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. Ed says:

    I propose a new business “Clean Communities”. Only people who have had Covid may enter and live there. Everyone get a nose swab every six months to check on continued immunity. If they have lost it they are placed in the resort outside the walls and given a shot of Covid. When they are again immune they return. In the community no social distancing, bars and restaurants are open. Life is normal.

    • Ed says:

      Spin off businesses “Clean Airlines”, “Clean Uber”, “Clean Universities”, “Clean Private Schools”.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Anything green seems to be the way to go… buy some green paint… spray paint loads of coal green … and sell it as eco-friendly.

        Anyway – don’t get to worried — there surely cannot be much longer to go….

        ‘We are All in This Together’ (as in we will all die soon)

    • Ed says:

      Margaret, the lab tech, corrects me make that a blood test for anti-bodies.

    • I wonder where to house these people? You would need to buy housing near to jobs for these people. Many of these people would be jobless, I expect. This would create a problem in paying rent.

      The community would need all kinds of services as well. Somehow, you would need workers of this category to provide these services.

      Many of the relatives of these individuals (including children and parents of residents, even spouses of residents) would not qualify. Or if they do qualify, they might lose their qualification as their immunity drops.

      Hopefully, a new strain of COVID-19 doesn’t come along that is enough different from the old one that the people in this community are not immune.

      • Ed says:

        Gail, we all work from home. At least the better paid. Community member can go out to visit anyone they want any where outside the community kids, parents, etc. But yes the non immune relatives and friends may not enter. They can of course solve this by being injected with Covid and acquiring immunity. Yes at the cost of a 0.2% chance of death, maybe much lower if they are healthy, a fit weight, supplement with C and E and maybe Zinc(?). What will be the death or maiming rate of Bill Gates vaccine? What is the current death or maiming rate of the annual flu shot?

        Yes, incoming plumbers will have to be tested. We the community would not want to be blamed for killing his/her grandmother even though we are all immune.

    • Matthew Krajcik says:

      My proposal back in February was for the government to offer $1000 for healthy people in their 20s through 40s to go spend a month at a beach resort, intentionally infected with COVID-19. At an estimated 0.2% fatality rate, I figured America would lose fewer than 250,000 people and it would have cost less than $100 billion to get to 60% herd immunity. Lots of people didn’t like the idea, and there were no supporters.

      It looks like with hydroxychloroquine and zinc, people might be ill for as little as 3 days, with far fewer ever progressing to serious illness if they are treated as soon as they show a fever or their blood oxygen drops. People might only need to go on a one week trip to get immune, and the fatality rate would be far less than seasonal flu for healthy young adults.

      • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        ivermectin plus an antibiotic like Zpak…

        it wouldn’t take a vaccine to negate the fear of the virus…

        just a reliable cure, as we have just seen with the report of 60 out of 60 bad covid cases cured in 4 days…

        then it all fully reopens…

        then The Big Test to see how much partial recovery we will see… 2020 has much more to show us…

        • horseofadifferentcolor says:

          Do you think they really want to negate the “fear” of the virus? Jerry Springer. Very popular show.

          • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

            yes, “they” are working like crazzzy to keep IC from collapsing…

            a main point is that “they” need the masses to get back out there consuming to keep big biz alive…

            “they” don’t need a vaccine to prevent all deaths, just a good enough solution to get most consumers back to consuming…

            a fairly reliable cure might be enough to convince most unemployed people to try to find a job again…

            and finally, “they” want a full recovery, but even with such a medical cure, the economic results are only going to be a partial recovery…

        • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          “Ivermectin is an anti-infective. It is used to treat infections of some parasites. The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of ivermectin is around $17.11, 61% off the average retail price of $44.97.”

          so it’s kind of cheap…

          which could be a problem because there’s less incentive for the medical community to push it as a cure…

      • Ed says:

        Matthew great idea. But I think “they” do not want to end this circus.

        • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

          I think “they” certainly do want to end this…

          money talks, and the big money in the world is behind big business…

          “they” don’t want their investments going to zero…

          of course, much big biz may tank this year, but not before “they” try like madd to preserve their wealth…

          2020 has much more to reveal to us…

  2. Rodster says:

    “Hertz Bankruptcy & Fleet Liquidation Threaten to Make Mess of Used-Vehicle Prices with Burst of “Pent-Up Supply. Here come the “bankruptcy-remote special-purpose subsidiaries” and $14.5 billion in rental-vehicle-backed securities. The stock market – other than Carl Icahn – smelled a rat for years.”


    • Rodster says:

      “This is the scenario the industry has been dreading for the past 10 weeks or so, when the distant likelihood of a Hertz bankruptcy suddenly became front and center. Hertz has already laid off about 20,000 people, or about half of its global workforce, it said in its bankruptcy press release.

      On April 29, Hertz disclosed that it had missed a lease payment on part of its fleet. And this is where it gets interesting, in terms of financial engineering and corporate complexity.

      Hertz, which runs the second-largest rental fleet in the US behind Enterprise, owns its fleet in two types of setups: as “program vehicles” and “non-program” (or at-risk) vehicles.”

    • This will be part of the problems affecting the financial system, with the defaulting debt scattered everywhere.

      But the price of used autos will also be affected, especially if other rental companies have similar problems. There could be even more problems if some of the many unemployed sell some of their vehicles or if retiree couples decide to sell one of their vehicles.

      In fact, trying to repossess the vehicles of the unemployed (and resell them) would tend to add to this effect.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      BAU is one touch SOB…. I want this to end so I can think of Xi dying from radiation poisoning…

  3. Ed says:

    A friend Pete just suggested this is the opportunity for China to drive out all undesirables from HK. They can resettle in NYC, SF, Miami, and save these otherwise dying cities. China get HK full of loyal citizens. It is a win/win.

    • beidawei says:

      But what would this do to HK’s economy? Gotta remember the priorities.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        2M people attended a protest last year. Assume there were some others who did not want to go out in the July heat… assume there are a lot of old people who could not make it but support the movement. Then there would be a lot of young kids who did not attend.

        We are probably looking at 70% of the population being in opposition to the CCP.

        That’s 5M people….

        So they emigrate — then you fill the city with more brain dead morrrons from China…. and HK is suddenly just like Shenzhen…. the CCP can then restrict all freedom … throw anyone who dissents into the gulag where they will have their liver and kidneys removed and sold….

        And the banks and law firms and accounting businesses will all move their HQs to Singapore…
        and that would be the end of HK….

        HK exists because of rule of law. Strip that away and you would have just another mid-sized shi ttty … polluted … Chinese city… filled with meat heads who are ok with the fact that they are ruled by a neo-Nazi party….

        I do hope that the black shirts — if cornered — burn the place to the ground … then the world offers all HK citizens who want out passports…. there are loads of highly qualified people in HK — better than letting Syrian taxi drivers to flood the world….

    • Fast Eddy says:

      It would be amusing if the world were to band together and accept all HKers who desired to leave what the CCP would think of that…

      They’d be left with a 3/4 empty city filled with brain dead morrrons and skyscrapers….

      Now how fkkkkked up is it when you have to surround the government building when you want to pass a law…. https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3086000/hong-kong-police-ramp-security-ahead-planned-protests

      It is so disappointing that mainlanders are not allowed to visit NZ…. there were so many of them before…. how can I taunt and provoke what does not exist?

      • Tim Groves says:

        The UK in 1997 should never have made Hong Kongers second-class citizens with no right of abode in the UK. Had they that right of abode, the CCP would not have been so Bolshie about taking away their other basic human rights. Well, it’s too late now. How Many HKers would like to go live in washed up Blighty these days?

  4. Dennis L. says:

    .How the world works the virus:

    Attributed to an interview with Flinders University Professor Nikolai Petrovsky

    “For instance, if it was to turn out that this virus may have come about because of an accidental lab release that would have implications for how we do viral research in laboratories all around the world which could make doing research much harder.

