POSTINGS

3-Apr-2020

Viral Pandemic

Two months ago at our first posting the Wuhan virus was a distant threat. Now it’s spreading all around the world; with Europe being the first directly impacted once the virus had left Asia.

Heckerslyke_160Trying to keep up with the ever increasing counts of infections and deaths for make depressing reading - but for the record Italy has had at least 13,915 deaths, Spain 10,935 and the UK has now reached a total of 3,605 - officially. Sadly the figures for the USA seem set to dwarf those of Europe - and looking ahead much of Africa lacks the infrastructure to cope; especially if aid from developed countries is diverted into over-stretched health care services back home.

All the points about the financial impact have already been said - but the numbers just keep getting larger and larger. Businesses from the smallest trader to the mega corporation are facing complete collapse has virtually every sector outside of food, power and health care is shut down either by government order or by lack of customers. Everything from tourism to sport - pop concerts to voting - has been stopped. For example the mega-millions normally circulating in the world of TV broadcasting rights has evaporated. The Grand National, Wimbledon, even the Olympic Games will not happen until normality returns. If it ever does.

The year 2020 will be remembered for a long time - by the survivors ...

tags virus, economy, history lesson, pneumonia, financial meltdown, defenceless

 

24-Mar-2020

Extinguished Rebellion

Ten more days of spiralling into the corona virus black hole and many countries have already resorted to extreme measures. In Europe national borders and interests are back in control - along with extreme financial measures that are making the 2008 financial crash look like small beer.

Man1And at the personal level the number of deaths continues to grow - despite the increasingly draconian restrictions on movement and personal contacts. With 6,077 deaths in Italy and 2,300 in Spain the figure of 335 for the UK seems low - but we face many more yet in the months ahead. And it looks like UK Grandads will be the demographic with the highest mortality.

Here the over 70’s are already in isolation until June. But when the survivors emerge the virus will not have disappeared. They will become victims then rather than now - unless a cure has been found. Since no one has a natural immunity the virus will continue to infect the population for years - possibly re-infecting those that have survived the previous waves. And we already have several strains of the corona virus indicating that it could adapt over time and evolve into something even worse.

Back at the international finance level the desperate measures are creating vast debts as governments strain to prop-up essential services - healthcare, education, police, fire, ambulance, military, public transport, fuel, water, etc - and the vast numbers of unemployed. All against a backdrop of collapsing government taxation income and falling asset values.

But it’s not entirely bad news. The huge falls in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have already resulted in clearer skys and climate benefits - sooner than even the most ardent activists could have reasonably expected.

While on the political front the people of Scotland will be well aware that their country could not have faced the current challenge on its own. And those that want to extend the UK-EU trade negotiations are having to face-up to the fact that the world economy has already been reset. The trade agreement fine print has been reduced to irrelevance. The people that survive this will need the essentials of life to be traded as safely and efficiently as possible - with no room for artificial barriers created by bureaucrats and civil servants.

tags virus, economy, history lesson, pneumonia, financial meltdown, defenceless

 

14-Mar-2020

Viral Threat 2

Five weeks on from Grandad’s last posting and the Wuhan Virus now has a new name - plus has expanded world-wide. In the UK Covid-19 has now claimed 21 lives but that may well have increased even before this posting appears online.

BruegelReaperElsewhere in Europe the situation has deteriorated rapidly with worst-case Italy reporting yesterday that 1,016 deaths had been identified as Covid-19 related. And many of these were senior citizens.

If the compounding growth rate of infections continues the next few weeks will see the number of deaths grow every day - claiming mainly the elderly and the already vulnerable. The short-term prospects are to prepare for bad news.

But even if the virus has no direct impact on your friends and family, the financial chaos that is being created almost certainly will.

Take cities like Oxford, Cambridge, York and even Edinburgh that depend upon tourism and overseas students for a large percentage of their turnover. Hotels, restaurants, retailers, airlines, coach and train companies are all going to experience drastic cuts to their incomes. Jobs will go and businesses will fail - even if there is billions in government support. And away from these high profile examples there will still be major disruptions and life-changing events. Take football - where many clubs below the Premier League depend upon gate receipts and local corporate sponsors. If both income streams stop then closure can be the only outcome.

