Morning Report: The Fed cuts rates to zero

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2555 -128.4
Oil (WTI) 29.01 -2.79
10 year government bond yield 0.76%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 3.71%

 

Stocks are limit down after the Fed made an emergency cut over the weekend. Bonds and MBS are up.

 

Yesterday, the Fed cut interest rates to zero and re-initiated QE. The Fed will begin purchasing up to $500 billion in Treasuries and $200 billion in mortgage backed securities over the coming months. For what its worth, stocks are unimpressed. S&P 500 futures went limit down immediately on the Asian open and have been sitting there ever since. The 10 year is trading at 77 basis points pre-open, which is much higher than where it was a week ago.

 

Mortgage backed securities seem to like the re-introduction of quantitative easing. The current coupon TBA is up about 2 points, but it is early and we could just be seeing some short covering. The NY Fed plans to purchase $80 billion of TBAs over the next month.

 

Companies have been taking down their lines of credit to maximize cash on the balance sheet. This is another reason for the rate cut. Banks have been getting clobbered in the sell-off, with the XLF down 25% since the start of the Coronavirus contagion. The Fed is watching to make sure we don’t see a repeat of 2008 when businesses were unable to borrow in the commercial paper market. The banks have all suspended their stock buyback as well.

 

Right now, the immediate concern for the markets is the state of airlines and the energy patch. Oil below $30 a barrel is a problem for almost all of the shale producers. Airline bankruptcies have been a fact of life forever, and many will hit the wall if this drags on. In the meantime the labor market is entering this crisis as strong as it has ever been. Remote working is about to face its biggest test, and if productivity doesn’t take a hit, it could become more mainstream. Certainly for employers it saves money for office space, while improving quality of life for employees. Less commuting is also better for the planet.

 

Coronavirus is going to put a damper on the Spring Selling Season for real estate. Have to imagine traffic is going to fall, although inventory is so tight we probably won’t see much of an impact on prices. Also, this should be an issue for the builders, so supply is going to remain constrained. Refis will continue to drive the business. FWIW, Redfin took the temperature of the average consumer on how it will impact housing. Roughly 40% think it will be bad, while 50% see no effect. The drop in stock prices isn’t going to help the animal spirits in the real estate market, but I find it hard to imagine any sort of decline in prices, aside from the overheated markets on the West Coast.

 

We do have quite a bit of data this week. The FOMC meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday will be more about the press conference than anything, with particular emphasis on whether credit spreads are widening and if we are seeing indications of financial stress in the system. Aside from the FOMC meeting, we will get housing starts, home prices, industrial production and existing home sales. Of course none of this will matter to the bond market, which will be driven by headlines.

 

What does this mean for mortgage rates? The re-introduction of QE will certainly help things, especially if it encourages trading in the lower note rates. Mortgage rates may take a while to adjust. I also suspect that the big money center banks, which drive jumbo pricing are about to increase margins to free up capital to lend to small and medium sized enterprises which are facing cash crunches.

 

67 Responses

  1. went to an open house yesterday that was mobbed. the place was in great shape, but i wonder if it was something to do before we start the lock-down. we saw friends yesterday .. and that’s basically it for now. socuts — canceled through the end of april. litttle league — canceled through early april.

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  2. NoVA, for those of who are new to the prepping scene care to share your personal stash inventory and your go bag?

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    • Funny — i was just looking at this weekend ..
      I put together 1 bin that can be thrown into the trunk that has. i went with a bin and not a bag, cause as a family of 3, its just eaiser that way.

      emergency crank radio w/ usb charging station
      chem lights
      flashlight and extra batteries.
      10 or so MREs
      mylar emergency blankets
      ponchos
      tarp
      energy bars
      clorox wipes
      plastic trash bags
      toilet paper (who knew)
      fleece hats/gloves/scarfs
      first aid kit with some extra 4x4s and cravats.
      lifestraws (can drink straight from a stream w/ these)
      multitool/foldable knife
      paracord
      metal water bottles
      firestarter and solid fuel tabs
      playing cards

      i also have our all scouts/camping gear in 2 bins that i can grab and go.

