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An Anti- COVID Lockdown / Hysteria Argument from Signals Matter

COVID Lockdown

Below, we consider the COVID lockdown and why the evidence against continued COVID fear-mongering and knee-jerk policy reactions is mounting.

Touchy Topics

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….

COVID Lockdown

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.

Homemade Analysis…

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.

COVID Lockdown

 

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.

 

COVID Lockdown

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.

Just saying…

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…

French Lesson: What History Has Taught Nations Trying to “Print” Their Way Out of Debt

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:

Thoughts from Arlington: The Economics of the Warfare State

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.

Sincerely,

Matt and Tom

 

6 thoughts on “An Anti- COVID Lockdown / Hysteria Argument from Signals Matter”

  1. Y’know Matt and Tom,
    …. I’m getting weary of your economic philosophical spin on the best way to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
    …. And I’m especially getting tired of your callous treatment of the million who have died from its succumbing, and,
    …. the millions more of whom it has affected of their health, simply because,
    …. your economic perspective that assigns such human harm to categorisation as mere ‘economic collateral damage,’ deems,
    …. lockdowns in countries that have successfully responded to the Covid-19 plague, alike Taiwan, and NZ [from where I originate],
    …. not suiting your vested self interests?

    The coincidence you may find interesting, is the indigenous peoples of Taiwan,
    …. are genetically identified common to my Polynesian race of Maori, from where Polynesians originated.
    …. You may or not be aware Polynesians are undisputed of their historically acclaimed navigation of the largest ocean in the world, the Pacific,
    …. that includes the indigenous peoples of the US State of Hawaii, they settled,
    …. when most Westerners were little beyond living in caves.

    Comparatively, in Australia where I now reside, and that shares close colonial ties with NZ, is observed,
    …. the failure of its Federal Govt to implement a competent national strategic response to its Covid-19 pandemic impacts, that have realised,
    …. the combined health and economic impacts it continues to accrue as entirely predictable.

    The Australian PM is known a ‘bosom buddy’ of Pres Trump, that’s reflected,
    …. in the parlous economic policy outcomes even prior to Covid-19, observing,
    …. its economic policy direction observed nothing more than mimicking of dysfunctional Trump and US Senate Republican economic policy.

    And if Trump gets unceremoniously booted out of the Whitehouse in the next week, then,
    …. the Australian economy is highly likely to go the way of the US economy, that,
    …. will drag the NZ economy down with it given the major Australian banks dominate its banking industry.

    And as you accurately observe, empires don’t last forever, that realises,
    …. if the US is observed one of the shortest empires in world history, it may in fact,
    …. alternatively mark of its end, the decline of the Western empire that forged it, defining,
    …. the dynamic feudal cultural construct that raised it demonstrating its obsolescence.

    And alike debt deflation depressions, the common dynamics defining the fall of empires are observed constant.
    …. The myopic complacency that inevitably sets into empires alike cancer, defining the loss of vision that made them great, and,
    …. that leads to the decadence signalling their downfall, is observed as predictable as clockwork.

    And it’s obvious competent vision is what’s needed of its response in the volatile times we’re in, not more,
    …. of the righteous claims of a select self serving elite, who by their callous ruthlessness or indifference, got us into this predicament.

    So I subscribe to SM to get a clear perspective of the prevailing dynamic economic issues defined by the substance of dynamic evidence, that,
    …. doesn’t waste my time with superfluous analysis, so I can apply it to my investment decisions in a timely manner.

    And it means I would prefer not to sit through interminable videos guarded by paywalls, but alternatively,
    …. receive text analysis I can read and rapidly refer back to if required.

    With the competent analysis SM has provided up until now, and the obvious support your publication receives,
    …. I just thought you both may be able to afford to hire temps to write up your reports, to save your subscribers,
    …. from enduring video watching timeframes indicative of netflix style marketing?
    …. But then in these volatile times maybe your success isn’t going as swimmingly as you would have us believe?
    …. I invite your explanation for avoidance of any confusion.

