How things are, in a few short words

If we keep the economy closed at current levels, it will continue to decay, and at some point turn into irreversible, non-linear damage.  No one knows when, or how to model the course of that process.  That decay also will eat into our future public health capacities, and perhaps boost hunger and poverty around the world.

If we keep people locked up at current levels, fewer of them will be exposed to the virus, and in the meantime we can develop better treatments, and also improve test and trace capabilities.  No one knows how quickly those improvements will come, or how to model the course of that process, or how much net good they will do.

The relative pace of those two processes should determine our best course of action.  No one knows the relative pace of either of those two processes.  Yet commentators pretend to be increasingly knowledgeable, moralizing based on the pretense of knowledge they do not have.

That is where we are at!  And here is my earlier post Where We Stand.


That decay also will eat into our future public health capacities

My impression is that there are very swiftly diminishing returns for economic growth vs health. The most important public health measures (like sewage/water systems) were put in place a long time ago.

We have been for a long time in the negative return territory where every medical and public health progress just incites more and more people to have worse and worse lifestyle: drug abuse, obesity,...

So vaccines have led infants to a worse and worse lifestyle?

When you see so many mothers smoking during pregnancy nowadays, probably yes.

What does mothers smoking have to do with polio or measles vaccination?

In which universe is the number of pregnant smokers increasing?

Lung cancer is inversely correlated with abortion rates. Even infants know this.

You have seen an uptick in pregnant women smoking? I have not seen that, and I doubt the data support it.

I'm shocked, shocked, to find datza supporting anything at MR.

Or, we don't need no stinkin data.

Question for Tyler——Irreversible non-linear damage (when are economists going to speak normal english—-sorry—an irrelevant side point) sounds like a far greater problem of life and death than an extended period of Covid caused deaths. Perhaps you view the bad outcomes as similar in scope. But—it seems to me the former is far greater a problem than the latter. If so——its not time race between the two—-but the expected damage for each path. You have been pretty consistent on the “non linearity” concept —-hence I would expect you to be more “anti-lockdown” than you appear. However—-this is a question—how is lockdown not much worse than Sweden like or even more liberal openness.

This is a very good comment. But somehow nobody seems to considers this.

Texas is going after egg producers for price gouging. Nothing like some Texas style justice to keep the others in check. God bless Texas.

Could anyone in 2019 imagine that a global audience would need to be warned against injecting themselves with Lysol? Yet here we are.

“We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)" - Reckitt Benckiser Group plc, makers of Lysol

Tide Pod bar snacks with a Lysol chaser. I can see it going over very well in 2020.

We know with virtual certainty, that humans engage in the most absurd behaviors —-in small numbers presumably or we would all be dead——and always have. But now we highlight them—-largely because we can link them to Trump

Trump's gotta be careful when talking. Democrats are listening too.

Actually, the whole world is listening. The Lysol company is British, and they were starting to warn their customers world wide before the East Coast punditocracy was even waking up.

That the entire world gets another example of Trump's very stable genius is not a good thing, unless Americans prefer being pitied or laughed at.

> That the entire world gets another example of Trump's very stable genius is not a good thing

Our "betters", including Steve Jobs, believe in all sorts of hocus pocus remedies. CNN anchor Chris Cuomo's wife is curing her covid infection with bleach in the tub and magnetic waves. And when told he had cancer, Steve Jobs opted to fight it with more fruits and veggies. Gwyneth Paltrow puts jade eggs up her business to purify it.

Trump wonders aloud if there's some way a disinfectant could be put into the body and people lose their mind. Of course, the guy repairing tractors in Kansas knows not to inject it--he understands exactly what Trump means. But the "intelligentsia" in hollywood thinks "Hmmm. I wonder if that means we should be mainlining clorox in addition to the copper bracelet I'm wearing"

This post is a good example of OOPS: Obvious Overly Partisan Stupidity.

OOPS is easy to identify, whenever someone on the partisan left or right hypocritically defends something blindingly stupid, that they would rip to shreds if the other team did or said it, that's OOPS.

Imagine Phinton's post if Joe Biden had said the exact same thing as Trump did.

This risks of anyone, of either or any political persuasion, “following Trump” — much less, an odd, open-ended question, not even instruction — approached zero a long, long time ago. But sure, “Obvious Over-reactive Outrage Opportunity” (O4).

Phinton flounders relentlessly
Awash in his OOPS
He never dries or manages to swim
Forever lost in loops

"Of course, the guy repairing tractors in Kansas knows not to inject it"

I don't think you get to use "of course" here when there is the example of the guy who drank fish tank cleaner to get his hydroxychloroquine fix. Not EVERYONE is that dumb, but you'll find someone who takes it the wrong way.

The tank-cleaner story is looking extremely (forgive me) fishy.

That and all the economic growth between the SARS outbreak and now didn't seem to prepare us much anyway. That being said, probably don't want to make it worse by tanking the economy.

“The Light Brigade?”

The elephants sacrifice their parents
the donkeys their children
All for me, all for our inheritance

They’ll die anyway
just a clump of cells
All for me, it’s my rainy day

Oh agony, the dreary choices
send in the light brigade
All for me, ours the heard voices

Cannon to the right
cannon to the left
All for me, to the front tonight

Shall their glory fade?
get on with the wild charge
All for me, the thrust made

All the world wondered
all the world thundered
All for me, send in the light brigade?

Let's think about it. Say we stay closed for 6 months. What is the damage exactly to the economy? What if we 'reopen' but don't. People who can keep working from home. People stay at home as much as possible and simply avoid going out.

At what point does this cease being a shut down and starts being a shift in consumption structure?

At the point where government mandates that businesses stay closed rather than being the result of dispersed private decisions that incorporate local and distributed information about covid-19 and all other relevant factors.

It doesn't take much to 'sink' the economy. If 70% decide to go along with "we're open now" but they cut back 30% you're looking at levels 50% from before. Few businesses have the margins to sustain that but an income replacement policy is going to get very complicated with some regions shut down from the top, others from the bottom and others in between.

@BC - true, but you don't know any more than I do if another two months of shutdown would cause irreversible damage to the US economy. I suspect not (people can work from home), perhaps you suspect so (socializing at Starbucks is 'indispensable' for some extraverts), but one thing we can all agree upon I believe: another 30 days shutdown, across the USA, Bill Gates style, Greek style (look at the numbers for Greece, trending toward zero; the spike up the other day was a group of related people who visited somewhere overseas), will NOT sink the US economy and dramatically flatten the curve. Sadly, I think the ignorant Herders (who don't realize you need not 15% of the population infected but more like 80%) won't go for another month of shutdown.

1. You do not need to achieve herd immunity with a shutdown or flatten the curve. You can extinguish a disease before you get as far as herd immunity. No society, for example, ever achieved herd immunity from ebola yet every time there's an outbreak step one is shutdown step two is isolate the remaining cases.

2. As a fellow economics major (but not a professor like Tyler), I find the back and forth with epidemiologist models very frustrating. We have enough to know the disease is dangerous and it spreads but we want models that tell us how it spreads on Monday mornings versus Wednesday evenings. Yet on the economics front he is able to tell us almost nothing of value. Only that some 'fuzzy decay' is happening. Ohhh that and $2-3T in fiscal stimulus and who knows how much monetary stimulus cannot stop the decay. If we were confronted with an ebola like respiratory illness that we *must* shut down for 6 months to stop, we'd have not choice but to sink humanity rather than the economy.

Look I have a car I was putting 1,000 miles a month on. Now I'm putting 50. I get on some level the car decays by being left idle, even that I should drive it a bit just for the sake of driving it. But if you told me the car dealership sold me a car that will explode if I drive it less than 850 miles a month I would be pretty angry. When Medieval societies confronted plague they sometimes shutdown for years. Now we can't figure that out?

I don't think - "but medieval economies did it!" Is or should be particularly convincing to anyone... Just saying.

We moved to the point where Netflix can stream anything to you but if the world depended on getting everyone a $0.95 mask tomorrow we'd go extinct.

I'm sorry but the idea that we cannot do a proper shutdown to stop a pandemic is a failure of our economy and economies that should be fixed rather than asking the virus to be more accommodative.

So you're saying "Let it rip!", only for the economy, not for the infection?

And "should be fixed" sounds nice, but do you have any idea how to go about designing (that should be a warning right there) an economy that can survive a multi-month shutdown? Will you require small businesses to keep six-months'-worth of sales as working capital? Will you require people who lose their jobs to keep spending at pre-shutdown levels?

Should we have done the same level of shutdown for Ebola or Zika? Now we know they were not as dangerous, but early on that was not clear.

I don't have a 'design' for a six month shutdown. Ebola is still dangerous but fortunately does not spread as easily as this disease.

I don't support 'let it rip'. I suppose making people whole during the shutdown and letting the market adjust.

What are people buying now besides food and netflix? Isn't demand taking a massive hit? How do businneses survive if people aren't out spending money? That, for me, is what the whole, "you can just work from home" thing misses. Or, what am I missing? What sectors are not affected by this?

In other words you are saying we are consuming less than the productive capacity of our economy. If this is a new normal, we can increase demand. If we cannot increase demand the world can increase demand and our capacity could go to exports.

But demand for what? There's got to be good products out there that people want. I'm skeptical that all these limitations we face in movement, etc. will lead to much innovation in this regard. At best, we'll eat into that gap a bit with some product innovation. I don't buy that limits set by fiat lead people to consume more. And this leads to slower growth as long as these limits are in place.

If people have money then they can figure out what they want to demand from the market. If they don't want to spend the money they have it will build up in their bank accounts.

