How a Coronavirus Case in Korea Instantly Hit a Small Business in the US

Everyone is trying to figure out how to get around the sudden hurdles.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

A small US company that specializes in exporting US frozen and refrigerated food products to Asia, including to South Korea, suddenly got hit by the coronavirus-spread-prevention machinery that is now screwing up businesses around the globe, according to an employee who doesn’t want to be named – and doesn’t want the company to be named – because they’re not authorized to discuss the matter.

The person said that one of their customers in Korea had ordered some frozen product. The US company — let’s call it Company X — in turn ordered it from its supplier in the US, and the supplier shipped it to Company X’s freight forwarder’s cold storage location at a California port. The freight forwarder was waiting for the instructions to place the product in a refrigerated container and ship it to Korea.

Meanwhile, Company X tried to get the letter of credit from its customer in Korea. It won’t ship the product without a letter of credit. With a letter of credit, the buyer’s bank guarantees that the seller gets paid the correct amount on time. It’s a fundamental tool in international trade.

But the person then got an email from the Korean counterpart who explained that there was no letter of credit, that he tried to go to the bank to obtain the letter of credit, as he normally does, but that he couldn’t leave the office building to go to the bank because someone in the building had tested positive for the coronavirus. That was the first email.

On the US side, everyone thought that this was just for a few hours, that a special ambulance or whatever blocked the exit. In the subsequent email exchange, the Korean counterpart explained that no one could leave the office building because the whole building and everyone in it had been quarantined, that authorities didn’t want potentially infected people to leave the building and mix with people on packed subways or wherever and spread the virus.

The situation is still developing, and it appears a bit chaotic, but everyone who happened to be in the office building at the time could be cooped up in the office building for a couple of weeks.

So now there is no letter of credit and the frozen product cannot be shipped and instead is stuck in cold storage at the port in California with no place to go. No one knows for how long.

This is one of countless shipments of products that have gotten stuck on either side of the Pacific because of some event unrelated to shipping, such as an office building getting quarantined.

Since the Chinese New Year, container carriers have cancelled dozens of sailings between China and the US West Coast, largely for containerships coming from China, due to the problems in China, as workers and truck drivers cannot make it to the port and cannot load and unload ships. Even containers that left Chinese factories cannot be loaded on ships. And containers that arrive in China cannot be unloaded from ships. Everything is congested.

This has caused another issue: Imports from China are not coming to the US, and the containers that they would come in are not coming to the US either. And suddenly US exporters face a shortage of empty containers in the US. And “container shortage” is the latest worry for US exporters.

In other words, even if Company X finally gets the letter of credit and is ready to ship the frozen product, it may have trouble finding an empty refrigerated container.

But people are not just sitting on their hands. Everyone is jumping through hoops on all sides. They’re trying to get around the hurdles if they can’t get over the hurdles.

In Korea, they’re now stuck in an office building, possibly for days, but they’re trying to figure out how to get around or alter their long-established routines, procedures, and protocols of getting a letter of credit, and they’re working with the bank on it, and they’ll come up with modern ways that’ll satisfy everyone’s security procedures, so that letters of credit can be sent without going to the bank. But it will take time.

In the US, Company X has a good relationship with the freight forwarder, which has agreed to keep the frozen product in cold storage for free – at least for a little while. And they’re trying to make sure they have a refrigerated container lined up when the letter of credit gets in.

And everyone is hoping that no workers at the Korean port is diagnosed with the virus in the interim, which might shut down the entire port, creating more hurdles that they would have to figure out how to get around.

This is in a microcosm how simple coronavirus-anti-spread measures in one country hit businesses globally, in big and little ways, in unexpected ways, creating complications, inefficiencies, delays, missed opportunities, lost sales, and extra costs, while sending employees at all levels scurrying to solve problems that no one is prepared for.

It’s not only Chinese tourists, business travelers, and property buyers who’re not showing up, but also travelers from all over the world who’ve gotten second thoughts about sitting on a plane. Read…  Coronavirus Slams Airbnb, Airlines, Hotels, Casinos, San Francisco, Other Hot Spots

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  140 comments for “How a Coronavirus Case in Korea Instantly Hit a Small Business in the US

  1. ex-Toronto Man says:

    Not only is there an issue with ocean freight, air freight has been very problematic as well. All the flights cancelled worldwide has severely interrupted air cargo delivery times. Demand drop for seats and the cancellation resulting from USA to China/HKG for example has meant that those cargo space from United/American to evaporate, and those USA exporters shipping air freight are suddenly scrambling to find replacement space on other flights. I’ve heard of cargo from freight forwarders being stuck in LA/Seattle/Anchorage for weeks (even mid-transit) as a result of both drop in availability of cargo space and the additional demand as a result of people sourcing surgical masks and other necessities from USA to Asia. All of this will cause supply chain issues and drive up the cost of doing business as businesses react to the uncertaintiy.

    • Engin-ear says:

      I regret the lack of vision and perspective and pragmatism in handling this C-virus.

      The sporadic border closing all around the world will hit the supply-chain, then real economy, then finance, then real exonomy…

      We saw this movie in 2007+.

      Then it was the matter of private trust, now it is the political handling.

      Why is the breaking the economy and finance machine is less deadlier then a virus? The real economy seems already in precarious shape.

  2. Beardawg says:

    Wow – when food can’t be shipped, people could starve. Anecdotal story, but there must be many more, and in total, represent a slow down in commerce which has not likely ever been experienced before.

    • mike says:

      These effects of the coronavirus infection in foreign countries are significant. However, the more significant effects will come soon, because our government is apparently imitating the Chinese communists and trying to hide its errors and appear competent, instead of truly containing the virus.

      Too many foreign countries now have uncontrolled, untraceable, virus outbreaks and people from those wealthier countries would most frequently be among frequent travelers: e.g., business people in groups that fled/traveled from infected areas, like China. Thus, since those people will be doing business with other frequent travelers in allied countries (e.g., Germany), those allied (German) frequent travelers would then be the most likely carriers of coronavirus because of their greater exposure: i.e., a hermit living in a distant cave in Japan, who does not see other people, will not get the coronavirus unless it truly is airborne (not just in droplets) and accidentally somehow he travels through a cloud of coronavirus left by someone nearby or touches a still infected object.

      The laws of probability would make persons that are most exposed to carriers or their objects the most likely next carriers. In short, it is not a question of any random German coming here: since Germany might only be .000001% infected, a random German would be unlikely to carry the virus. Unfortunately, the executive from Japan, for example, that travels around (e.g., to Germany) to arrange product orders is most likely to meet with a similar level German executive or executives who are also frequently travelers, e.g., to the US.

      Thus, Trump’s claims that the coronavirus cannot come here and we are doing “great” merely reflect his limited education and intellectual abilities. We may soon pay the price for having second rate persons in charge of our country at a critical time.

      I am preparing. No one can con a coronavirus, only its prospective victims. :-)

      • California Bob says:

        “We may soon pay the price for having second rate persons in charge of our country at a critical time.”

        Second rate? You are way too kind.

