Sure…numbers…let’s roll with that first:
- Dead: 4,028
- Cases: 114,585
What’s worse is that the global case count is still tracking to bust 6-million and the death toll threatens to be above a quarter-million by the Fourth of July.
In my measured view, and despite a massive 50% retrace rally for the markets today, I still expect long before mid-summer we will see the Dow kiss the 17-thousands (or lower), the price of oil will likely hold around $22-bucks. And travel will go back to what it once-upon-a-time was: Something of a risky luxury.
The good news? Maybe airlines will offer arm rest wipes and headrest covers again. A return of first class meals would be nice, as well, but can’t ask for everything, I suppose.
With a bounce (ahead of tomorrow’s Consumer Price report) we have only minimal financial news to hang on. There is, for example, the matter of the National Federation of Independent Business out with its Small Business Optimism Index.
“Small business owners expressed slightly higher levels of optimism in February with the NFIB Optimism Index moving up 0.2 points to 104.5, a reading among the top 10 percent in the 46-year history of the survey. Those expecting better business conditions increased and job creation and openings improved as well. Real sales expectations declined along with capital expenditure and inventory plans.”
Which is actually a pretty realistic view, when you think about it. Could the coming “decline of globalism” mean there will be a lot more opportunity for local (which anymore means Made in the USA for all practical intents), as a result of the Reaper Virus? Yes, that’s one way things could work out.
Another “Columbo Moment”
You may be too young to remember 1968…hell, we have readers who were not even born yet until the 90’s…but that was the year NBC launched one of my favorite all-0time TV shows: Columbo. Starred Peter Falk as a deshiveled detective who – inspite of his Monk-like demeanor, but less appearance-focused – would occasionally have a brilliant insight into solving a crime.
“Are you having a flashback this morning, old man?”
No – and since my eyes are dialating evenly and both hands work, and no more drooling than usual pending the impact of the caffeine loading-dose – we can take stroke off the list, too.
No, the reason I mention the Columbo character is it’s such a dandy driver for dreaming up conspiracy theories. Of the sort that make up our occasional references to a (fictitious – we hope) super-secret US government agency we call Directorate 153.
Written in the punchy style of a TV drama, a typical seen springing to mind this morning goes something like this:
(Long shot of conference table – the Executive Director of D-153 is sitting at one end and two members a congress – a man and a woman, are seated on either side of him at the far end of the table. The camera does a slow zoom-in as the sound fades up…)
ExDir: “I’m afraid that we can’t go into any details of what we do here, congresspersons. As you know, actions and activities of Directorate 153 are secret – even kept from the President.
Male Congressman: “We were afraid you’d take that track. So we have a special group of elite members of the US military – called Q-Ops – that have surrounded this facility and yes, even your secret exits. You have one chance to come clean with us. Or, since your agency doesn’t even officially exist, you will be captured, tortured, and killed…”
ExDir: “Oh, very well, then. ‘Computer – send in the Operations Director.’
Female Congressperson: “You aren’t scamming us…playing us for time are you?”
ExDir: “Oh heaven no…oh, there he is. Alex! Come on in and take a seat with us. You know the Congresspersons?”
OpsDir: “I sure do…good morning sir, ma’am…”
ExDir: “I have asked you in Alex to explain our role in The Reaper Virus and you are relieved of your Oath to Secrecy for this very special occasion. Please explain the background and what’s in play…
OpsDir: “Yes sir. As the two of you may be aware, our future models indicated that the odds of avoiding a calamitous Global Depression were on the verge of happening anyway. As a result, our counterparties in 20 of the largest nations of the world met and agreed on a strategy to – pardon the term here – save the future.”
Female Congressperson: “What exactly do you mean “save the future” – from what? And how exactly did you “save anything?”
OpsDir: “I’m sure you’re aware of the precarious position of all governments in addressing the financial commitments to its aging population. Countries like Greece and Italy were shoved into depression early due in part to their public pension commitments that exceded 16% in our studies with the OECD. The next layer down included those countries in the 14-16% of GDP pension costs which will be next to go. This includes Austria, Portugal, and France. And I’m sure you’re aware, public pensions in America passed 7.1 percent of GDP in 2017.
“Not only that, but the amount being spent on social spending was going up, too. The US spends 18.8% of GDP on Social Programs but in some places – like Japan, the GDP hit is closer to 22 percent of GDP.
“So we looked at things pragmatically: Whnat could we do that would reduce the long-term spending requirements to a sustainable level, bail out the stock-market from any blame, reduce the number of non-working citizens, drive down travel and other high-energy consumption industries like travel, and at the same time allow us to increase the effective tax rate on a per capita basis so we could work through the economics nightmare to come…
Male Congressperson: “Don’t tell me….you….you DIDN’T let loose this Reaper Virus, did you? Why that would be treasonous you sonofabitch!”
OpsDir: “No Congressman, it’s Continuity of Government at a global level. You see, by helping a lot of elderly people pass on a bit earlier than they would anyway, we gorce an intergenerational wealth transfer. And, as you know, most seniors are in tax-advantaged programs that shelter a lot of income from taxation. Even get a tax break at age 65. When we’re done with this operation, there will have been a massive shift of capital down into younger hands where we can tax at higher rates and we can use the Reaper Virus as a marketing tool to command higher tax rates from survivors. As global travel unwinds, the impact on the environment will be reduced, and people will have an incentive to get serious about getting more education. The Reaper will also reduce demand for housing and it will reduce urban sprawl and except for food, most manufacturing will be reduced long-term as well. Plus, thanks to the intergenerational transfer (and no blame being placed on the stockj market) young people will go right back to investing. You do remember that in the previous Depression, stock prices didn’t recover their 1929 highs until the 1950’s, right? And there’s more: Whjat age group uses the most enerhgy per capita? Old people. Keep their homes extra warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. Again, our Global Reaper Virus was just the ticket…”
I could go on…there was a novel Leonard C. Lewin of “Report frtom Iron Mountain” fame that most people haven’t read…save me, perhaps. The book’s title (and good luck finding a copy) is Triage. You’ll see we’re not the only ones to “think the unthinkable” as Lewin so ably demonstrates.
Ah…aging. I feel so old today, why…. I can remember when couples “shacked-up” – none of these “self-quarantined” excuses… What a way to scam some time off work and get bennies, too, while planting a family, though, huh?
Now, on that happy note, enjoy today’s Dead Cat Bounce. Even BTCs are back to $8,085…
Bounce, kitty, bounce. But not too high: Rally Reverses After CNBC Reports White House “Not Ready” To Roll Out Coronavirus Stimulus.
Election day in several states as Biden, Sanders face off in six Tuesday primaries. Like we care? Similarly Is a female Veep nominee progress—or window dressing? Again, do we care?
Delinquency out of style? CoreLogic Reports U.S. Overall Delinquency Rate Lowest for a December in at Least 20 Years.
And despite the hype of at least one radio talk-show host, no, the market decline had nothing to do with oil shennanigans. However Saudi Arabia-Russia oil price war escalates as Aramco announces 25% output hike.
Now, you go watch the cat bounce while I watch the eggs…
Write when you get rich,