Five more years of this

Some of my commenters have been touting Trump’s miracle drug. So how’s it doing so far:

Researchers analyzed medical records of 368 male veterans hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infection at Veterans Health Administration medical centers who died or were discharged by April 11.

About 28% who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. About 22% of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too, but the difference between that group and usual care was not considered large enough to rule out other factors that could have affected survival.

Hydroxychloroquine made no difference in the need for a breathing machine, either.

Researchers did not track side effects, but noted a hint that hydroxychloroquine might have damaged other organs. The drug has long been known to have potentially serious side effects, including altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death.

This study is certainly not definitive, but I seriously doubt this drug will be a game changer.

Trump said he plans to end immigration.  So how’d Fox News react:

I won’t even comment on that screenshot, as I’d probably get myself into hot water.

Tyler Cowen also weighed in on immigration:

First, there is no guarantee that a good vaccine will be ready quickly, even within two years. There is still no vaccine, for instance, for the common cold or HIV-AIDS. Even if the U.S. has Covid-19 under control, there might be persistent if small pockets of Covid-19 in other countries, including populous, poor countries such as India, Pakistan and Nigeria. The U.S. may be reluctant to take new migrants from those parts of the world.

Whether or not that reaction is rational, it is easy to imagine the public being fearful about the potential of immigration to contribute to a pandemic resurgence.

Tyler is much more polite than I am, and I suspect he knows that such a response is not “rational”.  If the US still has coronavirus cases in 2 years, then presumably immigrants could be tested for coronavirus before being allowed in.  If through some miracle we’ve eliminated coronavirus, then immigrants would probably be tested and then quarantined for 14 days.  The much bigger issue is tourism, for which a 14 day quarantine is not feasible.  But then American tourists like me vote, and immigrants shut out of the country do not.

If Trump did end immigration, then the trend growth rate in America would fall even further.  Obviously I don’t expect Trump to end immigration.  Why not?  Because he said he would end it, and he usually lies.

On a lighter note, David Levey sent me some poetry, found on the internet:

There isn’t any iceberg; the iceberg is a hoax; the iceberg is fake news.

There is an iceberg, but it’s in a totally different ocean.

The iceberg is in this ocean, but it will melt very soon

We didn’t hit the iceberg.

We hit the iceberg, but the damage will be repaired very shortly.

I saw the iceberg before anyone else. 

The iceberg is a Chinese iceberg.

Nobody could have foreseen the iceberg.


We are taking on water, but the ship will not sink and there is no need for lifeboats.

We have lifeboats, and they are beautiful lifeboats. 

Look, passengers need to ask nicely for the lifeboats if they want them.

We don’t have any lifeboats, we’re not lifeboat distributors.

The lifeboats were left on shore by the last captain of this ship.

I knew we needed lifeboats before anyone else.

Passengers should have planned for icebergs and brought their own lifeboats.

Nobody could have foreseen the need for lifeboats.


I’m the best captain ever.

Truman:  The buck stops here.

Trump:  The buck stops there.

Just a few letters apart.



33 Responses to “Five more years of this”

  1. Gravatar of bill bill
    22. April 2020 at 11:12

    We should definitely still give hydroxychloroquine to those who request it.

  2. Gravatar of Chris Chris
    22. April 2020 at 11:50

    you really shouldn’t trust the media’s characterization of what Trump says. His initial mention of hydroxychloroquine (along with remdesivir which no one seems to talk about) was just saying if other drugs were showing promising results elsewhere the FDA would fast track them here. I’m having a hard time seeing his initial proposal as anything but a good idea. His way of speaking is awful to get through – but the full transcript is here:

  3. Gravatar of Becky Hargrove Becky Hargrove
    22. April 2020 at 12:16

    And we may still have to endure the global logistics version of such reasoning. Robert Laszewski asks, “What if the first, or best, or most effective vaccine is a Swiss vaccine and virtually all of the needles now come from China?” And, “Are we going to have to watch another series of White House task force briefings early next year where they tell us no one could have possibly seen this coming?”

  4. Gravatar of Gene Frenkle Gene Frenkle
    22. April 2020 at 12:18

    Snake oil salesmen touts new and improved snake oil formula!

  5. Gravatar of Scott H. Scott H.
    22. April 2020 at 12:19

    I hate to get technical on you, but it’s just one letter of difference.

  6. Gravatar of Chris Chris
    22. April 2020 at 12:25

    @bill – “We should definitely still give hydroxychloroquine to those who request it.”

    I disagree – they should all be enrolled in an RCT where maybe hydroxychloroquine is one of the possible drugs.

