Lie of the Day: This is Not a Pandemic

Mish

A regional governor in Italy issued a reassuring lie today.

Business Insider reports Photos show what Italy is like under lockdown as the country becomes Europe's epicenter of the coronavirus.

The lead image is from that article.

Venice is “taking precautionary measures -- this is not a pandemic. We decided to ban all events for a week especially to protect older citizens, but businesses are working as usual,” said regional Governor Luca Zaia in an interview.

Meanwhile, in Milan, all work activity has come to a halt with blockades preventing travel in and out of the area.

The above details are from the Bloomberg article Italy Struggles to Contain Virus With Rich North in Lockdown.

Italy’s economic engine ground nearly to a halt on Monday amid Europe’s largest coronavirus outbreak.

The hit to the economy from limiting movement and activity in the prosperous area from Venice to Milan, home to some 15 million people and responsible for almost a third of Italy’s gross domestic product, is likely to be severe.

Adding to the concern: contagion seems to be spreading mostly through hospitals and it remains unclear exactly how the illness arrived in the country.

There were already signs of panic taking hold. Shoppers stormed supermarkets in Milan over the weekend as citizens worried that food stocks would run out. Staples like meat, bread and pasta were in short supply in some stores as consumers, many wearing surgical masks, waited in long lines to stock up.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the opposition League party, used the outbreak to attack Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Italy needs “to make our borders armor-plated,” he said, calling on Conte to resign “if he isn’t able to defend Italy and Italians.”

One of These Doesn't Fit

  1. 11 Cities in Italy are in lockdown
  2. Half of China has travel restrictions with 60 million in full lockdown.
  3. Coronavirus cases are growing exponentially in Japan, South Korea, Italy, and Iran.
  4. This is not a pandemic.

Lies Don't Prevent Panic

Except when it comes to finances about "free stuff" (education, health care, etc.) people generally recognize when they are being lied to.

And in this case there are travel restriction in 11 cities in Northern Italy with 3 month jail terms for people venturing outside roadblocks.

When you tell huge lies like this, people know it and that's what feeds the fear: What else are they not telling us.

Coronavirus Podcast

This morning I was a podcast participant with Jim Bianco, Dr. Ben Hunt, Dr. Chris Martenson, and Erik Townsend.

The podcast is on the long side and most of my readers are familiar with the material.

But it was a pleasure to be with a group of bright people who had this pegged correctly from the beginning.

All of us wish we were wrong.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (87)
Rbm
Rbm

Yeah its gonna really take off in war torn syria. Then throughout europe. Maybe by the time it gets hold in the us it will be summer which is not the flu season and it will get toned down. My guess at least

No. 1-21
Schaap60
Schaap60

When it's serious, you have to lie.

daveyp
daveyp

Tedros should be strung up. What he's spouting is not just inaccurate it is positively evil. Doing the diametric opposite of what he should.

TimeToTest
TimeToTest

What else is he supposed to do? Tell everyone to kiss their ass goodbye because they are about to get infected?

I have learned quite a bit about human nature over the last couple of months. People that I care about and have been friends with for years won’t listen to what I am saying about the virus. It’s not that they don’t think I am right, it’s just they can’t except the reality I am throwing at them.

No one remembers the start. They remember the finish.

Carl_R
Carl_R

Serious and Critical cases dropped by over 2000 in China today, so we should see deaths dropping in China in the days ahead, as expected. How much progress did China make on re-opening production today?

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

We survived previous corinaviruses in Sars and Mers. It appears an effective treatment for the worst cases of covid 2019 is the same as it was for those viruses. Dont panic yet.

sangell
sangell

China made a mess of trying to accurately gauge the virus but there seems to be no effective way to stop the spread. The virus is too easily transmitted so it will eventually be everywhere. The epidemiologists suggest something like 60% of the population becoming infected. It is the CFR that is the big question. If its much above 1% then normal economic activity will grind to a halt. Worse, without effective treatments healthcare systems could collapse. Too many doctors and nurses will get pneumonia. I learned yesterday that one of the major providers of dialysis treatment in the US will put its patient care providers in quarantine if they go on a cruise or travel abroad. Finding healthcare workers is going to be a problem as the disease expands.

Sechel
Sechel

I thought you were fear mongering in the beginning but now I see its getting bad. Not sure what the benefit of so many similar posts is. Maybe you enjoy doom and gloom. I know Economics is the dismal science and all but we're not getting any new insights on this. Just my two cents. I see plenty of reporting on news services.

Tengen
Tengen

On the latest Keiser Report, Stacy brought up a good point about how long the hospital stays are for patients with this virus. Can you imagine how expensive about three weeks would be in a US hospital? The bill could top half a million per person and insurance companies won't allow themselves to be on the hook for it. Many of the infected would either forego treatment or get turned away due to overwhelmed doctors and hospitals. People would stop going to work, commerce would cease and the economy would truly grind to a halt.

Saw that an official from the "Ministry of Justice's Emergency Safety Planning Office" in South Korea committed suicide this morning. Must be strange to live in a country where people feel a sense of responsibility and accountability, difficult to imagine anything other than failing upward here in the US. Heck of a job, Brownie!

dodo
dodo

"it remains unclear exactly how the illness arrived in the country."

The world outside asia are still in denial stage - most experts now agree it probably started spreading people to people (latest) by around early december last year, yet people in planes, ships, trucks, trains continued traveling around the world for 2 more months before the first lockdown. And then they look around and ask "how cud it be? impossible!"

