Speak for yourself

We hear this all the time:

“After this is over, our lives will never be the same.”

Speak for yourself. I plan to return to exactly the same life I had before.

Perhaps people believe that government policy will never be the same. I doubt that. Yes, there’ll be a new “Pandemic Security” department in the federal government, just as 9/11 led to an ineffectual “Homeland Security” department. There’ll be stockpiles of masks, ventilators, etc. (horse, barn door) But so what?

The media is full of people claiming that this will lead to a left wing revolution. Tyler Cowen pushes back, claiming it will hurt the progressive left. I’m not convinced by either argument.

I recall that Trump said he would abolish Obamacare, end Nafta as we know it, reduce the trade deficit, reduce illegal immigration, expel the illegals, bring back the manufacturing jobs, bring back coal mining, and lots of other nationalistic goals. He did none of that. Instead, we basically have the same system in place that we had in 2016.

In his book “The Great Stagnation”, Tyler explained how hard it was to get anything done in the modern world. There’s so much inertia, so many special interest groups that like the status quo. Where’s this war on the tech companies that we’ve been promised for years? Where are the get-tough policies on bankers we were promised after 2008? Where are the policies to help downtrodden workers in Ohio and West Virginia? Where is the end of neoliberalism?

The deadliest epidemic in history was either the Black Death or the Spanish flu. I cannot find the source (this will have to do), but I distinctly recall reading that just a year after the Spanish flu had occurred it had already faded into the past. Even in 1921, it rarely came up in conversation and was largely forgotten. Life went on as before.

If people won’t gear up for a global warming problem that we will certainly face this century, then why would they gear up for another major pandemic that might not occur for another 102 years—by which time we might have a cure for colds/flus/etc.

The world isn’t even doing much to prevent accidental nuclear war, which would be 100 times worse than this; why would the world suddenly become far-sighted about this issue?

PS. Life in China is already returning to normal:

Fireworks were set off in at least one section of Wuhan on Saturday as authorities began removing checkpoints used to enforce a strict lockdown since January in the Chinese city considered the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.

The checkpoints started coming down after no new cases of COVID-19 were recorded for a third straight day. Other parts of China are also easing restrictions, the South China Morning Post reported, as Wuhan and other cities start returning to work. Routes out of Wuhan will remain blocked, the paper reported

The new cases in China are rising again, but 100% are incoming travelers that are all being quarantined. The pattern is broadly similar throughout much of East Asia. Meanwhile, the situation in Italy goes from bad to horrific, and Spain isn’t far behind.

Back in March 15, I predicted that by the end of the month Switzerland would have more active cases than China. (On that date, China still had more than 4 times as many as Switzerland.) My prediction came true 10 days early, as Switzerland has already passed China in active cases. So now I’ll predict 5 times more active cases in Switzerland than China by the end of March.

Right now, this is overwhelmingly a European/Iranian crisis, although give it another week and it could be a global crisis. How will Italy pay its bills? Will this blow up the euro?

PPS. This caught my eye:

Nigeria reported two cases of chloroquine poisoning after U.S. President Donald Trump praised the anti-malaria drug as a treatment for the novel coronavirus.

Health officials are warning Nigerians against self-medicating after demand for the drug surged in Lagos, a city that’s home to 20 million people.

Can’t believe that Nigerians of all people would fall for an American scammer.

PPPS. I know this is like shooting ducks in a barrel, but I can’t resist:

Under increasing pressure to detail exactly when he learned that the spread of coronavirus would be a problem, Mr. Trump claimed that he first knew about the virus around the time he ordered border closures in late January [the 31st].

“I wish they could’ve told us earlier because we could’ve come up with a solution,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the Chinese government.

I was hiking in the wilds of New Zealand in mid-January and knew of the epidemic. My wife and I were looking for masks in drug stores in NZ around January 23rd, and they were already all sold out. Taiwan was testing all travelers from Wuhan in late December. Does Trump have no one to tell him what’s going on in the world? (Don’t answer that.)

Regarding the second paragraph, why did the US government do nothing in the entire month of February, if it was actually so important to find out about the epidemic as soon as possible?

We are governed by clowns.



