Life Under Draconian Lockdown: I Can Barely See the Light at the End of this Long, Dark Tunnel

The process of reopening Spain has been dubbed, rather ominously, “Operation New Normality.”

By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET:

“Is there any light at the end of this long dark tunnel?” That’s a question many people are asking themselves in Spain, whose government has implemented one of the most draconian anti-Covid lockdown regimes in the world and is now beginning to loosen some of the restrictions. Sunday was the first time in 43 days that children were allowed to venture out, albeit only for a maximum of one hour. And only if they were accompanied by one adult. And under the age of 14.

It was hardly a return to normality, but after six long weeks of being cooped up at home, most of the children and their parents were happy to take up the invitation of a little fresh air, a few rays of sunshine and some open space. For the first time in a month and a half, the streets and squares of villages, towns and cities across Spain were alive with the sound of people.

This being Spain, not everyone obeyed the government’s slightly loosened rules. From the vantage point of our balcony, in the Exiample Dreta district of Barcelona, my wife and I could see many children being shepherded by both of their parents. We could also spot groups of families together as well as opportunistic childless couples who were hoping to blend in with the crowds unnoticed. Some got away with it. Others were stopped by the police and given a stern warning or fined.

Since the lockdown began in Spain some 740,000 people — the equivalent of 18,000 per day — have been fined for breaking the government’s Covid-19 rules, according to El País. That’s three times more than in Italy and almost 200 times more than in the UK during roughly the same period. The only EU country that has dished out more fines is France, whose police issued over 900,000 fines in a five-week period.

In France administrative fines can range from €135 to €3,750. In Spain they can reach as high as €600,000, a spine-chilling figure that was set by the previous Rajoy government in its overtly authoritarian Law on Citizen Security — popularly dubbed the “Gag Law” for its sweeping attacks on freedom of expression. Passed in 2015, the law was primarily intended to crack down on rising social and political protest. Today’s governing parties, then in opposition, pledged to overturn the law. They didn’t. Instead, they have kept many of the most draconian measures in place and are now making liberal use of them.

If parents and children do not follow the strict criteria for outings, those outings will be withdrawn, the government warned. Surveillance and controls will be stepped up if necessary.

As countries around the world are gradually realizing, it’s a lot easier to go into lockdown than get out of it. In Spain, where the number of new cases is averaging around 1,000 a day, the process of reopening the country has been dubbed, rather ominously, “Operation New Normality”. It has been divided into four phases:

Phase Zero. Starting on May 2, this phase is mainly about preparation. Small service providers will be able to open but only if they offer appointments, such as hairdressers, dentists, florists and opticians. Citizens will finally be able to go outside for a spot of individual exercise or for a solitary stroll. But as far as I can tell, the government is still debating about when to let couples go outside together, something we’ve not been able to do since the lockdown began. This doesn’t mean that couples aren’t venturing out together, just that by doing so they risk getting fined.

Phase One. In this phase, scheduled to begin in most provinces on May 10, social contact will be allowed between people in the same city who are not deemed to be at risk of the virus. But there will still be no travel between provinces without justification (such as work). Sidewalk cafés will be able to open, albeit at 30% of their usual capacity. This means that people will be able to have a drink with friends on a terrace. Hotels will also be able to reopen, but without common areas available to guests, such as the buffet.

Phase Two. With the arrival of phase two, citizens will be able to enter the inside of bars and restaurants, again with a limit of 30% of capacity. Cinemas, theaters, auditoriums, monuments and exhibitions centers will also reopen with a similar limit on capacity. At outdoor events, up to 400 people will be allowed, provided they are seated.

Phase Three. Loosely scheduled to take place mid-June, this phase will include the relaxation of mobility restrictions, albeit while wearing masks outside of the home. Visits to senior homes will finally be allowed, under strict conditions. Bars will be able to open with a limit of 50% of capacity. Travel between provinces will be allowed but only if they’re both in phase three.

The markers for each shift of phase will depend on:

  • The strategic capacity of the health system.
  • The epidemiological situation in each province, including the infection rate, testing (which is still broadly limited to people with severe infections or essential workers) and other indicators.
  • The degree of collective compliance with the protection measures.
  • The evaluation of mobility and socioeconomic data.

If everything goes according to plan, which is far from likely given the complexity of the task and the volatility of the situation, the country will return to some semblance of normality by the end of June, says the government. With Spain’s economy facing its worst crisis since the civil war (1936-39), according to the ECB’s Vice President and former Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, time is of the essence.

In the first quarter of 2020, Spain’s unemployment rate rose from an already high 13.8% to 14.4%. That figure does not include the 3.7 million workers who have been furloughed by their employers and are currently receiving or waiting to receive government benefits worth 70% of their normal salaries. Nor does it include the more than one million self-employed who have either completely halted their activity or have lost more than 75% of their earnings and are now receiving or waiting to receive benefits.

It’s impossible to know how many of these people will go back to work once the restrictions are lifted, but if you include these two groups of “temporarily” unemployed in the statistics, Spain’s unemployment rate is actually closer to 40%.

Also not reflected in the statistics are the hundreds of thousands of self-employed workers who have taken a massive hit to their income, in some cases as high as 60-70%, but don’t qualify for government assistance. Many of my self-employed friends and contacts are in this situation. Then there are the untold thousands of people who have applied for government assistance but still don’t know if they will ever receive it. They include my wife, who stopped working on March 14, the day the handmade-jewellery store she works for closed due to the lockdown.

Within days, the store’s owner, a German jewellery designer, had applied for my wife and her Portuguese colleague to be furloughed. The owner also tried to register for the government’s self-employed assistance program and take out a government-guaranteed emergency business loan from her local bank. Six weeks on, she still hasn’t received a response from the government and is still waiting to find out if she qualifies for the business loan. Her two workers, including my wife, haven’t received a penny since March 15.

“Last time I went to the bank, the manager told me he had 200 signed applications for emergency loans sitting on his desk,” the owner says. “Only 30 had been given the green light by the government.”

Even in the best case scenario, in which she receives the government assistance (maximum: €660 a month, a tiny fraction of what she was making) and the bank loan, she knows that the prospects for her 15-year old business are pretty bleak. “My landlord has told me I don’t have to pay the rent for the shop while it’s closed, but I will have to pay the arrears once the shop reopens,” she says. “I will also have to pay outstanding taxes. To have any chance of doing all that, I will have to go into debt, something I never wanted or planned to do.”

Given that roughly 60% of the business’ customers were tourists, in particular big-spending Americans who were enchanted by the glistening bracelets, necklaces and earrings that were designed and crafted in front of them as they browsed (some of which are on view at Instagram), business is unlikely to boom when the shop reopens. Even when foreign tourists begin to return to Barcelona, later this year or early next, it will not be in nearly the same insane numbers as before.

The same thing is happening throughout Spain (and far beyond). Businesses that were perfectly healthy and viable before the crisis, providing jobs for enormous numbers of people, are now going to have to take on huge amounts of debt at a time that revenues are about to plummet. It’s a recipe for economic disaster. Many will go under. It is one reason among many why the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel is still barely visible. By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET.

Tourism is the “first sector to be afflicted by the virus crisis and, unlike other crises, likely the last to recover from it.” And these economies are still incredibly fragile, even eight years after the last crisis. Read... Tourism in Southern Europe, Accounting for 13%-21% of GDP, is on its Knees. When Will it Get Back Up Again?

