THE WOLF STREET REPORT: What Will the Coronavirus Do to the US & Chinese Economy?

Is this the black-swan event people have been predicting for years?

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  179 comments for “THE WOLF STREET REPORT: What Will the Coronavirus Do to the US & Chinese Economy?

  1. 2banana says:

    Wow – 70% of Chinese GDP is shut down until at least February 9th!

    A very well kept quiet fact.

    • Pinto says:

      It’s going to be even more ridiculous and absurd now.
      Closed borders, supply chains and shipments falling off a cliff.
      At the same time rallying markets.
      Way more serious than we all think.
      And never forget:
      Subprime is contained

  2. Stan Sexton says:

    Just wait until the Coronavirus hits India and Africa!

    • Nicko2 says:

      As I’m in North Africa, I expect it will be bad. An infected patient already traveled to Sudan via Cairo. One million Chinese contractors work across Africa. The virus is now global, but the countries least able to deal with it will suffer the most. It will have knock-on global effects, such as increasing migrant movements to Europe, weaken fragile regimes, ect…

      • char says:

        Not really. It is just another common cold virus of which there are many. It is not particular deathly or so. They want to stop it because they can not because it is a big deal if they fail/

        • Raymond Rogers says:

          So China shuts down the economy for the run-of-the-mill flu virus?


        • Frederick says:

          Raymond It’s NOT a run of the mill virus Have you been living under a rock?

        • Nextworldpresident says:

          How many thousands of people die daily from various pathogens in China?
          And unknown causes,

        • NBay says:

          Ha Ha….define “run off the mill virus” Fred.

        • Arctic Chickens says:

          For anyone who reads through this you should be advised that the official CCP numbers are that, of just over 1000 finished cases, 40% resulted in death. The apparent “low” mortality rate of 2% is an artifact of bad math – deaths divided into active cases.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Arctic Chickens,

          I doubt that Chinese numbers are totally true, but your death rate of 40% is BS. Death rates are figured this way: number of people who died divided by the number of ALL people who were infected, whether or not they had serious symptoms. Death rates are NOT figured by the people who died divided by the number of people in intensive care.

          The latest figures are: 20,613 infections, 427 deaths = death rate of 2%. This is a LOT higher than the seasonal flu, but it’s not 40%, which is BS.

        • Joe says:

          Wolf, respectfully, Your math is also off, because you are neglecting to account for the one to two week lag between reporting to hospital as sick and succumbing to the infection.

          The people who die from the virus today have been sick and counted as confirmed cases for over a week in most cases, and in some cases over two weeks.

          To calculate a more accurate rate, you should compare today’s death count with the case count from 1-2 weeks ago. Today’s active cases is the wrong denominator, as the outcome of those cases is yet to be determined.

          The number of confirmed cases one week ago was 4,595, resulting is today’s death count of 496. Hence the mortality rate is not 2%, but much closer to 496/4595 = 11%.

        • Joe says:


          11% may be a shocking and unbelievable number, but consider:

          • The mortality rate of SARS was initially thought to be about 2.5% but rose to over 10% once the cases peaked and the deaths caught up to the declining rate of new cases.

          • China has implemented some truly amazing measures to contain this virus, including (1) arresting people for not wearing masks and even for being outside at all, (2) requiring households to report sick persons under threat of prosecution for noncompliance, and (3) building not one but TWO brand new hospitals in under two weeks, which from leaked videos look more like morgues or prisons than hospitals.

          This is not a run-of-the-mill disease that will quickly blow over. This is a rare combination of the mortality of SARS with the vitality of the flu, with asymptomatic contagion allowing it to literally fly under the radar.

          Western countries are downplaying the threat as long as they can. The virus will continue spreading, but isolated cases with no obvious connection to foreign travel will not be tested for coronavirus and will be diagnosed as flu or pneumonia.

          Eventually, however, if the virus continues to spread in each new host country as it did in China (doubling every two days), then soon enough there will be overwhelming numbers of sick people at several ERs, and the problem will be too obvious to ignore. Hospitals will begin testing all symptomatic patients with coronavirus, and the confirmed cases will skyrocket globally. As the false narrative that this is “no big deal” or “a China problem” will be exposed, and the resulting global panic will be like nothing any of us have seen in our lifetimes.

          Buckle up. This is going to get very serious indeed.

        • Joe says:

          edit: “vitality” -> “virality”

      • Rod says:

        The trouble with the stats that they are reporting is that they are conflating infection rate with survival rate. The true mortality rate is based upon medical outcomes, recoveries or deaths. As it stands now 30 percent of the people who get it, die. Seventy percent survive. Other factors include access to healthcare, poverty and geographic locations. This is the unspoken number not getting attention.

    • mike says:

      This will be a gigantic tragedy when this virus hits countries with even fewer ventilators, oxygen bottles, or ways to ameliorate the effects of patients having most aveoli in their lungs filled with fluid. Even the strong may become too weak, without adequate nursing care to give them IVs, etc., because the tiny available resources will be spread out among many patients; or given to the rich/connected; and there will be limited help from other countries given how fast this virus is spreading.

      Even if the US were to remain uninfected by this virus, which is unlikely, this will be a disaster even in US counties that have enough medical resources to treat patients. It will freeze manufacturing for lack of parts as Forbes’ article discussed and temporarily stop much business. If anyone wants to short stocks, I predict that the Chinese stock markets will drop like a rock thrown from an airplane at 20,000 feet, probably today and tomorrow. Other markets will follow.

      The Chinese communists announced that they will put $22 billion in support to keep the Chinese stock market from falling too much. I think that will be like a baby mosquito trying to stop a gigantic, overloaded train. The predicted, world recession is almost certainly here.

      • NBay says:

        True. Quality supportive care is not available to all, strong immune system building diets are not available to all, living conditions more free of constant body stressing events, chemicals, and pathogens are not available to all.

        • NBay says:

          No idea what will happen to any stocks as I gave up that habit just before the FC….no not early enough, I was told to “diversify”, so lost 20% or so of my small pile, before I bailed for good.

    • Aravind says:

      It has already hit India. The first confirmed case, and two more subsequent ones, have been in my home state of Kerala. 100 kms. (63 miles) from my house. All are students studying in universities in Wuhan, China, where it all started. Are we concerned? Certainly. But are we panicky? No. We have overcome cases like the Nipah virus successfully. I can’t vouch for north India, but am sure these parts would do alright. So, stereotype as much as you want, but reality may be different…
      – somebody who has been through the thick of the SARS outbreak of 2003 in, among other places, Singapore.

    • Eduardo Henriquez says:

      Perhaps what the World Health Organization expects is: 1) identify people who contract the disease. 2) Identify benign cases or contaminated people who do not get sick. 3) Examine and take blood samples from these people, to make and test new vaccines or antibiotics that give results. 4) Make a large number of vaccines and test them. 5) Multiply factories and technicians to produce more # of vaccines.

  3. Crazy Chester says:

    Hello?  In the USA we average around 50K deaths from REGULAR flu each year from 15 million people getting the flu. Every year!  And this new flu has a death rate less than SARS and much much less than MERS, neither of which brought the end of civilization.   Plus this new China flu seems to target an older population.  I’m no China fanboy but the Chinese response has been stunning.  Can you imagine us trying to shut down NYC.  Well China has done the equivalent except in about 10 different cities.  The photos are simply stunning – like a TV Sci-Fi depiction.  Now the Chinese are probably getting a facial scan of every person in the country who is stopped or goes to the hospital or, hell, just goes out.  But that’s the world we’ve made and nothing we do now is going to change it.  It won’t be long, due to income disparities, a new flu will have its  creation point in our impoverished areas.  Think you could close Atlanta?  Here, hold my beer, because I wanna see that known unknown.

    • max says:

      “Hello? In the USA we average around 50K deaths from REGULAR flu each year from 15 million people getting the flu. Every year! And this new flu has a death rate less than SARS and much much less than MERS, neither of which brought the end of civilization.”

      this is true.

      problem is there is two government labs in Wuhan.
      we do not know real numbers of infected and dead ( I do not trust government numbers ).

      and time will tell 2-3 weeks.

      • TXRancher says:

        Need to be careful with the number of flu deaths annually. The 50k deaths are from Flu and Pneumonia. Most of these 50k deaths are from Pneumonia not Flu. As described below there are all kinds and causes of Pneumonia and a primary cause of death for the elderly.

    • Wolfbay says:

      The good news is It is estimated that 97% of infected people will recover and be fine. Only 3% might die. However the disease is very infectious and at least has the potential to spread to large numbers of people like the Spanish flu did. If it spreads to tens of millions like the Spanish flu it could kill millions like the Spanish flu. It’s to early to know what will happen either way.

