Wednesday, May 6, 2020

On the road again

Good news: the economy is beginning to reopen. Unfortunately, the prediction I made April 12th (The shutdown of the US economy will prove to be the most expensive self-inflicted injury in the history of mankind.™) is still looking spot on. Thankfully, the coronavirus never proved as lethal as feared, and its principal victims are, we now know, a relatively small sub-group (people over the age of 65 or so with co-morbidities); so economy-wide shutdowns were unnecessary and extraordinarily expensive. In the face of great fear, uncertainty and potential risk, our leaders over-reacted. As I also predicted, they are proving reluctant to reopen, but the reality on the ground is forcing their hand.

People are figuring out that the worst has passed. Although official reopening orders are still few and far between, there's mounting evidence that the Great Shutdown has ended (22 states now meet the reopening criterion of 14 days of declining new cases, and 29 states meet the criterion of a 14-day downward trajectory of positive test result percentages), and people are rather quickly beginning to get out and about. Equity markets worldwide figured this out over six weeks ago, in fact.

Here's a collection of charts that document the reopening based on statistics and key financial market indicators:

Chart #1

Chart #1 shows the amount of motor gasoline supplied to the retail market, with the latest datapoint being May 1st. Based on the recent surge, we can infer that people are spending about 30% more time on the road and out and about in just the past three weeks. That matches the impression I got while spending an hour or so on the freeway the other day. The wheels of commerce are spinning up and animal spirits are once again on the move after being shuttered for over a month.

Chart #2

Chart #2 is a timely indicator, compiled and released every day by Bloomberg, of the overall health of the US financial market. Conditions hit bottom right around the time the equity market bottomed, and have since surged in what can correctly be called a very V-shaped recovery. The recession we've been living through will no doubt be the most violent and short-lived of all time.

Chart #3

Chart #3 made its first appearance here in early February (see Chart #8 in this post), when the world was just beginning to worry about the novel coronavirus. If you look closely at the most recent moves in the 10-yr Treasury yield (red) and the copper/gold ratio (blue), you can see tentative signs of a bottoming. If things really are on the mend, I would expect to see copper prices moving higher (as global economies strengthen), gold prices declining (as risk aversion declines), and 10-yr Treasury yields moving higher (as confidence in the long-term outlook for the US economy improves). 

I should remind bondholders of my early-April prediction that "bondholders might be the biggest monetary losers" when the bill for this shutdown comes due. With inflation still running 1.5% or so and 10-yr Treasury yields at 0.7%, real yields are negative: to own a 10-yr Treasury is to be assured of losing purchasing power. Yet the market is gobbling them up by the trillions. Treasuries are a sweet deal for the feds and a rotten deal for bondholders.

Chart #4

Chart #4, my favorite way to track market panics, shows that although stocks have recovered more than half of what they lost to the coronavirus shutdown, there is still a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) priced in. The market has looked across the valley of despair and has priced in an eventual recovery, but the strength of that recovery is still very much in doubt. For now it looks like we have a V-shaped recovery, but it will need to broaden and strengthen before prices move significantly higher. Regarding a recovery, the market is now in "show me" mode—the economy needs to recover just to justify current prices. I'm quite optimistic a strong recovery is underway, but there are sure to be setbacks and more "walls of worry" to climb before this is all over.

It's worth pointing out that cash yields almost nothing in nominal terms and is thus a wasting asset in regards to purchasing power. Faced with the strong likelihood of an ongoing recovery (however weak or strong it might be), plus an extended period of low interest rates directed by the Fed, a decision to hold on to cash is equivalent to taking an extremely expensive anxiolytic.

49 comments:

Robert said...

Thank you!

K T Cat said...

I had to look up anxiolytic.

Great analysis, Scott. Thanks.

Benjamin Cole said...

Everyday I am somewhat surprised at how well the stock market has held up, and I'm also surprised that more people aren't angrily militating against government lockdowns.

I hope Scott Grannis is correct and the economy is in recovery. Unfortunately, I sense we have planted a few landmines in front of us.

Thanks to Mr. Grannis for his excellent blogging.

Christian S. Herzeca, Esq. said...

I was anxious because I didn't know what anxiolytic meant. cash is trash but ones man's trash...

ML said...

