CORONAVIRUS CONTINGENCY PLANNING | WORST-CASE SCENARIO


This is another mini-series of three posts looking at contingency planning for the Covid-19 pandemic should the health, socio-economic and geopolitical situations deteriorate. This first post describes what could be a Covid-19 worst-case scenario. The second post will look at the positive side of the pandemic and how our quality of life could conceivably be a lot better once the Covid-19 dust has settled – if we wanted to pursue a different sort of happiness to that offered by globalised consumerism. The third and final post in this series will propose a contingency plan for mitigating the effects of a Covid-19 worst-case scenario. Where do you stand on this at the moment? Do you think we’re through the worst of it and heading out of the tunnel? Do you think we’re heading into the tunnel? Do you think there’s not enough data to decide one way or the other? I don’t envy our politicians for one minute trying to lead us through this crisis.

A Month of Sundays

In a previous post I posited that we’re not heading out of the Covid-19 crisis; rather, we’re heading into it on three fronts: health, economic and social. I accept that I could be quite wrong, of course. A fair amount of mainstream comment is along the lines of, ‘this is bad, but before you know it, we’ll be back to normal’. A typical example would be analysis published by The EY ITEM Club on 9 April in which their economists said that the UK economy would contract by less than 7% during 2020 as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you were earning, say, £29,000 per year, this would be like you taking a £2,030 cut in your salary. A recession, yes, and unwelcome of course; but not the end of the world.

The EY ITEM Club goes on to tell us that the UK economy would then grow by 4.5% in 2021. So, your reduced 2020 income of £26,970 would grow back to £28,184 by December 2021. The EY ITEM Club calculates that by early 2023, ie about a year later, everything would be back to as it was in December 2019 – immediately prior to half the world’s population having been put into lockdown. No big deal. So, less than three years’ worth of an economic challenge and then, Bob’s your Uncle, off we go again: consumerism steaming ahead, globalisation back in full swing, infinite economic growth reinstated.

Clearly, as far as the highly respected EY ITEM Club is concerned, Covid-19 will be challenging but not earth-shattering. Indeed, if you tend to subscribe to The EY ITEM Club’s world view, read no further. Pour yourself another glass of Pinot Grigio, head back into the garden, enjoy the rest of the lockdown and perhaps say to yourself, ‘Now I know what a month of Sundays feels like. Cheers to Covid-19!

Is There a Problem, or Isn’t There?

Collapse

Meantime, over at her Our Finite World blog, Gail Tverberg published a post on 31 March in which she said, ‘[her] analysis indicates that now, in 2020, the world economy cannot withstand long shutdowns. One very serious problem is the fact that the prices of many commodities (including oil, copper and lithium) will fall far too low for producers, leading to disruption in supplies. Broken supply chains can be expected to lead to the loss of many products previously available. Ultimately, the world economy may be headed for collapse’. So, from The EY ITEM Club we get under three years of moderate hardship. On the other hand, from Gail the Actuary (as she’s sometimes known) we get the world economy may be headed for collapse. They can’t both be right.

US Debt

But there’s more. In the year to October 2020 the US government will borrow some $3.8 trillion fighting Covid-19, and will borrow another $2 trillion or so during 2021: say, $6 trillion of additional borrowing over two years. That’s equivalent to total US borrowing over the previous 243 years and 43 presidents – which is how long it took America to get to the first $6 trillion of US national debt. That looks significant to me, and not in the normal run of things vis-à-vis economics and economic activity. Over at the Zero Hedge blog, a post on 24 April declared, ‘Fitch warns of record US loan defaults in April as the economy implodes’. Not just a few loan defaults, but ‘record’ loan defaults as the economy implodes (rather than experiences a downturn).

US Unemployment

Peak Prosperity’s Adam Taggart pointed out in a blog post on 24 April that, ‘the world is experiencing one of the worst demand shocks in history. In America, more than 26 million workers have lost their jobs in 5 weeks’.

The End of Industrial Age Economic Growth

And there’s more. Over at his Surplus Energy Economics blog, Dr Tim Morgan put up a post on 19 April in which he stated, ‘the reality, then, is that an ending of growth – and a consequent destabilising of the financial system – were lying in wait for us, needing only a catalyst, which the coronavirus has now supplied. What this means is that “de-growth” has now arrived’.

