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2020-03-21 10:30 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 1304 references Ignore this thread
C'mon Folks, Use Your Head @POTUS and @GovRonDeSantis*
[Comments enabled]

As of last afternoon there are allegedly 17,038 positive coronavirus tests in the United States (confirmed cases.)

There are 330,000,000 (330 million), more or less, US citizens.

That means the odds of someone having it are, according to the US government, approximately 1 in 19,000.

Now think about this a bit.  We're told where we're near the top of the exponential curve and it's going to explode in our face.  If that statement is true then yes, it could get quite bad.

Can that possibly be true?

I'll take the under on that.

How many celebrities have you seen that have tested positive?  Sports figures?  One of Pence's assistants (just today.)  Several Midway Control Tower personnel.  And on and on.

Most people are "nobodies."  For everyone who makes the news because they direct air traffic (a job that, by the way, is rather lonely and spent sitting staring at a radar screen for the most part) there are 100 or more people who sweep streets, stock stores and drive Ubers.

Then there's the rather unusual spike in both amplitude and time in the states on early flu cases.  It's there.  Go look.  Some were tested but not all are.  If you test negative A/B and for Strep you might get Tamiflu and told to go get some rest -- if you're tested at all.  But there was a spike, including in the ERs.  This also aligns with October, not early February, and that too shifts the generation we are likely in.  Note that 80% of flu tests are typically negative.  If you had Coronavirus at that time you'd test negative since there was no Coronavirus test at that point.

Remember, the claim is that (1) we're at the start of this, not near saturation where herd immunity takes over and suppresses the virus, and (2) lockdowns, even calling up the National Guard and shooting people may be or are necessary to stop the spread.

If it's true that 1 in 19,000 people has it or has had it, and the rest of us are going to get it until the prevalence of antibodies reaches about 70% (that's better than 1 in 2) then heh, we got a problem.

But can that number be true?

Remember, viruses, unlike, oh, choosing to snort coke (and being able to pay for it) knows no economic, sociological or racial boundaries.  It plays no preference as to sex, age, national origin or the amount of money you have.  Indeed, if you're rich you probably have better sanitation both home and while out and about than if poor, especially if really poor, like homeless.

Yet everything depends on exactly where we are in that exponential series.

And that, as I've pointed out, is entirely dependent on the denominator.

In addition there are more bits of fun.  I've discovered documentation that the PCR test swab (up the nose) has a false positive rate of as much as 50% (likely cold coronaviruses read "positive" for it although they're not) and a false negative of as much as 20%.  Those are crazy error rates for a diagnostic test.  Further, they miss a huge number of cases, because you only are going to read positive during active infection; once the antibodies get the virus and kill it, the PCR will be negative.

Finally, China has an antibody test and is using it.  They're sending their people back to work.  Do you really think they don't know what their antibody coverage ratio is?  BTW once you reach 1% antibody coverage in the population you're pretty much done as the next couple of turns of the crank with an R0 at these levels will reach saturation.

We, on the other hand, are not testing for antibodies at all. There is no approved test for it in the US or EU.  Period.  Yes, that is being fast-tracked but until we have surveillance numbers on that we have no clue where we really are.

Then there's Germany.  They didn't test everyone.  But they are testing aggressively for even mild symptoms, where we are not.  Don't blow smoke up my ass about this; despite the so-called "drive through" testing we are not testing most -- maybe as much as 90% -- of suspected cases.  Further, only about 13% of the time do test the result is positive.  And guess what -- as a result Germany is getting a more-accurate denominator, which has driven down their death rate to 0.3%, nearly 1/10th of the scaremongering bull**** run by many so-called "authorities" including the CDC and WHO.  Even that's overstating the case because, since Germany is not conducting all-on surveillance testing they too are missing truly silent infections, and we know there are many of them.  Exactly how many?  We don't know that but they're extremely common.  In fact there are probably more of those than there are symptomatic individuals, perhaps by crazy percentages.

But with an 0.3% fatality rate, which is much closer to the truth than the scaremongering, lockdowns are not only unwarranted they're criminally insane and doing more damage than the virus.

You're burning the village to save it.

