Below, we consider the COVID lockdown and why the evidence against continued COVID fear-mongering and knee-jerk policy reactions is mounting.
Signals Matter readers come to us for market data, not political opinions—and certainly not medical advice. We not only get this; we respect it.
Toward that end, we turn to political topics only when and where key issues and decisions, whether left or right, wise or unwise, impact economies and markets—and hence your portfolios.
In short, we recognize the heightened sensitivities which are easily triggered by political topics in general, and of course, the political and personal reactions to the COVID lockdown issue in particular.
The COVID virus, and in particular the policy reactions to it, creates an easy setting for polarization, as if those who support the global COVID lockdown value lives, and those who question or even reject the COVID lockdown and other policies, do not.
Most folks, however, understand that nothing in life, as well as politics or markets, are that black and white, that simple, or even that effective when seeking clarity in a fog of context-absent information, celebrity virtue-signaling, media hype and political grandstanding from the left, right or center.
Callous or Context?
Tom and I, of course, are not epidemiologists or virus experts. Nor, thank God, are we politicians.
Instead, we are and were trained to examine data, numbers, probabilities and mathematical facts.
This is comforting, as facts, unlike political opinions or personal biases, are impossible to ignore, though often easy to distort.
And when it comes to the COVID lockdown policies and travel bans whose economic destruction is quite simple to empirically and quantifiably track, it may seem callous to then compare such undeniable economic destruction to the far more human cost of the COVID virus.
We get this. We really do.
Neither Tom or myself, nor the many people we love and cherish, are immune or exempt from the health risks which COVID poses.
This, however, does not preclude us from stepping back and asking difficult questions or placing the COVID lockdown (or even psyop) into a factual perspective.
Data and context allow us to examine the destruction of economies, personal freedoms (like travel, expression, gathering, independent business decisions, protesting etc.) against the now quantifiable risks of COVID-19, whose destructive impact on the global economy and global GDP has no other comparison other than World War 2.
But does the war against COVID truly deserve comparison to, say, the war again the Third Reich?
Do the economically fatal measures of the COVID lockdown (as well as the immeasurable psychological impact of “social distancing”) in the face of a virus whose global death-toll is 1 million justly compare to the economic and psychological impact of World War 2, whose global death toll was 80 million?
Again, we will present the facts below and leave each of you to draw your own conclusions, as economies and lives are admittedly difficult, and again, seemingly callous to seek to compare.
Rising and LEGITIMATE Under-Currents Critical of the COVID Lockdown
Informed citizens, like informed investors, deserve as much clarity and perspective as possible when measuring headlines (on everything from social unrest, mask vs. no mask, and identity politics) against cold facts.
Many, including my courageous friends at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) have taken a sober and objective (rather than political or headline-grabbing) examination of the COVID virus and the COVID lockdown.
I spoke with them recently, here.
A brief synopsis of their de-politicized, sober and panic-averse views on dealing with COVID using science rather than politics and political controls is an easy view here, so please give it seven minutes of your time:
Not long ago, the AIER invited expert epidemiologists, rather than politicians or “journalists,” to gather and present hard evidence regarding the current COVID data and COVID lockdown measures.
The discussion and evidence provide a far more balanced and critical study than what we see on TV or headlines…But this time even the WSJ couldn’t deny its importance.
Their conclusions, outlined in what is called the Great Barrington Resolution, are worth every minute of even more of your time and can be seen for yourself here:
No matter what your view on the COVID lockdown, you owe it to yourselves to at least consider something and someone beside Dr. Fergusson, whom, as the facts illustrate, has been wrong far more often than right in prior practices, projections and recommendations
Just months, ago, the now-fired Dr. Fergusson, who was caught violating his own home-lockdown order in London to visit his married mistress, was predicting staggering death tolls for the U.K.
But as the following facts confirm, total deaths in the U.K. are below their five-year average….
One has to wonder why such “experts” and political decision-makers have so much influence over the lives of billions and millions?
The AIER and other gathered experts with credentials far greater than Fergusson’s are calmly seeking to offer a calm perspective in an economic and hysterical political and/or media landscape that is anything but, well…calm.
As for myself, and frankly, just days before the AIER’s Great Barrington Resolution, I had been doing some of my own data gatherings for friends and family.
This was data I was reluctant to make public, but now feel more inclined to share, especially given the current breakdown I see socially, politically and certainly economically from around the world.
Why this sudden urge to share?
Well… I suppose it’s because I’m strongly questioning the rationality of the COVID lockdown and continued restrictions on the liberty to think, gather, travel and chose one’s own measures to stay healthy and safe.
This conviction is based, in part, by my respect for the human as well as economic data we have before us, data which no major headline has been willing to put into simple, visual perspective.
I, however, did.
I used a basic software program to illustrate the human toll of the current global pandemic based on confirmed public data.
Relative to the global population (7.8B), the global number of COVID cases (41M) is evidenced by the tiny blue sliver below; the number of global COVID deaths (1.1M) relative to the global population was in fact so small a relative data point that the software program could not even list it within the pie chart below.
Next, I made a pie chart of the number of people who died from the flu in the year before COVID, which was 656,000.
You’ll see that the flu pie chart and the COVID pie chart are hauntingly similar in that the number of those not impacted by the virus are incomparable to the statistical pool of those that were infected or even died from the infection.
