Links 1 April 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing:







Leith van Onselen


  1. The self-isolation therapy blues.
    Me: I’m terrified of random letters, you know, ever since the virus got its name.
    Therapist: You are?
    Me: (Screams)
    Therapist: I see
    Me: (Scream intensifies)

  2. This French writer is spot on – it’s easier to wind back a lockdown than it is to reverse infections:

    “The most important point I want to make is that we don’t need complicated mathematical models of dubious epistemic status to prepare for the worst. The economic consequences of locking down everyone are very serious, but if we don’t do it and the worst comes to pass, the consequences will be even more severe, including for the economy. I’m not American, but I think there are enough reasons at this point to fear that something really bad is going to happen unless you take strong measures to prevent it. At the end of a two-week lockdown, you can reevaluate in light of what scientists will have learned by then. If it turns out that the virus is less dangerous than we feared, a lockdown of two weeks will not have been the end of the world, but if the virus really is as dangerous as we fear, you’ll be happy that you did it.

    In France, the government waited before making the decision to order a lockdown. Although we also don’t know exactly what is going to happen, I think it’s already clear that we’re going to have to remain confined for longer because we hesitated. The number of people who need to be hospitalized grows faster than linearly, so by waiting to order the lockdown (which presumably will flatten the curve after a while), the government has ensured that, by the time the epidemic reaches a plateau, the hospitals will be fuller than they would otherwise have been. That in turn means that we’ll have to wait longer before it’s safe to relax the lockdown, because, if we do so as soon as a plateau is reached, any influx of patients would immediately overwhelm the hospital system again. I would advise my American friends not to make the same mistake we did.”

    Complicated Mathematical Models Are Not Substitutes for Common Sense –

    • How he does know this:

      “The most important point I want to make is that we don’t need complicated mathematical models of dubious epistemic status to prepare for the worst. The economic consequences of locking down everyone are very serious, but if we don’t do it and the worst comes to pass, the consequences will be even more severe, including for the economy.

      than he continues and says it may turn out to be nothing but lockdown is always justified

      If it turns out that the virus is less dangerous than we feared, a lockdown of two weeks will not have been the end of the world, but if the virus really is as dangerous as we fear, you’ll be happy that you did it.

      so we have dilemma here:
      1. if we do something known – a lockdown – it will cost something known (not sure we know how long lockdown will need to last, some say 12 mnths until vaccine comes)
      2. if we don’t do a lockdown but we still do other things not so expensive (like order everyone to wear a mask at all times outside of home, isolate those at higher risk only, …) or we do nothing, the consequences may turn to be: a) almost nothing (less than flu), or b) more or less same results as we would get with a lockdown (suppress and extend), or c) it may become worst case scenario (so far based on data from countries that did a lot of testing the worst case scenario is something like less than 1% of 60% of population dying – that would not even double worlds mortality rate in next year, 20% of 60% being sick for 2 weeks of which 2.5% seriously sick – so economic consequences would not be that high). could also be something in-between these outcomes

      so the real points here are:
      – our choice is not binary (some countries showed that clearly S Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Sweden, …)
      – the worst case scenario is not as bad as some may think and not as likely even without lockdowns (but some other measures in place)
      – there are so many known unknowns that we cannot really tell with much certainty what would going to happen if we do something
      his analysis can be valid only if don’t know what the worst case scenario may be and if don’t know see some countries achieving the same or more without lockdowns

      • Yes,

        If we expand the testing and aggressively manage and isolate infections as they are located we should be able to relax at least some if not most of the restrictions.

        The current lockdown approach is a consequence of government failure to prepare.

        They are now desperately trying to catchup…..I.e. get their hands on millions of test kits and temperature readers.

        Enforced quarantining arrivals into the country is a good idea and should have started weeks ago. Now they are doing that the risks of those travellers spreading infections in the community is greatly reduced.

        Once those test kits start flooding chemists and medical centres across the country and public places, shops etc are fitted with temperature readers, people will have much more confidence that infections are being spotted and managed and will support relaxing of restrictions.

        Let those who have recovered wear a flashing light on their head to indicate they have immunity! 🙂

        The idea that we would just allow this bug to infect the herd is what I am hearing from those who find taking serious action too hard.

        Demand the government do their job and hurry up about it.

        Then we can roll back some of the lockdown sooner.

        But listening to the CMO and Minister Hunt they still talk as though doing their job is not something they can be bothered doing.

