Friday assorted links


Key economic facts about Covid-19: Social distancing saves 7.9 trillion.

The number is eye popping. So eye popping it begs on to look under the hood. The underlying claim is that social distancing will save 1.7M lives in the USA between now and September.

That seems like an implausible number. Sadly this paper takes those numbers as gospel referring to the imperial college study. We're doomed.

Did I read correctly? Did that paper assume that people who die of COVID-19 would have had the same expectation of life expectancy as the rest of their age cohort?


Maybe, but we should be careful not to reinforce the false idea that this only strikes hard at the unwell.

"only strikes hard at the unwell"

The "only" in that sentence is the refuge of the con artist . No one with any sense who is trying to understand the impact of this virus cares about a story.

The preponderance of those who die had underlying conditions.

And a preponderance of the still open serious cases in China (more than 1% of total cases in China) simply haven't had their ventilator removed, and thus move from one category to another.

Amazing! Its really remarkable post, I have got much clear idea concerning from this paragraph.

Well first of all, a humanist is actually going to approach it from the standpoint of suffering.

A public health expert is going to approach it from the standpoint of resource allocation.

I don't even know who is going to approach from the standpoint of "ah well, only the sick died."

Anyway, the purpose of the story is to show that the suffering inflicted on the young and well can be great.

But more than that, it talks about the resources being impacted in the national health system. It talks about what happens for the young and old when emergency resources become saturated.

it is not at all a case that "only econs have been harmed in this experiment."

"An underlying condition" is such an incredibly broad and vague term that it's pretty much useless. I believe it includes anything from hypertension (between 1/4 and 1/3 of all Americans over 20 have it, according to a quick search) to stuff like severe chronic lung disease.

We need way more detail before we can reasonably discuss the properties of COVID-19.

The paper does seem to take an early model and treat the results as a fact. I'm obviously skeptical that countries that fail to implement official social distancing will lose 0.5% of their total populations.

I predict this post will get deleted, as it is not the Covid-19 Bohemian Rhapsody

From the Guardian - "Researchers in Germany, where the number of confirmed infections is at over 47,400 and 286 deaths by lunchtime, have proposed a mass study into how many people are immune to the Covid-19 virus, in an effort to allow those for whom it is safe to do so, to return to leading a normal life.

According to Spiegel magazine, which has seen the preparations for the study, which is awaiting the approval of authorities, researchers hope to be able to test the blood of more than 100,000 volunteers for Covid-19 antibodies from mid-April.

The test would be repeated on the same volunteers and expanded to use different groups, at regular intervals, in order to oversee how the pandemic is progressing. The scientists – a team compiled from various bodies, including the government’s leading public health body, the Robert Koch Institute, the German Centre for Infection Research, blood donation services, and the Institute for Virology at the Charite hospital in Berlin - hope to discover the extent to which Covid-19, or Sarvs-CoV-2 has already spread, and how many infected people it really kills.

The results of the study would make it easier to decide for instance, when schools should reopen, and large-scale events be allowed to take place, the authors say. If everything goes to plan, the first results would be available by the end of April."

For a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour." Laying on a couch in their underwear with a TV remote in their hands.


#9, FDA: First paragraph of document must be satire:

"The Food andDrug Administration (FDA or Agency)plays a critical role in protecting the United States from threats including emerging infectious diseases, including the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.FDA is committed to providing timely guidance to support response efforts to this pandemic."

#3 - adding data reduces weight? Hmmm. The two most important contributions are A. oils & cells from human touch and B. The frictional wear of the metal connectors. Clearly the metal (of the USB port) wears, but whether this wear adds metal from the female port or transfers metal to the female port, I haven't a clue.

2. I like the idea of intermittent distancing, sort of equivalent to antilock braking instead of slamming on the brakes. But their model's output graph seems to assume nothing is learned in between intervals, that the rate of new infections will be the same once distancing is eased. I don't buy that, we'll come up with new treatments and preventative efforts as time passes.

I kind of have to wonder if people going into a full on party season and using months of yearly consumption up every time distancing regulations "break" won't be an issue?

It also implies a synchronicity we aren't seeing. The disease is hitting different places at different times, and it probably requires shutting down different places at different times.

I could see it being helpful to move to being quicker to react to local conditions rather than waiting to all move in lockstep, which would be too much shutdown for people who live in less dense areas or areas with little disease, and too little for people who live in crowded areas where the virus is raging.

"that the rate of new infections will be the same once distancing is eased"

That's what people who think country-wide extreme social distancing is a viable solution by itself, rather than a stop-gap measure to buy us some time, don't seem to understand. Without herd immunity or a vaccine, relaxing social distancing re-starts exponential growth which, in turn, quickly leads to re-requiring social distancing. The chart shows social distancing out to 2021 or 2022!

