We see this every time. Every. Single. Time.
Something unknown happens. The worst-case scenario is assumed. People behave irrationally in a panic. A billion arguments happen on Twitter and Facebook while the market collapses.
Then… more knowledge is gained. Uncertainty is resolved. People calm down. The market recovers.
And we move onto the next crisis (What will Prince Harry actually do for a living to gain his “financial independence”?)
I admit: After trading through SARS, swine flu, MERS, etc. this is the first time I’m legitimately scared.
NOT BECAUSE OF THE VIRUS.
But because of the panic.
Turns out the entire world got almost all of their products from China and nobody had a plan B.
With China closed down, that could lead very quickly (due to our “crack pipe” reliance on China) to a massive financial crisis, unemployment, and a complete upheaval of the financial system as people get angry, depressed, and who knows what else.
And, in a weird way, people are rational to irrationally panic.
That’s what humans have been doing for 250,000 years. That’s how our ancestors survived, as opposed to the humans who did not (they did not panic-run at the rustling of leaves. And then a lion ate them).
BUT… learning how to think (rather than rely on media, or politics, or fear or anger), even in a full disaster scenario, is more critical to survival than a surgical mask.
That’s the only thing I really know.
HERE’S WHAT WE DON’T KNOW:
A) HOW MANY ARE INFECTED
There might be millions infected who never showed symptoms and quickly got cured.
Instead of 100,000 infected cases, there might be tens of millions.
All we know is the number of infected who required hospital treatment. We have no idea if this is 100% of people infected or 0.00001%.
HOW CAN WE KNOW HOW MANY ARE INFECTED?
We will only know in hindsight. This was the case in 2010 when everyone was panicking about H1N1.
People assumed a much higher infection rate than actually occurred (discovered in hindsight).
South Korea has tested 40,000 people with 1,275 confirmed cases. 12 deaths. Less than 1%. However, even they don’t know how many of the 40,000 might have been already cured. So the fatality rate might be much lower.
B) FATALITY RATE
The media keeps quoting “2%” which is, best case, malpractice on the media’s part.
Since we don’t know “A”, there’s no way to know the fatality rate.
We don’t know if someone gets immunity if exposed to the coronavirus.
This is important because it gives us information about the longevity of this disease (if everyone gets herd immunity, it disappears) and guides us on how to spend dollars on vaccines.
D) IS CONTAINMENT WORKING?
We have no idea. It seems like it’s not working so well.
Wuhan is on lockdown and yet there are cases all over the world now.
It seems probable that the entire world will eventually be exposed. This is neither “good” nor “bad,” since we don’t know “B” above or “E” below.
BUT, and this is important, if containment is NOT working, then might as well get everyone back to work and keep the world economy flowing (see discussion below about “crack pipes”).
[Made exclusively in China.]
E) EXPOSED VS. INFECTED
Assume the entire world is eventually exposed. In my podcast on the topic I discuss with a top immunologist that this is a matter of “when” and not “if.”
This doesn’t mean that seven billion people become infected and then 2% of those die. I’ve actually seen those assumptions in major media outlets, which is just pure fear mongering.
We have no idea how many of the exposed, get infected. It could anywhere from 0.00001% to 100%. And, again, because of “B” and “A” above, the number of deaths could be very tiny.
All deaths are horrible but we have no idea what we are dealing with. Deaths happen from all seasonal diseases. There’s no avoiding it except to improve care.
But all the hysteria about the number of probable deaths is so far off on the actual math that it’s ludicrous.
F) IS IT SEASONAL?
20% of common colds are coronaviruses. The COVID-19 virus is a mutated version of the common cold.
The common cold is seasonal. It comes in the late fall and usually lasts until mid-spring.
Why is this important?
If this is seasonal, then we can plan accordingly. If it’s not, then we can plan accordingly on hospital needs, supply chain effects, etc.
[Almost exclusively made in China.]
WHAT WE DO KNOW:
Unfortunately, as a world, we realized that we were all smoking China’s crack pipe. I’m amazed how few industries had a plan B on manufacturing.
Here are some items almost exclusively made in China: Tylenol, all antibiotics, antianxiety medication (18 million subscriptions in the U.S. and heavily physically addictive), tissues, Clorox, vitamin C, salt, pepper, birth control pills, etc.
The list is huge.
Many small businesses expected that after the Chinese New Year, they could restock their inventories.
BUT their factories/suppliers are not even returning calls. They are CLOSED DOWN and could be for months.
Many of these businesses will go out of business if the panic does not subside even within the next few weeks.
What a disaster that essentially zero industries prepared for such a simple, and single, point of failure. That’s the real disaster here, which means the most important “cure” for the world is a cure for the panic.
Which is why if we knew more about containment or the actual fatality rate, China could make a rational decision about factories opening.
If containment is not working, then open them up.
Everyone in the world is going to get exposed anyway and we can’t avoid it.
Seven billion people will be affected if China shuts down for business. Unemployment will be the worst since the Depression. Life will change for everyone.
It’s weird to look for opportunity in the middle of this crisis but I think the likelihood is that, while this is a scary virus and a true pandemic, it’s not as scary as people think and there’s not much we can do about it.
Well, except wash your hands five times a day. That’s the main thing you can do.
A) EVERY INDUSTRY WILL WORK ON A PLAN B. South Korea, India, Indonesia, etc. will be more open for business.
B) THE TRADE WAR WITH CHINA IS OVER. China knows now that their manufacturing base is in trouble. Expect a much smoother conversation on tariffs.
C) A RACE TO DEVELOP cures / remedies / preparedness for potentially more lethal mutations of the coronavirus in future years.
However, it is not a given that there will be a more lethal mutation. This is also unknown. And Darwinism suggests that it can’t get much more lethal (buried people aren’t contagious and even sick people stay inside and are less contagious).
D) MASSIVE STIMULUS. To avoid a Recession in an election year, assume massive stimulus (correctly or incorrectly) by President Trump.
This could lead to disaster in 2021 and beyond (or not) but will also cause a potentially massive overheating in the stock market and real estate in 2020 if fears of the virus subside.
Why are these opportunities?
Researching what investments in India, South Korea, etc. are appropriate. What companies are developing a cheap plan B? What are the ramifications of a reduced trade war with China? What biotech companies have more potential upside? What will be the upside AND the downside of massive financial stimulus which will almost certainly happen within the next month or so. What companies will be affected positively or negatively in next quarter by current supply issues?
Can there be supply opportunities in the U.S.? Becoming an information resource on future pandemics or tracking of potentially fragile supply chain issues if another panic develops? Maybe more. I don’t know.Share This Post