Understanding Our Pandemic – Economy Predicament

The world’s number one problem today is that the world’s population is too large for its resource base. Some people have called this situation overshoot. The world economy is ripe for a major change, such as the current pandemic, to bring the situation into balance. The change doesn’t necessarily come from the coronavirus itself. Instead, it is likely to come from the whole chain reaction that has been started by the coronavirus and the response of governments around the world to the coronavirus.

Let me explain more about what is happening.

[1] The world economy is reaching Limits to Growth, as described in the book with a similar title.

One way of seeing the predicament we are in is the modeling of resource consumption and population growth described in the 1972 book, The Limits to Growth, by Donella Meadows et al. Its base scenario seems to suggest that the world will reach limits about now. Chart 1 shows the base forecast from that book, together with a line I added giving my impression of where the economy really was in 2019, relative to resource availability.

Figure 1. Base scenario from 1972 Limits to Growth, printed using today’s graphics by Charles Hall and John Day in “Revisiting Limits to Growth After Peak Oil,” with dotted line added corresponding to where the world economy seems to be in 2019.

In 2019, the world economy seemed to be very close to starting a downhill trajectory. Now, it appears to me that we have reached the turning point and are on our way down. The pandemic is the catalyst for this change to a downward trend. It certainly is not the whole cause of the change. If the underlying dynamics had not been in place, the impact of the virus would likely have been much less.

The 1972 model leaves out two important parts of the economy that probably make the downhill trajectory steeper than shown in Figure 1. First, the model leaves out debt and, in fact, the whole financial system. After the 2008 crisis, many people strongly suspected that the financial system would play an important role as we reach the limits of a finite world because debt defaults are likely to disturb the worldwide financial system.

The model also leaves out humans’ continual battle with pathogens. The problem with pathogens becomes greater as world population becomes denser, facilitating transmission. The problem also becomes greater as a larger share of the population becomes more susceptible, either because they are elderly or because they have underlying health conditions that have been hidden by an increasingly complex and expensive medical system.

As a result, we cannot really believe the part of Figure 1 that is after 2020. The future downslopes of population, industrial production per capita, and food per capita all seem likely to be steeper than shown on the chart because both the debt and pathogen problems are likely to increase the speed at which the economy declines.

[2] It is far more than the population that has overshot limits.

The issue isn’t simply that there are too many people relative to resources. The world seems to have

  • Too many shopping malls and stores
  • Too many businesses of all kinds, with many not very profitable for their owners
  • Governments with too extensive programs, which taxpayers cannot really afford
  • Too much debt
  • An unaffordable amount of pension promises
  • Too low interest rates
  • Too many people with low wages or no wages at all
  • Too expensive a healthcare system
  • Too expensive an educational system

The world economy needs to shrink back in many ways at once, simultaneously, to manage within its resource limits. It is not clear how much of an economy (or multiple smaller economies) will be left after this shrinkage occurs.

[3] The economy is in many ways like the human body. In physics terms, both are dissipative structures. They are both self-organizing systems powered by energy (food for humans; a mixture of energy products including oil, coal, natural gas, burned biomass and electricity for the economy).

The human body will try to fix minor problems. For example, if someone’s hand is cut, blood will tend to clot to prevent too much blood loss, and skin will tend to grow to substitute for the missing skin. Similarly, if businesses in an area disappear because of a tornado, the prior owners will either tend to rebuild them or new businesses will tend to come in to replace them, as long as adequate resources are available.

In both systems, there is a point beyond which problems cannot be fixed, however. We know that many people die in car accidents if injuries are too serious, for example. Similarly, the world economy may “collapse” if conditions deviate too far from what is necessary for economic growth to continue. In fact, at this point, the world economy may be so close to the edge with respect to resources, particularly energy resources, that even a minor pandemic could push the world economy into a permanent cycle of contraction.

[4] World governments are in a poor position to fix the current resource and pandemic crisis.

In our networked economy, too low a resource base relative to population manifests itself in a strange way: It appears as an affordability crisis that leads to very low prices for oil. It also appears as terribly low prices for many other commodities, including copper, lithium, coal and even wholesale electricity. These low prices occur because too large a share of the population cannot afford finished goods, such as cars and homes, made with these commodities. Recent shutdowns have suddenly increased the number of people with low income or no income, pushing commodity prices even lower.