Once again it will be interesting, how the recovery will differ between the US and Europe. There is only one thing in common: The public sector does not have to face any losses of jobs at all. The private sector operates - or has to operate - completely different. Although we see layoffs in Europe as well, the numbers are fraction of the ones in the US. Italy even considers to forbid layoffs by law on a temporarily basis. Austria uses a system, where layoffs are avoided by the fact, that only 10% of the normal salary have to be paid by the employer, prox. 10% have to be paid by the employee via reduction of salary, the rest - 80% sic! - are paid by the Austrian Government.

Looking at SP500 versus EuroStoxx50 for some years does not make me optimistic that Europe did it better than the US this time.

steve said...

Scott, you are spot on re treasuries being a terrible asset now. For the life of me, I don't know why anyone would EVER own them but I'm glad they do! Makes my life so much better.

Re the top five stocks in the S&P, they are up an average of about 10% ytd (mostly amzn and msft) and make up about 20% of the index so since the index is down 11% ytd the other 495 stocks are axiomatically down about 16% (VERY back of the envelope calculation). Given that the R2000, a proxy for small cap stocks is down 24% ytd we can therefore assume that the drawdown is largely cap weighted. This does not bode well for the overall heath of the American economy as small cap stocks are far more integrated in the fabric of everyday life.

Deaths are once more on the rise. This could be do to better testing or it could be due to people being more insouciant about quarantining-a very unnatural way to live. We will see how the reopening of certain states comes along. We'll know soon enough. In the meantime, if you're not long "risk" you are missing one of the better trades in my 35 year career.

Rick Jones said...

On 4 May Ron Gruner wrote:

>What happens if the dollar loses its premier reserve currency status?

Ron, check this out...

Get Ready for the Next Game Changer: The Digital Yuan

As I said before, I think any replacement of the dollar as the world's reserve currency is still a ways off, but if this is successful and seen as a first credible step in that direction, it might be like that rising sea water that causes property to lose value long before the property is underwater.

Rick Jones said...

Steve said:

>Deaths are once more on the rise...

Steve, you missed the memo...

Trump questions accuracy of virus death toll

We all knew this was coming.

Well, this is going to be one of those things that's hard to hide as all the numbers -- cases, hospitalizations, deaths -- keep getting larger.

steve said...

In a way it doesn't really matter what the actual number is and we most certainly will never know. That said, certain facts cannot be argued; the coronavirus has killed way more than your typical flu BUT deaths have been 80% 65 and older (I'm rounding) and with comorbitities. People relatively healthy and under age 45 have been almost impervious. One thing I can say for sure; DON'T END UP IN A LONG TERM CARE FACILITY!

cbt696 said...

There is only one choice: make your life better or give up. Giving up never generates much enthusiasm.

The Swedes have done better at preserving their economy, and maintaining on going medical care and education to their country as a whole, while doing no worse than average among their neighbors in containing COVID 19. In the longer term, it seems more likely than not that Sweden’s lighter approach to encroaching on civil liberties will be copied by other nations and augmented by stronger defenses of the elderly and critically ill.

The stock market is focusing on the future of corporate earnings rather than trailing earnings. The financial market’s biggest problem going forward is whether or not basic civil liberties can be taken back from the experts and bureaucrats who have managed to steer elected politicians into a blind panic regarding the issue of the Coronavirus in light of the November elections. If, post lockdown, property and personal rights are seen as secure; then the competitive response of private entrepreneurs and innovators will be able to generate the wealth and health that has moved billions of lives out of poverty and disease for the last 250 years.

What happens to the economy and the markets is more of a political question than its is either one of science or economics.

Rick Jones said...

cbt696 said:

>The Swedes have done ... no worse than average among their neighbors in containing COVID 19.

Well, according to World-o-meter, the Swedes have 301 deaths per million of population, while neighbors Norway and Finland have 40 and 46 deaths per million of population, respectively. I personally would not characterize that as "doing no worse."

Meanwhile, according to World-o-Meter, the U.S. is just about to pass 75,000 deaths...

cbt696 said...

The full quote was :
“The Swedes have done better at preserving their economy, and maintaining on going medical care and education to their country as a whole, while doing no worse than average among their neighbors in containing COVID 19.”

Your comment initially stated this correctly, but then culled the quote to “would not characterize that as “doing no worse.”” This neglected both “average” and “neighbors.”

As to the underlying validity of Swedes doing “no worse than average among their neighbors,” please see the attached link :

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

The point of having a low level of targeted lockdown response is that individuals can tailor their own behavior in coping with the virus. Folks who are less adverse to commercial and social interaction are free to move about. Those who are more adverse can, of course, self isolate.