      the truck has an entrenching tool and all the standard road side stuff, plus another first aid kit.

      my wife and each have “get home bags” — the idea being if i had to hike home from work. each bag has

      a few MREs
      engery bars
      lifestraw
      fleece
      maps of the area with water sources marked.
      metal water bottle
      multitool/knife
      waterproof notepad.
      poncho/tarp
      mylar blankets
      fire starters/fuel
      smaller crank radio with NOAA

      if you’re asking about food in the house .. .a full freezer, loads of pasta and canned tomatoes .. nothing out of the ordinary. tuna, peanut butter. stuff to bake bread. just buy stuff when it’s on sale and get a rotation going. canned vegetables, etc. i figure every meal we have on our own is one less that say, the red cross, has to serve. it’s set up as a “we can hunker down for a month” not to survive the zombie Apocolypse.

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  3. NJ imposes a curfew between 8:00 pm and 5:00 am.

    this is just getting stupid..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I went to a wine dinner that was already booked on Thursday and had a lot of cancellations. Of the people who were left, discussion at the end tended to the financial aspects and there were some pretty interesting opinions offered, mostly by self made finance guys who have done well, but aren’t at the billionaire stage yet (as far as I know).

    Anyway, consensus at the table was that the market would bottom out at 17,000 – 18,000. I’m curious if anyone else has a prediction they would care to float?

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    • The VIX is at 2008 levels right now. Judging by that gauge we should be bottoming now.

      The amount of consternation over 57 deaths is just mind-boggling.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Part of the conspiracist in me says Trump is purposefully gas-lighting the “expersts” so they super-hype the danger and lethality of this, so that when we don’t hit some of these ridiculous best case predictions I’ve read of 500,000 to 1 million deaths, he’ll be the hero and can run on preventing an apocalypse. I agree, our countries reaction to this, the raging hysteria and the forced stopping of the economy, seems way out of proportion to the event.

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        • IMO a lot of it is wishful thinking on the part of the media…

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        • Having thought about this for a while, Trumps crowing this summer will all be for naught. Everything is a trade-off, we’re gambling that the unimaginable suffering we’re inflicting on Americans who were just getting their legs back underneath them re jobs and wage growth is justified. We as a nation are not politically forgiving when it comes to painful proactive actions that crater a pretty good economy, there’s a reason we are always re-active. I believe Trump’s done now, if he ever a had a chance before and the previous polling all said no. Now the market has to factor in the costs of immediate fracking bans, the Green New Deal and the implementation of a significantly expanded government healthcare system and the MASSIVE tax increases that come with it. Not to mention the hundreds of billions per year in re-instituted regulations that the new Democratic Administration will put in.

          It can never be proven whether or not it was worth it but Trump is going to pay the price for the decision to shut down the US economy. Having done it, he’ll reap the whirlwind.

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        • Now the market has to factor in the costs of immediate fracking bans, the Green New Deal and the implementation of a significantly expanded government healthcare system

          Nah.

          But you may be onto DJT’s prospects, which were really excellent against Warren or Bernie, who were both thought to have a death grip on Ds by Rs, thanks to fear of their extreme positions, a fear that turned out to be shared by many Ds, I think.

          Were I betting, I would bet “close election” tonight. As Joe says, a segment of Bernie supporters will stay home, or vote Green, or vote Trump.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nope, D blowout with veto proof majority in the House and filibuster proof majority in the Senate. It will make Obama’s ’08 election look like a marginal win. This is Hoover in ’32 territory.

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        • That would not be a good thing. I am a never Trumper, but I know all too well what happens when either party has total political control at the federal level. Or in Texas,for that matter.