50 Responses to “Speak for yourself”

  1. Gravatar of Russ Abbott Russ Abbott
    21. March 2020 at 13:01

    Don’t understand your claim about Switzerland. According to the JHU tracker (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html), Switzerland now has nearly 6,300 confirmed cases; China has more than 81,000 confirmed cases. This is data as of 1:43 pm on 3/21. (They don’t give the time zone.)

  2. Gravatar of Russ Abbott Russ Abbott
    21. March 2020 at 13:03

    Went back to check again. Switzerland is up to nearly 6,600 cases; China is still at 81,300

  3. Gravatar of ant1900 ant1900
    21. March 2020 at 13:07

    Hasn’t Trump been hawking Hydroxychloroquine? I believe it is a lot less toxic than chloroquine.

  4. Gravatar of ant1900 ant1900
    21. March 2020 at 13:26

    The funny thing about the Hydroxychloroquine is it has been part of the standard treatment in China and South Korea for over a month.

    It is already FDA approved (for malaria), so doctors in the US can prescribe it as they see fit. The FDA doesn’t need to do anything to approve HCQ for COVID19. And US doctors are already using it – it is standard treatment in Washington state (https://twitter.com/ArunRSridhar/status/1239989367822639104): “UW Covid team is going to use Hydroxychloroquin for all patients warranting hospital admission”

    This won’t be ideal for people who already take HCQ, but hopefully the US can ramp up production.

  5. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. March 2020 at 13:46

    Russ, I said active cases, most of the Chinese confirmed cases have recovered.

  6. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    21. March 2020 at 14:22

    Some of the most ignorant commentary I’ve seen our host make, and that’s saying something. I could list all the errors but it would take a page and a half.

    Some lowlights:

    1) Ssumner: “The deadliest epidemic in history was either the Black Death or the Spanish flu” – so you don’t know which it was? Wow. 33% vs 3% for starters.

    2) Ssumner: “Where is the end of neoliberalism?” – wow. You’ve been hiking in NZ the last four years since BrExit started? Since Trump?

    3) Ssumner: “The world isn’t even doing much to prevent accidental nuclear war, which would be 100 times worse than this” – wow. You mean accidental or deliberate? You afraid of cancer? It will kill all of us, that or a heart attack. Nuclear war is actually survivable and not such a big deal (and by your own logic, look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki today, ‘life goes on’).

    4) Ssumner: “Back in March 15, I predicted that by the end of the month Switzerland would have more active cases than China.” – wow. You do realize that these diseases don’t go away, even with quarantine, say virologists? Do you? So when China goes back to work, as they are now, the new cases will pick up again.

    5) Ssumner: “why did the US government do nothing in the entire month of February, if it was actually so important to find out about the epidemic as soon as possible?” – wow. So the 1918 Spanish flu, where the US government did largely nothing and allowed Ben Cole, Dr. Ferguson (UK) and Dr. Robin Hanson type ‘herd immunity’ (where 60% of the population gets infected to burn out the contagion, the other 40% being free riders), was OK (by your own admission) yet now you expect the US government to attempt China style quarantine (which anyway will not work say experts, see point #4)

    Scott…wow. You’re amazing.

  7. Gravatar of Geoffrey Orwell Geoffrey Orwell
    21. March 2020 at 15:01

    You should rename this blog “The Peoples Daily”. Be careful Ray, dissent probably isn’t tolerated, if you go missing I won’t be surprised. Also Scott, do you know what happens in China if you claim you are governed by clowns?


    I know you do business in China and perhaps you have to say all this stuff in return, I don’t know, but how can you possibly trust any data coming out of China? I’m a financial professional and everybody knows, even the man on the street, that the Chinese manipulate statistics to suit their narrative. Heck, while we’re making predictions: Chinese GDP will be around 6% this year and the SHCOMP will be the best performaning index in the world.

    Please don’t block me.

  8. Gravatar of Geoffrey Orwell Geoffrey Orwell
    21. March 2020 at 15:03

    I replied late to your TIPS post by the way, please check comment section.

  9. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. March 2020 at 15:52

    Rays narcissism and overestimation of his everything reminds me of someone….

