Links 3/30/2020

Patient readers, a comment on comments, supplementing what Yves said here on informational hygiene. Before you press “Post Comment,” please consider the cascading effects your comment can cause, and the effect such cascades can have on moderators, who may end up having to rip out entire threads, a cumbersome, error-prone, and extremely irritating process. Comments that cause cascades tend to be ill-informed, politically motivated without being deft or knowledgeable, or (sometimes) simple shit-stirring, as if NC were Facebook or Reddit. It isn’t.

4-Year-Old Alabama Girl Found Alive In Woods After 2 Days With Her Dog NPR

Coronabonds Are Inevitable. Everybody Knows It Bloomberg

The Climate Crisis Will Be Just as Shockingly Abrupt The New Republic

US crude oil price falls below $20 FT


The science:

You Need To Listen To This Leading COVID-19 Expert From South Korea (video) ASIAN BOSS. Professor Kim Woo-joo from Korea University Guro Hospital. In Korean, with subtitles (very clear). Kim says “re-activation” is possible.

On reinfection (dk). Thread:


Shorter: The tests are sensitive not just to the virus but to DNA (and RNA?) in the environment, some of which is from patients having smashed the virus to bits successfully.

Why are there so few coronavirus infections in Singapore’s health workers? South China Morning Post

* * *
Potential treatment:

‘Let hospitals decide,’ experts warn, as chloroquine hype triggers rush on pharmacies France24 (3/26), France sanctions use of chloroquine for certain patients with coronavirus France24 (3/27), and US regulator gives anti-malaria drugs emergency approval to treat coronavirus France24 (3/30).

Coronavirus: 9 things to know about chloroquine The Africa Report. Good summary of the drug’s history.

* * *
Materiel shortages:

Inside the start of the great virus airlift Axios (nvl).

MIT-based team works on rapid deployment of open-source, low-cost ventilator MIT News

“Absolutely Mission Impossible” Der Speigel (Re Silc).

The U.S. Tried to Build a New Fleet of Ventilators. The Mission Failed. NYT. A must read. This is very much “sabotage” as Veblen would have understood it: “a deliberate restriction of the productivity of capital and labor in order to keep prices and profits higher.”

‘Swamp Creatures’ Attack Effort To Make Medicines American Again The American Conservative. More sabotage.

* * *

Fauci says US could have ‘millions’ of coronavirus cases and over 100,000 deaths The Hill. Bernanke: “At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.” Plus ça change….

How coronavirus mutated and eight strains raced around the world after initial outbreak in China as global cases top 660,000 and deaths hit 30,847 Daily Mail. finally hits the Daily Mail. Good explainer for the layperson, though.

‘Off the charts’: Virus hot spots grow in middle America AP

The Selfish Revelers Rod Dreher, The American Conservative. Dreher is Dreher, but: “Christian friends, I am not a proselytizer, but if your church or tradition is not teaching you how to orient yourself towards bearing suffering…. then it is all but useless, and will chewed up by the dragon that has us in its jaws. I’m not kidding.”

Darwin Awards (1):


Darwin Awards (2):


Darwin Awards (3): FLORIDA CHURCH PACKED WITH WORSHIPERS … Pastor Shuns Social Distancing TMZ. The Shincheonji Church of Jesus? What’s that?

* * *
Economic effects:

Longer-run economic consequences of pandemics? Oscar Jorda, Sanjay R. Singh, and lan M. Taylor (PDF). From the abstract:

How do major pandemics affect economic activity in the medium to longer term? Is it consistent with what economic theory prescribes? Since these are rare events, historical evidence over many centuries is required. We study rates of return on assets using a dataset stretching back to the 14th century, focusing on 12 major pandemics where more than 100,000 people died. In addition, we include major armed conflicts resulting in a similarly large death toll. Significant macroeconomic after-effects of the pandemics persist for about 40 years, with real rates of return substantially depressed. In contrast, we find that wars have no such effect, indeed the opposite. This is consistent with the destruction of capital that happens in wars, but not in pandemics. Using more sparse data, we find real wages somewhat elevated following pandemics. The findings are consistent with pandemics inducing labor scarcity and/or a shift to greater precautionary savings.

* * *
State-level reponse:

California has surge of virus cases that threatens hospitals AP

A natural experiment:


Some governors have stepped up during coronavirus crisis, others not so much NBC

Who’s to blame for Florida’s coronavirus problems? DeSantis points to other states. Tampa Bay Times

Palm Beach Is on Edge After Mar-a-Lago Called a Coronavirus “Hot Zone” Town and Country

* * *
Political response:

Trump now urging U.S. to hunker down through April Politico

Trump issues major disaster declaration for DC over coronavirus The Hill

President Trump authorizes ready reserve forces to fight coronavirus: Here’s what that means ABC

Experts converge on plans for easing coronavirus restrictions safely WaPo

Never get high on your own supply:

Liberal Democracy’s Advantage in Addressing COVID-19 RealClearPolitics

Coronavirus stimulus lets struggling Americans tap retirement accounts early Los Angeles Times. Oh good.

The Nordic Way to Economic Rescue NYT

* * *
Corporate response:

Private equity eyes industries crippled by coronavirus: ‘They have been waiting for this’ CNBC. Because of course.

Charles Koch Network Pushed $1 Billion Cut To CDC, Now Attacks Shelter-In-Place Policies For Harming Business The Intercept

Why Didn’t We Test Our Trade’s ‘Antifragility’ Before COVID-19? The American Conservative

Coronavirus: “Agribusiness Would Risk Millions Of Deaths.” (interview) Rob Wallace, Marx21 (BK). Wallace is author of Big Farms Make Big Flu, recommended by Yasha Levine.

* * *
Remedies and ameliorations:

How to get groceries and take out food using sterile technique (Furzy Mouse). The glitter analogy is good:

NOTE: The author says SARS-COV-2 lasts “one hour” on cardboard in the first minute or so, but I’m sure that’s whatever a videographer calls a typo for one day. With Amazon’s next-day shipping, it looks to me like the cardboard in your package is likely to be fine (one day); it’s the plastic bubble-wrap to watch out for (two to three days). Don’t let the kids pop it!

Sick at home with COVID-19: How to care for your loved ones infected with coronavirus USA Today

The Truth About Vitamin D, Zinc, and Other Coronavirus Rumors Medium (GF).

Gargling for Coronavirus? What Science Can Tell Us NYT

For Introverts, Quarantine Can Be a Liberation Bloomberg

Astrophysicist gets magnets stuck up nose while inventing coronavirus device Guardian. Don’t dunk on them. This is how science progresses!


China and Huawei propose reinvention of the internet FT. Here is the “proposal“, which the FT calls a standard. It doesn’t look like an international standard to me; what on earth can “strategic transformation” possibly mean, in standards terms? Which throws this into the “power play by non-technical people” bucket for me, which is pretty much where the FT comes out anyhow. (The proposal assumes robot cars will be a thing, for example.)

Black-clad men hurl petrol bombs at Hong Kong police station South China Morning Post

The Koreas

How a $100 Billion South Korean Insurer Became a Penny Stock Bloomberg


‘Seal All Borders’: Centre Decides to Stop Long Walk Home of Migrant Labourers The Wire (J-LS).

Centre orders quarantine camps for migrant workers The Economic Times (J-LS).


Monday briefing: UK lockdown ‘could last six months’ Guardian

U.K. Relies on Its Most-at-Risk to Put Food on the Table Bloomberg

‘Pasta and beans’ – Italy’s shadow workers are out of the safety net FT

Trump Transition

Secretary Of Interior Orders Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation ‘Disestablished,’ Tribe Says WBUR

UPDATES: New employees could be sworn in on FaceTime Federal Times


Media Silent as Poll Workers Contract Covid-19 at Primaries That DNC, Biden Campaign Claimed Were Safe FAIR. The tweet I saw from the Sanders campaign said that voting was a personal decision; Sanders himself said that postponing the primaries would be a good idea. The Biden campaign, by contrast, actively encouraged voting, against CDC advice to avoid gatherings larger than 50, and (via spokesperson Simone Sanders) on national television. One might wish that the distinction between the approaches taken by the campaigns was more crisp (IMNSHO, Sanders should have issued a full-throated call for the primaries to be postponed) but it is real. The savage irony, of course, is that Biden’s base is older, hence more likely to suffer from life-threatening co-morbidities. Poll workers, too, skew old.

What It Will Take to Protect the 2020 Election Politico

This Documentary Will Show You Just How Fragile Our Democracy Really Is Time. Vulnerable to “state actors.” Never domestic actors! Never, never, never!

Biden consolidates support, but trails badly in enthusiasm: Poll ABC

Joe Biden coronavirus ad praises Ronald Reagan, seemingly forgetting his handling of the AIDS crisis killed thousands Pink News. Cool, because with the coming condom shortage, we’ll have an HIV spike.

Cuomo threatens to reject $6.7B in federal aid in favor of Medicaid redesign Politico

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Real ID Deadline Delayed Until Late 2021 Because of Coronavirus NYT. That’s a damn shame.

Police State Watch

‘Like sitting ducks’: Amid coronavirus, families, attorneys sound alarm over ICE detainees NBC



Imperial Collapse Watch

The Staggering Collapse Of U.S. Intelligence On The Coronavirus Scott Ritter, The American Conservative. I hate the headline — this is news? — but there’s a tiny nugget of bureaucratic gold: Search on “Infectious Disease Risk Assessment” (and don’t go CT, or we’ll whack you). This is another ugly loose end, like the loose end of not knowing the name of the contractor that screwed up the CDC’s reagents.

DoD quietly pulls bat tartare MRE from circulation Duffel Blog

Class Warfare

Bailouts for the Rich, the Virus for the Rest of Us Counterpunch (GF). Everything’s going according to plan!

From fishing rods to fans: the fight is on to save our crafting skills Guardian. Like, ya know, machine tools.

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (CW):

CW writes: “While working in SE Texas I paddled the creeks in the more remote areas of the big thicket. I’m an old river rat. This is where I went to get away from the world. I made some videos in 2017 before I was transferred out after the hurricane. They are (virtual) rides through walls of vegetation and downed trees jammed up on the hard bends and strewn about on the banks and in the beds of the creeks.” There are said to be herons. The video itself is peaceful and mesmerizing.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Henry Moon Pie

    The great John Prine, who has been battling Stage 4 lung cancer for a couple of years, is on a respirator with Covid-19. It might be a good day to review the last wishes that he set to music when he was a young man:

    1) “Please Don’t Bury Me

    Please don’t bury me down in the cold, cold ground.
    I’d rather have them cut me up and pass me all around.
    Throw my brain in a hurricane and the blind can have my eyes.
    The deaf can take both of my ears if they don’t mind the size.

    2) “Paradise

    When I die, let my ashes float down the Green River.
    Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam.
    I’ll be halfway to heaven with Paradise waiting (Paradise, Ky that is).
    Just five miles away from wherever I am.

        1. Pavel

          This is one of my very favourite songs, and by chance I watched that video last week before I knew he was ill.

          There is another great version on Youtube by Michael Stipe, Nathalie Merchant, and Billy Bragg singing live in Glasgow. Very sweet indeed (especially Nathalie!).

          The song itself of course contains excellent advice we should all heed, especially now.

    1. divadab

      We saw John Prine at Golden Gate Park in the early oughts after he had recovered from cancer. Force of nature. I hope he goes out in not too much pain…

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Saw Prine when he played at the Saenger Theater a few years ago. Had no idea who he was but he was awesome!

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Thanks for the songs & I likely should have explored JP’s music earlier, aside from Bonnie Raitt’s cover of Angel from Montgomery, all I have is this Bon Iver cover of Bruised Orange that sounds to me almost like a hymn coming from a church – a song I have played when times of gotten tough.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Now as an older man, he’s got big plans.

      From his latest album – When I Get to Heaven.

      And then I’m gonna get a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale
      Yeah, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
      I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
      ‘Cause this old man is goin’ to town

      Amen brother.

    4. Phacops

      Have heard him at The Old Town School of Folk Music. He, Goodman, the Holstein brothers and Bromberg were fixtures. Between OTSFM and the Earl of Old Town, there was a lot of great folk talent circulating through Chicago.