If resources were more plentiful and very inexpensive to produce, as they were 50 or 70 years ago, wages of workers could be much higher, relative to the cost of resources. Factory workers would be able to afford to buy vehicles, for example, and thus help keep the demand for automobiles up. If we look more deeply into this, we find that energy resources of many kinds (fossil fuel energy, nuclear energy, burned biomass and other renewable energy) must be extraordinarily cheap and abundant to keep the system growing. Without “surplus energy” from many sources, which grows with population, the whole system tends to collapse.

World governments cannot print resources. What they can print is debt. Debt can be viewed as a promise of future goods and services, whether or not it is reasonable to believe that these future goods and services will actually materialize, given resource constraints.

We are finding that using shutdowns to solve COVID-19 problems causes a huge amount of economic damage. The cost of mitigating this damage seems to be unreasonably high. For example, in the United States, antibody studies suggest that roughly 5% of the population has been infected with COVID-19. The total number of deaths associated with this 5% infection level is perhaps 100,000, assuming that reported deaths to date (about 80,000) need to be increased somewhat, to match the approximately 5% of the population that has, knowingly or unknowingly, already experienced the infection.

If we estimate that the mean number of years of life lost is 13 years per person, then the total years of life lost would be about 1,300,000. If we estimate that the US treasury needed to borrow $3 trillion dollars to mitigate this damage, the cost per year of life lost is $3 trillion divided by 1.3 million, or $2.3 million per year of life lost. This amount is utterly absurd.

This approach is clearly not something the United States can scale up, as the share of the population affected by COVID-19 relentlessly rises from 5% to something like 70% or 80%, in the absence of a vaccine. We have no choice but to use a different approach.

[5] COVID-19 would have the least impact on the world economy if people could pay little attention to the pandemic and just “let it run.” Of course, even without mitigation attempts, COVID-19 might bring the world economy down, given the distressed level of today’s economy and the shutdowns experienced to date.

Shutting down an economy has a huge adverse impact on that economy because quite a few workers who are in good health are no longer able to make goods and services. As a result, they have no wages, so their “demand” goes way down. If the economy was already having an affordability crisis for goods made with commodities, shutting down the economy tends to greatly add to the affordability crisis. Prices of commodities tend to fall even lower than they were before the crisis.

Back in 1957-1958, the Asian pandemic, which also started in China, hit the world. The number of deaths was up in the range of the current pandemic, relative to population. The estimated worldwide death rate was 0.67%.  This is not too dissimilar from a death rate of 0.61% for COVID-19, which can be calculated using my estimate above (100,000 deaths relative to 5% of the US population of 33o million).

Virtually nothing was shut down in the US for the 1957-58 pandemic. When doctors or nurses became sick themselves, wards were simply closed. Would-be patients were told to stay at home and take aspirin, unless a severe case developed. With this approach, the US still faced a short recession, but the economy was soon growing again. Populations seemed to reach herd immunity quite quickly.

If the world could somehow have adopted a similar approach this time, there still would have been some adverse impact on the economy. A small percentage of the population would have died. Some businesses might have needed to be closed for a short time when too many workers were out sick. But the huge burden of job loss by a substantial share of the economy could have been avoided. The economy would have had at least a small chance of rebounding quickly.

[6] The virus that causes COVID-19 looks a great deal like a laboratory cross between SARS and HIV, making the likelihood of a quick vaccine low.

In fact, Professor Luc Montagnier, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus and winner of a Nobel Prize in Medicine, claims that the new coronavirus is the result of an attempt to manufacture a vaccine against the AIDS virus. He believes that the accidental release of this virus is what is causing today’s pandemic.

If COVID-19 were simply another influenza virus, similar to many we have seen, then getting a vaccine that would work passably well would be a relatively easy exercise. At least one of the vaccine trials that have been started could be reasonably expected to work, and a solution would not be far away.

Unfortunately, SARS and HIV are fairly different from influenza viruses. We have never found a vaccine for either one. If a person has had SARS once, and is later exposed to a slightly mutated version of SARS, the symptoms of the second infection seem to be worse than the first. This characteristic interferes with finding a suitable vaccine. We don’t know whether the virus causing COVID-19 will have a similar characteristic.

We know that scientists from a number of countries have been working on so-called “gain of function” experiments with viruses. These very risky experiments are aimed at making viruses either more virulent, or more transmissible, or both. In fact, experiments were going on in Wuhan, in two different laboratories, with viruses that seem to be not too different from the virus causing COVID-19.

