The Sport of Speculation, by VF

Is the coronavirus panic a replay of the 9/11 panic, and for the same purpose? From VF at thechicagoeconomist.com:

I’m beginning to believe the current “pandemic” is perhaps just the latest contrived “enemy of the state”. An opportunity taken by western governments that have, over the past 20 or 30 years, gotten bolder in their willingness to fabricate fear to secure a political end. Political ends are always about greater control, corruption, and ultimately, cover ups.

In the age where air has become second to digital noise in terms of ubiquity, and hyperbole has replaced truth as the journalistic objective, governments’ ability to leverage misinformation (i.e. propaganda) has become a precision tool. Like it or not, society has become confused by the amount of information thrown at us and that makes us susceptible.

But if this is contrived political hysteria, what is the objective?

I’ve heard people on either side of the aisle suggest it is to help or hurt Trump. And perhaps, it is that simple. However, given equally good points on both sides of that argument I am skeptical. So then what? Well, I think back to 9/11 and whether you believe it was an act of terrorism by our own government or some other group, the end result was the same – The Patriot Act, and a truckload of knock-on legislation that quietly edged out our individual rights and freedoms. All in the name of keeping us safe from harm.

Ok, but do we see any of that happening as a result of this current narrative? Of course. Right now a bill is making its way through Congress that most legislators, have admittedly, not read but are ready to approve. And perhaps the most glaring action is the $5 trillion financial bail out that took place over the weekend. This is by far, the biggest financial industry bailout ever to take place, at least on this planet. Most Americans have no idea a bailout is taking place and those that do will never come to know that the bailout began in early September. On September 2nd, the Fed began its second epic “bank bailout”. That is, it has nothing to do with the virus.

And it isn’t just banks but the entire sport of speculation that require a bailout. The leverage inherent in the sport of speculation, across all asset classes, has created an aggregate risk position so large there is no longer enough cash to cover the margin call.

And this is where we’ve run into trouble. In 2008, we had levered specific collateral instruments up using nonsensical economics. At the time I was studying financial engineering at Chicago Booth. I graduated in December 2008, after spending 2 years studying the models that were proving, in real time, to be absolutely wrong and creating massive pain for the bottom half of the economic food chain. To crawl out of that mess we printed trillions of dollars to bail out the large risk positions that had earlier created immense wealth for those on the top of the economic food chain.

This past weekend, once again the Fed announced a $5 trillion bailout and it went completely unnoticed by the public because we are distracted by a “world ending virus”. The largest financial bailout in the history of the world and nobody knows it happened because the focus is on a virus that to date, has resulted in 50 deaths in America (at the same time 8,000 deaths have resulted from the flu in America).

I am constantly having Italy being thrown at me as evidence the virus is going to wipe out humanity. So I decided to look into Italy, specifically. What I found is that Italy has about 16K flu related deaths each year. That’s a little over 2K flu related each month of the 7 month flu season. And here are Italy’s Covid figures.

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 7.49.46 AM.png

The new cases are in decline and the total death count in the 2 months since the outbreak began there, is at 2158, so about 1K per month (half that of the flu during the same period). And Italy is the worst case scenario in terms of mortality rate (fatality to recorded infections – yes this is a less than ideal statistic in terms of meaningfulness). Germany, for instance has an incredibly low mortality rate.

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 7.59.04 AM.png

And let me be clear, I’m not saying we shouldn’t take this seriously. My point is whether or not the severe response from western governments is a reasonable response given the “threat”.

In 2009, the Swine Flu hit America’s shores. Let’s look at the spread and mortality figures of the Swine Flu outbreak that went almost unnoticed by the public and media. In fact, I had no idea Swine Flu hit our shores until the writing of this article. As of mid-March 2010, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that about 59 million Americans contracted the H1N1 virus, 265,000 were hospitalized as a result (0.4% of the estimated total number of people who contracted it), and 12,000 died (0.02%).

Now let’s compare the US Covid outbreak to date.

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 8.08.45 AM.png

59 million Americans contracted Swine Flu, 265,000 were hospitalized, and 12,000 died from the 2009/2010 outbreak. Yet the public noise over that outbreak was so muted that I don’t even remember it hitting our shores. Today, we have Covid, and in 2 months it has infected 4,600 Americans and 85 have succumbed to the virus.

If I were to show these figures to an alien and ask them to identify which scenario resulted in a lockdown of society, which do you suspect they’d point to? Exactly. 100% of you pointed to Swine Flu. 100% of you.

So how is it that the western governments picked Covid? And more importantly, why?

5 responses to “The Sport of Speculation, by VF

  1. Pingback: The Sport of Speculation, by VF — STRAIGHT LINE LOGIC – uwerolandgross

  2. If I were you I would wait till C19 is over before you start telling people it is basically harmless. Straight line logic cannot be inferred when the pandemic is not even reached its peak. Look, before you leap, that’s all I’m saying.

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    • Looking before you leap is always good advice, and that’s exactly what I’ve tried to do–let’s look at facts and potential worse case scenarios before we trash our economy and throw out the rest of our freedoms.

      I’ve never said C19 is basically harmless. It certainly kills people, although what percentage of cases die (many cases are undetected) or what percentage of the overall population dies are subject to widely varying estimates and the data is imperfect. What I’ve said (“Basic Math”) is I think the early estimates were overblown by orders of magnitude (the British revised their estimate of deaths from 500,000 to 20,000). I also believe that the costs we are bearing, both economically and to our remaining civil liberties, will far outweigh whatever benefits we are realizing from the measures that have been taken (“The Last Gasp”). 10 million people have applied for unemployment benefits in the US the last two weeks. That’s 41 lost jobs for every confirmed case of C19 in the U.S., and 1700 lost jobs for every death. How many of the 1700 who lose their jobs will suffer early deaths from the stress of unemployment and being unable to pay bills, being unable to afford medical care, being cooped up under virtual lock down, etc.? These are not insignificant costs. The measures being taken are unprecedented, are destroying livelihoods and consequently will produce their own death statistics, and I believe are cover for a power grab from people who have never demonstrated any kind of concern other than empty rhetoric for there fellow men and women. I thought that when the measures were first announced (“The Last Gasp”), and I think that now. The coronavirus outbreak will eventually recede, as viral outbreaks do, but I’m afraid neither the economy or our civil liberties will be coming back, perhaps ever.

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      • Under Trump, I don’t expect they will. But if the econmy tanks, Trump will not get any benefit from it. He will be chucked out on his naked ass.
        Unless he prevents an election from happening. And that is up to the American citizens to make sure does not happen.
        Your numbers from Britain,those aren’t revisions, those are worst case and best case scenarios figured out by algorithms, just predictions impossible to predict.
        10 million people applied for unemployment insurance–they were told to apply. If you were working and the lockdown caused you to lose your job, of course you should apply. It wasn’t you who lost your job, the government took it away from you. Someone has to be responsible. And you know that someone is not the president. He cannot stand to give money away unless it is to himself. His advisors are forcing him to do this, orthey will all lose their seats in the Senate. That scares the shit out of them.
        And, as I said, wait for the final numbers, not the projected stats or the fear-mongering. You don’t know what they are going to be, I don’t know what they are going to be, NO ONE DOES!
        Rushing to conclusions usually ends up with egg on someone’s face. Most probably yours, because the facts can only have 1 result–the truth. That means 99.99999999% of predictions are wrong.

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