AuthorTopic: 🦠 Economic Effect of Coronavirus  (Read 4985 times)

Offline Eddie

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Re: Nate Hagens
« Reply #105 on: March 25, 2020, 09:34:04 AM »
Many folks who show up here in the Diner Forum know who Nate Hagens is. But here's a little bio on him for those who don't know of him.
https://www.resilience.org/resilience-author/nate-hagens/

He has just published a new article at Resilience.org (a Post Carbon Institute project).  I wanted to share it with you.

An Overview of the Systemic Implications of Coronavirus
https://www.resilience.org/stories/2020-03-25/an-overview-of-the-systemic-implications-of-the-coronavirus/

Good piece. His views are pretty close to my own about how things are likely too play out.


Just days ago you were saying that you don't think we're heading into something akin to the Great Depression, didn't you?  Hagens is saying we're already in something like the next Great Depression.  Now, don't get me wrong.  We can only be sure that it is another Great Depression (or worse) in the rear view mirror years from now, since a depression is both a deep and a long-lasting recession.



No,...no I didn't say that. Not at all. You tend to hear what you expect to hear and not pay close attention, JR.    :)

What I said was .........that that this particular challenge to the system wouldn't cause global capitalism to fail. That the current system would survive this, and that BAU would not end....YET. 

I said we WERE (possibly) headed into something  VERY like the Great Depression, which was a deflationary event...The Great Depression didn't bring down global capitalism and Coronavirus won't either....although it MIGHT make American politics shift away from this laissez-faire Republican destruction of the Commons and into a Neo-socialist phase.

I really don't think that matters much....the problem is that the remaining underlying real assets have been rehypothecated too many times and financialized.....resulting in asset bubbles. Socialism won't fix that. It won't fix PO.

It would probably do some good for poor people at first, by re-apportioning public tax money in more compassionate and sensible ways....but I think ultimately all government systems turn into corrupt oligarchies.....I give you Nicaragua as an example. I keep telling people that corruption is the problem. Capitalism is corrupt....but corruption is not an innate problem with capitalism.....it's an innate problem with human beings.

Whether we have a recession or a depression depends on how we manage the virus.  South Korea style gets us a serious recession. Even going back to work and letting the virus kill ten million people might only result in a recession.

 But doing some half-ass in-between politically driven poorly executed epic fail (as we appear to be poised to do) will make this drag on so long the BAU economy we've had just can't come back.

My critique of most doomers (not necessarily meaning you personally) is that they see every  waterfall drop as TEOTWAWKI.

All assets will not go to zero this time. Tangible assets will retain value.

The dollar will not fail (it's higher than it's been in years, and going up). Same thing happened in the Great Depression...so that isn't a sign of economic health, fwiw.. But people won't be using their pre 1964 coins to buy bread. Money as we know it is not going away. It will probably become more digitized and maybe the central banks will use the crisis to bring in blockchain now. It's likely. To facilitate the death of cash...which you aren't reading much about right now....but which is more necessary now from a bankster perspective than ever before. That IS coming...along with negative rates to save the bond markets.

Not many lay people understand that the stock market is PEANUTS compared to bonds.

What we are likely to see is a steep dip in GDP, followed by a huge rebound in nominal dollar terms......followed by some real serious INFLATION in the price of food, rent, and things people gotta have. Which means poor people are gonna be even poorer.

This is what will drive the return to FDR style socialism. What we're seeing now is different...this helicopter money....is a Hail Mary to try to spark demand...which is a good thing.

Hagens  says we need to bail out everyone at all levels. This is my view too. To not do that will tend to push us TOWARD the deflationary abyss.

Hagens is NOT necessarily predicting a depression. He's saying it's a threat, and talking about how it might be prevented. This is pretty much spot on.

Going local, which I do advocate for myself.....is not on the verge of becoming the new paradigm......this will happen organically and slowly over many more years...

Hagens is already looking ahead to the NEXT waterfall event, which he seems to think will be the real BIG ONE. I'm not sure...I just agree with him that this is NOT it,





« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 09:37:11 AM by Eddie »
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Offline Eddie

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Re: 🦠 Economic Effect of Coronavirus
« Reply #106 on: March 25, 2020, 09:58:24 AM »
The current oil glut is very interesting from a macroeconomic POV.

In some ways, I actually see it the OPPOSITE way than my Peak Oil toilet training would lead me toward thinking.....which is the way C5 was thinking yesterday,....that gas this cheap just has to be a sign of real doom.

Since we need an economic boost, and everything runs on oil, including JIT delivery and global shipping and Big Ag...and just about everything else.....we SHOULD  see the current glut as a huge POSITIVE at this particular moment.

It's like a gift from the Saudis to the rest of us.....it won't kill fracking, which is going to be MORE HEAVILY subsidized. What it will do is lower a LOT of COST for many businesses that are on the point of failure and need the boost.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline JRM

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Re: 🦠 Economic Effect of Coronavirus
« Reply #107 on: March 25, 2020, 11:42:43 AM »
The current oil glut is very interesting from a macroeconomic POV.

In some ways, I actually see it the OPPOSITE way than my Peak Oil toilet training would lead me toward thinking.....which is the way C5 was thinking yesterday,....that gas this cheap just has to be a sign of real doom.

Since we need an economic boost, and everything runs on oil, including JIT delivery and global shipping and Big Ag...and just about everything else.....we SHOULD  see the current glut as a huge POSITIVE at this particular moment.

It's like a gift from the Saudis to the rest of us.....it won't kill fracking, which is going to be MORE HEAVILY subsidized. What it will do is lower a LOT of COST for many businesses that are on the point of failure and need the boost.

Please have a look at my comment about Nate Hagen's article, after the article here: https://www.resilience.org/stories/2020-03-25/an-overview-of-the-systemic-implications-of-the-coronavirus/

I love Nate, and I respect his opinions, perspective and knowledge greatly. But he's less an integrator than I am in how to deal with crisis / crises.  He wants to deal with momentary moments in a larger crisis by segregating the short term and the long term to a much greater extent than I think is helpful.

If we're heading into a Great Depression, as seems likely to both Nate an I, I say go ahead and let the stupid ugly things sink while saving the good, beautiful and necessary things, shielding those.  Trying to save the airlines and cruise ship industry right now is, frankly, an absurd waste of scarce resources at a moment in which such resources ought not to be wasted.  Those who want to simply print up another couple (and more) of trillion dollars for handing out left and right don't seem to care that it is just a piece of paper or a string of digits on a computer screen, and treat it as if it were a trivial, obvious thing to do. But it has the feel of crazy danger and risk to me.  Bullshit, in the literal sense, at least can be dried and used as fuel, or composted for use on the farm or garden.  But this particular form of bullshit is has less weight than air, and far less value or utility.