  10. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    21. March 2020 at 15:56

    Ray is an aging, lonely man with a big brain but very little ability to understand human relationships. This is why he cannot find someone to bear his child and has to pay third worlders for sex.

  11. Gravatar of Rodrigo Rodrigo
    21. March 2020 at 16:08


    I don’t understand why the US has been so late reacting to this crisis and how so many people can still claim that this will pass with no major repercussion. I am living in Spain at the moment, in lockdown and its not fun the government has acknowledged 80% of the population will be infected. Our cases are still on the rise after a week in quarantine!! The US needs to shut down now if it expects to “flatten the curve” in any meaningful way. I am really worried this could actually cause a depression and Americans are not even aware of it! As for the fed, they will get a pass because of course they can’t cure the virus.

  12. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. March 2020 at 16:15

    Remember when we were told google had 1,700 engineers working on a nationwide screening tool that would direct users to nationwide drive through screening sites… and that tremendous progress was made?

    Turns out, it’s not a screening tool and there are only 47 screening sites nationwide. There are also not enough tests for said screening sites.

    It’s almost like certain people have no idea what they are talking about. Rememwbr when we were told this was just like the normal flu and it was taken care of and was a big nothing burger?


    Maybe I am just an idiot and everything is going tremendously. The response has been tremendous. I just can’t see how well things are going.

  13. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    21. March 2020 at 16:21

    Interesting post.

    But what has happened now to debate is what happens in the early to mid stages of any war.

    The huge costs incurred must be defended. Who wants to admit they have collapsed the economy and wrecked financial systems on the basis of death rates among elderly smokers?

    Or that the economically destructive measures we have taken might only retard but not defeat progress of the coronavirus?

    We have manned the Heroic Anti-Pandemic Battle Stations. The media is on board. Public health officials have assumed the role usually played by those in the National Security State —-that of highlighting risks, and the release of white-paper worst-case scenarios.

    Prominent American “libertarians” have doffed the costumes of statist martinets (though sometimes issuing fierce defenses of “free trade” while embracing lockdowns and government ukases regarding business closures).

    9/11 deja vu

    Chloroquine has been effective in a couple of trials. Trying to save the life of an 83 year-old smoker with a lung infection might not always be possible.

    By the way, Korea where they keep good stats, reports a 0% death rate in the under-30 age bracket.

  14. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. March 2020 at 16:37

    Geoffrey, You said:

    “I know you do business in China”

    LOL. What an idiot.


    Rodrigo, We have commenters here with their head in the sand. BTW, I don’t think 80% will get it, but it will be a huge problem.

    Student, Don’t worry. Listen to a Trump speech and it will cheer you up.

  15. Gravatar of John Hall John Hall
    21. March 2020 at 16:55

    One thing to be fair to Trump is that he was more focused on the impeachment trial. Markets really didn’t start freaking out until the WHO began talking about it and that was right around the start of the trial.

  16. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    21. March 2020 at 17:05

    Add on: Scott Sumner posits we may get back to normal after the collapse of our economy and the wrecking our financial system.

    I hope so, but recovery from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis took 10 years.

    Greece never recovered…their GDP is still down 25% from 2008. Will the US not do a Greece? Why?

    Also, Scott Sumner has noted the increasing tendency to risk aversion in all matters in modern societies, but especially in the US. And we are creating an anti-pandemic industry, just as we created an anti-terrorism industry after 9/11.

    It is hard to believe that in 1957 to 1958 the Asian flu swept through the United States and killed about 116,000 people. No one blinked an eye. No closures, colleges kept operating and so on.

    Also, did you know that 150,000 Americans have died in the United States since coronavirus hit our shores? Well, they died of cancer, often induced by artificial carcinogens. About another 450,000 will die by the end of the year. From cancer.

    The coronavirus is a Grim Reaper for elderly smokers… does this reflect the US has become a gerontocracy?

  17. Gravatar of P Burgos P Burgos
    21. March 2020 at 17:20

    Wait, didn’t the Great Recession change a lot of things? So if Sumner is predicting that this will lead to an economic depression, why is he saying that this won’t also lead to change? Predicting what change right now may be stupid, but it isn’t stupid to predict that things won’t be the same.

