COVID-19 and the economy: Where do we go from here?

The COVID-19 story keeps developing. At first, everyone listened to epidemiologists telling us that a great deal of social distancing, and even the closing down of economies, would be helpful. After trying these things, we ended up with a huge number of people out of work and protests everywhere. We discovered the models that were provided were not very predictive. We are also finding that a V-shaped recovery is not possible.

Now, we need to figure out what actions to take next. How vigorously should we be fighting COVID-19? The story is more complex than most people understand. These are some of the issues I see:

[1] The share of COVID-19 cases that can be expected to end in death seems to be much lower than most people expect.

Most people assume that the ratios of deaths to cases by age group, computed using reported cases, such as those included in the Johns Hopkins Database, give a good indication of the chance of death a person faces if a person catches COVID-19. In fact, the cases reported to this database are far from representative of all cases; they tend to be the more severe cases. Cases with no symptoms, or only very slight symptoms, tend to be missed. The result is that ratios calculated directly from this database make people think their risk of death is far higher than it really is.

The US Center for Disease Control has published Planning Scenarios, based on information available on April 29, 2020.* Using this information, the CDC’s best estimate of the number of future deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms is as follows:

Ages 0 – 49    0.5 deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms

Ages 50-64    2.0 deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms

Ages 65+       13.0 deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms

The CDC’s best estimate is that 35% of cases have no symptoms at all. Thus, if we were to include these cases without symptoms in the chart above, the chart would become:

Ages 0-49   0.5 deaths per 1,538 cases (including those without symptoms), or 0.3 deaths per 1000 cases with or without symptoms

Ages 50-64  1.3 deaths per 1000 cases with or without symptoms

Ages 65+    8.5 deaths per 1000 cases with or without symptoms

A recent study of blood samples from 23 different parts of the world came to a similarly low estimate of the number of deaths per 1000 COVID-19 infections. It reported that among people who are less than 70 years old, the number of deaths per 1000 ranged from 0.0 to 2.3 per 1000, with a median of 0.4 deaths per 1000.

The same paper remarks,

COVID-19 seems to affect predominantly the frail, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized – as shown by high rates of infectious burden in nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons, meat processing plants, and the strong racial/ethnic inequalities against minorities in terms of the cumulative death risk.

[2] There seem to be things we can do ourselves to reduce our personal chance of serious illness or death.

General good health is protective against getting a bad case of COVID-19. Thus, anything that we can do in terms of a good diet and exercise is likely helpful. Staying inside for weeks on end in the hope of preventing exposure to COVID-19 is probably not helpful.

Continued exposure to huge amounts of disinfectants and hand sanitizers is likely not to be helpful either. Our bodies depend on healthy microbiomes, and products such as these adversely affect our microbiomes. They kill good and bad bacteria alike and may leave harmful residues. It is easy to scale back our personal use of these products.

There are recent indications that vitamin D is likely to be protective in reducing both the incidence of COVID-19 and the disease’s severity. Web MD reports:

Several groups of researchers from different countries have found that the sickest patients often have the lowest levels of vitamin D, and that countries with higher death rates had larger numbers of people with vitamin D deficiency than countries with lower death rates.

Experts say healthy blood levels of vitamin D may give people with COVID-19 a survival advantage by helping them avoid cytokine storm, when the immune system overreacts and attacks your body’s own cells and tissues.

While we don’t know for certain that vitamin D is helpful, there is certainly enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that it would likely be worthwhile to raise vitamin D levels to the amount recommended by the National Institute of Health (30 nmol/L or higher). People with dark skin living in areas away from the equator might especially be helped by this strategy, since dark skin reduces vitamin D production.

Masks seem to be helpful in preventing the spread of infection. A person’s own immune system can handle some level of germs. If two people meeting together both wear masks, the combination of masks can perhaps reduce the level of germs to within the amount the immune system can handle. Our immune systems are built to handle a barrage of small attacks by viruses and bacteria. Continued “practice” with relatively low combinations of good and bad bacteria (as occur with masks) will tend to build up our bodies’ natural defenses.

