I’m an opinionated person.  I try to be respectful of others, but I take in an awful lot of information to come up with my assessments.  When you  get new information, you make new assessments.

Below – I will make the arguments for re-opening and keeping it closed, but then I’m having some fun discussing some tin foil hat shit.  None of that is “real”, but “what if?”  Thought provoking stuff that has no real basis in reporting or new stories anywhere.  Just some conjecture based off of how some friends think some of this may have gone down.

 

What led up to the closing of the US?

For about 6 weeks leading up to this country closing, I was a very strong advocate of action.  The information we had at the time:

  1. The R0 was thought to be 2-3
  2. China was getting devastated with cases and building hospitals overnight.
  3. Italy and Iran become overrun
  4. The CFR was disclosed as 3.4%
  5. No one in the US was testing
  6. Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea seemed to have it under control with lots of testing, travel restrictions, and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) like face masks and social distancing

At that exact same time, you had medical professionals sharing articles saying “masks don’t work”.  You had Dr. Drew smacking the media saying essentially that this was no worse than the flu.  People on social media were mocking each other – basically saying that this is the flu, stupid, and since we’re so smart and rich, we’ll be ok.

Then the WHO finally announced a pandemic (about a month too late) and with this, almost immediately, “flatten the curve” started its movement. Tons of closings, NPIs, everything like that came about.

Recently, Dr. Oz (another TV doctor) sent a video out about hydroxychloroquine and the zpak, working in tandem, has high success rates.  This treatment option has been mentioned for over a month, and one of my family members is now on it, with another soon to follow.  From this, there’s this camp that is trying to play down the success of it.  No one knows quite sure where support of this comes from, but on my social media, the only people I see pushing this narrative are…not big fans of our president.  I don’t want to look further into this, but it seems like somehow this treatment became red vs blue.

The case for re-opening!!

  1. WE POSSIBLY HAVE A TREATMENT.  With the study above, they found the CFR is .5%.  This is 5 times worse than the flu.  This is not 100 million dead worldwide, and seems the earlier people get it, the better their outcome.  This seems to work by reducing the viral load as well as reducing the inflammation.  Like the Spanish Flu – it seems those with high viral load set off high immunity responses – which creates a cytokine storm.  So your body can participate in killing you and these treatments, combined, seemed to allow it to run its course.
  2. We now understand NPIs as a nation.  Hong Kong is fine.  When those that have it reduce their ability to spread it, it reduces the odds you get it in the wild.  Given this is a novel virus, you will get it at some point – but it’s better to have it when the hospitals have lots of capacity as opposed to when they are overrun.
  3. The economy, stupid.  No one likes the idea of people getting back to work to risk their health to keep billionaires rich.  However, if the risk of death now is significantly lower and there’s more treatments available that are dirt cheap, the risk of decimating our economy may outweigh 5 deaths in 1,000.  At what number do you determine the economy is ok to re-open at?  The CFR according to the WHO is 34 deaths per 1000, so if we can reduce the odd of death by 7 times, and keep NPIs in place, then there’s a strong case to be made that a sustained depression of 5-10 years could lead to many thousands of times the deaths as COVID.  Do you keep it closed for 5 deaths per 1,000 but 3 deaths per 1,000 is acceptable?  If the flu is 1 death per 1,000 then at what point are you throwing darts at the wall and guessing a number?
  4. China is re-opened.  There are pockets coming back up there, but now that there’s treatment and NPIs in place there, there’s less likelihood of a full out zombie attack on their hospitals.
  5. We flattened the curve and gave our healthcare workers the ability to fight this fight without getting completely overrun.  It’s not over.  More people will get this.  But now with a treatment and NPIs, it seems maybe we have lessened the number of people coming in to reduce that exponential rate.
  6. Many of us think we already had it.  Like many of us.  I personally never get sick.  Maybe 7 years ago was the last time I was legit sick other than an eye infection of some weird thing some 4 years ago.  I felt like a half zombie for 5 days and slightly feverish.  No cough.  No serious fever.  A bunch of us went to a retreat and we feel we all may have gotten it from a patient 0 there.  My son was out of school for 3 days and he passed it to his mom’s side.  I felt many people at work may have had it in Feb and Mar as I was seeing tons of really sick people at work and spreading it.  In the US, people come to work sick all the time because we don’t have the amount of paid leave that other countries have – and we all live well beyond our means so we cannot afford unpaid time off.  If most of us think we already had it, and there were no tests available, why would you continue to hold back people from participating in society when there is little risk to them or others from them?
  7. I know I mentioned the economy above, but if we don’t reopen inside of a month, all bets are off with how our entire economic system operates.