But back to the utility of integration of problems.  I'm fucking sick of the way our society has continuously failed to learn from its endeavor always to segregate the long term from the short term, the rich from the poor, nature from culture, wealth from well-being.... I'm so sick of it I want to stand up and insist NO! NO MORE! Please Stop!!!!
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline RE

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🦠 Unemployment Claims Expected To Shatter Records
« Reply #108 on: March 26, 2020, 02:11:52 AM »
Thank God you don't have to stand in line anymore and can file from the comfort of your Quarantined McMansion on your HP Laptop of MacBook Pro.  ::)

RE

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/26/821580191/unemployment-claims-expected-to-shatter-records

Unemployment Claims Expected To Shatter Records

March 26, 202012:02 AM ET
Jim Zarroli 2010

Claims for unemployment benefits are spiking around the country as businesses shut down to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Andrew Kelly/Reuters

More than 3 million Americans are expected to have filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country, economic forecasters say.

That number would be well above the levels seen during the darkest days of the Great Recession, and the worst isn't over yet, they say.

The crisis has cut a giant swath through the energy, travel, transportation, hotel and restaurant sectors, with large and small companies suddenly forced to furlough employees.
What's In It For You? $1,200 Checks, 13 Weeks Of Unemployment Payments And More
Business
What's In It For You? $1,200 Checks, 13 Weeks Of Unemployment Payments And More

States that depend heavily on tourism, such as Nevada and Florida, as well as oil-and-gas towns like Midland, Texas, will be especially hard hit, but the damage will be felt almost everywhere, according to a Brookings Institution report.

The hotel industry alone as lost as many as 1 million jobs this month, the American Hotel and Lodging Association says.

"It is a huge shock and we are trying to cope with it and keep it under control," says James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Earlier this week, he said unemployment would hit 30%. But he tempered those remarks Wednesday, saying he expected the number to fall again quickly.

The job losses haven't been reflected in data released so far by the federal government, but the weekly report by the Labor Department on employment claims Thursday morning is expected to show an unprecedented surge in people seeking benefits.
From Grocery Stores To Pizza Delivery, Some Companies Are On A Hiring Spree
The Coronavirus Crisis
From Grocery Stores To Pizza Delivery, Some Companies Are On A Hiring Spree

The Economic Policy Institute estimated 3.4 million people filed for first-time claims during the week ending March 21. That compares to an average of 225,000 a week during the past six months.

The projected number is nearly five times as many initial claims as were recorded during the peak of the Great Recession. In the week ended March 28, 2009, about 665,000 new claims were filed. That was second only to the week ended Oct. 2, 1982, when 695,000 first-time claims were filed. The Labor Department's records go back to 1967.

"This will dwarf every other week in history," the EPI report says.

The loss of that many jobs would push unemployment to 5.5% — a level it last reached in 2o15 — but it's likely to climb even further. Goldman Sachs has predicted that the jobless rate could approach 13% during the next few months.

"If the number of new claims is as high as predicted and if it remains high in coming weeks, unemployment will skyrocket," according to a report from the Joint Economic Committee of Congress.
U.S. Economic Slowdown In Coming Months Expected To Be Worst On Record
Coronavirus Live Updates
U.S. Economic Slowdown In Coming Months Expected To Be Worst On Record

The collapse of the job market has been unprecedented in size and speed.

Adam Hill of Worcester, Mass., worked until recently as a graphic designer at a company that organizes trade shows.

"A couple of weeks before this happened, we had a [company] meeting where we heard about how we did the previous year, and revenue was up. Everyone was pretty excited for the next year," he says.

"Then all of a sudden, this show canceled, and then another one and then another one. And within two weeks, I think, 155 shows had canceled. No shows, no money," he says. "I guess I wasn't too surprised when we got laid off."

Hill says he expects to be called back to work when the economy recovers, but no one is sure when that will be.

In the meantime, Congress is set to approve a $2 trillion economic rescue package that broadly expands unemployment benefits, extending them to gig workers and freelancers. It would also include more generous benefits and extend eligibility for benefits by 13 weeks.
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Offline RE

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🦠 Congressional stimulus 'failed to address governmental need' - Cuomo
« Reply #109 on: March 27, 2020, 12:47:08 AM »
Big Surprise there.  Not.  ::)

RE

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/QM9a3onlrcw" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/QM9a3onlrcw</a>
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Offline JRM

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Re: 🦠 Economic Effect of Coronavirus
« Reply #110 on: March 27, 2020, 09:00:38 AM »
The current oil glut is very interesting from a macroeconomic POV.

In some ways, I actually see it the OPPOSITE way than my Peak Oil toilet training would lead me toward thinking.....which is the way C5 was thinking yesterday,....that gas this cheap just has to be a sign of real doom.

Since we need an economic boost, and everything runs on oil, including JIT delivery and global shipping and Big Ag...and just about everything else.....we SHOULD  see the current glut as a huge POSITIVE at this particular moment.

It's like a gift from the Saudis to the rest of us.....it won't kill fracking, which is going to be MORE HEAVILY subsidized. What it will do is lower a LOT of COST for many businesses that are on the point of failure and need the boost.

Some of which should die a good death, such as the airline and cruise ship industry, the automobile industry, etc.

I and a lot of other people are going to be seriously pissed off when all of this gets propped up with "helicopter money" and federal (and state) subsidies.  SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF.

We don't need to prop up the old world but to adapt to an emerging new world of the kind I'm describing in the Urban Permaculture thread here in the Diner.

F**k the helicopter money and subsidies for the billionaires, millionaires and fossil fuel / automobile / tourism industries.   The time to adjust everything down is NOW, not ten years hence!
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline Eddie

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Re: 🦠 Economic Effect of Coronavirus
« Reply #111 on: March 27, 2020, 09:26:16 AM »
The current oil glut is very interesting from a macroeconomic POV.

In some ways, I actually see it the OPPOSITE way than my Peak Oil toilet training would lead me toward thinking.....which is the way C5 was thinking yesterday,....that gas this cheap just has to be a sign of real doom.

Since we need an economic boost, and everything runs on oil, including JIT delivery and global shipping and Big Ag...and just about everything else.....we SHOULD  see the current glut as a huge POSITIVE at this particular moment.