We see dentists and dental hygienists wearing face shields. These shields are readily available over the internet and can be worn with a mask or by themselves. We don’t yet know precisely how much protection they provide, but early models suggest that they can be helpful in two directions: (a) preventing the wearer’s droplets from harming others and (b) reducing the droplet exposure from others. Thus, they may be a worthwhile way to reduce exposure to the virus causing COVID-19, even when others are not wearing masks.

[3] The medical community’s ability to treat COVID-19 cases keeps improving.

There seem to be many small changes that are improving treatment of COVID-19. If patients are having trouble getting enough oxygen, having them lie on their stomachs seems to increase their blood oxygen levels. The cost of this change is pretty much zero, but it keeps people out of the ICU longer.

Originally, planners thought that ventilators would be needed for patients with COVID-19, since ventilators are often used on pneumonia patients. Experience has shown, however, that oxygen plus something like a CPAP machine often works better and is less expensive.**

The simple change of not sending recuperating patients to nursing home-type facilities for the last stages of care has proven helpful, as well. Many of these patients can still infect others, leading to infections in long-term care facilities. Tests to tell whether patients are truly over the disease do not seem to be very accurate.

Last week, it was announced that treatment with an inexpensive common steroid could reduce deaths of people on ventilators by one-third. It could also reduce deaths of those requiring only oxygen treatment by 20%. Using this treatment should significantly reduce deaths, at little cost.

We can expect improvements in treatments to continue as doctors experiment with existing treatments, and as drug companies work on new solutions. Looking at cumulative historical mortality rates tends to overlook the huge learning curve that is taking place, allowing mortality rates to be lower.

[4] More doubts are being raised about quickly finding a vaccine that prevents COVID-19. 

The public would like to think that a vaccine solution is right around the corner. Vaccine promoters such as Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates would like to encourage this belief. Unfortunately, there are quite a few obstacles to getting a vaccine that actually works for any length of time:

(a) Antibodies for coronaviruses tend not to stay around for very long. A recent study suggests that even as soon as eight weeks, a significant share of COVID-19 patients (40% of those without symptoms; 12.9% of those with symptoms) had lost all immunity. A vaccine will likely face this same challenge.

(b) Vaccines may not work against mutations. Beijing is now fighting a new version of COVID-19 that seems to have been imported from Europe in food. Early indications are that people who caught the original Wuhan version of the COVID-19 virus will not be immune to the mutated version imported from Europe.

Vaccines that are currently under development use the Wuhan version of the virus. The catch is that the version of COVID-19 now circulating in the United States, Europe and perhaps elsewhere is mostly not the Wuhan type.

(c) There is a real concern that a vaccine against one version of COVID-19 will make a person’s response to a mutation of COVID-19 worse, rather than better. It has been known for many years that Dengue Fever has this characteristic; it is one of the reasons that there is no vaccine for Dengue Fever. The earlier SARS virus (which is closely related to the COVID-19 virus) has this same issue. Preliminary analysis suggests that the virus causing COVID-19 seems to have this characteristic, as well.

In sum, getting a vaccine that actually works against COVID-19 is likely to be a huge challenge. Instead of expecting a silver bullet in the form of a COVID-19 vaccine, we probably need to be looking for a lot of silver bee-bees that will hold down the impact of the illness. Hopefully, COVID-19 will someday disappear on its own, but we have no assurance of this outcome.

[5] The basic underlying issue that the world economy faces is overshoot, caused by too high a population relative to underlying resources.

When an economy is in overshoot, the big danger is collapse. The characteristics of overshoot leading to collapse include the following:

  • Very great wage disparity; too many people are very poor
  • Declining health, often due to poor nutrition, making people vulnerable to epidemics
  • Increasing use of debt, to make up for inadequate wages and profits
  • Falling commodity prices because too few people can afford these commodities and goods made from these commodities
  • Gluts of commodities, causing farmers to plow under crops and oil to be put into storage

Thus, pandemics are very much to be expected when an economy is in overshoot.

One example of collapse is that following the Black Death (1348-1350) epidemic in Europe. The collapse killed 60% of Europe’s population and dropped Britain’s population from close to 5 million to about 2 million.

Figure 1. Britain’s population, 1200 to 1700. Chart by Bloomberg using Federal Reserve of St. Louis data.

We might say that there was a U-shaped population recovery, which took about 300 years.