    • Hoeroa,

      I knew this would be a touchy topic, and tried in many instances to qualify the importance of the economic disease vs the human toll of COVID by giving ample respect for the 1 million deaths attributed to COVID. As shown below, however, economic data is not “superfluous” to human mortality–it directly impacts it. This is not a “philosophical spin” but a blunt look at every arc of the cursed and complex circle that is COVID. We are not opining as to the best or only manner by which to approach COVID, but we certainly can not ignore the evidence which suggests that the current approaches are not without grounds for fierce debate and reconsideration. There is, however, no easy way to address this issue without touching individual nerves or risking the appearance of callous disregard for those who have been impacted or even perished due to this virus. We do not see that as mere “economic collateral damage.” Re-read the post. Again, we get this is a polarizing and hence debatable topic, but to ignore all sides of the issue is problematic, as is categorizing alternative, economic perspectives as “callous.” I am all-too familiar with Australian issues, moreover, and have many close ties there as well. Melbourne’s CV policies, for example, have saved lives, which is admirable, but we can not also ignore what has happened to its economy (compared to say, Sydney), which as I remind below, also impacts LIVES. Nor can we simply dismiss current travel and freedom restrictions imposed on Australian (and global) citizens, which violate core principles of freedom that deserve equal consideration–even when measured against mortality statistics. Each free-thinking individual has a right to view this debate on their own terms, and we are no different in allowing different views as well as priorities as to what issues mean the most to each individual–that too is an aspect of free expression and free, open debate. My view, one shared by many and not shared by many, is that to ignore liberties in the name of safety, as Ben Franklin warned, is a slippery and dangerous slope, and here in the US and France, the expression “give me liberty or give me death” is not a mere cliche, but a truly sacred value. Liberty and free choice (including the choice to assume responsible risks as well as policies in the name of individual freedom) is seen, by many, as a defining principle–and a value even greater than life itself–as all veterans who have risked their lives for our freedoms know all to well–i.e. the freedom to think, act and chose their own views and actions worth risking lives for. As for empire’s falling, this too is no mere historical fact, but also an economic crisis and fact, as well as a human and health FACT. Lives follow economies, and lives are lost when economies tank, regardless of COVID’s presence. People lose homes, jobs, pensions, retirement savings–all of which impact mortality rates not mere market statistics. For every one percent drop in employment, it has been confirmed that thousands of people die. So no, we don’t think economic facts are just “philosophical spin” or “superfluous analysis.” There is a human element which lies within economic change. Lives are lost when economies fail, often far more than those lost when viruses spread. We too have no immunity from CV. We too value our lives. But we also value facts, choices and the freedom to make our own choices based on the facts (not spin) before us. CV is not the Plague, nor is it a simple cold or flu. This is evidenced by data, not opinion. I for one, will always value liberty above all else, even my own mortality, for a life without freedom is not a life worth living–for me at least, and for many others–including veterans I know in their 90’s, who are the most vulnerable to COVID. But again, each of us should be free to assume our own reactions and values, rather than have them imposed by governments who claim to know what’s best for us. That is feudalism, not freedom.
      The references to the AIER reports, moreover, make it equally clear that the so-called “ancillary casualties” of the COVID lockdown have caused equal if not greater health and mortality harm and risk than the virus itself. So again, we are not ignoring the preciousness of human lives, we are addressing them directly. Mental health ramifications, including spiking suicides attributed to social distancing, as well as long list of other illnesses and deaths have gone un-reported– That fact that clinics have been shut down for other treatments and other illnesses besides COVID is shameful, as is the marked declines in access to veteran care, cancer treatments, other pulminary categories etc–all of which have all been greatly reduced in priority (from NYC to the Sudan) in the name of COVID, and all of which have caused deaths not related to the virus. Such circumstances deserve a cold examination–the facts of which have not been accurately reported in the main stream media, which most of us know are extensions of government and partisan controls. The INDEPENDENT, non-politicized reports of the epidemiologists gathered by the AIER go far deeper into those details and shall not be repeated here, though they are quantifiable and worthy of serious consideration–that’s why we posted them.

      Nor do we engage in NETFLIX style marketing. The videos represented above from the AIER are extremely relevant and , yes, time consuming because this is not an issue that can be legitimately discussed or concluded in a tweet, op-ed, blog or soundbite. It demands genuine time and effort, which we have given and shared. The youtube links are not guarded by paywalls –certainly not of our doing at least.