  18. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    21. March 2020 at 17:56

    “A number of other chloroquine experiments on humans are in the works. According to clinicaltrials.gov, researchers at the University of Oxford plan to give it as a prophylactic to 10,000 health care workers and others at high risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 (aka coronavirus). In Norway, doctors expect to begin administering the drug to hospitalized patients. And in Thailand, clinicians are preparing for a clinical trial comparing various combinations of antivirals, including chloroquine.”


    Chloroquine is so dangerous and ineffective that… they are giving it to 10,000 healthcare workers?

    Note to Nigerians: Even though you have taken chloroquine for generations to fight malaria, do not take it to fight Covid 19. You might poison yourself!

    Danger, Will Robinson Danger!

  19. Gravatar of Thaomas Thaomas
    21. March 2020 at 18:06

    I think it is reasonable for firms to conclude that with low real interest rates, low inventories and “just in time” production are not worth the effort. And a lot of firms will have learned that allowing a lot more remote work most economic sense. So some things will change.

    And don’t underestimate Trump’s long term damage to economic growth. He HAS deported a lot of good workers, kept out lots of refugees, pushed up the number of uninsured, erected quite substantial briers to trade, and added to the structural deficit.

  20. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    21. March 2020 at 18:28

    In fairness to Trump and the US government, it should be noted that they weren’t slower than other Western governments. The virus was massively underestimated by pretty much all Western governments.

    Nations like Great Britain, Germany and the USA were lucky in the sense that they weren’t hit first. Italy was the wake-up call for everyone.

    Unfortunately, all Western governments reacted too late, there is no question about that, but I do not see any relevant differences in the reaction time between the major Western nations.

    I agree that not much will change after the crisis, provided of course that we defeat the virus quickly. If we have to live in a kind of lockdown for a few weeks, then really not much will change. If it were to be years, then things might look different of course.


    Chloroquine has been effective in a couple of trials.

    You constantly invent things without any shame. You act like a troll-bot who spun out of control, writing always the same entries, without any reaction to external input.

    I often read comments in which Trump is massively attacked. Often from countries like Germany, Spain, France, Great Britain, Italy, which seems a bit strange considering your own government reactions. Do you want to sell Spain as a success story of how to react quickly, well and successfully to the virus? The US still has to make an effort if they want to fail as much as Spain did.

  21. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. March 2020 at 18:30

    If productivity doesn’t drop, telework might be a lasting change (more so than it already is). Traffic has been great. Carbon emissions have to be significantly down right? That just might be a lasting change.

  22. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    21. March 2020 at 18:53

    Good points.

    In the US, there also may be changes towards more unemployment benefits and the introduction of sick pay, and perhaps even a different health care system, in short, things that have been in place for decades in most other Western nations.

    Okay, let’s forget about the different health care system unless the virus takes on catastrophic proportions for years.

    I also think more and more nations will adopt a variant of the German “Kurzarbeit”.

    This might be the last small chance for Trump to win the elections: steal all the good and not so good welfare state ideas of the Democrats and initiate them before the elections.

  23. Gravatar of DF DF
    21. March 2020 at 18:56

    Professor Cowen has biased himself by reading all day. The average person isn’t reading all day, they watch TV and wonder when this thing will end and they can get back to normal.

    However, a lot depends on how deep and long this recession is. If the pandemic ends this year and we get a V shaped rebound, then I wager to bet in 2022 American colleges will return to in-person education and Chinese wet markets will return to selling wild animals.

    If it’s deep and long though, I’m less sure. The psychological impact may be more akin to the Great Depression or WW2 rather than the Spanish Flu.

  24. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. March 2020 at 19:23

    Christian, Agree that other (Western) governments were also asleep at the wheel.

    Those hit by SARS were better prepared.

    But that’s not really a defense of Trump’s statements; he’s lying through his teeth. One could say “in defense of Bush the Hurricane Katrina would have been a huge problem in most countries, or under most presidents.” But he got hammered by even Republican voters. In contrast, GOP voters give Trump a pass for anything he does wrong.

    Student, The reduced car traffic is great. I was out biking today (in violation of the Governor’s so-called “lockdown”.) Lots of people were out walking in the parks.