We don’t know for certain whether there was an accident that caused the release of one of these gain of function viruses in Wuhan. We do know, however, that China has been doing a lot of cover-up activity to deter others from finding out what actually happened in Wuhan.

We also know that Dr. Fauci, a well-known COVID-19 advisor, had his hand in this Chinese research activity. Fauci’s organization, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, provided partial funding for the gain of function experiments on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan. While the intent of the experiments seems to have been for the good of mankind, it would seem that Dr. Fauci’s judgment erred in the direction of allowing too much risk for the world’s population.

[7] We are probably kidding ourselves about ever being able to contain the virus that causes COVID-19. 

We are gradually learning that the virus causing COVID-19 is easily spread, even by people who do not show any symptoms of the disease. The virus can spread long distances through the air. Tests to see if people are ill tend to produce a lot of false negatives; because of this, it is close to impossible to know whether a particular person has the illness or not.

China is finding that it cannot really contain the virus that causes COVID-19. A recent South China Morning Post article indicates that roughly 14 million people are to be tested in the Wuhan area in the next ten days to try to control a new outbreak of the virus.

It is becoming clear, as well, that even within China, the lockdowns have had a very negative impact on the economy. The Wall Street Journal reports, China Economic Data Indicate V-Shaped Recovery Is Unlikely. Supply chains were broken; wholesale commodity prices (excluding food) have tended to fall. Joblessness is increasingly a problem.

[8] If we look at deaths per million by country, it is difficult to see that lockdowns are very helpful in reducing the spread of disease. Masks seem to be more beneficial.

If we compare death rates for mask-wearing East Asian countries to death rates elsewhere, we see that death rates in mask-wearing East Asian countries are dramatically lower.

Figure 2. Death rates per million population of selected countries with long-term exposure to the virus causing COVID-19, based on Johns Hopkins death data as of May 11, 2020.

Looking at the chart, a person almost wonders whether lockdowns are a response to requests from citizens to “do something” in response to an already evident surge in cases. The countries known for their severe lockdowns are at the top of the chart, not the bottom.

In fact, a preprint academic paper by Thomas Meunier is titled, “Full lockdown policies in Western Europe countries have no evident impacts on the COVID-19 epidemic.” The abstract says, “Comparing the trajectory of the epidemic before and after the lockdown, we find no evidence of any discontinuity in the growth rate, doubling time, or reproduction number trends.  .  . We also show that neighboring countries applying less restrictive social distancing measures (as opposed to police-enforced home containment) experience a very similar time evolution of the epidemic.”

It appears to me that lockdowns have been popular with governments around the world for a whole host of reasons that have little to do with the spread of COVID-19:

  • Lockdowns give an excuse for closing borders to visitors and goods from outside. This was a direction in which many countries were already headed, in an attempt to raise the wages of local workers.
  • Lockdowns can be used to hide the fact that factories need to be closed because of breaks in supply lines elsewhere in the world.
  • Many countries have been faced with governmental protests because of low wages compared to the prices of basic services. Lockdowns tend to keep protesters inside.
  • Lockdowns give the appearance of protecting the elderly. Since there are many elderly voters, politicians need to court these voters.

[9] A person wonders whether Dr. Fauci and members of the World Health Organization are influenced by the wishes of vaccine and big pharmaceutical companies.

The recommendation to try to “flatten the curve” is, in part, an attempt to give vaccine and pharmaceutical makers more time to work on their products. Is this really the best recommendation? Perhaps I am being overly suspicious, but we recently have been dealing with an opioid epidemic which was encouraged by manufacturers of Oxycontin and other opioids. We don’t need another similar experience, this time sponsored by vaccine and other pharmaceutical makers.

The temptation of researchers is to choose solutions that would be best from the point of their own business interests. If a researcher gets much of his funding from vaccine and big pharmaceutical interests, the temptation will be to “push” solutions that are beneficial to these interests. In some cases, researchers are able to patent approaches, even when the research is paid for by governmental grants. In this case they can directly benefit from a new vaccine or drug.

When potential solutions are discussed by Dr. Fauci and the World Health Organization, no one brings up improving people’s immunity so that they can better fight off the novel coronavirus. Few bring up masks. Instead, we keep being warned about “opening up too soon.” In a way, this sounds like, “Please leave us lots of customers who might be willing to pay a high price for our vaccine.”

