blanket, on the highest setting, my chest against the heat.

        One can but experiment and listen to those who have gone before.

        • Xabier says:

          NB This traditional remedy involved both heat + lots of sleep – one role of the brandy and wine.

          Also no visit to hospital, which are sinks of disease and infection even today, and more so in the past.

          • Harry McGibbs says:

            I recall reading about a New Yorker who swore blind he had successfully fought off the Spanish Flu by knocking back half a bottle of whisky and going for a vigorous run through Central Park.

        • Dennis L. says:

          When a child, grade school age as I recall, when I was ill my mother would apply Vix Vapo Rub on my chest and place a flannel cloth over it between me and my pajamas. I do not recall if it worked or not, but it was an old remedy. I hated it, it stunk and did not feel good on my skin. I hesitate to repeat it in polite company, but it was also placed in the nose with a universal applicator. My mother comforted me as she applied it, she did not stop – in the old days, moms made the rules, dads enforced them.

          From Wikipedia, “A Penn State study showed Vicks VapoRub to be more effective than placebo petroleum rub for helping cough and congestion with regards to helping children and adults sleep.[6] However, the study also showed that, unlike with the petroleum rub placebo, Vicks VapoRub was associated with burning sensations to the skin (28%), nose (14%) and eyes (16%), with 5% of study participants reporting redness and rash when using the product.[7] The study’s first author is a paid consultant for Procter & Gamble, maker of VapoRub.

          I am here today, 73 with few medical issues, so at worst it didn’t hurt me. We used no cold pills, etc.

          Some of these old ideas seem to survive and they may very well be efficacious.

          Dennis L.

  11. Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    “Singapore reports 8 new cases, total tally jumps to 58
    Singapore reported its biggest daily jump in coronavirus cases, with eight newly infected patients bringing its total to 58, the health ministry said.
    All of the new cases were linked to previous patients, the ministry said. Of the 58 confirmed cases reported, 15 have recovered and been discharged from hospital while seven are in critical condition in intensive care, it added.”

    “All of the new cases were linked to previous patients”…

    gee, I wonder why?

    biggest daily jump in cases… the increase is exponential… it’s a Singapore epidemic just not officially declared yet…

    7 in critical condition out of 58 cases…

    about 12%…

    this is not just a quasi flu…

    • Xabier says:

      Agreed. In their effort to avoid panic – ‘the flu is worse’ – the WHO and governments are not giving the public good solid basic information on effective precautions – that is the disgrace.

      • I am not sure that we really know what those precautions might be. The disease seems to be spreading, even when we cannot figure out how. There may be a lot of folks without symptoms passing out viruses, for example. Or face masks might help, but only if the right kind are available and they are changed frequently.

  12. Dennis L. says:

    It appears as though a mistake was made. This is from Bejing Party Committee – sounds pretty reliable, translated by Google.

    The last sentence in paragraph 4 is interesting. “Strengthen laboratory management and resolutely put an end to the theft, leakage, and loss of pathogenic bacteria (poisons) and various samples.”

    The open market story is becoming more unbelievable. We are all in the same boat, somehow if possible a solution needs to be found. It is so easy to become angry with people and make attacks personal. China is suffering greatly. It would seem possible we will all get a turn, and this might not be like fusion, in ten years…….

    Dennis L.

    • This document relates to the Chinese Center for Disease Control in Beijing. They are not in Wuhan, so any viruses that they might lose would affect people in Beijing, not Wuhan.

      The document might be aimed at prevention of slip-ups in handling, now that they will be handling so many samples that may contain the new coronavirus. Also, they don’t want people talking about confidential information at home and elsewhere, now that this is a top news story.

      It is a mystery what problem occurred that is referred to in the document.

      The CDC in Atlanta has had problems as well. This is a link to a 2017 USA Today article. CDC keeps secret its mishaps with deadly germs.

      CDC scientists apparently lost a box of deadly and highly-regulated influenza specimens and experienced multiple potential exposures involving viruses and bacteria, according to heavily-redacted laboratory incident reports obtained by USA TODAY. Several reports involve failures of safety equipment. In one, a scientist wearing full-body spacesuit-like gear to protect against lethal, often untreatable viruses like Ebola, had their purified air hose suddenly disconnect — “again” — in one the world’s most advanced biosafety level 4 labs.

      The Washington Post has an 2014 article (behind a paywall) called, “CDC reports potential Ebola exposure in Atlanta lab.”

      I think laboratory slip-ups are inevitable, pretty much everywhere.

    • Xabier says:

      Yes, one should reconcile oneself to catching it at some point over the next two years or so, even having taken great precautions – but keep focused on the 80% or so ‘mild’ cases, so it’s more hopeful than not.

      We’ve had a wonderful holiday, in the rich countries, from infectious disease since the advent of safe antibiotics, and that is now drawing to a close rather rapidly.

      C’est la vie……

  13. Xabier says:

    Ethiopian Airlines is still doggedly flying to and from China, despite neighbouring states pleading with them not to do so…..

  14. Xabier says:

    A woman from Wuhan walked straight into A&E reception at my mother’s local hospital in London, having ignored official advice -take your own car or call an ambulance – and taken an Uber taxi there.

    Some alarm, as they hadn’t yet built the special reception pod they have to receive Wuhan virus patients (outside the hospital!). The A&E staff were of course not wearing any protection.

    They are saying that the taxi driver was not with her for long enough to stand a great risk of having been infected.

    • Xabier says:

      PS It’s a hospital with a very poor reputation, ‘failing ‘ for years but still it limps on.

  15. Dennis L. says:

    Well, this is getting serious, the head of WHO went from basically saying this was little more than a cold to claiming more than 5 billion people maybe infected with this virus. Obviously all will not die, some of you are better than I at the numbers of infected, numbers sick, and mortality issues, perhaps a calculation with a range of possibilities would be interesting.

    I have no opinions, I don’t know enough to have any and there don’t seem to be many places to hide.

    Well, wasn’t it Shakespeare who had one of his characters say, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
    Dennis L.

    • Dennis L. says:

      I hate it when I am not accurate. It was not WHO, but an adviser to WHO, so it is not a official WHO estimate. Need to stop skimming headlines so quickly.

      Dennis L.

    • I am sure the actuaries who are involved with risk management completely missed this issue as well. Almost everyone thinks epidemics are a thing of the past, but they really are not.

    • I see that Bloomberg has an article up about the possibility of two-thirds of the world’s population being affected.

    • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “the numbers of infected, numbers sick, and mortality issues, perhaps a calculation with a range of possibilities would be interesting.”

      5 billion infected x 2% dead = 100 million

      “In 2015 around 57 million people died.”

      less than 1%, which is lower than what I would have guessed, but the world population skews to the younger side…

      so if the speculated 100 million die in 2020, that would be a massive adjustment in spending on their (ultimately useless but short term) healthcare, and the economic disruption would be massive as well…

      but most of the deaths would skew to older people, and many would leave job openings, so that would be interesting…

      the bottom line is that a swift pandemic would be very disruptive to the world economy, but slowing the virus and spreading the deaths out to perhaps “only” 10 million per year might be low enough to keep the economic consequences manageable…

    • Robert Firth says:

      When I consider how my light is spent,
      Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
      And that one Talent which is death to hide
      Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
      To serve therewith my Maker, and present
      My true account, lest he returning chide;
      “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
      I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
      That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
      Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
      Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
      Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
      And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
      They also serve who only stand and wait.”

      John Milton, Sonnet 19.

      (Sorry to be a pedant, but my associative memory seems
      to be very fast at pulling up poetry)

  16. Dennis L. says:

    Well, a summary from ZeroHedge utilizing JPM and other data. The good news for Greta is China is seriously reducing pollution, the bad news, well, probably not much else is happening either.

    The idea the virus escaped from a lab, not a bat seems to be hitting more and more media. All we need is the forecasts of a decrease of 8 watts /meter squared of sunlight on the earth due to solar minimum to be accurate and, well, ski resorts will have good seasons. Farming could be interesting.

    It would seem there may be a liquidity problem in the very near future. One has to wonder how long before shortages of pharmaceuticals develop. Heck of an irony to dodge the virus bullet and run out of medication at the same time. If one is a cynic, probably us seniors can drop Part D, or medication coverage and save money while at the same time reducing the economic drain on the economy from the medical system.

    Dennis L.

    • Dennis L. says:

      My error, Morgan Stanley.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      I’m very curious to see if the much talked about solar minimum can offset rising green domicile gasses.

      • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        me too…

        here in the northeast USA, I would prefer not to have any significant glowball coooling, but the science looks very convincing that the minimum is beginning about now and will be very apparent by 2025…

      • Since the scientific papers on solar minimum appeared the IPCC hockey stick projection graphs miraculously shrank about 2/3.. But the agenda continues on slightly more believable merits for now, basically most of the new generation is completely brainwashed by it..