Enjoy reading WOLF STREET and want to support it? Using ad blockers – I totally get why – but want to support the site? You can donate. I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer and iced-tea mug to find out how:

Would you like to be notified via email when WOLF STREET publishes a new article? Sign up here.




  120 comments for “Life Under Draconian Lockdown: I Can Barely See the Light at the End of this Long, Dark Tunnel

  1. STEPHANE
    Apr 29, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    Can anyone, anyone really, provide any study that shows any efficacy of locking down an entire society, including healthy subjects, in providing a positive outcome, either societal or medically individual.
    Either recent or historical.
    Anything.

    • Tim
      Apr 29, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      Mortality figures for Spanish influenza 1918-1919.

      No lockdown was possible at that time.

      It is possible that no hard and fast conclusions will be available about the impact of the current pandemic for 10 years as data collection may be unclear until there has been a long period of recovery after the tail end of effects has passed..

      It may be that only then that a clear analysis of morbidity, mortality and economic effects can be made.

      • Jdog
        Apr 29, 2020 at 3:36 pm

        I am not sure where you are getting your information but there were lock downs during the Spanish flu and there were also studies about the effectiveness. Some cities ended their lock downs too early and had a resurgence in the disease forcing secondary lock downs and prolonging the overall quarantine time and adding to the number of deaths.

        • Tim
          Apr 29, 2020 at 4:07 pm

          Information is patchy at best. Mostly due to very poor recording methods and poor levels of information dissemination at the time.

          That makes anything but very broad brush comparisons at this stage sketchy at best.

        • Rcohn
          Apr 29, 2020 at 10:07 pm

          Antibiotics were not discovered by Fleming until 1929. It is impossible to know how many were killed by bacterial complications of the 1918 flu , but it was considerable

        • char
          Apr 30, 2020 at 9:40 am

          @Tim

          people back then, when they died, were registered. That is all the data you need. Lockdowns were highly successful.

          ps The date from death registers have not been meaningful improved since Napoleon. They were good bookkeepers in 1919.

      • char
        Apr 30, 2020 at 9:32 am

        Lockdowns were possible during the Spanish flu, were tried and were highly successful, especially from an economic standpoint.

    • Joe
      Apr 29, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      Here is something to watch that is free and will not be on mainstream media.

      Planet of the Humans | By Jeff Gibbs, Executive Producer Michael Moore

    • andy
      Apr 29, 2020 at 3:04 pm

      Well, historically, they discovered vaccines before they discovered viruses. So what do they now.
      But they did know to lock city gates and wear masks packed with straw for filtering (unlike 21st century officials).

    • MM
      Apr 29, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      Search for “How some cities flattened the curve during the 1918 flu pandemic” national geographic

      • Iamafan
        Apr 29, 2020 at 8:01 pm

        According to the CDC, the Spanish flu killed 675,000 in the USA. Covid-19 is a lot less.

        • noname
          Apr 29, 2020 at 10:27 pm

          Because of medical advances. Because we have been warned and urged to prepare. Social distancing. Hygienic improvements.

          From what I understand, publishing about the Spanish Flu was forbidden. I’ve read letters people sent during the Spanish Flu, multiple say things to the effect of “Be careful, the flu is really going around”, “The flu is bad this year”.

        • Apr 29, 2020 at 10:52 pm

          The Spanish flu lasted a couple of years. Covid-19 in the US has been a two-month thing so far, in terms of when we started counting. In those two months so far, we had 62,000 deaths in the US. Over 2,000 deaths per day since April 5. So if this keeps going for a couple of years like this, we’ll be there.

        • Iamafan
          Apr 29, 2020 at 11:00 pm

          You sure these are deaths caused by covid-19 or with covid-19?
          Regardless, welcome to the depression where 27 mil are unemployed.

          The 62k is death by ALL CAUSES.

        • Apr 29, 2020 at 11:05 pm

          When Covid-19 caused your liver to fail and that’s why you died at age 55, it’s a Covid-19 death.

        • Iamafan
          Apr 29, 2020 at 11:17 pm

          Actually the 60k is death by
          Pneumonia. Covid-19 deaths are 33,513
          Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/index.htm

        • Apr 29, 2020 at 11:42 pm

          Nah…

        • intosh
          Apr 29, 2020 at 11:38 pm

          Here we go again.

          They said the same thing with the seasonal flu. And we all know how ridiculous that comparison was.

        • mydog
          Apr 30, 2020 at 2:23 am

          It’s not done yet. Give it a couple years.

      • Apr 30, 2020 at 1:24 am

        i was not there during the spainish Flu, and at times in the history of Africa when things like this happen they say the gods are angry.
        By grace this evil will passover, with fewer death.

    • IdahoPotato
      Apr 29, 2020 at 4:15 pm

      https://www.businessinsider.com/eyam-self-quarantine-bubonic-plague-prevented-community-spread
      When plague-ridden fleas brought the bubonic plague to the small town of Eyam in England, its residents decided to quarantine themselves instead of fleeing to nearby cities, where they could have worsened the epidemic.

      Eyam’s residents’ decision eliminated the possibility of community spread to other nearby cities, which could have had major outbreaks like the one in London.

      Their decision to remain in self-imposed isolation increased transmission within the village. Ultimately, a third of Eyam’s estimated population of 750 perished during the epidemic.

    • Frank Miller
      Apr 29, 2020 at 4:27 pm

      From my reading, isolation is but one step. Suggest reading about New Zealand and South Korea for their intervention efforts and their very low case and death rates per million. Like death rate of 5 per million people. USA like 125; NYC like 400? Important to use rate per million for comparison. Also important to read, articles that are online, ie what they did as well as isolation. In South Korea govt spent $45b? on disease intervention. Their intervention response was fast and furious. Now it seems their workforce is available and ready for back to work. Seems way less than the trillions on bailouts to poorly managed corporations and resultsv in lower public suffering too.

      • Paulo
        Apr 29, 2020 at 6:14 pm

        My Province of BC has a death rate of 17 people per million, about the same as S Korea. We have just a limited lockdown. No restaurants or bars open, all campgrounds and Provincial parks closed, and crowd limits to 50 in stores, etc. Non-essential stores are closed, but many offer curbside pickup. The main source of C19 death has been care homes, but now care workers are limited to just one facility…forever. Recent new infections are based in 3 poultry processing plants this past week.

        I work outside every day because I live rural, but we do absolutely no traveling beyond the odd shopping trip. We just stay home as told.

        There is a point to this comment.

        What I have noticed about Canada compared to other jurisdictions, particularly some US states, is that people here seem more willing to stay at home and believe the public health officers and follow their directives. Our public health officer has complete control over the scope and scale of the lockdown, with politicians taking a back seat behind “science”. This has better prepared the public’s state of mind to be more acceptable of the orders. Like many things, when politicians overreach, ……….. During our daily news briefings the main speaker is our health officer, Dr Bonnie Henry. She is well known for this daily reminder. “This is our time to be kind. We need to be calm. We need to stay safe”.

        Nick, what you described in your article sounds soul destroying harsh. I hope it works out for you and your family as things open up.

        • Mary
          Apr 29, 2020 at 7:57 pm

          Paulo,

          I always look for your interesting contributions to this community’s discussions. Instructive to read your comment in comparison to Alberta’s. (Couple of inches down.) Two wildly different interpretations of the same situation.