          They cannot seem to get in their thick heads that their advantage is always fleeting. Especially lately. It was much more collaborative 30 years ago, and less like a freaking pendulum. The distance among Bush 41, BigEars, and WJC seems like inches today.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Trump purposefully cratered the economy, Americans are unforgiving to the incumbent POTUS when the economy goes into recession during his term. Now, imagine what they’ll do to one who purposefully shuttered it.

          He has literally thrown away the remote chance he even had. It’s hard to understand that bizarre a political move.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I see Trump having one shot if COVID-19 does “magically” go away in two months with casualties far below the estimates.

          Trump could then redirect the wrath to the media and Democrats.

          If it plays out as expected, then he’s toast. Unless Biden really does self destruct to the level of mumbling “rubber baby buggy bumpers” on stage.

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        • Americans have never liked proaction and the economy won’t recover as nearly as quickly as Trump stopped it. Those that will suffer the most will not vote for Trump again. He has committed political suicide.

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        • I think Trumps best hope is that Biden gets worse rather than better on the stump, and performs poorly at the debates.

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      • Hysteria. For whatever reason, this one has gone viral and has enough people terrified that it’s just become infectious. It’s a mental virus far worse than the biological one. And much more destructive. It’s just amazing to watch. We’re headed up to Branson for spring break. We had forgotten to call and tell them we would be late, so wife did that today. She said the folks there told her that we’d basically have the place to ourselves. I’m sure that’s an exaggeration but apparently there are a lot of cancelations and no one to fill those rooms.

        I don’t think at all what this is doing to the economy. It’s bad news all around. But I can’t stop it and it is what it is. So I’ll enjoy the weirdness of staying in a half-empty resort over spring break. Too bad I don’t golf.

        My guess is anyone still there will probably feel the same way: WTF are we doing? What is this insanity that’s gripped everybody?

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  5. Unsurprisingly, reporters just can’t help themselves from misrepresenting Trump.

    https://thefederalist.com/2020/03/16/wuhan-virus-hackery-media-shares-trumps-ventilator-directions-out-of-context/

    But here’s a question…even if his point was that states shouldn’t rely on the Feds to fund their medical equipment, why is that an outrage?

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  6. “5-Second Rule shortened to 3 seconds amid growing health concerns”

    https://www.inquisitornashville.com/post/5-second-rule-shortened-to-3-seconds-amid-growing-health-concerns

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Our Gov asked people over 65 to shelter in place and only leave the house for essential things, medical, food, etc. no social events I guess.

    San Francisco is basically on lock down, along with several surrounding communities. Even my lawyer SIL has been instructed to stay home. Since my daughter is sick and somewhat compromised health wise they were doing that anyway for the most part. Food, medical and essential workers only. The mayor did say they would still have their trash picked up………….LOL, thank goodness. Restaurants, bars etc closed except for food delivery service. We sent medications and paper towels up there today because they cannot get any of that except for prescriptions.

    On a personal note, something I haven’t shared here is that I’ve been struggling with a hip issue for about 9 months. Had therapy, twice, cortisone shots twice, and today was my big appointment with the surgeon to see what the next step is. I dragged Walter along with me because I had the feeling I knew what they were going to say. Yep, hip replacement. I’m not happy about it but I’ve really struggled with activity and pain lately so I will do it. He said, “You’re so healthy and strong I expect you to do very well and be up and back at it very quickly.”

    Anywhoo, it’s anyone’s guess when the surgery might happen, most non emergency surgeries are being delayed to make room for COVID-19 patients. Fine with me, I wouldn’t want to take a bed or medical personnel away from someone who needs it more. Plus I’m still trying to get my head around it anyway.

    BTW, Scott those Americans who were boasting about the USA being better than the rest of the world in dealing with this health crisis were very old as far as I could tell. It’s an online group so it could be that most of it was bullshit!

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    • Do you still have the swimming pool?

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      • Yes JNC, and I use it every summer. We can’t heat it in the winter, it’s cost prohibitive. I swam all summer and have worked with my trainer and two physical therapists. Maybe I’ll be able to swim this summer post surgery which should get me back into my routine very quickly. There’s nothing left in my hip but bone and bone spurs……………and severe osteoarthritis. I think I’ve done the best I could and now it’s time to move on.