      Living far away now, I miss OTSFM and places like Fitzgerald’s in Berwin. I regret not taking the opportunity to see the house band at the Green Mill, Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitane. Luckily saw them in Millenial Park when Chicago hosted a celebration of Django Reinhardt.

      1. lordkoos

        Before Prine was well known (perhaps before he had a record deal) I heard David Bromberg play his tune “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” at the Fox Hollow folk festival. I don’t think anyone in the crowd had heard the song before but the reaction was instantaneously positive. One of America’s great songwriters without a doubt. I sure hope he can beat the odds.

    5. Arizona Slim

      Many moons ago, while I was a college kiddie, I had a summer internship in a NYC radio station. One of our interview guests was John Prine, and what a nice fellow. No rock star ego. At all.

    6. JeffC

      I grew up a few miles from Paradise, KY. As kids we would go there to gawk at a shovel big enough to hold four pickup trucks in its bucket (Peabody Energy Wikipedia entry), or sometimes just to play on the denuded hills left behind by the strip mining, before laws requiring nominal restoration were passed. And yes, I remember those endless trains of cars labeled “Peabody Coal Company.” Who but children, including one who became a brilliant songwriter/singer, could transform such a nightmarescape into nostalgia?

      1. barefoot charley

        “Well I’m sorry my son but you’re too late in asking, Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.”

        1. Dan Cullen

          John grew up just a few short miles away from the Mayslake Peabody mansion which the coal magnate who he made famous with his song built as his retirement home. I always wondered if John knew that when he wrote ‘Daddy Won’t You Take Me Back to Muhlenburg County’. Oh, I just saw that John Denver wrote it and John covered it. Still wonder about it though.

    7. Anon

      His wife has Tweeted that John is now in “stable” condition. Maybe a few more songs to come?

      1. orlbucfan

        I don’t care for country much but Prine is a big exception. I have his “Angel From Montgomery”and a brilliant cover by John Denver.

    8. lordkoos

      Sounds like he may be doing better, I hope that it is true:

      GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING American singer John Prine is in stable condition after being placed on a ventilator while being treated for Covid-19 symptoms, his wife has said.

      The singer-songwriter’s family said on Sunday that Prine was critically ill, but on Monday his wife Fiona Whelan Prine suggested his condition had improved overnight.

    9. Dan Cullen

      John Prine was a mail carrier near his home in Maywood IL, a suburb of Chicago. He would think up song lyrics and music while delivering mail. His first hit was the song ‘Sam Stone’ about a returning Viet Nam vet who ended up strung out on junk. He had a gig very early in his career and needed new song so he went to the bathroom of the bar where he was playing and came up with this gem.

  2. flora

    Here’s a good companion read to the NYT ventilator story. Monopolies are the reason we don’t have enough ventilators.

    A great thread on the dangers of monopoly.

    The problem is that monopolies aren’t just bad because they raise prices, they’re bad BECAUSE THEY ARE MONOPOLIES. Monopolization allows firms to attack workers, suppliers and customers, and to extract monopoly rents that can be diverted to corrupt our political process.

    1. rd

      The national stockpile folks could probably have pulled somethign together that would have been successful by focusing on an inexpensive ventilator with a short life-span since it is for use in crises that will probably only last at peak levels for 3-6 months. They could be discarded or hauled away for complete refurbishment afterwards.

      Motors etc. could be built with inexpensive parts that would last for 6 months instead of 10 years or some much longer period. They could make those components modular to allow for initial deployment and then rapid construction of replacements to swap in as things break.

      however, they probably had the team developing the specifications for the F-35 come up with the specs for the national stockpile ventilator, so it would need to be inexpensive and last for 30 years under daily use in any type of environment, including combat in a dust storm.

    2. Samuel Conner

      For a number of years I’ve been admiring the work of the people at “open source ecology”

      (in prior years was especially taken with their open source compressed earth block fabrication machine; it tickled a DIY construction itch that has been been nagging me)

      off-shelf standardized component designs is, I guess, anathema to for-profit manufacturers — no IP from which to extract rents — but it sure is useful under crisis conditions, assuming that there actually are components on the shelves.

      Perhaps a parallel open-source economy will develop alongside the monopolized for profit one. Or maybe our rulers will start governing in the public interest.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        this is a good starting place for all manner of useful stuff to build..often out of essentially trash:

        cousin’s been cleaning around the trailer house for two weeks in his off-time, and i’ve been coming behind him and picking out useful stuff….or potentially useful stuff. that old window unit? that’s a copper and lead mine.
        the wine and champagne bottles under the house? one never knows,lol.
        he’s used to juts tossing stuff…you know, the American Way.
        one of many steep learning curves he’s having to endure
        (he is constitutionally averse, for instance, to putting most of the groceries and supplies at mom’s…not used to living with people who he can count on not to screw him over. it’s gonna be an interesting thing to watch. i tell him often, “we’re all communists, now”. it’s become something of a mantra to remind himself that he’s not an island any more)

        day off today, for R&R and homework. and rain.
        Manana, I’ve got a list working that includes organising all the various piles of salvaged and recyclable things–we’ll be saving beer cans and glass and metal…and i’m thinking about how to save paper and cardboard for TP production.
        Bamboo will require lye, which is all but unavailable(something to do with methamphetamine production).
        I’ll try the giant grass/cane next(arundus donax?)

        cousin’s also learning about the Patience of a Farmer,lol…watching for germination is excruciating…then checking on the tiny plants several times a day…a time-sense that is determined by Mother Nature(who can be a real bi4ch!): totally different from everything he’s used to.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            tasked cousin’s boy(17, mechanically gifted) to make an ash hopper, based on a picture and narrative in one of the Foxfire books(which anyone now living in the hinterlands, or soon to be hinterlands, should immediately purchase, somehow, btw!)

    3. MLTPB

      The MIT based ventilators, can they be considered a case of positive private sector contribution, instead of central planning?

      As every system has its strengths and weaknesses, at times like this, we look to the former to help ourselves.

    4. Harold

      The standard price for a ventilator was $10,000 each. They accepted bid from a company that promised to make ventilators for $3,000 @ and had never made one before. Then they didn’t check to see if that company had the capacity to make it or was actually making them. They should have given the contract to another bidder and charged the first company with the difference in price. This is all standard federal contracting practice. In retrospect it would have been preferable to have paid $10,000 ea.

  3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    I just can’t see how the 49% are going to stand for another round of The Hunger Games, Sagar from The Rising puts it pretty succinctly :

    Financialization of everything + health care profiteering + the failure and corruption of every last institution + 30 years of bi-partisan neo-liberalism + 30 years of mistaking rising debt for rising prosperity = The Bill Is Now Due And Payable. Uncle Sam of course could pay it but the leeches and parasites have taken over the host

    1. Val

      That’s my understanding. And the host is now unable and unwilling to govern itself, if in fact it ever did so.

      Favorite Prine:
      Moonlight makes me dizzy, Sunlight makes me plain, Your light is the sweetest thing this boy’s ever seen.

  4. Clive

    Re: Coronabonds (or not)

    Unfortunately paywall only access, but in the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has written a comprehensive assessment albeit it from his particular perspective. I’ll quote as much as is reasonable as a copy ‘n paste, worth a trial registration to gain full access (yes, I know, it’s that Daily Telegraph, but still…)

    Dutch premier Mark Rutte has become the spokesman for the hardliners – giving political cover to Germany – categorically ruling out emergency “coronabonds” or other forms of debt mutualisation. “It would bring the eurozone into a different realm. You would cross the Rubicon into a eurozone that is more of a transfer union,” he said. “We are against it, but it’s not just us, and I cannot foresee any circumstances in which we would change that position.”

    Enrico Letta, Italy’s former-premier and an ardent EU integrationist, accused the Netherlands of leading the pack of “irresponsibles” and trying to “replace the United Kingdom in the role of ‘Doctor No’”. The reflexive use of the UK as a rhetorical foil evades of the true issue. It was not London that blocked moves to fiscal union over the last decade; it was Germany.

    We shall see.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      VW is apparently burning through cash at the rate of 2 billion euro a week. It can’t be that much better for the other big names.

      I strongly suspect Germany will get the Coronabond religion as soon as it realises that it is facing its own economic calamity in the summer. They are stalling for time so they can prepare the ground politically.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, PK.

        One of its competitors, the one whose F1 team is based up the road from where I am typing, has applied to my employer for a ten billion Euro emergency loan.

      2. Clive

        The problem is, in framing the push for coronabonds in a measure to offer support to business (even semi-wards-of-state such as “national champions” like VW) who are you bailing out, where and why? And on what terms?

        Airlines are probably the furthest along the lines of enjoying a near-death experience but trying to work out how the bailout should be offered, what the risk/reward is for government and, in these times of unfettered international capital and capital ownership which flits around the globe in seconds with little in the way of long-term-buy-and-hold, how, say, German (or even “EU”) debt-for-equity swaps would not end up going straight into the pockets of, for example, a US-based hedge fund or private equity operating from a tax haven somewhere.

        While the Ordoliberalism principles underpinning it are utterly wrong, I can understand German (or any other “northern” European country) reticence. It’s not even an EU question per se. Returning to airlines, I see than the loathsome Richard Branson is asking for a bailout and still, in a credulity-stretching display of chutzpah, trying to rely on a claim to Virgin Airlines “British-ness”. Let’s say for a moment I was prepared to accept this claim and that the UK government is somehow responsible for this tax-haven registered mish-mash of leases, financial engineering and brand-slap. In about a month’s time, I could pick the entire rotten edifice up for the loose change I could find behind my couch. It (Virgin Airlines) has a book value of zero, or less than zero.

        Now, I’m all in favour of the UK government operating as a vulture fund, picking up these shipwrecks — which are in such a parlous position because they didn’t do what you and I are endlessly expounded to do and keep “savings sufficient for six months’ worth of expenses as a contingency fund” (ha ha ha) — for a song. But paying them money now without cast-iron voting rights and security being taken so as the UK government can participate on a most generously-termed basis in any upside sharing? No, thanks.

        To return, then, to VW, the German government must be — quite rightly — asking itself the same questions. The answers to those questions have to come before a decision on the wisdom of coronabonds, not after.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, well, the ‘what to spend it on’, is the next big question. No doubt the Germans have lots of ideas on what the Italians should be (or not be) buying.

          The airline situation is so interesting, as so many companies (including Ryanair of course) have spent a long time loosening their links to particular countries, and now will be desperately trying to pretend they are national champions again. It will be amusing to see how many national carriers will become national carriers again.

          And as for having reserves – perhaps someone in the industry could enlighten me, but I’d always assumed that airlines would hedge risks like this, just in the way they hedge fuel prices (of course, their hedging means they won’t benefit short term from cheaper fuel). Did any airline think to hedge against a pandemic? Its not as if it was every considered an unlikely risk. Perhaps some have, but are keeping it quiet to see if they can extract public aid as well.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The dissonance and reality-ignoring boggles the mind. “Otherwise we would become more of a transfer union”.

          What, precisely, do the Euro-fabulists think Target 2 is? You know, that teeny weeny little accounting fiction inside the bowels of their so-called currency right now? Where Italy currently owes Germany > 1 t.r.i.l.l.i.o.n?

          I get how Kohl and Mitterand wanted to get together to compete with the USD bloc and the rising yen and yuan blocs. People in hell want ice cream but that don’t mean they get it.

          And I bet the Italians wish they still had some lira lying around right about now.

      3. xkeyscored

        Will the car industry bounce back when this virus eventually goes away, as its supporters no doubt hope?
        Or will months of working, or not, from home persuade many that the car was only necessary to satisfy employers’ demands that they be physically present, often to perform a largely unnecessary, if not positively anti-social, job? Equally, having seen what it can be used for, will we decide that the car industry might be better repurposed to produce what we need, rather than produce profits by externalising most costs?
        Not to exclude other industries, but VW’s cash burning was mentioned, and cars are particularly egregious if you ask me.