As I've previously noted the Diamond Princess provides excellent data on both mortality rates and silent infections.  And remember -- that ship was a literal petri dish with the passengers wildly skewed both older and sicker than the population basically anywhere, never mind that it has now been traced that their infection route was the food-service crew.  In other words most people who got it got it real good as they probably didn't get one dose, they got several in succession.  Such a confined environment tends to concentrate viral load and thus case severity.  Yet even that -- which wildly concentrated outcomes on the bad side -- didn't result in case fatality rates that would scare, did it?  And here's the other problem -- it also didn't generate the exponential explosion, with everyone getting it, that the so-called experts all predict will happen to everyone while we are far more-separated than they were.  Remember that norovirus gets people like crazy on these ships, and gets 'em good too.  How many times have you gotten norovirus sauntering around with your friends and how many of those outbreaks have ripped like wildfire through towns?

Then there's this from a Bayesian analysis including retrospective lookback at 1918/19.  It concludes that all you do by restricting low-risk individuals is spreading out the rate of death and the total number of deaths actually increases.  Why?  Because the time a high-risk individual has exposed to the potential of getting the bug goes up and if he or she gets it, the odds of it ending badly are what they are, and suppressing low-risk people means the more-severe strains become dominant.

If the virus is spread freely, the mild and asymptomatic strains, with the least viral load, will naturally be spread most widely and become far more prevalent than the more severe strains. Unless, that is, the severe strains are hot-housed in hospitals, whilst the low-risk (young), uninfected part of the population is restrained from getting immune to the mild form by being sent home from school, university or work (Wave 1). Historically, such interventions generate a far worse Wave 2 once the interventions are relaxed, because the second time around, the severe strain is dominant. 

And finally, the Wall Street Journal has chimed in, pointing out that what we're doing now is destroying the economy.  Yes, The Federal Government has promised a trillion dollars or more to try to "bridge the gap."  That's about a month's worth of the damage the government has inflicted from the beginning of March to now.  It also ignores the lingering effects; you've scared the bejeezus out of everyone, so will people come back to the bars, clubs and restaurants, never mind the beaches, even if you re-opened them right now?  Well, eventually maybe, but do you really think we've not baked into the cake another half-trillion in economic damage?

How long do you think you can keep doing this?  America thinks it can keep issuing trillion dollar deficits every single month for how long?  Two months?  Three?  Six?  As I pointed out to try to "suppress" with your social distancing policies the infection rate until it reaches immunity barriers at that rate will require six months and if we're not where I believe we are -- that is, we really are at the front of the exponential curve instead of the back -- will fail anyway as every analysis of previous pandemic-type flu outbreaks has shown.

By then there will be nothing left of the economy.  It will also put more than 25% on the deficit all on its own, plus the lack of tax collections as well, which will likely be another two trillion.

Then Wave 2 will hit and lay our medical system, crippled by the economic damage, wasted.  We'll be lucky if we don't get a no-bull**** shooting revolution out of it when supply chains collapse.

Do you really think we can put 50% on the federal debt and still have a mortgage market left?  Do you think the economy will survive that?  The jumbo and OM market blew up Friday; if you have a commitment that's great but rates spiked hard because nobody will buy those loans without knowing what inflation is going to look like on the back end of this.

Do you think The Fed can just print that up?  Uh, no.  Oh sure, they can try but they can only print money -- they can't print a house, a gallon of gasoline or a side of beef.  To put perspective on this the on-the-run rate on that paper went up 30% Friday.  That's what people think the government may try to do.  If that really happens it will destroy every single levered, debt-reliant company in the United States.

Don't think for a minute the States will get away with trying to recover their lost tax revenue by taking it out on citizens.  Good luck with that; you can't tax money that doesn't exist and as soon as that starts the forced deleveraging in the commercial real estate market will collapse values and force cascading defaults.  You won't have to worry about GDP because there'll be nobody left in business to produce anything.

Do recall that States cannot run budget deficits.  Do the States think they will be able to pay their cops?  How about the County Sheriffs and their offices?  City police officers and firefighters?  Streets and Sanitation?  Where will you get the money if you destroy commercial property vales, trash 20% or more of your workforce and thus force massive defaults on mortgages, business credit lines and consumer spending capacity?

What sort of insanity are we angling for here?  Peak unemployment during the 08/09 crisis was around 10%.  We're going to be at 20% within the next two to three months; all of the automakers are shut down, the entire leisure and hospitality industry is closed which employs approximately 17 million people and in the most-populous states, including NY, CA, IL and PA they have closed all but essential businesses which is going idle roughly half of all the workers in those states

Nikki Fried is trying to destroy the entire economy of Florida as well with her screeds.  So far she's only been half successful.  Her position, and all who take similar positions, are criminally insane.

20% unemployment is optimistic and it will happen within the next couple of weeks!  I'm seeing reports of upwards of 20,000 filings for unemployment daily in single states, 10x or more normal volumes, which is crashing the computer systems used for same.  This is not one or two states either; it's everywhere and where I'm getting reports from are smaller states that have not yet completely locked down.  What do you think Illinois or NYs numbers are going to look like when next week's data rolls into those systems?