    “So I think the inclination of virus researchers would be to presume that it came from an animal until proven otherwise because that would have less ramifications for how we are able to do research in the future. The alternative obviously has quite major implications for science and science on viruses, not just obviously political ramifications which we’re all well aware of.”


    Assuming this is accurate, it is consistent with Gail’s ideas on publishing, funding, etc. Many who are in the world of virus research don’t want to know, it would affect their world. Our world seems mostly to work on the basis of self interest; this almost seems in imply some information can be almost anti-networking and those who are the best networked have the most incentive to keep the networking going irrespective of the overall consequences.

    Winning an information war appears possible not so much by being correct as postponing a reckoning until new information has essentially buried the information of concern.

    Tip O’Neil was correct, all politics is local.

    Dennis L.

    • Good point! All of these researchers would lose their jobs, if it becomes clear that it is not really possible to do this research securely. They are hardly unbiased in their findings on this subject.

      • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        yes… more logic that points away from a wet market and towards the Wuhan lab…

        also, a point made maybe in January here, someone suggested that the main Chinese virus lab should not be in a city of 11 million… accidental (or even intentional) release of a virus is always potentially there, given that we are talking about human beings here…

        that Wuhan lab should have been on the most remote Chinese military base, in a desolate area far from any city…

        though scientists likely would not want to be living out there near their job, when they could be in an area with all the modern conveniences…

        no one with enough authority must have questioned the location of the lab…

        • doomphd says:

          at least the US government is smart enough to place their experimental nuclear facilities far from population centers, like the Idaho experimental breeder reactor out on the Snake River plain. far from fast-food restaurants, etc.

          • Country Joe says:

            And Plum Island Lab is a whopping one mile from Long Island and eight miles off the coast of Conneticut. Yeah the US Govt. is smart alright. It’s one of those wild coincidences that Old Lime Conn. is in sight of the lab across the water. Old Lime as in Lime Disease.

            • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              another story that leads to the conclusion that humans often have a poor combination of hubris and stooooopidity…

              putting a lab full of dangerous items close to large populations…

    • Chrome Mags says:

      “So I think the inclination of virus researchers would be to presume that it came from an animal until proven otherwise because that would have less ramifications for how we are able to do research in the future.”

      I agree 100%. Virologists are having way too much fun making good money tinkering around w/viruses to ever admit this pandemic came from a lab. It would also be too much egg on their faces as a profession. Personally from looking at as much information as I could find, much of it from Chris Martenson videos that this virus came from the Wuhan lab, I’m 99.99% certain it did. Human beings are so good at denial when it’s to their advantage.

      • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        I also agree…

        and egg on the faces of the Chinese gov commmunists if there is ever proof that it came from that lab, which it surely did…

        again, just the fact that they placed the lab in a city of 11 million, which shines a spotlight on the potential for human stooooopidity to cause big problems…

        if the lab was out in a desert military base, and the pandemic came, I would be questioning if this was intentional…

        but it looks like stooooopidity (or add hubris: look at us humans, we can keep our lab secure) all the way down… first the location, then a fallible human makes one little mistake, and the virus is out…

        • Lastcall says:

          My understanding is that this sort of research was curtailed in the US. So the technology/money was transferred to a more accommodating country.
          This is not a simple case of blaming a country; money seeks opportunity. Corporates search for advantage and profits. Shareholders want dividends…and so the game goes on.
          Is it true that Fauci has some involvement with the Wuhan lab?

          • Ed says:

            The US Federal Government funded research at the Wuhan lab. I believe but offer no proof at the direction of Fauci. If true he should be tried for treason.

          • Fauci’s organization provided some of the funding for the Wuhan’s lab’s gain-of-function experiments with bats. Newsweek reported Dr. Fauci Backed Controversial Wuhan Lab with U.S. Dollars for Risky Coronavirus Research:

            . . .just last year, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the organization led by Dr. Fauci, funded scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other institutions for work on gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses.

            n 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million.