        • NBay says:

          FWIW his fans are already claiming media’s present coverage as the usual “groundless T derangement syndrome”, or whatever it is.

          There is no way to know the condition of anyone’s innate or adaptive immune systems. Being elderly or in poor health as a result of lifestyle, self chosen or not, however, definitely moves one higher on the unlikely to survive level. If this virus really sweeps the country it will change much much more than the financial world. At 73 I am a potential victim, as are the top 3 in Presidential succession, not to mention many others.

          I wonder how many have made ready to move themselves or elderly relatives to their “bugout” destinations such as old missile silos and New Zealand or other isolated castles? Will Air Force One load up and stay in the air for months?

          Sorry to be off track, as usual, but that financial example was a great illustration, and I am financial knowledge challenged, but trying.

      • Mikeeyboy says:

        “Thus, Trump’s claims that the coronavirus cannot come here”

        Did he actually state that or is this just another made up anti-Trump rant?

      • jraynor says:

        Only took 4 comments to blame something that was started in, and was covered up, by China – on Trump.


        • ? says:

          All governments lie. It’s a fact. Think for yourself, believe nothing, question everything.

  3. No Expert says:

    Can’t the Korean company just pay the money pro forma? Seems kinda simple solution. And you have to go to the bank in person to get this letter? That’s so weird, in NZ a letter of credit is a standing thing your bank will issue you. I think they are kinda uncommon these days anyway, seem like a 20th century kind of thing.

    But yes the story does illustrate how the virus is super leveraged for lack of a better term, i.e. one sick person can lock down a whole building which is bound to have exponential flow on effects around the world. Job losses must be occurring already you would think…

    • Latifundius says:

      In theory a buyer *could* directly send the money, but only if he has full and complete trust that the Seller (from the US) will then send the goods –

      It is essentially a counter-party risk problem and a letter of credit (with all details such as INCO-terms etc) is the known procedure to settle international trades for decades. Still very paper-based, but working fine.

      The easiest outcome for the quarantined buyer will be to find an old fax machine (if still around), because most of the paperwork can be done fax.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      No Expert,

      Yeah, things will change. But these are small companies that have done things a certain way and are set up to do things a certain way. Face-to-face contact with bankers — as part of the cherished banking relationship — is one of those things. I personally know from Japanese companies that they can be immensely inefficient in that manner. The coronavirus will push a lot of change onto all kinds of things, but that takes time.

      • GW says:

        Comment of Prof. Drosten (Charitee Berlin, one of the leading Covid-19 epidemiologists) in German TV two days ago:

        It is a pandemic virus. Closing border is pointless, we will have soon more transmission with the country. Right now contact tracing and containment is critical. About 60-70% will get it within 1-2 years. Slowing down is important to avoid overloading the health system. A lot of the ideas floated in the talkshow (where he was speaking) are pointless and energy should be focused on proven effective measures. And then two nuggets on what to do:

        Think locally. What works in the country won’t make sense in the city.

        We all have to improvise (implying the impact it will break systems in places and people have to scramble)

    • Iamafan says:

      Pro forma (can be a pre invoice) is NOT a commercial invoice.

      I used to pay foreign suppliers a lot and regularly (before I retired).
      If your supplier will ship on credit then a DA is fine.
      Otherwise, you better have money in the bank (or credit line) to open an LC.
      Your counter-party wants to get paid so the bank to bank transaction better be good.

  4. Michael Engel says:

    1) There are x2 trading days left in Feb.
    2) SPY monthly bar is the longest since Dec 2018 big red bar. Feb bar is big red with a large selling tail.
    3) SPY monthly bar in Feb is twice the size of Jan bar, but Feb monthly
    volume is about the same as Jan volume. Something is wrong.
    4) Feb monthly bar is above every cloud support lines.
    5) Feb monthly RSI is 62.45, not in bearish territory.
    6) The coronavirus panic is market makers tool to send
    prices lower.

    • Gold is says:

      6) The coronavirus panic is market makers tool to send
      prices lower.

      You got it Michael. I’m buying the dip. Meet you at the pointy end soon..destination, somewhere exotic

      • VeryAmused says:

        If it was not for all the other indicators going negative for months before this virus panic I would totally agree.

        Huge tinder pile with slow smoldering fire meet virus/panic hurricane level winds…what can possibly go wrong?

        On the plus side, Mike Pence is on the case so we have that going for us.

        • Nicko2 says:

          Japan closed all schools in the country for one month. This pandemic is the real deal. We are merely at the beginning of this global crisis.

        • IdahoPotato says:

          A 25 basis points Fed cut will cure the Coronavirus. And Mike Pence will fix everything when he is introduced to science for the first time.

          Many people are saying. Believe me.

        • Harrold says:

          It will be interesting if church services start being canceled.

        • NBay says:

          I thought Jared handled all the really difficult stuff. This may take more savvy than just Ts & Ps.

        • chukulik says:

          When anyone creates nothing from nothing they end with less! The fall started for the US in 1971, so we know the outcome… the height(fall) won’t kill you the ground will! Is this a groundbreaking moment for the free?

      • Happy1 says:

        You are fooling yourself, the impact may not be long lasting, but there is the potential for major short term economic damage worldwide.

  5. Gold is says:

    This could be the ‘big one’ that tips the World on its ear.

    In Oz – where there are minimal infections and no reported deaths – the gubermunt has today basically declared pandemic preparations, well ahead of the WHO (compromised politically, as it is). About the first thing the Oz gubermunt has done right in a long time, if ever..

    Never-the-less, it’ll take a week or two for the herd to awaken from their slumber, from their I phones, texts, chat, Uber eats and false sense of security….. Then watch out.

    And the financial clever-arti will soon be prepared to exchange all their smarts for a decent mask & goggles.


    Everything will be fine. DOW 36K Gold $1000 Interest rates -4%…all good folks. Life will go on sweetly, as usual. Click ‘ignore’ and go back to sleep.

  6. Chris Coles says:

    Locking people up, preventing them from even short distance travel to buy food, closing down all markets that supplied wild animal protein, closing all access to whole cities, and thus stopping all normal bulk food supply logistics will, eventually, cause mass starving events. Clearly there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Fear of the unknown has to be seen as the trigger for a cascade of events that are going to trash every economy so affected. Someone has to recognise that recognition of these clearly potential events, and an associated need to address them; is the most urgent requirement, or panic will spread with the potential for even worse outcomes. For the vast majority, this is a minor illness, a bad cold. We need leadership to bring a measure of good old fashioned common sense to the debate, without which, things will get much worse than they are already.

    • Iamafan says:

      My Mom died of pneumonia. Exactly 3 years ago this day. I was with her. Her lung xray was completely cloudy white. She suffered with an inserted tube for nearly a month. I guess it’s just statistics unless it’s up close and personal.

      • Xabier says:

        My condolences: I too have had pneumonia. Peopel are being too glib about this just because it ‘only kills old people’.

        Without such advanced medical care, her end would have been the same, and her suffering would have been very much shorter – it was usually seen as quite a kind death in the past.

        In fact, elderly people often sought out pneumonia in order to end the slow misery of crippled old age.