Then there's the worse impacts, which are the ones that will directly kill people.  Our economy is interconnected.  One small example is oil refining.  Oil cannot be simply refined to one thing; it is "cracked" into different components.  Well, closures of businesses means that only diesel remains in high demand for trucks, there's very little demand for gasoline since you just told me I can't go take a vacation or drive to work (thus the wholesale futures price now being sixty cents a gallon) and the other industrial chemicals including naptha, jet fuel, asphalt base, kerosene (jet fuel, basically), waxes, lubricating oil base stocks and more.  There are over 6,000 products made from oil and natural gas and only a few of them are considered "life-critical."  All the rest of the businesses that use those products have been, in many states, ordered closed.

The problem is that the refinery cannot choose to only make diesel; the other products come out of the system at a more-or-less fixed percentage ratio.  It can be shifted somewhat, but not very much.  Those products have go somewhere, and if there is no demand for them because you've shut the economy down where do you put them?  The answer for a very short period of time is in a tank, of course, but tanks fill up!  Now what?

The refinery must shut down, that's what.

Oh, you said you wanted diesel so the truck can move food?  Well now, we seem to be all out of that but I got a big tank of bunker fuel over here and one of gasoline over there, nobody wants either, and I can't turn the refinery back on until I can sell that and get it out of here so there's somewhere to put what will come out of that pipe over here when I turn this thing back on.  What, you mean that big truck won't run on gasoline?  Well that's sad, because it's all I have!  Oh, incidentally, since everyone else has all that too guess what -- that diesel is going to be pretty expensive when I have room to turn the refinery back on since all the rest of this stuff is worth zero!

You think this is just a matter of oil?  Ha!  There are very few industries that are not interconnected like this.  Governors and the President have no clue where all the interconnections are, and in fact neither do the company executives involved.  They know where some of the things go, or even most of them on the first level but not what gets blocked when some other product at some factory that buys something from them is not available due to a shutdown.

If you think this won't hit utterly critical things within a month or two you may well find out you're dead wrong.  One of the possible "gotchas" is medical gas and chemical delivery to hospitals, for example.  Do we know the entire supply chain for those things is going to work with the shutdowns?  Nope.  What happens if it doesn't?  Lots of people die and by the time you figure it out you're ****ed as it will take weeks to get things back online.

If you could prove we were (1) at generation 10 in this thing and (2) you had an actual plan to get through it without the math screwing you anyway in three months with a health system overload, which appears inevitable, or just as bad you take the hit to the economy, turn it back on and then the second spike comes and people die anyway exactly as happened in 1918 and 1919 because the second wave is packed full of the nastier serotypes instead of the milder ones then this might be supportable.  Maybe.

But the government not only lacks evidence of where we are in terms of generations of this disease -- and in fact the evidence is that we're around generation 19 or 20, not 10 but in addition to that if we really are on generation 10 these shutdowns have no clear path to do anything but otherwise delay the inevitable at the cost of destroying the economy.

Extraordinary demands, and shutting down the economy is certainly in that category, require extraordinary proof.  Not supposition, not "best guesses" and not proclamations from white lab-coat jockeys who have zero appreciation nor ability to analyze second and third order economic effects nor can they pay for any of the prescriptions they write.

Nor do our elected officials get a pass: Again, extraordinary claims and demands require extraordinary proof.  They have not presented it, they do not have, and they know it.

Instead of our officials forcing the nation to commit economic suicide at gunpoint we must put in place mitigation (e.g. prophylaxis) for high risk individuals, strongly encourage them and only them to stay home and isolate, quarantine those who test positive for active infection and trace their contacts, testing them as well, and let everyone else go back to work so there's an economy to provide the health care and other goods and services they need especially if they get sick.

We must also put whatever resourse is necessary toward finding out if China actually concealed the genesis of this bug, as it does appear they did, and apply appropriate and extraordinarily severe and very-justified retribution to them if we find it to be so.  They attempted to destroy our economy and already have largely succeeded.  A full-on, no-bull**** embargo is the correct response.

Destroying our own economy as a result of an intentionally concealed set of characteristics and time of instantiation of this virus, which appears to be the case, simply hands the biggest win to China and Xi imaginable -- without them having to fire a single shot.

Now that is dumb.

In fact, it leads me to ask: Is our government actually serving intentionally as agents of China and Xi, or are you really just that stupid?

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