      • mike says:

        My understanding is that treatment for a coronavirus like this one to get the 3% survival rate involves putting people on ventilators (which machines are in short supply even in US cities), possibly into a comma to regulate their breathing, intensive nursing care, etc. The alveoli in the cease to pass oxygen to the blood and become porous to fluids, which prevent the oxygen from being absorbed by red blood cells, so oxygen is often required to enable the patient to live on with absorption of the oxygen through their remaining alveoli.

        This treatment must continue for many days or weeks, at least. With enough, well-equiped hospital beds, surviving is mostly possible for those who are strong, because there is no truly effective treatment known: antiviral drugs are being tested now. We can hope for the best.

        We really do not know if this virus only kills children, those with pre-existing conditions, and the elderly as reported. However, based on what I was told and videos that brave Chinese have put on the internet, for which the communists will imprison them, we are likely seeing what might be the decimation of the innocent, hard-working, poorer, oppressed, non-communist-party-members, 99% of the population of China absent such a miracle. This is an enormous tragedy, like the holocaust or the 1918 flu pandemic.

        I am sure most of the communists will get the best treatment for themselves, and most probably were told in early December 2019 and departed for safer areas. Thus, most of the deaths are probably of good, innocent people, since real, connected, communist party members are a tiny, corrupt minority, like the US banksters.

        • Xabier says:

          Yes, that’s how China works as far as one can tell.

          It happened even in medieval epidemics that those who had the best information got out of town and said not a word to anyone.

          Kings, and their courts moved ahead of plagues, although the mortality rate of royal families also went up – a tiny bit.

          What is your name, citizen?


        • Mark says:

          You are spot on. The 3% mortality rate involves the best intensive care available including intubation and mechanical ventilation, plus aggressive fluid resuscitation and vasopressors/inotropic medication to treat shock states with or without dialysis for renal failure that comes from a shock state.

          Any medical system only has the resources/ability/finances to treat so many people this aggressively.

          The Lancet paper from last week showed ~20% of the first 99 hospitalized patients developed ARDS (an advanced form of respiratory failure from the lungs filling with fluid), and of these about 2/3s ended up dying from septic shock/multi-organ system failure.

        • NBay says:

          So how about we get a MASSIVE Green New Deal going NOW, and show the rest of the world we are still “Top Dog”? It’s almost all off the shelf stuff, and whether Corona Type Viruses enter through angiotensin receptors or not can still be pursued.

      • Happy1 says:

        A 3% death rate from a highly contagious illness is alarming and would exceed the size of typical seasonal flu by orders of magnitude.

    • mike says:

      A very impartial, carefully written report, Wolf. I love the “grain of salt” comment: more like with a salt mine.

      Responding to the comment before mine: before we drown the Chinese communists with praise and forget little things like their reported organ harvesting from children and imprisonment/murders of Uighurs, Falun Gong, Tibetans, etc., we should slow down and think. Credible reports say that Chinese communists are notoriously dishonest about even little things such as local GDP growth or local government debt. Even their leaders publicly admit to this.

      Thus, we may be underestimating the coronavirus pandemic’s dangers and future effects on China’s (or any infected/dependent country’s) economy or how long such will ultimately last. After SARS infections in 2002, in over 17 years of trying, scientists have not developed a SARS vaccine reportedly. Thus, there does not seem like there will be a quick cure. Therefore, this looks like the predicted black swan.

      Also, until Western nations have enough cases so that we can independently compute the death rate of those infected with the virus (which presumably be mainly among those with weakened immune systems, children with undeveloped immune systems, the elderly, etc., so say 20-40% of the population) the Chinese communists’ estimates are suspect. As Wolf implied, they may already have lied and tried to suppress information even from their own people.

      (Incidentally, while I agree with the temporary US shutdown of immigration from China, it may not work, because at least one of the foreign countries which are not covered will sooner or later get an uncontrolled coronavirus pandemic and some person from that country will come here. This is effectively a stealth virus, so we may not discover all infected cases unless we test every person coming into the country. I say this as a parent with considerable fear for our children.)

      Keeping Chinese cities on lockdown will have the “beneficial” effect for the Chinese communists of also enabling them to suppress any potential dissenters, particularly since so many are posting their videos of what is going on there and thereby are easy to track and imprison/harm. Hitler or Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot or Tamerlane or Genghis Khan could have accomplished the same. It just takes the Chinese government’s willingness to impose arbitrary, unfair, cruel, and unusual punishments, while flights from Wuhan of communists or their cronies escaping the virus and letting the rest of their population suffer, reportedly continued.

      I am much happier in our less tyrannical, less controlled Western society or would be EU countries, thank you very much, despite the massive corruption extant. We should not conflate the Western, countries that practice what is called “democratic socialism” (democratic countries with state ownership of some, critical companies) with the communists, who can be readily distinguished due to their totalitarian, undemocratic governments and thousands of dead victims.

      • Kenny Logouts says:

        Communism isn’t a race.

        And no one I’ve spoken to who lived under communism, and then freely under a democracy, speaks highly of communism.

      • Carmen and the Devil says:

        Commies gotta commie…

      • Xabier says:

        Out of order, ‘Zantetsu’.

        There is not one word of racism in his comment: he is making fair criticisms of the appalling system which the CCP imposes on the Chinese people.

        Crying ‘racism’ is just a (feeble) thought-stopper.

    • Suzie Alcatrez says:

      The Chinese response might makes me wonder if there is something they haven’t told us yet.

      • Paulo says:

        Exactly Suzie,

        When you build a 1,000 bed hospital in 7 days…or several of them, shut down mega cities, and restrict travel, something bigger than the stated is going on.

        Glad to be living in the boonies where we can pick and choose our degree of interactions (who, what, where, when, and how). Why, is a given.

        Maybe trade will be the least of our concerns for awhile. And contrary to the opinion of a certain leader, it isn’t about doing ‘very well’ with this outbreak. Human misery and illness isn’t supposed to be about making money, is it? Oh wait…….. (I forgot).

        People are probably running out buying health company stocks.

        • Ross Purviance says:

          I don’t think it’s possible to build that big of a building that fast the cure band testing for concrete far exceeded that time frame, I saw a picture of about 100 excavators working the same area it’s just b s news about the hospital

        • NBay says:

          You hit on an interesting point. If life insurance contacts (in addition to suicide clauses), ad “All derivatives of the corona shaped virus”, then we’ll know we have a real problem with this viral species.”

    • Nicko2 says:

      We don’t have the full picture, but the death-rate from this virus may be multiple times higher than regular ‘flu’.

      • Ron says:

        From Johns Hopkins link above:

        We believe the actual number of 2019-nCoV cases in mainland China are likely much higher than that reported to date. Specifically, we estimate there to be around 58,000 cumulative cases of 2019-nCoV in mainland China by the end of January (as of January 31, the reported cases is close to 12,000). This estimate is in line with our previous analysis on January 25, which estimated the proportion of reported to estimated cases to be close to 10%. It is likely that part of this discrepancy is due to reporting delays. However, the substantially larger number of estimated cases suggest a majority of the cases may be mild (or asymptomatic), do not require seeking medical care, and thus are not reported. Furthermore, based on this analysis, we believe the outbreak began in November, and there were already hundreds of human cases of 2019-nCoV in Wuhan in early December. “

    • panatomic says:

      Crazy Chester
      Feb 2, 2020 at 6:52 pm
      Hello? In the USA we average around 50K deaths from REGULAR flu each year

      it would be more accurate to say that 50k americans die of complications from the flu each year. healthy people rarely die from the flu directly.

      • NBay says:

        40K Americans die (who knows the mutilated number?) from complications of driving vehicles.
        How about a 55mph speed limit again, undeniably proven to save energy and lives?
        Free up the wards for corona victims.

    • RoundAbout says:

      If the new corona virus becomes prevalent and infects 15 million people a year then at a 2.5% rate of death that would be 375,000 deaths per year compared to 50,000. That’s why the alarm.

      I’m not sure the flu comparison makes sense.

      Plus, the virus takes about a week to really show symptoms one might compare against the pool of people who contracted the disease a week ago too for a time lag.

      Hopefully, it all blows over. But shtf in China the next few weeks.

    • NBay says:

      Don’t know about the numbers, but I agree with your basic notions.
      A Billionaire might say, “The world is now my oyster”, but then a dead broke virus might say the same.
      Humans better save the pie, share the pie, and have less fingers in it.
      But we won’t.

      • NBay says:

        That was to Crazy Chester. Jeez, being at a fresh WR article is a freaking madhouse.

  4. BlackSwan says:

    I’m seeing less than 1 in 100 deaths outside of China ( I live near China ), country’s outside all have infections, but the number of deaths is small.

    I see lots of lies coming out of western press, too many to mention.