      4. Lil’D

        They are the healthiest horse in the glue factory,
        They are delusional about expecting to run a race

    2. The Rev Kev

      I can believe that Dutch Premier Mark Rutte has become the spokesman for the hardliners. He is the one that decided that it would be best for the Netherlands if most people got Coronavirus so that they could establish herd immunity – a true technocrat. I think that he has change his mind since but the damage was done.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The Netherlands has long been one of the most enthusiastic neoliberal practitioners – they pretty much destroyed their postal service and did lots of damage to their outstanding health service through the sort of policy that only true believers could implement. They were always the UK’s mini-me when it came to pushing the neoliberal agenda within the EU, this predates Rutte. The Dutch have always had this pretty unique combination of Big State (stopping the country going underwater) with ruthless capitalism.

        Perhaps someone with more background to this would chip in, but I’ve often had the impression that neoliberals within Continental Europe tend to have the religious zeal of true converts, as opposed to the Anglo exponents of neoliberalism, most of whom know its claims to efficiency are nonsense.

    3. Ignacio

      In addition, Mark Rutte has been spreading nasty sounds about how Italy or Spain manage their epidemics. IMO, he is quite a “%$·&ing @$#old. Given this kind of leadership in so-called core UE members, if they go on a EU breakup is granted some day/year ahead. This won’t be forgotten.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        According to the Irish media, its the Dutch finance minister who is the real hardliner – it seems some of his comments shocked even EU insiders.

        Perhaps the Dutch need to be reminded just how many of their retired countryfolk depend on the Spanish and Portuguese health service.

        1. Ignacio

          Both, though Hoekstra, the finance minister, was possibly the worst. This has resounded and had a reply by the Portuguese PM that was applauded in Spain. As I said, this won’t be forgotten. It is almost certainly a political attack rather than a conflict between states because Spanish and Dutch governments are in distant ideological positions. The kind of dirty job neolibs are used to do. Spanish neolib co-religionaires remain silent to my knowledge.

          I also don’t know if there has been an internal controversy in the Netherlands about the idiocy shown by both individuals.

          1. lou strong

            The majority of both German and Dutch electorate still believe the fable of the ( northern) ant and the (southern) cicada , with which they’ve been duly brainwashed in the past by their establishment .What Hoekstra said to Sanchez is the translation of the fable in economical/political terms, showing that probably and incredibly he believes the fables he’s telling to his citizens.
            My guess is that Portuguese PM , for his part, had a quick reaction because he must have unconsciously recalled that the majority of the companies listed in the Lisbon Stock Market are tax-residents in Netherlands :-)

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Um, OK, so two governments that are “in distant ideological positions” can share a single common currency, mm-hmm.

            As Buffet said “when the tide goes out you can see who is swimming naked”. (Notable that prior to this crash Berkshire was sitting on $126B in cash).

      1. Clive

        A very interesting question. Most of the socialist diehards I talk to have a fairly predictable response that, given at the best of times, they wouldn’t pee in Johnson’s ear if his brain was on fire, they’re happy to twist the knife and blame Johnson, blame the Conservatives, blame austerity and generally not let a crisis go to waste in terms of throwing anything at Johnson by way of criticism which comes to hand.

        The problem is, while it plays well with people who are already fully signed up to The Cause, despite what I try to council, it doesn’t play all that well with the floating voter. It is, however well intentioned, smacking of political opportunism. It’s bad enough when it comes from people who really do care about the poor and the dispossessed. If it comes, as it all too often does, from the authoritarian liberals who don’t give a stuff about the poor and the dispossessed, they just want to further their own notions about how they think things should be, it really makes you — and the typical voter — want to puke.

        Given that, in a time of emergency, incumbent governments tend to be looked at more benevolently by the public there is a real danger for Labour in being seen to be jumping on a bandwagon of bashing the Conservatives.

        No, it’s not necessarily right, or fair. But that’s how politics are. The left, sadly, so often fails to appreciate how politics works and makes the sort of mistakes Maguire makes.

    4. Wellstone’s Ghost

      If only Mrs. Clinton had used the term “irresponsibles” instead of “deplorable” she might be President today. How is she BTW?

  5. JTMcPhee

    And we have in effect a general strike without the emotion, intentionality and organization, and de facto martial law. Best of all worlds?

  6. Louis Fyne

    perhaps a counter-intuitive bright spot.

    Per CDC stats, lockdowns keeping Americans home reduces net US deaths by 10,000 per week as Americans aren’t dying from car accidents, homicides, suicides, etc.

    graph at

    And unknown to me the 2017-2018 flu killed 60,000 Americans.

    1. carl

      If we could somehow quantify all the diminished pollution, smaller number of deaths, stoppage of habitat destruction, etc., to explore whether this virus is on balance beneficial or not. Thinking somewhat of The World Without Us, Alan Weisman.

      1. a different chris

        I’m beginning to think Mother Nature did that calculation and this is a warning shot.

      2. GlobalMisanthrope

        This is what we talk about at my house. There’s a French book titled Colère that my wife loves — I haven’t read it, can’t find it in translation — in which the Earth decides to take action when humans fail to control themselves. Sounds about right. And, seeing the hoarding, those photos above, and my own city yesterday afternoon, I can’t see any other way, really.

        It makes me sad. But we have a 21 year-old son, so it helps to think it may help.

      3. Phacops

        Well, we either pay attention to the world’s carrying capacity or nature will impose Malthusian remedies, and not just for food.

      4. MLTPB

        There is also the age difference to consider here.

        Perhaps the young come out ahead, not that the old are less worthy.

        1. John k

          Speaking as one that has been on Medicare for a decade…
          Bernie is losing bc of the old that have Medicare but not wanting the young to have it… or the low cost tuition they had in the 60’s… or min wage adjusted for working class inflation since then… or opposes boosting taxes on the rich to what it was under Reagan bc it might pinch them…
          I know a professor that used to support these things when she was younger, but opposes them now.
          So just imho, the old are, as a group, less worthy. Maybe Mother Nature thinks so, too.

          1. MLTPB

            I just can’t bring myself to say the old are less worthy, apart from what Mother Nature thinks.

            This reminds me of the film, Ballad of Narayama.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Someone should do extensive studies of a statistically meaningful number of medicare and social security recipients and see just what per cent of them actively actually want medicare and social security retained for themselves and reduced or cancelled for those not yet old enough to be on it.

            I keep hearing / reading this accusation often enough that I begin to think someone should do the actual fact-finding research so we can actually know whether this is a real fact or just a meme and a trope.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      There was a big accident on my street this morning. A truck ran into a light rail train. Fortunately, as it was the first train in the morning it was nearly empty, so one one person hurt apparently. There have been warnings about accidents like this – the very low traffic levels are encouraging high speeds and light jumping.

      But in general its been a pleasure here – so many quiet roads – pollution levels seem lower and people are strolling down the middle of city streets. Hopefully lives will be saved if (as they are warning), the police come down hard on anyone tempted to drive too fast and recklessly. I wonder if lower air pollution will help people with respiratory problems too. With luck, there will be some positives out of this.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        If theres one silver lining, its that earth is getting a breather, albeit a mini one cosmichronicly speaking.

      2. Louis Fyne

        air pollution is the #2 cause of lung cancer. as well as a trigger for many heart attacks. and of course there’s asthma, etc.

        and also the contrail effect (first observed post-9/11)—as less airplanes in the sky affects the climate via changes in solar reflection.

        pretty amazin what can happen in the span of 8 weeks.

      3. HotFlash

        Been enjoying the quiet, the civility, the lack of traffic. Do we have to bail out the airlines, the plane manufacturers, the auto makers, the insurance companies, and the 1% so they can go back to the business of killing the earth with climate change on once the big die-off is over? This is a golden, if painful, opportunity to get where we need to be wrt emissions, fossil fuels, bullshit jobs and extractive finance. That reset was always going to be painful, but it it would (likely) have been too late, if ever.

        Hoping to make the pain worthwhile. Oh, and amfortas, if your village uses a spray first (eg, reclaimed spray bottle with water in it, remove straw to get upside-down spray), your TP needs will be less or none. Washable/reusable cloth squares are good, too, if you can’t bleach ’em you can boil ’em.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Wouldn’t it be interesting if we figured out how to provide what humans need for the next 12 months: food and shelter for all; healthcare for sick; education for the young; burial or equivalent for the dead. From that point, find out what we need–really need–and work on that next.

      Imagine if a big chunk of our society’s labor and human capital could be diverted from bullshit jobs whose purpose is to financialize everything for the benefit of a few to real work aimed our healing our abused world and its people.

      1. Samuel Conner

        I’ve been thinking along similar lines — the crisis is compelling people to notice what really is necessary and what is optional. An awful lot of economic activity (the endless churn of activity in the entertainment “industry” is a single example) is more nearly “decorative” than anything else; like embroidery on the upholstery of the “furniture” of the economy.

        As Keynes (IIRC) framed it, the “economic problem” of aggregate production sufficient to meet the basic needs of the population has been solved (though sustainability questions remain, so the present “solution” is not long-term). The “distributive problem” remains, but perhaps the present crisis can help to focus more attention on that.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        that is my fervent hope!
        but that earworm must be actually planted in the ears of all and sundry.
        otherwise, the usual suspects will catch their breath and start talking about how this is all the fault of “Those People Over There”, whom we must punish and invade, etc.
        “Be the Change”, and all.

      3. MLTPB

        I see we organize ourselves differently.

        Some jobs are not coming back. I read 30,000 restaurants in CA alone will not, without state aid.

        Other jobs will emerge.

        It’s possible we see fewer jobs, net.

  7. cnchal

    > Private equity eyes industries crippled by coronavirus: ‘They have been waiting for this’ CNBC.

    While the market for leveraged loans has fallen off in recent weeks, leverage of roughly six times a target’s earnings is still available for private equity deals, according to the head of mergers quoted at the beginning of this article. Parties are having conversations about investments in hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and casinos, among other companies.

    “These are fundamentally good businesses that are going to have a terrible year,” the banker said. “There’s an opportunity for private equity to go in there and take a meaningful stake or buy the company at a valuation they could not have gotten before.”

    Terrible decade is my opinion.

    If that is their investment theme, and I sincerely hope it is, that allocation of capital ought to sink a few Pirate Equity bigwigs, if a high corona doesn’t get them first.

    As reality is just barely — it is the beginning of the beginning — (is that the correct use of the em dash?) — being recognized, it will eventually dawn on people that those types of businesses will not be able to pay any bills when, for example, a restaurant that used to seat one hundred customers can seat perhaps twenty. Now, cascade that all the way up the line to the debt (or bag) holder at the top.

    Imagine — due to social distancing — mass gatherings at sports arenas and stadiums with nine out of ten seats ripped out, and what that will do to the ability to deliver money to pay the bonds off. Or pay the athletes and entertainers that are putting on a show.

    Listening to Dr Fouci and the broad hints that are not explicitly said, this virus is likely to have several world go arounds before a vaccine is developed, so a couple of years of mayhem where restrictions are relaxed and tightened cyclically in a geographic uncoordinated manner and it is this environment where Pirate Equity is poised to wade in and buy everything up for a penny on the dollar.

    It is like the already full glutton that sees a feast and can’t resist chowing down on the rotting food. Nobody should be near him when the shit hits the fan.

    1. xkeyscored

      Casinos “are fundamentally good businesses”? I suppose a banker would see things that way.

      1. lordkoos

        The average casino customer loses $11 an hour, so yeah, it’s good business, if that’s your thing.

  8. Andrew

    Re: Grocery handling

    Something I did not see him mention: if you want to disinfect something, it needs to stay wet for longer than you think. Check the label. Most wipes need four minutes, but it can be as long as ten.

    1. Carolinian

      I believe the wipes with alcohol work much faster–less than a minute. I modified the trigger sprayer from a window cleaner bottle to work with a bottle of rubbing alcohol which has the required 70 percent alcohol.

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      Good point. And after using hand sanitizer, you should wait at least one minute before touching hands with any other object. I watched the video. All good advice, but it’s all a bit too much. If the virus is really this hardy, then I tip my hat and surrender to a superior opponent: we will all get it within a year or two. Very few people are going to exert themselves to the sort of semi-surgical cleanliness protocols which he describes. And most people don’t even have garages in which to leave the groceries outdoors for 3 days. Wash hands and self-isolate, absolutely: but what he’s recommending is just overkill, IMHO.

      1. J

        I hate to admit it but from an evolutionary viewpoint the virus has already won. It managed to find a host spanning the globe. And its here to stay for a while.