        • Iamafan says:

          Thank you.

          In my case, I got a massive stroke 11 months after her death, a few days after her only living sister (also in her 90’s) died.

          It’s amazing how much medical care has advanced, not to mention the cost. I am glad to be alive. Medicare helps.

        • mike says:

          My condolences also. I also survived pneumonia long ago.

          Please keep in mind that the coronavirus only has a low kill rate while the number of infected is low. If all of the oxygen bottles, skilled nurses/doctors, and ventilators in a county are occupied by prior coronavirus patients, then the filling of the lungs with fluid due to the coronavirus may be non-survivable even to younger persons who would have survived with proper treatment.

          Incubation reportedly might be a ludicrously long 24 days and symptoms may be slow to show. Even genetic tests seem to be failing at times. That is why so many are panicking.

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        My father was in high school when he contracted the 1918 Spanish flu. He nearly died. His lungs were severely damaged and he died at an early age.

        • DR DOOM says:

          My grandfather survived the Spanish flu in the Army and along the way had smallpox ,typhus , whooping cough and diphtheria and saw people in an iron lung.He lost 2 siblings to diphtheria in 1897.He would vaccinate an apple if he thought it would help. Dr Salks “magic sugar cube “and the DPT vaccination were the champions of his world .When I was 10 and at our church homecoming he showed me where his brothers are buried .He told me there were no such thing as “the good old days”, I agree.

        • NBay says:

          Salk had the shots. Sabin had the sugar cubes. IIRC.

    • LDS1 says:

      This is not the 80% (maybe??) who will get a minor case, it’s the 20% who go critical who need ICU care, which will overwhelm an already overwhelmed medical care system. Then, you have roll on effects of a medical system that cannot care for all the sick people, injured people, electrics surgeries etc. which leads to a cascading shit show of epic proportions.

      Leaders have a horrible choice either way they look at this, isolate to “slow” (it can’t be stopped) the spread and reduce the strain on the medical system, but screw the economy, OR let the virus spread, maintain the economy, and watch as a high percentage of people start dying as a result.

      The choice is yours, but I think you have to isolate and cross your fingers you buy enough time for something to come along and change the outlook.

      • Harrold says:

        It won’t take much for even those with good health care and insurance to be effected. None of the minimum wage waiters, busboys, cooks, etc have sick days, so they will be on the job even if they are sick. In fact, mgmt will insist that they cover their shifts.

        • Frederick says:

          No worries When the pandemic hits nobody will be crazy enough to go out to eat anyway so it shouldn’t be an issue The economic carnage will be legendary though if it gets to that point
          My wife’s cousin just Whatsupped a picture of empty shelves for her market in Tuscany She’s understandably upset that there’s no food to buy

      • NBay says:

        I seriously doubt 20% “will go critical”. How did you get that number?
        But if you just want to be all stirred up, be my guest, too many people seem to like doing that.

    • unit472 says:

      Not an unreasonable scenario for the outbreak but it really doesn’t matter now. The virus is everywhere and the numbers of infected will soar. The case fatality rate ( CFR ) doesn’t have to be high to cause major problems when 60% of the population is infected. Some informed researchers suggest a 1% CFR which is about 2.5 times the seasonal flu rate. Run the numbers.

      US population 300 million plus X .60= 180+million corona virus infections. A 1% CFR will generate close to 2 million deaths.

      The key here is over what time frame and why measures are being taken ( however pathetic) to slow the spread so the health care system is not overwhelmed. 2 million dying over 6 months is catastrophic. Over 18 months horrible but manageable.

      If that means Americans can’t get Kimchee and Koreans rib eye medallions from Omaha Steaks well so be it.

    • IdahoPotato says:

      It takes less than a minute to fact check things. Please stop posting unfounded conspiracies.

    • Happy1 says:

      2% mortality, if applied to an epidemic that affects 40% of the population, would be a major catastrophe. And it isn’t just killing the elderly. There is major potential for this to be the worst epidemic in a century.

      • Cas127 says:

        What are the specific numbers for flu waves that hit the US every year without this level of anxiety?

        Are you *sure* of the numbers you put out? Are you sure you know how they compare to average annual flu years?

        Pls link to your sources.

        • Happy1 says:

          Sorry, math error in my post that is being held up for moderation, if 40% worldwide infection rate and 2% mortality, that’s about 50 million deaths worldwide, about 100 times a typical year of influenza, with the caveat that 3rd world stats for influenza probably understate mortality.

        • nick kelly says:

          ‘According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 45 million cases of the flu in the United States during the 2017-2018 influenza season. Among those cases, 810,000 people had to be hospitalized. During that season, 61,000 people died from the flu.’

          So let’s see: a 1 percent fatality rate (remove 2 zeros from 45, 000,000 would be 450,000

          A 2 % fatality rate would be 900,000

          The actual fatality rate was 61,000

          Dividing 900 K by 60 K we get 16.

          The flu would have to be 16 times more fatal to have a 2 % rate.

      • Dave Chapman says:


  7. Auld Kodjer says:

    Draconian quarantine practices and the associated supply chain disruptions are temporary.

    There comes a point – in the not too distant future – when the virus has spread far enough and when food and medical supplies are disrupted severely enough that National Health Authorities will move from a policy of strict quarantine to a policy of containment & treatment, and the wheels of commerce will reengage.

    Civilisation, after all, is two meals and 24 hours away from barbarism.

    Better to sate the 98% and let the 2% (?) perish.

    • Cas127 says:

      The 2 pct fatality rate sounds approx correct, averaging out the multitude of numbers circulating.

      The interesting thing is that it is approx the same rate as flu waves that hit every yr – yet there is a much greater level of borderline panic in this instance.

      I’m not sure that I can really summarize the factors behind this – would someone on the pro-panic side care to try…then each argument can be addressed in turn.

      • nick kelly says:

        See above. I could understand this: ‘it’s just like the flu ten days ago’ but this is getting bonkers.

        All you have to do is enter ‘ US Flu cases 2017-2018 for the CDC stats. The 2019 stats aren’t in because the season extends into 2020.

        May as well add that the 60 K deaths were OVERWHELMINGLY among the over 70 or with pre-existing issues. No 29 or 34 year old doctors.

        • cas127 says:

          Look at time stamps.

          Also, see discussion elsewhere about stepping through the CDC numbers breakdown/methodology.

          Looking at the CDC numbers, it looks like the historical flu fatality rate can be based off of estimated illnesses (which is going to be the least accurate estimate and yield the lowest fatality rate),
          Estimated medical appts (more accurate estimate but still mjr rptg issues, but diagnostically more accurate) and then related hospitalizations (which is going to be yet more numerically and diagnostically accurate).

          So there at least three ways to calculate the fatality rate (I imagine the same will be true of Corona – but the non-China numbers are still so low/preliminary that analysis is going to yield a wide margin of error).

          I’ll agree that the 2 pct historical rate for traditional flu may be too high (all though I have seen numbers in this range reported) but until the CDC methodology is stepped through (and the Corona numbers verified and contextualized) the borderline panic posted elsewhere in the comment stream is not likely to be accurate either and can create dangers of its own.