        Another problem is that I am not a candidate for drug therapy. I’m basically either allergic to or unable to take any pain meds or NSAIDS.

        I’m not scared, just kind of antagonistic about having something weird like that in my body…………..haha

        I really only brought it up because even this is being affected by COVID-19.

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        • Are you a candidate for a stainless steel hip?

          After we were hit from behind by the 2 ton crane this summer my right shoulder has never been OK. Doc says I can have a new stainless steel one. But I am left handed, and think I will muddle along. However, if it were my hip I would probably think about the option.

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        • My wife had her hip replaced 16 months ago just about. Recovery was tough! But her hip is fine but because of the nature of her problem, her left leg had previously been shorter and now they are the same length. Her back had curved because of this and now she has all sorts of back problems. In her case, if it hadn’t been for the shorter leg previously, she’d be aces.

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        • Also, I should mention because of how her hip had been immobile (due to Legg-Perthes) she was very low muscle development in certain muscles, so that’s likely why physical therapy was extended for her. So I expect it will go easier for you!

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  8. Just don’t call it a hoax.

    Liked by 1 person

    • FWIW, standard defense in spy cases is to demand full Brady disclosure from the prosecutors who then must often drop the cases because their evidence includes data that could only have been collected by intel and which is, if identified by the defense, subject to evidence suppression. Further, there are often national security implications that cause Justice to drop spy cases independent of the lawfully obtained intel which is also unlawfully obtained evidence.

      That does appear to be the case here. And I thought this case would never get to trial because of intel vs. evidence issues.

      Addendum – the point of a speaking indictment against a foreign government related entity who is not going to actually come to America and be tried, like the one against the Russian hacking operation, is to send a message to the other country that we can see what they are doing no matter how they try to hide it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know if “hoax” is the right word–just like I don’t think it’s the right word for the quasi-religious certainty folks have in climate change as it’s currently thought of by the true believers, and I don’t think the corona virus panic is a “hoax”.

      I think most of the Russian collusion narrative (including in very high places, including the Mueller team) believed there was something real there. Lots of reasons for that, but just like the irrational belief that (a) the corona virus is a deadly pandemic and (b) the best thing to fight the virus is lots of toilet paper . . . human beings have a great capability to see patterns in meaningless randomness while missing actual patterns because they aren’t looking for them, and to believe in entirely fictional causal explanations because they can’t see or don’t want to see the actual explanations.

      The same capacity to figure out why something happened and what actually happened can give us real answers or entirely mislead it.

      It’s why invoking “science” (or arguing because you like one brand of politicians, you, therefore, believe in science while others do not) as a blanket defense is not rational. Science is replete with not only human beings getting very big things wrong for a very long time, but of certain charismatic or powerful scientists actively and willfully getting things wrong and taking all popular conception and awareness of a given belief with them. That’s clearly happening with global warming–and has been for years and years–just as it has been happening with nutrition for years and years. Which is not an indictment of science, which is awesome, just an acknowledgment that people have many, many profound limitations.

      And I tend to think there’s no reason to explain by malice what can be explained by human limitations.

      When politicians and the news media began to seriously advance the Russian narrative, it took on a viral life of its own among Democrats, the left, and the media in general–for both similar and different reasons–and infected people based on proximity the way a virus does. Getting to the point where a former candidate for president can seriously advance, with zero evidence, that a current candidate for president on their own side of the aisle is a Russian asset. AND not get universally pilloried for the absurdity of it.

      Sure some of these people are hoaxing or just don’t care if it’s not true or not. But like thinking you need to buy hundreds of rolls of toilet paper now, I think the Russia narrative met–for many people–all the necessary qualifications for an infectious hysteria among a number of different groups.

      You have lone guys like Taibbi deconstructing, just like you have lone people out there–from the beginning–telling folks you don’t need to go buy all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer in the store. But belief without evidence can spread like a virus–without the inoculation of overwhelming factual information–which, unlike the virus, does not spread naturally. Or does so much less!

