Claims that having a big fraction of the work force stay home for two or three months ( to stifle Wuflu) would ruin the economy ( some say for a generation ) , even though infrastructure and factories would be intact,  knowledge would not be lost, skills would not really have time to deteriorate, few people would die ( the whole point of the exercise) etc, etc – makes you wonder how the Germans managed to significantly increase war production in 1943 while the Allies were dropping 200,000 tons of bombs on them, occasionally managing to burn whole cities to the ground. Slavery helped, I guess. What can’t it do?

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131 Responses to Hamburg

  1. jbbigf says:

    I don’t believe that the German population sheltered in place during the second World War, although it certainly would have made them easier to get along with.

    • gcochran9 says:

      My point was that some assholes are arguing that a lockdown would ‘ruin the economy’ in a way that heavy bombing does not.

      • jbbigf says:

        Various people are arguing various things. What I find significant is that policy decisions with potentially catastrophic consequences, and requiring draconian seizures of power by governing elites, are being advocated on the basis of mathematical models. The problem changes, but the solution stays the same.

        • gcochran9 says:

          You remind me of a guy admitted to my grad physics program, once upon a time. In his application, he said that he wanted to make models of the Universe.

          You would have liked him. Turned out he meant clay models.

          • jbbigf says:

            Greg, I have a great deal of respect for you. If you look behind you, you will see the line that you crossed, when you went from discussing matters of political interest from a scientific or mathematical perspective, to regarding the predictions of massively speculative mathematical models as justifications for sweeping increases in the powers of government. I hope you will ponder well, and come back to the rational – and conservative – side of that line,

            • gcochran9 says:

              This has all happened before: it’s fairly well understood. There have been lots of plagues over history, some worse than this one. I know that history pretty well: most people don’t.

              A few have happened recently enough to be well-documented, but generally there have been fewer in the last century or two because we’ve developed better tools for preventing infectious disease. The math describing these things is simple enough for me, but not simple enough for you. There’s nothing speculative about it.

              It’s not clear how I can, in a short time, teach you both history and mathematics.

              • j says:

                Of course slavery worked in 1943. It always does. But after 70 years of peace and prosperity, Europeans have lost it, became soft and lazy, so fast recovery is not guaranteed. Stop fighting the last war.

              • gcochran9 says:

                I’m not willing to stop learning from it.

              • gothamette says:

                We don’t need to bring back slavery. We do need to bring back the idea that you shouldn’t pay for things you don’t need with money you don’t have.

              • sinij says:

                I am not sure if WW2 economy is anything like it is today. Just to name some substantial differences – derivative and leveraging, just in time shipping and international supply chains, outsourcing of manufacturing. Take US for example, if you try to restart manufacturing locally you might as well be doing it in Nagasaki on Aug 10, 1945.

                I don’t think it is given that we can easily restart the economy until we have a vaccine.

      • gothamette says:

        They’re panicking.

      • gyddyn says:

        USAAF and Bomber Command sucked at their job up to second half of 1944 (Hamburg was a miracle, which was not easily replicated).
        German economy WAS ruined. When guys from p.1 finally learned their job, Rhine was a drinkable river.
        Slavery and taking all they wanted from all over th Europe helped.
        To solve the problem of reduced economic output in farming&transportation Nazis culled millions. Holocaust&Hunger Plan&Killing of POWs were not only about “Jews&Commies”, they were also about saving food.

        • Pincher Martin says:

          Germany was at war against three major powers for nearly four years, whereupon it was defeated, occupied and divided – the political occupation lasting ten years and the physical division lasting for more than forty years.

          For that half of Germany lucky enough to be under the Western Allies, the Germans had to rebuild their entire country under foreign political control, some of whom (the French) were particularly hostile to German re-industrialization. What’s more, under the Potsdam agreement, Germany’s coal and steel industries had to be dismantled, which they were by 1950. France continued to take its pound of flesh from Germany by extracting coal until 1981.

          Oh, yes, and the Allies also confiscated German intellectual property.

          With all these obstacles to growth, how long did it take for West German per capita GDP to return to 1940 levels?

          Less than ten years. By 1955, West German GDP per capita exceeded pre-war levels.

          And before you say the “Marshall Plan,” keep in mind that in today’s dollars the value of that plan is less than $130 billion – or less than one-tenth of what the U.S. just passed in its recent stimulus bill. What’s more, Germany did not get all or even most of that money. In fact it got less from that plan than did the U.K. and France, yet it still grew faster. Also, the German economic recovery in the west had already begun before the first monies from the Marshall Plan made it to Europe in 1948.

          It’s amazing how fragile many people assume the modern economy to be. They must believe it’s like a Faberge egg or something.

          • gcochran9 says:

            Don’t forget the Mighty Eighth!

            Faberge egg: they must think it’s more like a Prince Rupert’s drop.

          • Bert says:

            Germans are not at all representative, certainly not of the US of A. I’m married to a German. She’s not happy unless she is working or creating incredibly detailed art. Her only non-productive time is a few minutes of reading before sleep. Whatever crazy project I dream up she dives into it whole hog, whether it be building a house in the wilds of Mississippi without the assistance of electricity, or developing an ability to trade futures. Germany would be ruling the world if A.H. had not been an egoist in a hurry.

            • dearieme says:

              Serves ’em right for hiring an Austrian.

            • Pincher Martin says:

              Germans are not at all representative…

              The point is still true of all peoples. They bounce back pretty quickly to their natural economic level – whatever that level might be – once a disaster has passed. The Germans just happen to have a pretty high natural level.

            • epoch says:

              “Her only non-productive time is a few minutes of reading before sleep.”

              Do you see how you fail there?

            • Jim O'Sullivan says:

              The Japanese snapped back pretty quickly, too.