"we'll come up with new treatments and preventative efforts as time passes"

We're going to have to, whether it's targeting lockdowns to hotspots; wearing masks in certain work and public places; testing; more ventilators, ICUs, hospital beds; or some combination of everything; or just getting lucky that the virus turns out to be not as deadly as feared. The answer is not, as some seem to think, simply "staying at home" (on and off until 2021-2022). Staying at home is how we buy time to figure out what the real solution is.

The intermittent social distancing model (or "intermittent lockdown" model?) is basically 80% lockdown, 20% out of lockdown. For a projected 18 months. The idea that this is clearly substantially totally different to 18 months of people completely locked down and not leaving their homes is...

It's equivalent to 15 months of lockdown, where Hong Kong, after 2 months, even after the experience of SARs, is struggling. Note - - By contrast, Prof Cowling worries that if a lockdown ends too early, local transmissions could start again. "I don't know if social distancing can be sustained for the kind of time they need to be sustained. We can't really relax until there's a vaccine - which could take about 18 months," but "people in Hong Kong are already a bit tired after two months."

And Hong Kong isn't even that locked down! Same article - "In Hong Kong, schools have been closed and workers encouraged to work from home - but restaurants and bars remain open."

There has to be an alternative to it. It's just full bonkers to imagine that is sustainable at all.

I think perhaps part of the reason that the Imperial College report strangely made predictions for the both the US and UK was the assumption that US troops would almost certainly be needed to enforce that lockdown. (Admittedly somewhat tinfoil hat).

Of the European countries only France would have a chance of enforcing a 12/15 month lockdown and that would almost certainly involve cordoning off the banlieues.

Belgium wouldn’t make it three months.

Tbh I would have just thought it was because they knew that they could influence the US as Anglophones. But thinking that way means that they probably haven't thought at *all* about how to feasibly implement it... And perhaps their job is to simply generate models, without really worrying about social, economic and psychological sustainability. And yet someone must still make those decisions.

#3) Is there some deep underlying cosmic fact here about how more information requires less mass? Or is this just an artifact of how we chose to denote empty (binary 0's = electron) vs. full (binary 1's = no electron)?

I'm not a computer scientist so why couldn't you ship a USB drive with every transistor gate set to "1"? Or just say that a "0" is when there is no charge in the float gate?

Not mass, but energy. The gate is a capacitor. You can make the capacitance very small by reducing the lateral dimensions ( for example) but the energy to charge it is 1/2 C V^ 2 with V the voltage and C the capacitance, so charging or discharging it use the same amount of energy (setting to 1 or 0)
The minimum amount of energy to flip one bit is the Landauer limit ( KT ln 2 ) ~ 0.02 eV because some minimum entropy must be generated.

The article about data reducing mass is just wrong. Writing a bit doesn’t remove (or add) an electron, it just moves electrons around. Otherwise a full drive would have a net electric charge, which would have lots of fun and disastrous side effects.
Now moving an electron creates an electric field. That field has energy, and energy is equivalent to mass. But that equivalent mass is much less than the mass of an electron. A blank drive should be in the minimum energy state, so writing data would increase the energy (and equivalent mass), but I’m not completely sure of that (my solid state physics classes are too far in the past), and it’s entirely possible that you’re just moving an electric field from one capacitor to another with no change in overall energy at all.

+1 article was wrong

None of the above, Tyler: I still want to know which idiots and imbeciles across the globe were content to leave commercial passenger airliners flying internationally through the month of February 2020.

By the end of January, they had every reason to suspect the worst.

Only racists and xenophobes were banning flights before the spread of the virus became a fair accompli.

@#10 - Bohemian Rhapsody is clearly a parody of Queen and this completely copyright free. However, if an "evil corporation" wanted to, they would claim that the work is not parody, and fight in court, since parody is not easy to define. Further, the Covid-19 creators of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody have a copyright to that parody version that nobody can perform without their permission, not even the copyright holders of Queen's music.

More here:

There's also an analog in patent law between a secondary patent (improvement patent) and base patent (original patent) but there the nexus is even tighter, in that the secondary patent owner cannot practice their invention without the base patent owners permission, and the base patent owner cannot practice the improvement patent invention without permission from the secondary patent owner. Such is not the case with derivative works however; each owner can go their own way and perform their individual works. In practice, all of this is bound up in litigation and on occasion you see some hapless band get screwed because some jury thought they 'stole' another band's song, which IMO is very hard to prove (all good songs often have underlying common beats that cannot nor should not be copyright).

I really enjoyed #10 and had heard about this effort either from this site or elsewhere about a week ago.

And it is depressing - "Italy has recorded its highest daily rise in COVID-19 deaths, with 919 new fatalities. It brings the country’s coronavirus death toll to 9,134.