    Biggest problem I see in China is the hospital system requires ‘cash’ or ‘gold’ upon entry, otherwise you end up on the cold concrete floor and wait, maybe day’s, this leads to pneumonia. It’s been forever in China, that South of Yangtz(river) there is no central-heat, people wear jackets in their homes, and drink hot-water all day long. I concur that most deaths in China are pneumonia, and I really think most deaths are brought on by pneumonia, by the hysteria of people jamming the hospitals packed of people. All hospitals of China are packed, even remote Yunan/Dali hospitals are spilling over from everybody with a runny nose going to the hospital, which causes an infection vector. I would say, stay home; If your strong you will get well.

    Baba fullfillment ground to a halt mid January, they have extended ‘chinese new year’ until Feb 15, which means everything has shutdown. I have seen an alibaba order for weeks, I quit ordering Baba ( alibaba, aliexpress, lazada, alipay, bitmain ) about 3 weeks ago, they take orders from HK/Shenzhen, but fulfillment/manufacturing is done in Wuhan, which is why stuff ground to a halt. I see massive problem, how do you know the package posted was not handled by virus carrier?? How do you fumigate millions of packages??

    Long term? I don’t think much of this, I think it was a MEDIA over-reaction.

    • Heff says:

      So, Chinese officials are closing down and quarantining cities with millions of people but the Western media are lying and overreacting?

      • NBay says:

        Well, if we invaded Iran I bet world wide coverage would drop measurably, FWIW.

    • Cas137 says:

      “hospitals are spilling over from everybody with a runny nose going to the hospital, which causes an infection vector. ”

      During the post WW I Spanish Flu pandemic that killed millions around the world, some of the most knowledgable US medical insiders did not go to hospitals when they got sick – they isolated themselves and simply stayed very well hydrated.

      Until a proven cure is found the point about hospitals being a disease vector is very important

  5. Old Engineer says:

    Excellent report. Well sourced, realistic and not at all alarmist. I have confidence that your assessment is right with one assumption: that the nCoV epidemic now in full bloom in China doesn’t spread to the US.
    If it does then I think you might have to re-consider the effects on the US economy.

  6. David Hall says:

    Viruses were not as easily transmitted with the onset of warm weather. The coronavirus epidemic is expected to peak before summer.

    A black swan is an event that is difficult for statisticians to predict. In 2011 Japan suffered an earthquake and tsunami that caused a nuclear meltdown. Over 18,000 people died or were missing. Hundreds of thousands were displaced. It caused a Japanese recession. The world GDP continued to grow.

    • Frederick says:

      I’m not so sure that’s true The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 to 1920 began in December and ran till January two years later So based on history I have doubts about what you wrote

    • Jack Ellerbrook says:

      That is a very American way of looking at things.

      As Northern hemisphere enters summer, the Southern hemisphere enters winter.

  7. breamrod says:

    China has 1.4 billion people. I don’t think we in America can get our heads around this number. The fact that they’re shutting down whole cities over there says to me that this is much more serious than reported. We’ll know in a few weeks.

    • FarmerAsia says:

      Lot’s of country’s near China have almost 100+ cases, and all death counts are less than 3%.

      Reality is reality, the problem is that MSM pushes lies. There is vested interest in destroying confidence in Government. We saw the same in HK, now we’re seeing it applied to all of China.

      Blowback is a bitch, the West better be ready.

      More people die everyday in USA from Opium than from the Virus. More people die from auto accidents. More people die from slipping on the bathroom floor.

      I do agree with the 1.4B problem, same problem with their chickens & pigs, you just can’t put that many rat’s in a small cage, at some point they go cannibal, disease is rampant. Sweet spot is well known. Can’t keep packing million’s of people in tenement housing, so they can be near their ‘Apple iPhone’ assembly plant.

      The thing that will come out of this is people will realize after 30+ years that rural living ain’t so bad, this Quarantine (Prison) stuff will make many, I would say 10’s of Millions of urban Chinese return to the farmland’s.

      When I go to the rural area’s its not uncommon to see 50% of the rural homes empty I’m talking nice houses, where are the people? They went to the city for jobs. But now if living in the city means ‘quarantine’, maybe the rural life is better.

      More tele-commute from the family farm, that’s what I see coming out of this.

      • Zantetsu says:

        “More people die from opium and slipping in the tub than the number of people dying in China from this virus”

        The lack of logic here bugs me. Almost everyone in the US steps onto a tub once a day or at least once every couple of days. I don’t know how many people use opium based drugs but I expect it’s quite a few.

        If the same number of people who step on a tub every day in the USA had corona virus, millions would be dead, not the hundreds that die from slipping.

      • Mark says:

        countries (not “country’s”)

        farmlands (not “farmland’s”)


  8. Mike says:

    It all boils down to this (and please correct me if I am wrong):

    -flu: the survival rate is high, one can sit the bug out at home or at corp job

    -Coronavirus: survival rate high if one visits a hospital ASAP and gets treated for pneumonia like syndromes. Trying to sit this bug out at home is not an option. According to the rumors immunity can’t be developed, high dosage of vitamin C, HIV drug and flu drug helps.

    Can average Joe afford hospitalization?

    • Zorba says:

      The average wait at a hospital is 3-5 days, many people spend go to 3-5 hospitals before admission. You must have cash/gold in hand to get admitted.

      “It all boils down to this” – This ain’t Kansas, China ain’t the USA.

      It all boils down to this, there is no pill there is no cure. The cause of death is pneumonia, if you let it get that far, and your not strong, sure they can put you on a ventilator, but at the end of the day, if your not strong, your going to die.

      The biggest lie I see pushed in western MSM is “Free medical”, not true, China is ‘cash’ on admission, you don’t have the coin, you don’t get a bed/room. China is 10x more capitalism than USA, past 40 years now. Huge problem is western people think that every place is like their place, its not.

      Another thing NOT understood is that south of Yangtze (river) there is no central heat anywhere, they don’t waste energy. All hospitals are ‘full’ now from the panic, the chairs are gone, if you wait 3-5 days to see a doctor, you must lay/sit on the cold concrete floor. If you had a cold when you entered by your 2nd day you have pneumonia. If people had just stayed home in bed and drank hot fluids, they would have recovered. But the media, and mostly MSM have caused a panic all over China, and everyone rushed to the hospital.

      If you have ever been to China, you might know you have to “FIGHT” to get on a bus, fight for your seat, even if you have a ticketed seat. Well same at the hospital, nobody waits in line, everybody cut’s & cheat’s, and pay’s people off to cut the line, … The problem is there are too many people, but this is how they live.

      So you have a panic, and 10x-100x more people than normal hit the hospitals all over China, and the system goes from bad to terrible,

      Lastly on death, its normal in China & Africa that when somebody dies the corpse lays in place until recovered by family, so when you see these photos of dead people, with people just casually walking by, this is Normal. This is how they live, just like Africa I have seen corpses lay near a road for days, and in China I have see corpses just laying on the floor in the train, to be shipped to the family in another city, no box, just a towel over the face. This is how they live.

      I don’t think the death’s are that bad, I think too many people went to the hospital and then got sick. I think the west MSM uses photos of dead people to make it appear there is a zombie apocalypse.

      • NBay says:

        That is one hell of an anecdotal story. Wish I knew for sure if it is a valid picture, but I’ll keep it in mind. There is one hell of a lot of people over there.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Good start Mike! Long time ago Linus Pauling proved to my satisfaction as a trained scientist that Vitamin C and the common cold virus cannot co-exist in the human body if the VC is sufficient to produce a VC flush… I started using the technique about 1970 (while studying biochemistry) and have used it successfully ever since.
      The Remedial Dose needs to be very high, approx. up to 5 grams per hour above any maintenance dose, until flush occurs, probably mostly due to individual gut, general health, etc.,., then same total that produced the flush every 4 hours until virus gone. With current availability of fully buffered calcium ascorbate with Ph of 7.3, former challenge to G.I. tract is minimized, so it may be necessary to use ascorbic acid form of VC to achieve ”flush” more cost effectively.
      BTW, Pauling, who took a daily dose of approx. 20 grams, and worked well into his 90s, was really just following up on the initial work regarding VC done in the 1930 era and (possibly?) suppressed due to very low profit from VC vs. synthetic pharmaceuticals, as has been made very clear with recent events.

      • Paulo Zoio says:

        And what about vit D? It bugs me why the flu hits harder during winter season. It’s known that vit D is synthesized on the skin when there’s sun so during summer season we should have higher levels of vit D…

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Good question Paulo. I am not so sure about V-D, but there appears to be a growing amount of fairly serious research lately indicating not only do we absolutely need it, but that even ”regular” exposure of face and hands is not sufficient; some colleagues are suggesting that to get enough from sun alone, we must expose ”core” areas too. I am taking a supplement just in case.
          IMHO, the jury is still out, similar to many other so called natural remedies/preventatives that have not received the serious ”double blind” studies needed for various reasons, mostly cost benefit.