        Given the plethora of other evidence:

        – warmist agenda was just deliberate plan how to prepare unwashed masses for global coordinated de-growth and method of easing the yoke of associated policies of future command style economies, commissary style redistribution like decreased consumer patterns etc.

        – pls don’t take it as personal disrespect to your efforts but the Surplus/OFW authors’ idea of being the lone voices or exceptional research focus is beyond naive, the govs have been studying resource limits/early PO research etc. for decades, and on the ground policies and historical “events” in past two decades confirm that (aka war both hot foreign and cold domestic).

        • Way back when, at the time of the failure of many of the Savings and Loan Associations in the US (about late 1980s), I was a with a group of actuaries who met with congressional staff members regarding the big mess. One thing I was impressed with was how young staffers were–practically just out of college. The other thing was, how aware they were of the underlying problems they were facing, and how impossible they were to fix.

          Part of the problem was the existence of per account insurance on bank accounts meant that individuals no longer were much concerned about the financial stability of their individual bank. If S&Ls wanted to pay a little higher interest on savings than others, they could invest in increasingly risky loans (I remember wind turbines specifically being mentioned) and it was a “Heads I win, tails you lose” proposition. If things didn’t work out, the insurance organization would pay the loss. If they did, the bank came out ahead.

          They, of course, couldn’t get rid of the insurance program.

          Also, the insurance program wasn’t really a funded insurance program. It depended on there being enough profitable S&Ls to assess for the shortfall. Ultimately S&Ls were rolled into the banking system. Now, we have bigger system that is “sort of” insured. It is ultimately insured by the government’s ability to bail out the system, to the extent that exists. But it will also have to bail out many other systems at the same time, I am afraid. For example, pension plans and Social Security.

          • Thanks for the details in the story, however I meant the mil-industrial complex contractors, the guys who in compartmentalized vast science parks and factories work on various stuff consumers get to know a decade or more later and or only slowly are being released to university labs etc. The Congress-Senate people are B/C grade material at best and for a reason just to rubber stamp pre approved agenda. There are obviously few exceptions (even young graduates) working over time just to make sense of it all and apply brakes whenever possible.

        • Robert Firth says:

          The climate bandwagon rolls on regardless. Ugo Bardi, in his latest post on “Cassandra’s Legacy”, savages a speech by an Australian politician because he dared to criticise Michael Mann, of the “hockey stick graph” fame. The fact that these remarks were 100% true, and that Mann is a proven charlatan, so proven in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and is now under investigation for both academic and criminal fraud, seems in no way to detract from his sainthood.

          I respectfully reserve my opinion on what is really happening to our climate, but that today’s “Climate Science” is a textbook example of the Madness of Crowds is a view I’m happy to share.

    • One of the charts I liked from the Zerohedge post is this one.

      • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:


        and Xi knows this better than anyone…

        I bet he has everyone back to work by T+30…

        • Xabier says:

          Emperor Xi in his secure bunker: others ordered back to work, or their social credit score plummets.

          What he seems to face at the moment is the sheer dearth of masks, gloves and hand-wash which factories and shops need to open for business even if the strict quarantine measures and lock-downs are loosened to save the economy.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Emperor Xi has lost the Tien Ming, the Mandate of Heaven. He will leave his bunker soon, alive if he is very, very lucky. Absolute rulers always forget one clear lesson of history: when the hired bodyguards realise they can defend either their Emperor or their families, but not both, the Dynasty is doomed.

  17. Sorry for cross posting, this has been linked at Surplus,
    I’m guessing not mentioned over here so far.

    This guy is doing stages/sequencing (rare) for the purely economic realm, (no energy though), however there seem to be some loose intersections with our discussion here. The suggested timelines seem to be on the longer end as well. Good doom in the ending paragraphs.

  18. interguru says:

    This is like saying he read the book in 15 minutes therefor he can write a book in 15 minutes.

  19. Yoshua says:

    It only three days for France to sequence the Coronavirus genome. So it doesn’t seem to be very hard to sequence the genome of the virus.

    • interguru says:

      The Coronavirus genome has less than 32,000 bases (letters). This compares with the Human genome which has about 6 billion bases. The original sequencing in 2003 cost billions of dollars. It now costs less than $1000 for a sequence.

      • Yoshua says:

        A complex global structure, created by complex humans, now on the verge of collapse by a simple bug.

        • Chrome Mags says:

          It could collapse if the reaction to it is such that the world economy caves in. My estimation of what will happen is the super wealthy will issue an edict via their political lackeys that we, the regular hard working stiffs on this planet, will be expected to work or face eviction and starve, and if we collapse on the job, we’ll be dragged away to a facility to mingle with all the other suffering patients on a soup diet. If we eventually test negative, we’ll be returned to society to try and find another basket of part time jobs.

          • Xabier says:

            I have never felt happier to be self-employed, I can only order myself back to work, no mask needed!

            Of course, I could well lose my few remaining customers even if I don’t succumb: they are all in the higher risk age group and the best one is a very heavy smoker- but that’s always the risk of going one’s own way in life.

            I should hate to be taking the daily train or subway to work now, entering an office building, wondering if…….

            • Robert Firth says:

              Xabier, in M P Shiel’s “The Purple Cloud”, the last man alive relocated to the island of Imbros and built (by hand) a fantastic palace. Perhaps I shall end up the sole inhabitant of an island one quarter that size. Shiel’s “hero” eventually found the last surviving woman, … well, science fiction doesn’t have to make sense.

  20. squideater says:

    North Korea reports no CV19 cases thank goodness. 🙂 Not sure you would want to disclose CV19 symptoms in NK.

    • How many test kits do they have? The number they have found is less than or equal to the number of test kits.

      • squideater says:

        Well there you go! Get rid of those test kits problem solved. Im not sure they have antibiotics let alone test kits. Nor are they building hospitals in 7 days. My understanding is the NK border with china is rather porous. I think its rather likely that there are a substantial number of CV19 infections in NK. Their response will make Chinas virus police look like a my little pony episode. Hence zero infections! Comrade you look ill! No Comrade never been better!

        If the NK border with China gets shut you will know stuff is getting real. NK might end up with two DMZs.

      • They had one case, but were able to “cure” it quickly.

    • North Korea’s economy is sustained by smuggling from China. There was someone, who had visited China, infected in Pyongyang.

      A suspected infectee had escaped his place of quarantine and took a bath in a spa. He was caught , and it is said they cured his infection with a bullet to his head.

      • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        Hubei province and its capital Wuhan are centrally located in China…

        that’s quite a fortunate location for a virus that wants to replicate itself…

        Beijing, in the north, is much closer to NK…

        when the outbreak eventually hits Beijing hard, then it will not be long before NK is devastated…

        unless Rocket Boy seals his northern border…

  21. Yoshua says:

    I just heard that the Chinese have miraculously managed to sequence the Coronavirus genome in record time.

    I other words they created the virus.

    If they also released the virus on purpose, then they already also have the cure.

    The question is when will they announce that they have found the cure? How bad will the situation have to become world wide? How much will they ask for the cure?

    I haven’t confirmed anything above. It all just speculation.

  22. Malcopian says:

    Back to more serious matters. Americans have consumed literally trillions of Krispy Kremes since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and the cascading chain reactions caused by this gluttonous overconsumption have resulted in rising sea levels for us blamelessly frugal Europeans.

    Since Gail is partly responsible for this state of affairs, I urge her to dig deep into her piggy bank and contribute to this marvellous structure that will save the lives of us Europeans and no doubt become known as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

    • I suppose if we have a huge amount of coal that we can extract from under the North Sea (without the energy used in extraction exceeding the useful energy of the coal), we can use this coal to build the huge dams that are suggested. If a person believes that we have unlimited resources, they can truly come up with fanciful solutions.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Malcopian, there is no piggybank fat enough. It is a simple back of the envelope calculation to estimate the pressure on those dams; it is about two orders of magnitude greater than any structure our present technology can build. I suspect somebody is fishing for a few fat research grants studying how to build a dam to nowhere.

