Coronavirus Primer and Some Analysts I Like

BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT

First, please watch these interviews as I find they are the most informative (more than anything on the “mainstream media”):

Courtesy of Nassem Nicholas Taleb.

And this:

Courtesy of The Joe Rogan Experience.

Here is Osterholm’s book from 2017 (in which he literally predicted this #Covid19 outbreak before it was even a real thing):

Here is Osterholm’s New York Times piece in which he actually predicted this thing (and certain people on the Right who I normally support started kvetching about how supposedly alarmist those of us who understood the data sets that Osterholm was referring to were being). Turns out, as Osterholm indicated in his Joe Rogan interview above, we are, most unfortunately, correct:

Courtesy of The New York Times.

We’ve heard much pooh-poohing from my friends on the Right about how this is overblown. Here is an article that everyone must read on social distancing and what happens to our country and local communities if we do not do this. This article is very long BUT worth the read. Here are some key takeaways:

When you’re done reading the article, this is what you’ll take away:

The coronavirus is coming to you. 
It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly.
It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.

When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed.
Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways. 
Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.
They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies. 
The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today.
That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now.

As a politician, community leader or business leader, you have the power and the responsibility to prevent this.

You might have fears today: What if I overreact? Will people laugh at me? Will they be angry at me? Will I look stupid? Won’t it be better to wait for others to take steps first? Will I hurt the economy too much?

But in 2–4 weeks, when the entire world is in lockdown, when the few precious days of social distancing you will have enabled will have saved lives, people won’t criticize you anymore: They will thank you for making the right decision.

Let’s clear something up also. Many on the Right have wrongly asserted that COVID-19 was named what it was because it is the nineteenth coronavirus we’ve been exposed to. This is incorrect. It is true that humans have been exposed to a variety of coronaviruses. SARS and MERS are but two notable (though slightly different, as Osterholm alluded to in his interview above) examples. It is given the suffix “19” not because it is the nineteenth coronavirus strain, rather, because of the year it was discovered (in this case, 2019).

There have been many, mostly my friends on the Right, who insist we are near a cure. Israeli startups, they argue, are but a few weeks away from a vaccine! Let us hope that this is the case. Although, as I noted earlier at this site, Israel’s health minister has poured much cold water on this belief.

It is true, though, that the world’s great technical powers are working overtime at developing some form of either vaccine to COVID-19 or management protocol–which ultimately redounds to our favor. Within three years’ time, I’ve no doubt that two things will have occurred: the world’s economy will have stabilized as people and money managers will have become accustomed to the new paradigm: Normal Life + COVID-19 Season and, medically, some cure or management protocol is concocted.

But, that is still some way off. Let us hope prognostications about a cure being found in a mere few weeks pans out. Although, let us get real: even if it were found tomorrow, under present conditions, it’d take 1,000 days to scale up. They can reduce this time–if the medical infrastructure receives extra funding and support…at the expense of other necessary drugs and products.

When asked this week about whether he thinks there is a vaccine nearing completion in Israel, this is what he had to say:

Most experts around the world have estimated that the process of developing, approving, manufacturing and distributing a working vaccine for the coronavirus will take roughly a year, if not longer.

The director-general of the Health Ministry, who has led the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, said he believed this one-year estimate to be correct.

“My working assumption is that this cannot happen in the coming year,” said Moshe Bar Siman-Tov.

And, as for the economic consequences of this disease, while I am not entirely convinced Nouriel Roubini is 100 percent accurate, I think he’s more apt in his predictions earlier this week than the dolts at CNBC gave him credit for (who immediately labeled him “Dr. Doom” when, in fact, he was being realistic):

Courtesy of CNBC.

Bottom line: if we continue on this path then by Quarter Three and Four of 2020, we can expect a “deep” recession due to coronavirus.

Meanwhile, my friend and colleague, David P. Goldman (who writes under the pseudonym of Spengler over at The Asia Times and PJ Media) has been one of the few voices in the wilderness warning of the massive disruptions to our infrastructure, global supply chain, and the overall economy–and how they won’t be going away any time soon. Weeks ago, he urged leaders to embrace a massive fiscal stimulus package while he told his audience to prepare for things to get much worse.

Like Osterholm, Taleb, Roubini, and myself, Goldman has received much guff from our friends on the Right.

Oh well.

These analysts are correct and they are trying to help you get through this public health crisis and to preserve your economic prosperity.