  9. dbk

    Just wanted to second (or third) the recommendation re: Today’s Must-Read, the ventilator story in the NYT.

    The headline is another – in this case, infuriating – case of the Times’ disingenuous burying of the lede, which is that the project to design a new-generation / cheap / portable / easy-to-use ventilator back around 2009-2010 went smoothly and made it to prototype – in fact, final approval was requested.

    It didn’t fail, it was failed by mergers & acquisitions – cut-throat competition – profit-gouging on the part of the two companies that acquired the original developer in quick succession.

    Great reporting on the acquisition trail and how a successful project became an unprofitable orphan.

    Better title imho: Capitalism kills, example the zillionth

    And in this case, it really, really will.

    1. Harold

      The federal contracting process failed. People weren’t doing their jobs, which includes monitoring the company whose bid was accepted and penalizing them if they are not coming through. Why did this happen? Why were time-honored, established, federal contracting practices ignored? What was really going on? The article doesn’t tell us.

      1. dbk

        I think there’s more investigative reporting to be done here, frankly. But the Times piece has established the chain of acquisition pretty well. The Obama Administration dropped the ball somewhere in the process, that’s clear although never stated explicitly. All of this happened on Obama’s watch.

        Another day, another scandal.

      2. dbk

        Er, actually, no. The company whose bid was accepted came through fine – a prototype new-generation ventilator was developed and made it as far as a request for approval.

        What happened? Well, M&A, basically. The company was acquired by Covidien and then Covidien was acquired by Medtronic. Covidien also made ventilators of the older type, and didn’t want the competition the new model would create.

        There’s more to the story, but the Times article has now identified the main stages in how a cheap / portable / easy-to-use ventilator became an “orphan”.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Trump now urging U.S. to hunker down through April”

    You don’t think that this change of mind was caused by Mar-a-Lago being declared a Coronavirus “Hot Zone” leaving him stuck in Washington had anything to do with it, do you? And it is not like he can jet off to New York for a refuge either at the moment.

    1. edmondo

      It’s probably preparation for the story coming in three weeks:

      “Trump now urging US to hunker down through May”

      and then the one urging us to stay chill until the end of June. I’m guessing that July 4th turns into Independence Day for the first time for most people in the US. The CARES ACT has 4 months of Unemployment Insurance in it for a reason.

      1. MLTPB

        It should not surprise those who have watched him fir a while.

        I said that when the news broke about Easter.

    1. divadab

      I wonder what the geniuses in the Dem party will do next to guarantee a Trump reelection? Nominate Hillary as Veep?

      Biden-Clinton – because corruption never sleeps.
      Biden-Clinton – not you, us!
      Biden-Clinton – what was that again?
      Biden-Clinton – because we deserve it!
      Biden-Clinton – in an undisclosed location, taking their meds.

      1. CuriosityConcern

        2nd & 3rd made me chuckle,
        Here’s my attempt:
        Biden/Clinton – it’s our turn, now go die

        Seriously though, I’m holding out hope that our fellow electorate will rethink Bernie’s policy proposals and how they probably would help more than the alternatives during this pandemic. I know it’s unlikely, but what if Bernie cleaned up in the remaining primaries and somehow wrested the nom? I am of the opinion that the capital strike that was hypothesized to manifest if he won could now be dealt with authoritatively in our current situation.
        By the way, I wonder if the caucus discrepancies in Iowa were ever resolved? Answering my own question that was also probably answered here in links a month ago, it appears the recaucus did not change Sander’s Iowa delegate count: CBS Iowa 2.

        1. Felix_47

          I wonder. Democrats Abroad had 71% of the vote for Sanders. It is not like DA is full of communists. A huge proportion of us are military or ex military, many with multiple deployments. Hardly what one would consider a wild liberal group. Some say they will vote for Trump, as counterintuitive as it seems. They see a Biden vote as a vote for 12 years more of neoliberalism……be it colored with Harris or white with Kobuchar. DA is multi racial. Are American abroad that much different than older black voters in South Carolina or back urban and white rural voters in Michigan? It seems improbable but Stalin did say he was in favor of free elections. What mattered was who counted the votes.

          1. dbk

            I’ve seen speculation that one of the key reasons DA went for Sanders was because so many of us live in countries with national health care systems and have come to see the light.

            1. Wellstone’s Ghost

              Absolutely correct. Sander’s policy proposals are viewed as sensible, dare I say rational, everywhere else.

        2. anonymous

          The results were certified, though there was disagreement within the state party over whether the results needed to be corrected to be as accurate as possible. Some of the issues were over the rules, such as whether a recount needed to be requested by a candidate, and whether it was possible, using delegate allocation rules, for a precinct to award a number of delegates that differed from the allotted number. There was the question of whether to bother re-examining precincts that could not change the outcome. There was also acknowlegement that the process could not allow for an accurate recount when the first count error could affect realignment, as how people would have realigned could not be known. The most detailed information is on Laura Belin’s Bleeding Hearland blog.

          more posts:

          One factor of interest to me was how much Buttigieg was boosted by Republicans switching registration. There were several articles quoting Republicans who supported Butttigieg, and the spokesperson for him in my own precinct had changed registration to vote for him, but that’s all anecdotal, not data. Because one’s caucus vote is public and there is no need to maintain privacy, it would theoretically be possible for a political scientist, given the data, to correlate party registration changes in the few months leading up to the caucuses with votes for the different candidates. Here is some suggestive evidence that Democratic registration gains came more from switch overs than first time voters, although there are confounding factors, such as voter roll maintenance.

          The Iowa Secretary of State has county registration totals on its website, but I don’t see data online corresponding to the individual caucus precincts that I could try to correlate with the delegate counts. Sanders and Buttigieg were so close that precinct data (because delegate allocation is not the same as the raw count) would be needed to know whether Republican cross over gave Buttigieg the narrow victory. BTW, the Republicans of whom I am aware much preferred Buttigieg to Trump; they were not trying to mess with the Democratic party nomination.

        1. edmondo

          If Hunter gets a job with the Clinton Initiative, we’ll all be able to figure it out.

          Biden/Clinton 2020 – We don’t even bother to pretend we care about what you think.

  11. William Beyer

    Regarding “Swamp Creatures,” what would happen if China decided to invoke unilateral, Pompeo-Trump brand, economic sanctions on the U.S. and refuse to ship all pharma?

    1. The Rev Kev

      They wouldn’t do that as a lot of that pharma is necessary to keep people alive and would be bad publicity as being cruel. All they would have to do is to halt all tranquilizers, sedatives, antidepressants, mood stabilizers & the like to the US and sit back with some popcorn to see what happened next.

  12. Polar Donkey

    Four days ago, my friend’s step father died of Coronavirus. The first fatality of Coronavirus in Memphis. Neither the hospital nor health department tested the victim’s wife. Just sent her home. She had to lie about having a sore throat to go through a drive thru testing center. She tested positive and is asymptomatic. No follow up from health department or hospital. She is in self quarantine. My friend is also in self quarantine as well. We are still early in pandemic here. First death and around 300 reported cases at time. I have no hope we get a hold of the outbreak anytime soon. I believe Fauci. at least a hundred thousand will die.

    1. Ignacio

      Yep, same story in retirees houses in Italy or Spain. This is one of the first things that worried me about this epidemics. I wish the best for her!

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Thank you so much, Ignacio!

        I heard Spain had 800+ deaths the other night. Thats crazy high and very troubling.

        Italy as well. My step family hails from Sicily, plus I spent pretty much the best 4 months of my life studying (partying) in Due Santi – about 20K outside Rome. I almost feel like their cultural greeting of kissing each others cheeks contributed to the spread. Ciao Italia!

  13. GlobalMisanthrope

    Thanks for the video. Great! Those are herons in flight. You can tell them by their flight pattern and the shape of their wings. Not great blues. Probably golden-crested night-flying, from their size.

    Also, regarding the Darwin awards, those pictures look exactly like Austin yesterday afternoon when I went out to look for dish soap. Idiots. I found myself getting really angry. Didn’t find any dish soap. Got a nice piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano, though.

    Bay Area, Charlotte, Austin…Coronavirus as the lib Dem comeuppance?


    1. a different chris

      I dunno, they are young and the young aren’t very likely to die. It’s not called Boomer Remover for nothing. Youngish people have died, but every time you dig a bit you find they had some other complicating pre-condition.

      So maybe they are out deliberately getting Herd Immunity. Get a cough, spend a few days in bed, be hardened for Round 2 in the fall. Why shouldn’t they, more than one of their “betters” (cough, Boris, literal cough) thought it was a good idea.

      Now the old people you have to wade thru at Whole Foods, that’s a different story.

    2. MLTPB

      Looking at the 2 pictures above, of people outside, they look like they are 6 ft apart, and if not, maybe family

  14. Tom Stone

    The Director of Emergency Services for Sonoma County , Chris Godley, took his family on a lovely outing to the beach last Saturday and posted pictures on his Facebook account.
    It was a peaceful and serene experience because the beach was otherwise deserted due to the
    Shelter in Place” order that closed all the beaches and parks in the County to the Public on March 23.|
    The chairwoman of the Board of Supes thinks it is no big deal and Supervisor David Rabbitt has stated that what Godley did was just fine because he has a stressful job.

    1. dearieme

      closed all the beaches and parks in the County to the Public

      You’re surely not going to tell me that a Director of Emergency Services is merely a member of the public, are you?

  15. Lemmy Caution

    Re “Coronavirus stimulus lets struggling Americans tap retirement accounts early

    Is it just me or is this an aggressively stupid idea dressed up as helpful “aide” in a time of crisis?

    The idea of raiding one’s own retirement fund — money typically accrued over years or decades, often at significant pain — to cover living expenses seems like you’re setting yourself for even more trouble down the road. Repaying that money in three years means you will need to re-save that money at a pace 3, 4 or 5 times faster than it took you to set it aside originally. All this at a time when the entire nation will be climbing out of whatever economic and employement hellscape the pandemic leaves behind, which I’m sure will include bankrupt businesses, lost jobs, etc.

    In short, Congress says: The good news is we’ve devised a bail out for you. The bad news is we’re not sending you the money — you are borrowing from yourself and you take on all the risk, including tax penalties if you don’t pay it back in three years. You can thank us when we get back from vaca in three weeks.

    Jeez, with friends like that …

    1. zagonostra

      I’m thinking about taking advantage of this provision by taking all my money out of my 401K and purchasing some land in the backwoods of Central PA. I figure with the FED money printing press at full throttle, it may be better to have real assets than to rely on that money having any value.

      Thoughts about removing myself from the day-to-day grind of earning enough money for some future retirement and learning how to become self-sufficient get counterpoised in my mind by the thought that if things really start falling apart, like law-and-order falling apart, and loved ones are not safe, it won’t do me any good being removed from the battle; there is no peace of mind if those you love are not safe and doing well and that’s where they got me.

      Crazy times make for crazy ruminations…

      1. aletheia33

        as others here have often said, the best insurance is a strong local community. that is where the rebuilding will start (in fact, has already started). going it alone, especially as aging begins, is not a promising strategy.

        amfortas the hippie is a good example of this, even though he reports that many of his neighbors don’t see things his way. he has now gathered his “clan” to create a tiny family village. and from hanging out with everyone who comes into the feed store, a lot of people know him, even if they think he’s crazy, and all those connections will benefit all, mutually.

        there’s this phenomenon that used to be called “mutual aid.” a couple of young (30s-40s) women in my small town have just set up a hub for what they do call “mutual aid”: sign up online to say what you need help with and/or what help you can offer.

        sooner or later, even in “fuck you, loser” USA, people are going to figure out how to mutually aid one another. it’s easy and quick to figure out. i’m not saying this will be an adequate solution to the multiple huge problems. just that it will happen.

    2. farragut

      From the “Next-Big-Thing-to-Receive-Govt-Bailouts” Dept:
      “Companies of all sizes are looking into freezing or postponing planned matching contributions to their defined contribution plans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Peg Knox, chief operating officer of the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association.”

