When Will Ebola “Infect” the Markets?

This is not a moot question to be asking.  First US forces are in Africa now.

Oh, sure, the epidemiologists have been writing up the propagation math and the RO is still too high and the response is just entering ramp-up, but to me the fascinating question which we raised a while back might be stated something like this:

“If the Black Plague were to show up today, how many deaths (distributed in what geographical manner) would be required for the disease to trigger a “kindling point” beyond which market collapse occurs as people flee for their lives and don’t want to be the “last ones out?”

I don’t believe humans have had to think in these terms, before.  About the closest example I could think of was the Italian Plague which was temporally near the blow-off Tulip[mania event in Holland in the 1630s?  From Wikipedia:

The Italian Plague of 1629–31 was a series of outbreaks of bubonic plague which occurred from 1629 through 1631 in northern Italy. This epidemic, often referred to as Great Plague of Milan, claimed the lives of approximately 280,000 people, with the cities of the Lombardy and Veneto regions experiencing particularly high death rates. This episode is considered one of the later outbreaks of the centuries-long pandemic of bubonic plague which began with the Black Death.

OK, Tulip mania doesn’t fit.  But the Kipper und Wipper of the 30-Years War most certainly does and it may hold some instruction on how counties handle their affairs when there’s a plague going on contemporaneously with major warfare.  Sound familiar?

Starting around 1621, city-states in the Holy Roman Empire (based in what plague-ridden country? –GU)  began to heavily debase currency in order to raise revenue for the Thirty Years’ War, as effective taxation did not exist.

The name refers to the use of tipping scales to identify not-yet-debased coins, which were then taken out of circulation, melted, mixed with baser metals such as lead, copper or tin, and re-issued. Often the states did not debase their own currency, but instead manufactured low-value imitations of coins from other territories and then spent them in yet other territories as far as possible from their own lands, hoping that the resulting damage would then occur to the economy of those other regions rather than their own.

Which really has a nice rhyme to it, since even now, we see how the Federal Reserve has increased the amount of money in circulation in the past year by 6.5% while the cost of living and the GDP are going up at nowhere near these rates.

And we’re in a marvelous stock bubble due in part to the cost of money being essentially zero for the big fund drivers.  So what’s not to love?

As my consigliore advised me Sunday:

The Washington Post Sunday said the CDC is now saying maybe 500,000 by end of January.  It shows up elsewhere, too.

If you roll my projections below forward from December it comes out to 495,000 at the end of January … which is 500,000+- as you round out the numbers.  Of course if that many are infected we will NOT be getting good numbers out of the HOT ZONE at all since people will be fleeing for their lives, NOT keeping statistics.

REMEMBER …. People at risk, even those already exposed WILL LIE LIE LIE  to get out of the HOT ZONE go to somewhere where they have a chance to get decent  medical care if they have been exposed, or to avoid being exposed at all … since staying there means one is almost certain to catch it and if one catches it in the HOT ZONE as it explodes in numbers your odds of living are going to be very very low (there will be NO medical care … you will be on your own or with what little help the healthy people in your family can give you).  When will that FLEE PANIC set in?  I give it about 6 more weeks … which should mean that November is the month when it suddenly starts to spread to other locations.

NOT looking good.

Help has still NOT arrived.

The US providing 1700 beds when at least 17,000 new beds are REQUIRED, and it may be a number of weeks before even that 1700 beds are ready to go
(there seems to be no panic on the part of the authorities who doing that relief effort – makes you wonder how we would have ever have fought a real war with our current bureaucracy  … “Oh our reserve troops will begin to be flown in to enter the fight in 2 to 3 months, but then it will take them a month or two to get their equipment ready to go.  Just hang on there … we should be ready to help you (in 6 months or so.”)

And that returns us to the ponder which gets us to this morning’s little thought-experiment.

Suppose you have just been bitten by a rattlesnake.  Along comes a quack of a doctor who says “Aha…snakebite.  You need to take this amoxicillin.”

Taking this as Gospel, you scarf down the pills and immediately go into anaphylaxis.

“Ooops!  My bad…” explains the doc.  “But the only cure I had handy was amoxicillin…”

As your throat continues to tighten, you ask yourself “Is this how the world works, nowadays?  the only “pill” we have is the Army or armed forces?”

Steeping out of the shadows, a slightly overweight old reporter, pen poised over his notebook interrupts with a question.

“Any last minute advice or insights for our readers on when would be a good time to short this market?”

(Did I mention that most of the prepper web sites never mention snake bites?)

More after this…

Messages from the Fed

Pay attention this week to what the Fed is about to start messaging.  Today, NY Fed president William Dudley is speaking.  Tomorrow, Fed governor Jerome Page is speaking.  And on Wednesday, Cleveland Fed president Loretta Mester is speaking.

Last time I saw this much messaging was when Proctor & Gamble launched a new product.  By next weekend, we should have ample time to assess just what’s going on – with maybe a preview for Peoplenomics readers Wednesday.  (Think of this as a “new soap” alert.)

Meantime, the market is set to open down  30 something on the Dow futures.

Software Outfits Getting Physical

Check out the press, if you haven’t already on the new Facebook Oculus product which is in the pipeline.  An d then think back on how Google is marketing it’s new Glass product.

Investment question:  What’s the future and direction of  the visual interface when software giants (search and social) are both ramping up hardware?

Thought Police Notes

Be careful what you doodle, because it might get you kicked off an airplane.

Troubles at DHS

Turnover and morale.

Too many chiefs?

Marketing Climate Change

310,000 turned out for a march in NYC this weekend in support of climate change.

I’d mention the record ice pack and how climate change gives the PowersThatBe an excuse to impose a global tax system which in turn funds the New World Order, but that would be rude and no one wants to hear that kind of talk.