 

The case for staying closed

  1. Treatment.  There’s no double blind clinical trial with millions of cases to study and analyze over 6 month for $1 billion to officially say this treatment works.  The whole concept for flatten the curve was to try and find some miracle treatment that helps this.  It may take a year to create a vaccine, which may help with seasonal prevention of this – but right here and now, this is the best we have.  Those that want to stay closed have legitimate fears of death. It is not an imagined fear.
  2. Numbers – there’s 500,000 cases or so in the US right now.  We have 330,000,000 people.  Given that, you can legitimately say that there’s a LOT more people who could get it and we are just at the very beginning.  I’d also point out to that argument that we were about 6 weeks too late on the testing and the numbers you are seeing now may be the worst of the worst who sought medical treatment after becoming aware of this.
  3. Risk – there’s still probably a LOT of people who haven’t gotten it yet, and with this, you risk death of elderly and infirm.
  4. Fear of the unknown – what if we re-open to early and the NPIs and treatment do not work and we then shoot to 50 million sick in a week?  This is a legitimate fear.  However, I’d say to this that the big issue from the beginning was that our country had zero understanding of NPIs.  That has changed.  You can look to Hong Kong, south Korea, and Singapore as leaders in this, and life is just normal for them there.  The big thing is, they went through this with SARS awhile back and their citizens knew how to fight this.  We didn’t.  Masks absolutely work, and when I saw posts saying they didn’t I lost my goddamn mind.  Look to countries that have had success and mimic that.

 

My analysis

There’s risk.  On one hand, you stay closed and it’s quite possible that 5, 10, 100 days from now our entire economic system lands on its head and shits the bed worse than March.  As I wrote, our financial system was absolutely due for a hard correction.  I felt maybe this would take us to a fall down to 22-24k in a several month spiral, and from there, who knows.  I didn’t foresee us touching 19k.  Fiscal and monetary policy kicked in, and this has taken us in the 22k range.  Make no mistake – this is a life support effort to keep us going until we can get back on our feet.

At this time, I feel we can put a plan together for a phased-in approach to getting back to normal.  during this time, I stayed at home, a lot.  I have also ventured out at times to the grocery store and lowe’s for gardening items to make my own food.  What I noticed was that an overwhelming number of people now are wearing masks.  Everyone is cleaning their hands and wiping shopping carts.  People are keeping a distance.  NPIs are working.