          As I say elsewhere, being informed and prepared is useful, but propagating panic is not.

      • Dave Chapman says:

        Cas127: I hear that the flu has a lethality of 0.1%, which is a lot lower than 2%. Worst-case scenario for nCoV in the US is that we get 200 million infected people, and 4 million deaths.
        The flu kills maybe 50,000 in a bad year.

    • NBay says:

      Yep. When the chips are down, simple military triage. Not always fair or correct, but best effort. Not everyone rides dustoff, and there is more of it down the line.

  8. Unamused says:

    This is in a microcosm how simple coronavirus-anti-spread measures in one country hit businesses globally

    Damage to businesses could have been expected to be a lot worse without containment measures. And it still may not be possible to contain the virus.

    It may very well be that the worst is yet to come, if not with this disease then another one yet to emerge.

    Globalisation may not have been such a good idea after all, but it is always possible that a destructive pandemic could have occurred without the modern trend to globalisation. That said, there has always been some kind of globalisation. Before Columbus, smallpox was unknown in the New World, and syphilis was unknown in Europe, both spread by 15th century explorers.

    The Black Death, bubonic plague, wiped out up to half the population of Europe in the 14th century, spread to western Asia from central Asia by the Mongols and first spread to Sicily by Genoese traders. There have been recurrances ever since. The first North American plague epidemic was the San Francisco plague of 1900–1904, followed by another outbreak in 1907–1908. In October 2017 the deadliest outbreak of the plague in modern times hit Madagascar, killing 170 people and infecting thousands.

    The germ theory of disease was not accepted until the late 19th century, but there is still plenty of germ theory denialism. Many chiropractors believe immunity to be a function of spine alignment and of the brain’s ability to communicate efficiently with the body and that it has little to nothing to do with external pathogens. A claim from the anti-vaccine community involves the theory that all diseases are caused by toxemia due to inadequate diet and health practices.

    Disease will always be with you. The question is, what are you going to do about it? There will always be consequences, so the question must be answered carefully. With that come more questions, and those may not all have good answers.

    • Iamafan says:

      Maybe the anti-vaxers will have something against a Coronavirus vaccine.

      • Frederick says:

        I’m no “ anti Vaxer” but common sense tells me that injecting heavy metals and aluminum into your blood stream can’t be good for you If they one up with a vaccine for this thing I think I will pass

        • Unamused says:

          I’m no “ anti Vaxer” but common sense tells me that injecting heavy metals and aluminum into your blood stream can’t be good for you

          They don’t inject heavy metals and aluminum into your blood stream. Those you get from the contaminated corporate food supply.

          You claim to not be an anti-vaxxer but you’ve certainly bought into their disinformation. Corporations love it because it distracts you from the real threats of profiteers who regard you as disposable.

        • sc7 says:

          You’re a fool. There’s no other way to respond to such a scientifically ignorant “I think” type of argument that puts everyone around you at risk, particularly the immuno-compromised.

        • S says:

          Major sources of aluminum are your toothpaste and deodorant and uncoated aluminum cans (rather rare today). A build of aluminum in the brain has been studied as a link to dementia but the studies so far are conflicting.

        • nick kelly says:

          ‘Thiomersal (or Thimerosal) is a mercury compound used as a preservative used in some vaccines. Anti-vaccination activists promoting the incorrect claim that vaccination causes autism have asserted that the mercury in thiomersal is the cause. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim.’ Wiki

          BTW: the UK doctor who began all this has had the rare honor of having his UK medical licence removed. He now practices in the US.

          As for mercury being added to ‘give your immune system a kick’….

        • Frederick says:

          Unamused I understand all too well the crap the food industry sells and buy very little of it I don’t eat fast food at all and grow a lot of my own vegetables and fruits I get free range eggs and organic milk and chicken from villagers here and buy fish from a local fishermonger who sells from the back of his truck so I believe I’m doing the very best I can
          As far as sc7 name calling is childish and shows how weak your arguement is

        • Unamused says:


          I am also a biochemist and have worked in the development of vaccines and in public health, and I am unimpressed with vaccine-related myths and conspiracy theories, having researched the origins and political motivations of those as well.

          HHS secretary Alex Azar has said that the coronavirus vaccine currently in development won’t be affordable for all Americans anyway, so this could be a good time to be Dutch.

        • Unamused says:

          Agreed, nhz. I’m not distrustful of vaccines per se. I’m distrustful of drug company profiteering, regulatory capture, and weaknesses in offshored production QC. The product recalls don’t exactly inspire me with confidence, and neither do the US CDC’s problems with their test kits.

        • nhz says:

          I have over 30 years experience with the Dutch CDC and about 10 years with the US CDC and NIH (mostly related to Lyme disease guidelines, especially regarding diagnostic tests) and I have learned never to trust these institutions because they have other priorities than the general public.

          Just to be sure (because several of my previous posts were removed …): I’m not “anti-vaxx”, especially some of the traditional (old) vaccines have clear benefits and acceptable risk. But I think the vaccine debate is strongly skewed nowadays in favor of commercial interests and against public health in general and there is too much censorship when discussing the facts, both in science and in the general media.

          The US LYMErix vaccine is an interesting example, both regarding vaccine problems and the way authorities act in such a case.

        • NBay says:

          So, when a Pharma company comes up with a “successful” orphan drug, they are allowed one free “fast track” drug.
          No doubt with all this going on there is also now a “fast track swaps” market with some BIG money changing hands.

      • Bad Seed says:

        IMO the anti vaxers ought ti be the LAST people to get a coronavirus vaccine. Be true to your beliefs anti-vaxers.

    • michael earussi says:

      Up until the 20th century most people lived on farms and grew their own food, so even if 50% of the population died the individual could still survive on their own self-sufficient farm.

      That’s not the case today. Only 2% grow our food and so if the distribution system breaks down (which it surely would if we had a similar loss) the vast majority of disease survivors would starve in short order. How much of a population loss would be required for society to break down is unknown, but I’d rather not have to find out.

      • nhz says:

        yes, and the same vulnerability is true for energy/grid, staying healthy, education and many other basics of life.

      • Xabier says:

        Exactly right it’s all about the supply chains now, not the labour, and that is our Achilles’ Heel

        It used to be said that a Russian (or indeed any) nobleman ‘never had to worry about being poor, because the serfs renewed themselves annually’.

        One of my ancestors tried to claim that the villagers where he had a manor house – in the god-awful village of Lacar in Spain – were his serfs and not free men and women : they took him to court and his case was thrown out – I’ve always liked that. :)

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      As long as they don’t lock me out of my Christian Science reading room I’ll be ok.


  9. Michael Engel says:

    1) NYA weekly : bubble down // bubble up and back to the trading range.
    2) SPX weekly : bubble down // bubble up and back to a rising
    trending range. Draw : Jan 2018(H) to Sep 2018(H) and to July 2019(H)
    and a parallel line from the bottom in between.
    3) Yesterday SPX stopped on the upper line, the resistance line.
    4) SPX trend is still up, unless markets dramatically change.