I'm not seeing how at some point either people will spend the money or the banks will lend it to people that will spend it or they will lend it to foreigners who will buy stuff from the US.

The thing is, people don't really decide what they want from the market as much as the market decides what to offer them. I didn't know I wanted that artisanal bread until I saw it at the farmers market. I didn't think to upgrade my car for my family until I saw it adverstised or a friend bought one too and it made me think "man, that would be fun to drive around town in!". These types of things are not an option now. Being alone in your home cuts down dramatically the amount of things that have value to you. Any and all 'experience' products are pretty much out.

And where is this money you're earning going to come from? GDP forecasts have already been cut pretty dramatically, that flow of income is going to dry up. People will be afraid to spend on the contrary. Savings is good for the long term future, but that's a long way away from where we are now.

The money comes from having a decent income support program from the government.

I suppose your view of demand is a bit of chicken and the egg. A producer would be less likely to claim they decided what to offer the consumer as they tried to offer several products and discovered what took off only by accident.

Either producers will decide to offer different products to consumers or producers will be trying by trial and error to find products consumers want to buy. Whichever view you take the end result is either going to be consumers buying products, in which case you got the economy back or it will be consumers refusing to buy products (for whatever reason).

The second would essentially be your post-scarcity economy where people have purchasing power but there's literally nothing they want in particular. I don't know if we got there but if we did we might as well study it carefully.

Boonton, what jurisdiction are you in? The reason I ask is that every one defines lockdown differently, for good reasons and maybe bad ones.

Residential and commercial construction is proceeding as normal here. They shut down voluntarily for a week or two when this thing hit, then figured out how to proceed. Manufacturing is similar, no shutdown but projects put on hold, etc. Retail is concentrated in the large stores, food service as well; the grocery stores are feeding everyone who was fed by restaurant.

What can't sit and wait is debt, and anything in the economy that depends on investment returns.

Another thing to consider is that 1000 => 50 if representative means that the 50 has to pay for the infrastructure that fed the 1000. Which won't happen, meaning another level of economic adjustment from top to bottom in every commodity, raw material and services that went into that vehicle and it's operation.

I see cost pressures hitting a market with no buying or borrowing power.

Elective procedures are starting up again here, or at least being scheduled. I had a regular checkup cancelled late March and they rescheduled it for early May.

There is no easy answers. Every decision is being made in desperation.

I'm northern New Jersey. It's much the same as you describe. Many restaurants are open for takout, including some upper end ones that would not normally do takeout. A local pizza place is selling a family pizza kit, they give you dough, sauce, cheese etc. and you make the pizza yourself. Outdoor centered jobs like landscapping continue, internal construction is slowed but still going. Retail is now Lowes/Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target, grocery stores and convenience stores plus pharmacies. Other retail outlets are mostly closed but there's experimentation with doing pickup. I suspect if we need another two months they will shift to the grocery store model where people are allowed in stores but at 50% their previous capacity and with masks. I think that would be more fair to businesses other than Wal-Mart (which is allowed to sell anything in the store because it has 'essential' sections). It would also be safer since it reduces the concentration of people in one or two stores and spreads them out.

Research labs. Sure some stuff can be done at home but at some point actual bench work has to take place. Maybe closing for 6 months won't be non linear damage, but if you think research has some value there presumably is economic damage.

Where I am non essential landscaping and construction is forbidden. So you can't have somebody trim your tree unless the branches are getting into power lines or in danger of falling on somebody and you can't have somebody replace the window unless it is broken you have hope when the lockdown is lifted that the backlog isn't so great it can be replaced before the winter rains leak through the window.

I'm pretty sure research labs are open, granted that's a broad category. Landscaping I think should also be open. It's not that hard to keep distance outdoors plus if you go too deep into spring you're going to start running into health issues with overrun lawns.

The USDA research facility where I am located is closed. At the same time I received a notice from PacBio that they weren't suspending further orders for their sequencing supplies unless they were COVID-19 related. A prominent research blogger Derek Lowe talks about being forced away from the lab.

The virus and and its accompanying shutdowns have already permanently damaged face-to-face and crowd-oriented industries. A lot of restaurants, bars, and gyms are never coming back. This is clear.

One no-brainer policy response--which could be implemented now--is a special bankruptcy statute that allows any small business owner who can show that the virus killed their business to file for bankruptcy, swiftly and simply, for a temporary period, without affecting their credit history. Essentially, a special bankruptcy kept hidden by law. Just as with the virus, it's easy to see this train wreck coming. It's easy to see huge numbers of entrepreneurs who will desperately need an enhanced ability to reorient themselves into new productive pursuits.

Big picture, we really need to avoid a prolonged SBA-loan approach. We really need to avoid propping up pre-virus business models. Many loan recipients are already doomed. One thing we can do to shorten their pain and ready them for a new day is to provide a simple, temporary, unambiguous right to move on--without the monkey of bad credit on their back.

As usual, you have to read the comments to get any good ideas from this blog. Nice post, Darren.

Not sure how preventing lenders from underwriting helps the economy.

The idea is twofold. First, by bailing out business owners instead of letting bankruptcy unfold, the government is already bailing out existing lenders. Pandemics are a credit risk, and lenders--not taxpayers--must own up to that. Lenders earn interest because of risk, and pandemic-induced bankruptcies are a lending risk. Also, it's not as if a hidden bankruptcy imposes no cost on the business owner. They'll lose their business!

Second, it's a value judgment on my part, but in today's debt-glutted environment, I say the entrepreneurial spirit is more critical to prosperity than the lending spirit. If future lenders get scared because they fear a borrower was incentivized to skirt obligations to prior lenders, then I say those same lenders are skirting their obligations by taking advantage of small-business bailouts.

If you'd like to say that there should be no special bankruptcy and no lender bailouts, then I'd be with you.

So as a lender, I’ll say that there are two aspects to this: back book and front book (Old loans vs. new originations).

Backbooks are loans already originated. They are stressed and not performing as well. In a recession, you tighten underwriting on new originations. If bureaus can’t or don’t report delinquencies or bankruptcies, you have a huge gap in underwriting. You make up for it by tightening underwriting even more. Meaning less loans for those with marginal credit and banks will book loans that go bad they other wise wouldn’t because they can’t tell goods from bads.

Whatever on the bailouts. IMHO, I think the business that get bailed and still go bad will keep the funds as opposed to paying back loans.

I'm extremely sympathetic to your point of view. Markets need information to function well. That's why the point is for credit bureaus still to report bankruptcies and delinquencies--just not the special kind.

Another approach would be to let the special bankruptcies remain visible but carry a certification from the Court (or special Court body set up for this purpose) that the filer was bankrupted because of the virus, not because of poor business management. That would enhance the lending market, no? The lender would then have more accurate information about the borrower. But the borrower would be in a position to shop more easily for loans, without having to explain to each potential lender what happened. By providing finer-grained information, the certification would improve the lending market's ability to reflect reality. And it would help lighten the load of "bad credit" off the entrepreneur's back.

My main fear is having entrepreneurs unduly penalized in the loan markets, leaving the country short-changed on their efforts. Because again, in my opinion, entrepreneurs are far more critical to overall economic prosperity than lenders, and they're way more fragile. I say the same about landlords (I work in commercial real estate, on the landlord side). Smart landlords know that landlords, like lenders, are a dime a dozen but that great, entrepreneurial tenants are rare and precious, and are the true sparks of value creation at a property and in the trade area. So the idea is to tweak bankruptcy laws to enhance the market power of those rare and precious individuals.

As a bonus, such a certification would also enhance the post-virus rental market by improving landlords' ability to assess a tenant's likelihood of success.

Somebody seems to have completely lost their faith in creative destruction. Something that the American economy, with now revealed massive distortions, is in need of, not massive subsidies to keep things unchanged.

Moreover, someone also seems to have lost their faith in America's ability to innovate its way out of a pandemic. Maybe it is time for a new model to replace the yo-yo or calls for fixing it now. How about calling the U.S. model the American face plant?

And Corn Pop was a bad dude. And he ran a bunch of bad boys. And back in those days -- to show how things have changed -- one of the things you had to use, if you used Pomade in your hair, you had to wear a baby cap. And so he was up on the board and wouldn't listen to me. I said, 'Hey, Esther, you! Off the board, or I'll come up and drag you off.' Well, he came off, and he said, 'I'll meet you outside.'

My car was mostly, these were all public housing behind us. My car - there was a gate on here. I parked my car outside the gate. And he said, 'I'll be waiting for you. He was waiting for me with three guys with straight razors. Not a joke. There was a guy named Bill Wright the only white guy and he did all the pools. He was a mechanic. And I said, 'What am I gonna do?' And he said. 'Come down here in the basement, where all the mechanics- - where all the pool builder is.' You know the chain, there used to be a chain that went across the deep end. And he cut off a six-foot length of chain, and folded it up and he said, 'You walk out with that chain, and you walk to the car and say, 'you may cut me man, but I'm gonna wrap this chain around your head.'

Creative destruction is there even if Tyler is too sleepy to imagine it. If we stayed for six months different forms of consumption would rise.

Let just consider what if the next virus has a profile more like ebola than Covid. Would we really toss up our hands and say "well sorry we have to lose 50% of the population but even though everyone is fed and has a place to live we just can't figure out how to have an economy without the Starbucks down the street selling $7 coffees and having people sit inside versus takeout only.