      • Malcopian says:

        “it is about two orders of magnitude greater”

        Only two? That’s not a big number. You’ve got no ambition. Anyway, envelopes are so last century in this age of the email. We have the technology and can easily scale up. A nice dam will stop illegal immigrants getting in too. Trump will be desperate to buy one from us. I’ll open a shop that sells dams and become a millionaire virtually overnight. 😉

  23. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    America’s Oil Boom Feels More Like Bust in the Shale Patch
    (Bloomberg) — Last month, two days before the latest government prediction that U.S. shale production would hit new heights, an oil industry conference in Houston opened with a clip of Eeyore making one of his bleak utterings: “End of the road, nothing to do and no hope of things getting better.”
    It made sense to kick things off with Winnie the Pooh’s depressed donkey friend. As Kim Bourgeois, a managing director who focuses on energy at HOS Investment Partners, told the assembled crowd, “That’s what most of our Monday mornings have felt like.”
    For the exploration and production companies behind what has been spectacular growth in U.S. crude output, the boom has busted. Many are burning through cash and struggling to meet investor expectations. In Texas, the biggest oil-producing state and home to most of the prolific Permian Basin, the number of active rigs tumbled 24% last year. Oil prices are down as much as 19% this year as the coronavirus outbreak hits Chinese oil demand.
    How well shale producers will cope with this latest headwind will be a key question as quarterly earnings come out over the next few weeks. The industry also faces pressure from Wall Street to act on climate change, something BP Plc tried to address Wednesday with its pledge to cut carbon emissions.
    “North America is full of companies that, on the E&P side, probably shouldn’t be here anymore,” said Marcel Hewamudalige, a Houston-based managing director at Evercore Group LLC. “There’s too much debt in the system and those guys won’t survive.”
    The shale revolution unlocked previously inaccessible reserves of oil and natural gas, making America’s production of both the highest in the world. But that abundance has also helped create a global glut, keeping a lid on prices.
    What’s more, the shale sector has found itself on a treadmill. Fracked oil and gas wells experience steep declines in th conventional wells, compelling shale producers to keep drilling simply to maintain output levels and cash generation, even in the face of stagnant prices.

    That approach has seen the industry build up a formidable level of debt, an increasing concern for investors. Dozens of drillers went bankrupt and the capital markets are now pretty much closed for all but a few companies able to offer junk bonds. The U.S. E&P sector was one of the worst stock market performers last year amid doubts about its ability to achieve sustainable cash flows.

    Like we weren’t warned!?
    Like the Fed didn’t dish out free money so they could do the tracking?
    Like we aren’t screwed?
    Like how are they gonna kick this can down the road?

    • squideater says:

      The most effective way to turn a profit nowadays is to cut costs. Interesting how CV19 will effect outsourcing. Shale plays cant outsource. The cant cut costs without cutting production.

      The markets are driven by one thing only now IMO. Plunge protection. This works well for plunge protection. Bad news means plunge protection $. The markets react front running the PP $. Bad news is great for the markets.

      Why not for oil? For one thing Bernies is in the background. His proposed war on the fossil fuel industry. His nomination and win are not likely but a lot of what is happening is shaping and molding ideas. The other is the basic metrics can not be swung in real world fossil fuel extraction. Oil stocks are not a “modern” play. They dont respond to the PP $ well. So they dont get leverage from pp$.

      So maybe now the unthinkable. Shale plays actually going bankrupt. Perhaps a good time to restructure the assets into new hands with no debt so new debt can be issued without inconvenient numbers. If those inconvenient numbers go away then perhaps oil stocks can benefit somewhat more from market forunning PP$.

    • Not good for the US shale patch. US oil production still seems to be drifting up a bit, based on weekly reports.

      US crude oil stocks are up 7.5 million barrels during the latest week, or a bit over 1 million barrels a day. This would suggest that the market isn’t absorbing the additional oil.

  24. Harry McGibbs says:

    IEA even more pessimistic on demand than The U.S. Energy Information Administration:

    “Global oil demand is now expected to see its first quarterly contraction in over a decade, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), as the new coronavirus and widespread shutdown of China’s economy hits demand for crude.

    “Demand is now expected to fall by 435,000 barrels a day (b/d) in the first quarter of 2020, down from the same period a year ago, and marking the first quarterly contraction in more than 10 years, the IEA said in its monthly oil market report Thursday.”

  25. Stephen says:

    Unfortunately covid 19 does not just affect us old dried redwoods. Short video showing among other things small bodies arranged to fit in one body bag.

    • The second clip (children in hospital) seems like quasi “2nd gen copy” i.e. someone shooting/panning over running display monitor from security camera system/video circuit, which shots this particular scene. It would take less than dozen HK/TW/.. “activists” to arrange these few bits of ordinary looking furniture in some generic hall way (not much) resembling real hospital.. There are tons of gruesome real footage from Wuhan but this one is very cheesy though, sorry for piercing the bubble folks.

      • Dennis L. says:

        No one really knows, it seemed like a phone camera to me, but who knows anymore. How would one keep the children quiet, especially three? The bag does not move when they are placed inside, they are placed with respect in a very difficult situation which done multiple times must be very traumatic for the workers. This will most likely change the society.

        Is it possible you are in the denial stage? The crows were real, there were many of them, one could assume more than one body being removed by nature’s way. This is in no way said cynically, we are humans, none of us want to face this.

        Speculation, all we know is the streets are empty in a city of 8 million, that would be very hard to stage.

        If this is the virus from Saudi Arabia, it went from a very hot environment to a cold one, and assuming this is the same virus that ultimately was moved from Canada to China, it is no longer in its natural environment, the desert. Some things are better left in place.

        Dennis L.

        • Would you be pls so kind and read my post again, don’t spin it.
          I singled out particular clip out of the three joint together, it’s not about the crows, wtf.

          There is no city on the on second “children clip” – the enclosed scene is done in generic and rather posh spacious looking hall way not resembling average Chinese hospital (nor ICU hall way), few pieces of furniture you can get anywhere, few cops/mil? and no hazmat medics, children corpses or mannequins. And the total clincher is body language, have you ever been to these countries? There is no “boorish” body movement among any of the staffers. That’s why it all smells very non mainland..

          • Dennis L. says:

            Sorry about that, no spin, observations, no conclusions about location. I have never been in a Chinese hospital, have no idea, I have been in American Hospitals, staff, looks pretty standard to me. Very hard to get good data.

            If it was faked,it was effective.

            Dennis L.

            • I’m not 100% confident, but skeptical, and alerted on fishy evidence..
              Gigantic career advances, retribution-restitution (sweet punishment) for past land reform and expropriations of family wealth are at stake, speaking only about the directly involved on the ground “soldiers” in *[meddling, color revolutions]. Not mentioning the real gains for the detached planners. Humanoids are vicious animals, especially the civilized/domesticated bunch when it comes to fight over the “wealth mirage”..

              * well oiled machine which keeps on giving so far

      • Stephen says:

        Could all be fake. But I feel there are now likely many sad covid scenes everyday in China.

        Final clip shows two bodies ( one wrapped up on top of bench) waiting curbside like a garbage pickup.

        “Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world. Like a Colossus, and we petty men. Walk under his huge legs and peep about. To find ourselves dishonorable graves”

      • Stephen says:

        Thanks Worldof we need a new Fast Eddy to burst our bubbles. Paul we miss you!

    • Dennis L. says:

      Those three young children were raised by parents, assuming they were siblings, losing three must be devastating; it is so easy to speak in the abstract of an only 1% fatality rate, this was reality for two parents.
      While the body is being put in the van it seems cries of anguish are heard in the background; there is great psychic pain from all this and many of the people who will recover physically will not be the same after.
      The crows and the man lying on the street suggest perhaps wild animals eating the flesh, this is natural in the world, and further spreads the virus. For those in love with ecology, this is ecology, it is the same as road kill.
      It would seem that the number of deaths is not reported accurately unless this footage is over a long period of time.
      This is very sobering, so much of the discussion here as been about what would happen tomorrow, it would seem that tomorrow may be happening, it is no longer abstract and I would venture a guess none predicted the antecedant of what very well could be a cascade of events leading to collapse.
      The irony is all we seemingly can do is wait and see who is left standing. This would seem to argue against self determinism.

      Dennis L.

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      That is very bleak indeed. 🙁

    • Very Far Frank says:

      Word on the nCov subreddit ( is that this is an earlier tragedy resulting from carbon monoxide poisoning, and to related to the outbreak.

  26. Harry McGibbs says:

    ““I do not think that central bankers will ever be able to pull away from this,” Mark Spitznagel, the founder of Universa Investments, explains. “They will never be able to ‘normalize’ rates… we’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole this time…”

    “He doesn’t know when the inevitable crash will come. But he knows that when interest rates start heading up again on their own, which is also inevitable, that “markets are going to crash. It won’t be pretty.””

    • What a joke, another “Austrian economist”, while TSLA made 4000% (or more) in a decade ~hah. well he certainly not advised that one. Even the less crooked fund managers are basically hopee sellers, living of y/y commission paid by their clients.

      Moreover, his smart giga leveraged asymmetric bets won’t have to pay out anything in next rounds of GFC_ver_xy at all, e.g. there could be various suspension of contracts, stock exchange – banking holidays, and other goodies implemented by the CB/govs to restart the market or let it sink into command style econ emergency anyway (this not necessarily on exactly the next round though).