  16. Polar Socialist

    That China and Huawei propose reinvention of the Internet stuff is weird. If one follows the links, one ends up with ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Standardization Sector, that established in 2018 Focus Group on Technologies for Network 2030.
    This year they’re supposed to have World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA), and Huawei is proposing for the assembly to consider continuing this Network 2030 studying.

    Nowhere is there anything about “splintering the Internet” or “gaining control over usage” in the Network 2030, as Sweden, UK and US apparently are worried. It’s just about connecting space devices and transporting “holographic” data over networks. And it seems to be about preventing “splintering” by having a standard that cover every and all communication devices and purposes.

    So, what am I missing?

    1. Synoia

      This from the institutions who brought you X21 SHM, X25,and OSI, wonderful on paper, while the real engineers built a working internet.

    2. Tom Bradford

      This is over my head too, but I know that when I helped build a local wi-fi network only a few years ago the hardware was still based on 8-bit technology essentially for text from when the Net was born in the ’80’s, which resulted in a lot of inefficiencies.

      I suspect that changing that now to take advantage of modern processing power for a lot more efficiency would involve essentially rebuilding the entire hardware infrastructure from the foundations up – including a new modem in every house. The money Huawai et al could make from this would likely equal the GNP of a mid-sized economy so they’d be really drooling over it, but on the other hand the result would be a faster, more capacious and more resilient Internet for everyone.

      But I could well be wrong.

  17. zagonostra

    >Michael Hudson

    Worth quoting from earlier NC Post.

    The good thing about writing down the debts is that you wipe out the savings on the other side of the balance sheet. Some 90 percent of the debts in America are owed to the wealthiest 10 Percent. So the problem is not only the debt; it’s all these savings of the One Percent! The world is awash in their wealth. If you don’t wipe out their financial claims – which are the basis of their wealth – they’re going to take you over and become the new financial Lords, just like the feudal landlords. The banks are the equivalent of the Norman invasion. and the conquering landlords that reduce the economy to a peonage!

    1. periol

      My favorite term when discussing things like a sovereign nation defaulting on some of it’s debt, or say, PG&E going bankrupt is the concern about whether some investors will have to take a “haircut” on their investment. Oh no, the rich creeps who bought sovereign bonds from Zimbabwe might lose some money.

      I just love they can’t even pretend it really hurts them. It’s like getting a haircut, when the wealthy lose money. Oof, life is rough.

      I say give them a haircut. Maybe it’s time for some new hairstyles.

  18. New Wafer Army

    I don’t think the Darwin Award’s category is well named as most people in the pictures appear relatively young and fit, and the elderly have already procreated. You would actually be better off getting the virus as early as possible while ventilators/ICUs are still available. Anyway, I suspect the real reason for flaunting the recommendations is not stupidity but rather the American screw-you-i’m-ok-buddy way of “life”.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I must admit I can’t get too upset about people going into the outdoors or hiking. The risks of contracting it in the open air are far less than indoors. I’d be more worried if they are sharing cars or using public transport, thats where transmission seems more likely.

      Around here, its joggers that are really getting on peoples nerves – some are so into their running that they are steaming and sweating very close to people as they pass by. But then some people just love getting on their high horses – one person here going on twitter to complain about two cyclists ‘not maintaining social distance’ while riding their bikes together.

      About ‘getting it earlier’ though, I think thats questionable. Yes, better to get it while there are hospitals available, but there is so little known about it I’d rather put off the inevitable infection until they’ve worked out better treatments. Another big ‘unknown’ is just how much immunity you get – there are indications that you might get little or none (they don’t really know). A family member of mine who is a hospital doctor says that they’ve heard informally from Italy that there are worries that the reason its so dangerous there is that there was an earlier ‘mild’ form, followed by a more aggressive strain, and the latter is proving very harmful to those who already have it. Its just a hypothesis now (so far as I know, this hasn’t been written up yet in any mainstream source), but it certainly would persuade me to avoid infection for as long as possible.

      1. Anon

        In an attempt to keep crowds away from the beaches, LA County has closed all parking areas, beachways (walk, bike, run, skate, etc.), trails and shoreline. To prove they meant what they said, a sole surfer (alone in the water) was fined $1000 for trespassing over the weekend.

        I live up the coast and have transitioned from public pool lap swimming (now closed) to ocean swimming with a few others (practicing social distancing in the parking area and in the ocean). Hope triathlon wetsuit investment isn’t lost to similarly aggressive beach closures. Ya’ gotta stay active to stay healthy!

          1. Anon

            Countries or Counties? LA County has a quarter (10M) of California’s population. Not likely to attempt tracking all of them. Local parks (beaches are local only to a wealth few) are open to the populace. However, LA County is parkland poor, so the fresh air and open space of the beach is attractive to most of those 10M. Parking areas get crowded fast.

            As I said, the lone surfer was fined to make a point to the other 10M minus one: Stay close to home, walk the dog (use a Mutt Mitt), but don’t drive to the beach to play volleyball, swig beer with other folks, etc.

            Actually, social distancing is the norm in SoCal as most everyone is caccooned in their cars most of the time. Weekends are different. The temps are going to be in the 70’s (F) this next week and the beach attraction will be elevated.

    2. HotFlash

      For reference, the “Darwin Award” is for taking oneself out of the gene pool, ideally prior to procreating, by doing something stupid. So these kids are definitely in the running. Gaudeamus igitur, juvenes dum sumus!, as the poet said.

      Here are some examples from the Darwin Awards site. Mostly they are deaths, but favourite of mine, which I did not see (perhaps apocryphal) is of a man who sought to steal a lobster by stuffing it down his pants.

    3. J

      From what i have read, the possibility of long term damage to organs is still unclear. So even healthy young people could end up with long lasting damage not just to the lungs but other organs as well. This is not meant as some scaremongering post, just pointing out there are still too many unknowns for young to be gambling with.

  19. Carolinian

    Thanx for so many links. This web denizen says the more the better.

    And re GA vs NC–GA does have Atlanta which sprawls across the northern half of the state. But NC also appears to be doing better than SC. Perhaps it’s that clear western North Carolina mountain air. On the other hand there’s that low lying eastern NC hog manure lagoon air.

    NC was heavily settled by Scots Irish (lots of people with red hair). A Celtic genetic resistance?

    1. HotFlash

      Worse/better reporting? Different standards? More/less testing? ‘Massaging’? Numbers are seductive, they give the illusion of objective truth. As an old accountant, I know how numbers can lead astray, innocently or on purpose.

      1. MLTPB

        You’re right.

        The conclusion as to the cause can only be tentative, though the rationale (busy airport) seems plausible here, absent relative testing numbers, or evidence of massaging.

    2. Donna

      I live in Haywood County in western North Carolina. In Haywood, I am relieved to say ahead of the Governor’s order they have already closed everything down with no cases reported yet. Possibly we had a very slow winter tourist season and the county has decided to head all tourists from Florida off at the pass. I hope it helps. My husband and I are 70 year olds. Thanks to Naked Capitalism I started gradually building up my pantry a month ago. However, I am concerned about supply lines and exposure while shopping so every time I go to the store I buy more than the last. I told my husband I cannot go to the supermarket any more. Last time I spent almost $400 for two people. Now I feel guilty about being a hoarder.

  20. WJ


    Because it is *very likely* that you are Vitamin D deficient if you work indoors, seldom expose yourself to direct sunlight, and live in the northern hemisphere, then it follows that you should be taking Vitamin D supplements. As much as 5,000 to 10,000ius/day. (Vitamin D poisoning is a real thing but only at much greater quantities than even 10,000 ius/day.) The metastudy cited in the Medium piece shows an 80% decrease in respiratory infections for those who (a) are deficient in Vitamin D and who then (b) supplement this deficiency by daily oral ingestion of the Vitamin.

    It is true that, if you are NOT Vitamin D deficient, taking extra Vitamin D will not help you that much (or at all.) But everything I’ve read suggests that it is more than likely the case that, if you meet the conditions above, you *are* Vitamin D deficient. So you should be taking the Vitamin. Just my two cents on this article.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, that article makes some quite dubious claims (as it happens, I had a bit of an argument with this yesterday with a relative who is a doctor). Like a lot of research on the topic, it confuses the issue of supplements with whether or not people are deficient (and for that matter, whether the supplements are bioavailable). We know that a huge percentage of people in higher latitudes are vitamin D deficient. The article also throws in some problematic arguments, which makes me feel its trying to make a point, not provide real information.

      The arguments over C and Zinc are more difficult scientifically – given that both are cheap and easily available and almost impossible to overdose, then it seems to me that using them is a relatively simple way people can potentially give themselves an immune system boost. Even if its only minor, as the risks and costs are very low, I see no reason why it should not be recommended.

      1. HotFlash

        A naturopath recommended zinc (and other) supplements to me some years ago, to which I objected, “But I eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and veggies!” He replied that the soils in the eastern part of North America are deficient in zinc due to the underlying geology, and the supps are just good insurance.

        Me dunno, I am not a soil scientist, nor do I know where my food was grown even if I were. But did read a couple of books and yeah, not all dirt is the same. So, my middle ground is take some supps, but don’t obsess.

      2. MLTPB

        Summer is coming.

        With it, longer days.

        Is it possible to be less D deficient, for the same person, in summer than winter?

        Are people stronger immunity wise in the summer months, for this or other reasons?

        In that case, the supplement question is less relevant.

        1. Irrational

          5-10,000 ius a day sounds high – I prescribed a dose of 20,000 when diagnosed deficient, to be taken weekly in winter and bi-weekly in summer. Pls check with your doc.

  21. Ignacio

    RE: On reinfection (dk). Thread:

    I very much agree with Kolchinky’s take on so-called re-infections. To add to his thread, bear in mind that NTAs test for virus genome detection (that can be a residual during infection clearing). It doesn’t test for infectious particles. In patients with extended and extensive infections, viral genomes might be detected well after symptom remittance. This does not necessarily indicate production of infectious viral loads and to my knowledge this has not been reported. Whether there are cases with more than one acute phase it has to be demonstrated properly. It could occur, but please, demonstrate it before publishing hysterical reports.

    1. ewmayer

      Kolchinsky’s take also ties in with the observed slow mutation rate of the virus (noted in the Guardian “8 strains” article) – with, say, flu, once our immune system vanquishes one strain, it remains immune to said strain, as any incipient re-infection by same is quickly mopped up by rapid ramping-up of the memory antibodies resulting from the initial infection, and further, we tend to have partial immunity to similar strains. Only when ever-ongoing recombination and mutation produces a sufficiently-different (and pathogenic) strain are we at risk. (Or if our immune system memory somehow becomes compromised, as is the case with e.g. AIDS patients and certain other infections, notably measles.)

      1. MLTPB

        It was only a week or so ago we discussed two or three strains (that might have been outdated even then, as 8 strains are being reported).

  22. The Rev Kev

    “FLORIDA CHURCH PACKED WITH WORSHIPERS … Pastor Shuns Social Distancing”

    It does not matter what religion it is, the more fundamental they are, the more reckless they are whether it is Christian, Muslim or whatever. As an example, the Israelis are having a helluva problem with their Ultra-Orthodox community as they refuse to practice social distancing but make their kids cluster together in their schools or attend prominent funerals by the hundreds. So though they make up only about 10% of the population, half those patients that have been hospitalized for Coronavirus come from this community-

    1. CuriosityConcern

      When it comes to religion, I object to what I perceive as an abdication of personal authority and critical thinking(at least when it comes ideas that the leader has weighed in on). I acknowledge the good parts are indeed good, charity and social participation. Wanting to understand your place and role in the universe.
      But when it goes bad, how can you argue against a concept that as it’s initialization stages declares that all challenges are erroneous? In my more cynical moments I’ve thought of fundamental religions as a sort of computer virus, where the operating system becomes compromised and not fully under control of the owner.

          1. CuriosityConcern

            I was enlightened yesterday on this site on the finer points of your disambiguation.

  23. Arizona Slim

    That Selfish Revelers story really got me going.

    As mentioned previously, I live near the University of Arizona. Where selfish revelry is a way of life. Well, I should put that in the past tense because there was this party near the Arizona Slim Ranch …

    Link: House party in Tucson could affect city policy

    PS: This particular house is in an area that has been Party Central for quite some time. Glad to see that the city is finally cracking down.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I might add that, in my neighborhood, we have been struggling with party houses like the ones in the KGUN 9 TV story. Matter of fact, there’s one right across the street from me.