              • Ben says:

                The Japanese are stuck with an insanely high debt to GDP ratio. Granted that debt is mostly Japanese owned unlike the case of Greece but a massive downturn puts Japan at risk of going bankrupt which can’t be good for the stagnant Japanese economy in the world of rising Chinese high-tech manufacturing.

                Sure, high IQ nations will continue to enjoy or return to high standards of living regardless of how bad the economic situation gets as a result of this pandemic but QEinfinity and all this fiscal policy can’t be good in the long-run.

          • gyddyn says:

            All your paragraphs before last are information which I know and everybody knows.

            The last one…
            Modern economy IS a Fabege egg.
            It’s sevice driven.
            It’s heavily indebted.
            It’s based on population which is “OK Boomer” with a resulting lower rates of risk taking and speed of development.
            It’s based on an intricate web of finance and trade.
            It’s extremely specialized, with lots of critical processes based on several companies (and as a result, dozens of humans). If they go out of business – with whom would you restart?

            If you’re OK with your kids having a 1939 German’s per capita income – you just don’t like them.

            My family went through 2.5 cases of societal collapse and we know how much time it takes to restart, for example, capital ship building.It’s not OK.

            Btw, 1945 Germans would give their left hands to have COVID-19 in place of what they had.

            • j says:

              Despite their “Green” obsession, Germany protected its industrial base and today it is maybe the only European country producing ventilators. German deaths by coronavirus are relatively moderate.

              • Informant says:

                Where would you get the idea that no other European countries would be producing ventilators!? Sweden has Getinge; Switzerland has Hamilton; Italy has Siare; …

              • j says:

                Drager is the largest by far.

              • John Massey says:

                85% of people who go onto ventilators die anyway. That doesn’t explain the German figures. Germany has a very high proportion of medical practitioners to population, much higher than the UK, USA, France, Italy, and high capacity for severely ill patients in hospitals, and presumably lots of oxygen – but that doesn’t fully explain them either.

                What explains the German figures is that they started testing early and often, more so than even South Korea, so they have picked up far more asymptomatic and mild cases than other countries. If you enlarge the denominator, the death rate reduces.

                It’s not rocket science.

            • Pincher Martin says:

              The last one…
              Modern economy IS a Fabege egg.
              It’s sevice driven.
              It’s heavily indebted.

              Where’s the evidence that being a service economy with a heavy debt load (which I dispute the U.S. has) affects economic growth at all?

              The U.S has carried increasingly larger levels of debt for fifty years, with many ups and downs, and it hasn’t affected economic growth. It may have affected the distribution of the income pie or exacerbated wealth inequality, but not economic growth.

              3-month U.S. Treasury bills currently have a negative interest rate which means people are paying the U.S. government to hold their money over the short term. But even yields on much longer Treasuries are extremely low and may turn negative soon.

              With the U.S. able to borrow money essentially for free, why wouldn’t it increase its debt in order to combat this crisis? It would be stupid not to. In fact, it would be much worse for the economy if the U.S. government decided now was the time to practice austerity.

              I’m generally a guy who prefers low or no debt to increasing my debt levels, but there’s a difference between being conservative and being stupid.

              • gyddyn says:

                So you’re speaking only about the USA? Really, when USA went berserk with “our country first in early 1930s” it was one of the straws which broke the back of “not Commie and not Nazi” Germany, btw.
                (I’m not from the USA, btw).

                If this is USA, with unlimited (for the time) ability to print money, then the question still exists.

                How would you save small businesses? OK, Washington prints money, gives it to everybody. Small shop is closed for month (or 2, or 3). How exactly it won’t run bancrote? Feds would make a working system of paying small businesses rents, bank loans, etc in time?

                Then, the production chains. The real question.

              • Pincher Martin says:


                So you’re speaking only about the USA?

                Negative interest rates are even more pronounced in Japan and Europe than they are in the U.S. So the states all over the service-oriented world are having no trouble borrowing (or making) money at dirt-cheap rates and thus can absorb and help combat any sharp economic downturns at little cost.

                How would you save small businesses? OK, Washington prints money, gives it to everybody. Small shop is closed for month (or 2, or 3). How exactly it won’t run bancrote? Feds would make a working system of paying small businesses rents, bank loans, etc in time?

                Just take a hiatus. Everything non-essential stops for a couple of months, which is all we should really need to get a handle on this virus if we don’t keep putting our attention elsewhere. No businesses go under; no one loses their job; no one loses their home; and landlords do not lose their rent. The Fed and the Treasury are the ultimate backstops.

                The U.S. produces between three and four trillion dollars of goods and services every two months. I have no idea what portion of that is in “essential” goods and services, but let’s assume 50%. And that part of the economy would keep going and probably grow. So the state in my scenario would have to make up about one to two trillion dollars.

                In an economy worth $100 trillion net and which produces $20 trillion every year, that sum is no big deal. Even if I’m wrong by a factor of three, it’s still not a huge deal.

              • gcochran9 says:

                As has been mentioned, maybe half the people in France take the month of August off, and the ensuing devastation is legendary.

                I would have been tempted to say that the people talking about doing nothing in response to Wuflu, talking about how a hiatus would be devastating, were hacks, being paid off. But seeing Boris and moronic health advisers have actually managed to catch the damn thing, reality is voting for the ” just a bunch of idiots” hypothesis.

  2. Boswald Bollocksworth says:

    The current regime is not working. People are not social distancing to the degree needed for the economic sacrifice to be worth it. I’ve talked to people all over the country and it’s a similar story everywhere, even NYC!

    People are playing basketball, going to the grocery store without masks on. What’s the point of all this if you go to the store and breath air a hundred other people have potentially shed virus into? The way this is going we’re due lose a lot of people because of the narcissism and ignorance of the typical citizen

    • teageegeepea says:

      Speaking of shopping and masks, where is a good place to get them that would be open when all but “essentials” are supposed to be closed?