Nate’s Phased-in approach

  1. Those that can telework should continue to do so for the next 30 days.
  2. Stores should be able to re-open within 2 weeks that are closed now.  NPIs should be enforced at least for the next 60 days.  For example, no one is allowed in a store without a mask.  Just an example.  Maybe keep the number of people in your stores limited and post signs about NPIs and 6 feet apart.  2 weeks gives the healthcare system some time to wind down the apex and brace for more waves – if they come.
  3. Schools closed until the fall.  Kids are little germ factories, and no need to get kids to school in the next 2 weeks only for an entire school to pass this around and then cause mass panic.
  4. Restaurants should be able to re-open in 2 weeks.  Post signs about NPIs.  If customers want to venture in at this point, let them.
  5. If you are sick, don’t come to work.  In this country, people go to work sick all the time.  Employers in this country staff as lean as possible to get the job done.  If people call out unexpectedly, it puts a massive strain on production and other staff.  Sick time isn’t given out easily here for fear of employees abusing it and constantly putting all work production at risk of failing to meet requirements.  That being said, I believe this country needs to really look at how we deal with this as a nation moving forward.  For example, increasing, by law, paid sick time off.  If you have a headache or feel off one day, I get calling off.  But if you take a second day off in a row, I want a doctor’s note.  Today, most company policies have after the 3rd day.  If I’m going to be giving more PTO out, I want assurances it is not being abused.  That being said – people like me, who do NOT get sick, might be able to convert the sick PTO to vacation leave at the end of the year.
  6. Large gatherings over 50 people are prohibited in the next 4-8 weeks.  For example, many things like concerts make money by packing people in like cattle.  This is where a super spreader could really do damage.  Until we are out of the woods, I’d say 8 weeks is when I’d start really looking at larger gatherings being ok.  That takes you to mid June. Even if people then start spreading it more, that’s 10 weeks from now that you might see flare ups.  I think by then, there may be a lot of herd immunity and where this could have decimated a community before, this might just give us small peaks here and there.
  7. Workplaces should (mostly) require face masks for the next 4-8 weeks.  They should have hand sanitizer stations everywhere (mine does).

 

I think the R0 of this is higher than we thought.  I think many of us in the US had it already, and this spread rapidly through our population.  They weren’t even testing for it here in February and early March unless you directly came from China or “had contact” with someone from China.  This was completely stupid.  If someone came from China in early February out of Wuhan and was asymptomatic, he could have passed it at the airport to Charlie in luggage.  Charlie could have gotten in and 5 days later went to get his hair cut by Suzy.  Suzy could have then cut hair for 100 people before “feeling” ill and going to an urgent care with “flu like symptoms”.  Suzy cut hair, and had no idea of anyone she cut hair had been to China.  Charlie had very mild symptoms of a headache and fatigue and never went to urgent care.

Suzy was never tested.  She recovered just fine in a few days, but her family got sick, and her kids passed it on in school and her husband gave it to 50 people at his workplace.  Some of them visited their parents in old folks homes and by the end of March, we started to see some serious cases there and testing revealed COVID.

Those who I know have it were exposed mid March prior to any NPIs being put in place and should recover just fine.  But that’s the point – I think many people got it already and only the worst of the cases are now really making it to the headlines.

I’m now for re-opening.

 

For entertainment now, I’m going to add some tinfoil hat stuff.  Some people out there believe this was a bioweapon.

“But Nate, this didn’t kill hundreds of millions!!”

You have to ask yourself, what do you intend to do with a bioweapon?  Mysteriously, virtually no children have died from this worldwide.  There’s a meme going around of the same 13 year old boy dying in several countries which is getting some chuckles.

This does have a case fatality rate much higher than the flu.  Much.  But for most people, it’s very mild.  The R0 is insane, and I believe it to be FAR higher than 2.  I believe most of us have already had it now.  But – what has happened to our country?

With a Keynsian type of economy, like we run, based on fiat – the velocity of currency is important.  This is covered in depth by mike Maloney in The Hidden Secrets of Money, part 7.  When the velocity of currency stops, the whole system can collapse.

Even I – some idiot on the internet, was able to see our financial system was supremely overbought.  In Sept 2019, we had the first cracks of our system where the fed had to go in and get involved in the repo market.  The coil was set.  All that was needed was to have the everything bubble popped by an outside force.  More repo actions.

Background:  China and Russia have been buying gold for the last 5 years at crazy rates.  Many countries have been trying to get off of the dollar standard.  China has been creating a crypto currency backed by gold.  All of the world’s currencies are tied to the US dollar, and this is pegged to oil.  Our influence is because of our military.  We have the biggest, the mightiest.  But…we print money in our basement and go into debt at will to do this.  Other countries don’t exactly like this.