        Well, then came the university’s spring break. Which coincided with the Coronavirus manure hitting the whirly blades.

        Before the kiddos left for spring break, they left trash in the yard and driveway. Including a big pile under the carport, which Yours Truly reported to the city’s code enforcement. Nothing was ever done.

        In the back yard, they created a party corner, complete with beacon that they’d leave on at night. Think of your porch light, the one that attracts moths at night. That’s how this light worked — it attracted partiers.

        No parties there now.

        I’m here to tell you that, over the weekend, I worked on an impromptu cleanup with two of my neighbors. The trash heap under the carport? Gone. Weeds as tall as human beings? Gone. Beer cans that were strewn all over the back yard? Into the recycle bin they went!

        And, yes, we cleaner-uppers practiced social distancing.

        Where the heck is the landlord? Oh, he lives up in the Foothills. Our neighborhood party house is owned by his and his wife’s in-VEST-ment trust.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I try to be open to new viewpoints and this one was very rewarding, thanks:

      It is not time to cast blame outside of ourselves, because it doesn’t matter where this event originated. What matters is what you do with these circumstances within your own individual lives. Transformational changes offer the greatest opportunities for change. It’s time to take advantage of this profound opportunity.

      The purpose of this pandemic crisis is to heal and bring people together. Those that are in survival mode will end up destroying themselves because of fear. Fear, and all the negative emotions associated with fear, are the culprit to blame for this ugly disease rampant on planet Earth now.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        And this:


        Dearest Rosemary,

        It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious of his sources.

        The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.

        You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z. says it’s no excuse to drink, but I just can’t seem to steady my hand. In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.

        Faithfully yours,

        F. Scott Fitzgerald

        1. Wukchumni

          We have friends that have around 1,000 bottles of red wine and a month worth of food stored up. I predict lotsa drinking on empty stomachs, or if they’re lucky they’ll be able to trade booze for food somewhere down the line.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          And the “stimulus” offered by the Australian Government, similar effect in the U.S. methinks. SME’s are Small and Medium Enterprises and ATO is Australian Tax Office:

          Economists‌ ‌were‌ ‌debating‌ ‌just‌ ‌2‌ ‌weeks‌ ‌ago‌ ‌on whether COVID-19‌ ‌could‌ ‌trigger‌ ‌an‌ ‌economic‌ ‌recession.‌Now,‌ they have accepted it as a reality.

          The‌ ‌Government‌ ‌has‌ ‌launched‌ ‌a‌ ‌series‌ ‌of‌ ‌‘stimulus‌ ‌packages’‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌response‌ ‌to‌ ‌a‌n increasingly ‘shut down’ economy‌ ‌and‌ ‌plummeting‌ ‌consumer‌ ‌confidence.‌ ‌ ‌

          ‌From‌ ‌a‌ ‌business‌ ‌perspective,‌ ‌so‌ ‌far‌ ‌we’ve‌ ‌seen:‌ ‌

          A $100k‌ ‌‘cash‌ ‌back’‌ ‌of‌ ‌PAYG‌ ‌Withholding,‌ ‌paid‌ ‌over‌ ‌a‌ ‌6‌ ‌month‌ ‌period‌ ‌
          A‌ ‌guaranteeing‌ ‌of‌ ‌loans‌ ‌to‌ ‌lenders‌ and ‌loosening‌ ‌of‌ ‌credit‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌SMEs‌ ‌fund‌ ‌losses.‌ ‌

          $100k‌ ‌‘cash‌ ‌back’‌ ‌of‌ ‌PAYG‌ ‌Withholding,‌ ‌paid‌ ‌over‌ ‌a‌ ‌6‌ ‌month‌ ‌period‌ ‌
          As‌ ‌a‌ ‌chartered‌ ‌accountant,‌ ‌business‌ ‌owner‌ ‌and‌ ‌advisor,‌ ‌my team and I ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌in‌ ‌battle‌ ‌stations‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌last‌ ‌3‌ ‌weeks‌ ‌helping‌ ‌our‌ ‌clients‌ ‌navigate‌ ‌their financial challenges and all‌ ‌the‌ ‌available‌ ‌concessions‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌Federal‌ ‌and‌ State‌ ‌Governments.‌ ‌ ‌

          All things considered, by‌ ‌far‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌significant‌ ‌concession‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌$100k‌ ‌PAYG‌ ‌cash‌ ‌back. for SMEs. ‌ ‌

          I applaud‌ ‌the‌ ‌Morrison‌ ‌Government‌ ‌by‌ ‌designing‌ ‌this‌ ‌delivery‌ ‌mechanism‌ ‌to‌ ‌give‌ ‌cash‌ ‌to‌ ‌SMEs‌ ‌ -‌ ‌which‌ ‌is‌ ‌both‌ ‌efficient‌ ‌and‌ ‌scalable‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌Government’s‌ ‌perspective.‌ ‌ ‌

          But‌ ‌it‌ ‌seems‌ ‌they‌ ‌spent‌ ‌too‌ ‌much‌ ‌time‌ ‌thinking‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌delivery,‌ ‌rather‌ ‌than‌ ‌the‌ ‌concession‌ ‌itself.‌ ‌ ‌

          It’s‌ ‌not‌ ‌enough.‌ ‌

          Firstly,‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌only‌ ‌a‌ ‌cash‌ ‌back‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌PAYG‌ ‌component‌ ‌for‌ ‌staff.‌ ‌Not‌ ‌gross‌ ‌wages,‌ ‌but‌ ‌the‌ ‌ PAYG‌ ‌paid.‌ ‌My‌ ‌best‌ ‌guess‌ ‌is‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌average‌ ‌marginal‌ ‌tax‌ ‌rate‌ ‌of‌ ‌employees‌ ‌of‌ ‌small‌ ‌businesses‌ ‌would‌ ‌be‌ ‌somewhere‌ ‌around‌ ‌20%‌ ‌to‌ ‌35%‌ ‌-‌ ‌which‌ ‌in‌ ‌effect‌ ‌means‌ ‌the‌ ‌Government‌ ‌is‌ ‌subsidising ‌the‌ ‌ wage‌ ‌cost‌ ‌by‌ ‌this‌ ‌amount,‌ ‌capped‌ ‌at‌ ‌$100k.‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

          Oh‌ ‌yeah‌ ‌and‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌paid over the next 6 months. Do you really expect any small business to survive that long with no revenue and the expectation to continue making payroll?

          Compare‌ ‌this‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌UK‌ ‌or‌ ‌Denmark‌ ‌who‌ ‌are‌ ‌subsidising ‌the‌ ‌gross‌ ‌wages‌ ‌by‌ ‌70%‌ ‌to‌ ‌80%‌ ‌and‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌see‌ ‌the‌ ‌massive‌ ‌difference.‌ ‌

          Of‌ ‌course,‌ ‌something‌ ‌is‌ ‌better‌ ‌than‌ ‌nothing.‌ ‌ ‌

          But‌ ‌the‌ ‌problem‌ ‌is,‌ ‌it‌ ‌isn’t‌ ‌even‌ ‌something‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌already‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌tax‌ ‌debt‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌ATO (tax office).‌ ‌ ‌

          It‌ ‌is‌ ‌not‌ ‌uncommon‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌average‌ ‌small‌ ‌business ‌owner‌ ‌to‌ ‌have‌ ‌some‌ ‌form‌ ‌of‌ ‌tax‌ ‌debt‌ ‌and‌ ‌payment‌ ‌plan‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌tax‌ ‌office.‌ ‌

          The‌ ‌core‌ ‌problem‌ ‌with‌ ‌this‌ ‌‘cash‌ ‌back’‌ ‌concession‌ ‌is‌ ‌that‌ ‌it‌ ‌won’t‌ ‌mean‌ ‌cash‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌bank‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌lot‌ ‌of‌ ‌small‌ ‌businesses.‌ ‌It‌ ‌simply‌ ‌offsets‌ ‌the‌ ‌existing‌ ‌debt‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌ATO. And let’s not forget ‌the‌ ‌GST‌ ‌that‌ ‌is‌ still ‌payable‌ ‌upon lodgement‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌se BAS‌ ‌anyway.

          I‌ ‌would‌ ‌hazard‌ ‌a‌ ‌guess‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌majority‌ ‌of‌ ‌small‌ ‌businesses‌ ‌wouldn’t‌ ‌see‌ ‌any‌ ‌of‌ ‌that‌ ‌$100k‌ ‌ cash‌ ‌back‌ ‌in‌ ‌their‌ ‌actual‌ ‌bank‌ ‌account,‌ ‌but‌ ‌instead‌ ‌less‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌debt‌ ‌owing‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌ATO.‌ ‌ ‌

          Which‌ ‌brings‌ ‌us‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌next‌ ‌stimulus‌ ‌measure.‌ ‌

          Survive‌ ‌Now,‌ ‌Pay‌ ‌later‌ ‌
          The‌ ‌second‌ ‌most‌ ‌significant‌ ‌‘stimulus‌ ‌measure’‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌Government‌ ‌guaranteeing‌ ‌50%‌ ‌of‌ new‌ ‌loans‌ ‌written‌ ‌by‌ ‌banks‌ ‌and‌ ‌SME‌ ‌lenders.‌ ‌This‌ ‌is‌ ‌coupled‌ ‌with‌ ‌providing‌ ‌an‌ ‌‌exemption‌ ‌ from‌ ‌responsible‌ ‌lending‌ ‌obligations‌ ‌for‌ ‌lenders‌ ‌providing‌ ‌credit‌ ‌to‌ ‌existing‌ ‌small‌ ‌business‌ ‌customers.‌ ‌ ‌

          Remember‌ ‌that‌ ‌Royal‌ ‌Banking‌ ‌Commission‌ ‌we‌ ‌had‌ ‌like‌ ‌18‌ ‌months‌ ‌ago?‌ ‌ ‌

          Yeah,‌ ‌nah‌ ‌don’t worry about that…‌ ‌

          Banks‌ ‌have‌ ‌also‌ ‌come‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌party‌ ‌to‌ ‌provide‌ ‌repayment‌ ‌‘holidays’‌ ‌to‌ ‌ease‌ ‌short-term‌ ‌cash‌ ‌flow‌ burden‌ ‌to keep‌ ‌businesses‌ ‌afloat and consumers keeping their home.

          In‌ ‌this‌ ‌new‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ ‌economic‌ ‌uncertainty,‌ ‌borrowers‌ ‌can‌ ‌defer‌ ‌their‌ ‌loan‌ ‌repayments‌ ‌for‌ ‌up‌ ‌to‌ ‌6‌ ‌months.‌ ‌

          Ok‌, ‌yeah‌ ‌-‌ ‌this‌ ‌sounds‌ ‌generous‌ ‌in‌ ‌theory…but‌ ‌these‌ ‌debts‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌repaid‌ ‌eventually…and‌ ‌the‌ ‌interest‌ ‌still‌ ‌accrues!‌ ‌ ‌

          Has‌ ‌anyone‌ ‌actually‌ ‌crunched‌ ‌the‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌on‌ ‌how deferring‌ ‌repayments‌ ‌impacts your loan?