    • gothamette says:

      “even NYC”


      Our retarded mayor is as responsible for this as Trump is for the bigger picture. He never addressed us and gave us the simple facts as Greg did on Feb 6. He berated us to visit Chinese restaurants else we would be racist. Was tardy in closing the schools – in fact Cuomo has had to drag his sluggish corpse the whole distance. Even now we don’t have clear guidance on what to do if you think you’re infected – in a city where people walk around and can shed the virus easily.

      I hope he gets the virus and ends up intubated.

    • Curle says:

      What are the mechanics of this? If you never get closer to an actual person than six feet?

      You enter grocery and head to the deli counter to order food. You keep 6 ft away. Nobody else is around but people were previously in the area. What concentration of virus might reasonably be lingering in the air?

      You are hiking a trail. A jogger comes by hugging and puffing. You hold your breath for 20 seconds and proceed after the jogger. What concentration of virus might reasonably be in the air?

    • Bert says:

      You won’t get any argument from me trying to deny that the majority of the U.S. population is made up of selfish dumbasses. However, the failure of the Federal government all the way through Trump himself has given free rein to selfishness and dumbassery.

      If Trump had delivered a coherent plan on, say, February 15 that mandated sequestration of persons likely to overwhelm hospital space, those over 65 at least, and rolled out a massive testing effort to get the data needed to decide how much of a lockdown of younger citizens would be necessary, then the population would have had more motivation to be cooperative under lockdown conditions. Though dumbasses can’t make a coherent plan, they can usually recognize one when they see it.

      • gothamette says:

        You said it. But on February 15, not only was Trump spouting gibberish, de Blasio and his health commissioner were. There are numerous tweets proving this. de Blasio deserves his place in the Hall of Shame.

  3. jbbigf says:

    It seems the question is, should we hand over our freedoms and our incomes to the “experts” to save us from Anthropogenic Global Warming in 80 years, or to prevent the death of 30% of the population from coronavirus tomorrow? I suppose we should be grateful for having been allowed a choice.

    • Blitzkrieg Bop says:

      What would those who support these draconian measures need to change their minds? If they can’t give us that, it’s pretty hard to take them seriously, or scientifically. Remember, if you are calling for the drastic measures, it is required you have the evidence, not the guesses. And it must be commensurate to the policies suggested or already taken. So, if you please, tell me, I’d like to know. Thanks.

    • Gkai says:

      I guess the natural answer will be quite different if you are 60, working from a nice home and getting along well with your wife, or 20, single, with meager savings and sharing a small dirty appart with obnoxious roomates. The risk is not the same, and the pains of confinement are quite different.
      i am in the middle, probably it helps to see how the two perspectives exists 😉

  4. David Chamberlin says:

    Here is a prediction tool that predicts when Covid19 will peak in each state. Nice idea, I am curious to know when it will peak in my state. Only the assumptions are worthless. Check it out and point out where it is wrong.

  5. Torn and Frayed says:

    This shutdown is similar in some ways, although certainly not politically, to a general strike such as the Great October Strike of 1905 in the Russian Empire. But instead of being bottom up, our shutdown is top down. Economies always recover from general strikes, the hierarchy of political power is sometimes shifted. This is an unusual moment politically across the globe and in various countries, different groups may leap at the opportunities presented by these general shutdowns.

  6. luisman says:

    I’m a boomer and in my youth many small and mid sized companies had something called “Betriebsferien” (closed the whole company down for 3-4 weeks vacation) usually in July/August each year. Nobody needed any government support, went bankrupt or shouted “the sky is falling”. These days only small local workshops, like plumbers, window makers, etc. are still doing this.

  7. Martin says:

    Greg, admittedly not strictly on topic but we are seeing way more than expected severe illness and mortality in medical personnel from COVID than expected by demographic group risk everywhere–China, Italy, now the US. I am going to guess that hospital staff skew younger and healthier than the general population so I find this very noteworthy (and disturbing). What is your explanation? I thought of three hypotheses:

    1–with their current level of overwork and lack of sleep, their immune systems are badly depleted
    2–there is a “cumulative exposure” effect, in that duration of exposure to active virus, or number of viruses you are infected with, matters very much in your personal total viral load–in other words, it’s worse to be continuously exposed than to just get infected once
    3–it is possible to be infected with multiple lineages of COVID simultaneously or in short order and your immune system cannot deal with this

    I would appreciate your take and your own best hypothesis for this phenomenon. Thank you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is it also possible that meds contact strains that have already passed the test of getting someone sick? If this is so, their prioritizing the young might also not help.

  8. Lufa says:

    Most German industrial plants were not destroyed in WWII. As far as I remember more than 90% were intact. Here is Arthur Harris (the British bomber boss): “Apart from Essen, we never chose a particular industrial plant as our destination. The destruction of industrial plants always seemed like a special bonus to us. Our real goal was always the city center.“ (retranslated from German) However, much infrastructure (bridges, railways) were destroyed.
    So, you seem right that the situation today is not so dissimilar from Germany 1944: Skills, knowledge, and factories are intact. We only loose a few months of prodution (and services).

    I doubt that slaves (i.e., war-prisoners) made such a big difference. As the other comment makes clear German industrial production after the war quickly rose above pre-war levels. There was in influx of millions of (skilled) fugitives from Eastern parts of -Germany, though.

  9. casualfan says:

    Simple answer: it’s because Germans weren’t cowering in their homes in 1943. (Also a war economy is not the same as a peacetime economy. I doubt there were a lot of German films made or vacations taken in 1943) You’re right, Covid won’t destroy our infrastructure, but if people aren’t allowed out to use it then it will be worse than war. How long are we going to tell people they can’t go out to work – 1 month (yes), 2 months (likely), 6 months? And what happens when Covid comes back in the fall? Are we going to shut everything down again? The cure is worse than the disease in this case.

