Economic devastation from shutdown spreads. Signs showing of deteriorating health and increased deaths caused by shutdown.

Door of a bankrupt business locked with chain and padlock. Global recession due to coronavirus lockdown by Ivan Radic is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Indications of damage caused by the shutdown are getting stronger. First articles are appearing to describe the harm to health from the shutdown.

Comments today:

  • Estimated 35 deaths from not getting cardiac care in Ontario, Canada
  • Indications people are not seeing doctors and not getting meds they need
  • Harsh impact on Jewish owned businesses
  • New vehicle sales collapsing
  • Temp layoffs transition to permanent
  • More students suing more universities, now claiming discount on tuition for missing out on the on-campus experience

This discussion will be posted across several of my blogs.

Damage to health from shutdown

5/5/20 – Daily Wire – Dozens Dead After Lockdown Measures Delayed Their Heart Surgeries; Health Official: “Certainly Was Not Intended” – Count this as the first in what I predict will be an exquisitely long list of unintended consequences from putting the economy into an induced coma. The sad part is these unintended consequences were predictable and expected.

Thousands upon thousands of needed health procedures were canceled in Ontario, Canada in order to make room for the massive surge of coronavirus patients which never arrived.

New study in Ontario estimates that 35 people are dead because their heart surgeries were postponed. There were 12,200 surgeries and other procedures postponed each week.

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California starts first few steps to start opening up the stalled economy.

Economic doors will start to open on Friday – Opening or closing? by Paolo Gamba is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Friday of this week, 5/8, California will take the first baby steps to revive the state’s economy. Some retail stores will be able to provide curb-side delivery of products.

I don’t quite know how many people will order clothes online in order to pick them up at a store’s curb, but that is a first step.

At least half the value of a bookstore is browsing the shelves to see what book you really have to read right but that you previously didn’t even know existed.

Well, it’s a baby step.

Several articles describe the beginning here in the state. First article describes that government officials better start opening up quick or they will find the everyone already has done so.

5/1/20 – Forbes – Apple Data Shows Shelter-In-Place Is Ending, Whether Governments Want It To Or Not – Apple and Foursquare are tracking data that show people are getting out more.

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Economic stats show rapid disintegration of economy. Collapse in physical and emotional health won’t be this easy to calculate.

Unemployment office by Bytemarks is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The economic statistics are rolling out to show the initial impact of the shutdown of the economy.

The collateral effect the shutdown and isolation will have on deteriorating emotional and mental health along with increased mortality due to postponed or canceled medical treatment will take years to quantify.

New stats in last few days:

  • 3.8 million new unemployment claims this week
  • New unemployment claims in six weeks are now equal to 18% of the people who were working in February
  • CBO expects unemployment rate to average 11% for 2020
  • 4.8% annualized drop in GDP for first quarter

This discussion will be posted on several of my blogs.

New claims for unemployment

4/30/20 – Department of Labor – Unemployment insurance weekly claims – Another 3,839,000 people filed an initial claim for unemployment in the week ending April 25.

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The shutdown will be relaxed, one way or another.

Time to use the other side of those signs. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If the politicians don’t start relaxing the lockdown and letting people pay their rapidly accumulating bills, bunches of people are going to take the initiative and do so on their own.

I sense there is a limited time for those in power to start loosening the extreme restrictions or people are going to start ignoring parts of the rules.

At a deeper level, the concern I have is what’s referred to as the “social contract.” Government gets its authority from consent of the governed.

If a large number of people get to the point of concluding the rules in places like California and Virginia are unnecessarily severe and are causing more health, mental, social, and economic damage than they prevent, people will conclude our leaders have broken the contract.

If we get to that point, respect for law and respect for public officials will decline. That is not a good place to go.

 

Next two articles point out a small number of people who have already reached that conclusion:

4/20/20 – Daily Wire – “Social Shredding”: Defiant Residents Grab Shovels, Dirt Bikes After Cali Authorities Dump Tons of Sand In Skateparks For ‘Social Distancing’ – Officials in San Clemente California noticed teenagers were committing the grave sin of skating in the city’s skate park. Well, that is patently unacceptable, so the city dumped 37 tons of sand into the skate park in an effort to shut down the skating. Since the park is at the beach, sand was readily available.

Well, the city officials did not take into consideration the incredible level of creativity present in humans, especially Americans.