A later example that almost led to collapse was the period between 1914 and 1945. This was a period of shrinking international trade, indicating that something was truly wrong. On Figure 2 below, the WSJ calls its measure of international trade the “Trade Openness Index.” The period 1914-1945 is highlighted as being somewhat like today.

Figure 2. The Trade Openness Index is an index based on the average of world imports and exports, divided by world GDP. Chart by Wall Street Journal.

Many of the issues in the 1914-1945 timeframe were coal related. World War I took place when coal depletion became a problem in Britain. The issue at that time was wages that were too low for coal miners because the price of coal would not rise very high. Higher coal prices were needed to offset the impact of depletion, but high coal prices were not affordable by citizens.

The Pandemic of 1918-1919 killed far more people than either World War I or COVID-19.

World War II came about at the time coal depletion became a problem in Germany.

Figure 3. Figure by author describing peak coal timing compared to World War I and World War II.

The problem of inadequate energy resources finally ended when World War II ramped up demand through more debt and through more women entering the labor force for the first time. In response, the US began pumping oil out of the ground at a faster rate. Instead of depending on coal alone, the world began depending on a combination of oil and coal as energy resources. The ratio of population to energy resources was suddenly brought back into balance again, and collapse was averted!

[6] We are now in another period of overshoot of population relative to resources. The critical resource this time is oil. The alternatives we have aren’t suited to fulfilling our most basic need: the growing and transportation of food. They act as add-ons that are lost if oil is lost.

If we look back at Figure 2 above, it shows that since 2008, the world has again fallen into a period of shrinking imports and exports, which is a sign of “not enough energy resources to go around.” We are also experiencing many of the other characteristics of an overshoot economy that I mentioned in Section 5 above.

Figure 4 shows world energy consumption by type of energy through 2019, using recently published data by BP. The “Other” combination in Figure 4 includes nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, and other smaller categories such as geothermal energy, wood pellets, and sawdust burned for fuel.

Figure 4. World energy consumption by fuel, based on BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Oil has been rising at a steady pace; coal consumption has been close to level since about 2012. Natural gas and “Other” seem to be rising a little faster in the most recent few years.

If we divide by world population, the trend in world energy consumption per capita by type is as follows:

Figure 5. World Per Capita Energy Consumption based on BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy

Many people would like to think that the various energy sources are substitutable, but this is not really the case, as we approach limits of a finite world.

One catch is that there are very few stand-alone energy resources. Most energy resources only work within a framework provided by other energy sources. Wood that is picked up from the forest floor can work as a stand-alone energy source. Wind can almost be used as a stand-alone energy source, if it is used to power a simple sail boat or a wooden windmill. Water can almost be used as a stand-alone energy source, if it can be made to turn a wooden water wheel.

Coal, when its use was ramped up, enabled the production of both concrete and steel. It allowed modern hydroelectric dams to be built. It allowed steam engines to operate. It truly could be used as a stand-alone energy source. The main obstacle to the extraction of coal was keeping the cost of extraction low enough, so that, even with transportation, buyers could afford to purchase the coal.

Oil, similarly, can be a stand-alone energy solution because it is very flexible, dense, and easily transported. Or it can be paired with other types of less-expensive energy, to make it go further. We can see our dependence on oil by how level energy consumption per capita is in Figure 5 since the early 1980s. Growth in population seems to depend upon the amount of oil available.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the economy is a self-organizing system. If there isn’t enough of the energy products upon which the economy primarily depends, the system tends to change in very strange ways. Countries become more quarrelsome. People decide to have fewer children or they become more susceptible to pandemics, bringing population more in line with energy resources.

The problem with natural gas and with the electricity products that I have lumped together as “Other” is that they are not really stand-alone products. They cannot grow food or build roads. They cannot power international jets. They cannot build wind turbines or solar panels. They cannot put natural gas pipelines in place. They can only exist in a complex environment which includes oil and perhaps coal (or other cheaper energy products).

We are kidding ourselves if we think we can transition to modern fuels that are low in carbon emissions. Without high prices, oil and coal that are in the ground will tend to stay in the ground permanently. This is the serious obstacle that we are up against. Without oil and coal, natural gas and electricity products will quickly become unusable.

[7] A major problem with COVID-19 related shutdowns is the fact that they lead to very low commodity prices, including oil prices. 