    • gcochran9 says:

      A 2-3 month lull in the economy is worse than a few million dead. Interesting. I can think of a policy that would be even closer to optimal than the simple lull, but you wouldn’t like it.

      • kpkinsunnyphiladelphia says:

        First of all it’s not a “lull” and it’s supercilious and jejune to say so. It’s a substantial shut down of vast swaths of the economy which could leave millions of people unemployed, many perhaps permanently, or for long periods, and many businesses destroyed, both of which will have not-so-wonderful consequences, including unanticipated health problems.

        Second, efforts to rectify the problem by printing trillions of dollars will have additional economic and social consequences beyond our poor powers to predict. Chances are none of them will be good.

        Third, it is delusional to think we know EXACTLY what is happening and why it is happening the way it is. Does social distancing really work? Did the epidemic spread like wildfire though Italy because everyone is old? Because there is a lot of smoking? Because their death records are bad? Because the virus is REALLY that bad? Why is Germany different? Because Nordic genes are better at fighting it than Mediterranean genes? Because the Germans closed their border totally? Because Germans are more fastidious when it comes to cleanliness? Are Chinese more susceptible because they have more ACE2? Are the Chinese lying when they provide statistics that show the curve has been bent?]

        And this just begins to scratch the surface of the questions that need to be asked, but for which we have no definitive answers.

        Fourth, and finally, personally I have no problem with a total lockdown, shutdown, whatever you want to call it. Because personally I can afford it. But a clear headed sensibility will understand and appreciate that there are real tradeoffs, and that tradeoffs have consequences, and that tradeoffs matter.

        In one of his earlier posts, Greg said “There is no substitute for victory.” True enough, and if Greg is correct, and this virus is as horrific as Greg has argued, and we have emerged victorious, then good. Greg can then bask in the spotlight of his certitude, and I may even clap, or do the Wayne’s World, “we are not worthy” genuflection.

        But we should all remember — victory is never free, and the price is often high.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Germany isn’t different: the stats are gradually converging with other not-yet-overwhelmed countries. And when they get overwhelmed, as they will, they’ll converge other overwhelmed countries.

          If you shut down parts of the economy, then restart after a few months, nothing has been destroyed, nothing has been forgotten. You could legislate a mass extension: everyone gets to hand in his homework late, debts are delayed for the duration, and so on. I know a lot of people are sure that will cause waves of devastation, but I haven’t seen anyone say how and why: all I’ve seen is lies, along with quite a few people that clearly relish the notions of whole classes of people dying.

          • gothamette says:

            “Germany isn’t different: the stats are gradually converging with other not-yet-overwhelmed countries. And when they get overwhelmed, as they will, they’ll converge other overwhelmed countries.”

            Really? I don’t think Germany will ever get as bad as Lombardy/Veneto.

            Everyone keeps wondering why. Look, I think it’s simple. This virus is spread by droplets that get ejected from your mouth into the air (mostly). So you won’t get it if you don’t get sprayed on.

            Northern Italy got infected multiple times from Italians returning from China and from Chinese. They spread it to their old folks, who live close with them. The old folks are dying en masse because the huggy-kissy Italian culture. I’ve seen this. They really are very tactile.

            Germans and Japanese are colder, more distant people. I don’t know why it’s considered impolitic to point this out but we are in a pandemic. It’s true. They are not spraying viruses on their vulnerable elderly all the time.

            The Japanese wear masks, the Germans don’t live in multigenerational households. And of course now that the Lombardy/Veneto picture is clear, they will segregate their old guys even more. They will be very thorough about this.

            As to why it didn’t happen in Southern Italy, I think that was just luck. There was a couple of Chinese tourists who tested poz in Rome (middle of the country); they were quickly segregated. Chinese don’t live in or visit Southern Italy. It’s by now well known that direct flights went to and from Milan, and 300K Chinese lived in N. Italy.

            I would be very interested to see what’s happening with the overseas Chinese who form enclaves in N. Italian towns. If I were one of them, I’d go back to China if I had to row a boat.

            It’s 2020. Mussolini became Prime Minister of Italy in 1922. We are right on target for another Il Duce in two years. Maybe sooner.

            • gcochran9 says:

              Germany isn’t quite as old. That’s it: Wuflu’s growing in Germany, and that’s all that’s required to overload the medical system. Give it time.

              • gothamette says:

                Japan is even older. My point is that their culture already practices the social distancing that we are having to adopt in the west. So it saved them. Will it continue to?

              • John Massey says:

                If you think Japanese are wearing masks and practicing extreme social distancing, you haven’t seen recent photos of people on train station platforms in Tokyo.

                I have been on commuter trains in Tokyo – I have opened cans of sardines that were less tightly packed.

                I am very suspicious of the Japanese data and can only think that they are grossly under-testing (and a lot of Japanese people are very critical of their government’s ‘lax’ approach), but in that case I don’t know where they are hiding the bodies.

                The Japanese conundrum is something that should be seriously looked into, because it seems like there is some special juju working there. I can’t figure it out.

              • gothamette says:

                This article may explain why Japan has done so well, so far. They suffocated the cat in the bag – maybe. (I remember when they closed the schools and people in the US were saying they overreacted.)


              • gothamette says:

                The Japanese did strict contact tracing & closed their schools down on March 5. It’s not hazardous to be on a packed subway if the guy next to you isn’t infected with anything except BO. I knew a Japanese guy in NYC with bad BO. Or perhaps it was SO – shirt odor. He was unmarried & wore unlaundered clothing.

              • gothamette says:

                “I am very suspicious of the Japanese data ”

                But you accept Chinese data…. hmmm…..

                I accept both. I don’t think either country is lying.