      • NBay says:

        Here is Pauling’s original reasoning. Read it! Read about the double VitC and uric acid knockouts.

        5 gms/hr is nuts, likely life threatening, and 20gm/day is almost equally idiotic.
        I’ve taken 1000mg well mixed with food for years, so far so good.
        Take that “VC flush” and flush it, OK?
        “trained scientist” my arse.
        Sorry I am being harsh, especially to a Viet Vet brother, but it’s a personal problem of mine, I guess.

    • NBay says:

      “HIV drug and flu drug helps”.
      Was really sad to see that…..really really sad. Nothing personal, there are millions of medical ad and PR victims in this country, tens of millions.
      Ads work.

      PS: no beef with 1000mg of Vit C, and as much healthy hi-cal food as you can take, plenty water, chicken soup….or staying home. Give your immune system a good shot at it before you hit the Medical Industrial Complex.

  9. Unamused says:

    Is this the black-swan event people have been predicting for years?


    Meltdowns now originate in the Financial Industrial Complex, for the simple reason that it would take a more severe, widespread, and prolonged breakdown than this in the real economy to seriously affect the levitation of the FIC. The overabundance of liquidity alone could compensate for an impairment of several percent in real economy, and that’s never happened absent a financial disaster.

    • rhodium says:

      Shortages cause price spikes, cause pessimism. This is a highly leveraged optimism fueled economy, so what happens if vested interests actually start to worry their capital is under threat?

    • KFritz says:

      An anomalous/potentially catastrophic event could trigger a reaction in capital markets. Markets are a part of the totality of our lives. Spending too much time with economists and financial analysts or reading their work to the exclusion of other sources can cause a distorted outlook.

  10. otishertz says:

    I agree, the coronavirus is not a big deal compared to the regular flu or the opiod epidemic that claims 100 lives a day.

    The biggest impacts are in the market reactiond to this virus scare, moreso than sars, bird flu, swine flu, ebola, etc.

    This is a drill that can also serve as a catalyst to reduce financial asset prices with no blame and thereby destroy capital which is helpful for monetary policy in terms of inflation moderation.

    We’ll see.

    • Happy1 says:

      Opioid epidemic is not a valid comparison. People don’t fear that epidemic because it is not contagious and is easily avoidable. You catch opioid addiction in a crowded subway.

      Flu is a better analogy but also a familiar seasonal issue that is part of people’s calculus about life in general. Yes, thousands die from flu every year, but almost all are the elderly ill.

      This coronavirus is an unknown entity at this point. It has arisen in a country that cannot be trusted to tell the truth, so the mortality numbers are very likely understated. From the very limited information we have now, it is a higher mortality disease than typical seasonal flu, with some deaths of healthy younger people in addition to the elderly ill who usually die with seasonal flu. At this point it would be guessing to say what economic effect it will have. But until that effect is well known the uncertainty will affect the markets.

      My guess is that this will not have lasting ill effects economically. Very few disease epidemics do.

    • blowout_bob says:

      Drive thrus kill more people than the flu, sars, coronavirus, all those ailments and many,many others combined.

      This is nothing but media hysteria because the media needs hysteria to keep people watching, clicking, etc. Sure there will be a dip when so much of China shuts down and I expect to see (long overdue) bloodshed in global markets this week. But as far as health scares go, yeah it’s on the radar but it should be a blip not essentially the entire radar screen. $50 says this isn’t even a topic in May.

      It’s amazing to me how many people will lose their minds over something like this yet continue to ignore the obvious things that will actually keep them alive and healthy. Like eating a reasonable diet and getting enough activity in your life so you don’t develop diabetes or knees that can’t support you anymore before you are even 40 years old.

  11. KGC says:

    I’m much more interested in how this will effect North Korea. They are in no shape to fight an epidemic.

  12. 2banana says:

    On one hand.

    The Chinese have 1.4 billion people. This virus kills 3% of those that it infects – mostly the elderly, the already sick and the young. So no big deal unless you are one of them or family…

    On the other hand.

    The Chinese locked down 15 cities and 60 million people, shave entire percentage points off their own GDP, shuttered factories and businesses nationwide, closed schools until March, canceled LNY celebrations, and are in a rush to build hospitals all because of a non-event. And the virus is looking like it is an escaped bio weapon.

    Talk about a stark choice.

  13. Memento mori says:

    Is this the black-swan event people have been predicting for years?
    No, it is not.
    This will be forgotten in less than 2 months and dow will climb back toward 30k before the election.
    Nothing goes to heaven in a straight line.

  14. Cameron says:

    According to Wikipedia estimates for the basic reproduction number ranges from 2.13 to 3.11. The number describes how many people a newly infected person is likely to pass the virus onto. The new coronavirus has been reportedly able to transmit down a chain of up to four people so far. As of 2 February 2020, approximately 17,386 cases have been confirmed

  15. John says:

    Thanks Wolf

  16. HollwoodDog says:

    Regardless of the actual transmission and mortality rates of nCoV, it has shut down a city, a province, and now a country with the world’s second largest economy. And no one has the ability to predict if nCoV will be contained. It’s only sensible to prepare both physically and financially.

  17. Wisdom Seeker says:

    I’ve been intensively researching this all week.

    The widely publicized “confirmed infections” and “deaths” numbers are not remotely credible as metrics of the overall spread or severity of the disease.

    Number infected: massively undercounted due to (a) infected people not getting sick enough to get tested (good), (b) overwhelmed medical centers not being able to test everyone, and (c) political pressures to under-report wherever possible.

    Number killed: somewhat undercounted because of overwhelmed hospitals (under-testing). Undercounted further as many people are now afraid to even go to hospital (or getting turned away), so we’ll have many people dying without being tested.

    Mortality Rate: Far higher than 2% among those hospitalized, but overall we have no clue. Most Important, the “deaths” number needs to be compared NOT with contemporary infection count, but with the infection count from 5-10 days prior. That’s because people don’t drop dead as soon as they’re tested! What the data says is that ~362 “confirmed infections” have died already out of the ~3500 cases that were known 5-10 days ago, versus 487 confirmed recoveries. Comparing infections vs. recoveries suggests a death rate of 42%! However, not all the cases are accounted for. That example illustrates the problems with the data. A key publication in The Lancet last week reported a mortality rate of 11% among the first 100 known cases in Wuhan hospital. Given the under-reporting of infections, actual mortality rate will most likely be below 11% (especially as care improves). Nevertheless the coronavirus has to be substantially worse than seasonal flu, or we wouldn’t be seeing the extreme reactions.

    The progression is:
    – Infection starts (no symptoms), maybe up to 10-14 days but more likely around 5 days.
    – Patient starts feeling flu-like symptoms but it’s too soon to bother going to the doctor. Typically 5 days.
    – Patient goes to the doctor and starts being monitored. Maybe 5 more days. Might be tested in here.
    – Finally patient is sick enough to go to hospital. Hospital slows progression and keeps patient alive. If they recover, great, but if not, it still takes time. Again, about 5 days.

    So key point: 5-10 days between “confirmed infection” and “death” (longer for “recovery”)

    The combination of infection and mortality rates has to be much greater than seasonal flu, because otherwise the hospital system would be handling it. Be very interesting to see if the overall death rate in Wuhan has surged! A city of 11 million with life expectancy around 70 will normally have 157,000 deaths per year, i.e. about 400 per day on average. Not all of those would die in hospitals. But the medical-death-processing system breakdown has been reported by multiple credible sources. That indicates that the added deaths from the new virus are at minimum a healthy fraction of 400 per day, I’d guess at least 200 per day and possibly much more.

    • Arctic Chickens says:

      Most people are getting this basic math of deaths:infections wrong, and it’s leading to widespread circulation of what looks to be a very very conservative (IE wrong) estimate of mortality. By official CCP numbers the mortality rate is currently about 40%, but this is likely heavily skewed due to serious sampling bias. Papers in the Lancet suggest 10-12% is the most likely rate, and will probably increase as medical system gets overwhelemed. The R0 and asymptomatic infection are enough to send this to 80-90% of the population, meaning it is not unreasonable to suspect a final fatality number of approximately 600-800,000,000.

      It is alarming, to say the least. Good luck, all.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Arctic Chickens,

        I doubt that Chinese numbers are totally true, but your death rate of 40% is BS. Death rates are figured this way: number of people who died divided by the number of ALL people who were infected, whether or not they had serious symptoms. Death rates are NOT figured by the people who died divided by the number of people in intensive care.

        The latest figures are: 20,613 infections, 427 deaths = death rate of 2%. This is a LOT higher than the seasonal flu, but it’s not 40%, which is BS.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          Wolf, please speak to an epidemiologist. The mortality rate in an emerging rapidly spreading pandemic cannot be accurately calculated from the ratio of deaths to active confirmed cases.