[10] One way the combination of (a) the activity of the virus and (b) our responses to the virus may play out is as a slow-motion, controlled demolition of the world economy. 

I think of what we are experiencing as being somewhat similar to a toggle bolt going around and around, moving down a screw. As the toggle bolt moves around, I picture it as being similar to the virus and our responses to the viruses hitting different parts of the world economy.

Figure 3. Image of how the author sees COVID-19 as being able to hit the economy multiple times, in multiple ways, as its impact keeps impacting different parts of the world.

If we look back, the virus and reactions to the virus first hit China. China’s recovery is moving slowly, in part because of reduced demand from outside of China now that the virus is hitting other parts of the world. In fact, additional layoffs occurred after Chinese shutdowns ended, because it then became clear that some employers needed to permanently scale back operations to meet the new lower demand for their product.

Commodity prices, including oil prices, are now depressed because of low demand around the world. These low prices can be expected to gradually lead to closures of wells and mines extracting these commodities. Processing centers will also close, making these commodities less available even if demand temporarily rises.

As one country is hit by illnesses and/or shutdowns, we can expect supply lines for manufacturing around the world to be disrupted. This will lead to yet more business closures, some of them permanent. Debt defaults tend to happen as businesses close and layoffs occur.

With all of the layoffs, governments will find that their tax collections are lower. The resulting governmental funding issues can be expected to lead to new rounds of layoffs.

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and forest fires can be expected to continue to happen. Social distancing requirements, inadequate tax revenue and broken supply lines will make mitigation of all of these disasters more difficult. Electrical lines that fall down may stay down permanently; bridges that are damaged may never be repaired.

Initially, rich countries can be expected to try to help as many laid-off workers as possible with loans and temporary stipends. But, after a few months, even with this approach, many individual citizens and businesses will likely not be able to pay their rent. Default rates on home mortgages and auto loans can be expected to rise for a similar reason.

We can expect to see round after round of business failures and layoffs of employees. Financial systems will become more and more stressed. Pensions are likely to default. Death rates will rise, in part from epidemics of various kinds and in part from growing problems with starvation. In fact, in some poor countries, lower-income citizens are already having difficulty being able to afford adequate food. Eventually we can expect collapsing governments (similar to the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union) and overthrown governments.

Longer-term, after this demolition ends, there may be some surviving pieces of economies. These new economies will be much smaller and less dependent upon each other, however. Currencies are likely to be less interchangeable. The remaining people will need to learn to make do with many fewer goods than are available today. It will be a very different world.

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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3,868 Responses to Understanding Our Pandemic – Economy Predicament

  1. Chrome Mags says:

    That’s a video on the covid19 situation in Brazil. Best sequence to watch from 1:10 thru 1:30, in which medical experts say the death toll is being under-reported from 21,000 reported with 11,000 more unreported, is actually 33,000.

    Also suggest looking up a YouTube video on the situation in Mexico City in which most hospitals are at capacity.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      You have a choice:

      Get on with live as we have with other viruses e.g. flu were circulating — lots of people get sick — some (mostly old KFC Big Gulpers die – which is actually a good thing because culling them saves money on keeping the diseased vermin alive)….


      Lock down like NZ — ruin the economy permanently — and pump out tens of billions to keep it on life support paying people to do nothing because there is no work…. meanwhile people are turning to suicide, drugs, booze… beating their families…. because all hope has been smashed out of them trying to lockdown a virus.

      It’s rather obvious that a) is the best choice… no?

      I’d vote for Bolsonaro over G3T without a second thought

      • Fast Eddy says:

        BTW: why didn’t the US shut down?

        The overall burden of influenza for the 2017-2018 season was an estimated 45 million influenza illnesses, 21 million influenza-associated medical visits, 810,000 influenza-related hospitalizations, and 61,000 influenza-associated deaths


        • Matthew Krajcik says:

          Based on the early estimates of 3% mortality rate, if 60% of USA was infected with the Wu Flu, 6 million people would have died within a few months. It seems like the virus might be significantly less deadly than early estimates, but it is hard to tell.

          • horseofadifferentcolor says:

            Its clear we need to lockdown for 50 years. Just to be sure. Better safe than sorry. Only evil oligarchs would ask people to work in a unsafe environment.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            IN 2017/18 if they had pressured doctors to report all deaths in people who had KFC Big Gulp Diseases along with the flu — imagine what the death rate could have been then too!!!