                I do think that the Japanese will experience mini-outbreaks because no surveillance system can be perfect but they did as good a job as humanly possible. Unfortunately, humanly possible is not as good as virusly possible.

              • John Massey says:

                I made that comment a while ago. I now understand the Japanese data, and I am no longer suspicious. They are still under-sampling, but not hugely.

              • gothamette says:

                Look at the overall death rate, not the COVID19 stats:


            • That’s an interesting and fairly accurate statement about Germans being fairly cold. They really aren’t so touchy feely. Except when drinking. And Germans have been isolating themselves voluntarily as soon as it became clear Corona would spread here. The people are going the extra mile to protect the vulnerable groups. The old folk and sick are being told to stay home and stay away from other people. The young and healthy are volunteering assistance to vulnerable groups by doing their shopping for them, etc. Children aren’t being brought into grocery stores and other public places.

              • gothamette says:

                “That’s an interesting and fairly accurate statement about Germans being fairly cold.”

                And AFAIK, they don’t live in multi-generational households.

                This really was a question of cats and bags – still is. The Japanese were really smart about this, although I understand they are having an uptick.

                They closed their schools long before NYC did, and everyone rose their eyebrows. They were smart about that.

                The parts of Italy that are being massacred? It was as if they released cats out of bags intentionally.

                Same deal in NYC. We were being lectured about racism until early March.

                As I went to sleep last night we marked our 1000th death in the state. I just checked: 1,218.

              • NYC has such a high death toll already?! Do you by any chance know how many are confirmed to be infected?

              • Why were you being lectured about racism? Sorry, but I don’t get the context. I’ve been in Germany for almost 5 years.

              • gothamette says:


                Sorry, as of last night, NY State deaths are 1,342. NYC: 914.

                NYC stats here:


                “Why were you being lectured about racism? ”

                You mean they don’t have Social Justice Warriors/Woke Assholes in Germany? I thought it was infested with them.

                We were told by our Mayor, Senators and Congressmen to go out and mingle freely until well in March. Told to go to Chinatown. Eat in Chinese restaurants. Tweet after tweet.

                In fact, we’re still being lectured, if not lied to. Our governor, who has been pretty good (a low bar, given Trump’s behavior) said that the reason we were hit so hard is because we are so “welcoming” to all and sundry. Kind of admission of failure.

              • Thanks. Ya, we have social justice warriors galore here, but no one was talking about racism in light of the virus, except for refugees who are often housed in large groups in rundown places. But I didn’t follow up to see what all was being said. Just saw some headlines. If I follow the news too much I just get pissed off at all the stupidity I see. 😅

              • gothamette says:

                “I just get pissed off at all the stupidity I see”

                Don’t move to NYC. The buck stops at Trump’s office but every NYC pol was advising us to go to Chinese restaurants and “don’t stigmatize” until early March. By then the cat was out of the bag.

                The city will be devoured. Macy’s just “furloughed” its employees. I think it’s quite possible they could go bankrupt – or leave NYC altogether. If they vacate their Herald Square HQ, the entire area (which is quite seedy except for the grand old Macy’s building) will go down the toilet.

              • Haha! I had to fly through NYC once and drive through once. That was more than enough for me. Don’t plan on doing that again.

        • Speaking of Germans, I live in Germany, and although Germans might be neat and tidy, they are not particularly hygienic. They aren’t diligent about handwashing, nearly every second person smokes, they drink too much too young, they have shit diets nearly as bad as Americans, and they are resilient to learning new tricks. Why they have such a low death rate compared to other European countries is beyond me. The medical field is nothing to brag on and is heavily understaffed, particularly in smaller towns and communities. Doctors offices are shutting down all the time with no one to take them over as the older generation of doctors finally retired. Some are choosing to work way past the retirement age just because they can’t find replacements.
          Also, we just got back from a trip to Sweden late march where everyone is pretty relaxed about all this. They’ve done next to nothing to prevent the spread, and they have very low rates of infection and even lower death toll.

          • gothamette says:

            I’ve heard from many Germans that the American view of Germany as glowing blonde perfection is bullshit.

            Sweden? Just wait. Check out the stats here:


            Their numbers are crazy – they fluctuate wildly, day by day. I’m not an epidemiologist but… I think this is impossible. Arguably Wrong, are you reading? Check out their numbers and tell us what you think.

            I think Sweden is lying. Not China. Not Japan. Sweden. We’ll see in two weeks what the situation really is.

    • gothamette says:

      Who is cowering? I don’t see anyone cowering.

      A 96-year old Polish lady is sewing masks. Of course, she knows how to sew. A lot of young ‘uns are useless at anything practical.

      The Tulsa Ballet opened their costume shop & they are making masks & PPE. A fashion designer stepped up to the plate in NYC and offered to make the state masks. He has 11 seamstresses on staff.

      A lot of Americans have homes and garage-shops where they can fashion many useful implements. Before you jump all over me, I realize that this doesn’t take the place of mass industrial capacity. But the idea of a frightened populace “cowering” at home is false.

  10. SamGamgee says:

    Pretty sure the increase in wartime production also came at the expense of consumer goods. Not sure we can describe the wartime German economy as healthy. Recovery can be quick though it depends on government getting out of the way. Postwar German growth due to Ludwig Erhards economic liberalism not Marshall plan.

    • gyddyn says:

      Your points are valid.
      It’s good that people here understand that Marshall plan was, well, it would not work without locals working 🙂

  11. swampr says:

    More hints the virus was present in Northern Italy shockingly early. This is the first mention I’ve seen of October:

    It’s weird that the epicenter in Italy has been a cluster of small towns and cities. That’s the opposite of other countries where it starts in major cities. Is it possible it jumped early from there to a teeming Asian megacity (Wuhan metro is 20 million) where it first spread rapidly enough to get noticed? CoV viruses have been detected in Italian horseshoe bats and are probably present everywhere. Northern Italy has plenty of recreational caving. Bizarrely, an obscure rural horseshoe bat eating tradition there is the only example given for Europe in Wiki’s “Bats as Food” article. I checked and the wiki edit predates the epidemic.