Now, here is Goldman again with a deep assessment on the Federal Reserve’s recent decision to pump $1 trillion of liquidity into credit markets by purchasing an insane amount of US T-bonds (what Goldman accurately refers to as “quantitative easing on a scale and with a speed never seen before. The Fed is trying to stop a financial avalanche that threatens to bury risk assets and throw the world into a deep recession”):

Some of the safest financial assets are crashing as the short-term health crisis unearths deep flaws in the world financial system. The biggest imbalance in the world economy is the cumulative cost of financing the US current deficit during the past 20 years, supported by tens of trillions of dollars of foreign exchange derivatives required to hedge international investments. Now that banks are compelled to reduce balance sheets, a global cash crunch is forcing Asian and European investors to liquidate dollar-denominated assets.

And:

Emergency action by central banks can prevent extreme disruptions to the banking system, but the world faces the mother of all credit squeezes.

Meanwhile the collapse of US real (inflation-indexed) government bond yields due to risk-aversion has left US yields below the level of Japanese yields for the first time in history. Japanese investors have no reason to buy US government debt.

European and Japanese banks meanwhile are squeezed for funds.

Goldman also warns:

European and Japanese banks find themselves unable to roll over their foreign exchange assets, so they are selling whatever they can, for example, high-quality US mortgage-backed securities. In this sort of squeeze, fund managers sell not what they want to sell, but what they are able to sell.

Goldman concludes his recent Asia Times article by saying:

The central banks can forestall a financial disaster, but they cannot stop the deleveraging of balance sheets that already has cut off credit to important sectors of the world economy.

This disease is now threatening credit markets. Roubini’s analysis above, then, becomes more likely. What’s more, as Goldman argues here: COVID-19 is also infecting leverage. As money managers migrate their funds from the exposed credit market into “safe stocks” (or real estate) and find that it isn’t so safe anymore (which it is not), that’s when everything begins breaking down.

There is light at the end of this tunnel, though, so relax. Dave Ramsey’s recent words on the issue are ultimately correct (although his timescale indicates he, too, is far too Pollyanna-ish). Things will get better, but not for another year. At least. I remain convinced they won’t bounce back until after we’ve found a scaleable cure or reliable medical management protocol that allays fears and reduces uncertainty in the markets (and until we’ve more fully diversified the global supply chain while becoming more nationally self-reliant).

Here is Ramsey’s optimistic beat. I think he’ll prove out to be right in the long run. Of course, as Keynes argued, in the long-run we’ll all be dead:

Courtesy of Dave Ramsey.

As I have been saying (and Goldman explicitly has agreed with me in a recent piece), the way President Trump handles this COVID-19 outbreak could determine whether he wins reelection or not. This is the greatest test of his presidency. I hope we’re wrong. The thought of Joe Biden and Michelle Obama or Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton being in power sickens me to the core–and it should you as well.

One thing is certain: if social distancing is the best solution (and it seems to be), then the Republican Party’s despicable move to kill paid-family leave from work earlier today will be the party’s overall undoing. Until a viable cure is found and scaled up for this disease (again, at least 1,000 days away from the moment of its discovery), then parents will need to work more from home.

The companies and institutions that refuse to embrace work-from-home as the preferred model will fail, further adding to our economic woes (as I disbelieve that many companies and institutions are in any way prepared for the work-from-home approach via internet), and potentially the spread of the disease.

By refusing to stand by the workers in the recent Congressional battle for disease mitigation, the Republicans will ultimately be blamed.

In fact, they already are.

Though, it should be noted that the Democrats shamelessly attempted to inject poison pill amendments to the proposed legislation, such as abortion-related amendments that had nothing at all to do with the wider point of the legislation (which was meant to alleviate the coming risks of social distancing to the economy).

Still, that won’t be remembered nearly as much as the Republicans trying to kill workers’ rights in a time of grave crisis. And unfortunately, abortion is legal so long as Roe v. Wade remains in effect (gee, wouldn’t it be great if all these massive numbers of Republican jurists could do something about that in the Judiciary Branch?) so it the Democrats are not technically wrong to try to place federal funding for abortion in legislation. It is, however, grotesque not only morally but also because the Left knows the Republicans will be forced to fight any legislation that includes federal funding (or, refuses to bar federal funding) for abortions–which is precisely what the Democrats wish for.

As for the paid parental leave: workers are rightly asking if the government wants me to stay home from work, and I am just one paycheck away from total destitution, then how the heck do you expect us to survive, GOP?

Trump needs to step in immediately and tell his fellow party members to get in line and get through this year before making any wild, ideological assumptions. Because, as this thing propagates throughout our communities and population, most Americans are not going to care any longer about their ideology. They will demand results and they will blame the people in power at the time of the crisis.

The great realignment has begun. Both parties are unprepared but in different ways. What’s more, the entire global system and our country are unprepared for what happens when the disease cannot be stopped.

Please continue reading and listening to The Weichert Report as this site has been one of only a handful of sites at minimum 2 weeks ahead of the fake “mainstream news.”

©2020, The Weichert Report. All Rights Reserved.

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