And yet today, thanks to the COVID lockdown, all those billions of folks in the green pool above have been subject to an economically fatal global lockdown and continued restrictions on travel and personal liberties–all justified by that minority sliver of those 1.1 million infected to date.
As I like to say: Do the math.
The global death toll from COVID, as undeniably tragic is it is for those who have lost loved-ones, nevertheless indicates after months of even questionable death attributes and false positive COVID tests, that COVID is likely more aggressive than the flu, but far less sinister than the “plague” for which policymakers and nearly hysterical media pundits are seeking to describe it.
But those are just cold pie charts. Let’s ask deeper questions and seek deeper perspective.
An All-Too Convenient Crisis
There is no need for tin-foil hats to ask why the COVID lockdown policy came when it did.
COVID certainly created a curious, convenient and almost too-obvious pretext for sneaking in a second Wall Street bailout as well as further momentum toward a greater “new world order” consolidation of economic power and currency controls into the clutches of megabanks like the IMF.
From Math to Sociology and History
But moving from a highly questionable economic policy to basic social anthropology, the recent insights of Wade Davis entitled “The Unraveling of America” are also worthy of a few minutes of both perspective and reflection.
Mr. Davis reminds us that no empire lasts forever.
I’ve made similar reminders, especially regarding empires mired in unsustainable debt levels like ours, and drew some historical context from fallen empires like the French to let this sink in…
But one can also turn to 15th century Portugal, 16th century Spain, the 17th century Dutch, or the 19th and 20th century British to see a clear template of the debt and war-driven demises of prior powerhouses.
In short: Debt and war kill empires. The U.S. is no exception.
Last year, I warned about our military over-stretch in the video below from Arlington Cemetery:
Tom and I have both served our countries and lost dear friends to war; we have nothing but profound respect for all who serve, from Normandy to Vietnam, the Chosin Reservoir to Fallujah.
But even the Great American patriot and general, Ike Eisenhower, knew that too much military spending, like too much debt, kills a nation. War creates devastating debt traps.
John F. Kennedy, himself a decorated warrior, knew this too, but was killed himself…
As Davis reminds, to this day, American troops are deployed in over 150 countries. In contrast, far-sighted economic (and dangerous) competitors like China have not been in a single war since Nixon welched on the US gold standard in 1971.
In over a 242-year history, the U.S., however, has known only 16 years of peace, making us, as former Naval Academy graduate and US President, Jimmy Carter, described: “The most warlike nation in the history of the world.”
Since 2001, we have spent nearly $7 trillion on war as China produces more infrastructure spending on cement expenses in a 3-year window than the US did throughout the entire 100 years of the 20th century.
Undeniable Economic Fatalities
Now, as the COVID lockdown ravages our debt-soaked nation, 40 million Americans have lost their jobs, 3.3 million businesses have shut down, including 41 percent of all black-owned enterprises.
Folks, COVID and the COVID policy reactions are not helping our crippled economy and fast declining “empire.”
In short, can we really afford another COVID lockdown or another year of having our passports denied entrance around most of the economic free world?
Nor, moreover, is COVID the cause of our current fall from grace.
It merely reveals the rigged-to-fail weaknesses and debt-soaked illness (on which we’ve since doubled-down) of our markets and economy that were already deeply in play before the first Corona-Virus headline.
For a nation that once defeated polio and smallpox, or produced fighter planes, tanks and battleships by the hour to avenge Pearl Harbor and save Europe from fascism, today we cannot even produce the fabric for our masks or cotton swabs for viral testing within our own borders.
Most are made in China. The ironies do abound…
And yet as all these economical, statistical and historical facts go ignored by an all too partisan media, both left and right, our policy-makers, both left and right, continue to show an almost comical disregard for the basic lessons of history and economics.
Thus, and I’ll ask again: Can the U.S. truly afford more COVID restrictions and fear-driven media campaigns?
Does the data we have justify it?
Do the lessons of debt, war, history and basic supply and demand suggest we are heading in the right direction?
In short, we can find better ways to lockdown the virus than locking down our country, our freedoms and our common sense?
Do you truly believe that we can survive economic debt cancers by engaging in policies of more debt, which we then pay for with artificially created dollars?
Again, each of you, and each of us, are free to draw our/their own conclusions.
In the interim, we hope this report offers a little bit of perspective without seeking to insult any alternative opinion you might otherwise hold.
But now, you know ours.
Preparing Investors for the Lessons of Math & History
Great and significant economic and social changes lie ahead, almost all related to our fatal debt policies and economic weaknesses, all accelerated and distorted by the highly questionable COVID lockdown policies since March of this year.
Markets, in turn, face many challenges, as do investor portfolios.
At Signals Matter, we cannot make nor solve economic, social or political policy; but what we can do is prepare investor portfolios for the obvious and self-inflicted risks and changes ahead.
And no, we can’t and won’t always beat markets driven by central bank distortions and “accommodation,” but what we can do is protect you from the inevitable and destructive corrections toward which these distortions and “accommodations” always point.
Based on risk-managed rather than traditional, risk-chasing portfolio strategies, we believe we are without peers. Feel free to join us and hundreds of others here.
Matt and Tom