          Ideally for one would like to know the conditional probability p of someone dying who has gotten ill. Mathematically, p = deaths / (deaths + recoveries) for infections that have run their course. Active cases are irrelevant because those people may yet worsen and die OR recover. Those cannot be counted as either deaths or recoveries yet. And in a rapidly spreading pandemic such as this one, the number of active cases is much larger than the number of completed cases.

          As I explained above, the measurement of both deaths and recoveries (or total cases) is fraught with problems, and neither number is accurate for China. Many people may have had only mild symptoms and not been tested – implying a lower death rate. On the other hand, reports suggest some got sick and died without being tested – implying a higher death rate. Other evidence points to some cases not being recorded as deaths in order to avoid inducing panic. The accuracy of the numbers varies by location and over time, depending on how aggressive the monitoring is, and how overwhelmed the medical system is.

          Provided the infection rate stays low enough outside of Hubei province to avoid overwhelming medical systems, improved treatments should help.

          In an overwhelmed location, such as Hubei Province, the data (JHU dashboard) currently show 414 deaths and 397 recoveries among the cases which were confirmed. This sets an upper bound on the mortality rate of 50% for those severe cases which wind up in overloaded hospitals. We need to avoid this scenario!

          On the other hand, among confirmed cases outside of Hubei Province, there have been 13 reported deaths and 329 recoveries, for a disease mortality rate of 4% with a 1-standard-deviation range of 3-5%. That’s a lot better than 50%! But it’s still much larger than 2%.

          One can still ask whether some of these people got sick without getting tested or confirmed, so perhaps 2% is accurate, but if so it’s a numerical coincidence.

          Hopefully as awareness spreads, testing becomes more routine, and care improves we will get this down from the 2-5% range to the 0.01% level typical of seasonal flu. But the data are not there yet.

  18. WES says:

    The only faith I have is the Chinese communist party’s 3 monkeys policy will continue.

  19. Trinacria says:

    Certainly never a dull moment. The old guys behind the curtain will need to put those financial special effects levers into overdrive to get us to the election. The Wizard of Oz has nothing on these guys !!! At what point will the would be modern Toto the dog pull the curtain? Who will be Toto?

    • Mark says:

      “The Wizard of Oz has nothing on these guys !!! At what point will the would be modern Toto the dog pull the curtain? Who will be Toto?”

      The U.S. Federal Reserve , most probably.

    • urbane says:

      If enough buyers and/or foreign workers are crippled or die, with the resulting collapse in sentiment, this may cause the edifice of fraudulent finance to collapse and faith in globalism to evaporate, so no amount of QE would help.

      Assuming we are not being lied to, for Shock Doctrine, such a Black Swan is possible.
      1. Apparently the virus deaths in China are higher than reported because of significant undocumented transport of corpses to disposal facilities, maybe because the hospitals can’t handle the volume and risk.
      2. Probably a lot of infections are not being reported because of the stealth incubation period and lack of (maybe inadequate) testing kits.
      3. Apparently all mucus membranes are vulnerable to infection by this virus, not just the nose and mouth, and the virus can survive up to 5 days on surfaces, due to it’s double coating.
      4. Apparently evidence, now being suppressed, found AIDs genes present in the virus, which the researchers doubt is natural.
      5. Apparently SARs genes have also been discovered to be present (with markers of artificial insertion…), so a vaccine could prove useless, because it could cause crippling/deadly auto-immune damage, like prior attempts at SARs vaccines.
      6. I suspect that anti-AIDs and anti-flu drugs may become in high demand, with supply, thus cost, issues, because Thailand discovered that a combination of both works.

  20. nearlynapping says:

    I have no idea if there will be large outbreaks in the US. But it certainly seems possible. We can’t stop the flu even with vaccines.

    The basic math itself is somewhat disconcerting — at least unless I am missing something. The corona virus is at least twice as infectious as the flu. The flu death rate is .13% while the lowest estimates I have seen is that the corona virus has at least a 3% death rate. So at least twenty times more deadly. If flu infects 45 million in the US in a given year and kills 60,000 — what does the math say is possible??

    There are certainly times when one can tell more by watching what the governments are doing as opposed to what they are saying. The Chinese are not acting like this the flu. I don’t think they have locked down entire cities for something that is similar to the flu.

    As for US healthcare, there is very little excess capacity. Most ICU beds in larger cities stay between 80-100 occupied. So if there are large outbreaks here, then at a minimum it will severely test our healthcare system.

    • Wolfbay says:

      I agree. These are rational points and not media sensationalism.

    • tom says:

      We have spent billions for emergency planning.

      Urban or rural, I have a hard time believing there are not contingencies for
      ( military/civilian ) structures to be used.

      • Wolfbay says:

        I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.

      • Cas127 says:

        “We have spent billions for emergency planning.”

        Well, we spent tens of trillions on the US military and we have been in Afghanistan and Iraq for well over 15 years, fighting people with the industrial base of Barstow.

        Never underestimate the grotesque degree of outright theft and incompetence that goes on in all aspects of US gvt spending.

  21. Michael Gorback says:

    FWIW, this should respond to commonly used antiviral flu drugs and HIV drugs. Doctors in Thailand have claimed success using these drugs although, well, Thailand.

    China has contracted with Abbvie to provide Kaletra, which is a combo of two generic drugs for HIV. There are plenty of other manufacturers but ABBV appears to have a contract for a country of over a billion people.

    How lucky do you feel? Invest in ABBV or maybe stock up on Kaletra?

    Anyway it was all going downhill before this. Dr Copper sagging, Baltic Dry down, base metal demand falling, real estate prices declining. This is just gas on the fire.

    People like to talk about Black Swans but this is really about nonlinear systems that can swing wildly with various inputs, large or small.

    Think Mandelbrot, or if that’s too hard just remember the straw that broke the camel’s back: the added weight of a single straw causes total collapse. That’s a nonlinear response.

  22. Ron says:

    The United States West Coast Chinese communities already impacted which will spread the financial pain throughout the West, travel, Real Estate, shopping and eating out. I am getting feedback from my Chinese American friends who own consumer businesses dependent both on foreign and domestic consumers and they are all feeling a significant slowdown and expect it to get much worse.
    I was visiting today with two retired Doctor friends and they sounded like Wolf saying this is no big deal and the annual Flu season is far worse. All I can say is I hope so!

    • Michael Gorback says:

      Obviously those old docs retired before flu seasons were capable of straining hospital capacity. 2018 was a disaster with crowded ERs and bed shortages.

      2020 has been on track to replicate 2018, with numerous hospitals around the country reporting capacity problems and now we have coronavirus piled on top.

      I don’t know what qualifies as an “old doctor” but this one is 66 and has been in practice over 40 years.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      I didn’t say it wasn’t a big deal economically. I said what is causing the economic disruption is the reaction by authorities and by big and small economic players to the virus — not the disease itself.

      And in terms of damage outside China, I pointed specifically at the tourism and travel industry because Chinese tourists have become the number one tourists in many tourist locations, and now they have flight and lodging reservations but aren’t coming.

      • Chris Coles says:

        The greatest threat to China is not the virus, it is the disruption to food supply logistics within the closed cities. 10 million city population needs a supply of up to 30 million meals per day; with a closed city and no one seemingly at work, how long do home food supplies last before the entire distribution system collapses? That is the question seemingly few are addressing.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Good Point Chris. Most estimates I have seen are that average city in USA has 3 days of food and fuel on hand, and that seems to be supported by surges due to hurricanes and other natural extreme events.
          Exactly how that correlates to China and their needs is open to examination, and it’s just possible that this event is a deliberate test, real and live of that question.
          Tons of speculation out there, for sure,,, wife and I made a decision a couple of decades ago to try to feed all the neighbors we could as long as we could, so maintain a stock of rice and beans and a large propane tank to fuel cooking.
          Irma left our ‘hood’ out of power for 10 days, so we were very warm, lost some perishable food, but had plenty to eat. ( And just ended up feeding friends and family, but that ‘cane mostly missed us.)

      • Xabier says:

        We are completely submerged here by Chinese tourists every summer: even if it kills me, I shall perhaps at least have the chance to enjoy the beauty of this city – Cambridge, UK – as I once knew it in a now fabled and distant past…. :)

        • Paulo says:

          Tourism is certainly fickle. In rural areas, very very seldom does one see Chinese or Japanese tourists, any Asians for that matter. Germans, on the other hand…….

          Regardless, the problem is air travel. As far as spreading disease it is like a kindling fire. Local friends of mine go to Mexico every year…through an airport. They’re coming home.

        • DR DOOM says:

          Xabier : It would be a fine time for a stroll down Princess street in Edinburg .

  23. TonTon says:

    Just a few points.

