Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Not Alone?

I am very much alone and that has never been a better place to be than of late.  That said as more horror stories emerge about the virus and the supposed heroics of the medical front liners remember that will and should be short lived.  A little girl in Jersey City died from a gun shot wound after being sent home being told that people get shot all the time and she bled to death.  Again the woman my Barista told me of did not have to die as private Doctors and urgent care facilities are offering the Covid test for $150 bucks so she could have used that to be admitted to the hospital to be treated for what ultimately killed her - Covid related Pneumonia.

I read a tweet today from a Canadian Doctor who said that right before he intubated a 24 year old male if he had any messages to leave and the young man said, "Tell my Daughter I love her." This was followed by this supposed Doctor with the comment, I just sent him to his death.  Really? Really? I see said the blind man.  Good to know that Canada doesn't  have superior health care I guess!

And the reality is here in the New York area is that Covid is killing the poor and faces of color. One is the reality of living a life of the working poor, you are largely at risk for many illnesses and lack of medical care in the best of times.  The zip codes here reflect that it is killing more of those of color than white and this has only proven to me that this is a disease of the rich. They travel and utilize more services and have little regard for those not like them. They are the utter narcissists who seem clueless as to the basic norms of society, washing hands, not working sick, touching, socializing in large groups and then in turn running to secondary homes taking a nice Gucci bag packed with Covid.  The get the virus and in turn are treated with medications, have people to care for them and have simply dismissed it as the virus as they are in better health and what will kill those older and sicker appeared as simply a 'bad flu' so then they spread it like almond butter on wheat toast.

And in turn the endless closings, removals of benches, the stationing of now SWAT teams at the harbor to do what exactly? Corvid hunting?   I can see why park rangers are there to discourage large congregations and again two women sitting at a table or alongside each other in the park with their children playing does what exactly?  If they are not sick their children are not sick nor have been under lockdown for the last 14 days, what is the problem.  Oh wait papers please!  Don't have that then what?   Shut it down!!

Then we have the whole economy on turnaround and the rich will not be affected by this as today the market rallies and that is all that matters.  When in reality again the largest proportion of unemployed are the service class, not the professional class.  Their rally will not be that fast but no less furious.

This is why I also call Social Media white noise as few who live online are well doing much living in the best of times.  I mean just look at the Twitter King, Donald Trump. If that doesn't say it all what else does?  I loathe it and cannot imagine that this is the best of what we can do during this crisis.  It is a crisis man made. Literally man made.  The failures of varying Governments to step into place and secure the appropriate lockdowns, halt travel, test and track those with the virus be they symptomatic or not is the real problem.  So I am not to leave my home, go shopping, go for a walk or to a movie if I take precautions, follow a clear measure of what is called SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY and in turn live my life as I CHOOSE in this thing called a Democracy then what is the point of having one?   This virus also may kill capitalism as we know it and that fear of Socialism that the right wing crazies espouse may find that preferable over Dictatorships or Communism as Trump would love to have.

Imagine Trump who could not run a business to save his life, sadly only metaphorically, running the country the same way with all Government doing production, manufacturing and distribution? We would be dead. Ah yes the Bush years of turning much of Government over to private industry and how well that worked out?  How about when Obama opened the door for charters and the destruction of public education.  Worked out didn't it?

Then I read this and went, "I guess I am not alone!"  As this assessment is fairly appropriate.  Duly warned this is a fucking mess that we will not come out of whole.

Michael Burry of ‘The Big Short’ Slams Virus Lockdowns in Tweetstorm
Reed Stevenson
Bloomberg News

Michael Burry, the doctor-turned-investor who famously bet against mortgage securities before the 2008 financial crisis, has taken to Twitter with a controversial message: lockdowns intended to contain the coronavirus pandemic are worse than the disease itself.

Government-directed shutdowns in the U.S., which led to millions of job losses and may trigger one of the country’s deepest-ever economic contractions, aren’t necessary to contain the epidemic and have disproportionately hurt low-income families and minorities, Burry argued in a series of tweets over the past two weeks. He also said some controversial treatments for Covid-19, such as the malaria drug hydroxycloroquine, should be made more widely available.

Burry earned his M.D. at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, but decided to become a professional investor after making hugely profitable bets in the stock market. He shot to fame after his hedge fund’s bearish mortgage wagers were chronicled in “The Big Short,” an Oscar-winning movie based on the best-selling book by Michael Lewis.

Although Burry has mostly kept a low profile since then, he started sharing his views more widely last year to warn of a central-bank fueled “bubble” in passive investment products. He’s now focusing on the outbreak that has shuttered economies, killed almost 75,000 people worldwide and changed how millions of people live and work.

“Universal stay-at-home is the most devastating economic force in modern history,” Burry wrote in an email to Bloomberg News. “And it is man-made. It very suddenly reverses the gains of underprivileged groups, kills and creates drug addicts, beats and terrorizes women and children in violent now-jobless households, and more. It bleeds deep anguish and suicide.”