I said, 'You're kidding me.'" He said, 'No if you don't, don't come back.' And he was right. So I walked out with the chain. And I walked up to my car. And in those days, you remember the straight razors, you had to bang 'em on the curb, gettin' em rusty, puttin' em in the rain barrel, gettin' em rusty? And I looked at him, but I was smart, then. I said, 'First of all,' I said, 'when I tell you to get off the board, you get off the board, and I'll kick you out again, but I shouldn't have called you Esther Williams, and I apologize for that. I apologize.' But I didn't know that apology was gonna work.

He said, 'you apologize to me?' I said, 'I apologize but not for throwing you out, but I apologize for what I said.' He said, 'OK,' closed that straight razor, and my heart began to beat again.

Much better than the other comments. And you’ve lost your marbles and can’t remember where you put them. The cheese stands alone.

The U.S. is completely fractured at this point in a number of ways impossible to ignore. There is no actual organized American response, there is instead a chaotic situation that seemingly never improves. Hard to imagine that the U.S. is more poorly governed than Italy or Spain (being more in debt is at least easier to imagine), yet here we are, where such a conclusion seems unavoidable.

Is it hard to imagine? My prediction we will figure out how to turn 66,000 deaths into at least 100,000 and have a prolonged shutdown. But the cruise industry will be deemed essential and saved from bankruptcy.

Nah, not the cruise industry given it employs few US or EU workers and pays not taxes go either.

Gambling and gaming are critical because it both pays US and EU workers and pays taxes to both.

Nah, not the cruise industry given it employs few US or EU workers and pays not taxes go either

You just made the case for why it is now even more likely to emerge saved.

"there is instead a chaotic situation that seemingly never improves"

I am really upset at the protesters who are out yelling for the economy to re-open, because they did it in such a way that the response was GUARANTEED to be negative.

Imagine that crowds had gathered at state capitol buildings. Stayed 6 ft apart, every person wore a mask. They stood there and said "We are adults. We can do this. Let us open back up."

But no. It "they took our jerbs!" and "COVID is a media hoax!", etc. Such a wasted opportunity.

The US is a big diverse place. Why should we keep Wyoming shut down just because Manhattan has a problem? One big coordinated national plan fits no one anywhere.

You say something which is unknown "should determine our best course of action". Why not just post that we need to find an omniscient being and relying on Her to decide what we do? Or "listen to our inner voice"? All 3 are equally vacuous. I think that we should be concerned with BOTH what we should be doing and what we should NOT be doing. I think we may have forgotten (or abandoned) the fundamentals of our government and our society. When everyone is potentially a typhoid mary, what do we do about human rights? This shutdown has gotta end. Soon. Test, Trace, and Contain. The only way forward. We don't seem to be doing enough preparation for those. Sure, people are turtles when it comes to change, and it is too bad that we don't have a national leader who isn't an idiot. But I note that Biden, and even Warren and Sanders and the rest of those politicians haven't shared their "vision" for getting us going again. Where's the leadership? Hint: if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. (Will Rogers).

"But I note that Biden, and even Warren and Sanders and the rest of those politicians haven't shared their "vision" for getting us going again."

I lose track of the days at home, did we have the Presidential election already?

They supported the efforts begun anew by Bush after anthrax and SARS in 2003 to ramp up vaccine development and production.

The benefits were seen multiple times while Obama was president with bigger ebola breakouts, the type A influenza H1N1 (2009), multiple MERS outbreaks, Zika, and the 2010 seasonal flu vaccine was updates in 6-7 months with novel H1N1 coverage, useful ebola vaccines, candidate coronavirus vaccines, vaccine production in the US, significant advances in virus science.

But McConnell and trump sought to destroy that which obama and friends advocated for, especially if the were Bush advocated programs, eg, pepfar.

Influenza, gets good vaccines quickly because the Army developed vaccines a century ago in response to the Type A "spanish flu", which means a flu that jumps from animals to humans, and H1N1, the same class as in 2009 that caused a surge in hospitalizations and deaths.

SARS-Cov2 is just a rerun of past epidemics and pandemics, just more lethal. MERS is as lethal and has had local outbreaks continuously since 2012, just not as readily spread silently.

Would a Democratic Congress since 2013 and Clinton since 2017 prevented the uncontrolled pandemic we have today, maybe not, but the chances would have been much better, with better monitoring globally, earlier action to detect and contact trace, earlier testing at large scale, and orders made for a 100 million vaccine doses for use protecting health care workers and control outbreaks. Several SARS/MERS vaccines would have been tested for safety before 2020 to provide basis for large volume SARS-Cov2 vaccine testing.

The cost would have been an added $5 billion or less per year.

The commentors are increasingly knowledgeable.

We are zeroing in on a case fatality rate from 0.1 to 0.7% based on evidence. That is a YUGE difference from the 3%+ we thought possible in January and has policy implications.

We now know that covid does not meaningfully attack people under 40. It's ludicrous today to keep people under 40 under lockdown. And I haven't even seen the most trollish commentors here advocating intelligently for keeping them locked down.

It's no longer a question of when they should be let out. That would be yesterday. Now it's a question of if we tell people over 55 or 65 to stay locked away or not.

The balance you attempt to strike in your post might have been relevant when we didn't know how much of a nothing burger this is for kids and young adults.

What we need is some leadership on this front. This is economic policy. This is what we should be best at here.

Does anyone disagree?

It's no nothingburger for the young. The obsession at getting to a mortality rate while ignoring the hospitalization rate strikes me as amazingly short sighted. We don't really know what this thing does, why are we pretending like we know it's ok to just let everyone under 40 get it?

Locking up the elderly is not an option. Who do you think manages nursing homes?

4.4 million Americans are hospitalized every year from car accidents.

You act like it's OK to bankrupt a generation to prevent how many?

Get a grip.

Because car accidents are communicable and open to exponential growth.

Avoiding the comparison doesn't make it go away. Car accidents are susceptible to being sharply reduced by an economic shutdown and thousands of lives could be saved, yet no one has ever advocated doing so. We all, even the most pure-hearted blog commenters, accept at some level that there is a reasonable trade-off between economic activity and accidental death.

True but car accidents are not susceptible to massively increasing without a shutdown, victims of the virus are.

The potential upside is not equal to the potential downside. We won't know how many car deaths were avoided by the shutdown until years later after all types of analysis gets done, but we do know they are capped since car deaths cannot drop below 0.

There is no such cap on the potential harm of the virus except by the magical thinking of motivated optimists who think they can discern things like the full harm the virus does from random data points that come in here and there.

Full lock down gives 0 car deaths. Full work goes back to lots of injuries and deaths from cars. If you are under 40, cars are millions of times more dangerous to you than Covid. And cars are "scarier" because even if you don't drive, you could still be hit an killed as a pedestrian.

We have over a century experience with cars and their harm is linear.

The number of people dying in accidents continues to sink. In part because of government checkpoints stopping drivers from freely drinking and driving (often even jailing such drivers), mandatory safety equipment driving up car prices beyond the point where the young can easily afford a new car, and even mandatory education and testing before allowing the young to drive.

Is it OK to make driving more of a hassle and cars more expensive?

"Is it OK to make driving more of a hassle and cars more expensive?"

There's a risk reward trade off. We'll accept a little more expense/hassle for a little more safety.

Do meat packing plants layoff employees with nursing home addresses and then reopen?

We have a framework for deciding policy which trades off lives vs. resources : VSL. This isn’t new. We make these kinds of decisions commonly. The simple model says reopen immediately. More complex and perhaps unknowable models says reopen before immediately.

I don’t know why Tyler is linking to ‘consumption’ papers etc when we have a model and it works.

I know that real policy decisions don’t work with the media ( or with their clown allies ) but enough is enough.

At an IFR of 0.7 - 0.1 we’re off by ~2 orders or magnitude. If we get ‘non-linear’ effects we could be off by more but I don’t even know what that would mean.

I sure hope the death rate is not 0.1%... That would imply in certain areas of Italy everyone got infected five times in a row over two months.

What is your link on "0.1 to 0.7%"?

And is it true that 0.7% of 330 million people is 2,310,000?

Not all 330 million would catch the virus, and that mortality rate might be even lower as it spreads, more people develop immunity, or it spreads much slower in warm climates, in rural areas, etc.

Is it true that half of 2,310,000 is 1,155,000?

Although death and recovery rates matter, they're not the whole story. Long-term health consequences--about which we have zero knowledge--matter too. It's totally possible that the biggest tragedy of this winds up being unforeseen future health complications for people who contract the virus. In fact, we're already seeing indications of this (see, for example,,,

Moreover, the word "recovered" gets thrown around as if it means a patient is past the disease. Yet we have zero knowledge about whether the virus may, in recovered patients, live on in tiny amounts, dormant and undetected, waiting to resurface. Ebola, for example, seems capable of something like this ( Nor do we even know if recovery imparts permanent immunity.

I'm not saying any of this will play out. Nor am I saying that we should hide under a rock out of fear. But this is called the "novel" Coronavirus for a reason: Because it's novel! And because it's novel, we don't know much about it. As a result, every word--EVERY. SINGLE. WORD.--written or thought about it needs to be followed with "Why do we think that?"