  10. Brant Lee says:

    And the banks are thinking that people will have to pull out those 25 to 30% credit cards en masse. It could be glorious!

  11. Upstate says:

    My grandmother died 100 years ago in the influenza epidemic.
    She was 27.
    Something I think about.

  12. Unamused says:

    Containment measures will probably soon be discarded as too disruptive economically.

    Profits over people, as usual.

    The US is woefully unprepared for a pandemic. Containment may not be possible in a country where people are compelled to go to work when they’re sick, including people who handle your food.

    The piecemeal, for-profit US ‘system’ disincentivizes the uninsured and under-insured from seeking out testing for the virus, or even going to the doctor if they are sick in the first place. An estimated 44 percent of Americans say they don’t go to a doctor when they’re sick because of cost, not when they have to choose between paying for medical bills or basic necessities like food or housing. Normal citizens are going to be disinclined to contribute to eliminating the potential risk of person-to-person spread when hospitals are waiting to charge you $3,000 for a simple blood test and a nasal swab.

    So it’s a matter of when, not if.

    When the bankruptcies start piling up the economic destruction will reach the bank cartels and then things will start getting messy. The pandemic is already making the wealthy pay a price for perpetuating such an unjust, gaslighted society for personal profit, but they will be able to afford it, at least for a while, and they can be expected to externalise their costs to the disposable masses in any event. They always do.

    • Xabier says:

      There will be some poetic justice in it (is that the worst or the best kind?) as the rich will suffer, in pocket, and die, in body, as a result of abandoning those ‘below ‘them.

      Just as English aristos died of jail and slum fever caught from the poor into whose living conditions they didn’t care to enquire in the early 19th century.

    • Dotus_In Chief says:

      “…..the ignorant opinions of the DOTUS……”

      You lost me after the childish name calling.

  13. tommy runner says:

    sold a home, closed, recorded, done w/ a c- phone and document signature app. where you can, lose the financialization middlemen save time, money and fill the freezer.

  14. BC Puckett says:

    Smells inflationary.

    • Frederick says:

      Hugely deflationary iniatially and then hyperinflation after the “ helicopter money” hits the streets in my opinion

      • nhz says:

        Hugely deflationary? Not in the real world with face masks selling for $ 10 instead of $ 0,01. And with supermarket shelves nearly empty within days after some real cases are found in an area. But probably significant deflationary impact (for a few days at least) on fake assets like most stocks …

        Maybe Mme Lagarde is right this time that they don’t see outsized inflation risk for now (i.e. they don’t think inflation will go down very much) due to covid-19.

  15. Iamafan says:

    My first job involved selling vaccines (from Lyon, France). These are highly sophisticated stuff.
    Has anyone here read the CDC info. Just testing for the virus looks very complicated.
    You just don’t get a quick test strip used for the flu.
    It is easier to discuss the economy or the Fed, so let’s just stay there.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Yes, I read it a few days ago. I was impressed because of the complexity. The necessary lab hardware is non-trivial as are the reagents and consumables required. Then there’s the separated spaces needed for each stage of work and the training for techs. I’m not a bio-person but have a strong background in chemistry and engineering. “Just” testing is expensive and time-consuming. Yup, it’s not a colourful “Dip Stix.”

      • Iamafan says:

        So far only about 450 people had the Covid-19 RT-PCR test.
        The poor victim now in UC Davis got one.
        Doubt we can do a lot of test because the test kits are rare and the procedure complex.
        In China, they claim a CT-Scan of the lungs is better than the PCR test.
        Considering that I had to wait hours to get a CT scan when I had a head bleed (I was in the ICU and CCU when I had a total of 5 CT scans and an MRI), I wonder how our hospitals can handle this?

        Cross your fingers.

        • Happy1 says:

          CT imaging availability in the US is several times that in other countries, it would take millions of cases to overwhelm imaging capacity in the US. Remember that people in Canada and the UK often wait weeks for a CT.

          But the lab tests are very short in supply.

          The real key is ICU availability. Making the diagnosis of Covid 19 is important for epidemiology, but irrelevant for treatment. If someone has acute pneumonia and ARDS they need isolation and ICU.

        • nhz says:

          RT-PCR tests are known to be pretty unreliable in real life (e.g. risk of false positives) especially with new pathogens where validation tests havn’t been done yet. With Ebola even after years of experience the PCR tests, while better than serology which was woefully inadequate IMHO, were still not as reliable as you would want with such a dangerous disease. But discussing that is a sensitive topic that most doctors prefer to avoid (e.g. people in Ebola area with fever released into the general public because of false-negative tests, and people with e.g. a fever put in containment with real Ebola patients due to false-positive tests).

          Once there is more experience with a PCR test for a certain pathogen it can be performed at very little cost (just a few $$ excluding interpretation) in a basic biochemistry lab. The main problem is with stealth pathogens that are present only in minute amounts in body fluids, but most viruses are present in large enough numbers to make detection easy.

          There’s also a problem regarding what and when to test, e.g. we know now that patients who survived Ebola are positive for Ebola virus in genital secretions even one year later. Officially not known if they are still “infective” then because it’s difficult to find out ;(

        • Happy1 says:

          Following up on this, 143 labs in US capable of testing for coronavirus by end of this weekend. So the health system is rapidly mobilizing. The limiting factor will indeed be ICU care, as it has been everywhere Covid 19 has hit hard.

      • Ethan in NoVA says:

        Hmm my friend has one of those PCR widgets at home. It was built with a laser cutter in a makerspace and is powered by a hobbyist microcontroller kits.

        Was thinking when I heard China had a ventilator shortage that they should print some more using 3d printers and perhaps laser engravers.

        • nhz says:

          yes, you can do basic PCR testing with just a couple of hundred $ worth of DIY gear and some biochemistry experience. But if you want a highly sensitive and selective test for new pathogens, with part of the DNA sequence unknown/uncertain, it’s another story; even more if the pathogens could be present in low concentration only e.g. because you don’t know what type of sample and sample preparation should be used.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          I’m curious. Did he/she use the laser cutter and makerspace to build the sophisticated electronics for precise timing and 0.1 degree temp control? Was the necessary cleanroom environment built with a 3d printer? Who wrote and tested the software and how long did it take to debug?

  16. Gandalf says:

    Interestingly, I just learned that the COVID-19 virus entry point into cells is at the ACE 2 receptor, not the same ACE receptor targeted by ACE inhibitors for hypertension control, but also part of the renin-angiotensin system for blood pressure regulation. The SARS virus attacks cells the same way.

    Seems like a possible pathway for treatment there. And there is considerable variability in the expression of the ACE 2 receptor among human beings, which would explain why some people seem to be typhoid Mary types and carry it with little symptoms and others get massively infected quickly and die.

    • nhz says:

      Yes, ACE2 which means that Chinese/Asian are more vulnerable than the average EU/US citizen who are probably more likely to become “super-spreaders”.

      • michael earussi says:

        Why are Asians more susceptible than Europeans?

