The coming global depression, not recession, will not be virus-made but 100% man-made, due to absurdly mis-placed hysteria and surprise, surprise, an unprecedented and preposterous media beat-up. And in respect of the latter, refreshingly for once it was not the print media which on my assessment, world-wide remained balanced, but instead television which treated it like an invasion of Martians spraying deadly laser fire right, left and centre.
Let’s look at the facts.
Coronavirus is a highly contagious 4-5 day flu. Get that – a flu, not bloody leprosy. It has no effect on children but will kill the elderly because their immune system is pretty much shot. So too folk with other disabilities such as people with weak immune systems, through say heart or other organ issues.
The Brits floated an innovative and totally logical idea described as a herd approach.
Specifically, have the vulnerable, that is mainly the elderly, hide under their beds for a week then allow the rest of the population to be infected. They’d be over it in a week meaning normal life can be restored as the virus would now be non-existent. Sadly, under pressure, this sensible proposal has now been abandoned.
International travel could resume, perhaps heat testing incoming passengers, a process involving only a few seconds so as to safeguard any old folk they may encounter.
But let me repeat. Despite the creepy name, Coronavirus is a flu. It’s not the bloody black death, not the great plague, not leprosy, measles or polio, simply the flu.
My 20 year old daughter Claudia, working in our Glasgow office copped it. Doctors refused to see her as they said it was pointless. Simply go home to bed and see it through they instructed.
Reflecting back on it yesterday on the phone, Claudia admitted the loneliness and media beat-up were initial concerns. Thereafter she was feverish for a while but mainly just sleepy. When on day four she complained of a sore throat and coughing our local office staff brought her cough medicine, honey, some other over-the-counter throat soothing stuff and boiled sweets; ergo problem solved.
We own a beautiful Regency era town-house in a park setting. Despite being winter, after day four she bundled up in warm woollies and sat out on the balcony for an hour or so around mid-day reading. The fifth day and she was cured.
MY DAUGHTER CLAUDIA – AMAZINGLY STILL ALIVE
For clarification purposes, she’s the one on the left.
China – Thanks to their highly effective, soon to end close-down, new cases in China are now virtually non-existent.
Italy – note it affected the affluent cold north but not the warm south.
Coronavirus doesn’t survive in 26 degrees or higher. To date it’s been a winter ailment and the southern hemisphere has been largely immune.
That’s about to change. As in China, I’ll wager in two months, it will be largely unknown in the northern hemisphere.
South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Chile etc will cop it but so what? A week or less in bed but, with the northern hemisphere precedent, precautionary steps should see it minimised.
SELF ISOLATION FOR VISITORS
Jacinda has announced all incoming visitors must go into a fortnight’s self-isolation. The Aussies have now followed suit. How bloody childish is that, aside from its total inability to enforce.
Three attention-seeking MPs promptly advised the media that having recently been in Australia they were now in a fortnight’s self-isolation. How pathetic. All conspicuously fail my scout-master test I publicised vis a vis Bill Rowling in the mid 1970s, namely if one could envisage a politician as either a scout master or Girl Guide leader, they’d never really crack it in politics. I have no trouble in these cases imagining them in uniform.
That aside, why not apply the same self-isolation silliness to say Aucklanders flying to Wellington?
ADVICE TO THE RETIRED ELDERLY
Your best defence is to head to the tropics, such as Fiji. With the panic these destinations are offering give-away deals.
You’ll not only help yourself and doubtless have a good time, but additionally help Fiji’s ailing tourist economy.
So too Samoa and Tahiti but forget the Cook Islands or New Caledonia as they don’t get very hot in winter.
Another regional option is Cairns. Otherwise head to the northern hemisphere, be it Asia or Europe, it matters not, you’ll be perfectly safe.
Given that the virus can’t survive in plus 25 degrees surely say 5 minutes in a sauna every few days would kill off any starting, or one would think, existing infection.
The difficulty with the already infected is the last thing they’d want if feverish, is to sit in a sauna.
We have a rarely used one at home but henceforth I’ll do a few minutes in it every few days, before, as this year’s agenda always was, heading to Europe with the advent of summer there.
When the virus news first broke a couple of months back I wrote on this site a piece headed Recession or Depression?