          • psile says:

            The infection rate for the U.S. is probably around 5% at the moment, based on the number of cases per million in the population. Given that this is a novel virus, without a vaccine, everyone in that country could potentially contract it. Without any mitigation measures it would still take some time for the virus to spread to all possible hosts. Much longer than 6 months.

            The virus is being slowed down in its penetration and lethality through mitigation, so the health system is still intact, and people can be treated. However, if the health system ends up collapsing, then your scenario becomes quite realistic. Now, if everyone can potentially catch it, at the current mortality rate, it could easily still end up killing many people over time, even with mitigation, just not all at once.

            Both roads lead to economic collapse, but the economy was always going to collapse. The virus was just the catalyst. If not it, then something else would have done the trick.

    • Rodster says:

      33,000 deaths out of a population of 213 million in Brazil. Fear, hysteria and panic.

    • I put together a few charts comparing some of countries south of the US to the US. (Quite a bit of Europe is higher than the US.)

      With respect to new confirmed cases per million population, Chile seems to be off the map, high. Mexico looks fairly low. In fact, it would be low, even if cases were three times higher than stated.

      On a cumulative reported confirmed COVID-19 cases basis, Mexico again looks low:

      On a cumulative reported death basis, Mexico looks relatively a little higher. Brazil and Peru are tied. Chili’s low deaths relative to reported cases probably relates to the fact that most of these cases are new. Patients have not had a chance to die from COVID-19.

      With respect to Mexico’s hospital bed problem, I can think of a couple of possible explanations:

      1. The cases are concentrated in the Mexico City area. The problem might not be as bad if they were spread out more.

      2. Mexico never had very much margin in its hospital system for an influx of cases.

      • GBV says:

        Another possible explanation – there’s no consistency between nations on tracking covid-19 infections / deaths, and thus the statistics we keep getting hit with every day are of little use?

        I’ve given up on believing almost everything… nobody, from the MSM presstitutes with their promises of recovery to the OFW doomers with their warnings of collapse, really seem to know what’s happening – financially, politically, statistically, spiritually, epidemiologically, etc.

        The worst part (so far) is being stuck in this limbo / purgatory of not knowing where we stand on so many fronts. I know some of you here have been enduring it longer than I have, but I’ve been living it since 2010 and it’s really starting to wear thin… 😐


        • Herbie Ficklestein says:

          Same here, GBV, how much more can we take!? Between Harry McGibb and Fast Eddie my head is spinning like a top….even my pills have little help on my condition….my hair now is turning gray and we still are no nearer to the end..

          Yes, I believe

  2. War says:

    No comment on Brazil but the Mexico Al-J video is interesting…a 2 minute 15 second video that has barely a paragraph article attached. Bit too sparse of an article/video to really draw much from. I’m surprised you didn’t link the sensationalist May 13th Skynews video on Mexico- ‘The ovens never stop burning’ which has been independently deemed inaccurate.
    Nevertheless it’s true that governments virtually everywhere are getting it all wrong. Bizarroworld!

  3. CTG says:

    Here is a thought coming through from me for the 14-day quarantine that an international traveller has to go through. I stand corrected for any wrong information posted (but I don’t think I am wrong)

    1. A majority of the people is infected by the virus. They are asymptomatic and they don’t even know they have it unless they are tested
    2. The swab test done is to collect the DNA sample from the human body and by using PCR, it is amplified and sequences of SARS-nCOV2 is being detected
    3. Once SARS-nCOV2 goes inside the body, it will replicate, maybe quickly or slowly but replicate it will. If that person is healthy, then chances are high, there is no symptom.
    4. It has been documented that in general, within 1 week of initial infection, the person would have the symptoms.

    It seems like this is a world according to FE (CDP or gross incompetence).

    The 14-day number is the number given out when China was at its peak (Feb) where it takes around 2 weeks to show the symptoms. It is just a figure put forward by politicians or medical doctors as a way to see if that person has the symptoms of the virus. Why not 8 or 9 days but a round figure of 2 weeks? To me, it is like a “cover your backside” type of number where the politicians asks the doctors and the doctors say “to be on the safe side, say 2 weeks”.