  27. Harry McGibbs says:

    Worth keeping in mind that the global economy was already stagnating pre-coronavirus in 2019, especially trade and manufacturing:

    “India’s industrial production growth turned negative in December, contracting by 0.3 per cent, mainly on account of a decline in manufacturing sector output, official data showed on Wednesday…Electricity generation also fell by 0.1 per cent…”

  28. Harry McGibbs says:

    “…the virus is weakening key forces [within China’s economy]… — most especially consumer spending… Meanwhile, China is one of the few remaining major sources of demand in a global economy that’s still struggling to keep its head above water.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Chinese auto sales in January declined 18% on year to 1.94 million vehicles, the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Thursday…

      “Auto sales in China declined for the second straight year in 2019 to 25.8 million, down significantly on the record-high 28.9 million sold in 2017. The painful start to the year could spell another full-year decline for the Chinese industry in 2020.”

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “With no end in sight to the health emergency… it is small corporate defaults such as this that threaten to cause big trouble for the country’s banks… China’s banking sector is already in rough shape.

        “A decade of excessive credit growth has saddled China’s lenders with heavy bad debts. Sharply declining economic growth [has]… put additional pressure on balance sheets over the past two years.

        “…many small banks are deeply troubled and already have bad debt rates exceeding more than 40 per cent of their total loan books. In 2019, regional lenders including Baoshang Bank and Hengfeng Bank required government bailouts or other forms of intervention to stop systemic risk from spreading.

        ““The resilience of China’s banking system may be tested,” wrote S&P Global analyst Ming Tan in a report.”

  29. Dennis L. says:

    I know some of you don’t like ZeroHedge, I find them a good summary source. I have not tried to trace back all the cited material it seems like a great many coincidences to me. Apparently governments are considering no longer funding such research, that seems like a very good idea.

    Many of you are much more knowledgeable than I, if you are so inclined, read it and give an opinion.

    Dennis L.

    • NikoB says:

      Best to make distinctions between created virus and modified. This slight of hand is used frequently in this topic at present.
      A good piece on modification.
      If you ask Dmitry Orlov he suggests the US made it and released it in China.
      popcorn anyone?

      • blenheim3 says:

        Cruise ship in Asia, with no instances of infection, denied port access by several countries before docking in Cambodia.

        This will surely impact the cruise industry, with tourists unwilling to join ships that may get stuck at sea.

      • Xabier says:

        Quite possibly, but there are so many possibilities at the moment.

        Dmitry has by and large taken leave of reality these days and is, quite naturally, a Russian propagandist.

        His best work was on the social and economic effects of the Soviet collapse.

        • NikoB says:

          couldn’t agree more.
          maybe it’s the beard.

          • His article opens with discussing negatives or positives for a bioweapon type of outbreak, siding on the former. The middle part mentions the sudden msm anti Chinese hysteria, which I also found peculiarly amplified to my taste as I do follow many “diverse” global msm outlets – it’s apparent to blind/dead person – and conforms with typical Western M.O. of meddling/color revolution manual. And only in the conclusion goes on the wide speculative angle.. it’s a balanced article far from cheap one lineage type of propaganda as you try to insinuate.

    • This story is about the possible insertion of a relatively short gene segment into a virus to make it more easily transmissible among humans and more virulent. One of the links it gives is to this article: On the Origin of the 2019 n-Cov Virus in Wuhan, China.

      If you look at this link, however, it looks as though the article has been withdrawn. An insert at the top says:



      So the Zerohedge article seems to rest to a significant extent on this article, which has been withdrawn. The segment was already part of a 2005 virus.

      Perhaps I am not reading this right, however. There are many other links in the article as well.

      • Chrome Mags says:


        That sentence seems to contradict itself, starting out by noting a motif fingerprint present in a previous virus from 2005, but then goes on to exonerate recombination in the lab for the corona virus. The contradiction makes it confusing.

    • interguru says:

      Why would a country create this virus which will not be contained in China, but eventually spread worldwide, including the creating country? This does not rule out a rogue scientist, or an experiment gone awry.

      Nature always bats last.

  30. Very Far Frank says:

    Over 14,800 new cases and nearly recent 250 deaths in Hubei province. The rate of new cases has clearly not slowed:

    • Very Far Frank says:

      Authorities in Hubei province (where Wuhan is situated) have allegedly opened new testing facilities capable of assessing 10,000 samples per day. In addition, there is a WHO-sponsored field team on the ground monitoring efforts to diagnose.
      As a result I think we’ll begin to see numbers closer to the actuals out of Hubei from now on. The case load in the rest of China will continue to be opaque as the testing capability is not to the same standard.

    • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      a new method of reporting is the main reason:

      “China’s Hubei province reported an additional 242 deaths and 14,840 new cases as of Feb. 12 — a sharp increase from the previous day. The province said it is starting to include “clinically diagnosed” cases in its figures and that 13,332 of the new cases fall under that classification.
      The government said that a total of 1,310 people have died in the province and that 48,206 people have been infected in the region.”

      these new numbers put the death rate under yesterday’s 3%…

      the new rate is about 2.7%…

      • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        also from the cnbc link:

        “Singapore’s… health ministry said contact tracing for the confirmed cases is ongoing and that test results for 125 suspected cases are pending. Of the confirmed cases, more than half are a result of local transmissions where the affected individuals did not have any travel history or links to China. Singapore in recent days saw a surge in panic buying of groceries and other essential household items.”

        “more than half” are local transmissions… it was 22 infected in China and 25 more infected locally, and which is now up to 28…

        but wait!

        125 SUSPECTED cases… it’s increasing exponentially… wow!

        so it’s now an EPIDEMIC…

        but no need to panic!

        oh, wait:

        “Singapore in recent days saw a surge in panic buying of groceries and other essential household items.”

        most of the 125 will test positive, and this means that they likely infected hundreds more in the past week or two…

        and those hundreds are now infecting thousands more this week and next week…

        and what will those thousands be doing in the next few weeks?

        quarantine, anyone?

        it will take a while, but by sometime in March, we should have good preliminary figures for the death rate in Singapore…

        • NikoB says:

          If Singapore takes off then that means high temps 30 degrees C (86 F) and high humidity don’t affect the virus. That is very bad news.

        • Xabier says:

          The same almost everywhere I should say: March will give us some interesting stats.

          A Wuhan Spring for everyone…….

      • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        one more quote:

        “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing for the coronavirus, named COVID-19, to “take a foothold in the U.S.,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters. “At some point, we are likely to see community spread in the U.S. or in other countries,” said Messonnier. “This will trigger a change in our response strategy.”

        coming soon to a theatre near you…

  31. squideater says:

    Well the cv19 deaths are old people (like me). The report here of organ damage also “old people” (like me)? So only old people need stay home? After all Denial say all we do is sit home and watch our 401k grow anyway :). Seriously tho could older people staying out of harms way while allowing the young to keep the economy going be a effective coping strategy? “sir you are under arrest under executive order 987656778865654577 elderly curfew law” . 🙂

  32. Reading Gail’s answer to Dennis L’s comment above, I have to say something.

    We are just going back to a rentier economy.

    Feudalism, manor, plantation (little different from the Roman era Latifundium) are coming back with vengeance.

    Much less energy footprint since manual labor by the renters will be the norm.

    Today’s landowners will always be the dominant class, and the rest will belong to an eternally subservient caste.

    • Hi Kulm, I pitched your thesis on “techno feudalism” here few weeks ago, I agree to substantial degree.

      Now and in the near term many of the elite class just smell the ever dreamed about decoupling from the unwashed masses at hand. The ostentatious “visible rich” circles (bellow the top CB cartel owners), aka second-third order billionaires ala Jill Bates or Zeff Webos currently think of at least guaranteed ~15yrs of self sufficiency via today’s renewable batt setups and hi tech aquaponics providing veggies and protein in a sterile depot setting for them.

      And now they hope via that UK gov-private project to get hands on the small modular NPPs lasting ~60yrs as well. There is indeed market for such puppies, ~200x global oligarch families not all enjoying direct access to gov bunkers (already equipped w. older gen of submarine reactors) would like to up their pecking order status by gaining such “independence” possibility.

      Besides, this techno dreaming, in the longer run, they (or at least large section of them) can always simplify down to basic agricultural and slow trade world via land ownership (incl. farming the humanoids directly again) as you alluded.

  33. Xabier says:

    Interesting to read some stories coming out of Wuhan that the authorities are trying to get firms to open up again, as dear old Xi is not happy with their extreme measures, but that owners cannot source enough masks and hand-wash to meet new work regulations.

    • I’ve seen in some video Chinese person (msm economist ? – not “dissident proper” and such) talking about the most optimistic scenario return to 2019/20 level of performance not sooner than ~Q2/2021 .. Obviously, it will be likely much worse, but at least we get some hint on scenarios under discussion..

    • I see that the Chinese government has put up videos about how wonderful things are in Wuhan, with only a few shoppers in supermarkets full of food. At the same time, Foreigners stranded in Wuhan by virus tell of fear and rations. This story was found searching on “News.” This article was written in France. Other groups coming back tell similar stories.