Figure 6. Inflation-adjusted monthly average oil prices through May 2020. Amounts are Brent Spot Oil Prices, as published by the EIA. Inflation adjustment is made using the CPI-Urban Index.

Oil is the primary type of energy used in growing and transporting food. It is used in many essential processes, including in the production of electricity. If its production is to continue, its price must be both high enough for oil producers and low enough for consumers.

The problem that we have been encountering since 2008 (the start of the latest cutback in trade in Figure 2) is that oil prices have been falling too low for producers. Now, in 2020, oil production is beginning to fall. This is happening because producing companies cannot afford to extract oil at current prices; governments of oil exporting countries cannot collect enough taxes at current prices. They hope that by reducing oil supply, prices will rise again.

If extraordinarily low oil prices persist, a calamity similar to the one that “Peak Oilers” have worried about will certainly occur: Oil supply will begin dropping. In fact, the drop will likely be much more rapid than most Peak Oilers have imagined, because the drop will be caused by low prices, rather than the high prices that they imagined would occur.

Amounts which are today shown as “proven reserves” can be expected to disappear because they will not be economic to extract. Governments of oil exporting countries seem likely to be overthrown because tax revenue from oil is their major source of revenue for programs such as food subsidies and jobs programs. When this disappears, governments of oil exporters are forced to cut back, lowering the standard of living of their citizens.

[8] What our strategy should be from now on is not entirely clear.

Of course, one path is straight into collapse, as happened after the Black Death of 1348-1352 (Figure 1). In fact, the carrying capacity of Britain might still be about 2 million. Its current population is about 68 million, so this would represent a population reduction of about 97%.

Other countries would experience substantial population reductions as well. The population decline would reflect many causes of death besides direct deaths from COVID-19; they would reflect the impacts of collapsing governments, inadequate food supply, polluted water supplies, and untreated diseases of many kinds.

If a large share of the population stays hidden in their homes trying to avoid COVID, it seems to me that we are most certainly heading straight into collapse. Supply lines for many kinds of goods and services will be broken. Oil prices and food prices will stay very low. Farmers will plow under crops, trying to raise prices. Gluts of oil will continue to be a problem.

If we try to transition to renewables, this leads directly to collapse as well, as far as I can see. They are not robust enough to stand on their own. Prices of oil and other commodities will fall too low and gluts will occur. Renewables will only last as long as (a) the overall systems can be kept in good repair and (b) governments can support continued subsidies.

The only approach that seems to keep the system going a little longer would seem to be to try to muddle along, despite COVID-19. Open up economies, even if the number of COVID-19 cases is higher and keeps rising. Tell people about the approaches they can use to limit their exposure to the virus, and how they can make their immune systems stronger. Get people started raising their vitamin D levels, so that they perhaps have a better chance of fighting the disease if they get COVID-19.

With this approach, we keep as many people working for as long as possible. Life will go on as close to normal, for as long as it can. We can perhaps put off collapse for a bit longer. We don’t have a lot of options open to us, but this one seems to be the best of a lot of poor options.

Notes:

*The CDC estimates are estimates of future deaths per 1000 cases. Thus, they probably reflect the learning curve that has already taken place. It is unlikely that they reflect the benefit of the new steroid treatment mentioned in Section 3, because this finding occurred after April 29.

**I have been told that disease spread can be a problem when using CPAP machines, however. Using ventilators at very low pressure settings seems also to be a solution.

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Financial Implications and tagged , , , , , by Gail Tverberg. Bookmark the permalink.

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.

2,824 thoughts on “COVID-19 and the economy: Where do we go from here?

  1. “The Federal Reserve has set a cracking pace in terms of supporting the US economy and global financial system. But what if it needs to do more?

    “Policymakers have winced at the idea of negative interest rates. But exerting a stronger grip over the US government bond market is one potential option.

    “Capping the level of Treasury yields, also known as yield curve control, would repeat a policy the Fed last used during and after the second world war. To some extent, the market is already behaving as if it has happened.

    “[However] officials are uneasy that bond investors could push yields higher, increasing borrowing costs and short-circuiting a recovery in the economy.