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      • (including in very high places, including the Mueller team) believed there was something real there.

        I have a hard time with this, especially with this information now coming out,

        https://www.redstate.com/bonchie/2020/03/16/robert-muellers-biggest-bombshell-indictment-just-got-dismissed-with-prejudice/

        This stuff is so transparently absurd that I cannot believe mistake versus malice from these people, they are very smart and sharp to have gotten to where they have/did.

        Mark’s reaction to DoJ’s dropping of the Troll case is a great example of the viral nature of the hoax however. If the DoJ is dropping the case it must be because it’s important to protect national security. It can’t be possible that it was brought in the first place to cement a ridiculous collusion narrative. There have been clear thinking people, from the moment this case was brought, that have shouted from the rooftops that this case is nothing more than smoke and mirrors and will collapse under even the slightest scrutiny. They were right yet the absurd belief that there is some underlying risk to national security lingers on, even here.

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        • This stuff is so transparently absurd that I cannot believe mistake versus malice from these people,

          I can but then it may be the quality of people I know. 😉

          There have been clear thinking people, from the moment this case was brought, that have shouted from the rooftops that this case is nothing more than smoke and mirrors and will collapse under even the slightest scrutiny.

          Which supports my original assertion. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Where there’s people buying a lot of toilet paper THERE MUST BE A REASON!

          People high up the chain can think that to. And people are capable of believing all sorts of bullshit if they really want to believe it.

          I still think human fallibility are better explanations.

          If it was malice–then it was still dipped in incompetence. And irrational belief. That this thing would hold together–to believe that would have required a religious faith.

          But I agree. From the technology side, the things being reported were absurd. Yet I never saw people who should and almost certainly did know better shouting out about it. Which I again attribute to incompetence and belief-preference–they wanted to believe it, so didn’t assess inaccuracy in reporting about the technology as meaning the whole story might be a sham. Without connecting that more and more “examples” of Russian hacking weren’t examples of Russians doing anything per se, and also weren’t examples of hacking.

          Russia hacks, as does China. But they are after state and military secrets. Not the voter rolls in North Dakota. And clickbait click farming isn’t “hacking” or even a disinformation campaign. It’s gaming the online advertising system. And potentially data harvesting that could be used for nefarious financial purposes. But not for picking the US president.

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        • People high up the chain can think that to.

          No, not when the Logan act is used to justify an investigation. Then it’s purely, transparent bullshit.

          I still think human fallibility are better explanations.

          For the rubes? Sure, I can accept that. For people at the DoJ? No, it’s not possible.

          If it was malice–then it was still dipped in incompetence. And irrational belief. That this thing would hold together–to believe that would have required a religious faith.

          I agree re incompetence. Remember, Flynn was not supposed to withdraw the guilty plea. The Concord prosecution wasn’t supposed to be defended, it was to “prove” Russian government involvement.

          Which I again attribute to incompetence and belief-preference–they wanted to believe it, so didn’t assess inaccuracy in reporting about the technology as meaning the whole story might be a sham

          This was politics, pure and simple. A way to hamstring an administration that was viewed as illegitimate because a Democrat lost. The narrative was knowingly spread because dumb people would (want to) believe it and hamstringing the new administration would then be seen as cool and patriotic. That’s malice.

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        • McWing:

          For the rubes? Sure, I can accept that. For people at the DoJ? No, it’s not possible.

          This.

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  9. Sorry guys but I am not into the rubes vs opposite rubes. I never cared about any of the so-called complexities of the any of that…………….yep I’m just a normal American woman who really doesn’t give a shit.

    I care about policy, I care about the families who live paycheck to to paycheck, I care about the shadow immigrants, I care about families who worry about healthcare and I worry about the economy that hopefully trickles down…………wish I’d seen some evidence of that.

    What’s interesting to me right now is how precarious our economy actually is for most of us.