        • Argus
          May 1, 2020 at 12:33 am

          Yes, Paulo, you have described my experience here in BC. People have generally been calm and compliant. Neighbours take it in turns to go shopping for each other once a week. We have been allowed to go for walks in places that are not crowded. Grocery stores devote the first hour after opening to seniors. Distancing is enforced at till line-ups. Many shoppers voluntarily wear masks.
          There is a sense that the authorities are in control because the messaging is consistent and comes out of one mouth, Dr Henry’s. Restrictions will be cautiously and gradually lifted soon, with the results monitored. The fear is a second wave of infections.
          I am less positive about the federal government’s response – they were way to slow to control incoming foreign air traffic.

      • MC01
        Apr 30, 2020 at 8:56 am

        Frank, I strongly suggest you take look at the mass of container ships ready to load their cargo off South Korean ports. Given the respective size of the two countries it’s even scarier than China and far more depressing: to give an idea in South Korea Ikea stores adopted many precautions but never shut down.
        If we look at the two countries right now they can be described as on high alert but back in business: new cases are obviously expected for a long time but can be managed without doing further harm.

        By comparison Germany is already trying to backpedal after one of those localized clusters of new cases their own healthcare authorities had warned would come at this stage of the disease and that would be part of the “new normal” for quite a while. Politicians are obviously panicking, and in doing so they’ll inflict a tremendous blow on the country’s morale: here in Italy they have sunken it so low people have no fight left in them. If over the next few weeks (when the lockdown is supposed to be progressively lifted) I don’t hear anybody setting off fireworks and crackers like people did in Wuhan… we are in somehow even more serious troubles than I thought.

    • Winston
      Apr 29, 2020 at 5:54 pm

      I think the lockdowns are too extreme and go too far. Masks, social distancing, and better hygiene should do it and are working well in countries like Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan of the top of my head.

      However, here’s what happens when large events aren’t canceled:

      Philadelphia didn’t cancel a parade during a 1918 pandemic. The results were devastating
      15 Mar 2020

      https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/15/us/philadelphia-1918-spanish-flu-trnd/index.html

      • mtnwoman
        Apr 29, 2020 at 8:15 pm

        What happens when a segment of society refuses to wear a mask?
        I had to go to Walmart today. !/2 the patrons had no mask.

        I guess if it’s made a law with fines for disobeying that would help.

        • phil m
          Apr 30, 2020 at 1:36 pm

          In NY we didn’t use masks until a week or ago. Now it’s mandated, probably a little late. I am curious if there is scientific proof that these social distancing measures are effective at all?
          In NY almost 25% of the fatalities are folks from nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Earlier in the month the State mandated (Andrew Cuomo and his administration) required Nursing Homes to readmit patients from hospitals who had tested + for CV… talk about starting a forest fire.
          At the same time NYC Subways continue to operate.

        • Happy1
          Apr 30, 2020 at 10:52 pm

          Efficacy of mask is unproven. Wearing one is a symbolic gesture.

    • marc
      Apr 29, 2020 at 6:31 pm

      Well, where I am, in the midwest, from a usual home in NYC, we don’t follow any lockdown.
      I drive everyday, go the lake, parks, supermarkets and take out restaurants.
      No mask.
      I do take preventive Plaquenil and vitC and Zpack in the car.
      Life is good.
      Hospitals are empty, including ICUs and people are not scared.
      I can’t imagine living in a gulag like Spain.
      Which was such a beautiful place.
      Sad.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS)
        May 1, 2020 at 11:31 am

        marc-in the back of your consciousness, keep a line from a Jackson Browne song: “…don’t think that it won’t happen just because it hasn’t happened yet…”.

        May we all find a better day.

    • Thomas Roberts
      Apr 29, 2020 at 7:44 pm

      STEPHANE,

      Not recently no.

      The lockdown could have been used to find a medical treatment and pump up production of medicine and medical grade supplies, but, almost every country squandered it. In Europe and America I expect the consequences of the lockdown to far exceed the benefits, yes less people died right away, but, as soon as lockdown is lifted, we won’t be in a better position than before, we only set the number of active infections back a month.

      In smaller countries like South Korea and Taiwan who are either islands or have heavily fortified borders, it is possible to actually have a lockdown and weed out the virus, if you have the capabilities. If you do actually eliminate new infections, it’s possible to end lockdown, but, your borders to have to remain mostly closed. Australia “is very large island, but, population is spread in an ideal way”, Iceland, Greenland, the UK/Ireland and others could accomplish this.

      In America, because of how spread out the population is, over such a large distance with a fluid Mexico border and without domestic medical production capabilities, it’s impossible for a lockdown to be able to wipe out infections. It does allow the hospitals to catch up, but, after the lockdown we’ll quickly lose the benefits. A few lives saved early on, more lost later on. The lockdown will harm the health of the country, increased heart attacks and other such conditions will rise over the coming years and more than wipe out any lives saved. This is because of the effects that the lockdown had on supply chains reducing healthy food, less active population and stress and depression from the lockdown itself and jobs lost.

      There is also the possibility that CCP19 is actually far more contagious, but, less dangerous than thought. Right now, the antibodies studies are ongoing and suggest a far huger percent of the population already had CCP19, it might effect the large majority of people so little, the previous tests for the virus itself, couldn’t detect it. If so the lockdown was even more ridiculous.

      It’s possible that some elderly, particularly, nursing home residents, and some others are still at large risk and should be in lockdown, but, putting the whole population in lockdown is bad.

      If CCP19 is as bad as thought though, the lockdown will be given credit for saving future lives, even though it didn’t, the common sense things like face masks, disinfecting, and the such will help keep infections down, not because, lockdown happened.

      Overall, because of the lockdown, we will emerge in a less free and less healthy world. But, hopefully the positives will be that we will no longer put up with Chinese nonsense and everyone will actually prepare for a real dangerous future pandemic “if that happens”.

      • char
        Apr 30, 2020 at 2:15 pm

        Stopping the spread is the cheapest, fastest way to restart the economy. Europe outside Eastern Europe, Italy etc.has been too lacks. And quarantine has been an age old method that works. See China, a country bigger than the USA. could defeat it so could the USA.

        Problem is as always the dumb American superstition that the total sum of each human doing what is best for them leads to the best result overall.

        • Thomas Roberts
          Apr 30, 2020 at 5:38 pm

          The biggest reasons why quarantine cannot work for CCP19 in America is that, most people are asymptomatic spreaders, I.e. People can spread it without knowing they have it. The way the population is dispersed around such a large area means you would have to test almost everyone in the population, multiple times and America doesn’t have that capability. Many people are conspiracy nuts and will refuse to get tested or treated or quarantined. Many people are afraid of the bills/loss of income that go could along with testing positive and will refuse testing or treatment. CCP19 is super contagious. Among many other reasons.

          Quarantines can work for viruses like Sars, because, everyone shows symptoms and you cannot infect others until you do. Other viruses have different rules, but, CCP19 is almost impossible to stop, once it spreads enough in a large enough country, it already has.

    • intosh
      Apr 29, 2020 at 11:35 pm

      See Sweden vs Norway.
      17.3 deaths per 100,000 people vs 3.37 deaths per 100,000 people

      • fajensen
        Apr 30, 2020 at 3:40 am

        Sweden – The proud keeper of The Nordic Record (copy and paste the entire link into your browser bar): https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/coronavirus-cfr?time=2020-03-07..&country=DNK+NOR+SWE+ITA

        Based on my interpretation of the narrative used around the epidemic, they believe that Covid-19 will, in a neutral and apolitical way, cleanse the weak and impure from ‘the herd’.