More than 500 of those deaths are in Lombardy alone, according to Sky. It comes after the head of the country’s national health institute earlier said Covid-19 infections have not yet reached their peak in Italy, warning that lockdown measures would have to be extended."

And for anyone keeping score using the Epstein scale, Italy achieved 1.8% of his global total of 50,000 dead in just one day.

No, Italy can't have only 50,000 dead by year. Without checking on the internet, it must be in the order of 1% of the population (since every one lives until 100 exactly, as is well known), so it is more like 500,000 per year (or 1,500 per day), and Italy achieved "only" 0.18% yesterday with Coronavirus of its annual number of deaths (all causes).

But back to the data from Italy, it is indeed very depressing. And difficult to interpret .

Staying-home orders have been implemented in Italy 3 weeks ago.
Their effects should be seen now on the number of deaths. It seems that
it is not working. I do not understand why.

I have always been skeptical of too strong reactions to Covid-19, but because I was not sure they were worth their costs in terms of privation of liberty and destruction of the economy. I thought they would work in reducing, in the short term, the number of cases and deaths. Let us hope the figure of today is just an anomaly and that we will see soon a drastic reduction of the daily number of deaths in Italy.

#3 is simply wrong. The data is stored in tiny charged or discharged capacitors. Charging or discharging each capacitor is a matter of moving electrons from one side of the capacitor to the other. There is no net change upon charging in the total number of electrons within each capacitor, and thus no net change in the number of (or mass of) electrons in the whole flash drive.

I agree, the gate electrons tunnel back to the channel after a voltage shift on the gate. There should be no change in total electrons. If you make the gate “ leaky” they would do that naturally after a certain time without any external connection.

#8 the title of the article is “ Key economic facts about Covid-19”. The first item is “does social distancing matter?” There are no facts there , just modeling that uses assumptions and has to deal with noisy and incomplete data.
Let’s not label facts the results of modeling.

On trade and the economy.
Likely to get some weird reports.
Remember, trade is subtracted in calculating real GDP so a contraction in the trade deficit adds to real GDP growth.

In the fourth quarter of 2019 trade accounted for 1.51 percentage points of the 2.1% increase in real GDP.

We could see more reports like this.

Rephrasing, Y = C + I + G + [X - pM] is an equilibrium condition, with supply on the left and demand on the right. If some catastrophe reduces M, one cannot assume that C + I + G + X remains unchanged, not that Y remains unchanged. Indeed C, I, G, and X all contain some imports, which is why imports are subtracted on the right.

Stopping trade will not make us better off on average.

I agree that stopping trade is not a positive.

But you should be aware of how it will distort the data.

Alas, it will not distort measurement.

"trade is subtracted in calculating real GDP so a contraction in the trade deficit adds to real GDP growth." Common misconception.

GDP = C+I+G+(EX-IM) is an accounting identity, not a formula for economic growth. We don't add imports (IM) because this is the gross *domestic* product, and imports by definition are produced abroad. And we subtract imports because in the identity, consumption (C), investment (I), and government purchases (G) are from *all* sources – domestic and foreign. So the sum C + I + G already encompasses all imports (among other things). It has to; any import relevant to GDP must fall under one of those categories.

We subtract imports to avoid counting purchases of stuff produced abroad, not because they reduce GDP.

GDP = C + I + G + EX - IM
IM = C^im + I^im + G^im
GDP = C + I + G + EX - (C^im + I^im + G^im)
GDP = (C - C^im) + (I - I^im) + (G - G^im) + EX

Visually (2 min):

In theory, setting imports equal to zero (IM = 0) would mechanically decrease the sum of C, I, and G by the same amount (C^im + I^im + G^im = 0), leaving GDP the same.

In practice, prohibiting imports would *reduce* GDP, since consumers who voluntarily chose to buy imports in the presence of domestic goods can no longer do so. Value that would otherwise have been created is lost.

And reducing imports to zero implies that foreigners have no dollars to buy our exports.

7. would prefer some Dr. Birxx donuts
9. saw him in the dfw airport 1981

By the by: has anyone yet dared predict how many "C-19 orphans" are being produced (by country, may the metrics begin)?

How many two-parent households no longer boast any parents (globally and/or by country to start with)?

--and for avid chaos gamers, we could learn as early as this weekend how tornado outbreaks could help or hinder dissemination of the coronavirus plague.

Poe's law in action.

In a future installment of "assorted links", Tyler, I'd also be keen to hear analysis of threatened "DNR protocols" that could be mandated for ALL COVID-19 victims, and soon.

If a hospital can't hide the fact that it subscribes to a "new normal" do-not-resuscitate protocol for COVID-19 patients, does any clear incentive remain for seeking even brief alleviation in a hospital plague ward?

This raises the serious question of how scarce resources should be allocated in such a situation.