  34. Sven Røgeberg says:

    Jim Cramer: Once Again, Why Fossil Fuels Are on the Wrong Side of History
    I am not about making friends, I am about making money. And I don’t think I can help you make money in the oil and gas stocks anymore.

  35. Herbie Ficklestein says:

    Coronavirus outbreak will speed up US-China ‘decoupling’ more than the trade war, Milken Institute analyst says
    PUBLISHED TUE, FEB 11 2020 7:41 PM EST
    Weizhen Tan
    Talk of the risk of the world’s two major powers “decoupling” surfaced as their trade battle, which began in 2018, heated up — leading to billions of dollars of tariffs imposed on each other’s goods.
    In the arena of technology, ties between the countries also steadily worsened, and China was said to start efforts to wean itself off U.S. tech.
    “We talked about China and the U.S. decoupling. The coronavirus more than the trade war has sped some of that decoupling as countries, as businesses think about their supply chain for the long run,” said Curtis Chin, an Asia fellow at the Milken Institute.
    “It can’t all be in China, we’ve seen some of the consequences of over reliance on just one key market,” he added
    One effect of the ongoing outbreak, though, is that it’s giving both powers “an out” for the so-called phase one agreement that they just signed, Chin pointed out.

    “In many ways, things are frozen right now — that U.S.-China trade dynamic. I don’t see negotiators coming from Beijing to Washington at this moment,” he said.

    “Interestingly, when we think about the phase one deal … in a way the coronavirus gives both sides an out. If commitments aren’t met anytime soon, well it’s the coronavirus,” Chin added.

    Both countries signed a partial trade deal on Jan. 15 which included a huge commitment by China to buy at least $200 billion worth of U.S. goods over two years. That includes manufactured goods, food, agricultural, energy products and services.

    • I think that the virus will definitely speed up decoupling.

      • Sometimes it’s interesting to look at the mirrors not the object itself.
        The Gulfies msm is bashing-thrashing China openly for weeks hard, suddenly even the political dwarf Germany started to pummel their media network (DW) with similarly aggressive content. Hence one guesstimates there is growing “W camp” consensus China govs will be very badly destabilized and it’s now perfect time to step up the meddling..

        However, if the Chinese eventually bounce back for whatever reason or sheer luck, there will be blowback for all of this and decoupling could asymmetrically affect in the end the opposite side as well..

    • squideater says:

      Well maybe they will buy some real food With that 200 small instead of things that cacoon and slither. HA

  36. Chrome Mags says:

    In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Powell said the Fed had two recession-fighting tools; buying government bonds, known as QE, and communicating clearly with markets about interest-rate policy, routinely considered as “forward guidance.”

    “We will use those tools — I believe we will use them AGGRESSIVELY should the need arise to do so,” Powell said. I capitalized aggressively above because that expresses the intent to do as much QE as necessary, as often as needed. Should be interesting when that occurs to see just how much is needed. The follow up to that will be the long term plan to sell those bonds. Will that work or will they simply sit on the books because the amounts are astronomical?

    “The Fed has traditionally been able to slash interest rates to fight a recession often by as much as 5 percentage points. But that’s impossible now because the Fed’s benchmark rate is currently in a range of 1.5%-1.75%.“We will have less room to cut,” Powell said.

    Sounds like Powell is expecting a recession near term. Maybe the Corona Virus has him jittery.

  37. Rodster says:

    “After Three Record Breaking Years, Is The US Wind Energy Boom Over?”

    It appears the Wind Boom was all about Gov’t subsidies.

    • And it was also about base load grid frequency destabilization.
      Without enough (pre) existing hydro, coal and natgas even the most crooked grid operator would never tolerate-approve such foolishness.. Another classic example how to push already complex system into even way higher elevation of risk.

      • We need links that talk about grid frequency destabilization issues.

        I looked and found some:
        Grid inertia: why it matters in a renewable world Oct. 2019 Renewable Energy World

        General Electric will demolish the 750 MW Inland Empire Energy Center (IEEC) in California that has 20 years remaining in its useful life. With solar and wind dominating the grid, the plant has been deemed uneconomical after operating well below capacity for several years. The site will be used for a new battery storage facility.

        Good news in terms of a zero-carbon future, right? Maybe not. A rush to retire such units may impair the ability of the grid to accept more solar and wind resources in the future. Why? It’s all about a factor known as grid inertia.

        A power network without inertia is one that is unstable, suffers from issues of power quality and is susceptible to blackouts. The primary mechanism for providing inertia is via the presence of heavy rotating equipment such as steam turbines and gas turbines driving generators and rotating generators.

        Efforts to decommission such equipment and replace them with renewable resources, while well intended, could inadvertently hamper the creation of the robust and reliable renewable grid of the future. Additionally, failure to invest in aging turbo-machinery in an effort to achieve environmental targets could backfire. Operators could be forced to continue to operate dirty generating resources to provide grid stability and inertia when a small upgrade could greatly reduce emissions and improve the overall resilience of a renewable-focused power network.

        Some other links that came up on my search:

        Understanding Inertial and Frequency Response of Wind Power Plants (2012)

        Who is disrupting the utility frequency?

        On 10 January 2019, the utility frequency of Europe’s power grid dropped to 49.8 hertz. Many factors contributed to the near-blackout that evening, but the incident is not the only one in recent weeks that has shaken the grid.

        But, let’s start at the beginning: Thursday , 10 January 2019 at 21:00 CET. Europe was settling in for a relaxing evening on the couch in warmly-lit living rooms at the end of the workday. At that moment, however, things were far from relaxed for employees at European grid stability observation posts. In less than two minutes, the utility frequency plunged toward the critical threshold of 49.8 hertz across Europe and was threatening to sink even further.

    • Thinkstoomuch says:

      Two things.

      It was always about the subsidies. Look at the chart of yearly installed wind capacity and notice where the peaks are. For even more fun start looking at quarterly periodicity.

      Second the subsidy was extended in this year’s “budget”. Solar wasn’t but it is not against a hard limit like wind was. Plus wind by definition of a modern turbine and farm size is a corporate endeavor. Corporations hire better(more expensive) lobbyists and throw around more cash.


  38. Chrome Mags says:

    Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and head of the School’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, talked to the Gazette about recent developments in the outbreak and provided a look ahead.

    Harvard’s LIPSITCH: “The number of confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus have continued to surge inside China, sickening tens of thousands, with a death toll of more than 1,000. But outside the Asian giant the numbers remain a fraction of that, a trend Harvard’s Marc Lipsitch views with suspicion. Lipsitch thinks it is just a matter of time before the virus spreads widely internationally, which means nations so far only lightly hit should prepare for its eventual arrival in force and what may seem like the worst flu season in modern times.”

    LIPSITCH: “There’s likely to be a period of widespread transmission in the U.S., and I hope we will avert the kind of chaos that some other places are seeing.”

    GAZETTE: “People have said a vaccine is probably at least a year away. Do you have a sense that this is going to need a vaccine to finally bring it under control?”

    LIPSITCH: “It’s clear they won’t necessarily succeed. There’s a lot of effort being put into them, but not every disease has a vaccine.”

    • Xabier says:

      He’s probably right: we simply can’t lessen the tempo of trade and tourism by much or for long, or the global debt structure will implode.

      I expect to see the Chinese being forced back to factories and offices, especially those businesses of strategic significance to China and Xi’s ambitions.

      Ergo, transmission will, inevitably, be global over several years: we cannot even hope for a safe vaccine before then, and as he says it may never come.

      All one will be able to do is lessen one’s chances of contracting it through very good hygiene and limiting exposure, delaying the fatal day – and pray to be in the 80% or so of cases that are ‘mild’.

      One can’t even practice sensible self-quarantine, as with the flu, as it is infectious when asymptomatic for such a long time.

      • Chrome Mags says:

        “All one will be able to do is lessen one’s chances of contracting it through very good hygiene and limiting exposure, delaying the fatal day – and pray to be in the 80% or so of cases that are ‘mild’.”

        Xabier, think of it as a litmus test for the immune system. My wife will be ok – she has an amazing immune system. She’ll catch a cold and a day later be over it. I figure my chances are 25 bad/75 good.

        • Xabier says:

          Positive thinking is certainly half the battle!

          I also have a large stock of quite powerful prescription steroids for lung inflammation, for use in emergencies, so I trust in God and have’ tied my camel’ as the saying goes…….

          • One article said that they tried steroids on the first patients, and they tended to make the lung conditions worse, not better.

            • Xabier says:

              Oh dear! Well, that would be a nice quick end for yours truly then.

              Of course, for a varying % of patients steroids can have adverse effects, often quite severe; all lung drugs are like that – one side-effect being ‘mostly temporary’ (I love the ‘mostly’) schizophrenia……

              I’m concentrating on enjoying every moment while life remains fairly normal here, as it is foolish anyway to think one is ‘future-proof’. The gods laugh at that delusion.