MiTurn
MiTurn

Personally, I don't think that this pandemic will spread much further, although I have no basis for this opinion except speculation. I don't think that this disease will cause widespread death such as we've seen in Hubei, but it might be problematic for those who are otherwise health-compromised. I'm surprised by how many deaths that it has not caused (outside Hubei). Nonetheless, I'm preparing. I will have two months worth of food stocked away, meds stocked up, dog food stocked up, etc. Just in case I'm wrong! Because I've been wrong before.

klausmkl
klausmkl

When it's not serious you have to lie. We 50k deaths for the 2017-18 flu year in The US. We are making a big deal over nothing.

Realist
Realist

Pandemic?

While it is possible that this could become a worldwide pandemic, it is not a pandemic yet. Certainly, it is best to get the most accurate, up-to-date information possible, in order to make the best decisions possible to prevent this from becoming a pandemic.

It is better to be overly cautious, and to prepare for the worst case scenarios, even if they are unlikely to occur. The health care and Infectious Disease centres in all countries should be preparing for the worst case scenarios. This will be expensive, and many bean counters will complain, but it is necessary.

Originally, I thought that this virus would be similar to SARS. It now appears to be worse. How much worse, is yet to be determined.

As a result, I now expect a larger economic impact. The chance of a recession this year is much greater now. As such, I began reducing my equity exposure slightly last week. However, by maintaining a very well diversified investment portfolio, I rarely worry about these type of events from a personal financial point of view.

Far more important, is to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. I have interrupted my normally busy travel schedule, and suggested the same to colleagues and family members.

ColoradoAccountant
ColoradoAccountant

The reactions of the governments when it hits is the key. Don't listen to what they say, look at what they do.

thankyoumrdata
thankyoumrdata

We can argue about the meaning of the word, "pandemic," and who we think is overstating how bad this is, and who we think is understating it. I think, though, while we should certainly evaluate world leaders, to overly focus on doing so can become a distraction. Let's just talk about what is likely to happen in reality.

Look at what is going on in South Korea, Japan, and Italy. This represents a well-reported subset of the current global impact, and these are all developed nations. Based on their experience, any rational observer has to rate the odds of coronavirus eventually having a real outbreak in their own country, as, "meaningfully high."

Are we going to travel ban these three countries too? What about Iran? If we did, would it even matter? By the time we all know it's bad in one country, somebody may (will?) have brought it to another.

Coronavirus is likely going to keep springing up in new places. In each place it might kill, say, 0.5-2% of confirmed cases, depending on local factors.

What will really cause pain is much more than those deaths. Every country that gets it is going to flip out and shut businesses. People are going to stop traveling to and from these places. People in, or near, any active area, will run on the retail outlets and hoard, just like they do before hurricanes.

Some of this reaction will seem irrational, but who can blame them?
It will be humans following their nature. People will complain that the "overreaction" hurts more than the virus, but what country is going to contemplate suffering even 1/200 to die? Even 1/1000? In the USA that would be hundreds of thousands of people, an order of magnitude worse than flu.

Hundreds of thousands are not actually going to die of coronavirus in the USA (or your developed nation, dear reader). But if coronavirus gets out of control in, say, a US city, large parts of the country will lock down. Hard. The flavor will be different than authoritarian China, but in the abstract, there will be a lot of similarities. And that will hurt. A lot.

ksdude69
ksdude69

Great strategy: Tell everyone there's not when there is in order to prevent panic and keep things running which means constant person to person contact which, ironically, spreads the disease. Then weeks later "Oh well gee, this is worse than we thought now we really do have a problem". Politicians/bureaucrats will lie to you all the way to your grave and then want a check for your burial before your thrown in the hole.

Bring_The_Logic
Bring_The_Logic

Does anyone have first hand knowledge of what our front line health care workers are instructed to do as far as testing for the Coronavirus?

I heard that Mass General is only ordering Coronavirus testing if the patient meets two criteria: 1) they have symptoms And 2) they have had contact with a confirmed case and/or been to China recently.

Seems a little suspect that they are not taking a more proactive stance.

I am wondering if other hospitals are instructed to do the same?

njbr
njbr

The new normal--the world will need to get used to a period of 'social distancing' and bits and pieces of the world economy blinking from on-line to off-line and back again.

Who is prepared for that?

CautiousObserver
CautiousObserver

The other shoe just dropped. Japan has switched from containment to mitigation, acknowledging that spread of COVID-19 cannot be completely stopped. Either the US will have to restrict flights from Japan as of right now, or the US will also be switching to mitigation very soon.

MiTurn
MiTurn

If this Covid-19 scare turns into a real pandemic, then every manufacturer in the US (and elsewhere) will soon learn what supply-chain exposures they have viz. China and elsewhere. Already started in some places.

abend237-04
abend237-04

Wow! After a few days drinking from the web fire hose, I know a lot more about viruses than I ever wanted to. It's not good. If they were 20 feet tall, weighing 30,000 pounds, we'd long-since have named them something like T-Rex and built stockades around them...or ourselves, but they're only 80 billionths of an inch tall, and we still have laughably inadequate detection and early warning tools to protect ourselves from them.

We have massive data files files on them, but they mostly seem like SEM photos of a train wreck, not going to help if, say, a virion is sneaking on board and tying the throttle open when the train slows at the top of the immune pass.

Plus, viruses, as the pirates of cell life, have no DNA, just RNA, so they have to board another cell and hijack it's contents to survive. Don't laugh, the strategy has been working for them for over 60 million years. Recently, humans have made it a lot easier for them by crowding into huge population centers and transporting ourselves between those centers at 540 mph in aluminum tubes.

We need a new plan, Stan.


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