--Recovered? What evidence? How so?
--Immunity? What evidence? We haven't been able to observe or test immunity for any significant time period.
--Contracted? In what sense? What's the viral load? What if you breath in a tiny dose, so tiny that your immune system isn't sufficiently alerted, leaving you as a permanent, unsuspecting, low-grade carrier? Do we know the lower limit of viral load that tests detect?
--Warm weather? Based on what evidence? Why are there 15,000 known cases in Australia, where summer has just passed? Or 23,000 cases in Ecuador?
--Dollars of GDP lost? How do we know post-virus economic efforts can't make up for at least some lost time? What if the peace and quiet of working from home (for those with this luxury) eventually makes up, in overall GDP, for the lost productivity due to the noise and commotion of a typical office environment? What if the quiet is exactly what an AI engineer needed for an earth-shaking AI breakthrough? What if investment in skills allowed by partial downtime pays off in spades?
--Shutdown? What solid evidence do we have about shutting down which kinds of activities? Crowds seem dangerous. Do we have good information about the danger of outdoor crowds, such as at a baseball game, versus indoor crowds, such as at basketball games? How much more risky is a small dance club versus a large baseball game?
--Risk? If the main risks are unknown unknowns, then in what way can you quantify them?
--Tradeoff? What known quantities are we even trading off?

Personally, from what I've seen, I favor lifting shutdowns with the caution that sensible governors seem to be taking. Mostly, I fear false narratives and agendas hidden under overly simplified "tradeoffs" between perceived or expected productivity on the one hand and poorly understood health outcomes on the other hand, as well as undue confidence in the efficacy of various interventions.

"We now know that covid does not meaningfully attack people under 40."

No, "we" don't "know" that at all. Iceland had 1 death out of 289 cases in the 30-39 age bracket. South Korea had 2 deaths out of 1,142 in the same age bracket.

I'm also hearing that being overweight is a huge risk factor with covid-19, regardless of your age. When we yank stats from Iceland or S. Korea are we considering how many of their people under 40 are heavy versus our people when we make confident declarations that Covid-19 doesn't harm anyone younger except in super rare cases?

The "under 40 have no risk" crowd---don't confuse correlation with causation. The heavy deaths in nursing homes may not say as much about the age distribution as the transmission efficacy. Maybe if you got a bunch of under 40's in crowded indoor situations for long enough periods, the large slant to age related deaths would moderate? Look at medical workers, soccer teams, choirs, etc.

We do not know until we have more testing, especially antibody testing. Its probable that age will matter a lot--_ and we have several experiments starting to run in different US states. Let's see how they go.

If I understand it right the antibody testing in NY suggested something like 20% of people in NYC had it. Given the age structure of deaths and hospitalizations (in total, not occasional anecdotes) there's not 'no risk' for those under 40, but it's pretty low and comparable to risks people and society regularly accept (various dangerous jobs, driving, etc.). If society consisted of nothing but those 40 and under, there would be no case for any kind of lock down style measures. Of course the rub is how you keep things from spreading amongst the elder folks when its ripping through the 40 and under set.

These "few short words" miss the third path. We should not be simply limited to comparisons of economic decay and health outcomes that will occur if we keep everything "at current levels" or suddenly stop. Rather, we should have learned things over the past few weeks that can add nuance to our implementation of closures and lockdowns. I'll elaborate a bit, though the examples are less certain and less important than this overall point. A key question to ask: how have our policies changed in response to what we've learned in the past month? If the answer is "not at all" or "we've learned nothing," our problems are much bigger than the coronavirus.

First: as you posted earlier today, about half of all Covid-19 deaths are at nursing homes. Half! Yet our present approach to lockdowns and stay at home orders gives the same weight to closing hiking trails as to guarding elder-care facilities, as if we have no grasp at all of quantitative risks. At a fraction of the cost of unemployment benefits, etc., we should *pour* resources into any nursing home that wants it, staffing them with armies of well-paid people in protective gear wiping down surfaces, monitoring temperatures, etc. Yes, there are preexisting health concerns, but *if* the goal is saving lives, we should direct resources to where the lives are being lost. (Cue Willie Sutton and bank robbery.) That we don't do this is bizarre.

Second: It's clear that population density and time in indoor spaces are major determinants of outbreak risk. See e.g. cruise ships, Singaporean worker dorms, the near-total lack of outdoor transmission in the recent Chinese study, etc. This should surprise no one, but apparently it does. (Yes, there's variation -- not all subways are equal. But on average, density aids transmission.) As such, the stringency and type of lockdowns should be informed by the nature of the spaces involved. There is no science, just a Puritanical moral posturing, that keeps Oregon's 360 miles of public coastline off limits. (But: our town's Farmer's Market is open!)

A final point: somewhere in this calculus quality of life has to enter, though it's been oddly taboo to bring it up. I find Spain's prohibition on children being outside, even to go for a walk, deeply depressing -- a mild but widespread form of child abuse. Is it really ok to believe that simply being alive is sufficient?

It's child abuse. We are witnessing mass child abuse and instead of urging policy makers to free these children, we dither.

We here know what is right. Why aren't we loudly advocating for it? Daily.

Ironically there was a post yesterday or so about the low status of child abuse as an issue.

Freudian, perhaps?

If I was a parent and you opened the schools tomorrow I wouldn't send mine. If you want to call that child abuse you're going to need an army of foster parents to take care of all the kids you'll have to take from their parents.

By the way, you know, I sit on the stand and it’d get hot. I got a lot of — I got hairy legs that turn blonde in the sun, and the kids used to come up and reach in the pool and rub my leg down so it was straight and then watch the hair come back. I love kids jumping on my lap.

Go ahead and abuse your imaginary children all you want.

Meanwhile, the Spanish kids are not allowed outside because nervous neds like you have somehow convinced the world that single digit deaths of kids world wide ustifies indefinite house arrest for MILLIONS and the animation of their inheritance.

Shame on you.

Kids are allowed outside. No one is under indefinite house arrest. Smash the virus now or do this off and on over a year and really watch as the economy collapses despite claims from 'absolute authority' figures it is open.

Spanish children will be allowed outside in a couple of days. And it was the multiple digit deaths, day after day, that led to the Spanish shutdown. Now that the number of deaths is under 500 per day, around the level a month ago, things are being changed.

Almost as if adapting to a changing situation is what a normal people do, instead of whining about how unfair life can be.

No. There were never multiple digit deaths of children.

Try to keep up.

Irrelevant -1 on Andrew.

@Raghuveer P - "First: as you posted earlier today, about half of all Covid-19 deaths are at nursing homes. Half!" - ok do the math: C-19 has a 2-3% death rate for all infected, so even if you say half the oldsters are expendable, that lives 1%-1.5% of the "younger" population vulnerable, *by your own logic* (I think C-19 death rates are higher than 1%, but let's just pretend it's not). C-19 has an R0 (without social distancing) of around 5. Do the Herd Immunity math: 1-1/R0 is 1-1/5 = 80% of the population needs to be infected before C-19 dies from herd immunity. So let's say out of 330M Americans, 300M are not "oldsters" so 300M * 0.8 * 1% = 2.4M younger Americans will die, from C-19, with your policy, so that what, you can enjoy your Starbucks in public, and socialize? That's the tradeoff. The US economy is service oriented (75% or more) meaning almost nothing they do is 'essential' but more like entertainment. Fact.

Where are you getting that death rate?

You claim "C-19 has a 2-3% death rate for all infected". This is only true for those that have tested positive. As we know from various antibody samples the actual number of infected is far higher. Based on the data from Massachusetts that state could allow everyone under 50 to go back to work now and the hospitals could cope.

Is it really ok to believe that simply being alive is sufficient?

It is to some people, for instance the family of Israeli war hero and political figure Ariel Sharon, who was comatose and kept on life support for 8 years before being allowed to expire.

OK but nursing homes are places where transmission is fast and the population is weak. Outside of nursing homes transmission is slower and since the population is younger they put up more of a fight before death. You're pretending to know who won the Super Bowl because you know the score at half time.

Exactly, Raghuveer. I don't know how our policy approach would differ, but yours is the style of thinking to guide policy. Nice post.

'Does anyone disagree?' Your parents and grandparents comes to mind. And probably pretty much everyone over 50 - company CEOs or senior doctors or elected representatives.

And yes, they are still the boss of you.

I meant here. Where this discussion is happening. Informed people. Slightly more rational.

Do you disagree? Do you think it's justifiable to keep anyone under 40 under lockdown today?

Do I disagree with a couple of centuries of public health experience? Nope. Do you?

Of course, where I live, the death rate is half that of the U.S., and that is considered something to be proud of, even by people under 40. Who actually seem to have parents and grandparents they care about too, along with the parents and grandparents of their friends.

Yes it is. It's nice that you've decided this virus does nothing to people under 40. I respect your ability to make such determinations by snatching headlines from Google (which BTW a month ago was telling us masks do nothing to protect people outside a hospital environment).

If you have evidence that it is more severe than the damn flu for kids, present it.

Otherwise you are engages in magical unthinking.

I'll redo the numbers tomorrow. About a week or so ago NJ published the dead by age group. I compared to the dead from the 2017/18 flu season. Younger age groups were higher than the flu, the flu kills a lot of people but it's pretty rare that it kills people who aren't very old or very sick. This doesn't play so nice nor is it as comforting that some who aren't listed as being young and dead are so because they spent a week or more on a ventilator.

Looks like close to zero in NYC.

Here are flu deaths for kids:

Hundreds per year.

It would be nice if these age brackets aligned but they don't. For under 18 they are both nearly zero with flu being a tiny bit higher.

18-64 Covid is about 27% and the flu only 15.6%. The flu says 83% of its victims are over 65 but only 73.1% of Covid deaths are over 65.

The disease does veer younger than the flu although the flu is slightly worse in children. I think a factor to consider is that the shutdown has done more to keep under 65 people from getting Covid-19 while those in nursing homes have not benefitted as much. In a non-shutdown world where exposure by those under 65 is increased, I suspect you would only see more deaths on the younger side.