            The project was cancelled on April 24, 2020.

            • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:


              if a lab is going to do gain-of-function experiments, it should be located at a secure site (military base sounds good) and far from any city…

              we’ll never know if top commmunist leadership knew what was being experimented with up to 2019…

              the top people now know, for sure…

      • horseofadifferentcolor says:

        Admitting that humans have power beyond their maturity as a species is a taboo subject. Whoops let a killer virus lose, no problem we just cook up a vaccine. Everybody is unemployed no problemo we just print up some more fiat. Think positive!

    • Stevie says:

      Similar allegation has been made regarding the overblown pile-on for global warming from CO2, ignoring the many other variables that could have at least if not more impact on the climate. Scientific research is no less faddish than any other human endeavor.

  5. Rodster says:

    Nice article from Charles Hugh Smith: “TINA’s Orgy: Anything Goes, Winners Take All”


    • Fast Eddy says:

      You and I, mere taxpayers? We get to watch as our “betters” feast on the Fed’s limitless bounty of free money for financiers and other parasites and predators. Of course we don’t get a clear view of the proceedings; the orgy is all behind closed doors.

      Not correct – everyone benefits.

      Pensions are bailed out (they hold a huge proportion of all stocks) Wages are paid. BAU (lite) continues so the electricity stays on. We are not starving.

      Of course some are going to benefit more – but the CB motives have nothing to do with that. If you have put yourself in a position to benefit more that others… then the CBs do not care — anyone could have shorted the airlines when they saw what was about to hit….

      That’s the reason people are in a position to benefit more than others — they are just smarter… more knowledgeable… more willing to take risks

      The CBs mission is to keep BAU alive for as long as possible. Not to enrich the rich.

      • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        “The CBs mission is to keep BAU alive for as long as possible.”

        yes, true…

        govs/CBs/billionaires/elites are all working like madd to keep bAU going…

        yes, true…

        there is no seecret plan to do anything else but that…

        2020 depression, 2021 slightly better…

        stay safe, FE…

      • Matthew Krajcik says:

        Every once in a while a true gem pops up on Twitter. Today’s headline from Bloomberg:
        “It’s a modern dilemma for the ultra-wealthy: a yacht awaits, but how to safely reach it without exposure to the germ-ridden masses?”

    • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “Anything Goes, Winners Take All”

      in his other writings, perhaps he has shown what alternatives might be possible…

      but otherwise, this is just a rannt against the 1% who manipulate the system and skim their billions off the top…

      I don’t see any alternative but to bail out the big banks etc to keep bAU moving…

      it’s somewhat nauseating, but necessary…

      do whatever it takes to prevent collapse…

      bailouts, zirp loans, negative rates, helicopter money, print trillions, nationalization of key industry…

      he might eventually be correct that there is no alternative to collapse, but I think there is an obvious alternative for now, and that is for “them” to continue to make it up as “they” go, try to duct tape the breaking parts, and see if the Everything Bubble can be kept from popping, instead having it lose its air at a slower rate than a pop…

      [pardon the mixed metaphors]…

      2020 depression, 2021 slightly better…

  6. Chrome Mags says:


    “‘CDC warns of aggressive cannibal rats facing shortage of garbage to eat’
    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned of “unusual or aggressive” behavior in American rats as a consequence of more than two months of human lockdown for city-dwelling rodents who now find themselves unable to dine out on restaurant waste, street garbage and other food sources.”

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Rats… a harbinger…

        • Dennis L. says:


          I shall put “Bitter Harvest” on the list to watch.

          Re the photos above, there is much pain and sorrow in this world, but there is also much joy and beauty. For me dwelling always in the dark spaces would cause many opportunities to be missed.

          Perhaps you missed a comment I made to you, your PM spoke and the earth moved beneath her feet. Hmm, perhaps the earth trembles before her?

