Links 24 February 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing:





Leith van Onselen
Latest posts by Leith van Onselen (see all)


  1. Dear colleagues

    At this point a pandemic affecting many countries appears to be both almost inevitable and imminent. Consider Korea, Italy and Iran over the past 3 days. Just a week ago some were still hopeful it was under control other than China and the Diamond Princess. However a week is a long time.

    The latest outcome data from China is summarised at this link (and I don’t completely trust the Chinese data, but 98% of the global dataset is from China, so that is what we have to go on).

    The following article was written by Prof Ian Mackay (one of Australia’s foremost experts on viruses), plus some colleagues from USA earlier today. It suggests some practical things you should consider (now if not already) to prepare yourself both physically and psychologically for what appears to lie ahead.

    The key thing is that quarantine and contact tracing and efforts to contain by others will likely shift to a situation where we all change how we interact in order to reduce the rate at which we infect each other. The responsibility is about to pass from the professionals to everyone. That means things like no mass events, minimise crowded places / shopping, ? work from home, ? closing schools at some point. That shift will likely take some getting used to, and people may be shocked & angry that the initial measures have failed.

    So please think about things. I would suggest getting some critical items (e.g. medications, batteries, LPG bottle for BBQ, battery powered radio to stay in touch if there are power failures), and get a supply of food (go to the supermarket now rather than during the panic buying which we have already seen in China, Singapore and HK).

    Probably the most important personal measure you can take to avoid / delay getting the virus is to not touch your face. Many resp viruses are picked up on our hands and we transfer them to our eyes, nose or mouth. So try and break that habit. Try and avoid touching hands with others. Use 70% alcohol based hand rub to periodically reduce the viral load on your hands. A mask is probably of little benefit (unless that is what will stop you touching your face). Glasses help reduce spread of the virus to your eyes.

  2. A talk by Sustainable Population Australia’s Jenny Goldie has been cancelled by ANU fruitcakes:

    “We are sad to report that yesterday, SPA’s vice president Jenny Goldie was scheduled to deliver a panel discussion on the role of population and climate change for O-Week at ANU.

    Unfortunately, at the 11th hour, some students made complaints accusations and misinformation toward SPA and Jenny Goldie, including hyper critical social media posts from the ‘Environment Officer’ at ANU. Sadly, the university capitulated and cancelled the event at the very last minute.

    We note that the Environment Officer is a member of Socialist Alternative, a group renowned for putting ideology before science and critical thinking.”

    SPA media release on the incident:

    Evidently the only opinions allowed at ANU are those of Big Australia boosters like ‘Dr Dumography’ Liz Allen.

    • Haha!

      Serves the SAPs right for wussing out and becoming a wanky nimby party in the first place.

      • SPA is not the same as Sustainable Australia. They are totally different outfits.

        From SPA’s site:

        “Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) is an Australian, non-partisan, special advocacy group that seeks to establish an ecologically sustainable human population. It works on many fronts to encourage informed public debate about how Australia and the world can achieve an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable population.

        SPA’s local activities are run by its 6 state brances: ACT, NSW, SA & NT, Vic & Tas, Qld and WA. Some branches hold regular meetings but the main link between members is the Newsletter, produced four times a year. This provides members with information and expert opinion to rebut the many myths about sustainability and population that one hears in conversation or sees in the press.”

  3. Israel will now ban entry to foreigners coming from South Korea and Japan. It is already denying entry to visitors from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand and Singapore.

    And take note: Israel is also warning its citizens returning from Australia to get checked out if they develop any signs of illness.

    Israel evidently thinks Australia is a potential coronavirus hotspot.

  4. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Ok, if Ima gonna be a prepper I’d love some advice on long lasting food stuff besides just baked beans. Please advise!

  5. BNO Newsroom
    @BNODesk 51m
    BREAKING: All train traffic between Austria and Italy has been suspended due to coronavirus concerns – Sky News

  6. Housing regulations are getting in the way of fighting homelessness … Editorial Board … The Washington Post

    AMERICA’S DREAMLAND, California, has more recently acquired an association in the public mind with the social nightmare known as homelessness. In 2019, California’s homeless population grew by 21,306 people — more than the combined increase in all 49 other states — according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The California total of roughly 150,000 represents just over a quarter of the national figure, in a state that has one-eighth of the U.S. population. … read more via hyperlink above …
    … quoting … recently released …
    Changing supply elasticities and regional housing booms … paper … Bank of England

    Staff Working Paper No. 844
    By Knut Are Aastveit, Bruno Albuquerque and André Anundsen

    Recent developments in US house prices mirror those of the 1996–2006 boom, but the recovery in construction activity has been weak. Using data for 254 US metropolitan areas, we show that housing supply elasticities have fallen markedly in recent years. Consistent with this, we find that monetary policy shocks have a stronger effect on house prices during the recent recovery than the previous boom. At the same time, building permits respond less. Finally, we find that housing supply elasticities have declined more in areas where land-use regulation has tightened the most, and in areas that experienced the sharpest housing busts.