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The horrid news just keeps on rolling.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The news feels like we are moving ever deeper into an over-the-top dystopian novel. Unfortunately this isn’t fiction.

Another 4 million unemployment claims last week and ongoing attacks on the First Amendment.

About the only job specialty in the country today with bright growth prospects in the near term is trial attorney.

(This post will cross-published on several of my blogs.)

New unemployment claims

4/23/20 – Department of Labor – Unemployment insurance weekly claims – an additional 4,427,000 people filed their initial claim for unemployment in the week ending April 18. Here is another article in case link is dynamic.

This is on top of the four previous weeks of horrible levels of new claims.

Here is a summary of the unreal news. Recap shows number of new claims for unemployment for the last five weeks with a subtotal. The number of people who were unemployed in March is then listed with my estimate of the total unemployment now.

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More entries on the list of economic sectors devastated by the shutdown.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Hat tip to Behind the Black for the legwork identifying additional sectors of the economy that are collapsing. Large segments of the economy I haven’t mentioned before:

  • Home sales
  • Housing construction
  • Apartment rentals
  • Clothing production
  • Flower trade

Damage to these sectors won’t immediately heal the moment state governors decide they will allow the economy to come back to life out of its induced coma.

Home sales

4/21/20 – Fox Business – US home sales plunge 8.5% in March, and it may grow worse – Sales of existing homes dropped 8.5% in March. Article use the word “cratered.”

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Economic damage from shutdown – 4/15.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few more articles on damage we are seeing from the economic shutdown.

(Cross post from my other blog, Attestation Update.)

Guess on California unemployment rate

April 2020 – Eberhardt School of Business, University of Pacific – Initial Estimates of Employment Impacts of Covid-19 Pandemic – The school of business estimates an unemployment rate of 18.8% in California for the month of May 2020.

This is in contrast to 2010 rate of 12.2% and 2019 rate of 4.0%.

Likely increase in bankruptcies

4/13/20 – Washington Examiner – Pandemic likely to exceed Great Recession in number of bankruptcies – Economists from a leftist think tank and a conservative think tank both guess that the  number of bankruptcies from the current shutdown of the economy will exceed the number from the Great Recession.

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Collateral damage from shutdown.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The damage from the shutdown of the U.S. economy will be severe. Having ‘flattened the curve’, rapidly expanded hospital capacity, and kicked critical production lines into high gear, it is time open up the economy before the second order impacts cause more health damage and death from the shutdown than from the coronavirus.

4/10/20 – originally posted on Medium but was pulled; do a bit of reading and then make your own assessment why the site didn’t want the article to remain visible to the public – Eight Reasons to End the Lockdowns Now – article was written by five medical doctors and one Doctor of Nursing Practice.

The eight reasons:

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Why I am so optimistic – 3

The future is so bright we need sunglasses. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com
The future is so bright we need sunglasses. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The number of people working in manufacturing has been declining for many years. Those job losses will continue at the same time as technology disrupts other industries causing the loss of more jobs.

This is not a new concept. Technological advances have devastated farm employment over the last 150 years.

Prof. Thomas Tunstall pondered Where the New Jobs Will Come From. Sub headline on his 11/4/15 article said:

In 2007 iPhone application developers didn’t exist. By 2011 Apple had $15 billion in mobile-app revenues.

Consider the percentage of the population employed in agriculture over time: (more…)

Why I am so optimistic – 2

200 years ago subsistence agriculture was the norm across the planet. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com
200 years ago brutal poverty was the norm across the planet. Not so today. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Previously mentioned when I look at long-term economic trends I am incredibly optimistic. When I look at the headlines this morning or news from the political world, I am very discouraged.

To see one illustration of why I am so optimistic for the long-term, check out a column by Glenn Reynolds at USA Today: Actually, things are pretty good / Free markets and free inquiry have changed the historic ‘norms’ of poverty and violence.

Earlier post summarized in one paragraph what caused this radical improvement.

Here are a final two points from the article I’d like to highlight:

Second, it is possible for us collectively to turn back history.

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Why I am so optimistic – 1

200 years ago subsistence agriculture was the norm across the planet. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com
200 years ago brutal poverty was the norm across the planet. Not so today. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

When I look at the political news or any news in general I get very pessimistic about our future.