  25. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    21. March 2020 at 19:26

    Sign of the times:

    A prominent libertarian-prof, associated with a right-wing economics department where idolatry of free-markets is (usually) the norm, has just given $50,000 prize to a public university in a socialist nation that advocated lockdown of their economy and citizenry by government ukase.

    A few days after 9/11 is not the time to make national policy. That is what happened however. Hysterical mindsets demand action! And once you are a few trillion dollars into a boondoggle…well, saying “sorry” is not an option.

    And that is the problem: The prominent libertarian aforementioned is now trapped. He cannot soon say, “I bungled this one. Sorry, that I helped collapse the global economy, aided and abetted fear-mongers on a public-health scare.”

    Should we investigate if elderly and older smokers are the bulk of “victims” of the cold virus going around? People with one leg in the grave already, with multiple co-morbidities?

    That line of inquiry is now closed, for the duration!

    And if public healthcare agencies are in control of the information, that line of inquiry may be permanently blocked. That kind of info may never even be collected and collated.

    Ponder the parallels to national/global security outlays. Who controls the information, and frames the debate?

    But at least the national security guys don’t collapse the economy…

  26. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    21. March 2020 at 20:31

    I do not recall Scott shouting from the rooftops before February about the China Virus (:-))—-I do recall him pointing out that one part of the govt wanted to decouple and Trumps trade deal was coupling—-Wuhan was not front of Scott’s mind. Remember—-it was all impeachment all the time. But Trump is not my concern at the moment.

    Scott’s “tone” (can’t find specific words) is almost as if he thinks the crisis is going to be behind us sooner rather than later. I hope I am reading his tone correctly and that he is right. China and Korea have virtually flatlined (almost) although Europe and Mideast is the problem now as he says. ——but what about US?

    Hope you have better stats than me—-but US numbers are weird. In Worldometer—-the growth factor in their graphs are all over the place. They have doubled cases in US in last 2 days——but in their charts it’s up 11%. On Hopkins site you cannot really tell at that level of granularity. I hope the 11% is right. The log graphs for outside China are strait line——and have been for two weeks. Better start bending or this will be really bad.

    I agree with Scott about the “never be the same” meme. That is stupid. We always are the same. Americans have short memories and that has its good points. In fact, even if we might never be the same, we won’t notice—we will still feel the same. I don’t know about bad for progressives or bad for deregulators —-it all depends—but I agree with your sentiment on “who knows’ and “likely not much” change—certainly as a function of this flu 😷—I mean VIRUS (for Christian).

    But that assumes we can really believe the “end of the world as we know it” is finally going to itself be over and that we can see it a month or so in advance. Right now—-I see NY numbers skyrocketing (I assume NY has the most testing devices), so it’s hard to believe rest of country will not increase too, if just by counting. I wonder if we ever will get random tests? I am starting to not want them—-as they might tell us to build virus bunkers.

    Then again, the news on this can be volatile. From headlines in WS journal about NY hospitals getting “pounded”—-to TV doctors yawning saying 90% who get it will just stay home—and won’t even bother calling any doctor—-and that’s okay. Meanwhile we want a 2 trillion dollar “whatever it is” which will last about a month—at which point I hope Fauci is told to stay in the back with the rest of the geeks and we can all leave home again without worrying about the National Guard. At least my kids have shown concern and don’t want their parents to leave the house OR have ANYONE come over. That is cute—-I think!

    Either that, or Worldometer graphs are right and the log line is 45% for real and we will have 100million cases in a month or two.

    Happy Sunday!

  27. Gravatar of James Alexander James Alexander
    21. March 2020 at 22:54

    AS/AD curves. I think it’s time for a refresher (not long since the last one, I know!).

    Thing is with the AD shock in full swing how can an expansionary monetary policy work in a lockdown where almost all shops and services except grocers and hospitals are closed and online orders can’t be delivered for 4-6 weeks. And a more or less effective curfew in place.

    It’s physically impossible to spend more money, even if you wanted to.

  28. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    21. March 2020 at 22:54

    “A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week found that almost 40 per cent of infections and 87 per cent of deaths in the country (Italy) have been in patients aged over 70. According to modelling, the majority of this age group are likely to need critical hospital care – including 80 per cent of 80-somethings – putting immense pressure on the health system.