  7. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    22. April 2020 at 12:27

    Unfortunately I am going to get hit by the Trump EO as my girl is in PH and I want to bring her to the USA (I’m working on a workaround since I’m a dual national).

    Guess what: The letters forming the sentence “TRUMP IS A ASS” forms the word: “supremacists” See:*is*a*ass/?dictionary=wwf
    And why does Trump capitalize words in mid-sentence? Like a dumb DC Bureaucrat would?

  8. Gravatar of JG JG
    22. April 2020 at 12:46

    Trump controls Scott’s mind. Funny!

  9. Gravatar of John Donnelly John Donnelly
    22. April 2020 at 13:26

    Where have you been? What a clown show! An anti-parasitic attacks (quinine) biological pathways that viruses don’t have. Stop the madness.

  10. Gravatar of Chris Chris
    22. April 2020 at 13:52

    @john donnelly: the use of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment isn’t new. Its been used on a number of former viral outbreaks (including Ebola) and CDC published a study in 2005 showing it has potential usefulness on coronaviruses.

  11. Gravatar of Jay Jay
    22. April 2020 at 14:40

    As more data on hydroxychloroquine rolls in, it is being determined to be, on average, DETRIMENTAL. Studies are coming in that show outcomes to be statistically worse when it is used. Higher mortality rate. And these are supposed to be paired trials, so let’s not get into “it was given to the sickest ones” nonsense. It does not decrease ventilator dependency, and it is known to cause organ damage.

    People advocating for continued usage of hydroxychloroquine are not looking at the data that is coming in.

    If there is evidence that a drug is helpful, then sure, let’s use it. Remdesivir is showing significant potential. THe data is still anecdotal, but we should have trial results by the end of the month.

    When the large majority of hospitalized patients ultimately recover from covid, it is easy to erroneously conflate cause and effect. Hydroxychloroquine administered when someone is “just about to turn the corner anyway” does not mean it is helpful. That’s why proper trials have the design that they do.

    First principle = do no harm.

  12. Gravatar of jay jay
    22. April 2020 at 14:43

    And for those who say Trump’s language on hydroxychloroquine was more measured… then it seems odd to me that so many of my friends and relatives started telling me that it was the silver bullet. And it seems odd that the media on the right started talking about it as being a silver bullet. Did my acquaintances and the media reach such a conclusion on their own, even though Trump never pumped this? Or did they listen to a serial liar who exudes excessive confidence in areas where confidence is unwarranted?

  13. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    22. April 2020 at 14:53


    There’s no ‘c’ in the sentence you tried to make an anagram of.

    And they have hookers in the US. Yes they are more expensive than your PH one but you don’t have to worry about immigration issues.

    Will your reply mention my fictional diner again? Let’s find out.

  14. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    22. April 2020 at 15:31

    So hydroxychloroquine works against the virus but it does not work, and masks work against the virus but they do not work. A nation should target herd immunity but a nation should not target herd immunity, and the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab and is artificial but it is not artificial and did not escape from the lab.

    The true infection rate among the US population of Covid-19 may be what is reported or may be 50 or may be 80 times higher than what is reported. So, your chances of dying from C19 maybe about the same as a bad flu or maybe 10 times as high (although, I must say, not a single crew member of the Diamond Princess died, out of more than 1,100, and they lived worked, bunked and ate in common quarters on a ship for months)

    Nations have sealed off their borders to prevent fresh infections from abroad, but the US has a de facto open border that about 3,000 people a day cross from Mexico.

    One thing is indisputable: we have implemented the Depression of 2020 and it is deep and may last for, well, five years.

    We have encircled the enemy and commenced firing and thus implemented a circular firing squad.

  15. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    22. April 2020 at 15:46

    Tyler Cowen is beginning to figure it out.

    The game plan is to destroy the economy, and wreck the financial system, on the way to herd immunity.

    The above results are inevitable given science and current policies.

  16. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    22. April 2020 at 16:03