75+ ................48.3%
unknown 0.0%

2017/18 flu

The death rate for 18-44 is 13.44 per 100k

9 of those 350 deaths in that range had no underlying conditions.

So . . . 3.7 per Million

Pretty scary!

Like just so y’all know, no one under 40 in GA gives a shit about this. We still shake hands, hang out, hook up, do whatever and whatever we want. Don’t know a soul with the Covid. Beer and liquor are open. Most restaurants do takeout. Just doesn’t seem like a big deal.

I think in plainer English, you are saying how many deaths are we willing to accept to get the economy going again.

This is ultimately a political question.

When it gets really complicated is saying some many deaths of poor people or African Americans (that vote Democratic) or older Whites or rural folks (that vote Trump) are we willing to tolerate.

Superimpose on that red vs. blue states and urban vs rural areas, and it becomes really difficult to figure out.

If is further complicated by divided government. If Congress and the President were from the same party, it might be easier.

funny old Americans, seeking comfort in these troubled times with partisan bickering. Virus hard, Trump easy.

Since as one can read in their own words, the current leading candidates for president are completely off their respective rockers. No need for partisan bickering to recognize that sad reality of where America is right now - in the middle of a pandemic where even when the president suggests injecting bleach, that is not immediately contradicted as dangerous by the medical professionals who are present.

heres crazy old uncle paulie biweekly fraught-fraught
"republicans the party of death"

Say it the other way. How much of the economy are you willing to destroy in order to reduce deaths by one. And how many deaths will be caused by the economy tanking?

A place where the president of the United States of America outs himself as a Star Trek TOS fan.

“So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that, too. Sounds interesting.”

Even the episode title could be easily updated for these pandemic times. Operation -- Annihilate Invisibly Enemy! Let's see Joe Biden match this.

Why is the elephant in the room of this pandemia - obesity - never mentioned in this blog?

Because since the beginning people have been resorting to magical thinking.

I thought it was that the main author had a nevrotic bias as he would prefer the whole society to adapt to the situation rather than him changing his own lifestyle.

Well he seems to be saying society cannot adapt to the situation, a prolonged shift to a 'shutdown lifestyle' where we go out less, work from home more, etc. would simply destroy the economy rather than the economy adapt to a different set of consumption priorities. no elective medical care.

Increase telehealth. Increase masks, increase PPE and keep the caseloads at hospitals lighter. That would seem to be a very good path to opening elective medical care back up.

I get it, over a longer time period the list of what is 'essential' grows and medical care that is no big deal to put off a week or two (even chemotherapy can often be delayed without any real harm) starts to become critical after longer time periods.

But who the hell wants to live that way? The decisions people in our society make daily (smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, road trips) show that there are many things that we value more than an extra year of life.

Sorry, to clarify, when most individuals are given the choice to make personal sacrifices that will lead to greater longevity they decide it's not worth the pain. However, when they can pass those sacrifices off on someone else, well, they get the juice without the squeeze.

I think everyone is coming to the realization that the economy WILL reopen by mid May or earlier, partially, slowly but surely.
The epidemic is declining everywhere, but the economic risks are rising. The quarantine has become the siren song , that leads us into the economic abyss.
We have given the experts their due. They have led us down the path of " flatten the curve" followed by “don't relax, it’s too soon” …yes but until when ? No one knows. Is it the last person has been saved from Covid or the hypothetical cure came through ?. It’s easy to start a war with Covid. It’s hard to end it.
Young people need to graduate and make plans for the future, not inherit an economic wasteland. Children need to learn and play outside, everyone needs to socialize, including old people. Idleness and isolation sap the human spirit and kill economic life. Life needs to go on.

Headline I caught Thursday morning. China just let gyms open except a college student returned from Florida and apparently has it. Now all gyms in Beijing are closed. College kid, Florida. Hmmmm.

Georgia is opening gyms tomorrow despite projections that they haven't even peaked yet.

You can talk about siren songs all you want. We are trying to only take half the medicine and substitute magical thinking in its place.

Gyms seem like one of the last things we need to reopen. Most other stuff can be done, with precautions like the grocery stores use.

This was the plan all along though. Stabilize, then titrate policy to achieve sustainable r0. Hopefully we do it in a metered and deliberate way instead of yoyoing as tyler has been warning about.

"Young people need to graduate and make plans for the future, not inherit an economic wasteland. "

LOL. Where have you been these last few decades? Future generations bailed out Boomer retirement accounts in 2008 by taking trillions in debt and now once again in 2020 are on the hook for trillions more in the largest bailout in world history. The day the US dollar loses its reserve currency status is the day the game of financial hot potato ends.

And this will be a good thing?!! This is depressive thinking.

'The epidemic is declining everywhere'

Except where it isn't.

It never affects people under 40. Except when it does.
Children never die from it. Well, except sick children.

Many more here. Magical thinking without data.

Let's see the re-opening states' data in 2-3 weeks after opening, and even that will be unrepresentative as there will lots of voluntary quarantine.

Almost all jurisdictions make allowances for essential versus non-essential economic activity. This is anathema to libertarians but it is the compromise that is already in place to weigh the two competing considerations Prof. Cowen mentioned above.

A quick Google search confirms that several state quarantine orders in the U.S. provide fairly broad exceptions for companies involved in logistics, manufacturing, medicine, food and beverage no matter where in the production chain they are. Other countries are following similar rules, presumably including the industrial powerhouses of China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

Is there evidence that governments are being unreasonably restrictive to date? I think relatively few state governors would be willing to risk losing manufacturing jobs due to inappropriate and trigger-happy enforcement of an anti-covid-19 measure.

Industry and technology seem to be where the real risks of decay are. As painful as the current measures are, restaurants, bars, hair salons, gyms, casinos, hotels, and professional sports will make a comeback in the future.

You address the investment part of GDP. 50% of US GDP is personal consumption expenditures on services (not goods!) - see . People staying at home - even those still employed - buy a lot fewer and less of services (and goods too - look at car and home sales). The second-order effects are coming.

Sure, I just don't see the argument that suspension of the service economy will result in irreversible damage. There is literature on the post-WWII recoveries in Europe and Japan that shows that even places that suffer widespread death and devastation can bounce back surprisingly quickly. And here, we aren't talking about rebuilding infrastructure and factories that have been blown to pieces. We are talking about reopening pet stores and Olive Garden restaurants.

The risk is if the government doesn't take its job seriously as lender and spender of last resort, a la Keynes. But if it does, I don't see the evidence of significant, irreversible damage.

"No one knows when, or how to model the course of that process [of economic evolution]."

That's right no *one* entity knows, even in "normal" times. That's why economic decisions --- like whether to stay home or report to the office --- need to be made by dispersed private entities that possess the necessary local and distributed information. That's true before, during, and after a pandemic.

"If we keep people locked up at current levels, fewer of them will be exposed to the virus, and in the meantime we can develop better treatments, and also improve test and trace capabilities."

Not at all obvious that the *incremental* gain of government mandated lockdowns over the already substantial voluntary social distancing is or was significant or decisive. It's not clear at all that closing golf courses, prohibiting boating and lawn mowing, allowing only out-of-state but not in-state residents to shelter in secluded cottages reduced virus exposure in any meaningful way. Please provide evidence. And, yes, the case for government intervention requires accounting for all of the potentially bad policies that might detract from any gains.

If no one knows the relative pace of either of those two processes, then what would be the argument for continuing government-mandated measures, which inherently throws away all local and distributed information? The burden falls on those advocating government central planning of the shutdown/re-opening policies to show that the loss of local and distributed information is more than offset by some presumed governmental abilities. How could that burden possibly be met if "no one knows the relative pace of either of those two processes?"

I'm a huge fan of applying distributed economic knowledge. I'm just not sure how much epidemiological knowledge is distributed to business managers. Also, applying distributed economic knowledge is facilitated by the constraints of private property: economic mistakes are limited, mostly, to the owners of the private property. Viruses, though, have no concept of private property, and the needed knowledge to handle them is not primarily economic.

That said, I don't favor interminable shutdown until any last vestige of COVID risk is gone. As TC says, we're in for an unscripted virus dance in which the risk of each step will need to be evaluated using the grossly imperfect knowledge we have. There will be no clear, perfect standards of action. At best, we'll have reasonable ones.

Fun thread for TC to consider: what exactly do you, reader, so that's so "essential" to the US economy that mandates immediate reopening?

I will start first: before I retired I was in the invention business. Several of my clients made literally hundreds of millions from inventions I helped get for them. Two of them were featured in the Wall Street Journal, one got a medal from Congress. But even I don't think of my former career as essential that justifies reopening the economy fast. Today I am a gentleman farmer, growing in GR food like sheep, goats, fruit trees, and honey. Arguably now I'm more essential than when I retired.

And you? What do you do Sir? Student? You a student? Study at home. Brian D? You're an accountant right? Run PeachTree from home. Anybody else? Bueller?… Bueller?

You are right. The virus is not only causing economic damage, it is causing psychological damage by forcing millions of people to confront the fact that their jobs are completely non-essential. Turns out we need grocery stores but we don't need the NBA. We need utilities, we don't need new Hollywood movies every week.

The essential and lowest paid employees of many of these companies are also the ones that can't work from home and are working. I do wonder if there will be a change in workforce dynamics and pay within companies when and if this ends. Short term possibly.

"Essential" and "valuable" are not the same thing. And I don't think anything will change, much of what makes these workers essential also makes them completely fungible and interchangable, and therefore low-paid.

When did you leave PH?

Remdesivir, like Donald Trump, was shown to be ineffective at stopping COVID-19. Bummer.