Food Shortages

As I write, Sky News is on the TV in the background reporting that 135 million people in developing countries around the world are now going hungry (in ‘Crisis’) on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic. The fourth annual Global Report on Food Crises (2020) confirms this fact and goes on to report that a further 185 million people in 47 other countries around the world are classified as being in ‘Stressed’ conditions, at risk of slipping into ‘Crisis’ or worse if confronted by an additional shock or stressor. Cue Covid-19. In an article on 21 April the Financial Times reported, ‘Warnings of social unrest mount as coronavirus hits food availability’.

Thug Governments

In a leading article in The Economist on 20 April it was explained how certain governments were exploiting Covid-19 to increase disproportionately control over their citizens (to wit, in China, Russia, Hungary, Serbia, Togo, Bolivia, Guinea, Azerbaijan, India, Cambodia, Libya, Zimbabwe, Jordan, Yemen, Oman and UAE, to name a few). The Economist observed that, ‘unscrupulous autocrats are exploiting the pandemic to do what they always do: grab power at the expense of the people they govern’. The Economist reported that, ‘Covid-19 will make people poorer, sicker and angrier … In countries where families are hungry, where baton-happy police enforce lockdowns and where cronies’ pickings from the abuse of office dwindle along with the economy, that may eventually cause some regimes to lose control’.

Collapse (Again)

The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability (feasta) published a report in 2012, ‘Trade-Off – Financial System Supply-Chain Cross-Contagion: A Study in Global Systemic Collapse’. In the report, David Korowicz argued that, ‘in order to understand systemic risk in the globalised economy, account must be taken of how growing complexity (interconnectedness, interdependence and the speed of processes), the de-localisation of production and its concentration within key pillars of the globalised economy have magnified global vulnerability opening up the possibility of a rapid and large-scale collapse. “Collapse” in this sense means the irreversible loss of socio-economic complexity which fundamentally transforms the nature of the economy. These crucial issues have not been recognised by policy-makers, nor are they reflected in economic thinking or modelling’.

One does wonder, therefore, to what extent The EY ITEM Club’s economic thinking and modelling considers the kind of observations I’ve made above? Perhaps they do factor in all this extraordinary turmoil and still conclude that by early 2023 the UK economy will be back to where it was in December 2019. However, I hae ma doots (Scots dialect for ‘I have my doubts’).

This Could Be Challenging

My point is this: it’s all very well for organisations like The EY ITEM Club to publish relatively benign forecasts declaring Covid-19 to be no big deal really and that in under three years or so life in the UK will be back to where it was in December 2019; however, there’s something going on here which makes me wonder which Ivory Tower do these economists inhabit? I accept that the men and women of The EY ITEM Club are dead clever and all that, and they do this stuff for a living, but honestly: the UK economy back to normal by early 2023? Seriously?

So, I’m not accepting at face value The EY ITEM Club’s prediction of ‘back to where we were within three years’. I’m looking at the risks associated with disintegrating globalisation; public and political hostility towards China with socio-economic implications in the third-party states (not to mention in China itself); surreal levels of global debt, becoming more surreal by the day (just spend a moment or two looking at the US Debt Clock); commodities’ prices cratering; tens if not hundreds of millions of people going hungry (which usually signals civil unrest and/or mass migration); thug-governments exploiting Covid-19 for their own ends; and the end of ‘infinite’ Industrial Age economic growth (economic growth being the economists’ panacea).

I’m also looking at the microeconomics of Covid-19 and assuming that people’s behaviour post-lockdown will bear little relation to their behaviour pre-lockdown. So, the idea that the UK will be back to December 2019 normality by early 2023 – according to The EY ITEM Club anyway – just doesn’t cut it for me. To be fair to EY, other mainstream economic institutions are publishing similar analyses and forecasts along the lines of ‘nothing to see here; move along; back to normal in a few years’ time’. The worrying thing is that politicians tend to buy into this kind of orthodox economics thinking because they’re made aware of little or nothing else. It would be great if one or two politicians would read a blog like this (I think my Member of Parliament does, to be fair), or better still, Gail Tverberg’s, or Tim Morgan’s, or Chris Martenson’s blogs if only to realise there could be alternative views to the likes of those espoused by The EY ITEM Club and their ilk.

