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The Wuhan Virus Is Serious, But Shutting Down Isnít The Long-Term Answer
The Federalist ^ | March 25, 2020 | Willis L. Krumholz

Posted on 03/25/2020 4:20:55 AM PDT by Kaslin

What to do about the U.S. economy in the wake of the Wuhan virus? The answer requires a mix of both short-term suppression and then long-term mitigation.


Lots of people didn’t see the COVID-19 pandemic coming. Many prognosticators who didn’t have since found their way into two camps. In the first camp, the occupants are in full panic mode. We should all shut everything down for the time-being, they say. In the second camp, the occupants are borderline dismissive of the Wuhan virus threat. Both sides are completely wrong.

The camp dismissive of the virus is dead wrong. Many do this to argue a never-ending shutdown is wrongheaded — which is right — but in getting there, they make stupid arguments about how “few Americans have it,” and it’s “really just the flu.”

They forget the law of exponential growth. Because the Wuhan coronavirus spreads so easily, even if contained, the virus is expected to eventually infect at least half of all Americans. Today’s 35,000 infected easily becomes a huge chunk of the population unless people and governments move to limit human interaction.

Tons of people also have the virus, yet they don’t have symptoms severe enough to get a test. The official numbers measure only those who have officially been tested, and China’s official numbers are completely wrong.

We’re also finding that the virus out of communist China can be really nasty, even for otherwise-healthy young people. Common cases in young people are presenting with an initial fever and aches, followed by breathing problems, and severe headaches and body aches that persist after the virus is gone. There is even evidence the virus can have long-term effects, including on a person’s fertility and lung capacity.

Don’t Destroy the Economy

But we can’t kill the economy because of the virus. Many on Wall Street are now forecasting depressionary gross domestic product prints. Goldman Sachs says Q2, which hasn’t even started, will see a GDP contraction of 24 percent — the biggest ever quarterly GDP drop on record. Already, masses of Americans who work in industries requiring face-to-face human contact are suffering layoffs. Economists are forecasting an unprecedented spike in jobless claims as a result, which is just not acceptable either. There is another way.

Going forward, policymakers face a tough choice between what Hedgeye demographer Neil Howe calls suppression versus mitigation. Mitigation is where we go about our normal lives, while trying to segment the at-risk population. This strategy allows for quicker herd immunity, if immunity is even possible, but it overloads the health system, and more people die. That is unacceptable.

Suppression opts for a lockdown to avoid overloading the health-care system and minimize deaths. Suppression only works, however, if it buys time to do something — say, develop a vaccine or an antiviral. But a vaccine or antiviral won’t be ready any time soon, unfortunately. Because of this, long-term suppression just kicks the can down the road, prolonging the shutdown and delaying the pain, even as it does untold damage to the economy. This is also not a viable long-term strategy.

Strike a Balance

What to do? The answer requires a mix of both: short-term suppression, then long-term mitigation. Again, suppression only makes sense as a means to gain time and supplies.

We need a national strategy wherein the federal government, along with state and local governments, develops a specific plan to stock up on supplies during a pre-set period of suppression. Here, we should allow hospitals to build supplies of masks and ventilators. We should also set up programs to deliver food and supplies to at-risk people, assisting them so they can work and function from their homes in near-isolation for some time.

After this pre-set period, which could last even another month, we should transition toward mitigation. This doesn’t mean everything returns to normal, but it means most Americans begin transitioning back into everyday life. The alternative is another depression and no resolution to the Wuhan virus to boot.

Understand U.S. Economic Trends

Is this a silver bullet? Not at all. Many prognosticators, even on the right, unfortunately, don’t understand the economic problems America was facing pre-virus.

Global growth was slowing in 2015 before communist China introduced a massive stimulus that caused a resurgence in global economic indicators. That lasted only for a time, and global growth was again slowing since late 2017. People blamed this on the trade war, but the trade war, which didn’t start until at least 2018, was only a small part of that story.