It's like a gift from the Saudis to the rest of us.....it won't kill fracking, which is going to be MORE HEAVILY subsidized. What it will do is lower a LOT of COST for many businesses that are on the point of failure and need the boost.

Some of which should die a good death, such as the airline and cruise ship industry, the automobile industry, etc.

I and a lot of other people are going to be seriously pissed off when all of this gets propped up with "helicopter money" and federal (and state) subsidies.  SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF.

We don't need to prop up the old world but to adapt to an emerging new world of the kind I'm describing in the Urban Permaculture thread here in the Diner.

F**k the helicopter money and subsidies for the billionaires, millionaires and fossil fuel / automobile / tourism industries.   The time to adjust everything down is NOW, not ten years hence!

I'd be happy to see little people get some helicopter money for once. Hopefully they will...whatever it is, it won't be enough, and it won't be the kind of money that corporations get.....this is because corporations are politically effective and regular people aren't....not until they all start to pull in the same direction...then they will be,...if that ever happens....it isn't happening so far.

I'd be happy to see the cruise ship industry go belly up......airlines are a little harder call.....

Fossil fuel subsidies, bad as I hate them, are probably of vital importance at the moment. The scenario you want to see.....for better or worse,,,,is not about to happen...we could spin down to it in a year or two if everything goes wrong....Hopefully it won't come to that.
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Offline JRM

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Re: 🦠 Economic Effect of Coronavirus
« Reply #112 on: March 27, 2020, 09:49:57 AM »
The current oil glut is very interesting from a macroeconomic POV.

In some ways, I actually see it the OPPOSITE way than my Peak Oil toilet training would lead me toward thinking.....which is the way C5 was thinking yesterday,....that gas this cheap just has to be a sign of real doom.

Since we need an economic boost, and everything runs on oil, including JIT delivery and global shipping and Big Ag...and just about everything else.....we SHOULD  see the current glut as a huge POSITIVE at this particular moment.

It's like a gift from the Saudis to the rest of us.....it won't kill fracking, which is going to be MORE HEAVILY subsidized. What it will do is lower a LOT of COST for many businesses that are on the point of failure and need the boost.

Some of which should die a good death, such as the airline and cruise ship industry, the automobile industry, etc.

I and a lot of other people are going to be seriously pissed off when all of this gets propped up with "helicopter money" and federal (and state) subsidies.  SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF.

We don't need to prop up the old world but to adapt to an emerging new world of the kind I'm describing in the Urban Permaculture thread here in the Diner.

F**k the helicopter money and subsidies for the billionaires, millionaires and fossil fuel / automobile / tourism industries.   The time to adjust everything down is NOW, not ten years hence!

I'd be happy to see little people get some helicopter money for once. Hopefully they will...whatever it is, it won't be enough, and it won't be the kind of money that corporations get.....this is because corporations are politically effective and regular people aren't....not until they all start to pull in the same direction...then they will be,...if that ever happens....it isn't happening so far.

I'd be happy to see the cruise ship industry go belly up......airlines are a little harder call.....

Fossil fuel subsidies, bad as I hate them, are probably of vital importance at the moment. The scenario you want to see.....for better or worse,,,,is not about to happen...we could spin down to it in a year or two if everything goes wrong....Hopefully it won't come to that.

You may or may not know much about the so-called "de-growth" movement. (I had to put the hyphen in, though it doesn't belong there, or my spell checker will force me say edgrowth. Sigh.)

De-growth is obviously necessary, and urgently so, but society was and is nowhere near ready to adopt this strategy.

Whether you know of it or don't, here is an excellent assortment of articles on the topic, for folks at all levels of familiarity.

https://www.resilience.org/?type=Filter+by&s=degrowth

Some folks have been wrongly calling the economic shrinkage of the moment "de-growth".  This is a complete misunderstanding of de-growth, because de-growth is voluntary and is not caused by an involuntary act of nature, nor even forced by resource depletion. It is a choice a community (of whatever scale) makes to shrink the economy in order to address environmental, ecological, social and economic problems.  It is, in my mind, the ONLY available intelligent option at our disposal. Every other option is a form of mass insanity. And it pisses me off when people elect mass insanity.

Because the mass insanity is a form of mass murder and mass rape and mass pillage. 

My partner told me this morning that he had read an article saying the USA's EPA has just elected to set aside pretty much all enforcement of its regulations in the present emergency, y'know, so their billionaire friends can rape, pillage and murder some more in the name of "economic growth" -- which is supposed by these rapists as the highest good in the land (and upon -- and under -- the sea).

I call them by their true name. Rapists. Pillagers. Murderers. Sociopaths. Narcissists. The plague! Locusts! Drought! Sewage.

We should not let these heartless morons rape our children!!!

This should be shouted from every rooftop! Now!
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline monsta666

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Re: 🦠 Economic Effect of Coronavirus
« Reply #113 on: March 27, 2020, 10:05:33 AM »
I think the packages made in the UK are better than the US even though the package that is going to be delivered in the US is bigger. One source of relief is a £320 billion ($375 million) emergency loan fund for businesses. In addition to that every employed person who was laid off due to corona will receive 80% of their income or £2500 ($3000) a month (whatever is less) for the next three months. This three month relief is subject to an extension depending on how long the lockdown is. The self employed will also get the same allowances and their incomes will be determined by getting the average net profits for the last three years. Rishi Sunak did make some noise about trying to reduce loopholes for the self employed because he felt the self employed have been avoiding tax at a greater rate than the employed but in this instance are getting the same bailout as the normal worker. Can't get bailed out if you avoid taxes in the good times. He did not elaborate when questioned about this but it was a thought he left in peoples' minds. The working population of the UK is about 32 million. If you assume 10% of all working people make claims then it will cost about £8 billion a month if you assume everyone received the maximum amount.

The reasoning behind all this and actually described by some Republicans is that you want to provide a incentive for only the essential workers to go to work. You WANT the non-essential worker to stay home to reduce the rate of infections. Issue was the worker with less job security especially the self employed were still going to work despite government advice and even more recently government orders. This should put the UK in a better footing when people get back to work. On the other hand from what I understand the new US bailout seems too close to the ones given in 2008 financial crisis. Nothing has been learnt from that experience. I believe each adult will get $1200 and child $500 and there will be an extension to unemployment benefits. Considering the loss of payment this seems like the American public will not receive nearly enough money to make this lockdown last any real length of time.