Worst-Case Analysis

At this point it’s a case of you pays your money and you takes your choice. I said earlier that if, by and large, you subscribe to the notion that Covid-19 is indeed a bit of a problem, but it’s far from being a socio-economic or geopolitical game-changer, then get back to the Pinot Grigio; enjoy the lockdown. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in joining me in some worst-case analysis – if only to dismiss it in the end – then read on. My guess is that, notwithstanding my dig at the politicians above, British government departments like the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence will now be modelling scenarios in the range best-case to worst-case vis-à-vis where the Covid-19 pandemic could be taking us. Whether Her Majesty’s Treasury is doing this, other than reading reports from the likes of The EY ITEM Club, is another matter; I’m only partly joking. I say this as an ex-military man with twenty years’ commissioned service and some prior knowledge of how Whitehall works.

Let’s assume for the purpose of this post that The EY ITEM Club’s analysis and economic forecast is a tad wide of the mark, God bless them. Let’s assume, by contrast, that the global socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will be more towards the serious end of the spectrum. The question is what would be the leading indicators of trouble ahead? What would suggest to us that Covid-19 was more than just a little local difficulty and that perhaps some individual contingency planning might be in order?

This is important: worst-case planning does not mean worst-case expected or predicted. The worst-case scenario is simply the basis for a contingency plan. Below, I’ll set out a worst-case scenario which might make you shudder. I’m not doom-mongering. I’ve done some desktop research into what various organisations with expertise in health, economic and social matters have been forecasting could happen under certain circumstances. The point about conducting worst-case analysis is to develop a contingency plan for the time if (not when) the worst-case scenario comes to pass. Some people have no interest in the worst-case, still less contingency planning to mitigate its effects. If that’s you, then this is another break point to get back to the Pinot Grigio.

Reserves

As I intimated above, I served for twenty years as a commissioned officer in the British armed forces. I saw operational service in Northern Ireland during ‘The Troubles’; I saw action during the Falklands War in a unit attached to 5 Infantry Brigade; I was deployed to the Middle-East to serve on US General Norman Schwarzkopf’s staff during the first Gulf War (1991). One of the characteristics of military culture is worst-case planning. For this reason, and others, the British armed forces have been assigned to assist the National Health Service (NHS) and other public services in coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the reasons that the NHS has struggled to cope with preparing for Covid-19 is that it normally operates at near-100% capacity. I don’t want to knock the heroic efforts of NHS frontline staff, some of whom include my family and friends. However, as a state institution, the NHS was probably never going to be able to cope with a pandemic, even though in policy terms it should have been able to. The NHS lacks sufficient resources for, and its managers struggle to manage anything other than the status quo – and even that’s questioned by some. It’s already a matter of public record that the readiness (lack of) and (under) performance of Public Health England has been little short of a disgrace. Perhaps I can say these things as someone who spent two years as a director of an NHS regional health board in Scotland and with an NHS doctor-wife.

In the armed forces, we’re taught in the first days and weeks of our training to worst-case plan and to hold resources in reserve. Indeed, it’s not unusual for a commander to assign as much as one-third of his resources in reserve in the knowledge that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. As soon as you cross the Start Line, anything can happen. To have nothing in reserve is to consign your command to almost certain defeat. The NHS holds virtually nothing in reserve and its Covid-19 warriors are now paying the price.

Worst-Case Scenario

I’ve digressed somewhat. For this and previous coronavirus posts, I’ve adopted the stance that we’re at the leading edge and not the trailing edge of the Covid-19 crisis. If I’m right, then the question is this: what might we see happening to indicate that from the perspectives of health, economics and the functioning of society, it would make sense to contingency plan for the worst-case?

Based on my desktop research, here’s a worst-case scenario for which I think some personal contingency planning wouldn’t go amiss. I’ve a hunch that a scenario something like this will be one of several being considered by the British government somewhere in the bowels of Whitehall. I shall cover the scenario under four headings: health; the global economy; social and societies, and geopolitics.

