One Crisis Triggers Another

We’ve been getting so many fake health scares for so long that I’m having real difficulty even beginning to think that the latest coronavirus scare isn’t just Yet Another Empty Scare alongside tobacco, alcohol, obesity, sugar, salt, global warming, etc, etc, etc. Anyone remember Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson ordering up millions of ‘flu shots 10 years ago, none of which got used? So I’m actually expecting this latest scare to be as empty as all the others.

But leaving the epidemiology aside, and even supposing that this latest epidemic is actually just another run-of-the-mill ‘flu epidemic, the Chinese government has responded to it with a draconian lockdown of several huge cities in China. Nobody is allowed to leave them. And that’s something very serious in itself.

In a piece in ZeroHedge yesterday – Some Practical Questions About The Coronavirus Epidemic – , Charles Hugh Smith asks:

1. When public transportation is halted and commerce grinds to a halt as people avoid public places and gatherings, thousands of employees no longer go to work. Who pays their wages while the city is locked down? The employers? Then who compensates the employers, since their income has also gone to zero?

Does China have a universal unemployment insurance system that can quickly issue payments to all people who are no longer going to work and getting a paycheck from an employer?

What about the thousands of migrant workers who don’t have regular employers? Who pays them? If they’re technically not officially sanctioned residents of the city, they don’t exist in government records.

2. If people idled by the lockdown are supposed to live off savings, what about all the marginal workers with few resources? What are they going to live on once their meager savings are gone?

These are very good questions. And he has quite a few more. I might add a few of my own. For example, never mind whether workers are being paid or not, what are they supposed to eat once a city is isolated? Are food shipments to Wuhan continuing from outside? When the trains and trucks and ships bringing food arrive, are they then allowed to leave?

5. The typical city has about a week’s supply of food, fuel, etc. at best. If the lockdown runs longer than a few days, scarcities of essentials will ignite hoarding, and remaining supplies will be snapped up.

It’s worse than that: Scarcity of essentials will not just result in hoarding, but in starvation. Now in the sixth day of the lockdown, how many people in Wuhan already have no food, and have begun to starve? What do people do when they starve?  Beg, borrow, and steal.

Of course, perhaps supplies of the essentials for Wuhan have been continuing, and nobody’s starving at all. But where’s it all coming from? And who’s paying for it? The Chinese government?

The Chinese government has just switched off the economy in huge areas of China. Nearly all internal trade around Wuhan will have ceased. Millions of workers will be out of work. Stocks of absolutely everything will be running down.

Forget the epidemic: what’s now unfolding in China could well be far, far worse than any epidemic. By locking down these cities, the Chinese government has in effect created a huge traffic jam in the middle of China, and that traffic jam has now lasted five days. Ever been caught in a five-day-long traffic jam? Can you imagine what it’s like to be stuck for days, with just a single bar of chocolate to eat? And what if you know that it’s only happening because the traffic lights up ahead have been deliberately locked on red by the police? Wouldn’t you be hopping mad after five days of that?

However great the medical emergency in China may be, it’s now likely to be overtaken by an even greater economic emergency, as stocks of more or less everything run out over large areas of China around Wuhan.

And on the heels of the economic emergency, there’ll come a political emergency, as law and order completely breaks down over large areas of China, with roaming gangs of looters breaking into shops and warehouses.

It could well be that the coronavirus outbreak has triggered the economic and political implosion of China.

I sincerely hope that I’m wrong. I sincerely hope that there’s plenty of food and fuel and other basic essentials flowing into Wuhan and surrounding cities. But right now I can’t see how that can possibly be happening, if free movement in and out of these cities has been frozen, the entire economy closed down. It seems to me that the Chinese government will be very soon forced to lift the lockdown almost as abruptly as it imposed it. And with that the Chinese economy will splutter back into life, and the normal flow of goods will resume, probably with multiple shortages for months to come.

What that will mean for the epidemic, I have no idea. But I bet that right now there are shouting matches going on in the Chinese politburo between those who think that containing the epidemic is the most important thing, and those who think that the lockdown can’t be maintained without starting an insurrection.