    But Prof Ricciardi added that Italy’s death rate may appear higher because of how doctors record fatalities.

    “The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus.

    “On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,” he says.”


    Oh, that.

    Hear those klaxons and see those flashing lights? You think they are fake?

  29. Gravatar of Ewan Ewan
    22. March 2020 at 02:45

    The US and its allies have been killing Iranians and Venezualans with sanctions for some time now. Covid is an “Iranian problem”. Is there no political effort to lift the sanctions (as George W did at least temporarily when there was an earthquake)? Indeed, the Sec. of State and head of the NSC propose using this moment to launch a military attack on Iran, if the news media are to be believed. The US appears to be weaponising the pandemic. Shock? Shame? Action? Anything? There are some stirrings here in the UK, but not much. How about the US?

  30. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    22. March 2020 at 03:43


    I know it is a cliche by now—-although have yet to find a reason to not believe it—-but ACCORDING to the media, Trump and State are considering “launching” a military attack on Iran? We have been killing Venezuelans and Iranians? Weaponizing the Virus—because of heard rumors/stirrings in the U.K.?

    When there used to be sports, ESPN had this saying (May it never lose their old tapes)—C’mon Man!. Where do you think Uncle Joe Biden got that from, Neil Kinnock?

  31. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    22. March 2020 at 03:51

    @ Benjamin Cole

    There has to be some reason other than sheer bad luck, under equipped health care system, and the second oldest country in the world to cause such high numbers. Wouldn’t it be something if it is simply the Counting method! Which they do right? But it is a plausible answer to me.

    When 95% of the US discovers they have never heard of anyone 6 degrees of separation from someone under 80 who died from this——-they are going to be pretty pissed off.

  32. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    22. March 2020 at 04:00

    @ Ben

    Which is what happens when you leave the technicians in charge of policy—-remember—-let the “scientists” be in charge? It is like letting the statisticians being in charge off what quantum theories to test.

    PS. I asked before —-are you the economist Ben Cole?

    As far as I know, in my too many years on this planet—-I have never heard of anyone who died from the Flu. Lots of Cancer, Heart problems, car accidents, suicides, odd and rare diseases, hematomas, that virus you catch in hospitals, botched operations, flipping over a golf cart on a golf course (yes), and murder. But not Flu—-and not Covid 19—yet.

  33. Gravatar of Mike D Mike D
    22. March 2020 at 04:04

    I never would have expected to encounter someone unironically arguing that, “Actually nuclear war wouldn’t be that bad”. Ray Lopez never ceases to amaze.

  34. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    22. March 2020 at 04:05

    @james Alexander

    If you want to test your theory on spending money, I will be glad to help you find a way!😇

  35. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    22. March 2020 at 04:08

    Michael Rulle: I don’t think this fact, that it is largely the elderly with multiple comorbidities, or smokers, who are dying when exposed to the cold virus COVID-19, will ever get out.

    It is not a PC observation to make (sounds callous), and public health care agencies have little incentive to publicize it.

    ALl you can do is short the market.

  36. Gravatar of Njnnja Njnnja
    22. March 2020 at 04:08

    I think most of the “things will change” argument isn’t actually about pandemic planning, but rather about the existence of local maximums that can can only be escaped through massive coordination efforts. This is the massive coordination effort that may lift us into a globally more optimal solution.

    I don’t know exactly where this happens, but maybe distance learning? Telecommuting? More videoconferencing instead of in person meetings? Final nail in the coffin for malls?

    In 5 years from now, there are probably going to be plenty of stories of “I started doing X during the coronavirus outbreak, and then they just had us all keep doing it after it was over”

  37. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    22. March 2020 at 04:25


    I just noticed your global warming clarion call. If what you have learned so far from this Covid 19 is to now start taking the GW crowd’s policies seriously, I find that interesting. I don’t know where this heads up——-or where a GW policy would end up——but so far “cure is worse than the disease” is leading down the home stretch—-what happened to your cynical take on the scaredy-cat world we now live in?