    It is not killing the young. Far from it. The young are doing extremely well. It seems for the first studies they weren’t even able to add in people under 15 years old. Also, there are a couple of occasions were those 10 years and under seem to have not gotten it even though the entire rest of the family got it i.e. parents and grandparents. Sometimes the young seem asymptomatic. When people say the young are badly affected (or potentially badly affected because there is no evidence yet) they should specify that they mean babies 18 months and under whose immune systems are not fully developed yet. Younger people seem to actually be weathering this extremely well so far. In the early studies also, the median age of the deceased is quite high, 75.5 years i believe in one study.

    For cases outside of China, the first people to get it are business people, all working age and not on the older side of working age. They are also doing extremely well. The person that first got it in Germany didn’t get too bad symptoms and was back in work 2 days after the symptoms developed feeling completely better (this was a bad idea as he was still infectious however, as is the case with all virus patients).

    This guy is doing some very good youtube videos on this. Elderly English front line nurse, (just in case links are not allowed here, you can look it up, the videos are popular now on youtube).
    I don’t think all of his calculations and assumptions are completely accurate but he’s very good all the same and works front line in this industry in the UK.
    If the German guy is anything to go by, and the asymptomatic children are, and given that the numbers we are seeing are incredibly behind the curve due to the impossibility of testing everyone, then the death rate and critical rate and recovery rates from inside China are way way off the true rates. Also, the other people affected in that German study are quite stable too. Even the Chinese lady that infected them.

    Just to give an indication of how difficult it is to confirm cases, take the 30 school children in Florida. It’s going to take about a week to confirm their cases. They thought they could do it quicker but they can’t. This is in the country with possibly the best healthcare professionals in the world and it’s a tiny number of cases in one distant location. Not an overwhelmed location where treating patients is almost impossible let alone confirming diagnoses. And, in China, there were 5 tests that are needed to confirm a diagnosis, and sometimes there can be a problem with one test, that messes the diagnosis up. I’m not sure if they have to go back to the patient again when this happens. Wasn’t clear from the article i read. I think, given the difficulty they are having in the US of confirming a tiny number of cases quickly, that it would be easy to believe there are 200K+ cases in China without a shadow of a doubt, and that would change the critical and death rate considerably (which, in fairness, could also be downplayed).

  24. Kasadour says:

    It seems like the effort(s) to curtail the spread of this virus is causing most of the demand destruction.

  25. nicko2 says:

    A great unknown, as the virus spreads, it mutates… it could become less severe, or more severe. In comparison, the Spanish Flu mutated twice into more severe forms, which in turn caused an upsurge in deaths.

    As the NYT is headlining today, consensus is gathering that the virus outbreak is now a pandemic.

  26. nick kelly says:

    There is no contest for first place. The winner is:

    ‘It is just another common cold virus of which there are many. It is not particular deathly (sic) or so.’

    But rather than wade through the morass of utter nonsense about how this is no big deal or a media invention, I’ll just clarify the definition of a medical term: ‘pneumonia’

    This means simply ‘fluid in the lungs’ There is no necessary reason required for a diagnosis of pneumonia. It can have bacterial cause, viral cause or even non-biological cause: e.g., pneumonia can be caused by siphoning gasoline ( as a job)

    So everyone who is saying that this viral pneumonia (the disease) is really just pneumonia needs to look it up.

    Reverting to the rational non- sarc awards, we have ‘only 3 % die’ which is maybe low but let’s say 3%.

    Gee, that means out of 15 million cases, wouldn’t that mean 450, 000 dead, not just 50 K?

    One question: do you think that if modern medicine had been available at the time of the Black Death, that killed one third of the population in Europe, it would have saved the day? Folks with the plague went to bed OK and were dead the next day.

    Anyway, this is a financial site so latest is Shanghai down 9%. Maybe the Chinese are also over blowing all this, along with all our silly experts.

  27. No1 says:

    Interesting to see such non-bearish replies on such a usually bearish website.

    There’s no comparison between how lethal coronavirus is with how lethal influenza is. Coronavirus is much more lethal.

    I think the coronavirus has the potential to be very, very ugly. Good chances of it being one of the black swans that will finally bury the bull market.

  28. Willy Winky says:

    A good mate living in Jakarta working as an architect. An Aussie client who is a doctor working for an international agency that monitors epidemics and works with the CDC called him on the weekend and suggested he leave Asia.

    He received an update from the CDC indicating that they have serious concerns about this virus after examining dead bodies of people killed by the virus.

    That’s as much as I know. I have asked him to see if he can find out what the specific concerns are but I suspect that is not something that the doc is going to divulge.

    Clearly governments fear something enough to risk collapsing the global economy. So that leads me to believe this doc’s warning is for real

  29. The next world President says:

    Singapore possibly has an answer,
    Heavily fine people for dropping snot bombs in the street and emptying their nostrils anywhere they feel like it,
    Its a uniquely oriental behaviour paticularly amongst males and philipinoes,

    • VintageVNvet says:

      NOT any kind of ”uniquely oriental behaviour” at all:::
      Seen it done ‘all the time’ on many and many construction sites over the last 50 or 60 years by good ol boys of all ethnic groups in good ‘ol USA…
      Let’s all stop with the generally ethnic references, unless really and truly known to be generally true…
      As my beloved P, R.I.P. used to say, ” You are generalizing on the basis of insufficient data.”

      thank you

  30. Michael Engel says:

    1) $FOX super bowl showed how united we are. The crowd mostly
    white. The players mostly blacks.
    The half time show was Latinos belly dancing with two millionaires
    ladies in their 50’s.

    • Paulo says:


      You forgot the part about the President not knowing which State the winner’s city was located. Can’t make this stuff up, about a Wharton Business grad. Amazing. Feel safer, yet?

      Illness=money making opportunity….until it kills the host.

      • tom says:

        Did he think it was our 57th state?

        • TXRancher says:

          Nope that would be the prior president!

          Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri are just across the river from each other and easy to confuse.

      • kam says:

        As stated below. Your prejudice is showing. The 2 Kansas Cities function as 1 across the Mississippi from each other.
        Cheap shot. And 100% wrong.

        I am certain the Georgia Strait is a Waterway in Georgia.

  31. Michael Engel says:

    1) The sars virus Oct 2002 til Mar 2003 coronavirus Jan 2020.
    2) SPX hit a bottom on Oct 2002. Mar 2003 was a higher low,
    a test.
    3) After the trading range of 2002/ 03 and a test, sars virus expiration was a cause to send SPX up.
    The 2000/03 recession was over and sars virus faded away.
    4) The Coronavirus hit SPX at peak bubble. For market
    makers who cleared their shelves at retail prices, coronavirus is a cause to send the markets down.
    5) China show how they can build a dozen hospitals for 1000 coronavirus victims, in 10 days. Building a 100 miles wall on our southern border took 3Y.
    6) Building a wall with China, thanks to the coronavirus, took one day.

    • nick kelly says:

      They can’t build a hospital in 10 days. They have thrown up concrete shells to house the dying who are being turned away at existing hospitals.

      NB: 80 % of the health care budget in China is consumed by CCP members and their families. There is no modern health care in our sense of the word for the majority of the 1.4 billion people.

    • urbane says:

      That doesn’t look like a proper hospital, but rather a load of pre-fab trailer-container sized boxes to isolate and fed a tiny fraction of the population until they get well or die; they won’t be enough if a lot more people need care.

    • kam says:

      Buildings designed to warehouse the ill, can hardly be called hospitals.

  32. timbers says:

    To all those in comments predicting economic calamity/recession:

    Thank goodness the Fed normalized rates and balance sheet, so that it has plenty of ammo do deal with a crises like this!

  33. Brant Lee says:

    I thought I would grab some extra facemasks Saturday, just in case. Walmart and Walgreen were SOLD OUT. I found some finally at a Home Depot but the shelves were almost empty. I’m not sure what type of facemasks are preferred but a pharmacist told me anything helps.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Amazon prices for facemasks are now over double what we paid last fall when I caught the flu.

      Many products are backordered as well, and guess where the suppliers are? China. Possibly a big opportunity for non-Chinese producers to ramp up production though. And a big red flag that maybe globalized supply chains with single-source-overseas are a bad idea? Lack of resilience in a crisis environment.

      • Brant Lee says:

        Yes, the big retailers could buy USA manufactured to place on their shelves at current retail prices and still make a good mark-up. American consumers are not getting the benefits of lower costs from overseas, only the corporations. No one is catching the clue.

      • Paulo Zoio says:

        The most adequate face masks for protecting against virus are FFP3 (Europe). I think they are equivalent to N95 masks…

        • VintageVNvet says:

          N95 alone does not do anything to stop Virus,,, it is just an indication for the size of ”dust” particulates that the mask stops…
          IF you want to do some virus filtering,,, keeping in mind that some of the reports are indicating this virus also goes in through the eyes… ya gotta use a certified Virus mask, and most of those are the ”surgery/ hospital type, not the ones for construction… I was taught a ton about this when my wife became a CNA a few years back.