          I‌ ‌have….‌ ‌

          The real cost of deferring repayments for 6 months
          Let’s‌ ‌say‌ ‌you‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌commercial‌ ‌business‌ ‌loan‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌value‌ ‌of‌ ‌$500,000,‌ ‌payable‌ ‌over‌ ‌30‌ ‌years‌ ‌at‌ ‌a‌ ‌5%‌ ‌interest‌ ‌rate‌ ‌and‌ ‌monthly‌ ‌repayments‌ ‌of‌ ‌$2,684.‌ ‌

          Making‌ ‌no‌ ‌repayments‌ ‌for‌ ‌6‌ ‌months‌ ‌will‌ ‌put‌ ‌an‌ ‌additional‌ ‌$16,100‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌pocket‌ ‌to‌ ‌pay‌ ‌the‌ ‌rent‌ ‌and‌ ‌perhaps‌ ‌the‌ ‌payroll‌ ‌of‌ ‌staff‌ ‌you‌ ‌haven’t‌ ‌already‌ ‌made‌ ‌redundant.‌ ‌ ‌

          The‌ ‌problem‌ ‌here‌ ‌is‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌interest‌ ‌is‌ ‌simply‌ ‌being‌ ‌added‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌loan‌ ‌balance‌ ‌-‌ ‌compounded‌ ‌monthly‌ ‌-‌ ‌which‌ ‌means‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌paying‌ ‌interest‌ ‌on‌ ‌interest.‌ ‌After‌ ‌this‌ ‌6‌ ‌month‌ ‌holiday,‌ ‌the‌ ‌debt‌ ‌hangover‌ ‌really‌ ‌kicks‌ ‌in.‌ ‌You’ve‌ ‌accrued‌ ‌$59k‌ ‌of‌ ‌additional‌ ‌interest‌ ‌and‌ ‌added‌ ‌another‌ ‌2.5‌ ‌years‌ ‌to‌ ‌your‌ ‌loan‌ ‌term‌.‌ ‌

          Deferring‌ ‌$16k‌ ‌of‌ ‌cash‌ ‌for‌ ‌6‌ ‌months‌ ‌now‌ ‌will cost‌ ‌you‌ an additional ‌$59k‌ ‌of‌ ‌interest‌ ‌and‌ ‌2.5‌ ‌years‌ ‌of‌ ‌repayments over the life of the loan.

          The‌ ‌exact‌ ‌same‌ ‌principle‌ ‌applies‌ ‌to‌ ‌your‌ ‌personal‌ ‌mortgage.‌ ‌
          If‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌considering‌ ‌getting‌ ‌a‌ ‌holiday‌ ‌on‌ ‌your‌ ‌home‌ ‌loan,‌ ‌use‌ ‌this‌ ‌calculator‌ ‌and‌ ‌crunch‌ ‌the‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌first…‌ ‌ ‌

          Let’s‌ ‌be‌ ‌frank.‌ ‌The‌ ‌stimulus‌ ‌package‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌government‌ ‌is‌ ‌not‌ ‌a‌ ‌stimulus‌ ‌package‌ ‌at‌ ‌all.‌ ‌ ‌

          It’s‌ ‌a‌ ‌privatised‌ ‌debt‌ ‌trap.‌ ‌

          Everyone‌ ‌is‌ ‌hoping‌ ‌the‌ ‌economy‌ ‌will‌ ‌miraculously‌ ‌bounce-back‌ ‌in‌ ‌6‌ ‌months‌ ‌time‌ ‌when‌ ‌we‌ ‌emerge‌ ‌from‌ ‌social‌ ‌lock-down.‌ ‌

          My‌ ‌fear‌ ‌is‌ ‌that‌ ‌perhaps‌ ‌a‌ ‌health‌ ‌crisis‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌over,‌ ‌but‌ ‌a‌ ‌real‌ ‌financial‌ ‌crisis‌ ‌will‌ ‌have‌ ‌just‌ ‌begun.‌ ‌

          Scott Morrison signalled more help is on the way. I truly hope it will be more effective than what we’ve seen thus far.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Thanks for that update. From what you say, whatever bounce-back there will be in several months time will be undercut by this accumulating debt. Listening to him talk, it sounded like he was doing everything that he could to try to avoid the government stepping in and give direct relief but try to route it through present government structures or through employers which made it clutzy.

            For him, it is still all about the economy and the trouble is that he is such a bad communicator when speaking – terribly bad. Yesterday when he announced the package, he waffled on for about five minutes before getting to the point. Then again, when he was in Marketing, he wasn’t very good at it either.

            1. Wukchumni

              Ever think of joining the Kiwis and a real leader, in becoming the West Island?

              Kiaustralia Ora

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Let’s recall the real ideological battle being fought behind the scenes, The Establishment closed ranks with incredible strength to block anything like Bernie-ism from happening because once people get their hands on honest-to-goodness State Money they will know they never need Bank Money and all the theft and bastardy that goes with it ever again

  24. Louis Fyne

    Re that GA v NC.

    My hypothesis is easy: ATL Hartsfield. All it takes is a few positive layover passengers hanging out at the terminal bar or spending one night at a local hotel

      1. Louis Fyne

        not only that. you have higher-income travelers who afford to self-quarantine potentially infecting lower-income hourly workers who can’t afford to quarantine.

        Easy to imagine someone w/mild covid (wheelchair pusher, bartender, etc) reporting for work every day—thinking that it’s the common cold and being a Typhoid Mary at the airport.

        1. MLTPB

          More directly than ‘bailouts for the rich, corona for the rest of us,’ it’s ‘exotic travel destinations for the rich, spring break for the young, and corona for the rest of us.’

  25. Expat2uruguay

    Uruguay is equalizing the economic pain wth the creation of a Coronavirus fund which will be financed by profits from public companies and banks, loans, and taxes government officials for 2 months, possibly extended.

    The measure, which had been advanced by President Luis Lacalle Pou this Thursday, will reach 15,000 public officials, who will contribute US $ 12 million in those two months.

    Arbeleche explained that for liquid salaries above $ 80 thousand, a discount rate will be applied, which will increase from a scale of 5%, 10%, 15% and 20%.

    These are not annual salaries, these are monthly salaries in Uruguayan pesos with a US exchange rate of about 40 to 1, so we’re talking about $2,000 a month. Previous reporting has explained that this measure will apply to salaries of current and retired public employees, military, and politicians, but not to those in healthcare sectors.

    1. adfa

      More people need to watch the documentary “Knock Down the House” on Netflix that follows AOC and others who were running for congress at the time. AOC comes off badly in that — she comes off as artificially-constructed and not genuinely believing in what she was saying.

    2. Massinissa

      I only trust pols who have walked the walk for decades, like Sanders. And even then, only to some extent.

      Don’t trust AOC to not become millennial Pelosi in 20-30 years. I’m sure Nancy was considered left wing too… decades ago.

      1. Clive

        I’m old enough to remember when Dianne Feinstein was an internationally renowned doyenne of progressive liberalism. Even way, way to the east of her west coast enclave, Feinstein was lauded here in the U.K. for her various do-goodery. My, how times change.

      2. MLTPB

        I don’t wish to take sides, but just want to make s general comment here.

        In the Samurai trilogy, the young Musashi had a strong will. He didn’t know how to channel it until a monk enlightened him. After the initial satori, he went on a lifelong journey to deepening his understanding (contrast that with young people in the 60s seeking it, instantaneously, through chemical or other similar means).

        The Star War story takes its inspiration from a similar Eastern perspective. The strong Midichlorian count is only a first step. And while on the journey, one can easily go astray, to the dark side.

        I don’t know how the young congressperson will turn out at this juncture, but watching her over time, I note a strong will not to back down, which is only the first step, I believe, as I stated above.

  26. PlutoniumKun

    You Need To Listen To This Leading COVID-19 Expert From South Korea (video) ASIAN BOSS. Professor Kim Woo-joo from Korea University Guro Hospital. In Korean, with subtitles (very clear). Kim says “re-activation” is possible.

    This really is an excellent interview – very clear and unambiguous (its worth watching to the very end, including his Prof. Woo-Joo’s last comments).

    1. Louis Fyne

      I’ve read pundits pointing to some magical Asian collectivist instinct that helps the Asian response to covid—-in the interview Dr. Kim does point out what society as a whole can do. But it’s nothing extraordinary or outside of the scope of the West to copy.

      Has the West really become so degenerate, nihilistic and selfish that we can’t muster ourselves to do basic things like: look after our family, be considerate of our neighbors, contribute/work towards a common goal?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think Dr. Kim himself explains it quite well – the countries which had the closest encounters with SARS, MERS and Bird Flu were far more geared up to deal with it. In a past comment I’d compare it to wars, when a battle hardened army met a virgin one in their first test – as the first year of WWII proved in Europe, North Africa and across the Pacific, being battle hardened can ensure even inferior forces can destroy nominally superior armies. I don’t think that, for example, Vietnam is necessarily more organised or efficient or egalitarian in comparison to most countries, but they do know exactly what to do when a disease threatens to get out of control and they did it rapidly, because they’ve had to do it at least twice in the last 2 decades.

        I think it can be a little too easy to adapt a crisis like this into our pre-existing narrative prejudices. It may be that (as both the US and many European countries have managed in the past), that the West may prove better at using a crisis like this in a productive way. Only time will tell.

        1. MLTPB

          We try to learn appropriate lessons whenever we can.

          To account for the different conditions is not a refusal to learn, necessarily.

          If having prior close encounter experience is helpful, do we adjust our evaluation and expectation accordingly?

        2. Oh

          Our politicians are already using the crisis in a productive way – to help their rich donors.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I am going to send the link for this video to my daughter in NYC. What Dr. Woo-Joo says is consistent, makes sense, and clearly works — advice from the WHO and CDC — not so much ….

  27. mpalomar

    From links: The Climate Crisis Will Be Just as Shockingly Abrupt The New Republic
    – The article is disturbing, as it should be and makes a point regarding the largely unacknowledged relation between ongoing environmental devastation that should be taken, “While some argue that the oxygen in the climate debate should be taken up by the pandemic instead, the two issues aren’t mutually exclusive, experts say. In a warming climate, more diseases are likely to emerge and spread, making climate change action an important part of addressing future health crises.”

    The TINA Agri-industry strategy and ensuing habitat destruction is knotted in with this. This iteration, the covid-19 pandemic, is a chapter of what the world looks like as it collapses under the weight of environmental stress.

    The Guardian has a story on dicamba and Monsanto-BASF, which ties in to the related agindustrial model.

    1. xkeyscored

      Not a bad article, but I don’t like the title at all. Google tells me abrupt can mean 1. sudden and unexpected, or 2. brief to the point of rudeness; curt. I don’t see how either applies to the climate crisis.

      Perhaps “The Climate Crisis Is Just as Shockingly Urgent”?

    2. jef

      “The Climate Crisis Will Be Just as Shockingly Abrupt …”

      And the solution is the same only without the isolation.

  28. Drake

    “For Introverts, Quarantine Can Be a Liberation”

    This is definitely the case for me. I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time. Not having to interact with people, or in this case actually having to not interact with people, has been a joy and blessing. I was working from home about 3 days a week even leading up to this, and stayed at home the entire week even before my company told us to. The office makes me utterly miserable. It’s too loud, too bright, too hot — just a non-stop assault on my senses. I’m angry all day there.

    I get that this is a statement of extreme privilege, being neither sick, financially vulnerable, having a job where I can work from home, and not needing to care for anyone else. I was talking to a friend who is really scared and freaked out by all this, and felt a bit of guilt telling her how much I was enjoying this. Let’s just say I’m a little extreme on the introversion scale, and to me this is the golden age.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, but I feel the same way, Drake.

      OTOH, I know several people who are in full freakout mode. I’m trying to be as supportive as I can, but, oh, brother. It’s a challenge.

    2. aletheia33

      it’s great to hear from another introvert who’s far out on the spectrum!

      as for me, as a confirmed introvert who cannot work in an office, about that bit of guilt feeling about enjoying solitary living during a pandemic, i’ve found that i can always find a way to offer a bit of altruistic support/help to others. it is a great antidote to any little bit of guilt that may pop up. even if the mere word “others” has toxic associations, there are many ways to help them without having to actually interact with them.

      “i love humanity, i just have a low tolerance for people.”

    3. Toshiro_Mifune

      As an introvert, I have been enjoying the lack of the office and small talk and no commute.
      I will admit I am starting to lose track of what weekday it is though. I only went in 2 times a week usually before lockdown but it seems that helped define what day of the week it was. I was honestly stumped for a good 45 seconds on Friday as to what day it was, and this wasn’t my usual “after effects of 80s recreational pharmaceuticals”.

    4. Drake

      I saw a tweet by the cartoonist Tom Tomorrow who said something along the lines of “I feel like I’ve been practicing my whole life for this”. I so understood what he meant.

      The strange thing for me recently is that it’s hard to work during the week because the stock market is open and so fascinating and diverting, but I worked over the weekend because I was bored and wanted to code.