    I am far more concerned (not afraid) about Super Volcanos, asteroids (one is about to miss us in April) and one of your accidental nuke wars than climate change—-perhaps I will wait a bit more on Covid 19. But never have we had more evidence about at risk group (like lung cancer and smoking) than with for this virus. Do we really need to have Gavin, Cuomo and DJ to shut it down given what we know? Are we not free people with free will? Are we not capable of protecting ourselves? I am 4-5 years older than you——and I don’t want to hide.

    Prediction. It will be impossible to to prevent actual spread risk once we have proven we can prevent overloaded hospitals. Your resistance to “it will never be the same” is spot on. The fear goes away when we know people who got it and it was a nothing. Hope so——also,think,so.

    Even the ubiquitous flu——which my son once got in 2009—is something I rarely remember people,getting.

  38. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    22. March 2020 at 05:12


    Yes—-on market—-although I hate shorting——it is hard to win—-prefer just getting out. Fauci, as I have said a few other times, should be providing “what if” answers, not setting policy. I have bought into the overloaded hospital argument (why?—-not sure—-Because it might cause panic) and that it needs to be prevented. But if he really were clear on that, our statements would be more focused.

    And yes, old fogies like me have a higher chance of getting it——-because, you know, something will get me soon enough. It’s not like I will walk out in front of a bus——but would take more precaution than before. Even in Italy the odds of the random 80 year old dying from this is low single digits. First you have to get it—-then you have to die from it. If he/she stares at actuarial tables it all adds up to one——and some other weapon from Mr Death is likely to strike first.

    But, yes, it is what they don’t tell us that is concerning because we don’t know why. Merely dumb? But the scientists are in charge!.

    Trump really has backed off from his standard approach because he is following Fauci’s lead. So would I. But like Ezekiel’s (boy, he must be thrilled) brother Rahm, he too is not letting a crisis go to waste. Give away 2 trillion (makes the Russia emolument clause theories ludicrous by comparison), prove hospitals can handle crowding—-that is key——declare “victory” (because hospitals can handle it—-assuming they can—-maybe big if——-) and go back to common sense approach.

    I don’t know how long we can do,this economically—-but 2 months seems like ultimate max time—-but we do live in the land of creative destruction—sort of.

    Like the George Carlin routine making the rounds, what if the homeless in Gavin-land are immune? What if they are not—-and are grabbing hospital space—-that should be interesting.

    But Fauci’s unwillingness to really spell it out is disturbing

  39. Gravatar of Student Student
    22. March 2020 at 07:37

    We can all complain and whine about this or that. But we are all in this together. Let’s remember that. Let’s just work together in-spite of our differences of opinion. IMO we need to pray for whatever leader we have to have this wisdom of Solomon right now.

    Proverbs 10:2!

  40. Gravatar of Student Student
    22. March 2020 at 07:41

    Whatever anyone does… remember 10 feet of separation is our golden rule right now. Don’t violate that people… unless it’s a matter of life or death. If your job requires it, I thank you for your courage. Otherwise… 10 feet of separation people!!!!

  41. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. March 2020 at 08:34

    James, You said:

    “Thing is with the AD shock in full swing how can an expansionary monetary policy work in a lockdown where almost all shops and services except grocers and hospitals are closed and online orders can’t be delivered for 4-6 weeks. And a more or less effective curfew in place.”

    I’ve discussed this extensively in many previous posts, the goal is to boost NGDP expectations for 2021 and 2022. Another goal is reducing the amount of debt defaults.

    Michael, You said:

    “I do not recall Scott shouting from the rooftops before February about the China Virus (:-))—-I do recall him pointing out that one part of the govt wanted to decouple and Trumps trade deal was coupling—-Wuhan was not front of Scott’s mind. Remember—-it was all impeachment all the time. But Trump is not my concern at the moment.”

    You really are an idiot. I did very few posts on impeachment, indeed I paid more attention to the coronavirus than impeachment. In any case, what I was paying attention to in January and February has no bearing on anything at all; I’m an economist, not the head of CDC. It’s not my job to insure that the US government has an adequate supply of surgical masks, or even to know if we have an adequate supply. That doesn’t prevent me from criticizing the government when we discover they were doing absolutely nothing to address the crisis, even as experts warned that 1/2 of the human race would become infected.