        Germany is running 500,000 tests per week.

        • Well yes that is the appropriate action and has been for 2 months now, but, that kind of thing requires organisation and competent ability. Something we lack in our economic zone.

          • True, but the competent nations who did not gut their industrial capacity are ramping up production as we speak and plane loads of testing kits and thermometers will soon arrive making the producers a fat margin.

            Within a few weeks we should have all the kit we should have had ready to go 2 months ago.

            The stupid in Canberra is breath taking.

          • Yeah but even with those kits, I bet that we’ll still manage to fvck it up somehow.

        • Arthur Schopenhauer

          It also requires the industrial capacity to make tests, thermometers & PPE.

      • The countries on top of things like Singapore etc were very quick to look for infected people, Temperature testing at Airports, Schools etc for example.
        I would be so relieved if Australia was at the same level, unfortunately we are not.
        The Red Ruby debacle and, up until last Wednesday, the lack of Community Testing due to strict Test Criteria have not helped our battle.
        It looks like the current steps are working, hoping so.
        I am watching the daily case numbers for confirmation and will know more by the end of the week, it’s due to the around 5 day delay in a test been taken and a result.
        So the steps we have taken so far may or may not be enough, we will have a clearer picture towards the weekend.
        At all cost we want to avoid an out of control infection rate, Hospitals/Beds/Staff/ICU’s overloaded like Wuhan,Italy,Spain,USA we dont wanna be those guys.
        Like I said, “We can Print Money, We can’t Print Lives”………….yet.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Yes. When people diligently and responsibly study all semester, they can sleep easy before the exam confident that they have a deep knowledge and understanding of the material.

        However, in Australia, it wasn’t until the day before we even realised the exam was on, so here we are at 2am desperately trying to cram.

        Things could be worse, however. The USA only just stopped doing tequila shots.

  3. So my brother is feeling unwell but might be because he’s pushing himself working around his house now that he’s got time off. No fever but cough and sore throat so I haven’t visited him.

    He tells me doctor in Healesville says quite a few cases of the old Corona in the area and 1 bloke who’s wife positively tested is still going out and about to shops in the area. How this info is known not sure? But it tells me some people still nor taking it seriously and they are the same idiots who are spreading it.

    • TheRedEconomistMEMBER

      Gav… Got any tips for the Healesville dishlickers? Are they still on?

      Was at wedding a year or two back in the wineries. On the Friday arvo dropped into “the Dogs” as they sprint down hill on the straight track. Classic stuff.

      • I’m not living down that way, so I can’t say I’m afraid. I do love the area though.

    • A couple of days ago the media wording here changed making me wonder how many are out there they’re not telling about. Today, Cops put a butterfly net over an infected one 500yds from my house after they were spotted wandering around town & germing up the supermarket – which also hasn’t been mentioned in the local news. Infected people can’t be trusted to their word & Self isolate – Maybe there’s a market for ankle bracelets……..

  4. I’m in the chest freezer and have many options for food , but I’ve decided to get a bit adventurous early on, if it doesn’t work still have something to eat after. Having a go at chinese braised pigs feet. Have a good recipe and all the fixings but any advice is appreciated. My old man is of German breeding and simply advised to boil feet with vinegar and eat cold, he can f!ck off lol.

    • PalimpsestMEMBER

      Whatever flavouring you choose in the end – slow, long and with lid and enough liquid so they don’t dry out. A slow cooker on low is perfect. If you have a separate slow cooker, then you’ll best place it somewhere the initial smell won’t irritate, and then the developing aroma won’t make you break into the cooker well before dinner time.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      Make sure to blanch with water for a few minutes at the start. It is a very forgiving dish as long as you slow cook it enough.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      I guess rounding up everyone that looks Chinese in concentration camps and gassing them is next?

      • How about just protecting our sovereignty and reducing reliance, or does it have to be concentration camps or nothing?

        • Know IdeaMEMBER

          From my experience, the difference between a Chinese corporation and the Chinese state is for the purposes of presentation only. A gossamer thin illusory veil that seems so very effectively to fool Westerners that there is a real distinction between the two.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Sky News fulfilling its primary objectives of supporting the status quo by fanning flames of bigotry and division.

      Maybe the “it’s all China’s fault” narrative taking shape really will work alongside the inevitable blaming of the economic crisis on Labor and secure the LNP the next election.