    “…yield curve control would send a signal that the Fed’s emergency support measures are fiendishly tricky to unwind. The central bank may want to shrink its balance sheet “once the world gets back to normal”, said Steven Blitz at TS Lombard. But “they can look all they want — there is no exit…””

    https://www.ft.com/content/1caef3c8-35c5-438c-8b3c-ef17b02e1bef

  2. “Lebanon is drifting deeper into crisis as it fails to do anything to remedy its collapsing currency and wider financial meltdown, raising big concerns for its stability.

    “Hopes of salvation through an IMF deal have retreated with the government either unwilling or unable to enact reforms, hamstrung by the conflicting agendas of sectarian leaders who don’t want to yield power or privileges.‮ ‬”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-lebanon-crisis/rudderless-lebanon-drifts-closer-to-maelstrom-idUKKBN2441C5

  3. Harry, I don’t mean to be rude and I appreciate the effort you put into it – but…..
    I would bet that one third of the comments on this blog are now just collated news stories from you.
    I feel it is getting too much. i would much rather hear what you have to say about our situation than what the news feed is saying. Your personal comments are so much more interesting. I find this blog’s comments hard to read as I have to scroll back and reread to find out what replies have been made and with so many news stories between I am getting quite lost. Perhaps it is just me not being able to navigate the comments in a way that is more productive. Any suggestions are appreciated. Sorry if I seem rude Harry.

    nikoB

    • There are different views. Having some collated news stories is fine, IMO.

      These comments are easy to skip over, if they are not to your liking.

      • Thanks, Gail. Your analysis has so many strands, it is hard to follow the story in the news and post in a succinct fashion.

        I may have gone overboard on Lebanon – I just can hardly believe what a mess it is!

        • To reieterate, OFW commment section is at many times a better aggregator of links and articles that purpose built websites. Thanks!

        • It’s salutary to hear what is going on in one small state, easily over-looked, like the Lebanon, now turning into a disaster, and feel very grateful to have mostly only minor inconveniences to cope with as here in the UK.

          • I think it is worthwhile knowing what is going in Lebanon (and Venezuela) because we can be damned sure what is happening there will soon occur elsewhere. We scoff at them as though the only issues are incompetence and corruption, but I do believe what they are experiencing now is our future as well.

    • NikoB, sincerely no worries!

      I source articles for my own website and then transfer some of the more interesting/relevant ones onto OFW, so in a sense it is no skin off my nose either way.

      I enjoy the feedback and had the sense that people generally felt the news feed was a net positive but the last thing I want is to bore everyone to tears or stifle conversation.

      How does anyone else feel? Should I restrict my input to analysis and comment? Reduce the amount of news articles I post? Disappear entirely? 😀

      I am open to suggestions.

      • Dear Mr McGibbs,
        Please continue you as you are doing providing revelent news pieces from around the globe that fits OFW platform. I appreciate your time and effort in all you do and realize it ❤️ is not easy to do such. I am astonished at these briefings and feel like the US President Trump to grasp the critical pivots that may prove to be the ultimate Black Swan event of derailing BAU….for now it’s heels are being snipped at at an ever increasing rate.
        Keep up the good work👍

      • I am happy with the level of news articles and extracts. They give a good feel for what is going on, from sources I might not see or read. There is no way to please everyone.

        I feel that “big pharma” is controlling the dialog, the research and the proposed solutions for the virus and that what I read on major media conflicts with what I personally believe to be the truth.

        Without this blog becoming a debate about all that, how people and governments see and deal with the virus is most important as that is what underpins all the “bad news” that Harry is posting.

        The world needs to be properly informed and fear needs to be replaced by knowledge and understanding (not agendas and marketing), so that this finite world in which we live can move forward. Some relevant and focused articles would seem useful because they might enable those reading the blog to see possible ways out of all this rather than accepting what some characterize as “the new normal”.

      • Harry,

        I really find your comments very informative, and if there are any I find uninteresting I just skip past.

        Please keep posting as more often than not you find a lot of interesting news.

      • Harry, please continue posting news. Thank you for the effort! I find them to be interesting glimpses of our downward trajectory leading to the end of IC. As I recall, you also shared additional news on facebook or somewhere else?

        When IC collapses it would be of great interest for a historian to have access to a printed copy of every OFW article with comments, in that case your news articles would constitute an important contribution. Of course, given that the end of IC does not also finish humanity.