      As for our success — it is based on long term risk management not short term comparisons to CB supported risk asset spikes. The entire library of our reports and portfolio analysis is based upon the long-term, not short-term and for that we are “swimming” quite well–better in fact than most. Equally long-term is our view of the COVID crisis, whose hysteria is beyond debate, as is its seriousness. We do not offer the only answer or a final answer on this, but we sure as heck aren’t going to ignore the manifold and all-too-often ignored aspects of this crisis which has been co-opted by the media in a very one-sided fashion, again, as the sober AIER and Barrington Resolution report makes all too clear. Again, read it and watch it in its entirety, not its headings. Thereafter, and of course, draw your own conclusions, which you are free and welcome to share and defend, as are we and all others. That’s the entire point of liberties, from the Enlightenment to the Declaration of Independence: Freedom, not fear, facts not finger-pointing, full rather than partial disclosures, and open debate, not sanctimonious certainty–from you or from us.

  2. Matthew,
    …. thanks for your clarification.

    As someone reputably accredited in management to an advanced level, sanctimony is an error I attempt to avoid like a plague.
    …. Just the problem is I keep seeing the elephant in the room.

    For pandemics as you may be aware, are now comprehensively known of their required dynamic response.
    …. Such response is assisted by resources reserved for just such crises, known as redundancy.
    …. And as should be obvious to anyone with competent management acumen, all resources required to respond, further require,
    …. a strategic management plan to implement and coordinate their response, to achieve the most effective performance outcome.

    And in the US, the Covid-19 contraction and fatality numbers define the most reckless response in the world, where,
    …. Pres Trump diminishes the potential of the coronavirus still today, denigrates the US Infectious Diseases Director, Dr Fauci, and had the health resources redundancy reserve measures removed prior to Covid-19.

    In Australia its Federal Govt has avoided development and implementation of a strategic national plan for Covid-19 response, preferring,
    …. to outsource its responsibility to the States and Territory Govts, which,
    …. is how the first wave outbreak emerged from Sydney, following,
    …. the Diamond Princess cruise ship disaster in Yokohama,
    https://www.wired.com/story/diamond-princess-coronavirus-covid-19-tokyo-bay/
    where a sister ship of the ill fated Diamond Princess, the Ruby Princess,
    …. followed a similar schedule in Australian waters parallel to its sister ship in Yokohama, and carried the coronavirus to NZ,
    …. before returning to Sydney and creating Covid-19 mayhem in Australia.
    https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/outbreak-onboard/12287654

    https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/pandemic/12103600

    https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/4cs_economy_2004/12165974

    The second wave in Melbourne has finally been effectively contained in that State by lockdown measures, but it was a near thing,
    …. given the lack of a national strategic response plan to back up the States and Territories.
    https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/the-second-wave/12570194

    If this had been the outcome in a public company the Board and management would have been sacked.

    And as our friend David Fraenkel observes, if PPE alike face masks had been able to be effectively rolled out from the start, then,
    …. the number of victims would have been appreciably decreased.

    But mixed messaging, and reckless leaders alike Donald Trump, put paid to that potential.
    …. And then if you’ve got US agents buying PPE destined for France, at airports in China as the planes carrying it are preparing to taxi down the runway, then,
    …. rerouted to the US to be put up for auction to bidding States by the US Govt, then,
    …. it’s not rocket science to project where such neoliberal ‘entrepreneurialism’ is gonna lead the pandemic outcomes in the US.

    Yes, that’s the same neoliberal entrepreneurialism that gave us MMT.
    …. Can you see the dynamic pattern emerging here Matthew?
    …. So why you and Tom are fixated upon lockdowns appears a little “sanctimonious” to me, when,
    …. balanced management application is known the defining dynamic approach for achievement of prospective outcomes delivering all win outcomes, as observed management #101.

    Then I trust this comparative US/Australia case study analysis demonstrates my perspective of the issue as conclusive.

    • Hoeroa, Thanks again. Your perspective, data and views are entirely sound and entirely welcome, adding more needed and informed layers to this extremely important discussion and issue. Truly, our deepest gratitude for the obvious effort and attention you have given this matter. Best, Matt.

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