Health

Billions of people will be infected by Covid-19. Global deaths will be in the region of 150 million human beings (up to 2.0% of the global population). Most of these deaths – perhaps over 100 million – will occur outside of the First World. In the UK, this could translate into as many as 325,000 Covid-19-related deaths occurring in several epidemic waves. Normally, about 600,000 people die every year in the UK, so Covid-19 could result in a circa 50% increase in the death rate. We’re already at over 20,000 UK Covid-19 deaths as I draft this post. On this scenario alone, one can understand why the British government is reticent about lifting the lockdown. There’s an issue too relating to the latent demand now building up behind Covid-19 as other serious health conditions are not being addressed in order to ‘Protect the NHS’. The question is, will there be a tsunami of non-Covid-19 cases presenting to the NHS in the coming months as the Covid-19 situation is perceived to be easing (but isn’t)?

Global Economy

The global economy will go into a deep recession. Global GDP will decline by 15% which would be equivalent to the economic impact of The Great Depression. Indeed, on 6 April, the World Economic Forum stated that, ‘the shock to the global economy from Covid-19 has been both faster and more severe than the 2008 global financial crisis and even The Great Depression’. On 8 April, Oxford Economics stated that, ‘such is the uncertainty over the outlook that we’re continuing to update our downside simulations to show how, under plausible assumptions, the outlook could materially worsen’. Here, The Economist considers how bad Covid-19 could be for the economy:

Social and Societies

The worst-case health and economic impacts on society will be profound. Unemployment will be very high. People will behave differently, partly for economic reasons and partly through fear of the coronavirus itself. In the short-term, people are behaving differently already because they must do so by law: staying at home, working from home, not working at all, social distancing, increased personal hygiene and so on. I touched on the individual behaviour aspect of the pandemic in my previous post.

In the wider sense, there will be a changed relationship between the individual and the state; the workplace environment will change; the educational environment will change; the healthcare environment will change; the nature of travel will change nationally and internationally; leisure activities will change; nationalism will become a threatening issue in some countries. Indeed, the overall look and feel of society will change significantly, not least because we’ve bred a generation which expects to live in a largely risk-free world.

Despite some evidence in the UK of The Blitz Spirit in confronting Covid-19 to date, there’s scope for a certain societal ugliness to develop looking forward (this is a worst-case scenario, after all). It’s a fact that The Great Depression involved a decade of hardship culminating in a world war. I’m not suggesting we’re on a trajectory to world war now. However, there is significant uncertainty and, therefore, risk associated with the impact of Covid-19 on how we shall live our lives and relate to each other intra-nationally and internationally in the coming decade and quite possibly beyond that timescale – which leads us neatly into the geopolitical perspective.

Geopolitics

According to the financial historian, Adam Tooze, there are four sources of geopolitical risk associated with Covid-19: the eurozone and Italy’s situation in particular (which could trigger the worst-case wildcard described below); China, its economy and global role in future; emerging markets; and the OPEC complex (oil – the ‘black gold’ of the global economy). There’s a general risk that the leaders of the G7/G20 countries will fail to cooperate effectively in responding to the global impact of Covid-19. The so-called ‘rules based international order’ will come under pressure, and the US’s global role and its relationships with China and Russia will be critical.

Worst-Case Wildcard

The worst-case scenario I’ve described above would unfold over time; say, over weeks and months and into a year and more. However, there’s a wildcard component to the worst-case. There could conceivably be a global financial crisis associated with the related effects of cascading debt defaults and currencies coming under strain and potentially collapsing which no central bank nor any amount of money printing would prevent if the dominos started to fall. Such a crisis would appear to come out of nowhere, has a relatively low probability of occurring but is a risk, nonetheless.

On 13 April, Brink stated that, ‘if the number of “fallen angels” increases significantly due to Covid-19, it would have important implications for a wide range of investors and financial institutions, creating a potentially destabilising dynamic in the system … the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by the US government is one step in this direction. But will it be enough to prevent fallen angels and zombies from infecting financial markets and the broader economy? We believe this is a headline that needs to garner more attention’.

Contingency Planning

This is another break point. If you’ve read the Covid-19 pandemic worst-case as I’ve described it above and decided, ‘No chance’, then it’s back to the Pinot Grigio for you. If, on the other hand, you’re thinking, ‘So what?’ then that is the standard military procedure for what was called in my day the ‘Combat Appreciation’. You’ve looked at the situation and you’re now turning to the development of your plan in the face of the threat. Your plan needs to hedge against the worst-case scenario coming to pass.

