Be careful what you wish for

I had to laugh at a suggestion from an Australian economist concerning the run on toilet paper supplies in that country, thanks to the coronavirus epidemic.  There really does seem to be a panic about it there, as this video from an Aldi store in Sydney demonstrates. Alfredo Paloyo offers his views, including this suggestion. There are two other solutions. The first is for the government to step in as guarantor. In 2008, for example, the market crash engendered by the subprime mortgage crisis left multiple Australian banks vulnerable to depositor runs. In response, the Australian government announced a guarantee scheme

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COVID-19: Look after the small things you can control

The fear-mongering and panic stations concerning the current coronavirus epidemic are reaching fever pitch.  Politicians are accusing each other of failing to prepare for it;  pundits are bloviating every which way;  and alarums and excursions are the order of the day.  In the midst of all this folderol, we find ourselves rudderless.  Which way should we turn?  Whom should we believe?  What should we do? The short, simple answer is that we should do whatever is in our power and our control to do.  If something is beyond that – national health-care policy, hospital staffing and facilities, international implications – then why are we worrying ourselves about it? 

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COVID-19 and container imports – the cupboard is bare

OK, folks, this isn’t a news broadcast or a government statement.  This video was put up today by a truck driver at the Port of Los Angeles.  She shows us the real conditions on the ground at the container facility there, thanks to the coronavirus epidemic.  I’ll let her do the talking. If you buy much from stores that rely on Chinese products – stores like Walmart, Target, Harbor Freight, and many others – you can now see where they’re going to be a couple of months from now.  What’s in the supply pipeline right now – the containers that

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COVID-19: An update, with links

For those of you tired of the hype in the news media, and wanting the “straight dope” on what’s actually happening around the world, here are some reports that give us the facts and don’t exaggerate. First, health news.  COVID-19 continues to spread with alarming speed.  You might want to bookmark the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker, and refer back to it from time to time.  It provides detailed, up-to-date statistics on what’s going on.  Among its other information, it shows the following graphic representation of the current spread, and number of cases per region: Keep going back there to track what’s

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COVID-19: an update, and planning considerations

Last week I wrote about preparing for the economic impact of China’s coronavirus epidemic.  It now looks certain that it’s going to cause major disruptions to world trade, and probably to the social fabric of many (perhaps most) countries – including the United States.  COVID-19 is showing a very rapid infection rate, far faster than might be expected.  South Korea went from zero reported cases to (at the time of writing) 1,146 infected and 11 dead in less than a week.  Italy has gone from zero to 229 infected and 7 dead in a similar period.  The USA now has 53 confirmed cases,

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Coronavirus, breathing masks, and respirators: the facts

There’s an awful lot of hype circulating about breathing masks, respirators, and protection against the current coronavirus epidemic.  Most of the articles are not scientific or factual – they’re more like hyperbole and hysteria. In particular, current stocks of surgical masks and disposable respirators available to the general public have been largely exhausted, and a number of vendors are reporting that they don’t know when (or even whether) they’ll be able to get stock again.  That’s complicated by the fact that most such masks are made in China, which last week was said to have declared them a “strategic national

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The Border Wall may become a vital defense against coronavirus

News that President Trump is about to raid Pentagon funds once again to build more of the border wall between the USA and Mexico will doubtless enrage those who believe in free immigration, with or without official sanction.  However, the emerging coronavirus epidemic may make such a wall an even more important element of general US security. If the coronavirus epidemic spreads to Central and South America, those living there are going to be in dire straits.  There are relatively few medical facilities available, poverty is rampant, and many local, regional and national governments are corrupt and inefficient.  That’s a dire combination. 

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Coronavirus: a factual update

There’s a lot happening around China’s coronavirus epidemic.  Some is good news, much is not.  Unfortunately, the facts are all too often swamped by speculation and rumor-mongering.  For some reason, some people seem to like alarming everybody else, and they’re spreading falsehoods and made-up nonsense all over the Internet.  Please fact-check every report you read, and consider the source.  It’s hard to find good, accurate information out there. However, there are some reports that appear to be telling the truth, and providing solid information.  I’ve gathered a few together here. First, the disease itself, and how it progresses.  Dr Peng

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OK, the coronavirus has a name!

It’s provided by commenter “elysianfields” over at Aesop’s place, in a comment to his latest article on the subject. Is it possible that the virus (to be referred to as “the sniffles” or maybe “kung flu”, might remain active in the body? “Kung Flu”.  Brilliant! Peter

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The true State of the Union: perilously disunited

The overwhelming impression I got from last night’s State of the Union address is that our nation is perilously dis-united, so much so that it’s verging on dysfunctional. I’m not going to go into the tasteless, classless, infantile and rude behavior of certain politicians.  Enough has been said about that elsewhere.  It certainly portrayed them, and the offices they hold, in a very negative light – one that in the old days would have been met by calls from their own political party to resign, rather than tolerate such antics, because they demean the offices in question.  Not today, unfortunately. The

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