        Therefore, the belief is, Sweden will be better and stronger, if only they can get everyone properly infected before ‘the herd’ figures out that they are lab-rats in an experiment that should have ended in the 1930’s.

        • Gandalf
          Apr 30, 2020 at 11:26 am

          Yes, Sweden currently has a HIGHER DEATH RATE per capita from COVID than the United States, and far far higher than the other Scandinavian countries which did take COVID precautions.

          Sweden’s policy does indeed smack of Nordic/Aryan eugenics ideals. I wonder what the breakdown of deaths by race and ethnic group in Sweden is. The Swedish cities now have a fair number of African, Middle Eastern, Turkish, and Eastern European immigrants. As they are the ones most likely to live in crowded housing and depend on public transportation and work the sort of low paying service jobs where social distancing isn’t possible, they are probably getting hit harder

          Not that different from the Georgia and Florida governors wanting to open up. They know full well that African Americans are bearing a disproportionately huge share of the COVID deaths

        • char
          Apr 30, 2020 at 2:30 pm

          @Gandalf

          For that the death rate is to low and to much skewed to the old. But than eugenic followers are dumb so they could be dumb enough.

          Bigger problem for the current rulers is that it creates enemies for life outside of the political tribal structure. This is not a problem for the next election but a future one. It is also not the problem that they are many but that they are hardcore. Hardcore enemies outside the normal political tribal system are hard to defeat

      • Xabier
        Apr 30, 2020 at 4:43 am

        To give an idea of the magnitude of the problem in Spain, in our small province the recorded COVID deaths are currently at 70 per 100,000 population, mostly elderly the leaves ripe to drop from the tree anyway.

        There was incredible laxity before the lock-down, even as the severity of the disease for some high-risk groups was becoming very evident.

        However, why try to save lives by delivering a real death-blow to the economy which will reverberate for years to come, as Nick so well describes?

        As for re-opening, businesses cannot operate at 30-50% capacity, as envisaged, and many will never reopen.

        And depriving people of simple daily exercise, with all the obvious consequences for mental and physical health, is imbecilic.

        One looks at the street, let alone the mountains or the sea and cannot go to them for a refreshing walk – utter stupidity devised by bureaucrats in alliance with imbecilic experts in public health – maybe they learned their discipline at Guantanamo?

        One thing is sure, they have no conception of the consequences of what they have done.

        • char
          Apr 30, 2020 at 2:51 pm

          Deathblow? You think that tourist want to come to an area were C runs wild? REALLY? That is the problem. It is not the government that creates the problems but the virus and the way people (very sensible) react to it. Spain choose the fast and simple solution to the problem of the disease and in my opinion it will be shown in hindsight that it was the cheap way to

    • Andrew C Bonaventura
      Apr 30, 2020 at 3:56 am

      I knew europe socialist .i did not know it is in fact communist. If the united states get anything like that i hope the good lord takes me.

      • SwissBrit
        Apr 30, 2020 at 9:07 am

        Andrew,
        You clearly have no concept of what socialism or communism actually is, other than ‘un-American’ and something to be afraid of.
        The current situation in Spain is severe, almost certainly too severe as well as too late, but not indicative of any particular political ideology.
        Sweden, a country that you would probably describe as socialist or communist, has put far less severe lock-down measures in place than almost all parts of the USA, but this doesn’t mean that the USA is more socialist than Sweden, does it?

        • Gandalf
          Apr 30, 2020 at 11:39 am

          The history of Sweden is that although it was officially neutral in WWII, it was really a semi-collaborator with Nazi Germany, supplying critical ball bearings and ores that the Nazis needed for their war machine. The Allies could not bomb Sweden, as they did Norway (which had been invaded and occupied by Germany) because of this claimed neutrality

          The Nazi sympathizers in Sweden were never rooted out in Sweden, unlike Norway, which ruthlessly wiped them all out. They still exist apparently

          As a side note, that’s how Anni Frid of ABBA, born in Norway to a Norwegian mother and a German soldier, became Swedish. They fled to the welcoming arms of Sweden after being driven out of Norway.

    • Sean Stehura
      Apr 30, 2020 at 10:12 am

      In Italy, 43% of people who tested positive for covid 19, showed no symptoms. Doctors tested 397 in a homeless shelter and found 36% were positive with no symptoms. Regular breath way spread covid 19 virus several feet or more. How can we open up the economy without massive testing? Millions and millions of testing a day.

  2. Tim
    Apr 29, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    Nick

    Thank you for the article above.

    All I can say is fingers crossed for you and your wife.

    Best wishes for the weeks ahead.

    • Nick Corbishley
      Apr 29, 2020 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks Tim.

  3. andy
    Apr 29, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    On the other hand, if anyone doubted V-shaped recovery, there it is, in the stock market. Yay!

    • Phoenix_Ikki
      Apr 29, 2020 at 3:53 pm

      Well, when daddy Jerome feed the market all the cracks it wants to keep it forever high, it tends to bring about V shape bounce. Think the market see the light at the end of the tunnel, nevermind that light is the sun and they’re staring straight at it.

      • Brant Lee
        Apr 29, 2020 at 7:02 pm

        In other news today (just a side note, not important) the economy shrank at a 4.8% annualized pace in the first quarter, the dow celebrated by stacking on 500+.

        • Phoenix_Ikki
          Apr 29, 2020 at 7:07 pm

          As Rick James once said “Cocaine is a hell of a drug” translate that for Wallstreet “Fed helicopter money and blinding optimism is a hell of a drug”

        • Anthony A.
          Apr 29, 2020 at 9:48 pm

          80% trades by algos. When the “up” won’t go much higher, they will program the algos to short the market. It’s fixed, remember?

    • intosh
      Apr 29, 2020 at 11:43 pm

      It’s important that you mentioned “the stock market”, and not the real life.

  4. Alberta
    Apr 29, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    The UN Secretary General declares the Goals of Covid19 is the Deindustrialization of first world countries and the Introduction of Green Energy.

    Industry and business targeted are petroleum, airlines, tourism, animal agriculture, apparel. Industries valued are electric vehicles (auto, bus. train), virtual travel (Zoom), fake meat and well, you get the drift.

    Dissent is quelled by shelter in place (voluntary martial law), fines, incarceration and FEMA camps.

    • Alberta
      Apr 29, 2020 at 3:18 pm

      Oh, almost forgot Universal Income – Government will dole out just enough survival coinage to keep bankers happy and interest paid.

      • Klondike kat
        Apr 29, 2020 at 3:48 pm

        Yeah, they at so powerful and with so much influence. Savoir-Faire is everywhere!

      • Anthony A.
        Apr 29, 2020 at 9:49 pm

        Where’s my check! I want my money now!!!

      • WT Frogg
        Apr 30, 2020 at 11:14 am

        Alberta : I don’t suppose you have a source to back up your assertion or are you just talking thru your hat ??

        Conspiracy theories tend to be long on verbiage and short on facts.

    • char
      Apr 30, 2020 at 2:58 pm

      You need industry to build green energy so it is not exactly deindustralization

  5. Yancey Ward
    Apr 29, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    Flocks of people exiting the lockdowns. Flocks is the right word.

  6. Petunia
    Apr 29, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    I heard from a person in Florida that the state has run out of unemployment money and they are not paying them out anymore.