    Now, we know that a lot of those infected are asymptomatic and if those who are to show symptoms, many of them will have it within 1 week. Furthermore, a swab test will reveal the presence of the viral RNA matter regardless if the person is symptomatic or not. There is no need to wait for 2 weeks to see if that person is symptomatic. It is a waste of time to quarantine for 2 weeks “to see if there are symptoms”. Just do the test and find out after 3 days of arrival. If that person is negative for swab test because the virus would have replicated immediately once it enters the body. Symptoms are just showing that your body is weak.

    That 14-day quarantine is just nothing more than a figure plucked out from the air and it is never changed even though it is wrong.

    14-da quarantine will kill international travel. If I were to visit country A, I will be quarantine 14-days there and then when I return home, I have to do another 14 days. Every economic sector will be dead with this 14-day quarantine thing, not just tourism but business meetings, conventions, etc.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Herd immunity or a vaccine—
      Comrades, this is going to take a year minimum, if everything goes right.
      So, do what you want.

    • You are right. It seems like the 14-day quarantine period could be shortened, if the test for COVID-19 does not produce too many false negatives. I know that originally these were a major problem. You would still have to build in time for taking the test and getting the results back, probably twice, to help work around the false negative problem. I am guessing that the quarantine could be reduced to five days, if tests could be given on days two and three, and the results gotten back two days later.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The intention is to kill international travel…. it uses up our precious remaining cheap to produce oil….

    • Matthew Krajcik says:

      On the other hand, there seems to be evidence that over 95% of cases become symptomatic within 11 days, so 14 days gives a buffer for outliers. Reports originally of possible cases of 27 day incubation, although realistically they probably were exposed later than they thought.

      There are reports of a new variant of the virus in Jilin / Harbin that takes 2 to 4 weeks to incubate, and infects people for months. This could just be rumors, we’ll see. It seems possible that selective pressures would encourage slower, less deadly versions to be most successful.

  4. Dennis L. says:

    Having read “The Fourth Turning” many years ago, I find this video with Howe to be very interesting, it is done in with Chris Martenson which may put some off, but so far Chris is listening more than talking.

    Howe’s book “Generations” is on the way from Amazon of course, used book to save on resources – no sarcasm implied.

    There is so much to learn, so much to read, so little time. We live in a very interesting time again, no sarcasm. One of the challenges in getting glimpses of these changes is not seeing them as doom and gloom, they are periods of change.

    Dennis L.

  5. Kim says:

    Just so we all know what the next step will be. Total control and surveillance at all times. Be silent and obey or you will get nothing and be allowed to go nowhere.

    And can we stop using the term “conspiracy theorist”?

    “The ID2020 Alliance has launched a new digital identity program at its annual summit in New York, in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh, vaccine alliance Gavi, and new partners in government, academia, and humanitarian relief.

    The program to leverage immunization as an opportunity to establish digital identity was unveiled by ID2020 in partnership with the Bangladesh Government’s Access to Information (a2i) Program, the Directorate General of Health Services, and Gavi, according to the announcement.

    Digital identity is a computerized record of who a person is, stored in a registry. It is used, in this case, to keep track of who has received vaccination.”

    …A partnership was also formed earlier this year between Gavi, NEC, and Simprints to use biometrics to improve vaccine coverage in developing nations.
    Gavi was officially launched at the World Economic Forum in 2000 at a time when multiple organizations were pursuing siloed approaches to immunization, leading to inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in the market for vaccines. The organization’s founding partners, including UNICEF, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, developing and donor governments, and others…

    “Digital ID is being defined and implemented today, and we recognize the importance of swift action to close the identity gap,” comments ID2020 Executive Director Dakota Gruener. “Now is the time for bold commitments to ensure that we respond both quickly and responsibly. We and our ID2020 Alliance partners, both present and future, are committed to rising to this challenge.”

    ID2020 also announced new partnerships and provided progress reports on initiatives launched last year. Since last year’s summit, the ID2020 Alliance has been joined by the City of Austin, UC Berkeley’s CITRIS Policy Lab and Care USA.

    The City of Austin, ID2020, and several other partners are working together with homeless people and the service providers who engage with them to develop a blockchain-enabled digital identity platform called MyPass to empower homeless people with their own identity data.

    A pair of inaugural pilot programs launched last year in partnership with iRespond and Everest have each made progress, ID2020 says. The iRespond program has improved continuity of care for more than 3,000 refugees receiving treatment for chronic conditions from the International Rescue Committee in Thailand, according to the announcement, while Everest has assisted with the provision of access to critical energy subsidies and a range of additional services with secure and user-centric digital identities without relying on a smartphone.