    Situations like this pandemic attract the quacks and their quack remedies like flies to poop on a hot summer day. Trump is a dope and a fraud, but I was still surprised he fell for another dopey fraud (Gregory Rigano) who was making the rounds on RW propaganda shows (Tucker, Laura Ingraham, Stuart Varney, Glenn Beck and a host of religious nutter shows). Gregory is a lawyer and crypto-currancy trader who’s been trying to sell “cancer cure” and “live forever” pills on the side for years now. He wrote a phony science paper on hydroxycloroquine (HCQ) in a Google Doc (that’s since been removed by Google) and Elon Musk fell for it and began tweeting about it. Fox picked up the story w/o doing any background check on the fraud Rigano, who went on Tucker saying he was an “advisor to Stanford Medical School.” That was a complete lie. Anybody with even a rudimentary brain stem could have smelled the overwhelming stench of fraud coming from Gregory. He was such an obvious and stupid conman even Tucker seemed a bit skeptical about the magic bean “100% cure rate” cure-all HCQ pills Gregory was touting. But of course Trump fell for it and tweeted about how HCQ was going to be a “game changer” in all caps immediately after he got done watching Tucker’s segment. The only quasi-reputable person involved in the cult of HCQ is a French researcher by the name of Dr. Didier Raoult. I say “quasi” because although it’s clear that Raoult has made significant contributions to science in the past, and he has his name on 3000+ published science papers (he requires his name be put on every paper published by his 700 person institute), he’s also a bit of a charlatan, especially wrt HCQ: his studies to date have all had major problems. Also Raoult says he doesn’t believe in randomized controlled trials (RCTs). He did have a control group for his first small study, but he did not specify the inclusion criterion. The first study has a myriad of problems actually, as documented by Elisabeth Bik (Elisabeth specializes in identifying scientific fraud, and was the one who caught Didier and/or his institute falsifying data in 2006, which got Didier & his institute banned from the American Society of Microbiology for a year). Since then he’s felt it’s “immoral” to have a control group (how can you deny people the benefits of HCQ, now that he *feels* it must be effective?), so his two subsequent studies have even dispensed with that! Read more here:

  17. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. April 2020 at 20:11

    bill, We should allow any adult to buy any drug in the world, if they so choose.

    Chris, You said:

    “you really shouldn’t trust the media’s characterization of what Trump says.”

    I never trust the media; I look for direct quotes, tweets etc. I know exactly what Trump says, and I know exactly why he says all his lies. I don’t need to trust the media.

    Scott, No, their names are also slightly different.

    Jay, Good question. And don’t expect any good answers.

    Ben, You said:

    “The game plan is to destroy the economy”

    That’s Trump’s plan? Really?

    Tom, Thanks for that info.

  18. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    23. April 2020 at 00:40

    @msgkings – click on the link I gave, and take up your issue with them, not me. As for your diner, thanks for confessing it never existed, I will note that, however, at MR it is *you* not I that mentioned it, you invited TC to visit your NY diner that you and your other supposedly ran. So you now confess to running an imaginary business? What a nut.

  19. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    23. April 2020 at 01:01

    Ben, You said:

    “The game plan is to destroy the economy”

    That’s Trump’s plan? Really?—Scott Sumner

    On this particular issue my inclinations are probably in line with those of President Trump, that going to lockdowns was a bad idea. However, Trump’s various proclamations regarding this or any other issue are incoherent.


    Sino bio-drug companies ahead of the game?

  20. Gravatar of Dave S Dave S
    23. April 2020 at 02:26


    The captain of the Titanic no longer seems to have much relevancy to anything.

    I wonder if you would be willing to post about the purchasing chief for White Star Lines. His name is Mitchell McConnell and he objects to borrowing money for funding lifeboats, crews, steel hulls, navigators, weather forecasters, transatlantic travel, regulations, and anything else.

  21. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    23. April 2020 at 03:01


    It’s not “my issue”….the letter c is a part of the word, not part of the sentence. Take it up with Noah Webster.

    And now you’re just making stuff up? I think in that same MR thread you told us all how much you pay your PH courtesan’s family each month. Oh my that was easy.

    Stick to hookers and chess, Ray.

  22. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    23. April 2020 at 03:12

    I forget the timelines of Scott Sumner’s historic visits to the Far East and Bali.

    Did Sumner inoculate Bali, or did he set off a spike in West Coast infections by passing through LAX?

  23. Gravatar of Anon Anon
    23. April 2020 at 03:54

    All hail the great chief
    All hail suspend thy belief

    They’ll tell what to think
    That your crap sanwhich don’t stink

    All hail the Great commander in thief
    All hail the terminator chief

    Try the drug just try it and see
    I ain’t pumping thats fake news as could be

    All hail the greatest chief
    All hail your nepotist grief

    All freakin hail, that’s the important thing
    All weeping hail, let freedom ring

  24. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    23. April 2020 at 08:09

    I was not aware that Trump was prescribing the malaria drug to patients—and, because he is so dumb or so brilliant or so something he has persuaded Doctors to give it to patients.

    I can hardly think of a less important issue than his hope that something works—versus what we should be doing from a policy perspective.

    But more to my point—-please advise what the government should be doing versus what they are doing. Given that Trump has a 3% impact—what is Scott Sumner’s proposal if he could decide what should be done.

    As a self-defined utilitarian—what should we be solving for? What is the optimal utilitarian set of actions given all that we know and don’t know.