In America, our growth was strong but began slowing in the back half of 2018. There were problems in the American economy a simple tax cut couldn’t fix. The Federal Reserve responded to a debt-fueled bust in 2008 by incentivizing even more debt. Where the big debt buildup was households and mortgages, it is now in corporate credit. Going into this year, American corporate debt to GDP is the highest in U.S. history.

This explains why stocks have fallen so hard and so fast. It’s just the business cycle, albeit with a Wuhan-virus-sized elephant in the room. Debt is like financial kerosene. It increases the risk of a shock if the economy slows even a little. It also decreases the margin for error when unforeseen events like the coronavirus occur. This is why it’s an ominous signal for America’s long-term economic health that the Fed is looking to buy U.S. company debt. It hasn’t worked in Europe, so why would we double down on an already failed policy?

But America can still choose between an orderly end to the business cycle and the necessary deleveraging that comes with it, or an outright depression. We can have at least a few quarters of somewhat sluggish growth, or unheard-of job-losses and a slide toward socialism. Yes, continue suppression for another couple weeks. But use this time to prepare for a shift to mitigation, meaning the resumption of normalcy for most Americans. We simply can’t go on living like this forever.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: businesses; coronavirus; depression; economics; economy; gdp; no1saiditwas; stocks; suppression; wallstreet; wuhanflu; wuhanvirus; yesweknow
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1 posted on 03/25/2020 4:20:55 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
Contrast:

Panic Over H1N1 Virus

Where was the great toilet paper escape on this one?

2 posted on 03/25/2020 4:30:10 AM PDT by Ymani Cricket (Pressure makes diamonds - General Patton)
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To: Kaslin

People in densely-populated Singapore and Hong Kong (we’re talking NYC-dense here), where white collar workers are squashed into tiny cubicles, are managing to go back to work without significant new infections. The secret is face masks. Given the toll imposed by infections, whether in terms of suffering or potential death, I’d say it makes sense to charge anyone not wearing a mask with aggravated assault. Minimum 6 months in prison and a felony record. After a few highly-publicized convictions, combined with the media’s klieg lights on the scofflaws, everyone will wear a mask.


3 posted on 03/25/2020 4:50:24 AM PDT by Zhang Fei (My dad had a Delta 88. That was a car. It was like driving your living room.)
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To: Zhang Fei

We can’t even arrest people for robbery in NYC. Face masks...


4 posted on 03/25/2020 4:53:32 AM PDT by AppyPappy (How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?)
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To: Kaslin

“Because the Wuhan coronavirus spreads so easily, even if contained, the virus is expected to eventually infect at least half of all Americans.“

The Spanish Flu of 1918 infected roughly one quarter of the population of this country. The Swine Flu infected about seven percent back in 2009. There are no credible reports that 750 million Chinese have been affected by Covid-19.

Not since the Black Death in the Middle Ages has a pandemic infected the kind of percentage this article suggests. These estimates are wildly exaggerated.


5 posted on 03/25/2020 5:09:06 AM PDT by SoCal Pubbie
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To: Kaslin

The Democrat goal is to destroy the capitalist economy and rebuild to a brutal socialist state.


6 posted on 03/25/2020 5:15:04 AM PDT by stinkerpot65 (Global warming is a Marxist lie.)
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To: Kaslin
.
7 posted on 03/25/2020 5:17:50 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Scatology is serendipitous)
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To: Kaslin

https://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/3828076/posts?page=1#1

From the Federalist, a different view.


8 posted on 03/25/2020 5:29:25 AM PDT by WildHighlander57 ((WildHighlander57 returning after lurking since 2000)
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To: Kaslin

Someone please explain to me how shutting down will, in the long term, save lives and prevent people from eventually getting the virus.

Seems to me it will only greatly prolong the disastrous effects, thus inflicting far more damage on the economy and lives in the long run......

Seems to me let it run its course, and it will be gone soon. Devastating effects, yes. But less than the path we are taking.......IMHO.....