About Frank Davis

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15 Responses to One Crisis Triggers Another

  1. Mark Jarratt says:

    I’m waiting for everyone to drop dead in the street from bushfire smoke, so hazey smokey! Apps are warning of imminent death! Hypochondriacs in Canberra are wearing masks, all HEPA filter air purifiers running out of shops for $750, and wife continues to try stopping me enjoying tobacco…too smokey! Seriously though, the latest bushfire is within 12km. My son Kyle and other friends and family have been told to evacuate south Canberra… Mt Tennant transponder still fully operational at this moment. 🤬

  2. Frank Davis says:

    Wuhan video: Sreets deserted, but shops quite full of food

  3. smokingscot says:

    Not sure it’s that dire. This video is from an American and posted recently. It shows one supermarket well stocked and normal prices.

    https://www.liveleak.com/view?t=aa3dS_1580113907

    I’ve done a generic “Wuhan” search – and that’s come up with more of the same, plus many showing the place virtually deserted.

    https://www.liveleak.com/browse?q=Wuhan&a=list&submit=Submit

    The real problem will lie with the old, weak, infirm etc., because the small neighborhood shops, the fresh food markets – in short the places most ordinary people use are shut. Also the cheap eateries that cater to people without cooking facilities, they’re shut as well.

    There are no petrol pumps so in time all that’ll move will be electric vehicles. However there’s an even greater issue; folk there use kerosene heaters a lot and central heating systems, even in expensive apartment blocks use diesel or LPG to fire the boiler. If there’s no fuel then that will cause issues. Daytime it’s about 11 or 12. Night it’s been to 1 to 4 degrees C.

    However you raise many valid issues on the money side of things and yes the stock markets are becoming increasingly aware of this. That said, naff all happens over the Chinese New Year anyway – and that’s been extended.

  4. beobrigitte says:

    We’ve been getting so many fake health scares for so long that I’m having real difficulty even beginning to think that the latest coronavirus scare isn’t just Yet Another Empty Scare alongside tobacco, alcohol, obesity, sugar, salt, global warming, etc, etc, etc.
    2019-nCoV is real and it is a novel virus so there is only symptomatic treatment available. The decreasing death rate (today 2.2%) indicates that early diagnosis and symptomatic treatment increases people’s chance of survival.
    Although very virulent, 2019-nCoV is not as deadly as e.g. SARS (death rate of 10%) and it looks like we just have to ride it out.

    In the meantime, today the BBC found another “danger” to warn the people about: Alcohol. Naturally it’s again pregnant women. “Just one drink during pregnancy leads to low birth weight and later lower cognitive abilities”. (BBC News 29.01.2020)
    How on earth did the baby-boomer generation come to exist? It wasn’t only that parents were smoking, they were also advised to drink the occasional glass of Guinness/red wine with egg yolk.

    Yesterday the BBC lamented the amount of misinformation spread on social media etc. I sure have come across a few hair raising theories and videos that I could not find confirmation for.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-51271037
    What else can be expected when media constantly peddles state sanctioned, lobby group(s) driven fear of this, that and the other, or appears to be withholding information as has been happening in the last few days? The WHO situation report is out of date again and although it now pays more attention to 2019-nCoV, there is little which reassures average citizen. It is only natural that people, having already lost confidence in mass media etc., is turning elsewhere.

    The link provided by JoeL
    https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html
    provides actual data and number of cases in various countries and appears to be frequently updated.
    In contrast I will try and find out what Chris Martenson (“Peak Prosperity”) has to say as it is also good to know worst case scenario and just wait and see what happens whilst going about my business as usual.

    However great the medical emergency in China may be, it’s now likely to be overtaken by an even greater economic emergency, as stocks of more or less everything run out over large areas of China around Wuhan.
    This epidemic is an economical disaster for China and it will have to deal with it. From videos made by European/American people still in Wuhan it looks like the shops are well stacked and no price increases have been pointed out.
    I have found nothing about people living from pay cheque to pay cheque and currently not working meeting their daily needs. Hopefully provisions have been made for them.