    One of the more interesting aspects of this virus, is how much overall criticism there is—-yet few if anyone has any kind of plan other than the most vague form of generalities.

    How long can we go doing what we are doing? Does the economics profession as a whole have a specific concern that must be avoided at all costs? Is what we are doing (huge spending, huge decline in income and consumption) sustainable for 3 months, 1 year?

    Can we hit a point of no return—or long time return—where we would have traded that for 5 million deaths instead of the few hundred K we are now experiencing?

    Instead, virtually everything that is written is either political to its core, or some form of vague and undefined gradualism.

    Or who cares? Because the people will decide by action–except they won’t. They need to believe something from leadership—say Trump is failing—are Cuomo, Newsome and the various governors left and right succeeding? Will Biden Succeed? Michelle Obama?

  25. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. April 2020 at 10:02

    Ben, You said:

    “President Trump, that going to lockdowns was a bad idea.”

    Hello! The lockdowns are Trump’s policy! Just yesterday he pleaded with Georgia’s governor not to lift the lockdown. Didn’t I explain all this in a recent post?

    Dave, Isn’t the real problem that they just spent $2 trillion without spending the money on the actual problem? We’ve borrowed plenty, it’s the spending that’s off target.

    Michael, The main thing the government could do is to stop making the problem worse with stupid regulations. Also stop making it worse by lying to the public.

    Then perhaps they could ask Bill Gates for advice; he’s doing more to help out than the entire federal government.

    Then stop firing top health officials because the prefer to follow science, not the whims of Trump.

  26. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    23. April 2020 at 11:03

    Scott Sumner– President Trump is incoherent, and inconsistent. He is a cut below a carnival barker or a park wino as a president, and only slightly better than the establishment Donks or ‘Phants.

    My guess is that President Trump resisted lockdowns, but then was pushed into lockdowns by panics, pretty much the same story as in the UK.

    The good news is, come November you will have the wonderful opportunity to replace Trump with… Joe Biden.

  27. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    23. April 2020 at 13:08

    @msgkings – projection noted, about “making stuff up”. You did invite TC to a NYC diner, and you implied it was yours, so now you’re claiming what, that you never invited him, or that maybe it was just you and your others favorite place to eat, and you didn’t own it? Own it: you’re a lying troll. And I never have gotten into what it costs to support my crew in PH. More than you could ever afford however, imaginary business owner and lying troll. Bye, I won’t be reading or replying to you.

  28. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    23. April 2020 at 13:25


    Surrender accepted.

  29. Gravatar of Student Student
    23. April 2020 at 19:05

    The new miracle drug… we are gonna inject disinfectants into the lungs, and even use medical doctors to check that out, hahah.

    instant classic

  30. Gravatar of Student Student
    23. April 2020 at 19:10

    Wrong link…

    here it is

  31. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    24. April 2020 at 05:22

    Scott—I really was asking a serious question—-and you did answer it directly—-but you answered with process prescriptions. Agree the regulations have been exasperating. Gates? No problem with him—-but not sure what special knowledge he has—-but sure, why not. Not firing people? Some do need to be fired —-but—I wouldn’t know who—I assume the other scientists might have a view

    But you did not answer my core question. As an economist, who is also aware of views of other economists you trust outside your area of expertise, is there some view (I still recall Tyler C’s essay from 5-6 weeks ago about a supply driven recession —-which also mutates into demand driven too—-whose result comes suddenly and we fall off a cliff—that idea—which he may have already rejected —still haunts me) that says at some point the damage caused IS worse than the deaths caused by virus.

    It appears that seems plausible as an outcome of our policy—-which remains vague as to timing. So, again, is there some degree and length of this recession/ depression that is so bad it ends up worse than having done nothing. I know the answer is yes—-by its phrasing——but are there best guesses on how long from now?

  32. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    24. April 2020 at 10:01

    Michael Rulle,

    How is it not obvious that Trump is a demented, hyper-narcissistic, moronic fool at this point? For that matter, how was it not obvious years before he ever ran for President?

  33. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. April 2020 at 10:42

    Student, Yes, insane even by Trumpian standards. Maybe he’s becoming senile.

    Michael Rulle, You asked:

    So, again, is there some degree and length of this recession/ depression that is so bad it ends up worse than having done nothing.”

    Why even discuss “doing nothing” as if it were a possibililty? Even if the government had done nothing the private sector would have social distanced, pushing us into depression. They’s no point in discussing alternatives that are not feasible.

    Sandifer, Yes, I never fail to be amazed by their failure to see Trump for what he is. He’s like the sort of cartoon villain that even a 4 year old can spot on TV. How hard is it to see that?

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