          Dennis L.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Keep in mind that your moments of joy are built on the back of us spreading misery around the world as we pillage the resources (and cause billions to suffer) to supply our comfortable lives.

            If you think if it that way… there isn’t much joy or beauty..

            But don’t dwell on that as you sit down to dinner… in your warm/cool home… and relax…

      • GBV says:

        Mmm, yummy!

  7. horseofadifferentcolor says:

    Worldofhaunaman if you are still visiting this blog. Miss your posts. We all get edited now and then. at least i do. Gail is in a tough position…

    • Covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      he was one of the strongest optimists here…

      often suggesting that 2020 was not going to be the end…

      more like 2030 – 2035 he would say…

      I thought that he was quite reasonable…

      I hope he is well…

  8. Duncan Idaho says:

    I agree, it’s not my job to keep drivers safe.
    It’s up to them.


    • Go to India. When I visited Mumbai, the lane markers seemed to simply be lane suggestions. Stop lights were also stop suggestions.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        In Bali I have seen people drive on the shoulder of the road to get to the front of a traffic jam…

        That’s what happens when you sell drivers licenses….

        However Bali has very few Covid cases or deaths without locking down…. they sure know how to not lockdown

  9. Fast Eddy says:


    What impulse drove ancient cultures to create sites like Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, and the pyramids at Giza? Why are we so transfixed by their presence today? And what do they reveal about our ancestors-and humanity?

    The dynamic force of religious belief is responsible for some of the world’s most popular and ancient locales.With these 36 riveting lectures, you can dig through the earth and learn how sacred buildings, complexes, tomb structures, artwork, and more have provided us with unparalleled knowledge about early spiritual experiences around the world. Using the tools and knowledge of their field, archaeologists can now determine the nature of a sacrificial ritual, compare the visible attributes of ancient deities, and map out the orientation of a temple or tomb.

    Professor Hale gives you a comprehensive look at specific religious archaeological sites around the world-inside caves and crypts, through vast deserts and ancient cities, from Polynesia to Mexico to the American Midwest.

    Studying these breathtaking sites such as Lascaux Cave, Machu Picchu, and Easter Island, you learn the points of interest that attract the attention of archaeologists and scholars, survey the principal features unearthed during the site’s excavation, discover what evidence at the site reveals about the evolution of religion, and more.

    By the final lap of your international journey, you’ll have developed a new vision of religion and its crucial role in ancient history. You’ll become more attuned to spirituality’s universal elements and its unique characteristics. And you’ll realize just how much credit religion deserves for remarkable sites that continue to captivate us.


    • Robert Firth says:

      Um … how can one study “breathtaking sites” with an audiobook? For that matter, how can one really study breathtaking sites without visiting them?

  10. Jason says:

    Let’s pretend the economy is a human body. It takes in energy and uses it to repair, replace, or multiply cells. Fat is the best way to store excess energy. Now our government is part of the brain that has conscious control of our voluntary action. It gets caught in a loop and decides to stop eating. After a day the body shifts into ketosis, a method of fueling the system with stored energy or fat. Now at first everything is uncomfortable and lots of protests from different cells in body because it takes time to shift over to new system. After the shift has happened hunger goes away and the body starts to feel good because loss of extra weight, blood sugar doesnt oscilate, cholesterol goes down. Its the lean green metabolic machine. The government is handing out money, which are signals directing where the energy is to be used and no energy has to be spent on digestion or aquiring food. After a month or so some problems arise. Protein which is needed to convert fat to fuel is being taken from vital sources. Minerals needed to keep the system running are not being replaced. Soon the system seizes up and dies. We are at the stage of early ketosis. People have money from government without working. They are given the ability to use energy that is stored but not being produced. Life is good and society is downsizing, creating less waste. Soon shortages of something vital will need replacing but there will be no replacement. Then panic, then seizure, then death. It’s hard to reverse an eating disorder once it takes hold.

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