    • smokingscot says:

      First piece of good news. China has not release an actual sample of the virus, however a couple of real scientists in Australia have done so and that’s being distributed to labs all over the world.

      https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-australian-lab-first-grow-china-virus-c72b573f-001a-433d-bdc3-54e988992cab.html

      Encouraging to know there are now hundreds of people involved in finding a vaccine, all talking to each other.

      • beobrigitte says:

        They sure will be racing to be the first one to develop a vaccine! It still will need to be extensively tested before it can be given to people. But the co-operation sure is a major development!!
        I do hope that this guy now also will receive extensive funding.
        https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00190-6
        From what I can find he is the one furthest ahead of developing an anti-viral treatment.

        In any case, the news is encouraging.

        • smokingscot says:

          Found your link tricky to access. This gives more detail.

          https://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2001270695/

          I, quite naturally, might suggest all nations reduce their funding for tobacco control by 66.6% and use the money to immediately ship all the medication they need in China and fund every legitimate laboratory currently working on constructing a vaccine for this as well as a cure for Ebola.

          In perpetuity.

        • beobrigitte says:

          I, quite naturally, might suggest all nations reduce their funding for tobacco control by 66.6%
          I’d reduce it by 99% simply for the reason of the ridiculous article on vaping peddled on the WHO website at a time when the WHO wasn’t in the mood to address the unfolding coronavirus epidemic in China and still appears to do nothing about the ongoing Ebola epidemic (66% mortality rate) – even when case 1 was treated but relapsed (!!!) and in December 2019 passed away.

          and use the money to immediately ship all the medication they need in China and fund every legitimate laboratory currently working on constructing a vaccine for this as well as a cure for Ebola.
          We should have shipped out medication and medical supplies the minute it was made public that the hospitals there were running short. Medical staff volunteers could have been arranged via the WHO (Chinese hospital staff was/?is pushed to and beyond their limits) but I guess the WHO is just too busy with the unfolding “vaping-epidemic” as “vaping-reminds-of-smoking”.

          So far Britain has no reported cases of the coronavirus. We have to wait another 2 weeks, though. Should we get one or so I’d advice non-panic and digging up the old SARS guide lines which basically are: washing your hands and keep them away from your face, don’t be in people’s faces, shop at stupid-o’clock to avoid crowds.
          I expect we see soon a decline of infections in the Wuhan region as people have been ordered to self-isolate which is the most effective measure.

        • beobrigitte says:

          as well as a cure for Ebola.
          There is no cure for Ebola. But I do recall Bill Gates funding the development of a vaccine back in ?2014, leading to the question: At what developmental stage is it? When do human trials start? (Right now there is an opportunity for this in Congo). Or has the funding magically disappeared?

  5. smokingscot says:

    And a few of those who managed to get out of Wuhan, well not unsurprisingly, they find themselves in a bit of pickle. They get locked and bolted into their apartment!

    https://www.liveleak.com/view?t=uMxoQ_1580260406

    Hopefully in about 2 weeks, if they’re still alive, they’ll have a first rate security system.

  6. smokingscot says:

    I am almost reluctant to link to this, however if you’ve never seen what one of these “wildlife” markets (and to date I’d never seen anything this huge), this gives you an in your face knowledge of what they sell as well as the non existent levels of hygiene.

    Cat, kitten, dog and puppy lovers do be warned, they are included.

    https://www.liveleak.com/view?t=CJwfc_1580239584

  7. slugbop007 says:

    I have seen some recent US TV campaign ads for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The predominant slogan is ‘Mike will get it done’. What, may I ask, is ‘it’? Calorie counts on all menus, the banning of sugary drinks? With Mike, the possibilities appear endless.

    slugbop007

  8. slugbop007 says:

    This epidemic shows that the Chinese Communist Government is too centralized for its own good. Sure, it trickles down but it still imposes the same iron control. When there is an excess of social control the people are at the mercy of narrow-minded control freaks, unable to help themselves.

    slugbop007

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