    • SamGamgee says:

      Just to be sure, you’re suggesting the virus didn’t originate in China at all but in Italy and was only first noticed after it spread to China? Big if true.

      • swampr says:

        Thinking about it further, if Italy is the point of origin, surely someone would have noticed by now from looking at genetic variants. But I don’t know how you could explain them noticing it that early, unless doctors are just hazy on their timeline.

        Officially the earliest case in Wuhan being Dec. 1, and 5 of the first 7 cases had no link to the infamous meat market. South China Morning Post reports the first known case was Nov. 17 from unreleased sources. Wuhan doctors didn’t started noticing it till mid-December. In China, respiratory doctors were much more aware of the potential for another SARS than elsewhere. It’s hard to square all that with Italian doctors noticing something was up in October. An Italian priest in an article in Slate yesterday says there was an unexplained jump in funerals starting in early January near Bergamo. The point in time where you notice excess deaths is pretty far into an outbreak.

      • Coagulopath says:

        That doesn’t sound right. If “hundreds” of people in Italy had COVID19 in October, why didn’t the pandemic start there and then? How did it disappear, appear in China in December, and then reappear in Italy in February?

        Milan and Lodi have nearly 1.5 million people. I don’t think we can learn much from hundreds of surplus hospitalizations – maybe there was just a harder strain of flu that year.

        • says:

          Italy seems to have 3 dominant strains of SARS-COV2. Earlier strain is milder, for
          example early Korean infection was about one per day for a few weeks until the cult member brought back the Wuhan strain in mid Feb. See the histogram of CFR distribution for 410 Italian regions below. China and US seem to have only two strains.

        • Anonymous says:

          The early Korean data. The Korean testing started on Feb 01 and tracked patient0 re
          trospectively to Jan 20. On Feb 17 the cumulative COVID.19 case was 30 after 28 days from patient0, an average infection rate of about 1 per day.

          If Wuhan did not make the news the Korean would not have COVID.19 testing and such infection rate would be burried among the influenza data. The patient0 for Daegu was on Feb 18 was tracked to a cult member who had visited Wuhan and brought back the more virulent Wuhan strain and the Korean COVID.19 infection explosion started from that date. Without the Wuhan strain the early Korean infection could have stretched for months without anyone noticing that among the influenza data.

          A study had shown that the early Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Chinese Sicuan strain were the same with vey low infection rate. The Korean Daihatsu has a wholly own factory and their suppliers in Sichuan and that could have been the early source of the Korean infection. Samsung had shifted their mobile phone factories from China to Vietnam and they could have brought the COVID.19 infection with them.


    • Henry Scrope says:

      Northern Italy had direct flights to Wuhan, tens or hundreds of thousands of Chinese resided there, legally and illegally, making clothes, shoes, handbags. Made In Italy labels made money.

  12. Bert says:

    This comment is off-topic regarding economic aspects, but is relevant for persons over age 55. I went through Florida’s county data and tabulated three variables: number of cases in the county of persons aged 55 and above, number of cases in the county of persons aged 65 and above, and thirdly the number of cases in the county admitted to a hospital.

    Assuming that all hospitalizations are of persons over 55, then if you are in that cohort and become infected, your probability of needing hospital care is 0.31, one chance out of three. Alternatively, making the assumption that all hospitalizations are of persons over 65, then if you are in that cohort and become infected, your probability of needing hospital care is 0.53, one in two. In either case, odds no sane person would play against.

    Because the age data are aggregated,.this is the most accurate risk estimate than a member of the public can make Why in hell have not the Federal and state governments cranked out tables of risk (both of hospitalization and of death) as a function of age? If they would, the elderly might stay home and keep the hospitals open for illnesses and injuries that are unavoidable.

    • gyddyn says:

      You propose that Fed&State&theWorld are interested in solving in problem. You’re right. But they’re solving the problem of “save their a**es and getting a bigger pie of community’s resources”, not “get the minimal number of prematurely dead people (better “lost human-years”, maybe) and minimal damage to economy” you’re thinking about.

  13. Observer says:

    Here is a new test tube for us. Holland America cruise ship that left Argentina on March 7 and has not made a port in over a week. Much more isolated crew and passengers than the Yokohama cruise ship where sick people were taken off to Japanese hospitals.

    1,243 passengers and 586 crew on board.
    So far 4 dead, 138 sick.
    The usual “ship’s doctor” for health care.

  14. Lot says:

    Greg, you combine:

    an unwarranted optimism about a self-induced depression more severe that the Great Depression (40% decline versus Q4 2019?, 30% drop in the stock market, unemployment more than doubling in less than a month)

    an unwarranted optimism that stay at home orders will be complied with and work

    an unwarranted optimism that the virus won’t still keep spreading or re-emerge because of asymptomatic carriers

    an unwarranted pessimism about the damage CV causes people under 70 without major comorbidities.

    On point 1, currently a number of industries are completely shut down. Zero revenue, continued expenses. They will default on their rent, fire their employees, overwhelm our courts with bankruptcy and debt cases. The shock of the housing bubble collapse caused a deep and long worldwide recession, but was tiny in comparison.

    On point three and four, all we really have is the word of the Chinese government on the effectiveness of extreme shutdowns.

    The Italian shutdown doesn’t seem to have done much. Ohio shut down schools and businesses sooner than its neighbors but has CV rates comparable to them. No mass deaths in Iran despite very weak compliance with shutdown orders.