    I also heard from an in law in NY and they are only getting partial payment on their unemployment, about $200 a week less than they qualify for. I haven’t seen anything in the news about any of this.

    • Yancey Ward
      Apr 29, 2020 at 3:12 pm

      Hardly a surprise if it is true, Petunia. No state had the UE funds to pay off on 20% unemployment.

  7. DR DOOM
    Apr 29, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    It would suck for me to live in the city. Conversely where I live would suck if you wanted to live in the city. If people still want to live in the city after C19 , then you are blessed. I still want to live here after C19 and I am blessed. If you have any doubts about either make a change because the worse is still to come no matter where you live . If we love where we live it will be easier to wrap ourselves in the warm blanket of cognitive dissonance as we go into the economic shit storm on the horizon.

    • Edward Xylem
      Apr 29, 2020 at 3:39 pm

      Great post. Nothing can stop this now, we are all passengers on the Carnival Cruise Ship named Earth. Ideally in a comfortable cabin.

    • tom
      Apr 29, 2020 at 4:25 pm

      I continue to be surprised at the new work coming in the door.
      I’m prepared for a steep drop, just surprised after 3 weeks of declines, the past 1.5 weeks have been increases.

      I’m tied to residential construction. And its not all city folks fleeing Chicago. But that was going on long before Wuhan. Though I did have a
      client last week moving from New York.

      Will just keep hammering 7 days a week until the shit storm hits. Then turn my attention to fishing, hunting, and the good life.

  8. Michael Gorback
    Apr 29, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    L shaped recovery if we’re lucky.

    No vaccine
    No medication
    Antibodies don’t seem to be protective (same as with other coronaviruses)
    Antibodies to corona viruses don’t seem to last.
    Unlike measles or chickenpox one episode does not confer immunity. You can get reinfected.

    Texas is letting us out of our cages. I think I’ll wait a couple of weeks and see what happens.

    The introverts will inherit the earth.

    • VintageVNvet
      Apr 29, 2020 at 3:56 pm

      Not too sure about the introverts part MG, but I certainly agree with you about waiting ”cagily” for a while, couple weeks minimum, continuing for now the ”self isolation” and other protocols I decided upon in early Feb, and, except for a couple of ”liquidity” runs have kept to since.
      Even those runs, in the heart of the ”lockdown” here in tpa bay area, most folks totally ignoring common sense suggestions or requirements, so we really have no idea what is coming IMO.
      Have had ”something” twice, late Feb and past 4 days, but may very well be allergy, as I have a long history in this area; in any case, taking no unnecessary chances, etc…
      So I will go with, ” folks paying attention and adaptable will inherit…”

    • char
      Apr 30, 2020 at 3:30 pm

      Texas is destroying the economy by saving it.

  9. Apr 29, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    People in the US have been complaining about the system for at least twenty years, now they have put the system on it’s heels, they want it back?

  10. Stephen
    Apr 29, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    The entire Covid 19 thing has not really concerned me from a medical point of view. I have a very extensive network of family, extended family, friends, neighbors and Business Colleagues here in FL and we are all healthy. In fact, I don’t know anyone who had even a severe cold this winter/spring.

    The political/economic effects, quite honestly, have scared the bejesus out of me. I thought we were more or less headed for a better future (perhaps not on a straight line), but I never thought such a disstopian future were rear its head up in my lifetime. We still have time to recover and gain our composure, but the this has definitely delt a blow to the post WWII calm and prosperity in the EU, and to a lesser extent in America. I am hoping that like a bad dream, we awaken to a better reality in a few months, but when I hear about the fascist policies in Spain, I am very concerned that decades of progress since the Nazis have been banished in Europe have not be lost.

    • Icanwalk
      Apr 29, 2020 at 4:36 pm

      There are roughly 3 million cases of Covid in the world. USA has about 1 million of those. So 4% of the world’s population has 30% of the world’s cases? Simply amazing. No one I know has been diagnosed either.

      • Cas127
        Apr 29, 2020 at 5:57 pm

        The quality of health testing/reporting methodology probably varies a helluva lot across countries (and states, and cities) – that can account for a big chunk of the differentials.

        I have no doubt that varying lockdown starts played a big role too.

        In the near term, I think the most reliable (because least demanding) health stats will be all-cause-mortality (and even there, some lockdown effects will have to be backed out).

        And the all cause stats so far are, well – mixed. The NYC stats look bad…most other places, pretty good (all cause deaths actually going down, despite Covid).

        Ditto the interpretations of the all cause stats – some interpret current ambiguities negatively, some positively.

        I took a look at the highly MSM promoted all cause study done by a Yale academic (which took a negative perspective).

        Parts may have been passable but I could easily ID three problems pretty quickly…

        1) Any states/regions with below projected deaths (and there were many)…were simply defaulted into a “lagged effect” category…that did not strike me as legitimate science. To simply assign/lump ambiguous data to a predefined category, is not good science.

        2) There were at least two problems with data presentation.

        a) For no apparent reason, the authors failed to include raw data (unadjusted by said authors) by state. The adjustments may have been legitimate…but then why not take the most simple step of including the state level all cause data over time…so that outside researchers could easily and immediately replicate the authors’ adjustments step by step.

        Again, bad science. The raw data is available from the CDC…but why not include 1 extra page of raw data to the study itself? The authors have page after page of their adjustments…but not the raw data.

        2) The visual representation of state by state data is needlessly awful and unreadable (except for worst hit NYC with its huge spike). Y axes are inconsistently scaled and all the graphs (states and lumped together states…another questionable step…) are all smashed together on a single page…making visual interpretation by state more or less impossible (except for NY…).

        There really is no excuse for the presentation problems…by obscuring independent verification of the data, it looks like the Yale paper is simply trying to bigfoot it, trading upon fast fading Ivy League reputations to forestall independent evaluation of their data and their analysis of their data.

        They may or may not be right about Covid, but this heavily promoted “research paper” has some pretty obvious shortcomings.

        • MC01
          Apr 30, 2020 at 2:08 am

          Cas: Southern Italy went into lockdown three weeks later than we did, albeit they went straight into hard mode. Yet look at their cases: whole areas have been virus free for weeks now.
          Originally this was blamed on the South’s poor healthcare system not doing its job, but after testing capacity was ramped up the situation did not change. The dreaded wave of new cases that was supposed to happen a couple weeks after the lockdown in the South started (due to emigrants rushing back to their ancestral homes) did not happen.
          This difference in virulence between North and South is a major major healthcare and political issue here that those responsible don’t want to answer. Their silence tells me a lot of heads will need to roll.
          The silver lining is of course that politicians in the South are jumping up and down with excitement as they show voters what a cracking good job they have done to (personally) defeat the virus before it even became an issue. ;-)

          I haven’t kept up with the internal situation in Spain, but I do know that Poland has about the same population as Spain and has had about 12,000 cases, and with a much much lower hospitalization and mortality rate. I am pretty sure that while the Spanish government threatens its own citizens with Hellfire on a daily basis it actively avoids answering that question. Poland has a lockdown, but it is much milder than the one in Spain and many factories (Swedwood for example) have already re-opened.

          I feel the causes for this difference in virulence among areas are if not known at very least suspected, and that people will not like them one tiny bit.
          This crisis has many fathers, and their guilt is proven by how quickly they are trying to silence the truth: we are not even remotely out of the wood yet and these folks are already trying to wiggle their way out of it.