Offline Eddie

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Re: 🦠 Economic Effect of Coronavirus
« Reply #114 on: March 27, 2020, 10:24:49 AM »
The current oil glut is very interesting from a macroeconomic POV.

In some ways, I actually see it the OPPOSITE way than my Peak Oil toilet training would lead me toward thinking.....which is the way C5 was thinking yesterday,....that gas this cheap just has to be a sign of real doom.

Since we need an economic boost, and everything runs on oil, including JIT delivery and global shipping and Big Ag...and just about everything else.....we SHOULD  see the current glut as a huge POSITIVE at this particular moment.

It's like a gift from the Saudis to the rest of us.....it won't kill fracking, which is going to be MORE HEAVILY subsidized. What it will do is lower a LOT of COST for many businesses that are on the point of failure and need the boost.

Some of which should die a good death, such as the airline and cruise ship industry, the automobile industry, etc.

I and a lot of other people are going to be seriously pissed off when all of this gets propped up with "helicopter money" and federal (and state) subsidies.  SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF.

We don't need to prop up the old world but to adapt to an emerging new world of the kind I'm describing in the Urban Permaculture thread here in the Diner.

F**k the helicopter money and subsidies for the billionaires, millionaires and fossil fuel / automobile / tourism industries.   The time to adjust everything down is NOW, not ten years hence!

I'd be happy to see little people get some helicopter money for once. Hopefully they will...whatever it is, it won't be enough, and it won't be the kind of money that corporations get.....this is because corporations are politically effective and regular people aren't....not until they all start to pull in the same direction...then they will be,...if that ever happens....it isn't happening so far.

I'd be happy to see the cruise ship industry go belly up......airlines are a little harder call.....

Fossil fuel subsidies, bad as I hate them, are probably of vital importance at the moment. The scenario you want to see.....for better or worse,,,,is not about to happen...we could spin down to it in a year or two if everything goes wrong....Hopefully it won't come to that.

You may or may not know much about the so-called "de-growth" movement. (I had to put the hyphen in, though it doesn't belong there, or my spell checker will force me say edgrowth. Sigh.)

De-growth is obviously necessary, and urgently so, but society was and is nowhere near ready to adopt this strategy.

Whether you know of it or don't, here is an excellent assortment of articles on the topic, for folks at all levels of familiarity.

https://www.resilience.org/?type=Filter+by&s=degrowth

Some folks have been wrongly calling the economic shrinkage of the moment "de-growth".  This is a complete misunderstanding of de-growth, because de-growth is voluntary and is not caused by an involuntary act of nature, nor even forced by resource depletion. It is a choice a community (of whatever scale) makes to shrink the economy in order to address environmental, ecological, social and economic problems.  It is, in my mind, the ONLY available intelligent option at our disposal. Every other option is a form of mass insanity. And it pisses me off when people elect mass insanity.

Because the mass insanity is a form of mass murder and mass rape and mass pillage. 

My partner told me this morning that he had read an article saying the USA's EPA has just elected to set aside pretty much all enforcement of its regulations in the present emergency, y'know, so their billionaire friends can rape, pillage and murder some more in the name of "economic growth" -- which is supposed by these rapists as the highest good in the land (and upon -- and under -- the sea).

I call them by their true name. Rapists. Pillagers. Murderers. Sociopaths. Narcissists. The plague! Locusts! Drought! Sewage.

We should not let these heartless morons rape our children!!!

This should be shouted from every rooftop! Now!

I know all about the De-growth Movement. Unfortunately the de-growthers don't consider the short term impacts that have to happen for the kind of degrowth you're praying for........Coronavirus is bad enough. With a sudden end to BAU, people will starve to death. You have no idea what you're wishing for........and I hope you don't have to find out.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline JRM

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Re: Economic Effect of Coronavirus
« Reply #115 on: March 27, 2020, 11:14:36 AM »
Quote
I know all about the De-growth Movement. Unfortunately the de-growthers don't consider the short term impacts that have to happen for the kind of degrowth you're praying for........Coronavirus is bad enough. With a sudden end to BAU, people will starve to death. You have no idea what you're wishing for........and I hope you don't have to find out.

If I thought a SUDDEN end to BAU were imminent, I'd not be looking for steel culvert, rebar, PVC pipe … or even commercially available chicks for chicken-growing..., etc. None of that would be happening. It would be shutting down.  I think supply chain difficulties will be happening with some of this kind of thing soon enough, however. 

My partner, Kevin, just told me that the latest news is that our New Mexico schools are shut for the remainder of the school year. How are them apples for you?

Story: https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/education/2020/03/27/covid-19-new-mexico-schools-closed-remainder-academic-year-coronavirus/2925573001/

I'm preparing for the Great Depression II, which is coming soon to a theatre near all of us.  Food is key. Industrial economy jobs will be plummeting rapidly and for a very damn long time.  Idle hands can grow food, though.  And we will, and our hands will not be so idle.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 11:20:55 AM by JRM »
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Offline K-Dog

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Re: 🦠 Economic Effect of Coronavirus
« Reply #116 on: March 27, 2020, 12:43:04 PM »
Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus | Free to read

https://www.ft.com/content/19d90308-6858-11ea-a3c9-1fe6fedcca75

This storm will pass. But the choices we make now could change our lives for years to come

Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation. The decisions people and governments take in the next few weeks will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture. We must act quickly and decisively. We should also take into account the long-term consequences of our actions. When choosing between alternatives, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes. Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive — but we will inhabit a different world.

Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours. Immature and even dangerous technologies are pressed into service, because the risks of doing nothing are bigger. Entire countries serve as guinea-pigs in large-scale social experiments. What happens when everybody works from home and communicates only at a distance? What happens when entire schools and universities go online? In normal times, governments, businesses and educational boards would never agree to conduct such experiments. But these aren’t normal times.

In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity.
Under-the-skin surveillance

In order to stop the epidemic, entire populations need to comply with certain guidelines. There are two main ways of achieving this. One method is for the government to monitor people, and punish those who break the rules. Today, for the first time in human history, technology makes it possible to monitor everyone all the time. Fifty years ago, the KGB couldn’t follow 240m Soviet citizens 24 hours a day, nor could the KGB hope to effectively process all the information gathered. The KGB relied on human agents and analysts, and it just couldn’t place a human agent to follow every citizen. But now governments can rely on ubiquitous sensors and powerful algorithms instead of flesh-and-blood spooks.