Oh, ye of little faith!’ some will cry. Yes, I know human beings are both resilient and ingenious and there will be life after, or at least life living with Covid-19. It goes without saying that Covid-19 doesn’t herald the end of mankind, nothing like it of course. However, for me it’s difficult to survey the facts of the matter – the virulence of the disease itself; the extraordinary self-imposed global economic shutdown (depth, scope and speed of change); the impact on human behaviour and, therefore, the wider social impact; the geopolitical impact – and not conclude that things are going to change. So, maybe you and I need to prepare for change?

Clearly, some of you will think otherwise. Just the other day a buddy of mine (TH) posted on social media, ‘people say that society will not be the same again, it will change completely. I don’t believe this; people and governments forget very quickly’. TH may well be right of course, and you may subscribe to the general idea that, give it a year or three and we’ll all be wondering what the Covid-19 fuss was about? There’s the Pinot Grigio calling again.

Next Posts

The next post in this mini-series of three will reflect the optimist in me – yes, there definitely is one (I’m a defensive-pessimist by nature, in case you hadn’t already guessed). In Part 2 I shall reflect on the upside of the pandemic in terms of the good things that have arisen because of it, and how and why we should try to hang on to the positives. Our quality of life could conceivably be much better after the Covid-19 dust has settled. The challenge will be how to consolidate and build upon the upside. Finally, in Part 3 of this series I’ll draw on my decade and more of taking a pastime interest in how best to plan and prepare for a shock to the normal workings of society: a contingency plan for the Covid-19 worst-case scenario coming to pass. Meantime, don’t panic …

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See you down the pub … eventually.

23 comments

  1. […] duvets ad infinitum will diminish as reality intrudes; and, by the cringe, that reality’s going to look ugly. We’re still in a phoney lull at the moment. In terms of the impact of Covid-19 on our […]

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  2. […] mini-series of three. In the first post I wanted to scope out what I thought could be the Covid-19 worst-case scenario. In this post I want to build on that theme to understand if the worst-case scenario is more or […]

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  3. […] post squeezed in between Parts 1 and 2 of the series I’m publishing relating to the potential Covid-19 worst-case scenario. Part 2 will be published presently. Meantime, I realised as I was drafting the forthcoming post […]

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  4. […] my previous worst-case post I posited that 325,000 British people could die of Covid-19. This is fewer than the official […]

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  5. ladydog70 · ·

    Hello MM,

    “I am in blood/Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more,/Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” The preceding quote is taken as you know from William Shakespeare’s tragedy “MacBeth”.

    I quote it because I find myself each day becoming increasing shocked at how shocked the “experts” are at the effects of shutting down the economy .. on the economy. Who would have thunk it, not an “expert” it seems.

    We now seem to be in a situation that, having decided that economic lockdown of the economy to “save the NHS” and other health services around the world was the approach to be taken “Returning were as tedious as go o’er.”

    It is sad that in Scotland, these economic sacrifices, taken as they were to particularly protect the elderly and vulnerable, seem to be doing little to protect that particular group.

    As a nation Scotland seems to have a lot of its economic eggs in relatively few baskets, these come to the top of my mind;

    selling oil and gas
    selling higher education to foreign students
    tourism and hospitality
    selling food and drink to be eaten or drunk in restaurants and pubs around the world

    The price paid, to defeat this disease will be high and long lasting and I wait your future contributions with interest. My view..unlocking isn’t going to take us back to where we were and that warm fuzzy feeling that we’re all doing our bit to “save the NHS” may get cold quite soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. reallyoldbill · ·

    A lot to digest in that one , MM. Unlike you I am more of a defensive optimist of the glass half full variety, but I do accept that some of your concerns are worrying. I suspect, however, that as the whole world, almost uniquely in our lives, is experiencing the same issues economically at the same time, a global accommodation will be found that reduces the overall impact when this is finally all over. Much will obviously depend on how long this pandemic lasts, whether there is a second wave in those countries easing or abandoning the lockdown and, if so, how long that too lasts. Economic concerns, vital though they are to us all, should never override efforts to protect lives. It is a difficult judgement for which those of us not charged with making it should be grateful not to be responsible.