      • Rick Chadderton
        Apr 29, 2020 at 7:12 pm

        So the USA is simply the country that is prepared to release information about infections that most of the rest of the world (and some specific examples) want to cover up. Kudos to the USA for truth telling in this instance.

      • Phoenix_Ikki
        Apr 29, 2020 at 7:18 pm

        Well, you know we have 18 out of 1000 people tested vs UAE at 107 per 1000 people tested, so that’s roughly 1.8% of the population for US and here we are Trump is saying social distancing rule will fade and everyone back to business now..1.8% tested and we think we’re peaking and over the hump already? Meanwhile all data show we’re the world’s epic center and not anywhere near flattening that curve. A logical mind fail to understand this one unless you just go with gut feeling…then sure we’re A ok cause my instinct said we’re invincible.

      • Apr 29, 2020 at 7:29 pm

        “There are roughly 3 million cases of Covid in the world.”

        Where there is no testing, there are no cases. The more you test, the more cases you have. Testing is being ramped up furiously in the US. So there will be a lot of cases.

        • Icanwalk
          Apr 30, 2020 at 8:14 am

          Yes. Small land mass just south of Europe looks to be safest place on earth with regards to Covid. Has total population of 1.2 billion. Although it is or was summer in Africa, its lack of cases is amazing.

          Same with China. No new cases in a day. One billion plus population.

          USA seeing 2000 deaths a day.

          This seems to be a selective pandemic. But we all know it isn’t.

          Nick is in lockdown. My wife is at Costco with their employees yelling at customers that aren’t keeping their 6 foot spacing. Yes, employees running around with signs to that effect. You can’t enter the store without a mask.

          Will travel to and from these don’t test, don’t tell countries resume this summer?

          How does this all work? We need to ask Elon. He is making a profit during this catastrophe.

          What a mess.

  11. Kent
    Apr 29, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Fortunately for the Spanish, they’re used to corrupt, incompetent governments and the economy collapsing periodically.

    This is something new for us Americans.

    • michael
      Apr 29, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      you apparently do not live in California. Its a recurring theme here

  12. BuySome
    Apr 29, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    New to the current crop of occupants, but hardly new events in the national history. Coffin ships, Boss Tweed, collapses like 1892, pick a decade..something happened.

    • 91B20 1stCav (AUS)
      May 1, 2020 at 11:50 am

      Buy-excellent comment. Although it predates WWI and the 1918 pandemic, Barbara Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’ remains an excellent Western-world overview of the forgotten history you reference. The problems with capitalism that Marx observed, and reactions to its excesses have generated are still with us, cubed-and-squared, today (unfortunately, his solutions ignore basic human nature to the point of being wishful-thinking pipedreams…).

      May we all find that better day.

  13. Apr 29, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Excellent reporting by Nick Corbishley; a simply chilling forecast of the shape of things to come. The consequences of poor government are best set forth by Shakespeare:

    Gardener

    Go, bind thou up yon dangling apricocks,
    Which, like unruly children, make their sire
    Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight:
    Give some supportance to the bending twigs.
    Go thou, and like an executioner,
    Cut off the heads of too fast growing sprays,
    That look too lofty in our commonwealth:
    All must be even in our government.
    You thus employ’d, I will go root away
    The noisome weeds, which without profit suck
    The soil’s fertility from wholesome flowers.

    Servant

    Why should we in the compass of a pale
    Keep law and form and due proportion,
    Showing, as in a model, our firm estate,
    When our sea-walled garden, the whole land,
    Is full of weeds, her fairest flowers choked up,
    Her fruit-trees all upturned, her hedges ruin’d,
    Her knots disorder’d and her wholesome herbs
    Swarming with caterpillars?

    Gardener

    Hold thy peace:
    He that hath suffer’d this disorder’d spring
    Hath now himself met with the fall of leaf…

    Richard II, Act 3, Scene 4

  14. Michael Engel
    Apr 29, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    Mimi in paradisum because she has no real assets to liquidate

  15. WES
    Apr 29, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    In comparing lockdowns, between Barcelona and Toronto, the differences in weather clearly plays a big role in how the lockdown is perceived.

    In Toronto, declaring a lockdown, really didn’t make much difference to our lives, since “old-man-winter” already had us firmly in his winter “shelter-in-place” lockdown.

    For April, spring in has been unseasonably cold so the desire to break quarantine and go for a walk hardly existed! Actually Toronto’s April spring temperatures have only reached about half of Barcelona’s coldest winter temperatures! The last hard freeze at night was just a few days ago!

    For people living in Barcelona, however some of their nicest weather of the year is just waiting for them, outside! Maybe that is why so many risked fines to be outside!

  16. kk
    Apr 29, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Having a nice cabin on the Titanic certainly makes things better….

    • WES
      Apr 29, 2020 at 6:00 pm

      Kk:

      Especially if you have an ocean side view!

  17. Cobalt Programmer
    Apr 29, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    1. Mostly the fines in EU and US will be forgiven except in very stupid situations

    2. Expect a small rise in the
    infection numbers after lifting the
    lockdown even in phases

    3. They might not be sequential.
    it might take weeks between two phase. Some phases might be more delayed by weeks…

    4. Millennial divorce epidemic is also a problem. Not for boomers.

    5. If the crude oil is less than $10, oil companies will lay off members of congress. Yes!

    6. Even if we open, jobs are
    more different than as you know it. keep your brain open for learning. THINGS are not the SAME as it WAS.

    7. My only hope is humanity is
    very resilient, we faced
    wars, hunger, pestilence,
    and other problems and
    became intelligent with every
    crises.

    • Auld Kodjer
      Apr 29, 2020 at 6:59 pm

      “oil companies will lay off members of congress”.

      Quote of the week, CP

      • Cobalt Programmer
        Apr 29, 2020 at 7:49 pm

        Lifted from some other forum.

    • MCH
      Apr 29, 2020 at 7:51 pm

      Reminds me of this SCMP article I read the other day about divorces in Japan. There was a thing called the Narita Divorce once, and now, it’s the Covid 19 divorce.

      The best thing for a man to do in that situation is: “During a quarrel, when it’s with my boss or my wife, I just apologise,” he wrote. “Even if I don’t even remember what I’m apologising for.”

      Hilarious

    • SwissBrit
      Apr 30, 2020 at 9:28 am

      “Mostly the fines in EU and US will be forgiven except in very stupid situations”

      The EU countries themselves decide on the fines; whether to fine, how much, what for etc.

      If one of these countries has decided to fine you for being outside or whatever, you’ve done it anyway, and have then been caught, you’re going to be paying the fine…

  18. raxadian
    Apr 29, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    Spain has 1000 Coronavirus related deaths a day, Argentina had 200 in a month but still has similar Draconian measures. The number is now highter than 200 but that was after more than a month of a serious lockdown.

    Is very hard to argue against the lockdown when you can see what’s going in Brazil and Mexico were they definitely are not taking this seriously enough.

    Yes is annoying as hell, but at least Spain doesn’t have their leader calling himself the Messiah like the Brazilian president or giving advice on TV that’s literally killing their voters like the USA president. And let’s not forget the Mexican president advice of “going out to eat at restaurants” when countries way less affected like Argentina had already entered hard lockdown.