In their battle against the coronavirus epidemic several governments have already deployed the new surveillance tools. The most notable case is China. By closely monitoring people’s smartphones, making use of hundreds of millions of face-recognising cameras, and obliging people to check and report their body temperature and medical condition, the Chinese authorities can not only quickly identify suspected coronavirus carriers, but also track their movements and identify anyone they came into contact with. A range of mobile apps warn citizens about their proximity to infected patients.

   This kind of technology is not limited to east Asia. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel recently authorised the Israel Security Agency to deploy surveillance technology normally reserved for battling terrorists to track coronavirus patients. When the relevant parliamentary subcommittee refused to authorise the measure, Netanyahu rammed it through with an “emergency decree”.

You might argue that there is nothing new about all this. In recent years both governments and corporations have been using ever more sophisticated technologies to track, monitor and manipulate people. Yet if we are not careful, the epidemic might nevertheless mark an important watershed in the history of surveillance. Not only because it might normalise the deployment of mass surveillance tools in countries that have so far rejected them, but even more so because it signifies a dramatic transition from “over the skin” to “under the skin” surveillance.

Hitherto, when your finger touched the screen of your smartphone and clicked on a link, the government wanted to know what exactly your finger was clicking on. But with coronavirus, the focus of interest shifts. Now the government wants to know the temperature of your finger and the blood-pressure under its skin.
The emergency pudding

One of the problems we face in working out where we stand on surveillance is that none of us know exactly how we are being surveilled, and what the coming years might bring. Surveillance technology is developing at breakneck speed, and what seemed science-fiction 10 years ago is today old news. As a thought experiment, consider a hypothetical government that demands that every citizen wears a biometric bracelet that monitors body temperature and heart-rate 24 hours a day. The resulting data is hoarded and analysed by government algorithms. The algorithms will know that you are sick even before you know it, and they will also know where you have been, and who you have met. The chains of infection could be drastically shortened, and even cut altogether. Such a system could arguably stop the epidemic in its tracks within days. Sounds wonderful, right?

The downside is, of course, that this would give legitimacy to a terrifying new surveillance system. If you know, for example, that I clicked on a Fox News link rather than a CNN link, that can teach you something about my political views and perhaps even my personality. But if you can monitor what happens to my body temperature, blood pressure and heart-rate as I watch the video clip, you can learn what makes me laugh, what makes me cry, and what makes me really, really angry.

It is crucial to remember that anger, joy, boredom and love are biological phenomena just like fever and a cough. The same technology that identifies coughs could also identify laughs. If corporations and governments start harvesting our biometric data en masse, they can get to know us far better than we know ourselves, and they can then not just predict our feelings but also manipulate our feelings and sell us anything they want — be it a product or a politician. Biometric monitoring would make Cambridge Analytica’s data hacking tactics look like something from the Stone Age. Imagine North Korea in 2030, when every citizen has to wear a biometric bracelet 24 hours a day. If you listen to a speech by the Great Leader and the bracelet picks up the tell-tale signs of anger, you are done for.



You could, of course, make the case for biometric surveillance as a temporary measure taken during a state of emergency. It would go away once the emergency is over. But temporary measures have a nasty habit of outlasting emergencies, especially as there is always a new emergency lurking on the horizon. My home country of Israel, for example, declared a state of emergency during its 1948 War of Independence, which justified a range of temporary measures from press censorship and land confiscation to special regulations for making pudding (I kid you not). The War of Independence has long been won, but Israel never declared the emergency over, and has failed to abolish many of the “temporary” measures of 1948 (the emergency pudding decree was mercifully abolished in 2011).

Even when infections from coronavirus are down to zero, some data-hungry governments could argue they needed to keep the biometric surveillance systems in place because they fear a second wave of coronavirus, or because there is a new Ebola strain evolving in central Africa, or because . . . you get the idea. A big battle has been raging in recent years over our privacy. The coronavirus crisis could be the battle’s tipping point. For when people are given a choice between privacy and health, they will usually choose health.
The soap police

Asking people to choose between privacy and health is, in fact, the very root of the problem. Because this is a false choice. We can and should enjoy both privacy and health. We can choose to protect our health and stop the coronavirus epidemic not by instituting totalitarian surveillance regimes, but rather by empowering citizens. In recent weeks, some of the most successful efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic were orchestrated by South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. While these countries have made some use of tracking applications, they have relied far more on extensive testing, on honest reporting, and on the willing co-operation of a well-informed public.

Centralised monitoring and harsh punishments aren’t the only way to make people comply with beneficial guidelines. When people are told the scientific facts, and when people trust public authorities to tell them these facts, citizens can do the right thing even without a Big Brother watching over their shoulders. A self-motivated and well-informed population is usually far more powerful and effective than a policed, ignorant population.

Consider, for example, washing your hands with soap. This has been one of the greatest advances ever in human hygiene. This simple action saves millions of lives every year. While we take it for granted, it was only in the 19th century that scientists discovered the importance of washing hands with soap. Previously, even doctors and nurses proceeded from one surgical operation to the next without washing their hands. Today billions of people daily wash their hands, not because they are afraid of the soap police, but rather because they understand the facts. I wash my hands with soap because I have heard of viruses and bacteria, I understand that these tiny organisms cause diseases, and I know that soap can remove them.



But to achieve such a level of compliance and co-operation, you need trust. People need to trust science, to trust public authorities, and to trust the media. Over the past few years, irresponsible politicians have deliberately undermined trust in science, in public authorities and in the media. Now these same irresponsible politicians might be tempted to take the high road to authoritarianism, arguing that you just cannot trust the public to do the right thing.

Normally, trust that has been eroded for years cannot be rebuilt overnight. But these are not normal times. In a moment of crisis, minds too can change quickly. You can have bitter arguments with your siblings for years, but when some emergency occurs, you suddenly discover a hidden reservoir of trust and amity, and you rush to help one another. Instead of building a surveillance regime, it is not too late to rebuild people’s trust in science, in public authorities and in the media. We should definitely make use of new technologies too, but these technologies should empower citizens. I am all in favour of monitoring my body temperature and blood pressure, but that data should not be used to create an all-powerful government. Rather, that data should enable me to make more informed personal choices, and also to hold government accountable for its decisions.

If I could track my own medical condition 24 hours a day, I would learn not only whether I have become a health hazard to other people, but also which habits contribute to my health. And if I could access and analyse reliable statistics on the spread of coronavirus, I would be able to judge whether the government is telling me the truth and whether it is adopting the right policies to combat the epidemic. Whenever people talk about surveillance, remember that the same surveillance technology can usually be used not only by governments to monitor individuals — but also by individuals to monitor governments.

