Tom Thoughts
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Tom Thoughts

Thursday Links

Bill Gates calls for a nationwide shutdown, Testing Takeoff, This looks like a Depression, MASKS, plus Twitter Highlights…

Photo by Matteo Catanese on Unsplash

In case you haven’t seen, I started doing this thing a week ago where I’ll be posting a set of daily links and tweets about things I find important or interesting. I also want to repeat, I have stolen this idea directly from Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok over at Marginal Revolution because I think it’s an awesome way to collect and share information (it’s a blog that would make a fantastic addition to your daily routine, check it out).

Alright, that’s enough of that. Let’s get to the business, shall we?

***Please note that a posted link or tweet does not necessarily equal an endorsement of the author or the ideas expressed in the link or tweet, sometimes I may completely disagree with it, but nonetheless think it’s worth sharing for educational purposes. Thank you for your understanding.***

1. Bill Gates calls for a nationwide shutdown — The Hill

Gates wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that he has spoken with experts through his work with his charity who said a national policy would be more effective over having a hodgepodge of states issue stay-at-home orders while others remain more open. He argued that the country needs a “consistent nationwide approach to shutting down.”

I am not an expert, as I’ve said multiple times but I share this sentiment simply because I find (anecdotally, of course) people in my social circle are either too optimistic or not taking the social distancing guidelines seriously enough, and in some cases, it’s actually both.

This frightens me. Those are the attitudes and practices that got us here in the first place.

Better to nip it in the bud now than to carry on with the wait and see, reactive instead of proactive approach we’ve employed so far.

And the reason for this is because…

2. We do not yet have testing “takeoff” — Tyler Cowen, MR

If we want to be able to “reopen” the country, it seems pretty obvious at his point that the key to the whole thing is a drastic ramp-up in testing and tracing.

I haven’t been able to find any credible, sane expert that isn’t beating the drum for the United States to quickly increase their testing capabilities nationwide. It needed to be done yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.

But alas, we are still lagging behind.

3. This looks like a depression, not a recession — Marker

Until there is a vaccine, any expert who says they can predict an outcome is misinformed or lying. The only conclusion that is certain is that the virus and its fallout will not pass any time soon.

How about a nice, hearty bowl of depression for breakfast?

The reason for the grim economic outlook is, oddly enough, the government’s very concentration of its financial cannons on the economy. When the government shows it has a convincing regime in place to restrain the virus — massive, population-wide testing, and a way to trace and quarantine those with whom victims have been in contact — the markets will gain confidence, and a floor will be created underneath the economic collapse. Until then, we are looking at the current freefall.

Steve LeVine has written the best piece I’ve seen so far about the potential for an economic depression looming just over the horizon. Something people seem to be shying away from talking about or considering in any serious way (see above about over-optimism and cavalier attitudes).

Goldman Sachs forecasts a 34% economic contraction and 13.2% unemployment in the second quarter, and Deutsche Bank 33% and 12%.

Although no one placed the forecasts in historical context, if we reach anywhere near those numbers, it will be far worse than the Great Recession, and nearly the magnitude of the Great Depression.

I strongly suggest reading the entire piece as LeVine does offer some hope at the end and for the eternal optimists among us, some reason for optimism.

Just kidding. He doesn’t do that. At all. In fact, I might argue he ends things on a much more sobering and depressing note than he started.

And for that, I thank him. We don’t need blind optimism right now, that will kill us.

The problem is more grave than the worst downturns of the past, Sheng said. “This time round, we are facing an unprecedented health, economic, financial, social, and geopolitical crisis at the same time,” he said. “Worse, no one is emotionally prepared for the rapid escalation and devastation.

We had better start preparing.

4. Masks — again

Stop waiting for the CDC to change it’s guidelines and tell us all to wear masks. It’ll happen sooner or later. Let’s start now.

Why? Because…

  • You can make your own, so the argument for taking one away from a nurse or doctor goes out the window.
  • It. Can’t. Hurt.
  • It probably (definitely) is better than nothing.

Here’s another resource for DIY improvised mask making:

5. Twitter highlights…

Ok, let’s lighten the mood a little here:

Back to serious shit:

As always, thanks for reading. Please stay safe, stay inside, follow the guidelines, and wear a mask if you can.

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