    • MC01
      Apr 30, 2020 at 4:24 am

      Raxadian. The hard lockdown here in Italy was a massive fiasco.
      Four weeks into it we literally had no clue how people were getting sick at that rate, and I can assure you there was literally nobody on the road back then, not even police patrols. I have literally seen the end of the world in that period and if I survive this it’s something that will haunt me to the grave.
      Now the truth is starting to leak out and I can understand why our prefect is so concerned about “social disruptions”: somebody will have a lot of explaining to do, especially around here. The lockdown has now become a way to avoid answering questions people have every right to ask.

      I am not saying we should have gone around and kissed and hugged everybody we know, but merely locking people up and hoping a virus that was already everywhere (especially among the elderly) would just go away, eventually, was just wishful thinking. It’s one thing to keep people at home (while allowing them a little relief valve, such as taking a walk in the park) to free up hospital beds and to give people an idea they are doing their bit to help out, and quite another to say “If people don’t ever get out they won’t get sick”.
      Trust me on this: four weeks into the lockdown I heard the ambulance sirens down in the valley, one after another, and the next day you would learn more people had been hospitalized, mostly elders who were not exactly breaking quarantine to go buy drugs or party with their friends. You start seeing things in a different perspective from numbers.

      But eventually we’ll have to get out otherwise, as our prefect so wisely said “the fabric of our society will come apart well before we starve to death”.
      Countries like Brazil and Mexico have none of our advanced welfare states: people will really go hungry there if they don’t work. And the chief reason European governments are considering conceding defeat is those same welfare states are rapidly running out of funds. Even Germany’s well oiled and well funded welfare system is dangerously creaking under the strain.
      Sweden’s decision may look absurd and inhuman but they chose to have people adapt to a “new normal” right away instead of choosing what commenter OutWest brilliantly called “the politicians’ comfort zone”.

      For centuries mankind learned to live with plagues far more dangerous than this one: people were always back to work as soon as possible. They could not afford hiding under their beds for years otherwise they would literally starve to death. And they had no quick genome sequencing, no facemasks, no vaccine under development, not even clean drinking water… they literally didn’t know what was killing them and their only hope was Apollo would put down his bow. Life went on, as hard as it was.
      Right now we have to re-learn to live with the plague, including accepting the possibility it may get to us in spite of all our best efforts. I am ready to accept the challenge but are politicians ready? That’s the big problem.

      • Apr 30, 2020 at 9:37 am

        MC01,

        No one knows what would have happened without the lockdown. Triple the number of deaths?

        But I agree, the draconian lockdowns where people are locked up at home seems too harsh. Let people get out and exercise, just practice social distancing.

        My wife and I were talking about this yesterday. Why were the lockdowns in Spain and Italy so draconian? Why not a California-style lockdown, with people encouraged to go outside and exercise, which is a lot easier to deal with?

        We came to the conclusion that politicians didn’t trust their people to follow the social distancing rules once they’re allowed to go outside; and that the cities are so densely populated that it’s hard to practice social distancing outside in some locations. So there would have to be rules – like a schedule or something – so that not everyone is outside at the same time in the same popular places. But this can be done. You can shut down (already thin) traffic on some streets and turn them over to pedestrians so they can spread out. They’re doing it here.

      • raxadian
        Apr 30, 2020 at 10:05 am

        The main reason why the lockdown didn’t seem to work at first? They did later that they should. Italy, Spain and France had a lot of TOURISM and when first we heard of this Coronavirus thing again? December 2019 was when it made International news.

        So basically the fact the lockdown seems to be a failure is them doing nothing for three months.

  19. IMBi
    Apr 29, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    Why am I just now reading that Sweden does not a have lockdown and still has similar infection rate as Ireland which is praised for stoping the spread.
    Why is no one studying differences of these two approaches.
    Are we doomed to be manipulated, impoverished and controlled?

    • Rosebud
      Apr 29, 2020 at 8:06 pm

      Maybe they are distracted, and study the 1518 dancing plague.

      • Frederick
        Apr 29, 2020 at 11:38 pm

        Dancing Wasn’t that on Sept 11 , 2001 ?

        • Rosebud
          Apr 30, 2020 at 8:52 am

          the plague of analysis, in that case.

    • intosh
      Apr 29, 2020 at 11:56 pm

      See Sweden vs Norway instead. That’s a more fitting comparison.

    • MC01
      Apr 30, 2020 at 3:19 am

      Sweden took an absolutely brutal decision, but in the end they had to choose between a short-term healthcare emergency and long-term social disruption and opted for the former. We cannot have the cake and eat it too this time around. They picked their poison like we picked ours.

      I read recently Sweden’s decision was based upon our experience here in Italy, especially the failure of the hard lockdown to stop the spread of the disease four weeks into it and how new epidemic studies say Covid-19 won’t disappear to reapper all of a sudden down the road and wreck carnage. There will be a long tail of isolated cases and highly localized clusters for months, just enough to keep people vigilant. It’s even possible this thing will become like bacterial meningitis here, meaning endemic to some areas in spite of an effective vaccine being available.
      The challenge right now is not to lock whole countries down again because we just cannot afford another lockdown, not because navel gazing is boring or because toilet paper is in short supply (strangely not here) but because Western societies are ripping apart. I know many people think the Swedes are evil and crazy, and I generally have no sympathy for their government, but if we don’t want to learn how to speak Mandarin we’d better seriously consider their approach.

      • Xabier
        Apr 30, 2020 at 4:55 am

        Quite correct, MC01.

        It most probably has to be lived with as an endemic disease taking a certain % of the weak and unfortunate each year.

        Much as our forebears lived with TB, typhus, etc.

        But, guess what, crash your whole economy and you won’t be able to treat those who are weak and unfortunate anyway….

        And epidemiologists who know nothing about economics will be out of a job too. I shan’t weep for them.

        • MC01
          Apr 30, 2020 at 7:23 am

          I genuinely and honestly don’t know what’s up with people these days, Xabier.

          China has declared us war, plain and simple, and instead of encouraging the soldiers to fight on our generals are ordering them to lay down their weapons and surrender. Anybody caught disobeying will be shot on the spot.
          While our politicians and media were telling us how we would all die in a matter of days, President Xi of China was in Shanghai, overseeing the departure of the first COSCO container carrier loaded with Chinese goods after the end of the emergency. He wasn’t even wearing a facemask.
          Chinese manufacturers are now running at around 80% capacity, with automotive and refining lagging behind everything else (not much appetite for cars right now and stocks of oil products are huge) and are ready and willing to supply the world with everything Europe cannot manufacture anymore.

          I am presently learning Japanese just to have something to do, but at this rate I think I’ll return that course and get a Mandarin one. At this rate it will soon be the only alternative to revert back to the Lower Paleolithic.

      • fajensen
        Apr 30, 2020 at 5:14 am

        they had to choose between a short-term healthcare emergency and long-term social disruption

        They are going to get BOTH:

        Healthcare has been run down through years of neoliberal politics and privatisation, so there was no spare capacity, no storages of PPE, and with ‘Nye Karolinska Sjukhuset’ bleeding infinite money into Skanska, funding was already streched. As a result, the healthcare system is already crashing now, with ‘Italian’ fatality rates. Which they will not admit to, so nothing will be done about it!

        The people living in the ghettos, those are the ones working as bus-drivers, train conductors, as zero-hour contract carers in the privatised care homes, and as the assitantant nurses or porters in the health care system, those are the ones having the ‘healthy people’ fatalities. Those people have now figured out that they were seen as expendable single-use items by a collaboration between emplyers and government agencies and not as a part of ‘Proper Sweden’, which is those people who get to work from home and will get PPE for their work if the can’t.