The coronavirus epidemic is thus a major test of citizenship. In the days ahead, each one of us should choose to trust scientific data and healthcare experts over unfounded conspiracy theories and self-serving politicians. If we fail to make the right choice, we might find ourselves signing away our most precious freedoms, thinking that this is the only way to safeguard our health.
We need a global plan

The second important choice we confront is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity. Both the epidemic itself and the resulting economic crisis are global problems. They can be solved effectively only by global co-operation.

First and foremost, in order to defeat the virus we need to share information globally. That’s the big advantage of humans over viruses. A coronavirus in China and a coronavirus in the US cannot swap tips about how to infect humans. But China can teach the US many valuable lessons about coronavirus and how to deal with it. What an Italian doctor discovers in Milan in the early morning might well save lives in Tehran by evening. When the UK government hesitates between several policies, it can get advice from the Koreans who have already faced a similar dilemma a month ago. But for this to happen, we need a spirit of global co-operation and trust.

Countries should be willing to share information openly and humbly seek advice, and should be able to trust the data and the insights they receive. We also need a global effort to produce and distribute medical equipment, most notably testing kits and respiratory machines. Instead of every country trying to do it locally and hoarding whatever equipment it can get, a co-ordinated global effort could greatly accelerate production and make sure life-saving equipment is distributed more fairly. Just as countries nationalise key industries during a war, the human war against coronavirus may require us to “humanise” the crucial production lines. A rich country with few coronavirus cases should be willing to send precious equipment to a poorer country with many cases, trusting that if and when it subsequently needs help, other countries will come to its assistance.

We might consider a similar global effort to pool medical personnel. Countries currently less affected could send medical staff to the worst-hit regions of the world, both in order to help them in their hour of need, and in order to gain valuable experience. If later on the focus of the epidemic shifts, help could start flowing in the opposite direction.

Global co-operation is vitally needed on the economic front too. Given the global nature of the economy and of supply chains, if each government does its own thing in complete disregard of the others, the result will be chaos and a deepening crisis. We need a global plan of action, and we need it fast.

Another requirement is reaching a global agreement on travel. Suspending all international travel for months will cause tremendous hardships, and hamper the war against coronavirus. Countries need to co-operate in order to allow at least a trickle of essential travellers to continue crossing borders: scientists, doctors, journalists, politicians, businesspeople. This can be done by reaching a global agreement on the pre-screening of travellers by their home country. If you know that only carefully screened travellers were allowed on a plane, you would be more willing to accept them into your country.



Unfortunately, at present countries hardly do any of these things. A collective paralysis has gripped the international community. There seem to be no adults in the room. One would have expected to see already weeks ago an emergency meeting of global leaders to come up with a common plan of action. The G7 leaders managed to organise a videoconference only this week, and it did not result in any such plan.

In previous global crises — such as the 2008 financial crisis and the 2014 Ebola epidemic — the US assumed the role of global leader. But the current US administration has abdicated the job of leader. It has made it very clear that it cares about the greatness of America far more than about the future of humanity.

This administration has abandoned even its closest allies. When it banned all travel from the EU, it didn’t bother to give the EU so much as an advance notice — let alone consult with the EU about that drastic measure. It has scandalised Germany by allegedly offering $1bn to a German pharmaceutical company to buy monopoly rights to a new Covid-19 vaccine. Even if the current administration eventually changes tack and comes up with a global plan of action, few would follow a leader who never takes responsibility, who never admits mistakes, and who routinely takes all the credit for himself while leaving all the blame to others.

If the void left by the US isn’t filled by other countries, not only will it be much harder to stop the current epidemic, but its legacy will continue to poison international relations for years to come. Yet every crisis is also an opportunity. We must hope that the current epidemic will help humankind realise the acute danger posed by global disunity.

Humanity needs to make a choice. Will we travel down the route of disunity, or will we adopt the path of global solidarity? If we choose disunity, this will not only prolong the crisis, but will probably result in even worse catastrophes in the future. If we choose global solidarity, it will be a victory not only against the coronavirus, but against all future epidemics and crises that might assail humankind in the 21st century.

https://www.ft.com/content/19d90308-6858-11ea-a3c9-1fe6fedcca75
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 12:45:55 PM by K-Dog »
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

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🦠 The next financial crisis: A collapse of the mortgage system
« Reply #117 on: March 28, 2020, 07:02:58 AM »
...and the House of Cards comes a-tumblin' down..



RE.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/27/mortgage-system-collapse-coronavirus-pandemic-152338

The next financial crisis: A collapse of the mortgage system

The mortgage finance system could collapse if the Fed doesn’t step in with emergency loans to offset a coming wave of missed payments from borrowers crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Reserve building. | J. David Ake/AP Photo

By KATY O'DONNELL

03/27/2020 04:01 PM EDT

Updated: 03/27/2020 04:52 PM EDT



The U.S. mortgage finance system could collapse if the Federal Reserve doesn’t step in with emergency loans to offset a coming wave of missed payments from borrowers crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Congress did not include relief for the mortgage industry in its $2 trillion rescue package — even as lawmakers required mortgage companies to allow homeowners up to a year's delay in making payments on federally backed loans.

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When individuals stop making payments on their home mortgages, the companies that handle the loans and process those payments, so-called mortgage servicers, are still on the hook: They're legally obligated to keep sending money to insurers and investors in mortgage-backed securities, the giant bundles of home loans that are packaged and sold on the securities markets.

Now industry executives and regulators are worried that Congress's generosity toward homeowners could wipe out those companies, causing investors not to get paid and potentially bankrupting the entire mortgage finance system — a domino effect that would make it much harder for borrowers to access credit to buy homes.

Housing lobbyists sounded the alarm to Senate staff about the potential danger, but the sheer scale of the rescue bill and the focus on communicating the industry’s other big concerns — such as the details of how long mortgages would be suspended — meant their warnings were unheeded in the rush to finish the massive legislation.

Yet while the final bill allocates $454 billion for the Treasury Department to support the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs, including for large corporations, there is no overt requirement for lending to mortgage companies, despite a weeklong lobbying push by the industry.