    • I notice that a footnote to the first article now says:

      This post was updated at 4:58pm on March 26, 2020 to clarify that the program is intended to allow people to receive vaccination and prove they have received it, not to track individuals, as claimed by some conspiracy theorists.

      Of course, requiring vaccines, and being able to track those with vaccines, is still a problem.

    • Matthew Krajcik says:

      “homeless people” and “blockchain-enabled” wow if this was 2017 they’d raise hundreds of millions off their ICO.

    • horseofadifferentcolor says:

      “And can we stop using the term “conspiracy theorist”?”
      How can we comply with the demand to discard wrong thinking if we dont have a designation?

  6. Kim says:


    You will be silent and obey, or you will not eat, or be free to travel. Your whole life will be locked down.

    And yes, Bill Gates is behind it.


  7. Dennis L. says:

    Finished the podcast, readers here may skip to 46 minutes which begins his ideas on what I would call the definancialization of America and its effect on GDP. Gail has mentioned a new economy, part of this is my youth, my grandmother lived with us, a three generation household, formed in the depression, it is how my father got a house, a wife and finally a son; sounds like today. Wealth stayed in the family, jobs were not hired out which is part of what Howe sees with millennials, they live with their parents, multi-generational families.

    Whether or not this guy is right or not is for each to decide, it is $500 to subscribe to his site, my car will last one more month, done. He is not with a university, that may well be a great strength.

    Gail meets so many interesting people, I am envious.

    All the best to all of you,

    Dennis L.

    • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      $500 to subscribe… in this time, I suspect many persons are just going to go ahead and splurge (not necessarily this, but whatever meets their fancy) if they have abundant funds… saving for the future might be a goner, if there isn’t much of a future ahead…

      I read stories of collectibles becoming much higher in demand recently…

      but a season of splurging won’t last long…

      • Xabier says:

        After 2008 we had many more customers at the gallery putting money into paintings and prints (true originals, not those phoney ‘limited editions’ which one should never touch) as interest rates were so low.

        Antiquarian books have also done well since then, reaching auction highs, but I suspect many of those buyers will be severely stressed by what is coming and disappear.

        We may also see many collections coming on the market due to excess deaths among the elderly, which will likely have a depressing effect on prices.

    • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “Whether or not this guy is right or not is for each to decide…”

      okay I listened from the 46 minute mark to the end…

      he seems big on polling people of various generations for their thoughts about their wants and needs…

      no doubt he has a good grasp of the past, but I think he takes a big swing and a miss about the future…

      for most people, especially the youngest generations, their wants (especially) and needs are going to be plowed aside by the massive economic damage taking place now, and the severely downsized economy that is coming with this 2020 reset…

      their choices will be limited… yes, multi-generational families will be quickly increasing, not because of personal preference, but because for millions there will be no way to afford the apartment, and so it’s back to the parent’s house…

      I think he might discover this in his future research, but he’s not going to have valuable insights…

      from the brief interview, I sense that he’s cluelless about the depression heading our way, and the powerful force it will be that pushes people to do what they need to survive, not to have their “wants” fulfilled…

      so he doesn’t know yet what his research will discover, but I think it’s obvious from the perspective of OFW type knowledge…

      • Howe is not an OFW type. I was not terribly impressed with his insights about the future. He did have some interesting observations about the past.

        He had a younger wife/girl friend that he was with constantly. They left the minute his talk was finished. He didn’t seem at all interested in talking to me.

  8. Lidia17 says:

    Has this been posted here?

    In the post, there is a link to an extremely McPhersonian video presentation by John Doyle, Sustainable Development Policy Coordinator of the European Commission in Brussels.

    I gather this is from May 2019, with the video having been posted in September. I don’t know to what degree this sort of reckoning filtering into mainstream policy channels would have anything to do with the world-wide lockdown. Thoughts?

    • I think it is the same video that Tim Groves posted, saying:This John Doyle (there are others John Doyles more famous than him) is a ClimateAlarmist of the first water. He is up there with Guy McP, both in his predictions of gloom and his eyes—those staring eyes!

      Here’s a video in which John Doyle is telling his fellow eurocrats and UN aid agency public trough feeders that “there isn’t a single independent scientist of the world” that supports the “inaccurate science” position that we are facing a 1.5 to 2 degrees C rise over pre-industrial temperatures. “We’re actually heading for 10 degrees of warming that could happen within 20 or 30 years. And on the way to 10 degrees we pass 4 degrees. Now 4 degrees is interesting because that’s extinction for his species.”