"commentators pretend to be increasingly knowledgeable, moralizing based on the pretense of knowledge they do not have." I think this comment shows a profound misunderstanding of how effective discourse works. Judges get the best picture of the case by having one lawyer who is using every trick in the book, legal and factual, to prove that we should throw the book at the defendant and another lawyer who is using every trick in the book to show why the defendant should get off. This is the system that works - not having a committee of impartial experts. If I were a policy maker and they gave me a roomful of brilliant Bayesians, I would order each one to put his blessed uncertainty aside and make the best case s/he can for one side of one debate: For/against variolations, for/against doomsday scenario, whatever. Lots of people pretending to be increasingly knowledgeable is fine, even ideal, as long as they represent diverse points of view and make cogent cases.

I used to think that way. I used to think that politics worked as an adversarial system. And perhaps for a long time it did.

But I think we see the downside of a "take no prisoners" fully adversarial system right now.

Should states go bankrupt? Is that the best plan for America in 2020?

Should the administration be arguing in court that Obamacare is unconstitutional? Is that the best plan for America in 2020?

As we learn that COVID-19 scars lungs for life is it a great time to remove protections for pre-existing conditions? Is that the best plan for America in 2020?

No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman and so we have to just keep punching at it, and punching at it, and punching at it. No, I really mean it.

My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. Look me over, if you like what you see help out, if not, vote for the other Biden

I am a lawyer, which means clients often rely on my knowledge and judgment, not my moralizing, in selecting a course of action. Back in March, when the shut-down was imminent, clients asked for my advice what they should do about their employees: should they dismiss or furlough them and avoid the risk of being stuck with up to 12 weeks of sick pay (the first law passed by Congress in response to the pandemic), or do the right thing by keeping them on the payroll. That's both an economic dilemma and a moral dilemma.

Here's another example: I work with physicians, mostly male. I've had many such clients call me when they reach middle age to ask for a referral to a divorce lawyer. Do I moralize or provide the referral? I advise them not to abandon their family for the young and pretty young nurse or tech at the hospital, the wife who supported him through his medical training and birthed and raised his children. If he wants to continue the affair, fine, just be discreet and not embarrass himself or his family. I tell him that, in time, this will pass and he will thank me. Am I moralizing or giving good legal advice based on my knowledge and judgment? On the one hand, a divorce could be an economic disaster for the client; on the other hand, the pretty young nurse or tech could provide him with many years of happiness and invigorate him for a long and economically successful career.

Yet commentators pretend to be increasingly knowledgeable
I acknowledge my own erroneous numbers.

Is the lockdown really causing "irreversible economic damage" or is it revealing how much of the economy consists of frivolous entertainment? No sports leagues, no cruise ships, no tourism, no bars, no restaurants, no new movies being produced. But farmers farm, food is being distributed, factories are still running, utilities continue to produce energy, and construction projects (at least in Austria and Germany) are still moving forward. Even the lack of retail stores isn't much of a hardship given that Amazon continues to deliver.

Maybe the reason we can "afford" a lockdown in 2020 and could not during previous epidemics like the 1957 Asian Flu or the 1968 Hong Kong Flu is precisely that so many people in developed economies aren't strictly necessary any more. Maybe it is time for a paradigm shift.

You seem to be correct, except that more than frivolous entertainment is an optional part of the economy. An increasingly smaller part of society is actually engaged in productive activity. As an example, agriculture is, in monetary terms, just a tiny sliver of the total economy. It's interesting that in an era with what's believed to be a good knowledge of biology and health, problems with health consume so much of financial and intellectual resources. How did humans manage to survive in previous centuries without the expensive and complex medical structure that is a very recent phenomenon? The same question could also be asked about the byzantine legal system.

Fuck, did we lurch into the post scarcity economy without even seeing the sign on the road?

I agree with your first paragraph but I quite like my frivolous entertainment and intend to go back to it as soon as this is all over. Fortunately there is still digital frivolous entertainment. Life is inherently frivolous so one might as well be entertained.

That's nice, "people must die so I can watch football" sounds a bit less self-righteous than "people must die to save our economy" because suddenly the chattering classes have gotten so concerned about the fate of food services workers.

Note my comment “as soon as this is all over.” I am taking social distancing very seriously while this is going on and only leaving my house to get outdoor exercise and restock on food once in a while.

No offense intended. I get it. I also note that Asian countries where they take masks and social distancing seriously yet they have concerts, movies, big crowded cities etc. This is necessary for us to control the virus but in the future we should be able to do this better and more intelligently.

I am frustrated by the spurious reasons given to pretend we must call the shutdown short because we refuse to account for our failures. For example, consider the claim that domestic violence will go up. I'm sorry but if you are living in a home where you have to get out 8 hours a day or else someone is going to physically attack you, saying the solution is getting the job open again is missing the problem. Perhaps the long run would best be served by fixing that home now rather than covering up the problem by turning work into a virtual second life.

Likewise the heartache over small business and people laid off is a bit shallow to me. Did these people talk much about small business as Wal-Mart and Amazon began their rise? When stories appeared about all types of laws France has that makes it hard for chains like McDonald's to open were they supportive or snickering? Now all in the sudden we care about the hardware store on the corner and the economy will end even though we just passed $2T in support?

Is the lockdown really causing "irreversible economic damage" or is it revealing how much of the economy consists of frivolous entertainment?

Both. In a wealthy society, a huge portion of our normal economic activity is frivolous. Restaurants, travel, airlines, airplanes, fashion, movies and TV, live entertainment, spectator sports. Gardening and landscaping (nobody actually needs a lawn or flowers). Most spending on homes is frivolous -- nobody needs homes as large or fancy as ours are (and the same goes for our vehicles). But of course the whole ecosystem of spending on non-essential goods and services is not just a sign of wealth, that economic activity is also what makes us wealthy. If we force a collapse of all that over a period of months, how long will it take (months? years? decades?) for it to return fully to life?

And we're not even certain -- absent a vaccine -- that doing all this lasting damage is even preventing any deaths at all (as opposed to only delaying them). It's not even clear that 'flattening the curve' is doing any good given the 90% death rate of ventilated patients. Providing patients with supplemental oxygen and sending them home might be just as effective (and much more humane) than what we're doing now.


Shocking this even needs to be pointed out on an Economics blog.

Every business is “essential “ if we want to be the economic engine of the world. That frivolous entertainment is what’s indirectly lifted 4 billion out of extreme poverty in the last 40 years.

+1 absolutely. These " frivolous" things are a sign of our wealth. Our economic activity allows Bill Gates to fight malaria. We can claim that only basic needs and wants are necessary and go back to subsistence farming. It's been tried in Zimbabwe.

These " frivolous" things are a sign of our wealth. Our economic activity allows Bill Gates to fight malaria.

It's a logical error to confuse a sign with the thing in itself. It is indeed a sign of wealth that a person might spend a lot of money on frivolous things. That does not mean buying lots of frivolous things makes a person wealthy nor does it mean that you destroy wealth if you decide to cut back your frivolous spending.

There are far too many people who like things precisely the way they are to ever consider a paradigm shift.

"No one knows the relative pace of either of those two processes. Yet commentators pretend to be increasingly knowledgeable, moralizing based on the pretense of knowledge they do not have."

Hey, don't look at me. I accept in principle that we reopen in a staged way.

But just going by my gut, I don't think any region should do that until they show that they can stop daily increase in cases or deaths.

It seems as simple enough measure, and doesn't even need a model.

If cases and deaths are increasing you do not have the disease under control.

FWIW, in my county almost all new cases and deaths are from nursing homes and similar facilities.

That's probably what people said, just before their meat packing plant or other factory was closed.

Doubtful. But if we stay home even harder, maybe coronavirus will politely leave the nursing homes it's already in.

Did you hear about they hero factory where everyone bunkered in, all workers slept on premises, for 28 days to produce PPE materials?

They are continuing on, another "shift" if coming on for 28 days. Now *that* is effective social distancing.

But what about your nursing homes? Are they bunkered in? Or are care workers shopping on the way home? Heck, in some regions we might expect them to be going to church services on Sunday, am I right?

So despite the lockdown, the virus still got into the nursing homes. Probably because diseases tend to spread where old, sick people are cooped up together.

The link Tyler provided with estimate of COVID deaths from nursing homes in 5 European countries was quite high.

I don't understand. Are you saying any policy which cannot protect nursing homes is .. incomplete, there for no policy is .. good?

By the way, you know, I sit on the stand and it’d get hot. I got a lot of — I got hairy legs that turn blonde in the sun, and the kids used to come up and reach in the pool and rub my leg down so it was straight and then watch the hair come back. I love kids jumping on my lap.

It might be a harder question whether we are forced to accept leveling rather than decline.

It might be tempting at some point if we can't bring cases down, but they seem level, to open. But boy does that seem dangerous also. If it's a disease you cannot control, any opening gives it gas.

"Yet commentators pretend to be increasingly knowledgeable, moralizing based on the pretense of knowledge they do not have."

There is a great place for the leadership, or would be/backseat leadership to be. Would it be time to start quoting Oliver Hardy?

I think a strong, sane and moral president would be making a better case for effective social distancing!

Listen here Jack, let me set you straight. This thing isn't going anywhere. Back in my day we didn't call it covid whatever; we called it the "Shanghai Shivers". I used to know a guy, went by the name Cornflake Jackson. Ol' Cornflake used to play guitar down at the pool hall. Here's the deal, fat: if Cornflake Jackson says the Shanghai Shivers, "Ain't no thang" you can take that to the bank, buckaroo. That's how I know you're full of shit. I'd punch your daughter straight in the mouth.