    How many Americans warned that President Bush was not adequately prepared for Katrina BEFORE the hurricane hit?

    You said:

    “Scott’s “tone” (can’t find specific words) is almost as if he thinks the crisis is going to be behind us sooner rather than later.”

    I never made that claim. Don’t rely on tone; read actual words. I’ve said I don’t know and pointed to 12-18 month estimates for a vaccine, estimates made by others, not me.

    You said:

    “If what you have learned so far from this Covid 19 is to now start taking the GW crowd’s policies seriously, I find that interesting.”

    You really are an idiot. I’ve been warning about global warming for many years. Go read my old posts.

    In general, I suggest you not throw out accusations about things you know nothing about. It makes you look bad.

  42. Gravatar of James Alexander James Alexander
    22. March 2020 at 09:42

    So what should I buy now for to help boost expectations for 2021 and 2022? Goods and services are ruled out unless I stockpile lumber or tins of olives. I can only by financial assets if I believe the central banks will also be buying. Which is your point, I suppose.

    What are you selling Michael 😉

  43. Gravatar of Ewan Ewan
    22. March 2020 at 10:53

    Michael Rulle
    Are you suggesting that reports in the New York Times are… untrue?

    One thing the New York Times is very good at is reporting what the State Dept., Pentagon, NSC, alphabet soup of intelligence (sic) agencies tell it to.

    You think Messrs Pompeo and Grenell not capable of such infamy?

    Deliberating on whether to attack Iran while it is weakened by the pandemic, and refusing to allow outside help against the pandemic, sounds pretty much like weaponising it – using it to supplement military means.

    The calculation of excess deaths caused by sanctions is standard. Many universities in the US have distinguished experts in demographics. I know the UN has turned to Carnegie Mellon in the past. Thus it is possible to estimate loss of life in Iraq in the nineties and noughties, Venezuela and Iran now. Are you saying that you know US sanctions don’t cause death, or that you don’t care? C’mon.

  44. Gravatar of Student Student
    22. March 2020 at 11:22

    The good news. Yesterday the estimated U.S. growth factor was 0.862. The first time we have been below 1.0 since March 3, 2020.

    The bad news… we are well above trend today. Today’s projection was 32,126. New York is either exploding or they are finally testing a lot of people. Let’s hope March goes out like a lamb. I fear the lion tho.

  45. Gravatar of Student Student
    22. March 2020 at 11:23

    Correction… March 8, 2020 was below 1.0 as well. 0.914.

  46. Gravatar of Student Student
    22. March 2020 at 11:30

    One more note (sorry), yesterday’s good numbers pushed back the day we top 1 million cases by 3 days (April 4 as opposed to fools day). Small changes make HUGE differences a couple weeks out.

    That seems to suggest that even 50% of people self isolating will impact total infections (and thus deaths) in huge ways. Each and every time you distance yourself from others by 5 extra feet will save lives. How many lives have You saved in the past two weeks?

  47. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    22. March 2020 at 16:03

    I may be an idiot, likely. But you were reading criticism where there was none. I did not say you said anything about impeachment. I was saying that impeachment was all anyone was talking about Trump at that time. And who would notice any comment then about Trump being late on virus.

    My comment on tone was an expression of hope not an insult. I know what you think of GW. My opinion is this has nothing to teach us about GW anymore than an earthquake does other than try to be ready for the worst. This virus is not man caused. Then again who knows.

  48. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    22. March 2020 at 17:29


    “Each and every time you distance yourself from others by 5 extra feet will save lives.”

    No! More like once every 100 million times you distance yourself.

  49. Gravatar of Russ Abbott Russ Abbott
    22. March 2020 at 18:03

    In terms of active cases, China has a major headstart over Switzerland. 90% of its cases have been resolved one way or another. Fewer than 3% of Switzerland’s cases have been resolved. The current-date statistics for the two countries are not comparable.

  50. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. March 2020 at 11:34

    Russ, Of course they are comparable. I never said the data showed that China was doing better in along run sense, just that it currently had more live cases. Almost nobody in the world would have predicted that 6 weeks ago, so it’s disingenuous to suggest it’s no big deal.

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