      • The CCP should be held to account. And the behaviour of Chinese state-owned companies in Australia has been pretty disgusting.

        • drsmithyMEMBER

          Coronavirus could have been stopped at the border months ago. It’s only here because we chose to let it in.

          Our economy is fragile, dependent and catastrophically unbalanced because we have chosen to make it so.

          Wages have been squashed, wealth disparity increased and workers’ lives made increasingly tenuous because we have chosen to do this.

          It is comical whataboutism and gross hypocrisy to try and point the finger at China for being ‘irresponsible’ given our own behaviours.

          The responsibility for our problems lies 100% with us. It’s only going to get fixed by us.

          • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

            There are multiple reports of Chinese government institutions protesting and being highly critical of travel bans from China being implemented by the Australian government in the early days of our travel bands.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            I’m sure. We would almost certainly do the same in reversed circumstances.

            Doesn’t change my point.

            At the risk of sounding like Howard, we control our borders, and we chose not to enforce them. Corona Virus didn’t sneak into the country like Seal Team 6, it was welcomed in with “open for business” arms.

  5. Is it only me that thinks the deputy chief medical officer reminds them of Gary from Team America?

    • If things get really bad you might want to take your own life. Here. You better have this. *passes hammer*

  6. Lets run a sweep. How long until Trump starts fingering China for reperations to invoke a bit of nationalism?


    Most cruise lines don’t pay taxes in the U.S. — just one of the reasons they aren’t getting a bailout … NBC News

    “They’re not giving up their tax exemption,” said one analyst. ”I assure you that is sacrosanct.” … read more via hyperlink above …
    Chinese Cruise Industry Could Start Up First … Cruise Industry News

    The Chinese cruise industry could start up in a matter of weeks when give the go-ahead, as China-based ships were the first to be pulled from service in January during the coronavirus outbreak. … read more via hyperlink above …

      • All the Cruise Ships sitting off our coastline, can’t help but spread it through their Passengers and Crew, if ship is infected.
        They are going to be a time bomb !
        Would we be wiser to bring them ashore and putting into better isolation ?
        Not confined in a Ship environment which looks like the worst possible isolation, from the Diamond Princess fiasco.
        We should be proactive not reactive.
        They aren’t going to go away, everywhere else is in worse shape then Australia unfortunately.

        • Lenny Hayes for PMMEMBER

          They should go back to where the company is headquartered and they can cover costs due to their lack of corporate tax status.

          I am sure Liberia is an attractive place this time of year.

          • Cruise boats really have no home, they have a flag of convenience or something.
            In places with low or minimal taxation, hence no bailouts for them.
            Unfortunately the passengers and crew are a conundrum.
            They are Australias problem wether we like it or not.
            We have the opportunity to deal with it in a good humanitarian way or the dog eat dog, f#$kem way which seems to be becoming the New Australian way, which I am very ashamed of.
            It’s a big operation to bring them ashore and quarantine, manpower, logistics, accomodation and should be spread across the States as evenly as possible.
            I would suggest the military look after it, and I dont mean blow em out of the water 😳.
            Time for Aussies to get real and look after people in real need 👍, if we dont it will hang around our neck, like an Albatross, long after the pandemic has moved on.

        • bolstroodMEMBER

          Anyone who boarded a plague shipin the past 6 weeks desreves everything they get…except a bailout.

          • Agreed. I don’t know how these people think it’s a good idea to go on a cruise ship during the middle of a pandemic. And then have the gall to cry for help when the inevitable happens.

          • Yes very poor decision by passengers and cruise companies to embark and continue cruises running.
            Unfortunately they are sitting off our coast and we can ignore them, problem gets bigger.
            Thats the head in sand methodology, this leaves one important part of your body exposed though.
            We deal with it now before it gets worse, get em off, quarantine them, some might be able to fly home ?
            Reality is they are not going to sail away, which is what we would much prefer.
            If pushed away, they will just sail into International waters and park up, making transfer of future hospital cases harder and more dangerous for Rescuers / Air Ambulances.
            We need to deal with it properly, not leave it to escalate into a crap show, which seems to be the norm lately.

    • Markus Paddey

      Qantas doesn’t pay taxes in Australia – they’re getting a bailout.
      All they need to do is give politicians cheap airfares and free upgrades and access to the “executive” lounge.

    • It is Chris Uhlmann.