So, if I could create some sort of weapon which could seize the western economies, it can potentially bankrupt them or destabilize the US dollar to the point of collapse and the world may turn to a different form of currency as its standard.  This would prevent the US from going into debt to pay for its military.  While you cannot defeat America’s military head on with tanks – what happens if you crater their economy to the point that they cannot buy any more weapons and may have to sell off those that they have?

Whatever country wants to do this – pick one – would then have to create a situation where there is death, and fear of death, reasonably so that people stop spending money.  Our entire system is based on debt and velocity of currency.  Whether this is Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, China, anyone really – whoever might want to harm our interests can’t beat us with tanks, so maybe they would beat us with a superbug.

Well – as a former chess player, here’s how I’d strategize

  1. No attribution is tolerated.  You cannot give the enemy a target to fire at.  Mass confusion.  This is usually done with cyber attacks where it’s hard to find attribution
  2. A weapon would need to be created that does not kill children.  No one tolerates that.
  3. The weapon would have the ends of destabilizing the US and other western allies.  The means are biological.  There are means of stopping it, but they involve NPIs and some drastic measures of isolation.  Western countries work with velocity of currency and when this velocity stops, a debt mushroom cloud can wipe them out.
  4. Once the bomb was set and effects were felt, I’d then work to destabilize oil, which is pegged to the US dollar.  The US is by far the largest oil producer in the world and if I could crush those prices, I could decimate texas oil and shale oil.
  5. The weapon would have to kill enough people to get headlines, but not enough so that it would wipe out populations.  Cause enough fear an hysteria to shut down countries for weeks or months.
  6. Timing is important.  The US has massive debt right now, but we need to see when to use it.  The repo market entries by the fed seemed to be the trigger in Sept and Oct is apparently when this bug got out.  Could it have been placed in Wuhan 300 yards from their CDC by Russia FSB?  North Korea?  Remember, Kim Jun Un killed his brother at an airport with a bioweapon.  Remember, attribution is at issue here.  If China did this, why would they release it on their own population?  They wouldn’t.  Unless they knew how to contain such a thing and by releasing it on their own population it would throw off suspicion.

Like in chess, you need an opening, middle game, and end game.  There’s strategy and tactics.  The endgame:

  1. Remove the US dollar as the world’s currency
  2. Decimate the western world’s economies to the point they need to significantly reduce their military budgets
  3. Destroy the US shale oil and oil industries as a means of financing war
  4. Destroy NY as the financial hub of the world to eliminate 401ks and derivative products
  5. Control all future currency with a government-backed crypto.  Government could seize currency at any time by going to a “paperless” currency.
  6. Control gold as the world’s wealth.

 

Now – if you see what the endgame is, and we have serious enemies out there.  How would you go about achieving that endgame?  Remember, Trump has been a disruptive force and challenged China’s currency devaluation and trade deficits.  We have sanctions on Russia.  We threaten North Korea.  I live here and know the good we do to help countries, but in the eyes of other nations, they only see our country through a lens of their own government opinions.  I know many of us don’t want to be involved in most international relations and do not want our military everywhere.  This is why many of us voted the way we did – the person in office has no appetite for our military to be everywhere.  The establishment (left and right) does want our military everywhere.

Lastly –

I feel I made a strong case for reopening the country.  If you go on news outlets now, it is sooooo negative.  One story after another about COVID.  I’m seeing all kinds of videos on youtube talking about another great depression.  Remember how people hoped for a recession to de-throne Trump?  Well – Trump’s best friend right now is to re-open the economy.  We will still be seeing a recession, but we might have a quick V shaped recovery back up to 28-29k by election time and he can boast how quickly they reacted with programs and fiscal policies to defeat COVID.  On the other hand, an overwhelming majority of the media hates our president and continuing to push negative stories only makes the recession that much longer and deeper.  If this goes on another 30-60 days…you’re not looking at a recession folks.  You’re looking at far worse.  Could that be the answer to beating Trump?

What means do you need to satisfy the ends?

I’d suggest taking a hard look at re-opening within 30 days in some form a reality to move forward.  The hell with how Trump looks one way or the other.  This is for your neighbors who are out of work.