But then, what do I know?


9 posted on 03/25/2020 5:40:37 AM PDT by Arlis
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To: Kaslin

I don’t think anyone thought it was the long term answer nor does anyone think this will go on forever.


10 posted on 03/25/2020 6:39:00 AM PDT by metmom (...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith...)
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To: Arlis

“Someone please explain to me how shutting down will, in the long term, save lives”

By spreading out serious infections and preventing more cases at one time than there are hospital beds.

“and prevent people from eventually getting the virus.”

The lower we make R0, the fewer people ever get the virus: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3506030/


11 posted on 03/25/2020 7:02:35 AM PDT by NobleFree ("law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual")
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To: Arlis

We don’t yet know if survivors have immunity. There are many reports of re infection from inside China and Hong Kong, and that the second time around it’s worse. If true, that completely discredits the “herd immunity” strategy. We need a vaccine.


12 posted on 03/25/2020 7:44:09 AM PDT by dinodino
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To: SoCal Pubbie

This disease is 2 - 3 times as infectious as the flu, and at least 40 million people get the flu every year despite mass vaccination (and there’s no vaccine for the China virus). Do the math.


13 posted on 03/25/2020 8:07:47 AM PDT by Ancesthntr ("The right to buy weapons is the right to be free." A. E. van Vogt, The Weapons Shops of Isher)
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To: Kaslin

From what I read, it sounds like South Korea did not shut down businesses. They tracked where COVID-19 patients traveled. If they went to a store, the store was closed for cleaning for a few days and reopened. And they’ve been the most successful in the world at containing the virus.


14 posted on 03/25/2020 8:16:28 AM PDT by JediJones (We must deport all liberals until we can figure out what the hell is going on.)
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To: dinodino

That is not true. All the articles I read said the re-infection idea is just a rumor. Any appearance of that was simply caused by faulty testing or releasing a patient before they were fully cured. This is a virus so your body will have immunity if you survive and clear the infection.

It is definitely true that like a lot of illnesses, symptoms may fade away and come back stronger later. But this is not a re-infection.


15 posted on 03/25/2020 8:18:38 AM PDT by JediJones (We must deport all liberals until we can figure out what the hell is going on.)
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To: NobleFree

It’s a big country. We have the space to make more beds. South Korea converted corporate dormitories into facilities to house the less sick, non-critical patients. This also served as a quarantine to keep them out of the public. The strategy worked. They needed a little time to ramp things up and get things read like any country would. But the idea that we need long-term stay-at-home orders, shutdowns and lockdowns is absolutely absurd. Any government who says that is simply a government that is not doing their job. It would be like the garbageman saying we don’t have the capacity to store your garbage, so you have to keep at home this year.


16 posted on 03/25/2020 8:21:56 AM PDT by JediJones (We must deport all liberals until we can figure out what the hell is going on.)
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To: NobleFree

Well, I have 3 sons with higher math degrees that would understand this, but I sure don’t.

The virus will never disappear, but will always be with us lurking somewhere, so it is inevitable that most of those who are susceptible to getting it eventually get it.......


17 posted on 03/25/2020 8:42:41 AM PDT by Arlis
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To: NobleFree

Like I just said......

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3828170/posts


18 posted on 03/25/2020 8:44:00 AM PDT by Arlis
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To: JediJones

So, then if patients are released too early and are still infectious, we don’t know all the parameters. How long must individuals be quarantined after their symptoms are gone to prevent this? Two weeks post-recovery? That means we should be arguing for a national 6-week quarantine for everyone.


19 posted on 03/25/2020 9:37:36 AM PDT by dinodino
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To: JediJones

“the idea that we need long-term stay-at-home orders, shutdowns and lockdowns is absolutely absurd.”

Agreed - we need an exit strategy.


20 posted on 03/25/2020 10:03:04 AM PDT by NobleFree ("law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual")
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