Burry, whose utterances are closely watched by the financial community, began tweeting on March 23, describing his handle as the “real personal account of the real weird one from the book and movie, etc.” He said he began speaking out because of how people were suffering from measures taken to contain the pandemic. “Unconscionable,” is how he described job losses in the U.S., which have caused a once-unthinkable 10 million people to apply for unemployment benefits in the past two weeks.

Burry has taken on medical policymakers in tweets regarding the illness itself, saying coronavirus infections can be managed through common-sense measures like increased hand-washing and broader testing, without forcing everyone to stay at home. He’s also advocating for wider use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat those who are infected. U.S. President Donald Trump has called the latter drug a “game changer” in the fight against Covid-19, but critics in the scientific community have urged caution, saying it isn’t fully tested or approved.

On Sunday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said there had been some accounts that hydroxychloroquine was helping. “We feel a little bit better regarding its safety than we do about a completely novel drug, even though this is being used at much higher dosages,” he said.

Burry has so far refrained from tweeting about his investments. He told Bloomberg News last month that he placed a “significant bearish market bet that is working out for now,” without providing details except to say it was a trade of a “good size” against indexes. He said the pandemic could unwind the passive investment boom, which he has compared to purchases of collateralized debt obligations that fueled the pre-2008 mortgage bubble.

While Burry has been mostly critical of the economic and medical measures taken by authorities across the globe, he has also highlighted large economies that haven’t seen as much turmoil as the U.S. and Britain. Germany and Japan have been more measured in their responses and offer a model for the rest of the world, Burry said.

In a tweet on March 25, Burry issued his own prescription for Americans to overcome the crisis:

Burry responded to questions via email to offer more thoughts on the pandemic and the response to the outbreak. Here’s what he had to say about China’s response, how some countries have handled the outbreak differently and the long-term impact.

“This is a new form of coronavirus that emanated from a country, China, that unfortunately covered it up. That was the original sin. It transmits very easily, and within the first month it was likely all over the world. Very poor testing infrastructure created an information vacuum as cases ramped, ventilator shortages were projected. Politicians panicked and media filled the space with their own ignorance and greed. It was a toxic mix that led to the shutdown of the U.S., and hence much of the world economy.”

“In hindsight, each country should have immediately ramped up rapid field testing of at-risk groups. But as I understand it, the CDC was tasked with some of this, and botched it, and other departments were no better. The bureaucracy failed in a good number of countries. Turf wars and incompetence has ruled the day. So the political cover for that failure on the part of the technocrats and politicians is a very harsh stay-at-home policy.”

“If there was ever a time for the government to stimulate with fiscal and monetary policy, it is now. Unfortunately, the U.S. has been adding $3 for every $1 of new GDP over a very long time, and interest rates were already near zero. Still, nothing is more important now that loans to small and mid-sized businesses, and the U.S. Treasury, backed by the Fed, is providing that liquidity, which is vital.”

“It’s pretty clear that hydrochloroquine is doing something good for many Covid-19 patients. The standard in medicine is a placebo-controlled double-blind study. But there is no time for that. The technocrats at the top are getting this wrong. Do the studies, make the vaccines, but allow doctors to have what they feel is working now. Don’t take tools or drugs out of the treating doctors’ hands. Trump should use the Defense Production Act more liberally in this area.”

“A more nuanced approach would be for at risk groups — the obese, old and already-sick — to shelter in place, to execute widespread mandatory testing, and to ID and track as necessary while allowing society to function. Again, Trump should get the massive contract manufacturers like Flextronics to make testing machines.”

“I would lift stay-at-home orders except for known risk groups. We already know certain conditions that are predictive of severe disease. Especially since young healthy lungs tend to be resistant, I would let the virus circulate in the population that is not likely to get severe disease from it. This is the only path that comes close to balancing the needs of all groups. Vaccines are not coming anytime soon, so natural immunity is the only way out for now. Every day, every week in the current situation is ruining innumerable lives in a criminally unjust manner.”

“When it comes to vaccines, coronaviruses are not known for imparting enduring immunity, and this will be one big challenge. It seems the genetic code is relatively conserved, and this will help the development of the vaccine. But we’re still looking at the end of the year. In the meantime, the world is an innovative place, and I expect many effective treatments — both new and repurposed — shortly. The question then will be regulation, expense and availability.”

“Medically, the new normal will be the old normal. As long as innovation continues, medicine will conquer everything in our way.”

“I believe Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying his best to manage through the situation without shuttering the economy. He sees what it has done to the U.S., and would rather not force a shut in, but instead asks for common sense. Japan has certain features — such as a largely lawful and well-educated society — that make this more possible. As do Taiwan, Singapore, Korea.”

“Economically speaking, we have to realize the policy-driven demand shock will be resolved by 2021. But Japan and the U.S. are putting more than 20% of the GDP into new fiscal stimulus, and easy money will be the rule. Those things will all bring stock and debt markets back.”

“Countries will also look to bring supply chains home, and many employees will need retraining with higher cost. When we start working and playing again, inflation may be in store. The other big point is that consumers have learned new behaviors, which will drive business churn.”

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