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Lick it, or become like China

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 street we are taking no chances. An informal network of help has sprung up. Those who are able, go out shopping or run chores for those in isolation. We hope in turn to do our bit and hope to move about freely with immunity if it does transpire that we were infected and r

Lick it, or become like China

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 street we are taking no chances. An informal network of help has sprung up. Those who are able, go out shopping or run chores for those in isolation. We hope in turn to do our bit and hope to move about freely with immunity if it does transpire that we were infected and

The End of the Line for Small State Systems?

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 to show that it is getting back to work. Air pollution numbers are rising in line with public transport use and traffic congestion. Coal consumption is back up to over 70% of its level at the end of last year. If there is to be only one wave of Coronavirus infection,

The Day the Earth Stood Still

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 controlling its spread. The UK government for instance has turned the island of Great Britain into a vast petri dish, testing only individuals entering hospital with severe symptoms basis an assumption that 60% of the population will contract the virus, so they should focus their

Two Black Swans? Sauve Qui Peut!

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 crisis after years in which international organisations have lost funding and credibility as the “rules-based global order” has given ground to go-it-alone nationalists and populists. In sauve-qui-peut Brexit Britain, Coronavirus survivors with bidets will form the new rulin

Unexpected Consequences of Covid-19

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 reading since the survey began in 2004. Many economists now think that China will fall into recession in the first half of 2020. Across Asia, activity is down: Taiwan, Japan and Korea have all reported weak activity in February while manufacturing output fell in Thailand, M

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