Personal liberty is an important principle. It is worth preserving even if having that liberty manifests itself in dramatically restricting one’s own activity. You seem to have moved to Paris and are now practicing shelter in place. It seems fair that you allow me to make my own choices at a lower level of precaution here at home. Frankly, no one here is conducting business without an awareness of contagion. We did not need the government to artificially administer common sense. They’ve made a middle of it.

My hope and advocacy is for future strategies on epidemics to more closely follow the Swedish model as opposed to the conflicted and heavy handed process now underway in the United States.

Love your neighbor, leave him alone.

Rick Jones said...

cbt696 said:

>please see the attached link...

That's my source.

I did ponder your use of the term "than average," and in fact I pondered it quite a bit. I can't see where it makes any sense, but if you do, please educate me. Because the numbers are quite clear: 301 deaths per million versus 40 and 46. Where does "average" come into play?

And by the way, Norway and Finland are on either side of Sweden...they are Sweden's neighbors. You could certainly go across the water to Denmark, the next closest neighbor, but Denmark's deaths per million are 89. A little worse than Norway and Finland's, but way better than Sweden's.

So again, if you have a point about "average" that makes a better case for Sweden, I am all ears.

cbt696 said...

You are limiting “neighbors” to Scandinavian countries. I am speaking in terms of Western Europe.
On a Western Europe comparison Sweden is middle of the pack. Even within Scandinavia, the Swedes argue that different counting and reporting protocols make strict comparisons less useful than one might want.

This type of analysis needs to avoid the fiction of pinpoint accuracy in numbers. I made a living looking at surveys and census counts. Better to round up than down.

Rick Jones said...

>You are limiting “neighbors” to Scandinavian countries.

Yes, because it's a perfect little experiment. All three countries are right next to each other and relatively separate from the rest of the world. They have similar cultures, and Swedish and Norwegian are similar languages. This is an ideal comparison. And Sweden looks terrible in this comparison.

I am speaking in terms of Western Europe.

Well, I live in France, and no one here that I know considers Sweden a "neighbor." Stockholm is about 1,100 miles from Paris, and there are three countries in between. The cultures could not be more different. It's like saying Pennsylvania and Minnesota are neighbors.

But why stop at western Europe? On the global scale, if you remove San Marino Sweden is #9 in deaths per million.

I agree with you about the pinpoint accuracy, but when Sweden has seven times the number of deaths per million than its two next door neighbors, some red flag ought to go up.

Rick Jones said...

By the way, did I say 75,000 deaths a little while ago? It's now over 76,000 deaths.

cbt696 said...

Not sure that I agree on Sweden being all that different from the rest of Western Europe in regard to Coronavirus.

There isn’t any universal agreement on any of these numbers. It would be pedantic to argue over tallies that are gross aggregates.

You want to shelter in place. I want you to be able to make that choice, but I don’t want you, Mr. Trump, Dr. Fauci, the state level political hacks, or anyone else requiring that I’m confined or prohibited in using my property to earn a living. I’m well (98.6), washing my hands, covering my coughs and only associating with people who chose to associate with me.

If you’re going to lay low until this passed, then God bless you. It’s always going to be something.

Mr. Jones, you seem to know an awful lot about several subjects. However, the topic on this blog is financial markets, and you are at a distinct disadvantage in what you understand. Frankly, you don’t even know enough to understand your blind spots. Better to ask questions than shout down the the guy everyone else is trying to learn from. It is not your job to protect me or anyone else from Grannis’s opinions on anything. Give it a rest.

Bumping into you is like stepping in wet gum.

wkevinw said...

Almost all of the data reported by popular media are of low quality. For example, the fatality rate is the number of fatalities/number of positive tests. I hope everybody can see the ridiculous uncertainty caused by the division of two numbers that are extremely uncertain.

A much better quality stat is excess mortality. It is much easier to obtain these data. The US is kind of in the middle at 26%. Italy is 55%, UK 61%, Sweden 28%, Norway 0%, Denmark 6%, France 36%.

I believe they update this page frequently.

https://www.ft.com/content/a26fbf7e-48f8-11ea-aeb3-955839e06441

Rick Jones said...

cbt696 said:

>However, the topic on this blog is financial markets, and you are at a distinct disadvantage in what you understand. Frankly, you don’t even know enough to understand your blind spots. Better to ask questions than shout down the the guy everyone else is trying to learn from.