          • Robert Firth says:

            Ah yes, “Tie your Camel and have At-tawakul a‘lallah“. An oblique way of saying God helps those who help themselves. The story continues with the admonition that a thirsty man should not ask Allah for water, but find it for himself, and give thanks when it is found. al-Ḥamdu lillāh.

    • I thought the interview with Lipstich was very interesting.

      One thing he said was

      I think it’s going to be a new virus that we have to deal with. That won’t be because the United States government has failed to contain it, it will mean that this is an uncontainable virus. If we’re dealing with it, it’s because everybody’s going to be dealing with it. I think that’s a likely scenario.

      Also, we don’t know whether people who recover will have immunity to a different version of the disease that comes around in a year or two. It is possible that immunity won’t be long-lasting. It is possible that the disease will mutate too much for the immunity to work against the new version.

      • Chrome Mags says:

        “It is possible that the disease will mutate too much for the immunity to work against the new version.”

        That’s an even worse nightmare scenario that I’ve thought of as well, Gail. The idea it could spread globally, then next winter much like the flu, come out with a new version of itself, mutating into something even more deadly. If by some miracle the world economy survived until that got started, surely that would end it.

        What’s also interesting is this virus doesn’t seem to be harming children, like the flu does in some cases. There was a Star Trek episode, Miri, listed below, in which the adults had succumbed to a virus leaving the children to fend for themselves.

        “Star Trek: The Original Series” Miri (TV Episode 1966) an artificially-created plague wiped out all adults, leaving only children.” But once the children reach a certain age, they succumb to also. McCoy comes up with an anti-dote. What was interesting was there was no mechanization.

        • Xabier says:

          ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

          For Time he is a-flying;

          And that same flower that blooms today,

          Tomorrow will be dying’…..

          (The now quite old version by Emma Kirkby remains unsurpassed).

          • Robert Firth says:

            Xabier, that is (almost) the first stanza of a poem by the 17th century author Robert Herrick. Its original title was “To Virgins, to Make Much of Time”. A common theme in Renaissance poetry; perhaps the most famous example is Edmund Spenser’s Sonnet 70 , with its final couplet:

            Make haste therefore, sweet love, whilst it is prime,
            For none can call again the passed time.

        • NikoB says:

          It could also be the best mechanism for mankind to create a regular 1 – 2% cull of our population yearly till we are back down to more sustainable levels of highly healthy humans. Who would overly notice the extra 2 out 100 people dying especially if they are old or sick. They died from pneumonia.

          • chrish618 says:

            I expect most of us like these thoughts about human culling.
            Except perhaps when we are included in the cull.
            As for me, I would dearly like to see what ensues before I kick the bucket.
            It’s a mesmerising story this civilisation is weaving.

  39. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The British economy failed to grow in the final three months of 2019 amid political uncertainty over Brexit and the snap general election.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “With world output fragile, the risk of further slowdown in the first quarter is looking very real… if the coronavirus shows no signs of abating we should not discount the possibility of the kind of co-ordinated interest rate cut reserved for crisis.”

      • Somehow, in spite of all the issues, the author from “This is money” ends the article, “The best days are ahead.”

        Perhaps, but I wouldn’t count on it.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          Alex Brummer is “talking up” the UK economy on behalf of the government, as many right wing journalists currently are. The economy may have flatlined but Britain had the third-fastest growing economy in the G7 last year *and* GDP was better than forecast in Q4!

          • Xabier says:

            Ah, the light is just dazzling! And with HS2 we will be a transport beacon for the whole world!

            Jon Harris’s reports in The Guardian on growing working poverty and collapsing public services in the UK are more to the point.

  40. Harry McGibbs says:

    “[US] Household debt surged in 2019, marking the biggest annual increase since just before the financial crisis, according to the New York Federal Reserve…

    ““The data also show that transitions into delinquency among credit card borrowers have steadily risen since 2016, notably among younger borrowers,” Wilbert Van Der Klaauw, senior vice president at the New York Fed, said in a statement.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Auto loan and lease balances have surged to a new record of $1.33 trillion… subprime loans (borrowers with a credit score below 620) are exploding at a breath-taking rate, and they’re driving up the overall delinquency rates to Financial Crisis levels.”

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Investor money ensnared in alleged Ponzi schemes has hit its highest level in a decade, leading to concern that a booming stock market and de-regulatory agenda are pushing more fraudsters to bilk unsuspecting investors.”

        • A person might argue that many of todays’ “growth” companies are close to Ponzi Schemes.

          • Dennis L. says:


            I think this might not be the correct way to look at things. Google, Amazon, Apple are really intellectual capital businesses, their wealth is their brand and the people who work with them. It is safe to assume that those working for these companies and other well recognized, successful companies are the intellectual elites of the world which means a very small percentage of the population. It is very difficult for an average investor to find such groups of people, government bonds are an investment in the average by their size alone, and they really are not backed by much that is physical save the US with its large military. These companies are growing for the insiders, it is tough to be an outsider and participate other than in a government job with a pension which basically skims the overall population. There are discussions about adjusting SS, one never hears about adjusting government pensions, the minority.

            The rules no longer seem to be the same, intellectual capital scales almost without limit. If these companies buy back their stock, they are investing in themselves, there are fewer stocks available than was historically the case. In the end other than for liquidity and appreciation many of these companies don’t need stockholders. Microsoft supposedly never had a need to sell stock, they were always cashflow positive.

            We have a new economy, maybe it goes back to hunter gathers, but that seems to be a bad bet to me, and why even make it? For so many years we have been told disaster is just around the corner, sometimes I think the same publicists handle both fusion and apocalyptic prophesies.

            Thought question? Is there a limit on how much we can learn? What happens when we understand the universe?

            Dennis L.

            • NikoB says:

              What can we learn or know?
              I was told a great analogy the other day for the human striving for knowledge.
              Imagine our knowledge as a circle.
              The area inside of the circle is our accumulated knowledge.
              The area outside of the circle is what we have no knowledge of.
              The circumference of the circle represents our interface or edge between knowledge of what we wish to know about or possibly exists and our current knowledge.
              The issue is that as we increase our knowledge the circle area increases but so does the length of the circumference edge meaning that from small amount of new knowledge we acquire if even more questions of new possibilities of knowledge.
              This process is probably infinite.
              Do we have the time and energy for it?
              Also knowledge is not wisdom.
              Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
              Wisdom is knowing that it doesn’t go into fruit salad.
              We have been making an awful fruit salad of things lately.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Dennis, I do not believe we shall ever understand the universe: we are too small and limited; it is very large and perhaps unlimited. I prefer Bruno’s view, that we a part, a very mall part, of the universe’s attempt to understand itself, and there are other worlds almost without number where the same exercise is taking place.

    • Thinkstoomuch says:

      Thought this referenced Household Debt Service Payments as a Percent of Disposable Personal Income chart was rather interesting.


      • Harry McGibbs says:

        There are certainly other nations at higher risk of a financial crisis caused by household debt, eg Australia and Canada. I am more concerned about corporate debt in the US.

        ““Personal insolvencies in Canada increased last year to the highest level and at the fastest rate since the financial crisis while business insolvencies rose for the first time in nearly two decades, government figures show.

        ““The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy reported Monday 137,178 Canadians filed for bankruptcy or modified repayment terms with creditors last year, a 9.5 per cent increase over 2018.””

      • Mortgage payments came way down. Homes are increasingly owned by big corporations and rented out, rather than owned by families. Thus, “Household” debt is down. Businesses now have some of this debt.

        Also, relatively few new homes are being built. Instead, apartments are being built. Young people cannot afford the cost of homes today. Municipalities tack on big fees for new roads and schools. These high fees can better be hidden in high cost homes than in low cost homes.

        • Dennis L. says:

          Not in any way a challenge: would you source where and how large corporations are owning more homes and renting them out? Theoretically, it would be more economical for both the renter and the corporation as the financial depreciation is put on to the society as a whole which would seem to further concentrate wealth in them that’s got.

          In your opinion is this a financialization of worker’s income? Essentially, they are building an asset for the corporation and the corporation is putting back on the renter the depreciation of the property if one localizes the depreciation to the individual renting, the individual is paying higher taxes and the corporation lower – all this assumes the financial depreciation is greater than the physical depreciation other wise the disposal value of the asset can exceed the financial depreciation, but of course that happens in a later quarter, so all is well with the world.

          If the market tanks, perhaps goes down by 50%, then the corporation can sell the asset and take a tax loss, or declare bankruptcy and another corporation can purchase the asset, rinse and repeat.

          Dennis L.

          • I am not sure I have thought through all of the issues.

            This is a phenomenon I noticed myself. I have talked to families who lost their homes through bankruptcy. They could not buy a home, because of their poor credit rating, but they could rent a home. Businesses saw the opportunity, and bought up homes to rent out. The world was now awash in folks who could no longer buy homes, especially if we include all of the young folds today.