      I’m posting this not because I agree with Mr. Doyle—happen to think our future temperature will be Goldilocksian—not to warm, not to cold, just right—but because this presentation tells us very clearly where Mr. Doyle is coming from.

      Those of you are more open to persuasion should listen to this video because after watching it, you will no longer be worried about Coronavirus. In his confident sciency way, Mr. Doyle will scare you so shite-less about the temperature that being infected by the virus will seem no worse than catching a bad cold.

      You are right. Even if Doyle is way off, his views may influence some others as well.

  9. Tim Groves says:

    TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan is expected to end its coronavirus-related state of emergency Monday by easing curbs on economic activity in Tokyo and four other prefectures ahead of schedule, with the spread of infections under control.

    After the emergency is lifted, the government will establish a transitional period and assess the infection situation every three weeks meaning requests for people to stay at home and avoid large gatherings may be eased only gradually.

    Abe is calling for Japanese people to alter their lifestyles by wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing and working from home to allow the lifting of the state of emergency to breathe life into the recession-hit economy. The Tokyo area and Hokkaido account for about a third of the nation’s gross domestic product.

    The premier is scheduled to hold a press conference to explain his decision later in the day.

    Japan is lifting the coronavirus emergency declaration roughly seven weeks after it was enforced. Abe expanded the measure to all 47 prefectures in mid-April ahead of the Golden Week holidays from late April to early May to encourage people to cancel their travel plans.

    Earlier in the month, Abe extended the state of emergency until May 31. But on May 14 he exempted 39 prefectures where the spread of the virus had been brought under control, followed by Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo in western Japan last Thursday.

    The state of emergency gave prefectural governors legal authority to request people forgo nonessential outings and businesses to suspend their operations, even though Japan cannot legally enforce a hard lockdown similar to those implemented in Europe and the United States.

  10. Dennis L. says:

    More on the Zoom economy, continuation of moving in with parents; the new economy Gail and others have suggested? A wag writing headlines might say “Zoom made the apartments go Boom!” Well, may stick with my day job which is retirement.

    The following is consistent with Howe, it could be consistent with what seems to be happening at universities. Observation of students: When I retired from private practice in 2002 I immediately enrolled in a technical college, 60 credits when done, programming to welding, I was around kids. The from what I have seen kids today are very well behaved , very respectful, very serious, very nice. 18 years is not quite a generation, but it gets close. Personal observation, your mileage may vary.


    All of us are headline aware, they are designed to draw us in and it is easy to find things which affirm one’s beliefs. This virus may not have changed much, but it seems to have hastened change.

    Dennis L.

    • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      ” A former NYC bartender, she has left her apartment in Brooklyn to move back in with her parents in South Carolina. She is currently using unemployment to pay her part of the rent and says that she is stuck “rethinking” the appeal of living in the big city.”

      “rethinking” my foot…

      these are young people with almost no choices… most of these unemployed are never going to get their jobs back, whether they know it or not…

      and perhaps millions are “rethinking” their lives, but it’s all because it is being forced on them by massive economic damage…

      many Boomers and others of middle age and up probably have some savings and/or investments/property that might allow them to lose their job and actually sincerely “rethink” what they want to do with the rest of their life…

      but most young persons have no wealth…

      too bad…

      centuries of increasing prosperity are now in the past…

      the future is for much fuller houses, whether an extended family or more, and in those households the average number of employed adults will be half or less…

      half in the lucky households…

      • Dennis L. says:

        Covid, the wealth is their youth, their wealth is between their ears. Someone is going to make it.

        Dennis L.

    • Stevie says:

      Dennis, I enrolled in Community College in 2002 to complete my degree as an older non-traditional student. Although CC had more older students than four year schools, still plenty of typical college age youth all around. I was also impressed with their ambition, politeness, and dedication. Certainly no worse, and often better than their boomer counterparts. Other bloggers have also noted that generations succeeding the boomers have been generally less antisocial than the boomers themselves, a sentiment I agree with.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        If anyone is a parent with kids heading to or in Uni… tell them to drop out .. and instead follow FE’s post on OFW…. they will learn so much more here than they could ever learn in any school.

        And its FOC

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