    I think it says something about all of us that a pandemic with supposedly a low mortality rate can bring us to our knees.

    Hope you all stay safe and well and for the first time and tonight I actually felt a bit of confidence in our Governor here…………….who btw, praised the Feds.

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    • I think it says something about all of us that a pandemic with supposedly a low mortality rate can bring us to our knees.

      Two questions, at what point in our history did most Americans have enough savings to survive a complete economic collapse? I posit never. If the mortality rate is low why are we purposefully destroying the economy? People die from a bad economy as well.

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      • McWing, I don’t know re the savings and a collapse, but on the ground here in the trenches, not many of us do now have any savings. We deal with a lot of small businesses, and we’re one too,. Since we have had zero sales in the last week but also have inventory coming in based on what should have been sales…………we’re dead in the water but still have those bills.

        I Posit that we are all at risk.

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      • McWing:

        If the mortality rate is low why are we purposefully destroying the economy? People die from a bad economy as well.

        This is the question that must be answered, but no one will do so. At what point does the mortality rate justify the kind of economic collapse – along with the horrible consequences – that we are about to undergo?

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        • NoVa already answered the question. Sars2 has lower lethality than SARS1 or MERS but far faster spread and the certainty of overwhelming the hospitals unless the infection curve is greatly flattened. Untreated non-lethal but serious cases cause significant lung damage. Flattened curve makes treatment available but the disease stays around longer. And the official estimates now range from 70 million infected total over time in the USA upward. Needless to say, Rosanne and I are now in near isolation “in place”. I plan to do curbside pickup of pre-ordered groceries for the duration.

          It is thought now that the virus has an average life in a human body of 15 days. If a western nation could isolate everyone in place for two weeks the damage in every way would be minimized, but only a near police state, Singapore, has been able to do that.

          Here is some more sobering stuff:

          https://globalepidemics.org/2020/03/17/caring-for-covid-19-patients/

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        • One thing weird about the study is that the modeling is based on a hospitalization rate of 20%. China’s hospitalization rate was 14%. They have 4 times the rate of smoking, for example. I’m not understanding why the 20% modeling rate was used.

          Also, it assumes a 20% infection rate for the US. Taking the Chinese at face value, their current infection numbers ar 80,000. Keys assume the actual number is 10 times that at 800,000. A 20% infection rate for China, at a billion and a half people is 150 million people. If China is indeed “flattening the curve” does anyone really expect an infection rate of 20% over 18 months? I don’t and I don’t expect that in the US either, I don’t think anybody does, so why use it?

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        • The studies assume that the US and the UK will react like Italy – late to the fight, already, and hampered by not being police states, at least in this respect.

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        • Alarmism gets attention, so that’s one reason the study may go overboard in its assumptions. And they don’t want to be the folks doing a study that predicts it’s not that bad and then gets pointed to as having created a false sense of calm later.

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        • How can we stop that since it’s already happening? Sure it’s an economic Armageddon but wasn’t it a runaway freight train already……..?

          Honestly, I think the complexity and the the easy transmission of this novel coronavirus caught most of us sleeping and dreaming dollar signs re the economy………….oooops…it’s given us all a wake up call and a Fuck You! Sorry if that’s blunt.

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        • lms:

          Sure it’s an economic Armageddon but wasn’t it a runaway freight train already……..?

          I don’t think so.

          Honestly, I think the complexity and the the easy transmission of this novel coronavirus caught most of us sleeping and dreaming dollar signs re the economy

          What does that mean, “dreaming of dollar signs”? Are you saying people were too greedy to take it seriously enough?

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        • It’s something novel like this always going to take us by surprise? So much could potentially happen in theory that preparing for and expecting everything would simply be paralyzing.

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        • I don’t think this is a question we presently have a background to answer accurately. My sense is we are way overreacting. But I’m not sure how to pull it back. Or what a more proportional but equally healthy response would be. And there are a lot of unknowns.

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  10. Did he have a choice?

    Like

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