In contrast, when I look at the amazing things happening beyond the headlines in today’s newspaper I feel incredibly optimistic.

Consider that private companies are developing the technology for space exploration. Consider the energy revolution created by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Consider radical changes in technology that are making so many things easier, faster, and cheaper. Consider that anyone that wants to do so can publish their own book, distribute their own music, or create a feature movie.

As a tiny illustration, look at my company and pastimes. Technology allows me to run a high quality CPA practice without any staff. In my spare time I am a publisher and journalist. Anyone in Europe or North America or most of Asia could easily do the same and at minimal cost.

When I look at long-term economic trends I am incredibly optimistic.

For yet one more explanation of why that is the case, consider a column by Glenn Reynolds at USA Today: Actually, things are pretty good / Free markets and free inquiry have changed the historic ‘norms’ of poverty and violence.

Until relatively recently, an illness-filled short life of dirt-eating poverty was the normal condition for practically everybody on the planet. In the last 100 or 200 years life has gotten radically better for practically everyone.

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“No one wants to be a beggar for life” – “Poverty, Inc.”

consequences facing facts and accept consequence of acts take and face responsibilities
photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Poverty, Inc. is a documentary from a group by the same name. You can see the trailer at those links.

The way we, that is, the developed world, are doing international development is broken. One comment in the movie from an economist in Africa tells the story:  emergency relief is the standard model used for decades to end poverty and suffering.

That isn’t working.

As another speaker says:

“No one wants to be a beggar for life”

I read two reviews of the movie, one from a center-left perspective and one from a center-right perspective. Both praise the movie and share in the criticism of big aid.

The documentary won several awards at a libertarian film festival and then won best documentary at a progressive film festival. Imagine that!

Guess which of the following two columnists made this comment?

It’s almost like anybody with a populist outlook and, you know, a brain between their ears and a heart between their shoulders, has got to look at our current system of international development and aid and say there’s something deeply wrong.

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To sort through the question of how to share economic and health progress with everyone, check out a book from the winner of this year’s Nobel award in economics

Cover of Prof. Deaton's book, used under fair use, courtesy of Amazon.com
Cover of Prof. Deaton’s book, used under fair use for this review, courtesy of Amazon.com

Why have we seen such dramatic improvement in average wealth and average life expectancy everywhere in the last 100 or 200 years? What has led to a radical reduction in the number of people living in dirt-eating poverty in the last 50 years?

Over the last few years I have focused a lot of my reading on economics and history trying to figure out the answers to those questions. Why?

If we figure out the answer to those questions we can continue in the same direction. If we sort out how we got here, we can share that strategy with those who have not shared in the progress. If you want a different phrasing, we can radically narrow economic inequality within countries and between countries if we can answer those questions. We can help get even more people out of dirt-eating poverty.

I think those goals are in the back of the mind for most readers of this blog.

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On Unintended Consequences – giving away consumer goods and banning plastic bottles doesn’t do what you would expect

 

consequences facing facts and accept consequence of acts take and face responsibilities
Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

One frustrating feature of life is that things are so complex. Doing something to help people or make things better can have unrelated impacts that offset any benefit.  Sometimes doing good stuff can make things worse.

That is called unintended consequences. Here are two more examples.

Giving away free consumer goods may not make life better for poor people…

7/23 – Vox – Buying TOMS shoes is a terrible way to help poor people – Add this article to the vast and growing body of articles explaining that the buy-one-give-one-to-poor-people way to end poverty is doing little to help and might be doing a lot of harm.

Amongst the many points made: (more…)

The problems with celebrity activism? Let’s start with unintended consequences.

Amongst the long list of challenges getting in the way of actually helping the people you want to help, two repeatedly jump out at me.

The first challenge is to avoid unintended consequences. Because humans are so complicated and react to changes around them, you will frequently find that taking one action has some unexpected consequence that undercuts the help you’re trying to provide.

Another challenge is finding out what the people you are helping might actually know about the issue. The people living with the struggle every single day might have some insight that could have helped you while you were in your office figuring out how to fix their problem.

Check out the following article on 7/12 by Georgia Cole, Ben Radley, & Jean-Benoit Falisse writing at Quartz – What’s missing from celebrity activism in Africa? The people.

My summary:  the article explores the long list of problems with celebrities picking a cause, choosing the one single perfect solution that will fix everything, and advocating for their personal preference of policy action.
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