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          There’s a theory that’s been floating around for weeks that asians have more ace2 receptors, and thus are more affected by the coronavirus. It’s not clear if it’s true or not. There is currently only very minor evidence about it either way. Right now no one is reporting the race of those infected outside of Asia. Italy will prove or disprove this theory “they are first non asians with an outbreak”.

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          A more likely factor is that smoking and other health factors like high blood pressure cause an increase in ace2 receptors and thus much more likely to be killed by the coronavirus. This could explain why men seem to be more than women. Age and poor health we know for sure are major factors. Something that has never been brought up though is whether pollution could effect ace2 receptors.

        • nhz says:

          It is obvious from the data that Asians have higher risk on average; this is loosely correlated with ACE2 but I didn’t claim that ACE2 itself is the cause. It might indeed be smoking or other habits (but I doubt that: most Chinese women don’t smoke and fatality in men isn’t a huge multiple of that in women) or some other statistically correlated factor.

          The theory for why ACE2 would be a factor does make sense to me but indeed, we should know more when we are getting the numbers from Europe and other areas of the world.

  17. CreditGB says:

    Someone should invent remote transactions with your bank, you know, where you’d log onto your account and request a LC be issued by your banker, then transmitted to the seller’s bank.


    Never mind.

  18. Prairies says:

    I second what Idaho said. The timeline is too far apart to link fear mongering propaganda to the story. The same logic social media uses to link them to it could be used to discredit the story.

    They left Winnipeg, Mb. with a deadly virus almost a year ago and did well enough in handling the virus that no one was infected in Winnipeg or any connecting air traffic center. The virus they transported was Ebola though, sorry not beerpoks. Then they managed to get a virus that they did not have access to and were not transporting onto some gloves and instead of disposing of the gloves they walked the gloves into the meat markets garbage for a worker there to dig em back out and wear them.

    Conspiracies are so weird when they start sounding informed and then slide down a sewer pipe into fan fiction day time soap opera story telling just to fit a narrative.

  19. RD Blakeslee says:

    Those of us who are elderly and relatively more vulnerable to serious illness or death, but have prepped and can completely self-isolate for up to a year, have about the best chance of escaping a pandemic, I think.

    Financially, Wolf’s short is looking better every day. So are those who not participated in the stock “market” in the first place.

  20. Mike says:

    Well your short is looking pretty good. And Tesla is down 30% from its ATH.

  21. Bobber says:

    My prediction is they won’t be able to contain this thing without a total economic collapse. Think of all the BBB rated companies that will not be able to service their debts if the economy shuts down for even a temporary period. What can be done in that situation? Do the governments put a moratorium on debt service and repayments until the virus is under control? Do the governments provide temporary loans to the debtors? It seems unlikely the governments would let all these entities go into bankruptcy for a problem that will be temporary.

    I guess we’ll watch the DOW drop another 10-30% and see what they come up with.

    In any case, this will not be a V bottom for financial markets, as the “speculation” aspect of the market is taking a big hit. A lot of the players will be washed out as lessons are learned. How many people out there were buying stocks on margin? The margin calls will be coming in this week.

    • Bobber says:

      I meant to say “asset price collapse”, not “total economic collapse”. Asset prices could drop 30% and the economy would barely miss a beat as some weak hands are replaced by strong ones. People keep working. Savers can invest again at reasonable asset price levels. Everything would be good, aside from some temporary displacement.

  22. Norma Lacy says:

    Condolences to all who have lost loved ones – and/or been ill.

    Regarding this current virus – I remain puzzled. This is why. Some years ago in ‘murka I contracted the then current respiratory virus. It was every where = people went to work with it. Children went to school with it. No body gave any thought to isolation, much less refraining from sneezing on others. I was over tired from excess work and my virus was the next step to pneumonia. As Unamused mentioned, many people without health insurance cannot/do not go to doctors. I lost over 20 pounds before I was desperate enough to crawl to a local clinic where a kindly nurse practitioner slipped me some physicians samples of antibiotics and likely saved my life.

    My point is: No body cared about the virus – or the pneumonia which followed it. No body wore masks. No body quarantined.
    The stock market did not tumble. While I do very much understand the current supply problems, what I don’t understand is why the panic in other countries over what is possibly just another flu?

    And why aren’t people praising the chinese for trying to prevent the spread of illness. I definitely wish the snotty nosed fuckers who gave me the flu had stayed home.

    Well happy trails anyway.

    • Bobber says:

      We’re talking about a 3% death rate with the virus, which makes it much different from the flue. What more is there to understand? People are wise to do what’s necessary to protect themselves, even if that means staying home from work or school for several months.

      The world is going to have to make some hard choices about priorities – long-term physical health concerns (incl. possibility of death) v. short-term economic concerns.

      • nhz says:

        in addition, recent reports say that a very significant percentage of “cured” patients seem to remain positive after recovery, despite no longer showing symptoms. Nobody knows for sure what this means, they could probably get ill again at later time or infect others despite being no longer considered infectious.

        • Cas127 says:


          “they could probably get ill again at later time”

          NYU Dr. Was on CNN literally 3 minutes ago saying that (like the common cold we see every yr) the Corona viruses do not confer immunity…you can get reinfected by same strain.

          Not sure if this is bad (no lasting immunity) or good (cold works same way) but it may merit thought/investigation as to risk of going to/remaining at focal pts of infection – the same issue that I raised a few days ago with regard to Spanish Flu and the surprising that that some of the leading researchers at the time self-isolated once they got sick.

          Not recommending this as a course of action (it is a very high risk decision either way) but I am saying that it merits investigation if people are truly agitated about the situation.

        • IdahoPotato says:

          A woman working as a tour bus guide in Japan has tested positive for coronavirus for a second time, in what authorities have said is the first such case.

        • nhz says:

          I assume until proven otherwise that covid-19 infection does not provide (full) protection against later re-infection, which is the case for many viruses due to various reasons.

          The problem I mention is that we cannot know the true cure/death rate if people remain infected and might get ill again later even if they are not re-infected (e.g. in quarantine or using general protective measures). Again, not unique for this virus but a potential worry factor.

        • Bobber says:

          They say it has traces of the AIDS virus, and you can never get rid of AIDS. So does this make the Coronavirus similar? I don’t know, but it’s a scary thought, especially since there’s talk it may have been bio-engineered to cause harm. They better get to the bottom of this before they start announcing people are “cured”.

    • Frederick says:

      Bobber is correct This virus is MUCH more dangerous than the flu It’s RO is much higher which means it is transmitted more easily to others The hysteria being created is what’s crashing the markets Investors realise that the jig is up and things are about to get a whole lot worse not to mention that the markets were a Ponzi scheme before any virus even came along

      • Cas127 says:


        Pls link to your sources as numbers are being thrown out all over the place.

        The fatality rate numbers I have seen do not place it much higher (3 pct) than the average annual flu (1.5 to 2 pct – people may not be aware that yearly flu waves are normally that high). Ditto other statistical measures – especially since the non-China infection rate is still so low…comparative flu numbers are based on much, much, much larger numbers of infected. So these may not really be apples to apples comparisons…small sample size increases the range of error.