      • I appreciate the news links – I normally wouldn’t find them myself. Of course I’m celebrating the end to the momentary onslaught of very off topic posts by a certain person. I had to go away for awhile, it was so ridiculous. Harry’s posts are relevant, in my opinion.

        • celebrate!

          on this 4th of July, we can celebrate a particular OFW “freedom”.

        • Your opinion about the “certain poster” is just your opinion, thank you. I think otherwise For me, the action of the certain poster, when he arrived here with its BS Destroyer Ray and shattered all ilusions in sight was a very serviceable and entertaining act, so that OFW (the world best blog and forum, afaik), doesn’t risk becoming a little sedate and complacent sometimes. The certain poster could be irritant? Yes, but that was his function here, and an important one in my opinion. Personally, i always liked “irritant”. You cannot have nettles without hives. And “some prefer nettles” (Tanizaki). Só I vote for CertainPoster to return here someday, and i’m pretty sure sooner or later we’ll have him here again. Because if you love to converse and rant about IC collapse in an intelligent environment, there’s no place like OFW. And CP loves to rant about collapse? Well, electric eels like to shock?

          • I’m presuming of course that you are refering to FE. If is not the case, i beg your pardon.

            • I agree, it is merely an opinion.

              though I suspect he owns not only a Tin Foil Hat, but also a full body Tin Foil Suit, and foil shirts, and matching shoes and gloves, plus accessories such as foil scarfs and foil neckties.

              and probably foil underwear too.

              😉

      • Dear Harry,

        Almost everything you post is important and needs to be known and reflected on. You are also meticulous at sourcing your information, and modest almost to a fault in your personal comments. Please continue as you are,with my thanks and silent support.

      • What is the name of your site, the URL?!?!?!?

        I could go there directly and get all the goodness you provide. God knows Gail would be glad to be rid of me.

      • Harry, please continue. I would even like to see FE posting here again. He is so informative and entertaining at the same time. but maybe I like the abuse?

      • I have said it before but once again: please continue Harry – I would never have heard of the misery in Lebanon in Danish medias.

  4. Dear Harry, I appreciate the effort you put into world financial conditions. I have never been involved in investing but alas it is how the world turns. We in the US don’t get international news of any kind unless we go seek it out somewhere besides MSM. Please don’t stop.

  5. This just may be the END GAME folks…I live here in South Florida and it is looking grim as this King Flu is fighting back and kicking.
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/just-when-it-seemed-safe-to-go-back-to-restaurants-a-new-coronavirus-outbreak-threatens-us-jobs-recovery-2020-07-04?siteid=yhoof2&yptr=yahoo
    The bad news? Many of the people rehired could be laid off a second time if more states place inside dining off limits again or pause plans to loosen restrictions.
    California, Florida, Texas and other states have tightened restrictions after a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 cases while others such as New York and New Jersey have delayed plans to allow inside dining. In California, restaurants in 19 counties were told to cease indoor dining for at least three weeks.
    The slowdown in rehiring at bars and restaurants could put a big dent in U.S. employment growth in July if the fresh viral outbreaks are not brought under control soon, economists say.

    The local channels at news hour primary focus is on the Covid 19 resurgence and restrictions.
    The other is violence and protests….not good for a tourist economy.
    Beaches are closed! Why visit here!?
    American Airlines largeest hub is Miami😳!
    A US Senator is introducing a bill to force middle seats not sold….bad press again…
    To be honest at the Airport seating in the Concourse requires SOCIAL Distancing with a mask on at all times….but on a airplane NOT?!😳
    US Senator blasts American Airlines for packing the middle seats on his flight
    By Brian Ries, CNN
    Updated 10:14 PM EDT, Fri July 03, 2020

    (CNN)A United States Senator said he would introduce a bill to ban the sale of middle seats during this coronavirus pandemic, one day after he criticized American Airlines for selling the middle seats of a flight he had boarded, calling it “incredibly irresponsible” and warning it was contributing to the spread of the disease.
    Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, tweeted an image showing his packed flight on Thursday. Most of the passengers in the photo were blurred out, but it’s clear some were wearing masks and many of them were in the middle seat.
    “@AmericanAir: how many Americans will die bc you fill middle seats, w/ your customers shoulder to shoulder, hour after hour. This is incredibly irresponsible,” he tweeted. “People eat & drink on planes & must take off masks to do so. No way you aren’t facilitating spread of COVID infections.”