Wondering if this assessment is USA specific, worse actor or a global statement.

Particularly would ROK fall into that description, suggesting their plan to open is just a bunch of handwaving.

Pretty much everything here is USA specific. A fact that the non-Americas are starting to realize, in uncomfortable fashion.

Yes, “no one knows” is a fair assessment. I’d be suspicious of people who never changed their mind once during this whole crisis. My thought from the beginning was always how can we get back to normal as quickly as possible. I thought hammer and dance was the right approach a few weeks ago but it’s clear to me that we don’t have the will to do the hammer part (new daily cases in fell very rapidly after peaking in Asia, and fell less rapidly in Europe, but have barely fallen at all in the US), so now I think the best approach is probably to accept that we are going for herd immunity whether we like it or not. The government should lift all restrictions, including on international travel, and let people voluntarily decide for themselves how much they want to go out—I imagine most people will still stay in, except that the people with good reasons to need to move about. People themselves should decide whether their reasons are essential enough to risk infection. If we’re going for herd immunity, then it’s not clear that getting infected is much of a negative externality on others if you avoid vulnerable populations because everyone’s going to get this eventually anyway.

Even if we are forced to go for herd immunity, we could do some preparation beforehand.

How about getting all essentials available for curbside pickup for those who need them *while* maintaining distance?

Or maybe it just goes back to people not understanding what is necessary for effective social distancing. I try to go a month between shopping trips, but usually manage 2 week. Each time I go, I see the drive-thru fast foods packed. They may be keeping the economy going, but I can't think anybody involved ever took microbiology.

Nor the runners in the park, nor the ladies with their blankets 6-ft apart for a "social distancing party."

Yes, we should definitely make it easier for people to do business without face-to-face. I think one reason Wuhan was able to go into such a complete lockdown was that it had the tech infrastructure and army of delivery people that let people order whatever they needed online and have it delivered. In the US, we don’t have enough tech or delivery infrastructure to do that so people still have to go to stores to get food and that creates risk.

Universal delivery to the shut-in would be awesome.

I wonder what the US Mail could manage in a pinch. They are certainly moving less mail these days.

Yes, “no one knows” is a fair assessment. I’d be suspicious of people who never changed their mind once during this whole crisis.

This old scientist left a bunch of clear liquids in glass jars. No one knows if this jar simply has water or has some chemical that will be deadly. I'm not going to drink it and I'm not changing my mind about that unless you show me really good proof it's simple water...

Not changing my mind about that is a mark of good sense.

I'm tired of hearing things like "the economy is closed" and "the risk of a prolonged recession" as if the only tradeoff were between the number of deaths and US GDP.

People are being forced to stay at home against their will. Kids aren't at school; millions aren't working or socializing; it's been that way for over a month. At a human level, that's very bad. It's probably also a violation of everyone's constitutional liberties. I and most people I know are getting sick of it. The media promised us "Contagion" and what we got instead are would-be dictators arresting moms on playgrounds. The preferences of individuals will dictate what happens next, and it's clear that the momentum is with team Open Up.

And yet at the same time, Tyler's model of commentators who look at the data and draw opposite conclusions might be too optimistic.

"Trump chloroquine push came after talk with donor, source says.

The official said he was instructed to implement a program aimed at expanding access to the drug after the president's conversation with a billionaire supporter."

Scales. Eyes. People. That was even before the UV inside bodies stuff.

In a rational world, with a rational Republican party, this guy would be forced into retirement this week. At the very latest.

And then you go into November with Pence, who does a much better job of looking thoughtful and listening to experts.

Only 4.5 more years, bud. Hang in there, we're rooting for you!!

Answer me seriously. If you are standing for "people who prefer Trump to Pence," why is that?

Because of people like you.

For a guy who calls himself "Reason."

Really think that through. You literally cannot accept the best conservative hope, *because* someone you perceive as an enemy suggested it.

This despite the fact that I really am an independent ex-Republican, and the only reason people on this page have tried to paint me as "a liberal" is because I specifically oppose Trump (and Trump-ists).

And to continue this thought, is there literally any conservative or Republican you could have accepted when he said "Pence is a better bet?"

Or have you backed yourself in to such a corner that "Pence is better" is now an unforgivably "liberal" position?

No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman and so we have to just keep punching at it, and punching at it, and punching at it. No, I really mean it.

My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. Look me over, if you like what you see help out, if not, vote for the other Biden

I am asking for the best rational answer, why Trump over Pence?

So of course the troll can't take that. He knows he doesn't have that answer.

And fwiw, I think the best "rational" argument is this:

"It's not me, it's them."

"Sure I recognize the dangerous instability of the Trump administration, but I'm not confident that the rank and file do. And so I must support Trump, not because I like him, because my side does. They might not turn out for Pence in November."

Of course, at that point you should ask yourself if that side is deserving of that "rational" commitment.

By the way, you know, I sit on the stand and it’d get hot. I got a lot of — I got hairy legs that turn blonde in the sun, and the kids used to come up and reach in the pool and rub my leg down so it was straight and then watch the hair come back. I love kids jumping on my lap.

So for *rational* answers, crickets.

Whatever happened to reasoned conservatism?

It is a sad story, and I'm sure good for more than one book.

Shorter: Reason has absolutely nothing to do with it.

"source says" Yeah, that's been pretty useful, relying on unnamed 'sources'. Maybe it's a whistleblower? How'd that work out for all the TDSers? Nice bump for Trump in the polls and great campaign commercial material. 'What were the Democrats doing in January while COVID was spreading?' Oh, yeah, calling Trump a racist for doing something about it and other buffoonery stemming from 'sources'.

Come on man, the Trump and chloroquine story is in the public record. The man himself promoted it. His followers supported it. There is zero jump from there to "a source" saying the same thing.

And as I say, that's leaving aside the UV light up your butt.

Yeah, but it had a lot of press and looked promising at the time. Your claim is that he did it after talking to a donor, which is likely complete BS

Hero or villain? Some of you saying protestors are murderers are going to be conflicted.

“Atlanta (CNN)It began as a fight over a stay-at-home directive. By the end, a teenage boy was dead.

Atlanta police say they responded to a call of a person shot just after 8 p.m. Wednesday. When they arrived, they found 16-year-old De'onte Roberts gravely wounded.
He had been shot in the chest during a domestic dispute with his stepfather, 42-year-old Bernie Hargrove, Atlanta Police Department spokesman Steve Avery told CNN.”

So you are saying we cannot have a stay at home order in an emergency because some people live in homes where there is a real chance they will be killed by someone else in the home.

The solution to this is to not have stay at home orders. Talk about a Complacent Class.....

Battered women and abused children taking it on the chin for humanity. Dammit people. Don’t they know we have an election to win.

In this case, Bernie Hargrove was a coward, who used a gun in domestic abuse. It is not totally unheard of.

If it's a dangerous way domestic violence can escalate, what do we do about it? What *policies* would reduce the admixture of guns and domestic violence?

If I were you I would consider if you are living with people who are likely to shoot you. If the answer is yes, consider a change.

Why is he a coward? He listened to the scientists that said Black people are more likely to die from COVID. He was also listening to the governor of his state who said all non-essential travel should be stopped. I’m sure he tuned into CNN and MSNBC when they were talking to various politicians saying people venturing outside were killing people. Killing his step-son to save humanity was the least cowardly thing he could do.

"Why is he a coward?"

Ask a man, if you know one.

Regarding nonlinear damage to economy as lockdown continues:
- Labor force participation decline is severe (Nielsen survey), -7% since Feb. Why? of those not looking for a job, many are simply waiting to look for a job again (~2/3, with the other 1/3 choosing to retire). I work for a consulting firm, and we have cut almost 50% of our consulting staff. Many of them are 'temporary' (we will hire them back if business picks up), but if we do not see business pick up this summer, many of those temporary job losses will become permanent.
- Commodity prices - Carnage in Oil prices or lumber prices since March 1? A clear signal of mismatch of goods produced vs consumed. Lumber mills who weathered the last financial crisis are closing in CA (Nova Scotia's last saw mill closed). West Fraser closed their pulp plant for 4 weeks (starting 4/20), which is an input for TISSUE. The issue is not demand, but lack of wood fibre due to saw mill closures. A definite reordering is underway in the mix of goods/services we produce vs will actually consume.
Do we really believe that the jobs lost this week (4/23) are the same sort of jobs lost a month ago 3/23? They are not - we are witnessing the start of the decay. Second order job losses from industries with low direct retail/hospitality exposure, who just can't function if this continues.

No one knows, but my best guess is this:
- 1/10 job losses are 'permanent' today (workers will not have that job open to them even if things resumed 'normal' immediately). These workers will have to retool and search for another opportunity (likely lower wage). Perhaps this increases to 3/10 workers over next six months (that is - even if things resumed 'normal' overnight, the coordination decay just makes it impossible to rehire and resume output). Thoughts?

It sounds like you are saying the longer this goes on the more likely different consumption patterns may get 'locked in'. That would mean, however, that either a different consumption pattern just opens up jobs in other sectors or a different consumption pattern increases spending in areas that are simply not very labor intensive.

For example, if people decide they would rather spend more time at home doing crafts like gardening or sewing than, say, Starbucks....there will be fewer barista jobs but the jobs selling seeds and fabrics will probably not increase all that much.

In that case you're describing a positive supply shock to the economy which would mean you could increase demand either domestically or worldwide without incurring inflation.