“There was a strong desire on the part of housing lobbyists to have the bill explicitly direct the Fed and Treasury to use some of that money to finance servicing advances,” said Michael Bright, CEO of the Structured Finance Association, which represents 370 financial institutions in the bond market.
Nancy Pelosi

congress
House passes $2 trillion coronavirus package — but not without last-minute drama

By HEATHER CAYGLE and SARAH FERRIS

Now industry lobbyists are turning their efforts to Trump administration officials.

“We have been in constant contact with many parts of the administration to ensure that they understand the urgency of this liquidity facility being set up,” said Bob Broeksmit, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, a trade group.

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Financial Stability Oversight Council — a powerful interagency body that consists of the top financial regulators — is “particularly focused on the liquidity issues that market may have." Mnuchin said he was establishing a task force to report back to the council on the matter on Monday.

Concerns about liquidity in the mortgage finance system have been building for years, as the companies that service mortgage loans are increasingly nonbanks — which don’t have banks’ access to Fed loans or their strict capital requirements and deposits to fall back on. Banks, which once dominated the business, have steadily pulled back since the 2008 housing market meltdown.

Usually, a mortgage company can withstand a few borrowers failing to make payments, but the breadth of the coronavirus pandemic has sparked industry estimates of between 25 and 50 percent of borrowers being unable to pay.

That “could threaten the ability of a mortgage servicer, particularly nonbank servicers, to remain a going concern,” the Conference of State Bank Supervisors warned Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Mnuchin in a March 25 letter.

State regulators wanted to weigh in because “our members are the primary regulators of the nonbank servicers,” said Margaret Liu, CSBS senior vice president and deputy general counsel.

If 25 percent of borrowers fail to make their mortgage payments, the industry would need $40 billion to cover three months of payments, according to Jay Bray, CEO of the servicing company Mr. Cooper. Depending on how long the situation lasts, Broeksmit said demands on servicers “could exceed $75 billion and could climb well above $100 billion.”

And if mortgage companies fail across the board, “the system breaks down,” said Andrew Jakabovics, vice president for policy development at Enterprise Community Partners, an affordable housing nonprofit.
Capitol Hill

Finance
Insurers scramble to avoid 9/11-style coronavirus backlash

By ZACHARY WARMBRODT

“The kinds of relief we did during the foreclosure crisis — all of that had to do with the fact that we wanted to ensure that investors from across the world would continue to treat U.S. mortgage-backed securities as an incredibly safe investment,” Jakabovics said. “That would have very serious ramifications for the availability and price of mortgage credit.”

Bright, who formerly managed the $2 trillion portfolio of government-run mortgage financier Ginnie Mae, said he believes the Fed will come through with an emergency lending program for the industry.

“Even though that language wasn’t included [in the Senate bill], I do think it’s likely that this could be part of [the Fed’s Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility Program] in the end,” he said.

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria — who regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored mortgage giants that prop up about half of the nation’s $11 trillion market — said this week in a Bloomberg TV interview that he was confident that large banks would continue to extend credit to mortgage servicers for the time being.

Still, he said, “if we get to a situation where this goes longer than two months, absolutely there’s going to need to be a bigger solution.”

Broeksmit said some mortgage companies won’t make it that long, depending on the share of loans in their portfolios located in areas of the country where the virus has hit particularly hard.

“Some servicers will need the liquidity sooner than others, so we’re hoping that the facility will be set up immediately,” Broeksmit said.

Liu also said the credit lines from banks wouldn’t be enough to keep the system afloat.

“The mortgage market is one of the many multiple complexly interconnected pieces of our financial system, so those assurances are really important, but I think the role of the government in being a reliable and available source of credit for the mortgage market and mortgage servicers during a crisis is even more important,” she said.

In the meantime, the industry is crossing its fingers that the individual cash relief in the Senate bill will lead to fewer people needing to request forbearance on their payments.

“We’re hoping that the take-up rate won’t be too high and that the duration is not extended, but we have to prepare for both,” Broeksmit said.
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https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/03/coronavirus-way-worse-than-the-global-financial-crisis-imf-says.html

Coronavirus pandemic economic fallout ‘way worse than the global financial crisis,’ IMF chief says

Published Fri, Apr 3 202012:51 PM EDTUpdated Fri, Apr 3 20202:46 PM EDT
Dan Mangan    @_DanMangan
Berkeley Lovelace Jr.   @BerkeleyJr
William Feuer   @WillFOIA

Key Points

    The coronavirus pandemic has created an economic crisis “like no other,”  the top International Monetary Fund official said.
    “Never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy come to a standstill,” said  Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF.
    “It is way worse than the global financial crisis” of 2008-09, Georgieva said during a World Health Organization news conference.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks at a press conference in Washington D.C., on March 4, 2020.
Liu Jie | Xinhua | Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has created an economic crisis “like no other” — one that is “way worse” than the 2008 global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund’s top official said Friday.

“Never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy come to a standstill,” Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, said at a news conference.

Speaking at the World Health Organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Georgieva said that this was “humanity’s darkest hour, a big threat to the whole world and it requires from us to stand tall, be united and protect the most vulnerable of our citizens.”

She said the IMF is working with the World Bank and other international financial institutions to alleviate the economic fallout from the outbreak, which has infected more than 1 million people in almost every country across the world, and killed more than 55,000 people.

Georgieva said the IMF is encouraging central banks in developed countries to support emerging markets and developing countries.

“Our main preoccupation in this crisis is to rapidly step up financing for countries, especially emerging markets, developing countries that are faced with very significant and growing needs,” Georgieva said.

The IMF has a $1 trillion war chest, she said, adding “we are determined to use as much of it as necessary.”

More than 90 countries so far have applied for assistance from those funds, she said.

“We have never seen ever such a growing demand for emergency financing,” Georgieva said.

She urged countries that tap that financing to use it to pay doctors, nurses and other health-care workers as well as for other health-care needs.

At the same news conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that countries which lift quarantine restrictions designed to contain the coronavirus too quickly risk seeing an “even more severe and prolonged” economic downturn.

“We are all aware of the profound social and economic consequences of the pandemic,” Tedros said.

“Ultimately the best way for countries to end restrictions and ease their economic effects is to attack the virus,” he said.

Georgieva said that developing economies have been hardest hit by the outbreak, and often have fewer resources to protect themselves from the economic fallout.

“We know that in many countries health systems are weak,” she said.
VIDEO04:59
Watch five experts weigh in on devastating March jobs report

Compounding the harm, she said, is “a flight to safety” by investors who are pulling their money out of vulnerable countries as the outbreak spreads.

Nearly $90 billion in investments have “flown out” of emerging economies during the outbreak, she said.