    • Mike G says:

      In Taiwan they’ve started printing the Taiwanese flag on face masks, to discourage mainlanders who were buying up all the supplies and causing shortages.

    • NBay says:

      Was he wearing one?

  34. Iamafan says:

    Corona Virus causes Dow to go up 300+ points this morning.

  35. Freewary says:

    Ya’ll commenters extremely emotional and wound up. Do you drive and trade stocks in this mental state?

    • Cas127 says:

      Wolf Street welcomes visitors from Zero Hedge…

      • Freewary says:


        Wolf represents the best of ZH- with independent, original analysis. ZH getting worse and worse over the years. Quite useless and repetitive lately

  36. Storm in Oz says:

    Hype seems to be the biggest virus at work here. If someone has an angle they paint it to be the end of the world or nothing at all.
    There really is nothing that can be done to stop its spread if it is a pandemic if not it becomes a note in history.

    Lets all get together in a month but for now lets not panic. In this day and age if someone can make money on thus it will be made.

    According to the NHTSA over 30,000 americans died in auto accidents last year. Where is the hype over that pandemic?

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      @Storm – There’s a lot to be done to slow a pandemic’s spread, but only if people act early. All the charts right now show exponential growth in known cases, suspected cases, and admitted deaths. But we can’t test everyone who’s spreading because many aren’t ill yet. Because of the lags, the “untested” numbers are far higher than what’s reported.

      The early-patient history data, published in New England Journal of Medicine and Lancet articles last week, showed Wuhan went from “patient zero” to at least 47 illnesses in a month. And a month later Wuhan had 10,000 known cases. So this thing increases at least 50-fold in a month.

      Unless we slow the spread, the medical system is going to be overwhelmed. The mortality rate could surge simply because people can’t get the appropriate care. And even a 1% mortality rate on a global pandemic affecting 10% of global population would mean 7 million dead. And right now this thing is on a path to be far worse than that.

      But if we slow the spread enough, treatment will be possible and cures might be found in time.

      However, until something changes, the question to be asking is “how far behind Wuhan is my city”? The growth rates outside of Wuhan are the critical data, but with the lag between infection and illness, it will take time to get a clear picture.

      • Storm in Oz says:

        I would not disagree with the science just the hysteria. Like so many other international stories we are told something then must make a decision about it based on news. I do not trust the same media on other topics why woukd I trust them here. I have seen as many storiea that it is nothing big and that it may be a true pandemic. Facts are seldom a part of news anymore and I tend to be very critical of MSM cheerleading any cause. It distracts from real issues and is predominantly based in establishing fear of something. The causing fear seems to be winning in many places right now.

        What does it take to establish if the rates of infection and deaths are truely on the path of pandemic? There must be a benchmark we can use. What differentiates a pandemic from the flu? 1

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          Storm, yeah, the mass-media hype everything and have lost credibility. Now they could cry “wolf” about any real threat and half or more of the population would ignore it out of hand.

          Since I’m high-anxiety on this issue, I’ve made a spreadsheet to collect daily official case counts and estimate the exponential growth rates. I want to know when to go from “concerned anxiety” to action. I don’t live in China, so I watch the confirmed-infection data for outside of China. China was caught by surprise (and some initial denial-induced delay), but thankfully they’ve given the other nations warning and data that seems to be helping.

          Right now the JHU dashboard says 185 confirmed cases outside of China. (WHO has 153 but their data lags.) A week ago the JHU number was 54 and WHO was 37, so the counts grew by 3.4X in a week. (Within China the growth was 3.9X.) Those numbers need to come down!

          Now, outside of China, some of the new confirmed cases were “catching-up” by countries belatedly checking recent visitors to China. Some were people whose symptoms emerged at home after returning from China. But some are local chain-reaction infections in home countries. It was the local infections that triggered the pandemic warnings, and that’s what I want to watch for in the news.

          I’m hoping that as the “catch-up” finishes, and human awareness of the risks changes behaviors, the growth numbers will come down. Outside of China the number of cases isn’t huge, so it appears to grow slowly compared to Wuhan’s huge total. But Wuhan’s case count grew slowly at first too. If the 3.4X growth continues for a month, China will have several million cases (probably more than it can report accurately). And at 3.4X weekly growth the rest of the world will have around 25,000 cases on March 3.

          In that scenario, on March 3 the USA will have over 1000 of those cases. Many US cities will be facing the same outbreak-reaction problem that Wuhan and other Chinese cities faced 2 weeks ago. If the growth rate doesn’t slow, we are all Wuhan, it’s just a question of how soon.

          So I’m watching the growth rate and using this next month to prepare contingency plans for a scenario where my home city goes into quarantine/lockdown. Need to watch how many cases pop up before a city reacts. In Wuhan it was about 100 and it appears that was at least 2 weeks too late.

  37. Iamafan says:

    Re: Lets all get together in a month but for now lets not panic.

    How about tonight, after the Iowa Caucus? That should be interesting.

    • Storm in Oz says:

      I agree. On the conspiracy theory side i can’t help but think this will reappear as an election year item. We need a boogeyman it was Russia last time and thats been spun on for 3 years at this point no matter which side of that one a person is on. This looks like another stick to beat China with but will it bring jobs back?

  38. Michael Engel says:

    1) B2B = Biden vs Bernie ==>
    2) B2B = Bernie vs Bloomberg.
    3) Bloomberg is unknown.
    4) If the coronavirus send the stock markets down and Trump
    seek justice, B will be a mighty opponent, because he is so unknown.

  39. Michael Engel says:

    1) The German industrial PMI is < 50.
    2) Coronavirus will send the German GDP to negative territory.
    3) China cut oil consumption by 20%. The Coronavirus spread in Tehran.
    4) That explain why Iran lost Sudan.

  40. IslandTeal says:

    Good report and comments. Thanks Wolf. Think of Elderberry syurp , Gold, Silver.

  41. A shame to waste a crisis. Excuse for Fed to over react again, and take stocks to new highs. No cases on floor of NYSE, and in any case all could drop dead and computer algos and electronic trading will ensure that markets move higher. US economy lags US stock market, the business cycle has been abolished. Call/Put premium ratio Friday was nearly 2-1. Normal today. Fed came in with extra 25B this AM. We are very much on automatic here.

    • Cas127 says:

      “and computer algos and electronic trading will ensure that markets move higher.”

      QE4 – Revenge of LieNet

  42. Paul m Whalen says:

    I thought a Black Swan Event was such that there is no way to predict it? It’s like the sports morons and “controlling your destiny” It wouldn’t be destiny if it could be controlled.
    Did I miss something?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      No, didn’t miss a thing. But everyone wants to pick the next black swan. And someone is going to luck out — and afterwards will be hailed as a genius for all years to come.

    • “A black swan day is defined as +/- 3 standard deviations away from the mean. Deviations should occur with certain frequencies; the larger the standard deviations results in greater variance and thus greater risk.” Larger samples have smaller standard deviations, however the mean in the data sample (let’s say stock market return YOY) may have altered from earlier data due to technology and new financial controls. This is sort of how they justify raising the market PE ratio based on how much stock prices have appreciated, assuming that rising prices discount risk.

  43. Phoenix_Ikki says:

    Have to completely agree with your assessment of the impact of the virus on the economy in China and US. I am sure in couple of weeks when US media stop talking about it, stock melt up will continue. Just like you said, unless there’s a flu or corona virus in the financial system, the market will simply brush this off. In fact, you already see TV pundits suggesting buy the dip as always. Wilbur Ross even said something about this being good for the US economy…so there you go.

    Maybe one day if that if there’s a virus that turn everyone into a zombie like Zombieland, then perhaps the market will drop and the bubble will pop, then again I am sure the drug maker that hint at have a cure to the zombie virus will have explosive stock growth during a imaginary crisis like that.

  44. Michael Engel says:

    1) BA was shot down in Mar 2019, a year ago.
    2) AAPL, – the DOW biggest killer whale, – was harpooned on Friday.
    3) AAPL is giving a good fight.
    4) Today, at the the open, market makers sent AAPL down, While SPY was up.
    %) Market makers closed the Jan 8/ 9 gap, collecting investors stop losses on the way down.
    5) AAPL popup on short covering, leaving behind a large buying tail.
    6) The coronavirus will infect AAPL, the largest killer whale, forcing it
    to swim from China sea, to the Pacific, to the safety of US shores.