        These people, are getting radicalised. They will soon think: ‘Democracy did this to us, so what can we do to return the favour’? Somebody will rise to the occasion, it wont be SD, but someone similar will!

        Finally,

        I don’t believe Sweden based their approach on anything else than a mysterious brain-fog of different ideas, what they call ‘Svenska Värderinger’ – ‘Swedish Values’ (which are what the leadership thinks is good & proper, for whatever reason) and Everyone sort of aquires through osmosis, because it is never explained to ‘outsiders’ what these things are.

        The culture is that nothing bad has happened in Sweden for 200 years, which is taken to mean that Sweden, and Swedish people must be especially clever in all matters so there is no need to learn anything from anyone because it will only spoil the perfection with impure knowledge! Sweden has a model and all data will be hammered down until it fits that model!!

        So the country is prone to do extremist stuff like disbanding the army and the civil defence because ‘Swedish Values’ obviously prevailed in the Cold War, or to let Covid-19 rip loose because ‘Swedish Values’ says that all proper Swedes are Healthy and Strong and only The Old and The Weak will get really ill and they were going to die anyway for their sins (or worse, become a burden upon proper people)!

        If the epidemic get much worse than it is now, they will jump to some other extremist position. That is, as soon as they can manage to spin it so that nobody personally is at fault for the mess and that they never really changed their mind and that the whole thing was all planned out exactly like it actually happened right from the very beginning. Donald Trump could learn something useful here!

        In the extreme worst case, where there are no options and a mistake must be admitted, the leadership will declare that it was a ‘fälles beslut’, a ‘common decision’, with everyone, and therefore no-one, personally responsible. They put everyone in ‘the thing’, basically!

  20. MCH
    Apr 29, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    Nick, good luck to you and your wife.

    This sounds like there is an expectation of a zombie apocalypse around the corner. I suppose the flip side is that people just don’t know for sure what will happen if the restrictions are loosened. On the other hand, what would they do if eventually the restrictions are loosened, and then C19 rears its ugly head again?

    This reminds me of the situation with the shutting down of air travel in Europe during the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. I was stuck in Europe for a good week or so. Everybody was stuck and wondering when this whole thing would end. I’m sure it made a lot of people wonder if this meant the closure of air space the next time there was such a volcanic eruption.

    One wonders what the new normal will be when this Covid 19 thing is all over.

  21. John
    Apr 29, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    With restaurants only able to open at 30% capacity and then 50% capacity I suspect many will choose not to open at all. A restaurant operating at those capacities will struggle to cover its fixed costs. Might be better to close, default on your lease, and try to reopen in a year or two.

    I’m not arguing the potential public health benefits of such a policy, just thinking of the decision each business owner is going to have to make.

    • Apr 29, 2020 at 10:49 pm

      Yeah, I have no idea how a restaurant, which is already the most failure-prone business, can get by with half its customers during a Friday or Saturday evening.

      • MCH
        Apr 29, 2020 at 11:57 pm

        I wonder if the new normal here will be focused on the best take out food.

        And then sit down restaurant will become a luxury as the menu prices double or triple to make up for social distancing, and a change in supply (available seating) eventually will manage to meet demand (# of people who are willing to go out for a meal with much higher prices and risk infection)

        It’ll be an interesting world to watch. One thing for sure is all those buildings that houses all of those restaurants, a good number may need to find new tenants.

      • Xabier
        Apr 30, 2020 at 4:51 am

        True, they need to be heaving to make any money at all.

        When a friend of mine closed his hedge fund in 2009 he looked at setting up a restaurant in London: but after much investigation and having found superb staff, he dropped the idea, appalled by the narrow margins.

        ‘And people actually take risks to enter this business?!’ was his comment.

        He’s certainly glad he didn’t take the chance back then now that COVID has come along.

      • Apr 30, 2020 at 10:11 am

        In the US depression restaurants did a good business. If you read Mildred Pierce you get a good understanding of that industry and how it evolved.

      • Stephen C.
        Apr 30, 2020 at 4:58 pm

        You will be required to finish and leave, twice as fast as you normally do. That is, the waiter will have a stop watch and tell you when your time is up. They have to make it up in volume.

  22. OutWest
    Apr 29, 2020 at 11:27 pm

    If it helps, my state just announced a few more openings…golfing, hunting, and fishing. Go figure.

    Avoiding risk is many politicians comfort zone right now. Let’s call it what it is.

    • Xabier
      Apr 30, 2020 at 4:47 am

      Moreover, they believe themselves to be insulated from the economic consequences of what they have done, their Stages and ‘safe re-openings’ and can hide behind the fatuous ‘Saving Lives’ mantra.

      ‘Saving a few lives, but wrecking millions ‘ would be nearer to the truth of the situation.

  23. Kenny Logouts
    Apr 30, 2020 at 5:38 am

    Bailout patsy.

    Lockdown aggressiveness in the EU at least seems to be in line with the underlying financial strain.

    A harsher lockdown is required to screw up the economy more, to justify the huge bailouts and stimulus that’ll be required.

    It’s too good an excuse to not take advantage of isn’t it?

    In 08/09 it was clear, privatise the profit socialise the debt.

    This time it can be obfuscated nicely with saving peoples lives.

  24. LeClerc
    May 1, 2020 at 2:12 am

    Sweden, everyone is talking about Sweden.

    What about Switzerland? Shouldn’t they be neutral on lockdown/no lockdown?

  25. paul
    May 1, 2020 at 5:53 am

    They didn’t. Instead, they have kept many of the most draconian measures in place and are now making liberal use of them.

    What a deliciously accurate sentence.

  26. Christophe Douté
    May 1, 2020 at 6:36 am

    A great article. I have also read the two articles on what they are planning to do in Canarias. The mind boggles. I just can’t believe they would force children to stay indoors for 43 days. It’s just criminal, all the more so knowing that chilrden face no risk for themselves.

    Instead of putting the whole world under house arrest, they would have done well to protect seniors, especially in nursing homes.

    Here in Guatemala, there’s a curfew from 18:00 to 4:00, but the rest of the day you’re free to move around as you please (there’s no public transport of any kind, though). The governement advice “Quédate en casa” is just advice, thank God.

  27. Francesco
    May 1, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    There are still so many unknown about this virus. In Italy we were the first western country to be hardly hit so there is some recent research that’s still to be done in other countries. One of these has been published on Radiology. After the end of the quarantine in the red zone in the province of Lodi (the first hotspot), many citizens underwent a chest X-ray. 59% had signs of pneumonia despite the absence of ailments. The phenomenon also observed in other countries and on the Diamond Princess ship. So people have no symptoms but their lungs are damaged, may be permanently. In a recent interview , Angelo Pan, head of the Cremona hospital said. “Covid? I’ve never seen such crap. It doesn’t just attack the lungs, it leaves persistent forms of infection. A new surprise comes out every day.”

  28. Justin Beiber
    May 5, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    You guys are a bunch of whiners!!! I swear, I would rather have my health and life rather then be killed off to an unknown virus! Screw the economy this is 2020 if our governments cannot find a way to save us during the outbreak then go with the Sweden model just let everyone go about their regular days and see who falls down dead from the virus OR OR have a lock-down for a while, have a good government that can figure out the economy and how to get you basic food and medical while you are sheltered in place and then we get outside when it is safe to do so… and life sort of continues until this virus is irradiated and/or a vaccine is found and we all get it!!!

Comments are closed.