    Business travelers are NOT coming back and we are at 20% of last year’s passengers numbers…
    It is a losing battle…..
    God help us all off this continues much longer….

  6. Just anothercstraw placed on BAU back….
    Not good…t
    From New York Times
    As The New York Times reports, United reaffirmed its previous commitment to rebook passengers scheduled to fly the MAX free of charge, once it returns to service. “If people need any kind of adjustments, we will absolutely rebook them,” United’s former CEO Oscar Munoz stated in 2019.
    While Scott Kirby has since taken the reins as CEO, a United Airlines spokesperson confirmed the offer still stands, stating:
    Nothing is more important to United than the safety of our customers and employees. Once regulators have reached an independent conclusion about the safety of the MAX, we’ll be prepared to explain to our customers and employees how our MAX fleet will be put back into service and why we have the highest confidence that it is safe to do so. As part of our ongoing commitment to our customers, we will be transparent – and communicate in advance – with our customers who are booked to fly on a MAX aircraft, will rebook those who do not want to fly on a MAX at no charge.
    American Airlines, another large 737 MAX operator, confirmed similar intentions, with a spokesperson stating, “Even though we don’t know when the MAX will reenter revenue service, we have always planned to offer flexibility to customers who are concerned about flying on the MAX.”
    A Southwest Airlines spokesperson confirmed that airline will also accommodate free changes for customers who don’t feel comfortable flying the MAX, so uneasy passengers will have flexibility when flying all three U.S.-based 737 MAX operators, once the plane does eventually return to the skies.

    The Airlines MUST of done their own market research and found most of the flying public would not fly on a MAX 8 knowingly…..

    • More delusion from the airline industry. The 737 MAX will never fly again. Get over it.

  7. Dear Harry, I actually depend a lot on your posting of news on this website which I read several times each day. I find I am unable to contribute much to the discussion but I learn so much from you and the others and of course from Gail. If anything I would like you to post more of your links and selected excerpts and comments. I also very much value your comments in general. It is from you and Gail that I learn the most. This blog is one of my major inspirations and sources of information about the wide world. Here in Perth Western Australia one can become rather to parochial. I love the big view and systems thinking perspective, intelligent and knowledgeable comments, and repartee and good humour. Even those posts that can be somewhat eccentric. As Gail says it’s all a self organising system here. So please keep posting more if anything. Thank you both. M

  8. And Norman, and all the others. I’m grateful to everyone on this site. But especially the ones that post regularly both those that initiate comments and those that Respond. This is the best of the blogs of the web. Gail is rather better than any professors I have learned from except for Don Cupitt Of Emanuel College Cambridge. But then again I actually attended some of his lectures in person. I do learn a lot from guy MacPherson also. I think he is unjustly maligned. Gail is really amazing. Even though she is somewhat of a realist in the end thinking that the laws of physics real. I am a non-realist and an absurdist to boot.

    • +1
      But not to be confused with the dope smoking, alcoholic Mark that now lives in FL. 😉
      Today I saw a jumbo TV go by on a boat just off shore.
      Propaganda to the end baby!

  9. Those pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are far more precious due to a national coin shortage brought on by the coronavirus and resulting shut down.
    As a result, the Giant supermarkets chain is the newest member of a growing list of retailers
    limiting cash transactions and/or demanding exact change.
    “Due to the national coin shortage, select Giant registers can only accept credit, debit, and electronic payments at this time,” company spokesman Christopher Brand said in response to PennLive questions about coin shortages on Friday
    https://www.pennlive.com/business/2020/07/giant-supermarkets-limit-cash-transactions-citing-national-coin-shortage.html?outputType=amp
    Another step to force a change to a cashless society….😥
    I have loads of change…just try to turn it in at a bank….
    They have machines at supermarkets but charge a whopping 10% to do it.
    Another ploy to clip the little guy.

    • Herbie it is illegal, and a Federal crime, to charge “vigorish” for exchanging legal tender. Complain, and if that doesn’t work, find a sleazy lawyer and sue them blind.

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