  45. Michael Engel says:

    1) Face masks are the best protection from coronavirus.
    2) Our lungs cleanse 40% of our body toxic material.
    3) Face masks accumulate toxicity when we exhale from within.
    4) Within 24 hours face masks are more dangerous than the coronavirus itself.
    5) Use a new one every day.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Good point ME, , just want to suggest US A NEW ONE each and every time you take off the old one, especially if it is at all,,, AT ALL wet…
      This appears to be fairly clear to the medical services folks… seen them go thru their virus masks like water whenever they take them off,,,

      just saying

    • Iamafan says:

      According to the CDC (assuming they know):
      How 2019-nCoV Spreads

      Most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get 2019-nCoV by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

      Typically, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). With 2019-nCoV, however, there have been reports of spread from an infected patient with no symptoms to a close contact.

      There is now a report about FECAL transmission, also.

      Knowing this, are face masks enough? Maybe it is better to avoid people for a while.

      • Xabier says:

        I’m looking forward to just talking to my dog.

        A lot.

        I’m not sure what he feels about that though…..

      • If you have been brown nosing a lot at work, face masks are prudent, evidently :)

      • Cas127 says:

        “There is now a report about FECAL transmission, also.

        Knowing this, are face masks enough? Maybe it is better to avoid people for a while.”

        Or at least the streets of LA and SF.

    • Erich says:

      N95 masks are getting hard to find. Just did an Amazon and in most cases it comes back “currently unavailable”.

      A lot of people on this blog say we’ll end up looking like Japan. If you look at YouTube videos you’ll see most people over there wearing masks. So maybe they’re right ….

  46. Michael Engel says:

    1) The coronavirus infect old people.
    2) The impeachment pandemic infect the young.
    3) No cure for both.

    • Dove Heback says:

      The old will die either way.

      The young&stupid will die before they’re old

      Problem solved either way

  47. IronForge says:

    Looks like things may get better:

    Thai MDs have held a Press Conference that they have treated a CoronaVirus(CoV) Patient in 48Hrs using a Cocktail of HIV+MERS-CoV AntiVirals.

    SARS-CoV should have their Collection of AntiVirals the Hospitals can Draw On.

    I think the Thai MDs and others have come across Combined Formularies that may assist the Afflicted with their Immune Responses against the Wuhan-Cov.

    Best Wishes,

  48. Willy Winky says:

    I passed this comment to my buddy in Jakarta — it’s from the New Zealand Health Minister explaining why they have banned all flights from China:

    Rapidly changing situation’

    Clark said updated public health advice was the basis of the travel restriction decision.

    “The advice that we’ve received (is) indicating a rapidly changing situation with a high degree of uncertainty. We have, as you’ve noted, the first cases of person to person transmission across countries outside of China, we’ve had our first death now, outside of China, and the virologists are telling us that the disease itself – as happens with these kinds of things – is mutating and becoming easier to spread.

    My friend’s response to this (his client is a doctor from Australia who is involved in monitoring global pandemics and gets updates from the CDC on this virus):

    Yes that’s what my client was saying. He had never seen a virus as “smart” as this one with the capacity to mutate so quickly.

  49. Crush the Peasants! says:

    If reports are accurate about this being an escaped biowarfare weapon, the toppling of the government could be coming up.

    • Willy Winky says:

      The SCMP just dropped this story:

      Chinese scientists say they have detected “striking” mutations in a new coronavirus that may have occurred during transmission between family members.

      While the effects of the mutations on the virus are not known, they do have the potential to alter the way the virus behaves.

      Even if the world can control the spread it does not matter because the horse is out of the barn and running wild in China.

      Many factories have not re-opened following CNYr. If the situation is worsening then they likely remain closed.

      Empty shelves anyone?

      If this mutation story is widely picked up by the MSM then we are going to see a real panic as in people stocking up on food.

      But the panic in the financial markets is quickly going to spiral and the central banks will be powerless to do anything. It will be like sticking a finger into a dam with a 1000 holes the size of your arm.

      Wolf – at least you can go down knowing your short call was a good one :) :(

      • Billy Jack says:

        I agree there is a lot of Bullshit in the western press, there is some nuggets of truth. I find most of the time SCMP to be pretty reliable, its not CNN or Pravda.

        Factory closure has been extended until Feb 15, by way of saying they extended the Chinese-New-Year, how Orwellian right? I think they’ll have to extend the ‘holiday’ in Wuhan, no choice, can’t have suspected infected people packaging product to be sent abroad. Important for everyone here to realize that Wuhan is the Fulfillment Center for China. Most junk is assembled and shipped from Wuhan. Why would they fly boxes of stuff to say “USA”, knowing it will be held in quarantine until fumigated? They simply will not ship. The factory’s/warehouses will grind to a halt. Good news is that exports to West is only 15% of China GDP. So, as we say “So What”.

        No empty shelves, Wuhan is just 0.01% of the China population, all the food is still being grown on the farms. All normal day to day stuff is just fine, Shanghai & Beijing are fine.

        The hospitals are a mess all over China. The faux-panic has sent everyone to the hospital for testing, all over China where ever people can afford. The problem is there is no test, there is no cure. There is nothing the doctors can do. Average wait is 3-5 days to see a doctor, and this is for hospitals everywhere in China. Essentially bringing real emergency’s to a halt, and stressing out medical staff everywhere in the country.

        aliBABA stock is up, life is good, the money guy’s know this will blow over, if anything good time to pick up some more, its down 10%

        Life moves on. In a year nobody will remember this fiasco.

        It’s clear that western press/internet is either really evil, or just enjoys mucking up the system. I really think the blow-back here is China is going to have to filter the US MSM 500% to remove the noise coming to their people. Blowback is bitch, you can just imagine the Chinese creating some kind of similar hysteria in US city’s already on the breaking edge. Psychological warfare seems to be the “New Normal”. Like we used to say “Kill Your TV”, now its time to kill your Net.

        No panic to Biz, all biz is done in Shenzhen & HK, and they already are closed to Wuhan people. All the data centers and stuff are just fine, and they’re still taking orders, they just can’t/don’t ship.

        I agree Wolf. This is unreasonable hysteria, but the West is running this for all its worth.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      This stuff is among the worst toxic fake-news BS clickbait out there.

      • NBay says:

        Yeah. I could see that theme starting to form even from the comments right here, and bingo, someone finds a citation from somewhere else for it. Am now waiting for the revelations of mysteriously hidden photos of the meteor strike in the area.
        As if there isn’t enough weird shit going on……

  50. Philip Bouvier says:

    firstly we are trying to quantify and unknown. This is impossible. Everything said is just best guesses at best and hysteria and ignorance at worst.

    as someone stated, the best way to understand, the possible threat is to understand the scope of the response. China has done some unprecedented things to attempt to stop or slow down the virus spread. This lends credence to the idea that the virus is probably both dangerous and very virulent. No one waste resources combating non-existent problems for long as it will tap out all resources.

    If you look at the infection charts so far, it looks like a hockey stick. from zero cases at the beginning of december to over 20,000 cases in approx 6 weeks. (2/5/2020) – and these are reported and confirmed cases. Mortality rates have not yet been established conclusivly and won’t be for weeks or months. Therefore it is better to err on the side of caution and treat this as very bad health problem.

    At the least expect disruption in logistics, shipping companies have already sent out Force Majeure statements to customers. This will cause supply chain problems, including pharmeceuticals, autos and electronics.

    This will disrupt air travel, and large events involving crowds, like the 2020 olypmics as well as sports events, concerts and politcal rallies.

    In china many small communites are building barriers to block outsiders from coming into their communities. Party officials are being held responsible for the continuing outbreak, this will lead to more hiding of information to save their jobs. Then sudden releases of information as officials are sacked and they are scapegoated.

    We cannot address the problems of mutations of the virus until they occur, but they add another layer of the unknown to an unquantifible economic and medical threat. The danger is it becomes chaotic which leads to more infections. Thus there will be much under reporting by all parties to keep hysteria minimized. anyone who remembers Ebola coming to America and the madness a few case caused, can certainly understand how novel coronavirus could cause much more civil unrest.

    I would think by May we would have a much better understanding of where we stand with the scope and nature of this virus, and the impacts it will certainly have on our lives and our economic and political system.

    remember the Spanish Flu is what really ended WWI and a tiny microbe can exert a tremendous effect when it becomes ubiquitous. All we can do is delay its spread, as we are now the transmission vector. We cannot stop it, so planning is essential, until we understand it better it is best to take extraordinary precautions, as underestimating it could be fatal.

  51. Escher says:

    IMHO this is a major known unknown, almost as bad as Osama Bin Laden. Either you’re with US, or you’re against US.

  52. Heinrich Leopold says:

    The true danger of this virus is that people showing no symptoms can be contagious. So, thousands of infected people could be already in the US infecting ten thousands more every day. The Chinese authorities underestimated this, paying the price now. It is naive to think this will not affect or even benefit the US. Especially the fact the the virus can survive 9 days outside a host ( versus max 5 days for other viruses) makes this virus especially very dangerous in an environment of air conditioners, which there are plenty of in US air planes, offices homes and cars.

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