        I am not arguing against being prepared it just seems like panic is starting to outstrip facts.

        • nhz says:


          your numbers are totally wrong. The official death rate for the flu is about 2 per 100.000, not 2%. (check US CDC website).

          It’s a complicated topic because in many cases we don’t know for sure what cause of death was, which is also true for covid-19.

          In my own country the maximum number of “extra” deaths potentially due to flu (mostly people > 75 years) during the worst flu season on record was about 0,2%. Note: this is the maximum estimate, not the true incidence; in most cases there will be multiple factors involved and not just the flu.

        • Cas127 says:


          I have seen mortality stats all over the place, so let’s see if we can agree on the best etc for stats.

          I went to the CDC for historical flu stats (for historical context in order to establish how different this yr’s Corona may be from prev annual flu waves that did not get people spun up.

          This is the page I found –

          It seems to me that deaths and hospitalizations are likely the most accurate estimates, since the reporting STDs are more formal (if not perfect).

          Medical visits and (to a much greater extent illnesses) are going to be much less accurate since there are few to no rptg rqmts.

          To get the fatality rate, you need deaths as the numerator, and one of the other metrics as the denominator.

          Illnesses would be best, but is least accurate estimate – medical appts less comprehensive but more diagnostically accurate, and finally hospitalizations – most diagnostically accurate but likely excludes cases…elevating the fatality rate if used.

          Which denominator do you think is best for calculating fatality rate (given size error and diagnostic error).

          That would give us annual flu fatality for a typical yr – for context.


        • WES says:

          Cas127:. I have done quite a bit of reading on the coronavirus.

          My general feel is the coronavirus has the ability to spread more easily than must flu viruses. Once a person is infected, it is much harder to recover from it.

          If you are older and/or have pre-existing medical conditions, your risks of dying from coronavirus is terrifyingly high.

          I estimate the regular flu has a death rate of about 0.001% if you get proper medical treatment. Naturally if you don’t get proper medical treatment, your risks of dying will probably be much higher.

          From various things I have read about the coronavirus, roughly 82% of those infected show only mild symptoms and recover without any medical intervention.

          However, the remaining 18% of those infected, require serious medical intervention to survive the virus.

          Without any medical intervention, about half of the 18% will die for a death rate of about 9% (worst case).

          I think this is what really happened in Wuhan where the local hospitals were so totally overwhelmed that very few received any medical help at all (were just turned away). Also much of the hospital’s medical staff themselves fell ill, just to make matters even worst. This would appear to be a worst case situation. Iran looks like another worst case developing.

          Now if the 18% of infected people requiring serious medical intervention have access to good medical care then the death rate can be greatly reduced from worst case 9% down to maybe less than 3%. That would still make the coronavirus about 20 to 30 times more deadly than the regular flu (0.001%).

          Another reason to be concerned about the coronavirus is observing the strong actions of governments everywhere, because we know that when it gets serious, governments have to lie. Same for the media. They are all lying!

          We have seen the Japanese health minister say they have given up trying to contain the coronavirus outbreak and are now trying to reduce the death rate for those who get infected.

          I think China has given up trying to contain the coronavirus. I see that Canadian Federal health officials have already given up trying to contain the coronavirus. I see the same from the US CDC officials too. Look at Europe, they are going to keep their borders open despite the coronavirus!

          I have read that the coronavirus’s HIV mutation allows the virus to quickly enter the human body by binding with human cells 100 to 1,000 stronger than SARS. These would be to the ACE2 receptors in the lungs. If true this would explain the virus’s spreadability and why the 18% need serious medical intervention to survive.

          Regarding the most common coronavirus Nucleic Acid test kits. Dr. Wang Chen, director of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, on February 5, stated that all who test positive have the virus but 50% to 70% who are infected, test negative!

          So yes the most commonly used test kits are not very reliable thus the need to test repeatedly to confirm the coronavirus!

          We here in Canada and the US, do not have enough test kits to test very many people each day. That is why they are simply telling us to just stay at home and self quarantine! To hide their unpreparedness!

          One person in China, despite a CAT scan showing fully infected lungs, tested negative 5 times and only tested positive on the 6th test!

          The Chinese believe a few infected people never show any symptoms at all. The longest time recorded in China, from being infected to showing symptoms is about 90 days. Many more cases ranging from 19 to 34 days before showing symptoms have been recorded. The coronavirus has been recorded up to 9 days on surfaces, which is why they are disinfecting public places with stuff that kills over sprayed animals! Wonder what is in that stuff?

          Even if some of this is only half true, it shows us why this coronavirus is going to be so hard to contain. It is practically invisible! How do you fight something you can’t see?

          Trying to take everybody’s temperature as a screening measure is nearly useless. You only catch those showing symptoms, not any of the infected carriers. Then we are dealing with people who lie!

          Example: Iran traced their zero. He was an Iranian merchant who evaded travel restrictions to China by travelling via 3rd countries to China and back. He has since died, so they can’t shoot him.

          Apparently a quarantined North Korean, escaped and went to a public bath. Kim shot him with an anti-aircraft slug! So yes, he is clearly paranoid, but then he is a dictator! Part of his job description!

          I am not trying to spread alarm, just trying to get a better grip on this. This is sort of where my mind is at in this moment in time.

          My vested interest is simply that my wife and I have pre-existing medical conditions plus age, that make us prime targets to be in the unlucky 18% who will need serious medical intervention, if we catch the coronavirus.

          I am an engineer by training so shifting through lots of often conflicting information, is how I approach things like this.

          Outside of avoiding people, the only other thing I know I can do is wash my hands after going out and avoid touching my face.

        • cas127 says:

          The more I read, the more I think a key part of this is how the Chinese “confirmed” cases line up with one of the four categories that the CDC uses for normal flu years (ill – which sounds projection based, medical appt – which also sounds like projection based unless CDC reporting is much, much more extensive than I would have thought, hospital admissions – which is likely much more accurate, and fatalities – almost certainly most accurate.

          The 2 to 3 pct fatality rate in China that has everyone concerned is using which CDC category as a denominator? I don’t know, and I don’t know if anybody else does either.

          It is a big deal because if the Chinese “confirmed case” number is comparable to the CDC med appt or hospital admission categories, then the fatality rate is going to be much higher than that of the annual US flu season almost by definition – since the “fatality rate” denominator is by definition smaller than that apparently used by the CDC to measure flu fatality.

          This would make the Chinese Corona Novel fatality rate look much worse than typical US annual rate…but only because apples and oranges are being compared.

          If there is a definitional mismatch and the inflated fatality rate is applied against the US population or a major subset thereof, the number will look horrible…but only because the Chinese are reporting an artificially low number of the sick (those who are confirmed via medical appt or hospitalization). If a much larger number of “ill” is used as a base, the Chinese fatality rate would apparently fall greatly.

          This may be going on, since the Chinese may not want to publish a merely projection based “ill” number (the way the CDC does annually) – since they may perceive that as causing needless, speculative panic as to virality.

