March 30, 2020

Coronavirus cases continue to mount world-wide. It’s getting to the point now where we all know somebody with symptoms and nearly everyone knows a family that has lost somebody to Covid-19.  My family and I have some of the symptoms. We have been voluntarily isolating since 20th March. We and several of our neighbours have had some symptoms in common with one neighbour who was tested and was found to have Covid-19, so in our s...

March 23, 2020

Last week we reported some Chinese state statistics that detailed the impact of Covid-19 on the economy in January and February, for which most statistics are combined to cover the Lunar New Year. To review, industrial output fell 13.5% year on year, retail sales fell by 20.5%, fixed asset investment fell 24.5% and services output was down 13%.

China is now reporting a fall in the number of new Coronavirus cases and data appear...

March 16, 2020

Governments around the world are taking extraordinary action to try to slow the spread of Covid-19, which now numbers more cases outside China than in China. The best place to monitor its spread by the way is this Johns Hopkins University website. I think we can be certain that the actual number of cases significantly outstrips the official number due to the haphazard and variable means for testing for the virus and controllin...

March 9, 2020

Black Swan one is Coronavirus, the Mummy of public health scares. OK the global infection rate is much smaller than flu and the mortality rate seems to be holding below 3% on the raw data and lower on the epidemiologists’ death-o-meter. But the evidence of massive, international disruption lies before us. I don’t need to recount the position nation by nation. There has not been a collective international response to this crisi...

March 2, 2020

To add to last week’s portents of doom, China (as you will no doubt have seen already) released dismal Purchasing Managers Indices last week. The official PMI, which covers mostly state owned enterprises, fell to 37.5 from 50 in January. The Caixin/Markit index, which covers more privately owned businesses, fell to 40.3 points from 51.1 in January. This is well below any expected fall from Lunar New Year and is the lowest read...

February 24, 2020

The global economy has grown slowly since the financial crash of 2008, but it has grown consistently to recover lost production. Even in the UK, the government was recently pleased to announce that workers’ average wages have now recovered to their 2008 levels after a decade of austerity. Applause from the housing estates of manufacturing towns was muted. Stock markets around the world have been hitting high notes, fattening t...

February 16, 2020

The legendary Irish columnist Fintan O’ Toole wrote a piece at the weekend for the UK’s Observer (a Sunday newspaper) in which he was covering the Irish general election, but neatly encapsulated the challenge facing every country that has felt the waves of globalisation crashing over itself in the last few decades. O’ Toole wrote: “Voters are now asking their next government to conduct a fascinating experiment: can Ireland ret...

February 10, 2020

Renowned philanthropist and exterminator of typing pools Bill Gates has ordered a luxurious super-yacht, his first as it turns out.  The 112 metre LOA gin palace, first aired at the Monaco Yacht Show last September, will cost USD 500 Mn and is expected to deliver in 2024. It will have 14 guest berths and 32 crew berths, an infinity pool, helipad, a spa and - oh yes - it is going to by powered by hydrogen fuel cells....

February 3, 2020

On 30th January The World Health Organisation declared on a global health emergency. Nobody has died of Corona Virus in the US, but that country has declared (on 30th January) a public health emergency and denied entry to foreign nationals who have visited China in the preceding two weeks. Australia and Singapore have followed suit. New Zealand and Israel are denying entry to foreigners travelling from mainland China. Japan an...

January 27, 2020

The Wuhan Coronavirus and China’s nationwide public health emergency have caused a flurry of speculation about how the shipping markets could be affected. P&I Clubs have issued circulars about what happens when ports are closed. Banks have estimated the hit to global commodity consumption. Seaports and airports around the world have set up fever checkpoints to screen incoming passengers.

I’m reminded of the SARS panic of 2003....

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