The former seemed unavoidable thus I was staggered when over the subsequent month various economists suggested the mere possibility of a short-lived recession. They’ve certainly changed their tune since.
I took tourism as an example, pointing out the New Zealand had circa 300,000 people in menial tourism jobs, such as hotel staff, air hostesses and airport employees. Thanks to the panic all were about to be unemployed and this has duly eventuated with Queenstown and Rotorua ghost-towns, as I predicted.
But extrapolate that to the wider world and we’re looking literally at figures in the realm of 100 million unemployed. The flow-on to other activities; shops, travel agents, restaurants, golf clubs, cinemas etc and it’s a 1930s type depression in unemployment numbers.
Airlines, the huge cruise ship businesses and numerous others will all go broke. They’ll need government investment, probably as equity, to survive.
Share-markets will crash to at the least half their absurd recent peaks levels; brokers will in their customary rationalising after the event, use euphemisms and describe this as “a correction”.
Meanwhile the hysteria levels soar as with ignorance and stupidity in the ascendency, no amount of nonsense goes unreported. But beyond doubt the principal offenders have been governments.
“Influential entrepreneurs call for school shutdown, border closure,” so headed a Stuff report yesterday.
Of the seven named allegedly influential entrepreneurs I’d heard of two. One a much publicised toymaker and the other Craig Heatley who’s claim to fame was jointly creating Sky TV nigh on 30 years back. But “influential”? Craig sold to Americans 20 odd years back and has been pre-occupied with golf ever since.
I’m disappointed to see him attach his name to this cock. Why close schools? Kids who get this bug, will sail through effortlessly. Credit to Education Minister Chris Hipkins and his Education Departments for making the same observation.
More absurdity followed with the hand-washing hammering. Soap won’t work we’ve been told, much stronger stuff is needed and often throughout the day. This advice to prevent catching a flu bug that isn’t actually here yet.
Cancel crowd events, don’t go to the cinema etc. etc. But it’s still OK for commuters to travel to work on crowded trains. – And so it goes, silliness, fear-mongering and hyperbole in the ascendency.
MY WELLINGTON OFFICE – All doomed
My company’s Wellington staff are in full panic mode. Why? Because we have an admin employee called Corona Amahau. Get rid of her, I hear you say but we can’t; she’s a maori and we’ll be branded racist, so Wellington director Sam Cooper excepted, they’re all bravely battling on knowing they’ll die soon.
Why is Sam the exception? He’s been hiding under his bed since the Kaikoura earthquake and would have a heart attack should he learn of the virus.
More maori criminality.
Corona Amahau from our Wellington office plotting to kill us all. She’s protesting and claiming her name is Corrina but no-one believes her.
This pandemic is more accurately described as a Panicdemic, thanks to over the top government reactions.
An Epidemic of Irrationality
Since news of the coronavirus first broke vastly more people have been murdered or killed in traffic accidents, or drowned, and so on and on, than have died from the virus.
Indeed the number of virus victims, nearly all elderly or with serious underlying medical conditions who’ve been killed by it, are an infinitesimal number out of the wold’s near 8 billion population.
If I, an 80 year old with a poor immune system, not just through age but because of an underlying unusual medical condition, should cop it, then I’m a goner. So too if I cop a wide range of mishaps.
Adopting an economic Rip Van Winkle strategy, as is occurring, is an enormous blunder.
To begin – those of us with recently immunocompromised family members don’t find the ‘panic’ altogether disproportionate.
Second Sam is a very nice fellow that seems unfairly maligned in this (even just having fun).
Unfortunately your analysis in this case is off. The math being primarily what is lacking.
First yes young people appear to be well off comparatively, and in many respects that’s an ideal case, but we don’t want older people like yourself to suffer and die because of our complacency either.
That’s not to mention there are plenty of middle aged (and younger) people getting it too.
There are a two things significant here – the rate of growth and the death rate.
The rate of growth has far outstripped anything since the Spanish Flu and still is ongoing – no way near a saturation point.
The death rate is in an order magnitude more deadly than the flu by at least 10x, and because of the growth factor, it is nothing like traffic accidents or other such stupid comparisons.
Things that grow exponentially cannot be compared to things that are more static and idiosyncratic – apples and bloody oranges.
If the rate of infection rises further we will get larger and larger exponential jumps in the death rate.