    I think the shutdown measures so far in the US were warranted based on what we knew in early to mid March. The case for extended them for months is not convincing, and the burden is on those who want WWII mobilization level expansion of government size and power, not the skeptics.

    I think CV will be really awful. I criticized Trump back in January for not stopping all Chinese flights. I dumped most of my stocks in February. But at this point CV is looking like it is not “just the flu” but “just the flu” x 10. That’s not grounds to induce another Great Depression. And it is far from clear even doing that will substantially reduce total mortality.

    • gcochran9 says:

      You’re wrong. I mean, what’s the point in responding to a fountain of nonsense?

      • Lot says:

        I could be wrong, but I supported my argument with specific facts.

        You’re attacking a strawman “ruin the economy (some say for a generation)” with an analogy to the economy of a totalitarian state during total war mobilization 76 years ago.

        I’m not the one calling for “having a big fraction of the work force stay home for two or three months.” Burden of proof is on you, and the President, WSJ and likely most business leaders, and multiple experts at Stanford Medicine aren’t convinced, among many others.

        No, it wouldn’t be a nuclear war or the Great Depression, but it would probably be considerably worse than the prior recession.

    • John Massey says:

      To address some of your ‘facts’:
      1. A strict full shut down takes more than a month to have an effect, which is why you don’t see any flattening of the curve yet in Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Ohio. You will, if they keep them on for long enough and enforce them strictly enough.
      2. No mass deaths in Iran? Have you not seen the satellite photos of mass burials in Iran?

  15. says:

    It is now obvious from the distribution of the 410 Italian regional CFR values that there are 3 dominant SARS-COV2 strains, with the highest modal value at CFR=4, second modal at CFR=11 and the third modal at CFR=14. The Chinese and American CFR distributions only show 2 apparent modal clusters.

    Many people asserted that in time virulence of the SARS-COV2 will be reduced. So far the Chinese has the longest time series COVID.19 infection data. From that using the post Wuhan lock down data for all the adminstrative regions, two set of time shifted (30 days) datasets. It is apparent that in time the SARS-COV2 virulence and abundance increases with time towards the summer.

  16. Abelard Lindsey says:

    You do have an exellent point, Greg. The infrastructure is most certainly there. Plagues don’t destroy infrastructure like nuclear wars do.

    • gcochran9 says:

      It apparently destroys what little sanity a lot of people had, though.

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        Your point is testable as well. Assuming we shutdown through June, then start back up. Presumably the economy should start back up like turning on a light switch. This hypothesis will be tested in June (I’m assuming a three month shutdown).

  17. Observer says:

    Take this with a grain of salt, but why so many funeral urns delivered to Wuhan? Far more than the official death number.

    • John Massey says:

      Erm…maybe because people in Wuhan didn’t obligingly stop dying of other causes as well?

      Do the arithmetic – city locked down since January 23, lock down now lifted, Ching Ming (Qingming) Festival rapidly approaching – you don’t need to be a genius, just have a functioning brain.

  18. John Massey says:

    Some people have wanted to see a detailed analysis of what happened onboard the Diamond Princess. This passenger’s account is hardly that, but it is probably as good as we are ever likely to get.

  19. The G_man says:

    No big deal, we just need to adopt War Communism. Maybe for a few months, maybe for a few years What.Ever.

    No infrastructure was destroyed during the Wall Street Crash and no knowledge was forgotten, so the Great Depression actually never happened.

  20. John Massey says:

    One for gothamette to chew on:

    swampr will probably also be interested.

    No idea what Greg will say.

    • swampr says:

      Interesting John. Some villagers living near the caves where the closest match to SARS-CoV-2 was found had CoV antibodies, but without any reports of SARS like illness or much direct contact with bats. They didn’t eat bats or necessarily hunt them or anything. So there was a reservoir in humans waiting mutate. Maybe they were just getting it from bat droppings in their dwellings or livestock intermediaries but they were exposed to it somehow. It sounds like HIV\SIV. In areas of Cameroon where chimps are hunted a certain portion test positive for SIV. There were multiple instances of SIV mutating to allow human-to-human transmission but remaining localized in Cameroon. It was just that group M happened to make it to a big city (Kinshasha) and touch off a pandemic. Perhaps Wuhan was the Kinshasha and this crowded, 500,000 square foot market was just a place that acted as an accelerator. The Chinese say most of the positive samples they found in the market were in the wildlife area, which would argue against that.

      I have to say though it’s pretty creepy that the main center for this kind of study was Wuhan. They even used Wuhan people as a sort of negative control sample to make sure they were really detecting it in villagers. Wuhan is a thousand miles from the caves with the closest match. They sampled caves all over China before zeroing in on these particular ones to focus their intensive surveillance. They’re right outside Kunming, a major city, so convenience likely had something to do with it, but still…

      • John Massey says:

        Villagers hang out in the caves in hot weather, with their water and beer bottles lying around open, and they kill bats that get into their houses. Which is a bit weird, because traditionally bats are regarded as good luck symbols – you see lots of them carved into traditional style Chinese furniture. Maybe they’re only good luck if they are far enough away.

    • gothamette says:

      I chewed and spat it out.

      Very coincidental that the first outbreak was in Wuhan, spread to a buncha other places and infected people rapidly.

      Why didn’t it break out in Bergamo first? Or Brooklyn? Just chance?

    • gothamette says:

      I’m not a virologist. It’s not a new virus. It banged around human beings before it evolved into lethality. By chance, it made the leap in Wuhan and from there, spread around the world.

      How convenient.

      Why didn’t they link to the article they were referencing? What is SCMP, a propaganda wing of the CCP?

      I found the study on reddit:

      Have at it.

    • gothamette says:

      So, John, I looked up the study that the article referenced and found it was a comparatively old (March 17) one that was nothing like what was described in the article. I acknowledged my error in misreading the number of defective masks…. will you acknowledge you recommended a crap propaganda article without reading it carefully?