Georgieva noted that, “This is way more than during the global financial crisis, and some countries are highly dependent on commodities exports. With prices collapsing, they are hit yet again.”

“The same way that the virus hits vulnerable people with medical preconditions hardest, the economic crisis hits vulnerable economies the hardest,” she said.

At the end of the news conference, she said, “My closing message is we will get through this, but how fast and how effectively will depend a lot upon the actions we take.”

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said that world leaders need to build up their public health systems “if we’re going to get out of an interminable cycle of economically punishing lockdowns and shutdowns.”
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Looks like the Matanuska-Susitna River  Valley is THE Place to be for this Pandemic.  :icon_sunny:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/JSt0NEESrUA" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/JSt0NEESrUA</a>

RE

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/mat-su/2020/04/04/as-alaskas-coronavirus-count-climbs-the-states-fastest-growing-region-poses-a-puzzle/

Fairbanks hospital reports first death in Interior Alaska tied to COVID-19

Mat-Su
As Alaska’s coronavirus count climbs, the state’s fastest-growing region poses a puzzle

    pencil Author: Zaz Hollander
    clock Updated: 2 hours ago calendar Published 2 hours ago

A staffer at Capstone Clinic screens a patient for respiratory illness in the facility's Wasilla parking lot. The clinic tested three of the four Mat-Su residents confirmed positive for COVID-19. (Marc Lester / ADN)

We're making coronavirus coverage available without a subscription as a public service. But we depend on reader support to do this work. Please consider joining others in supporting local journalism in Alaska for just $3.23 a week.

PALMER — As the days pass and the number of COVID-19 cases in Alaska grows, the Mat-Su is holding steady with just a few confirmed positives.

One in seven Alaskans live in the state’s fastest-growing region, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough north of Anchorage, many of them clustered in a densely populated area within a short drive of Palmer or Wasilla.

As of Friday, however, Mat-Su residents made up only four of the 157 Alaskans who tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Medical providers here say that doesn’t mean the virus isn’t already taking hold in a borough that covers as much ground as West Virginia or Ireland and holds nearly 110,000 people, more than any other municipality besides Anchorage. By contrast, Anchorage had 73 reported cases as of Friday.

Some say there aren’t enough kits to test everyone with possible COVID-19 symptoms. Others say they know of residents who almost definitely have the virus but never got tested.

So the seemingly good news for Mat-Su — at least for now, at least on paper — only means it’s time to double down on mandates like staying home and social distancing, doctors say.

“That’s the real risk," said Dr. Wade Erickson, medical director at Capstone Clinic in Wasilla, one of several coronavirus testing sites. “As soon as you start opening it up, it’s going to skyrocket. If we can hold steady, we’re going to buy some time.”
‘This really could be COVID-19’

Statewide, there have been a total of more than 6,000 tests sent to public health and commercial labs, according to the Department of Health and Social Services.

As of Friday, there had been 319 tests administered by three of the four testing facilities in Mat-Su.

Some providers say they’re pretty sure they’re overlooking COVID-positive patients because of equipment shortages they hope are temporary.
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An urgent-care clinic at Wasilla’s western end had tested just five people as of Friday after opening a drive-up screening service on March 23.

Urgent Care at Lake Lucille had only 11 test kits available and limited tests to people with fevers and respiratory symptoms who meet other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols such as recent travel or a job as a health-care worker, said Christa Williams, clinical supervisor and lead medical assistant.

People who didn’t meet the criteria got sent home with instructions to quarantine, call back if symptoms worsened, and dial 911 if they experienced respiratory distress.

By Monday, Williams said, she hoped to get another 50 test kits from the Mat-Su Borough’s emergency operations center.

“Once we have more tests, people who we’re like ‘Man, this really could be COVID-19’ and sending them home to self-quarantine, we will test them,” she said.
Low load?

More people are getting tested at other facilities in the borough.

Staffers at Capstone Clinic’s drive-thru screening facility in Wasilla have received about 1,000 calls from people reporting COVID-19 symptoms, according to Erickson. About 250 came in for screening and 186 got tested.

Three of the four positive COVID-19 cases in Mat-Su were people tested at Capstone, he said. One patient lives on the Kenai Peninsula and two in Wasilla.

But even the Wasilla residents didn’t pick up the virus in the borough, Erickson said. One apparently acquired it on the Kenai, and the other at an Anchorage hospital.

It’s possible that for various reasons the Mat-Su is a pocket of the state with a low “viral load” right now, he said.

The only hospital in the borough, Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, has performed 128 tests — 115 negative and 13 pending, a spokesman there said. The number of people tested at the hospital’s urgent-care clinic in Wasilla was not available.

The hospital is tracking additional patients “who have some symptoms, but have not been tested,” spokesman Alan Craft said in an email.

Reports are surfacing in Mat-Su and elsewhere from patients concerned about false-negative test results. Federal guidance advises doctors that a negative result “does not exclude the possibility of COVID-19.”

Health experts estimate the false negative rate between 15% and 25% but could be as as high as 30%.
Or maybe they’re already here

It’s entirely possible there are more COVID-positive people in Mat-Su regardless of the state case count, medical providers say.

A physician in the Susitna Valley says he knows a couple of people who either traveled or spent time around patients who did test positive. Those people are likely positive for the virus now but haven’t been tested.

“They developed symptoms so they just isolated themselves,” said Dr. George Hightower, medical director at the Sunshine Community Health Center near Talkeetna. “For 90% plus of the patients out there, that’s all that’s going to be required.”

Some people with lower levels of viral shedding might have the disease but not test positive for a week, Hightower said.

Test or no test, the recommendations for a COVID-positive patient are the same unless respiratory symptoms get bad, in which case it’s time for the ER, he said: Stay home, isolate and hydrate.

The apparently low number of cases in Mat-Su popped up in conversation among the state’s health officials this past week, said Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer and a former emergency department medical director at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center who is still working the occasional emergency shift at the hospital.

The state is going to see “these kind of pockets come up and down” but testing is necessary to make sure, Zink said during a media briefing earlier this week.

“Again, in Alaska, we do a good job of social distancing in general and maybe everyone in Mat-Su is out in their cabin and social distancing, it’s a little hard to know,” she said. “But part of our job is to trust but verify, and so in watching these numbers we have been going back around to different communities making sure they’ve got the supplies, they have what they need, that they’re testing, that they’re screening, to make sure we’re trusting but verifying that people are getting tested.”
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