You would be hard pressed to find an instance of me shouting down Scott when it comes to anything financial. That's the reason I follow this blog...I think Scott's financial opinions are great. And indeed, earlier today I asked a question related to this post of Scott's regarding the S&P 500. That question seems to have disappeared, although Steve alludes to it in his first post on this thread.

And when I have ventured an opinion about anything financial, I've usually included a caveat about my ignorance (see the discussion with Ron on the previous post about the dollar as a reserve currency).

But when Scott leaves the financial world and starts opining about things like the coronavirus and all the things around it -- and he gets things wrong -- he no longer enjoys special status as the guru. He's just another guy with an opinion. Scott knows not one whit more than anyone on here about the coronavirus, as evinced by a couple of things he said that were flat out wrong. And if he says something stupid, he deserves to be called on it, just like I do if I say something stupid.

I want you to be able to...

And up to a very big point I agree with you. But hindsight is 20/20, and it's easy to look back now and say, "Oh, we should have done this," or "We shouldn't have done that."

The fact is, the coronavirus has been a very good proxy for a nation-state biological warfare attack. Within that context, one of the principal functions of the government is to "provide for the common defense." Unfortunately, what we've just witnessed over the past few months is a government that is utterly clueless about how to fulfill that function. I feel bad about that. This is definitely not the government I grew up with back in the 50s and 60s. Having known relatively solid, competent government as a youngster, I have a hard time being as disdainful of it as many of you are.

It is not your job to protect me or anyone else from Grannis’s opinions on anything. ..

Well, you know, I think you're missing something here. I voice my own opinions in large part in order to get challenged. I like a good challenge. It forces me to examine my assumptions, the things I consider(ed) facts, my logic, etc. And I've been forced to change my mind about a few things since the entire coronavirus discussion started on here back in March. And within that context, please don't forget that it was you who brought up Sweden. If you can't take the heat, stay out of the fire.

Johnny Bee Dawg said...

Accounts at all time highs.
Some "pandemic"

Benjamin Cole said...

Well done Johnny Bee Dawg

MapsDC said...

I actually agree that it's time to reopen the economy (in phases). But reading your posts over the past month really just show how easy it is to be an old rich guy who can afford to sit at home overlooking the beach and tell everyone to get back to work. They're all just numbers to you. One of your posts mentioned a likely total of 61,000 deaths. About to blow past 80k. Just makes you think...

PS - How's the hydroxychloroquine therapy going? I have to admit when I saw that being pushed in your posts I LOL'd. Trust me, I wanted it to work, too.

cbt696 said...

End the Lockdown Now:
https://www.hoover.org/research/end-lockdowns-now

Is Coronavirus Unprecedented:
https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2020/05/is-the-coronavirus-unprecedented.php

Burden of Proof:
https://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/496586-the-burden-of-proof-lies-with-economic-lockdown-proponents

“To the libertarian, in a certain sense, it is not the ends of man's actions that count but only the means used in serving those ends.“
Benjamin Rogge

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs really seek: not the chance to serve.”
H.L. Mencken

Johnny Bee Dawg said...

FYI: Shanghai Disney is about to re-open, and every single ticket has sold out ahead of time.

In other news, Scientists are reporting that 70% of the US may have finally built up herd immunity to "journalism".

Johnny Bee Dawg said...

Aaaand...the VIX just fell into the 20s for the first time since this "pandemic" began.
A close below 4.47 on the VIX/10yr yield, would give a major "sell signal" on Fear.
Its trading at 4.38 currently

This is what the market has been anticipating.
Some "COVID stocks" are up 40-50% more in just the past couple of weeks.
Could be time to trim some of the "obscene profits", and rebalance at all time highs.

cbt696 said...

“Most new Covid-19 hospitalizations in New York state are from people who were staying home and not venturing much outside, a “shocking” finding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. “


It shows that 66% of new admissions were from people who had largely been sheltering at home. The next highest source of admissions was from nursing homes, 18%.
“If you notice, 18% of the people came from nursing homes, less than 1% came from jail or prison, 2% came from the homeless population, 2% from other congregate facilities, but 66% of the people were at home, which is shocking to us,” Cuomo said.

“This is a surprise: Overwhelmingly, the people were at home,” he added. “We thought maybe they were taking public transportation, and we’ve taken special precautions on public transportation, but actually no, because these people were literally at home.”

Cuomo said nearly 84% of the hospitalized cases were people who were not commuting to work through car services, personal cars, public transit or walking. He said a majority of those people were either retired or unemployed. Overall, some 73% of the admissions were people over age 51.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/06/ny-gov-cuomo-says-its-shocking-most-new-coronavirus-hospitalizations-are-people-staying-home.html

steve said...