      We should deliberately diversify our suppliers away from China. Every dollar spent building capacity in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India is a dollar well spent.


      new industries must be built here and stay here. At the top of the list must be medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.


      • Robert Johnson

        Lookup the average IQs of those countries and then compare them to China.

        Everything that can be done in those listed countries can be done in North America or Europe with the help of a robot.

        • I usually find Malaysian and Indonesian made products to be at least as good as the chinese equivalent, and often better. i have worked a lot in all 3 countries.

    • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

      The left MSM don’t have a choice. They monumentally fked up, and have put Australia, an island, into a situation we shouldn’t be in.

      Fix Australia. Destroy the leftist media.

        • Tired old excuse.

          A better question is why have Labor only been in charge 6 of the last 25 years? Because they offer no alternative and are indeed far worse when it comes to China.

          • desmodromicMEMBER

            As you say, Labor are irrelevant and responsibility for our current predicament mostly lies elsewhere.

          • Totes BeWokeMEMBER


            What a cop out.

            They occupy seats. They are not representing Australia and Australians.

            Labor are the problem, and must be replaced asap.

        • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

          Leftist media and Labor didn’t make a sound while planes continued for 6 weeks.

          What would you expect the money party to do? Mr Housing?

          There is no opposition to LNP putting Australia and Australians last.

          That is the problem.

        • drsmithyMEMBER

          Rich, the LNP has been in government for 7 years.

          Yes, but despite that Rich says we have the most leftist Government EVAR !

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      LOL. Yes, Chris Uhlman, well known bleeding-heart commie.

      I wonder how hard I’d have to look through his previous works to find him contradicting everything he’s written here ?

      • Chris Uhlmann

        March 31, 2020

        this could evolve into a second Great Depression that will take many more lives than the disease; through war, civil disorder, murder, suicide, domestic violence and lives shortened by poverty

        Sounds left leaning to me.

  8. Wellie seems the right wing is getting its groove on ….

    Balazs Csekö
    Hungarian Parliament passes bill that gives PM Orbán unlimited power & proclaims:

    – State of emergency w/o time limit
    – Rule by decree
    – Parliament suspended
    – No elections
    – Spreading fake news + rumors: up to 5 yrs in prison
    – Leaving quarantine: up to 8 yrs in prison

  9. The American Enterprise Institute and Western neoliberal economists seem to be having a bad hair day … could not control the weather ….

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      Ok, the more I think about this backpacker hate the more p1ssed off I am that the gutless wonders have taken over. Those backpackers often live in 12 or even 20 room dorms all on top of each other. They probably don’t want to be locked up in their oxygen starved rooms all day because that’s where they’ll get the bug. So fck it, they go have beers on the roof top instead, or go to the park during the day. Ar$ehole fearful do-gooders are trying to force them into hell. Cunce!

    • He gets my vote as the most incompetent person to ever be a Premier or Prime Minister in Australia. He’s the Bradman of idiocy out of that bunch. There’s a long way to second place.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      Stick her hand out to be Paid to Represent the Interests of citizens every week or month and proceeds to traitorously betray those interests.

    • If you’re an international student who has lost work

      Then you are not a student. Self deport now.

  10. factory worker

    F’ing unbelievable
    NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has appealed to local businesses to pivot to producing medical supplies

    Why would any sane businessperson even consider this request?
    Here’s an idea Gladys, how about you put your money where your mouth is and sweeten the pot and I mean make it sweeter than honey. Also lets not insult would be producers by attempting to pay for these Medical supplies in with that dirty old AUD rag you drag around, nope if you want my help than you’ll find a way to pay for your life with the only real currency Australia has namely Sydney Houses.
    Time to ante-up Glayds: How many houses per ventilator?…chop chop Gladys times a wasting… your time that is, statistically I’ll be fine but you’re royally F’ed, so make a decision.

  11. Spoke to a local agent, he said rent asking prices are down on average 15% in last two weeks and number of listings up due to very few being rented out while slightly larger number ending leases (mostly students and flatmates). He said some higher end and larger houses properties are on the market for a month and none is inquiring despite asking prices down up to 25%.

    • Upper north shore, asking prices already down 20%. Some even have 1 week rent free. But somehow and feels like EBAY! Similar house on same street one is asking 20% below as rent and other is asking 50% above! Not sure what the deal is, are they expecting an unsuspecting “renter” to hit the “buy” button by mistake???