Yes 80% of people seem to have little issue, but ~15% have severe symptoms requiring hospitalisation, and about ~5% critically life threatening.
We don’t have enough resources for those kinds of numbers, those numbers will crush the system’s infrastructure and cause a death spiral, especially due to pushing aside other and preexisting health problems. Another of the biggest risks being that medical personnel die or simply refuse to render services.
Taking the British approach in this light (which they are wisely now recanting) they would be guaranteeing the deaths of at least hundreds of thousands.
We have to react to growing magnitudes with what will be the case in the future (such as in two weeks), as the best thing to do is to get ahead of these things.
I know nonlinearities are difficult for people to intuitively wrap their head around but you don’t screw around with multiplicative systemic processes.
Even if odds are you will be fine, you might still spread the disease and then other people will die because of you.
This is why even if the chances of something bad happening individually are small, if it is common to all, by scale transformation – it is both rational and ethical for society to panic about it.
When talking about rationality this is where uncertainty comes in as other primary factor in this. We don’t know many things, such as exactly how fast the disease is spreading (other than it is very rapid) nor do we know how many people are asymptomatic. There are also accounts of people’s organs being damaged even after recovering from the disease. We don’t about possibility of reinfection or the onset of a second wave. This is why paranoia is rational evolutionarily – false positives are always safer than false negatives. We need to be rational, but rationality when proper scale and probabilistic rigour is applied doesn’t often resemble what ivory tower types like psychologists and economists think it does.
It is always better to have error on the side of precaution than the opposite. Disparaging everything as ‘alarmist panic’ is irresponsible. What’s alarmist now may prove insufficient in future. The odds of this kind of outbreak covering the world have never been greater. Many of us will love to be proved wrong about the severity and blamed for overreacting, however if we under react, then many, many people can and will die. The Kelly criterion is the highest form of rationality.
To some of you other points – yes it might be difficult to enforce self isolation but one that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, physical distancing will help more than anything reduce the spread. Two – that would then imply the need for more unfortunate and draconian degrees of lockdown like in China. The advantage of shutting everything down is that it buys us time. How does the economy weigh against human life?
You are right in that it seems that there might be a temperature band the virus does best in, but that only reduces, not mitigates, it’s spread, and while makes sense doesn’t account for all confounders. Sauna use is something many (including myself) considered but for what it’s worth I have heard it discredited by an expert, it is very good for your health otherwise.
All said, I agree with the outlook the virus is more likely to be significant in the short term than the long term and perhaps more economic and cultural in impact, but that big picture overlooks every single person that will suffer and die because of this.
A few relevant links:
Gone viral stats –
I should also say that exponential growth can just as quickly become exponential decline. A total lockdown of just two weeks should be enough to actually determine who is sick and then keep them isolated. The seriousness in part comes from lagging indicators which mean we are just playing catch up otherwise.
Bob, all makes sense, your opinions are refreshing.
However sitting in a sauna with an existing infection will only make you feel more like crap than you already do. Unless, I guess, your body temperature is 12 deg or so less than normal. But in that case you are already dead, so something much, much hotter and dryer than a sauna is required.
Love the view. But…
…sitting in a sauna with an existing infection would only make you feel a lot more uncomfortable. Unless your body temperature is 12 deg or more below normal. However I suspect that then you would require something significantly hotter, and dryer, than a sauna.
Absolutely on point Sir Robert ,well said
We will waite and see if you are right but at this stage i very much doubt it.Wishing every one the very best of luck in the months a head
Reminds me of the Climate Change situation.
Deniers and radicals, buggar all critical thinkers.
Seem the same with the Virus with many sheeple believing the Gummint BS. Sadly my wife is one of those.
I am overseas and will not be able to self imprison myself in the house. As she is scared and worried being over 70…….Funnily enough it would appear that I have a higher chance of getting the Bug in NZ than here in Asia.
I can find no reference to the bug not surviving at temps over 26….If It didnt survive over 26 then it would not survive the tropics. But it lives in singapore?
You claim Corona can’t survive above 26°C, but this is quite wrong, as can be seen from the number of related deaths in Kuwait, a hot desert environment yet currently seeing 33 deaths per million inhabitants, a higher proportion than in the UK
Potential to be a bit like the sub-prime mess, just kept growing and growing. A domino Effect. And you were wrong about that being not significant.