You know people, a little compassion for the nearly 80,000-and counting would go a long way. The models have now been wrong on BOTH sides; too high and now many are too low. Without question deaths will surpass 100,000. YES, I know that 80% or so are people 65 and older with comorbitities but they're still fellow human beings.

Not saying some amount of reopening is a bad idea but it would be nice (but apparently impossible_ to have some coordination between states and federal government. This PANDEMIC has highlighted just how grossly unprepared we are as nation to take on this issue.

cbt696 said...

While we are counting let’s be sure to count both the “seen and the unseen;” remembering that the lockdown has the potential for delivering what is likely the worst set of unintended consequences in history.

The marginal effect of recent policy decisions needs to include the delay or full loss of an estimated $500B in health care over a period of 100 days (link below).

Imagine the horror of anyone having suggested in January 2020 that it was on the national interest to trim the budget of Medicare and Medicaid by half a trillion dollars. Imagine the concern over untreated illnesses and patients denied care.

By now it should surprise no one that when the final cost-benefit analysis is completed, the experts at the Imperial College, WHO and the CDC might well have “killed more folks than the flu.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/apocalyptic-hospitals-losing-millions-treating-100100863.html

Adam said...

The main law of nature, the system if not used degrades. Our immune system will degradete big time, because of social distancing (no patogen to fight with and to strenghten the healing capacity , no positive microbes to incorporate), stress, lack of interactions, lack of physical activity.

Adam said...

And at the end we will suffer more from patogens which were not dangerous till now.

Richard said...

I love Scott....this is all way above my pay grade, but being from a commuter town in North NJ, and seeing from afar how hard hit it was with many many cases, most now on the road to recovery, unless they were nursing home residents and the deaths there were huge, I think places like NYC and those suburbs wouldn't have done well at all without the restrictions...BWDIK

I personally knew one who died, who was a paramedic in his 70's another lady in a nursing home in her 90's and she's recovering...She's an Alzheimer's patient...so go figure.

We are fortunate to be "stuck" at our home in Costa Rica, which is locked down - TIGHT

Supposed to return on 5/15, but, United granted us an exception (after cancelling 4 other flights) and we won't go back until late June now.

Be well everyone

Johnny Bee Dawg said...

steve:

47,128 dead, according to CDC. But who's counting?

steve said...

Not that you give a damn;

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/about/

Welschman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johnny Bee Dawg said...

Not that you give a damn:

Link to CDC Provisional Deaths

Frozen in the North said...

Scott:

P/E is now 20...unemployment is high

There is no cure, no treatment and yes the majority of those dying are over 70, but not all...

The numbers of deaths continue to rise in the US and the curve is not flattening

Let's be honest, the ONLY reason the markets are rising is the incredible amount of money being pumped by the FEDS. Last time I checked the correlation between rising markets and QE was in the low 90s.

I hope you are right, but I suspect you are wrong.

Benjamin Cole said...

"A recent Johns Hopkins study claims more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors. Other reports claim the numbers to be as high as 440,000. Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer."

Egads. This makes C19 look like a nuisance. And the medical errors will continue long after C19 fades.

I am not into the blame game, and maybe many who die due to "medical errors" are the very elderly or dicey cases. I think most medical people do the best they can, and are good at their jobs.

The lesson? Governments cannot fix every problem.

Whether it is the national defense guys, the public health professionals or the social welfare types, they want every possible threat countered. That gets rather expensive.

Regina said...

I agree Benjamin.
I know I would rather have the disease than all this suffering here and abroad.
My next door neighbor is a kind and nerdy Endodotist. Well, was.
She's not essential. She'll probably foreclose. Peasants don't need teeth.
Why isn't everyone digging deeper? I know I have. I won't post it here. There's no reception. Just the learned helplessness; and only the aggressive energy to enforce what our overlords want us to see furthering our total domination and demise.
Where did our courage go and our internal moral guidance systems go? Land of the free? Home of the brave?
Even the European priests see the rise of the one world beast system and call it out!
https://veritasliberabitvos.info/appeal/

Can you see it?

Benjamin Cole said...

Regina, good luck to you. We all want the best outcome possible.

Rick Jones said...

Benjamin Cole wrote:

>"A recent Johns Hopkins study claims more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors...This makes C19 look like a nuisance."