          But by doing so, they would cause a misleading inflation of the fatality rate under CDC classification.

          Again, I don’t know how China is defining its base denominator of “confirmed sick”

          Does anyone?

    • TXRancher says:

      Huh? Antibiotics only work for bacterial infection not viral infection.

    • Harrold says:

      Antibiotics do not kill viruses…

  23. Iamafan says:

    Hopefully this won’t be Katrina all over again. This time we’re talking the whole World. Have mercy.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Chilling image – the entire earth as an immense Superbowl with too few porta-potties.

      • Cas127 says:


        Some people commenting here are one day away from declaring a zombie apocalypse.

        Again, being informed and prepared is wise…some people here seem to be intentionally fostering panic.

        • Greg Hamilton says:

          That seems to be the objective.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Cas – I keep reflecting on the expected 50,000 or so dead this year in the USA from plain old vanilla garden variety everyday influenza and I just can’t become that worried about COVID-19. I’m “wasting” more time on tracking the economic reactions and implications.

        • Happy1 says:

          It’s not the zombie apocalypse, but there is a real potential for hundreds of thousands of deaths in the US. It would probably be wise to have a few weeks of shelf stable food handy for the next couple of months. Especially if you are elderly and have respiratory or cardiac health problems.

        • elysianfield says:

          “some people here seem to be intentionally fostering panic.”

          Well, maybe when the nations of the world seal their borders, cancel the equivalent of Christmas, close schools, malls and sporting events, and quarantine millions of people, forcing them to remain off the streets…well, maybe it is time to panic.

          I do not listen much to the banter and speculation that is evident, but I closely watch the actions of countries in regards to this issue. I do not know what is happening, but the shot callers of the world do, and they seem scared. Perhaps they know something you don’t?

    • polecat says:

      The thing is … Murica, with few exceptions … is just one, humongous, disfunctional, neoliberal gladitorial colosseum .. on a continental scale !

      Keep some coin for the Ferryman, just in case Eylisum come calling.

      • Xabier says:

        Two silver coins, traditionally I believe?

        But why not go out in style with some gold?

        Mostly useless to save, but fine to decorate one’s closed eyes…..

  24. DR DOOM says:

    Most of our insulin comes from China. What use is our government and its political parties if a strategic medical need such as insulin could not domestically be produced? If the capacity to provide strategic items get orphaned due to the possibility of a pandemic we are really on our own. The capacity of bombing or droning a defenseless country any where in the world was truly short sighted and will not correct our government . I hope strategic necessities do not falter. A black market fraudulent drug market would be devastating.

  25. Happy1 says:

    Containment measures won’t be discarded because of economics, they’ll be discarded because they don’t work.

    If an authoritarian country with the level of control China has can’t contain Covid 19, no one can. The factors in favor here in the US are availability of advanced ICU care (the cause of death in Covid 19 is ARDS and respiratory failure) and relative lack of population density. But containment at this point has likely failed in the US, and we will likely have widespread Covid 19 in all of urban California in a few weeks.

  26. Bobber says:

    I just read they closed a high school in Bothel, WA, a suburb of Seattle, over coronavirus fears. Apparently a faculty member had traveled internationally with a family member, and the family member is now feeling ill and being tested. The school is shutting down temporarily while they disinfect the school.

    The interesting part is that they don’t know if its coronavirus or the common flu, and it takes 7 days to get results.

    Thus, it appears the common flu is now enough to cause a temporary closure of a school or business. That’s a lot of potential disruption.

  27. Kenny Logins says:

    New paradigm.

    Globalisation and JIT have hit the first big bump in the road.

    We’ve had almost 100 years of relative ‘good times’ to learn how to be complacent.

  28. TownNorth says:

    Corona virus is the tide that went out, exposing the economy swimming naked. To paraphrase Warren.

  29. Keeper Hill says:

    Perhaps globalism isnt all its cracked up to be.

  30. Michael Gorback says:

    Lack of oil demand for transportation in every area: cars, buses, trains, planes, ships, etc.

    Petrodollar recycling tanks -> liquidity shrinks -> cost of money rises (higher interest rates). Can the Fed fight that amount of lost liquidity without destroying the dollar?

    After all, it’s the petrodollar that makes the USD the reserve currency and there’s that Triffin’s Dilemma thingy.

  31. Michael Gorback says:

    This flu season we have had 29,000,000 cases of flu and 16,000 deaths. Where are the headlines?

    All you can do is the same as influenza. Hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, disinfecting surfaces, etc.

    For heavens sake don’t touch the seatback tray table on a plane or the TV remote in a hotel unless you’re wearing a hazmat suit. Actually that was my recommendation even before this latest pestilence.

    Wear a mask. It won’t protect you but people will avoid you.

    Meanwhile the Fed has to start printing antibodies!

  32. Mean Chicken says:

    Wolf, this article was very well done, not confusing at all. Congrats!

    It’s not clear though, the mechanism why container shortages in US ports exists except possibly the remaining empty ones have already been spoken for (for example, filled) in anticipation of eventual trade resumption. FWIW

    • Iamafan says:

      I think there are two stories here.

      The first is the US Shipper with frozen goods waiting to be shipped to a customer in Korea who could not get an L/C, so the goods had to stay in frozen storage arranged by the freight forwarder.

      The second story is staging of containers. They usually come in FROM Asia full and LEAVE the US near empty (because China stopped buying our trash) or STAY in the US since there are no shippers.

      Complicating this issue are:
      – the location of “refrigerated” containers (So Carolina has many of these) and
      – the fact that some Korean cargo ship companies have gone bankrupt.

  33. KGC says:

    I ship overseas cargo daily. Hundreds of containers and breakbulk (stuff that doesn’t go in containers). We are now seeing countries serving notice that ships that have visited certain countries (where there are known corona virus cases) cannot even approach the pilot ships to be guided into harbor unless they can show there have been a minimum of 30 days since they last visited one of those listed countries and that no-one on board is a carrier.

    What you’re going to see in the next month is not going to be pretty, as many of the smaller islands (say the size of Guam or smaller) must import a majority of their foodstuffs. Can’t dock, can’t eat.

    • WES says:

      KGC:. This kind of reminds me of the stories of old sailing ships that had an outbreak on the ship, flying some sort of Black flag warning other ships to stay clear!

      Naturally pirates used it to hide from man-of-war ships hunting them!

      Wonder what a coronavirus flag looks like?

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Wes – If you’re a private sailor to foreign countries you still fly the yellow quarantine flag when you arrive to alert the harbour master to send out customs to check your paperwork and crew. Only the captain or a representative (one person, mate or officer) is allowed to leave the ship until cleared.

        KGC – They just might allow cargo when they get hungry.

    • Anthony says:

      Try living on a small island with a population of 65 million if the food routes fall, yes I live in England….. lol

  34. No Expert says:

    Covid now in NZ. Just been to supermarket water aisle half empty might be a coincidence but did not get warm fuzzies

  35. IslandTeal says:

    Am I the only person who is thinking that a financial reset is in the works for this weekend in the style of Lehmann under the guise of the Coronavirus problem. Just a thought.

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