    5. PlutoniumKun

      Another introvert here feeling guilty for enjoying the shutdown. I love the time alone, I’m amazed how fast the time goes, people ask me if I’m bored but I’m never bored alone, I’m only bored when I’m with people I don’t want to be with. I realise too that I’m privileged that (so far) this isn’t threatening my job or income, and none of my close relatives/friends are in the highly vulnerable population category.

      But I would warn fellow introverts, that enjoyable as it is, its not always healthy to seal yourself off. I’ve done it in the past when I’ve travelled for weeks alone, either in the wilds or in countries where there were few people I could communicate with. It can be liberating, but I think in the longer run its not great for mental health. So make some time just to have a chat with someone, even if it is just on Skype.

      1. Implementor

        I’m loving the quarantine. Love it. Nobody in my way. Nobody chattering around me. Nobody interrupting my privacy for some inane ‘how ’bout them <insert sports team?'/how 'bout that weather…..and weirdly everyone is extra polite and civil hah.

        Mental health-wise, don't think so much a concern for introverts. A few weeks alone is nothing. Even three-years wasn't enough for my liking (yes I have a friends =p)

  29. anon in so cal

    Is the NYT setting the stage for Russiagate 5.0 when Biden loses to Trump? Even though its endless propagandizing distracted readers from genuine threats, it resurrects the “Russian interference” lie. Even Mueller had to admit these were lies. From the 3/30/20 NYT:

    “How Russia’s Troll Farm Is Changing Tactics Before the Fall Election


    The Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, which interfered in the 2016 election, is using different methods to hide itself better.”

    The Mueller Report had falsely alleged that an internet troll farm (IRA) had Kremlin links, and Mueller was forced to admit in federal court that this was a total fabrication. (and the “troll farm” was a click-bait scheme with no gov connections).

    1. Norge

      It’s amusing to read in the NYT, in an issue replete with criticism of Trump, that Putin and Xi’s propaganda factories are sowing discord and confusion in the US and Europe. Does this mean the Times and MSNBC have become Propaganda organs for Putin and Xi? If I continue criticizing Trump am I being a Putin/Xi stooge? This 12th dimensional chess is just too hard!

      1. MLTPB

        To leave no stone unturned.

        Is the boy who cries wolf on purpose actually working for the wolf?

        That is one stone there waiting.

    2. John k

      It’s clear the writer doesn’t believe it; if foreign interference is the danger, no problem, just use hand marked ballots, hand counted in public.
      So why don’t elites want that, and why doesn’t msm ever talk about it as a solution? Bc even if you’re blue and working in a red state, the critical thing is to be able to pull the rip cord when your primary voters are in danger of getting it wrong in the primary.
      So it’s a worthwhile trade off for the evil other party gov to fiddle a close election so long as you maintain your critical role as gate keeper, which is your true value to big money.

    1. Louis Fyne

      the Koch family investment holding company also wholly owns Georgia-Pacific—-one of the country’s largest paper product makers. Heads he wins, tails he wins

      1. John k

        TP sales to hoarders just brings future sales into the present, there won’t be an increase in sales this year.
        But less fossil and other consumable consumption is a permanent loss of revenue and profits, which likely affects his industries.

  30. Noone from Nowheresville

    FYI: Naked Capitalism, Cory Doctorow, just gave you a today’s top sources plug on his twitter feed.

  31. Wyoming

    This may have already been worked over as I do not read the comments extensively many days.

    Economic impact issue: Many (most, all?) of the prognostications concerning the economic recovery occuring sometime in the range of 1 to several months seem to ignore an issue. If we are, as Dr Fauci indicates, 12-18 months from a vaccine then it would seem virtually impossible to bring a substantial amount of the economy back on line before then. Sporting events for instance are funded heavily by the presence of large crowds packed closely together screaming and hollering (in other words – spit flying everywhere, you may as well be kissing everyone around you). This goes from the level of Pee Wee football all the way to all the professional sports leagues. Gathering people this way until a vaccine has been developed and distributed will just be a mechanism to jump start large numbers of infections again. Most sporting activities are just going to die. Gathering densely in restaurants, gyms, theaters, concerts, on air planes, on cruise ships, etc will do the same.

    Does this not mean that we will not be able to gather like this for at least a year? Will this not bankrupt most of those businesses which depend on large crowds gathering? Additionally tens (hundreds) of thousands of retail businesses are going to die and the Amazons/Wall Marts are going to pick up most of that work and they will not give it back. Even after a vaccine is available we will be dealing with the psychological damage resulting from living through it as well. Are people really going to want to go back to living the way we were? It seems like this epidemic will naturally change peoples behavior. The structure and methods of operating a host of different kinds of businesses are going to be permanently altered. All of the types of businesses I mentioned are only profitable when the crowds are very large or the occupancies are a very high percentage. This method is perhaps irrevocably broken. We will never live again like we were living last December. We are at an inflection point and are embarked on a different path now. I don’t know what it is going to look like when the dust settles but I doubt it will look much like yesterday.

    1. Wyoming

      Topline: The coronavirus outbreak could cost 47 million jobs next quarter, according to estimates by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

      47 million lost jobs translates to an unemployment rate of 32.1%, well above the 24.9% rate of unemployment during the worst of the Great Depression.

      This is the 2nd Fed bank to come up with numbers well in excess of the Great Depression. Needless to say, even if this number is double what actually happens you are not putting this economy back together again in a couple of months.

      1. MLTPB

        47 million jobs here.

        Contrast that with a CNBC report from March 16, 2020 that 5 million people in China lost their jobs in Jan and.

        1. Wyoming

          Yes but that is talking about layoffs (and folks have far less confidence in their numbers than our own massaged numbers). Additionally tens of millions of Chinese were on the Lunar New Year holiday and were not brought back to work for some time. Many of them not yet in fact.

          The Chinese economy is going to be forever altered by this epidemic as well as ours. It is part and parcel of the same Humpty Dumpty.

  32. xkeyscored

    A slight dearth of light relief today, so here’s a few items I ran into today.

    From The Nib, “Trump’s Medicine Show” explains the neoliberal logic behind recent measures:

    And from The Daily Mash,
    (UK allotments are bits of urban land folk can rent cheaply to grow whatever – well, almost whatever.)

  33. JTMcPhee

    An example of sabotage:

    Florida had and has an illicit drug problem. Since the ‘90s, a lot of OTC antihistamines were ‘diverted’ into meth production. So the state came up with a process requiring purchasers at pharmacies to present a drivers license and information on address, which then got entered into a data base to track large purchases of these drugs which were only dispensed from behind the pharmacy counter. This was a very effective system, all in place and in routine use for many years.

    Along comes the great opiod crisis suddenly discovered by our government after the turn of the century. We had Walgreens facing criminal charges and fines for essentially running a pill mill operation out of its distribution centers here. Lots of doctor-shopping for narcotics, and no real way other than the IT systems within pharmacy chains for flagging frequent flyers and abusers.

    So common sense proposals to expand the existing data base and tracking system were made, all that would have had to be done was add categories for the various narcotic products, OxyContin, hydrocodone, fentanyl and the other drugs being abused and diverted, to the existing software. And of course to include the information on the doctors prescribing these medications.

    But no! Of course some legislators saw an opening for some reputation-building (“tough on drugs!”) and for their contributors. So there had to be heavily lobbied legislation creating a whole parallel tracking structure, with millions of dollars appropriated. And it took several years to develop and put in place, and it had a number of holes of course. One level of sabotage.

    The second level of sabotage (and corruption, using the NC definition) was when the disappointed unsuccessful bidder for this multi-million-dollar project challenged the award of the contract to its competitor. That dragged the process out for a year or more. Of course all of this was as the gangster crow in “Roger Rabbit” said, “all nice and legal.”

    I’ve been retired for a few years, but before I retired, it was a real challenge for a doctor’s office to get into the database to do their own due diligence.

    As with so much “aberrant” human behavior, the diversion and abuse continues because that’s the way we roll, but at least it has been much reduced in this one area. Wall Street looting and fraud, not so much…

    1. Carolinian

      There was a story here the other day about Walmart potentially being charged as a drug pusher in Texas for letting their pharmacies fill large opioid orders. Walmart’s defense wasn’t entirely unpersuasive. They said it should be up to state medical associations and regulators to police these rogue doctors and that in some states pharmacists are prohibited from second guessing any doctor prescription. Of course Walmart is big and evil and doctors are warm and fuzzy like Marcus Welby if anyone remembers who he was. But it does seem a bit much that state medical boards use their licensing power to keep physician numbers low in the name of protecting professionalism and the public health while at the same time allowing known bad actors to prescribe narcotics to addicts. Dean Baker frequently points out that this licensing power is a big driver of our high medical costs.

      1. Felix_47

        Dean Baker often points this out. What he does not want to realize is that what doctors earn is but a small fraction of their cost. Their real cost is found in the procedures, tests, and medications and surgeries they generate. So a doctor might earn 200,000 but generate several million dollars per year in medical expenses. So if immigration was open for doctors from around the world, which it is, each new arrival would generate a lot of expense. And when a doctor arrives from Sri Lanka or Ahmedabad or Kinshasha the doctor expects the same pay level as a US doctor so there is little salary saving. Another factor driving costs is the legal system and the insurance system. It really is not in the insurers best long term interest to decrease claims since they ultimately earn a percentage of the claims.. Lawyers get their settlements based on medical in both worker’s comp and personal injury. Back ache without surgery might be worth 30K but back ache with a spinal fusion might be worth 500K. Many patients lie down on the table for that kind of money. Two things that would do a lot for medical costs would be to have all doctors be government employees at a fixed salary like the VA with no bonus for productivity. The other would be to have loser pays legal fees in lawsuits like in England or Germany, for example. And another would be to have evaluations done by a Gutachter (Germany) who is licensed by the state and could lose the position if he/she takes sides. That way lawyers could stop hiring opinions. I discussed this with Baker a few years ago and he was unconvinced.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I don’t know how it works in the US – I’d always assumed it was similar to Europe – but pharmacies here are supposed to act as gatekeepers if they see unusual prescription patterns from doctors, they are certainly not supposed to simply fill out any prescription that crosses their desk. So far as I’m aware, most ‘fitness to practice’ cases in the UK and Ireland against doctors suspected of overprescribing pain killers arose from pharmacists making the initial report that something seemed wrong.

          I know a medical professional who spends much of his time analysing prescription patterns mathematically for just this purpose – his evidence has resulted in several doctors losing their license to practice. Its particularly important with painkillers, as patients rarely complain – on the contrary, liberal dosing of patients with painkillers or barbiturates can make a doctor very popular indeed. He told me once of a case of an older lady doctor who he reckoned hadn’t changed her valium/librium prescribing practices since the early 1970’s. She was eventually stripped of her license, but at her ‘fitness to practice’ hearing, she had literally dozens of her patients, almost all upper middle class housewives, come to give evidence, all singing her praises. They were, he said, the most respectable and best dressed gathering of drug addicts he’d ever seen.

  34. Oregoncharles

    From “The Nordic Way to Economic Rescue”: ” Faced with a public health emergency, the government is suppressing business, rendering dubious the value of standard stimulus measures.”

    This is my concern. MMT may not apply as expected to this crisis, because capacity is drastically reduced. That’s what MMT means by “resources:” available capacity that can respond to a fiscal stimulus. This is a supply-side recession, so throwing money at it will only cause inflation

    Of course, where the funds would be useful is in simply preventing bankruptcies, evictions, etc., by enabling people and businesses to pay their bills. That’s where the Nordic approach come in. If MMT is right, it may still cause some inflation, depending on just how it’s spent (just paying debts shouldn’t do it, I think); but that’s a small price to pay for stability. The timeline is relatively short, with any luck, so any damage should be minimal. The damage of an economic collapse would be maximal.

    It’s too bad we can’t expect a rational response from our deeply corrupt legislators.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Further: . “These two elements are collectively estimated to cost 42.6 billion Danish kroner (about $6.27 billion)”
      Ahh; Denmark can do this because it is NOT in the Euro; otherwise, it would have to get Germany’s OK. Similarly for NOrway.

      1. Oregoncharles

        More further: which does not explain how the Netherlands can do it; just blowing off the Euro restraints, because they can?

  35. Dita

    This evening at 7, when people started clapping and shouting from their windows, an ambulance did a slow roll down the street beeping back at us

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