  21. gkai says:

    I wonder if the efficiency of lockdown is not heavily dependent on how geographically diffuse the people shredding the virus are. At first, with very few cases, it is by definition very spotty, and lockdown should be very efficient. But after, you can have very different situations sharing the same total number of cases (or cases/population) is the same. When you have concentrated cases (SKorea), lockdown would work well (but if you know where the cases are, a general lockdown is not even needed).
    When you have diffuse cases, do lockdown change much?
    Especially the partial lockdown we have now in many european countries? Because to be effective, Lockdown needs to create a bimodal distribution on population pockets the size of the typical of people you interract with in the lockdown condition. If you mostly have 0-case pockets or saturated pockets, good. If most pockets have a few cases, i.e. still mostly reflect the situation at the country level, how could the lockdown change things much?

  22. Craken says:

    If it’s managed well with a reasonable distribution of pain, rather than most suffering imposed on small and medium sized businesses, a 3 month economic pause would be less harmful than:
    –the massive industrial outsourcing of the last few decades
    –the financialization of the economy
    –the over-regulation of the economy
    –the under-regulation of the financial sector
    –the failure to prevent IP theft by China (and others)
    –the Iraq War and Occupation
    –the Afghanistan Occupation

    I think the most sensible concerns about the economic pause (not that I’ve seen a single article that was sensible overall) are:
    –the government will mishandle the recovery in various ways, including an unfair distribution of costs/benefits, failure to learn lessons from the past, general corruption.
    –the federal government will end up socializing the financial system, destroying the price signal from the top down through the entire economy and practically institutionalizing moral hazard. This is already underway to the tune of trillions of dollars.
    Though well-founded, these concerns fall short of justifying the premeditated sacrifice of millions of Americans.

  23. gothamette says:

    I think what scares a lot of people at the top is this. If the lockdown continues in NYC, what NYC is famous for will be shifted to other cities. And no more Big Apple. Of course, there’ll be a city, but it’ll just be a few islands at the mouth of the Hudson River.

  24. RVS says:

    The question at hand is not if the economy would recover after a shut down, but would more people die as a result of the shut down than are saved from Covid-19 by the shut down. The shut down deaths would follow from increased suicide, reduced living standards, and disruption of supply chains for life saving services and products needed for all the other diseases that kill people. Millions of Germans died after WW2 from deprivation, disease, and violence. The analogy is silly.

    • gcochran9 says:

      ” Millions of Germans died after WW2 from deprivation, disease, and violence. ” Didn’t happen.

      • German_reader says:

        Casualties during the post-war expulsions from the territories east of the Oder-Neisse line may have gone into the millions (even if some of the higher estimates are almost certainly exaggerated by several factors), but numbered at least several hundreds of thousands. 1946/47 in Germany was known as a “hunger winter”, with excess mortality of several hundred thousand.
        That being said, I very much doubt a 2-3 month lockdown against Covid-19 would have similar effects (I favour such an approach myself).

      • RVS says:

        I notice you fail to refute my argument. Instead you dispute how many Germans died. As the German_reader points out, the consensus is that 500,000 to over 2 million Germans died in the time period 1945-1950 due to forced expulsions. But the exact number does not matter because my argument does not depend on it. Your analogy is still silly.

        • gcochran9 says:

          If the exact number does not matter, why post a false one? Your whole post was nonsense, but there are many other bullshitters competing for my attention.

  25. Outis says:

    (somewhat) off-topic:

    Two questions:
    1. How can one predict properties of a virus, like transmission and virulence? For example, was it important to wait for studies testing the viability of viral particles under various conditions or would we have done just as well to assume Wuflu would behave the same as other coronaviruses: ? How could one predict whether transmission via fomites or takeout is likely? What physical/genetic aspects of the virus would influence the above?

    Good resources for learning about epidemiology and microbiology? Partly for general interest, but more for answering practical, daily-life questions and forecasting. I have a mathematical background.

    Greg’s listed “Rats, Lice, and History” and “Plagues and Peoples” on this blog before, and those are on my reading list, but I’m not sure they’ll answer the kinds of questions I’ve given as examples above, e.g., no mention of “fomite” in either (though the latter has the obligatory reference to pox blankets).

    • gcochran9 says:

      Probably unpredictable, but we knew enough back in late January, from experience in China, to make reasonable policy decisions. Not that anyone in Europe or the US did.

  26. Dan in Euroland says:

    You are comparing two very different economic systems of finance and production.

    Lean production methods are used throughout the modern production chain in both the movement of financial capital and material capital. If counterparties do not pay then this creates shortages which can ripple through the entire system. And yes the system is fragile because modern financial and physical inventory systems are designed to minimize costs and maximize profits in a manner that do not consider systemic risk.

    E.g. Airlines. They are destined to default on financial obligations after only a week or two without sufficient cash flow. Now magnify this throughout the entire economy. Bankruptcy courts simply lack the capacity to deal with the size of the claims and modern contract law does not provide a coordination system to alleviate the issues when every subcontractor will claim (rightly) force majeure to default on their obligations.

    The german system was based on total war allowing centralized allocation and specific planning for the reality of shortages in different sectors of the system at different times. The modern US economy is not constructed in such a fashion because it isn’t focused on a single output (war).

    Economics is typically not a question of knowledge or physical capital but a question of coordination. And yes the solution, which you seem to allude to is a competent state. But this is America not Singapore, let alone Germany, so good luck with that.

  27. Abelard Lindsey says:

    Its not a 3 month shutdown that would crater the economy. Its the fact that so much of the economy is so debt laden that makes the economy as a whole less resilient for 3 month shutdown. We get to find out which swimmers aren’t wearing swimsuits.

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