On the State of the Coronavirus: 8 Objective Resources
The current media landscape is not well suited to the development an objective understanding of complex issues. That’s particularly true in the case of the current Coronavirus pandemic and the disease it inflicts, COVID-19. I’ll share a few thoughts on why I think this is the case, then a few examples of COVID-19 reporting that I’ve found helpful in independently accessing the crisis so far.
[If you’re just here for the reports, head to the bottom]
(i) The media industry — from national news networks to indie bloggers —is compensated on eyeballs, not lives saved. That’s not to say individuals don’t care. Just that macro incentives breed macro results.
(ii) Social media is highly effective at inadvertently amplifying click-baity misinformation, as we’ve seen in the political arena over the last 5 years. Click-bait comes in many flavors, including quick-fixes (that aren’t fixes at all) and things people want to be true (but sadly aren’t).
(iii) Humans tend to irrationally discount trends that are exponential, not corroborated by personal experience, or low-probability notwithstanding facts on the ground. COVID-19 is all of these things.
(iv) Even responsible leaders have the unenviable task of reporting hard but necessary truths while avoiding nascent, potentially panic-inducing conjecture. When what’s best for the gander isn’t what’s best for the goose, governments will be hard-pressed to admit it publicly (cf. the current guidance regarding N95 masks).
While I hope as much as anyone that this scare is overblown, I believe it’s more likely most US citizens are severely underestimating the danger and disruption they’re about face (not to mention the economic fallout). So I encourage everyone to take the mass media’s presentation of the COVID-19 situation with a grain of salt and think independently when it comes to precaution and preparation.
Here are a few resources I’ve found helpful so far:
(1) John Hopkins University, “Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the CSSE at JHU”, Data Dashboard, Real-Time [Link]
(2) US Congressional Research Service, “COVID-19: Global Implications and Responses”, 3/5/2020 [Link]
(3) McKinsey, “COVID-19: Global Implications and Responses”, 3/9/2020 [Link]
(4) Goldman Sachs Global Macro Research, “2020’s Black Swan: Coronavirus”, 2/28/2020 [Link]
(5) Brookings Institution, “The global macroeconomic impacts of COVID-19: Seven scenarios”, 3/2/2020 [Link]
(6) RAND Corporation, “Assessment of COVID-19’s Impact on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Implications from China”, 3/10/2020 [Link]
(7) Asian Development Bank, “The Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Developing Asia”, 3/10/2020 [Link]
(8) Tomas Pueyo (via Medium), “Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now”, 3/10/2020 [Blog post but well-sourced & widely distributed] [Link]
Note: These are solely my personal thoughts and do not represent the views of any organization, company, or fund.