The hope is that the numbers of new infections will start to decline by summer - and allow some of the restrictions to be lifted; so letting trade slowly return. However the UK, along with other major economies, was far from being financially healthy before Covid-19 appeared. This is why we have had such low interest rates - and why the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, cut interest rates to 0.25% before the Budget last week. Quite a way to leave office - tomorrow!

How will this all turn out? Who knows. But Grandad is off to read-up about Spanish Flu and check that his will is still valid ...

tags: virus, economy, history lesson, pneumonia

 

29-Feb-2020

Changeable Weather

PlanetGrinTin-220The 20’s decade has started out with a roar - with threats of everything from global pandemic to weather chaos; from stock market crash to royal family breakdown.

But have no fear an intrepid junior reporter has emerged. One who will stop the evil US president, outwit the scheming eastern dictator and mobilise the youth of the free world to stop climate change before we and all of the Earth’s animals starve, burn or are drowned.

Now Grandad remains unconvinced that Grintin has any real solutions and can only act as a voice for others. Hopefully those that have researched the issue in depth. But this leaves the whole climate action programme vulnerable to being hijacked by vested interests. And there are plenty who see their chance to make a lot of money out of phoney climate initiatives.

Clearly there are some big issues that need to be faced head-on - with the ever expanding human population being the key driver of almost all of them. Now if Grintin can convince the world to act on that then there is a chance for future generations.

But cynics will say that there is no money to be made out of population reduction - so it won’t happen. Not by any human actions that is ...

tags: fires, drought, floods, storms, financial meltdown, virus, defenceless

 

5-Feb-2020

Viral Threat

It is estimated that one deadly strain of avian influenza caused the deaths of 50 million people worldwide. In England it was named Spanish Flu. It broke out here in 1918 so towards the end of First World War.

Man1The current outbreak of Wuhan Virus is being taken very seriously but so far represents just a tiny fraction of the human cost that the pandemic of 1918 incurred. However the big issue that most commentators are not addressing is the disproportionate impact that the quarantine measures are going to have on world trade - and the global economy. In effect the entire world’s factory has been all but closed.

Each week that a factory in China, normally producing goods for export, remains closed around 2% of its annual production is lost. How many factories in China are already closed? And how many more will follow? How long before they can re-open?

Now we can all survive if the launch of the latest smartphone is delayed for months or even years. But the mighty Apple will soon feel the icy blast of recession if it runs out of products to sell. And it’s not just factory products impacted. At the opposite end of the process raw materials like coal, oil, iron ore, etc will experience a big drop in demand. This in turn will lead to a drop in prices and lay-offs in countries far away from the regions infected by the Wuhan virus.

There is a serious risk that there will be a collapse in world trade - and perhaps one big enough in scale to surpass the Wall Street Crash of the 1920’s ... And that is yet another piece of 20th century history that no one wants to see repeated.

tags: virus, economy, history lesson, pneumonia

 

28-Jan-2020

A Decade of Change?

With the scoreboard showing 1,314 days since the UK’s vote to leave the European Union the chances of another failure to deliver seem vanishingly small. And so just 3 more days remain for our country as a member. That in itself will be a first time situation for many British people. But then the 20’s seem set to be a decade of change in many ways.

man32Starting at the top we have a monarch who has served for 67 years and will reach her 100 years in 2026 while her consort the Duke of Edinburgh will reach that milestone sooner - in 2021. A fact of human life is that it is finite - and so we must face the possibility that the 2020’s will be the last decade of the New Elizabethan era. So while Harry makes the headlines today it is the future of the monarchy that will come into question before too long.

Similarly the children of the 1940’s baby boom will reach their 80’s over the next ten years and fade away in greater numbers than ever before. A statistical fact used by pro-EU vote losers as a crutch to promote rejoining after another vote. Sadly for them this will never occur as both economic factors and bigger world issues will take priority over political manoeuvres in Europe.

And the biggest world issue will be climate change - along with the actions we are required to take in response. But that needs a separate posting ...

tags: change, environment, royal family, Brexit, population

 

5-Jan-2020

Beauty and Terror

SunburntCountry

tags: sunburnt country, bushfire, extreme weather, hope, determination, recovery

 

Earlier postings ...

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FOOTNOTES

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