Triage to maximize the number of lives, or life-years, or QUALY's saved, with all such weighted equally for everybody? Or walk into hospital with credit card around one's neck, so that all dollars are weighted equally? [I'm sure health insurance follows triage, not dollars.]

During an epidemic, not many will have sufficient dollars. Thus, a democratic vote would support triage.

If you gotta go, you gotta go. :-)

re: allocation of scarce resources
gov. Cuomo asks -"what am I supposed to do with 400 ventilators?"
answer- the ventilators aren't for you cuomo
they are for the hospitals!

So, briefly it seems, there was a serious plan to send troops to the Canadian border? Sorry Derek.

The troops were going to be deployed to prevent illegal crossings. IE people bypassing the normal check points. Not to invade Canada. So, I'm pretty sure Derek doesn't care, unless he's secretly a coyote or a drug runner.

Oh I understood it was about "stopping the disease from getting in." But that's actually the painful part, as if xenophobia is the go-to move.

It has been weeks since I made the reference to the movie gag "the killer is calling from inside the house!"

At this point, with rampant US spread, any border security is just window dressing. More than that it shows a distinct lack of focus.

But you’ve been so deep throatingly effusive in your praise of China. They seem pretty committed to closed borders. Even regional borders as today’s riot proved.

"The borders must of course be kept open and un-policed. Of course, no one should actually travel across them, because that would be unnecessary travel, which would breach the principles of no unnecessary travel during a lockdown. But they must remain open, in principle, in some symbolic sense, for the appearance of the thing, and as a statement of 'our values'".

Or something.

Having been through the post 9/11 process, Canada to the United States, I know that things are not at all open.

I guess all those weird sensors pointed at my car were looking for radioactivity? There were an awful lot for that, maybe they were giving me a CAT scan.

Suggesting that you can't be arguing for keeping the borders open, because the borders were never open to begin with because of anti-terrorist countermeasures is... a new one even by your standards of argument.

I've never praised China, you crazy person.

"3. Does a USB drive get heavier as you store more files on it? "

No, it gets heavier. The oil from your hand vastly out weighs the weight of missing electrons.

Some very bad news:

Mystery In Wuhan: Recovered Coronavirus Patients Test Negative ... Then Positive
A spate of mysterious second-time infections is calling into question the accuracy of COVID-19 diagnostic tools even as China prepares to lift quarantine measures to allow residents to leave the epicenter of its outbreak next month. It's also raising concerns of a possible second wave of cases.
From March 18-22, the Chinese city of Wuhan reported no new cases of the virus through domestic transmission — that is, infection passed on from one person to another. The achievement was seen as a turning point in efforts to contain the virus, which has infected more than 80,000 people in China. Wuhan was particularly hard-hit, with more than half of all confirmed cases in the country.
But some Wuhan residents who had tested positive earlier and then recovered from the disease are testing positive for the virus a second time. Based on data from several quarantine facilities in the city, which house patients for further observation after their discharge from hospitals, about 5%-10% of patients pronounced "recovered" have tested positive again.
If this is true then we are frigged for a long time.

mebbe but possibly unfrigged
"5%-10% of patients pronounced "recovered" have tested positive again."
5-10 % has been thought by some to be the rate of false positives

10. That video is a copy. The original is at:
where the audio is better.

Right, and the link that Tyler provides now says "video removed by copyright holder" or something like that.

Related: Brian May shows viewers how to play the lead guitar parts of "Bohemian Rhapsody", sort of.

10. Tyler, this YouTube video has been taken down from a copyright claim.

The original Corona Rhapsody, uploaded 6 days ago, is still up:

I think the Fed and Congressional response is relatively swift and bipartisan because it's clear now that the response to the 08 crisis was too slow and too partisan. I applaud this. However, I don't have anything like a clear or coherent picture of how things got this way in this crisis. I like the economic response, but the workings of this pandemic are beyond me.

8. The key problem with this paper is that dead people do not experience any loss of value, since they don't care any more. He's basically totaling up the expected loss in life years and assigning a monetary value to each year. He's not estimating that GDP will decline by $7.9 trillion. It's just a subjective assumption that dead people care that they didn't live as long as otherwise. But they don't.

I believe most of these people understand that they are dying soon, and that is when the loss is realized.

Modern OSEs do not delete data by writing 0’s. So that action does not change the “weight” of the electrons by much.

#1 "McCauley cautions, however, that the objective shouldn’t just be security price support. " Understood in context this is about HOW (use of which transactions in what manner) the Fed should be implementing its policy. But it should not imply that price support/control of interest rates are and OBJECTIVE. The objective should be Keeping NGDP (aggregate demand) growing normally, proximately getting inflation expectations as embedded in the TIPS spread around 3%.

Disappointed no mention of the new Bob Dylan song that got dropped on Friday. Best news to arrive in a while. Would love to hear TC's opinion on this one.

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