Piss poor analogy, Benjamin. Medical errors aren't contagious and multiplicative. I guarantee you that if someone dying from a medical error held an implied probability that some number of family members, close friends, neighbors, or coworkers were going to die in some way, the number of medical errors in the world would have everyone's attention.

DownSouth said...

I am sorry, Benjamin, but i think you just stepped into some wet gum as "CBT696" would say!

I'll bet Rick is a barrel of laughs at a cocktail party.

Johnny Bee Dawg said...

Benjamin makes a good point, with more valuable perspective.
And Mr. "Blah, blah, blah" chimes in with more babbling bull shat.

There IS no "implied probability that some number of family members, close friends, neighbors, or coworkers were going to die" from COVID.
Only a tiny slice of the elderly and infirm die from COVID.
Almost everybody who gets it has mild to no symptoms.

Benjamin Cole said...

Rick Jones:

I do not understand your point. Evidently, this year more people in America will die from medical errors than from C19. Then next year and every year thereafter. Medical errors are a far larger threat to me and my loved ones than C19.

But let us move on: The public health establishment, like every other federal establishment, wants to milk the "crisis" for all it is worth.

Here is a comment from Fauci on having the NFL play ball in the fall: "Even if the virus goes down dramatically in June and July and August, as the virus starts returning in the fall, it would be in my mind, shame on us if we don't have in place all of the mechanisms to prevent it from blowing up again." Fauci talked about NFL games before empty stadiums, if every player was tested pre-game.

I never heard any federal employee of any federal department ever say, "Actually, things look safer now, and we are less needed. Save the taxpayers some money, and cut our budget."

Has anyone in the USDA ever said, "The corn-ethanol program might have had some merits at one point, but let's face it: with oil gluts and battery cars, this program is a badly designed dinosaur."

Ain't going to happen.

Regina said...

nothing to see here?!?!?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97BEMNN4DV0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj_zX5kOPlY&t=220s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK0M34ldNMU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj1KhS9sYn8

house to house because of COVID.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=QLi6ZrFp6vQ&feature=emb_logo

Roy said...

Scott,

"Druckenmiller said he thinks that the current liquidity will soon shrink as U.S. Treasury borrowing crowds out the private economy and even overwhelms Fed purchases."

Could you elaborate a bit on this view?

Rick Jones said...

Benjamin Cole said:

>I do not understand your point. Evidently, this year more people in America will die from medical errors than from C19. Then next year and every year thereafter. Medical errors are a far larger threat to me and my loved ones than C19.

Let me 'splain it to you, Lucy...

Deaths by medical errors are not contagious or multiplicative. You can only die from a medical error if you have a medical procedure. If you and your loved ones don't have any medical procedures, you have zero chance of dying from one.

Death by medical errors is not at all comparable with the coronavirus, which is contagious and multiplicative. If death by medical error were contagious and multiplicative (like the coronavirus), you would have a non-trivial chance of dying simply by virtue of the fact that you had been in close contact with someone who has died from a medical error. Even a stranger you stood next to in a bar or subway.

The two aren't even remotely comparable.

Furthermore, you are comparing the annual death rate of death by medical error to something that has only been going on for a few months. But let's play that game for a minute...

Since 01 February, World-o-Meter reports that 83,425 people have died of coronavirus in the U.S. Do the math on that Johns Hopkins number you cited, and you'll see that about 69,863 have died of medical errors during that same time. So in fact, if you and your loved ones were in the U.S., you'd have had a higher chance of dying from the coronavirus since 01 February than you would have had from dying of a medical error.

Rick Jones said...

Copper/Gold Price Ratio

A number of people use the copper/gold price ratio as a leading indicator for where the economy is headed. Since early-March, the ratio has remained more or less flat.

What do you make of that, Scott? Simply a reflection of uncertainty?

steve said...

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/18/stanley-druckenmiller-says-he-couldnt-have-been-more-wrong-this-year.html

Druck had a bad '19 and is obviously struggling this year. He's got nothing to prove though. Anyways, my point was not to denigrate their performance but rather their attempt to talk down the market that they feel has left them behind.

Unknown said...

The question Scott never answers is, “how many deaths is worth an economic shutdown? ‘ The response, as the numbers grow (and grow, and will continue to grow) is, “well, more than what we have had so far.”

Additionally, current deaths are minimized due by the age of the victim. Apparently old people are worth some number less than one whole human. How much less? “Well, just less.”

For a blog that usually demonstrates precision in economic analysis, it is missing some here.