            This is an article from the Charlotte Observer:

            Here’s why big-money Wall Street players have bought thousands of Charlotte homes

            A small group of out-of-state companies have bought more than 10,000 houses across the Charlotte region, rapidly increasing their holdings from almost none just a few years ago. And rather than try to flip these homes to new buyers, they’ve turned them into long-term rentals.

            They’ve concentrated on buying moderately priced starter homes. And their buying activity over the last few years comes as affordable housing has emerged as a major issue in Charlotte, with increases in both rent and home prices outstripping wage growth.

            If you’re a home buyer, some local real estate agents say the rental companies’ laser-focus on acquiring starter homes has made finding one more difficult for private buyers, potentially pushing prices up. For sellers, the companies often offer a quick, all-cash closing. If you’re a renter, it might mean dealing with an impersonal, out-of-state landlord instead of a mom-and-pop rental company with local roots.

            Others worry that the companies will sell their houses as soon as they’re not profitable to own, swamping the market.

            The people buying these homes are in pretty low tax brackets. Years ago, people built equity in their home by putting a small amount down, and then inflation helped them greatly leverage their initial investment.

            The folks renting these homes have virtually no money that they would be able to put down. That is why they are renting. The buyer is taking the risk of home price deflation and also with respect to needed repairs. Needed repairs gets to be a big issue for people with little savings. Available homes are increasingly getting to be older homes, because many fewer homes have been built since 2008. Even if young people could afford these homes, they cannot afford all of the many expenses and repairs that go with home ownership.

            I don’t know the details of the taxes these companies would pay, versus the taxes on the homes that the owner-occupier would pay. I know that there is a big discount in the area where I live on taxes paid by an owner-occupier. I also would have to look up depreciation details. I suppose if a business buys a 50 year old house, it starts depreciating it as if it were new. These are not new homes.

    • The article says, ” . . . the growth was driven mainly by a large increase in mortgage debt balances.”

      I would bet that with the low interest rates and low unemployment rate, there was a lot of mortgage refinancing, and extra money pulled out with the refinancing. This would make people “feel richer.”

  41. Yoshua says:

    Coronavirus in Russia

    “Altogether about 100 people being quarantined in St Petersburg, hundreds more under observation.”

    • The Moscow Times is today reporting:

      Russia has stepped up measures to tackle the health risk, including closing most entry points along its 4,200-kilometer border and suspending e-visas and work visas for Chinese nationals.

      The two people infected with coronavirus in Russia — both Chinese nationals — are being prepared for release after more than a week of being held in quarantine, the head of Russia’s consumer protection agency told the RBC news website. [They are recovering.]

      The Kremlin has started checking the body temperatures of individuals attending events with President Vladimir Putin as a “precautionary measure,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

      • Yoshua says:

        This could be a case of paranoia more than actual contagion…or better safe than sorry.

        The story is that a woman broke out from the quarantine after she showed negative to the virus, but still was forced to stay in the quarantine for another 14 days, while the quarantine was supposed to be voluntary.

        Anyway…Russia is too lucky to be true.

        • The test doesn’t really work very well. It gives a lot of false negatives. The body doesn’t really have viruses sitting around to be found in the areas that are commonly swabbed, except in certain circumstances.

  42. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Australian exporters heavily dependent on China are braced for the full impact of the coronavirus on Australian exports, from iron ore and LNG, to lobster and lamb, and bionic ear technology.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The Australian dollar tumbled to its weakest level since the financial crisis as investors continued to weigh the impact of the coronavirus on economic growth in China, Australia’s biggest trading partner.

      “The currency, typically regarded as a proxy for Chinese economic growth, fell to the lowest level against the greenback since March 2009.”

      • Yes, this aussie proxy worked almost clockworky, however I’m amazed how the global energy sector proxies are still lagging (yes slight uptick from early Jan only) or perhaps still on large systemic support not allowed to move. Perhaps at some point shorts in some segments of the economy like energy will be made illegal “or paused” indefinitely..

      • The falling Australian dollar is no surprise. Imports will be more expensive for people living in Australia. It will be cheaper to sell its exports on the world market, however.

    • There are lots of indirect impacts we never consider:

      Australian hearing implant maker Cochlear Ltd cut its full-year profit forecast on Tuesday, blaming the coronavirus outbreak as hospitals in China delayed surgeries to limit further spreading of the infection.

      Hospitals across China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have been deferring surgeries, including cochlear implants, as part of a host of measures to stem the spread of the virus and prevent panic.

      “It has become clear that the coronavirus will impact the number of cochlear implant surgeries in Greater China, a top-five market for Cochlear,” Cochlear chief executive Dig Howitt said in a statement.

  43. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday cut its global oil demand growth forecast for this year by 310,000 barrels per day (bpd) as the coronavirus outbreak dents oil consumption in China, the world’s No. 2 economy.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “So far, the best barometer of the economic challenges facing China today is in the energy market…

      “A regional chief executive of a global commodity trading house confirmed to me on background that demand has plummeted by 3 million barrels a day and that other data touch points don’t look promising – internal bus traffic is down 87 percent, internal flight traffic cut nearly in half.”

      • A good point the author makes is

        So far, the best barometer of the economic challenges facing China today is in the energy market. The country, after the decade long US shale boom, is the number one importer in the world. Demand before the shock was 14 million barrels a day, with imports making up 10 million of that total amount.

        A 3 million barrel per day cutback in demand will have a huge world market for oil imports. Prices are going to have to fall further.

    • chrish618 says:

      China’s been rattling along, destined to become Number 1 economy. Then this virus hit them. If it knocks them out of the paddock what a bonus for Trump’s US? Who would have thought a tiny virus would Make America Great Again?

      • Yep, but we have to wait for the eventual global infection story (mortality rate per other regions / pop), it would either confirm or deny the possibility of racial/bias theory of this pandemic or not. Actually it could be obfuscated (only to some degree) by pointing out the bad air quality and nutrition deficiency among large segments of the (mega urban) Chinese pop. But very diverging numbers around the world would be very suspicious even to laymen. Nevertheless at that point “new event” of the day could cover it up.

        • I think mortality will depend to a significant upon upscale (terribly expensive) medical treatment being available. While 20% of those infected (or something like this) get severe effects, most of these could be saved with fancy enough medical treatment. The big one is using expensive medical devices. The other issue is likely to be using antiviral drugs that we already have, but not in nearly large enough quantity. We also don’t know how helpful these are, but there seem to be reports that Interferon and also an HIV drug combination have some positive impact.

          China would like to be able to give this kind of treatment to its huge population, but it can’t. Even things like basic protective wear for physicians is lacking. The health care providers are getting sick, on a significant scale. This adds to the mess.

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        Although China is taking the biggest hit right now, the knock-on effects could spiral in all sorts of unpredictable ways and be disastrous for the entire global economy. We could even see another global financial crisis, which the central banks are ill-equipped to mitigate.

        ““The coronavirus outbreak in China has generated economic waves that are rocking global commodities markets and disrupting the supply networks that act as the backbone of the global economy.”

      • Epidemics are known to go with collapse. China was already at the edge of collapse. The situation isn’t quite as strange as it might seem. Too many poor people with lung problems already, living close together, using public transportation.

    • The Gulf News is saying 3 million barrels per day lower imports for China alone; the US EIA is saying a cut in the world’s growth of 310,000 barrels per day. The implication is that the problem will never spread out of China; it will end in China almost immediately. I don’t think so.

  44. Harry McGibbs says:

    The WHO has gone from complacency to what appears to be abject panic:

    “The coronavirus is “the worst enemy you can ever imagine” and poses a greater global threat than terrorism, the World Health Organisation has warned.

    “Urging the world to “wake up” and be as aggressive as possible in tackling the outbreak, the UN health agency has given a new name to the disease that has sickened more than 44,600 people.

    “It is now going to be officially known as COVID-19 – CO stands for corona, VI for virus, D for disease and 19 for the year it emerged.

    “Chinese health officials have expressed hope that the outbreak will be over in April, but the head of the World Health Organisation was far less optimistic.

    “Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned the first vaccine for COVID-19 was 18 months away, adding: “To be honest, a virus is more powerful in creating political, social and economic upheaval than any terrorist attack. It’s the worst enemy you can imagine.””

    • Robert Firth says:

      “Urging the world to “wake up” and be as aggressive as possible in tackling the outbreak, …”

      Advice which means essentially nothing. In other words, “we are in a panic and totally clueless; it’s your problem now.” So when the chips are down, when the one event that the WHO was designed to prevent or mitigate actually happens, they hide in a hole. I vote we parachute the lot of them into Wuhan, with the admonition, “No, it’s your problem.”

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        First they delay declaring a global emergency and spend their press conferences reassuring everyone that China is doing a fantastic job of containing and managing the outbreak – and now they are the ones screaming that the house is on fire! Ridiculous.