In the pre Covid world, people did both of those things- go to Starbucks, and garden, sew, etc. You are assuming that having more options doesn't matter, and that people will just shift their consumption to the 'new normal' with no net loss. Am I reading that right? I suppose we'll have new things that businesses will create to replace the old things we buy in addition to the stuff that was there before. But I am VERY doubtful it will ever reach the level of a natural field with little to no restrictions. Does the increase in value from Netflix equal the loss from the movie studios and movie theaters? Would be interesting to find out. Again, isn't 'more' better than 'less' in terms of material wealth? I can't see how having these lockdowns leads to 'more stuff'. (leaving aside the health considerations here for the moment).

I'm not sure. How would movies be a loss? Either people want them back and will pay for them or they won't. In the past drive in movie theaters used to be a thing. Now they aren't. There's no law of economics that says they can't be. Just between the price of real estate, the quality of video/audio you can get from a phone, there's only so much you can get from selling tickets to such a thing.

I think this thing has accelerated many economic issues. For example, working from home will accelerate the decline in high quality office space. If a significant portion of people decrease their overall consumption regardless of their income, I think post-scarcity economics is going to have to be developed out even though at the same time there will be people who are nowhere near post-scarcity in their personal lives.

"If a significant portion of people decrease their overall consumption regardless of their income, I think post-scarcity economics is going to have to be developed out ". This is exactly what I worry about. I certainly don't know the answer, and can't predict the future, but this is the possible future that scares me the most. TC has written many books on the immense benefits to humanity of economic growth. If that gets cut down long term there will be consequences for quality of life.

It's interesting, you have a country like Mexico that didn't have good economic growth for a long time. In many ways life in Mexico is more difficult than the US. Certainly many people over the last 50 years left Mexico for a better life in the US. However, I know Mexico fairly well, and all my friends there are very happy, probably more happy than most Americans, and that's because of family and local culture. So, material wealth on its own may not need to be present for happiness. But I wouldn't bet that'll happen in the US.

I think we're not thinking clearly about material wealth. Material consumption could be eating out 7 days a week, it could also be doing serious cooking 7 days a week at home or anything in between.

I had a conference call this week with a coworker in India, I asked her how things are done there. They get to go to the grocery store but only for 10 minutes. I noted that sounded kind of tough. She said that in India a household typically has a month's worth of food at home so the grocery store trips are more about topping things off, plus people ahead of time began stocking up. In many ways developing countries are less fragile than the US has become.

Remember grocery stores 30 years ago? Much less variety and amenity. If you wanted anything exotic, was difficult and relatively expensive. Think of the contrast between local grocery store chains then vs Whole Foods today.

We should expect the consumer equivalent of shifting from many options and choices (Whole Foods) to fewer, less exciting options and choices (old local grocery). I use grocery as an example, but this shift will likely occur across much more sectors of the economy. The loss will be inability to coordinate as many goods and services to consumers at the same low price.
People will still be able to get many goods and services, but at much higher relative cost vs their incomes.

"People will still be able to get many goods and services, but at much higher relative cost vs their incomes". Exactly. And in turn, we lose exponential growth because people are spending less, and the downward spiral continues. I don't see any possible way out of this as long as we're in lockdown.

Somebody on twitter posted about how movies in the near future will be made at home. That the techology is good enough now to achieve this. We won't need big studios. I'm certain this is going to happen to a certain degree, it already has in music, but I'm very dubious about the overall quality of these films. I also doubt the growth and revenue potential for this model. And then you factor in all the jobs that aren't needed on the set anymore it makes the situation worse. In a perfect world, capitalism rebuilds, and I'm sure it will some years down the line (unless we turn into Argentina...), but the lockdown straight jacket makes it very tough to pull off.

Why would goods and services be at much higher cost relative to income? Keep in mind oil recently went negative. It seems to me our demand has fallen far below the fall in our productive capacity.

We start with deflation, then see decline in capacity and output.
An adjustment will occur in some industries (oil producers will stop producing). Ultimately, we cannot produce less and still consume the same volume at the same cost. Real quality of living must drop. Either by higher real prices or less consumption.

We are already consuming less, so why would that generate inflation? Not all consumption is automatically desired. Let's say going forward a workplace does an 'odd-even' schedule with employees working from home every other day.

Gas consumption going back and forth - down 50%
Wear and tear on car consumption - down 50%
office building space usage - down 50%

If this was sustained for an extended period of time, production would indeed contract in these areas. Gas production is tied to demand estimates. Auto manufacturing is as well.

Yet this doesn't get you inflation. Production simply falls to demand. To get inflation you need demand to go somewhere else that the market cannot increase production of in time. N95 masks? Netflix movies? I'm not sure what but you're not getting inflation unless you have some set of products whose price is going to get bid up aggressively and production cannot increase them any time soon (high end home office furniture?).

Genuine Q: What does irreversible mean here?
Is it just referring to the idea that some specific shops and restaurants won't reopen?

Isn't "irreversible" a function of time as well? After all in the early/mid 1940s lots of Europe, for example, was bombed to dust and they seem to have recovered - and not just yesterday either.

Re: "No one knows the relative pace of either of those two processes. Yet commentators pretend to be increasingly knowledgeable,"

The irony, of course,
Is that the post describes what will happen.
It should have said:
No commenter except me knows....
It will continue to decay,
It will be non-linear....

It’s not that they don’t want to help, they don’t know what to play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the — make sure that kids hear words, a kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time we get there.

No, I’m going to go like the rest of them do, twice over. Because here’s the deal.

This sounds a lot like
Donald Trump
Imitating Joe Biden
On a good day.

Maybe Trump can inoculate
His followers
With Clorox.

Test and Trace vs Market Prices - which one will Alex choose??

“ Wealthy Hamptons residents are getting COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody tests at their mansions from concierge medical firms who charge membership fees in the thousands.

Sources told Page Six that people in “spacesuits” turn up at homes in the area to administer the tests, and demand “has been so intense that some people are happy to pay” exorbitantly.

One medic running this service is Dr. Bernard Kruger, who has a private practice uptown and whose clients reportedly include Leon Black, Howard Stern, Tommy Mottola, Tommy Hilfiger and Sting. The tests are free to members, but come with a house-call fee of $1,000.”

Grammar police here.
Write "That is where we are" instead of "That is where we are at".

Don't let sloppy language diminish the force of your excellent analysis.

It was crappy analysis. How does "no one knows anything" rate as excellent analysis? Are you twelve?

At least he has stopped fearmongering. Which should tell you something.

It's entirely clear that most of the country could open RIGHT NOW. And that Tyler and the other Dems are very disappointed by this.

Interesting observation I heard on a podcast. For the first time in a while the entire world is immune from FOMO. Is this an essential virtual drug the modern economy needs or might there be some long run benefits to purging it from the system, if only for a brief period of time?

Let's try to be honest here:

How many of the "work from home" people are producing any real output? Most white collar jobs actually do have to be done at the office to have any real value, and so many of them are dependent on other people actually doing their jobs from actual office or other facility.

Keep this in mind when you make statements along the lines of "it doesn't matter because working from home is just as productive as working in the office. It just isn't true.

"Most white collar jobs actually do have to be done at the office to have any real value"


What deaths? 80 year olds in nursing home on blood thinner? Nobody dies from flu virus alone.

You're just prolonging this thing by locking down.

How many deaths from the lockdown themselves?

I'm never listening to you again on anything, Tyler.

Will there be restrictions on the size of showers, weddings and funerals going forward?

Do we shut down or severely restrict amusement park attendance? What about Broadway? Play venues? Concert halls? Museums?

What about fundraisers? I attend some that are 500-1000 people.

Also not every state is impacted the same way. We are not all NY or their tri-state area in this instance.

If living in colder areas is more dangerous than warm areas, will we see an even greater migration south?

Will some possible crowd restrictions be seasonal going forward like allowing larger weddings/events in the summer and smaller events in he winter and much more restrictive in colder states?

A lot of people (apparently including Tyler) may be overestimating the extent to which official restrictions are to to blame for the recession.

The economy nosedived before mid March. You will see this if you look at the March jobs report (which refers to the March 12 reference well), Homebase and Womply data on small businesses, OpenTable data on restaurants etc. Shelter in place orders didn't start until after then.

Even during social distancing, many businesses that are exempt from official restrictions have closed. The auto industry didn't have to shut down, but it did. Boeing and Airbus as well. Many food manufactures too. Manufacturing shut down because workers got infected.

If official restrictions were the problem, the economy would have been fine until late March, and the manufacturing sector would not have abruptly dropped in early April.

The virus killed the economy, not official restrictions.

I just want to say that your "Where we're at" posts are knocking it out of the park. Keep it up.

Rising in status: Socrates. Maybe also Kahneman and Tversky.

I think it’s more realistic to think of small (mostly) irreversible steps taken each day. Every day there are more and more events and the average size of events get bigger.

Tier One Events - happening daily) example: A small Greek restaurant (10) employees can’t sell all their food and drink. They give it away, eat it etc. over some many days they run out of money (and energy) to rebuy the $10k of inventory needed to reopen.

Tier Two - Six location restaurant distributor chain restarts once restaurants are open but needs only half capacity for first six months - because of new warehouse loan and acquisition debt for two of the locations they can’t pay all debts so go bankrupt and end up closing four locations.

The longer this lasts the further these events spread and the bigger and bigger the companies are that fall. And the broader each industry change ripples out start from restaurants to the equipment manufacturers, the trucking companies the construction companies, to the oil suppliers and the metals vendors and the tractor builders on and on.

Every day another vase gets broken and it will not be replaced very fast.

Buy guns and ammo. We will need them to protect what is ours from the government and those who will steal anything not protected and nailed down.

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