        • Xabier says:

          The problem is that at the top they are all, or course, political appointees the result of horse-trading among the main funders.

          Most don’t even have basic medical degrees or experience (the one I knew was geographer ).

          Ted Jhesus is the token African – it was that continent’s turn.

          One can only expect political posturing and the management of news from such people.

          Just another step in the all-pervasive loss of trust in institutions….

          • Xabier says:

            However, lower down the chain there are WHO doctors who would put their lives at risk to save people, I met one of those – an Arab who had worked in Rwanda.

    • The virus is deceptive. It looks like it can be defeated, but it really can’t. Our means of identifying are too weak. It spreads too easily, not necessarily in ways we would think of. It is too expensive to test for and treat. The cost of treating it brings down economies more than the deaths of untreated patients would.

  45. Pingback: URL

  46. Hill Billy says:

    China’s Fatal Dilemma

    But if China doesn’t “open for business” with unrestricted travel soon, its economy will suffer calamitous declines as fragile mountains of debt and leverage collapse and supply chain disruptions push global corporations to find permanent alternatives elsewhere.

    Here’s the fatal dilemma: maintaining the quarantine long enough to truly contain it (which requires extending it to the entire country) will be fatal to China’s economy.

    But ending the limited quarantine and falsely proclaiming China safe for visitors and business travelers will only re-introduce the virus to workplaces and infect foreigners who will return home as asymptomatic carriers, spreading the virus in their home nations.

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “China must be nearing the point where the social and economic costs of trying to stamp out the coronavirus by totalitarian methods are greater than the trauma of letting it run.”

      • Chrome Mags says:

        That’s it Harry – they’re going to have to let it run.

      • Xabier says:

        It sees that Xi is moving towards that conclusion: debts must be serviced come what may.

        Debt is a jealous god, and will have no rivals.

      • Wow! This is quite the article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard!

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          “My working assumption is that China will lose its battle against the 2019-nCoV viral enemy. At some point the Communist Party leadership will switch tack after much agonising, conclude that it is less disruptive to manage the disease, and shift to total economic mobilisation instead – as the lesser of evils.

          “If this is correct we must therefore all brace for a global pandemic.”

          I do enjoy Ambrose’s bracing brand of journalism. He does not shy away from speaking unpalatable truths. I sometimes wonder how his articles might look if he had assimilated your analysis, Gail.

  47. Tim Groves says:

    Rebecca Frazier, who was sickened on the Diamond Princess, joined ABC News from her hospital room in Tokyo.

    Warning: Sensitive viewers may find this video disturbing, as George Stephanopoulos makes an appearance at the end.

  48. The story about the cruise ship parked off of Japan goes on and on.

    39 additional people on Diamond Princess cruise ship diagnosed with coronavirus

    Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato announced the new cases on Wednesday, local time, bringing the total of cases to 174, including at least 24 Americans.

    “Out of 53 new test results, 39 people were found positive,” he told reporters.

    The new cases include a quarantine official who was infected, the health minister said.

    • Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “It [the quarantine] is expected to remain in effect until at least Feb. 19 — 14 days after the isolation period began.”

      “at least”…

      in 8 more days, I would expect dozens more will be diagnosed positive…

      if so, then the quarantine will have to be extended…

      during the extension, I would expect dozens more will be diagnosed positive…

      if so, then the quarantine will have to be extended again…

      during the second extension, I would expect dozens more will be diagnosed positive…

      if so, then…

    • Chrome Mags says:

      39 out of 53 is 73.6%, so that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the passengers, particularly since approx. 15%+ of all infected become critically ill patients, or at least they did in Wuhan. The ship will need to bring on board special hospital equipment to handle critical cases. Also, the quarantine time extends for everyone on board every time someone new tests positive. It’s likely they won’t get off of that ship possibly until June, maybe even out to September.

      • Hubbs says:

        It’s only a matter of time. All the passengers are trapped and each new infection extends the quarantine until the last person has contracted it, meaning until they have all contracted it and the final survivorship count has been recorded.

        • squideater says:

          Doesnt this reflect the overall situation with the ship being the planet? The perception is if you can contain it you can limit exposure until you can eradicate CV19. Something is different about this one. Containing and limiting exposure seems to be failing. Containing and limiting exposure on the scale needed will have effects that are worse than “letting it run” So now plan B except there is no plan B. Plan B is “letting it run” by default. Plan B conflicts with the perception that there are always solutions. A lot of things depend on that perception so it must be protected. Imagine the popularity of a politician who says “let it run the cure is worse than the disease”. All sorts of resources will be squandered. All sorts of glorious drama complete with heroes and villains will be created. We may well seal our own fate with our actions much like when the bodies immune system works against itself creating much greater problems over a minor problem like pollen. Im describing the mechanics of our society. Actions will be taken. Resources will be squandered. Old models will be followed even as they fail. I am highly confidant of one forecast. You will never hear “let it run” advocated in the MSM. You will never hear a politician utter “let it run”. To do so would be to negate a perception that is the base of their power. That perception also is the glue of civil society. That perception may be negated but every resource on the planet will be squandered and every complex system ignored to try to sustain it.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Gail, this is bad news indeed. It was obvious from the beginning that everyone on the cruise ship would be exposed to the virus, since quarantine in such an environment is impossible. The uncertainty was whether exposure implied infection, and it now seems that it does. Given the number of old people aboard, the death rate will be far higher than 1% or 2%. How much higher? Only time will tell.

      Does this scale up to the rest of the world? Yes, I fear it does. It seems a virus carrier can remain asymptomatic for more than two weeks, which means there is no quarantine regime possible that would prevent multiple exposures among the wider population, and if that implies infection then we have a true pandemic. As in: everybody will get the disease, and whatever the death rate is, it will be almost universal.

      I note that Premier Xi Jinping is spending a lot of time in hiding. Not, perhaps hosting a masquerade ball in a gothic abbey, but a disturbing state of affairs nonetheless.

      • One thing I wonder about is whether President Xi will catch the virus from his short visit to the Coronavirus hospital, now close to three days ago. He wasn’t wearing much in the way of protective gear. Of course, if he catches the illness, he will get any antiviral drugs that seem to work, making his illness less severe than that of common people.

        I expect that there are people who can get the disease and never really show symptoms. (Probably younger women.) In fact, they may never test positive in the rather poor test we have now for the disease.

    • Xabier says:

      The more they test, they more they find: must be quite terrifying to be in such a claustrophobic environment, just waiting.

    • ABC news reports:

      “The issue with quarantine remains the lack of ability in a closed environment like this to maintain infection prevention measures on a ship,” said Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, director of global health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York. “We are seeing numbers increase dramatically, which likely means that there is ongoing spread of the virus on these ships. That’s concerning, as its creating a second epicenter of the infection, in a Japanese port.”

  49. Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    “As of Tuesday noon, Singapore reported 47 confirmed cases — 25 of which were locally transmitted. Neighbor Malaysia reported 18 cases of infection.”

    wow, those Singapore numbers are massively significant…

    it is saying that there are 22 confirmed cases who were infected in China, and now there are 25 MORE which were locally transmitted…

    so the increase is exponential (higher than 1.0)…

    unless (over)reactions are adequate, that 25 will soon be 50 which will soon be 100 etc…

  50. Davidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

    simple (perhaps simplistic) Wuhan math:

    11 million people, perhaps 2% die each year = 220,000
    = about 600 per day…

    now we have 1,000+ deaths reported to be because of the coronavirus, and this is (mostly) within the past 33 days…

    = about 30 per day…

    if it has been averaging about 30 per day, then why are the crematoriums being overwhelmed when it’s only 30 more than the base amount which probably averages about 600 per day?

    why has this 30 per day increase been so noticeable to the Chinese government that they have instituted such a drastic (over)reaction?

    or could it be better explained if the actual numbers are perhaps 10 times higher, and the system that has been handling 600 deaths per day is now being overwhelmed by something like 900 per day?

    the “official” numbers are difficult to understand…

    • If the progress of the disease would be straightforward shooter: infection-(most pop mild symptoms)-few% sudden drop dead; they wouldn’t care that much even for hundred thousands – millions of mortal cases. But the progress is more like a wild roller coaster of ~3-4 weeks from initial flu/inflammation, strong diarrhea/vomiting, pneumonia, secondary infections of various organs, recovery/death.. that absolutely overtakes medical system in various specialist dept. of internal organ medicine as well as it hugely damages overall public-social interaction in such dense mega urban society..

      In other words, this happening say ~40-50yrs ago with much more less dense medical network, people won’t be rushing to hospitals, they would calmly die in their locale..

      • Xabier says:

        Perfectly true: before antibiotics and the welfare state, hospitals were mainly for surgical operations (often last-ditch hope) not this kind of thing.

        Doctors made home visits, to both rich and poor, said ‘Make them comfortable as best you can, ‘ and that was that. There was nothing else to be done.

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