    Once things return to some semblance of normality, whatever that turns out to be, I suspect that some form of debt forgiveness will be near the top of the international agenda; seeing economies otherwise default in a disorderly manner is in no country’s interest. My suspicion is that cleverer minds than mine are already working on the possible designs for a giant global “reset” button. Money is after all an artificial construct and it has been long time since a banknote could be exchanged for its value in gold!

    As an Aussie friend of mine is inclined to say when things look difficult: “She’ll be right, mate”.

    (I hope).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think there is more to this than meets the eye and there are things we are not being told.

    If you are interested in conspiracy theories (I admit, I am rather drawn to them), you will probably find these two blogs interesting:

    https://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2020/04/22/slogs-contrick19-claim-vindicated-by-2018-us-flu-data/

    http://alt-market.com/index.php/articles/4200-pandemic-and-economic-collapse-the-next-60-days

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks John, and I’ll take a look a the links. I do follow The Slog anyway; he’s good …

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Norman Buxton · ·

    Hi Moraymint,
    I am a regular reader of your common sense columns and the comments that accrue, albeit that I tend not to add comments myself.

    On this occasion, I have just been watching a Utube video of Swedish expert Prof. Johan Giesecke explaining the Swedish approach in a very direct way. Some hard facts to face, but he makes a lot of sense to me. It is 30mins long, but I highly commend.

    All the best to everyone – physically and financially!
    Norman Buxton

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Norman; will watch and digest!

      Like

  9. Donna · ·

    That’s a very interesting read Mr Moraymint and I’m really looking forward to the next two.

    I’m not a panicker by nature but I’m tending towards the “a lot of things are going to change” …. some will be for the better, some undoubtedly be for the worse. It’s going to be a question of navigating the changes. As a Myers-Briggs ISTJ, this tends to be a strength.

    I don’t doubt that the Government’s planning includes how to ensure Brexit is properly delivered so we are truly independent and more resilient, but also ensures that both the Euro and the EU survives. They won’t want a collapse on the continent, for the obvious reason.

    I’m now off to read up on Defensive Pessimism (a term I haven’t come across before) and the alternatives, to try and work out if they are one-and-the-same 🙂

    Like

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Donna. I think you’re right about there being mixed outcomes to this. Despite my D-P personality type, I can of course be as optimistic as the next person! On balance, I think there’s enormous potential for us to shape a more sustainable and, dare I say, more happy future for more people if we wanted to do that. However, there will be powerful forces – economic and political – which would need to be overcome if the new normal is to be both productive and enjoyable for many.

      I note that you’re a Myers-Briggs ‘Investigator’!

      Like

  10. Chris · ·

    Hello Moraymint.
    New here, but I occasionally come across comments of yours on ‘The Telegraph’.
    As I’m sure you’re well aware, Viennese economist Otto Neurath developed the concept of a command economy after the First World War. Neurath proposed it as a way to control hyperinflation.
    So, what’s our poison to be? Hyperinflation or stagflation?
    Given the ever more powerful vortex of the debt whirlpool, I suspect the former will be the default, unless ‘They’ can ‘magick’ up some other more palatable nuclear solution.
    Or, will enforced lockdown, followed by cautious release, followed by enforced lockdown again ultimately have to give way to throwing caution (and lives) to the wind for the sake of the greater good?
    Of course, a command economy does not allow market forces to determine what, how much, and at what price they should produce goods and services. Instead, the central government will plan, organise, and control all economic activities. Its goal is to allocate resources to maximise social welfare.
    Unthinkable … in terms of what the future may hold in store?
    Perhaps. But then again, if somebody had made the remark just three month’s ago that a microbe would be unleashed with the potential to bring the global economy to its knees … followed in short order by the financial system …..
    Only time will tell, I suppose, as to whether or not we witness the morphing from debt servitude to a ‘New World’ system of what will be global feudalism in all but name!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Chris. Yes, right now it does seem that there are truly any number of scenarios that could play out from here. On balance, knowing what we know at the moment, I think the greatest damage to mankind – or certainly to our First World way of life – is being done, and will be done even more, by the shutting down of the economy. The problem will be getting exponentially worse. Every additional day in lockdown contributes disproportionately to damage to the economy. Even as lockdown is lifted, the viability of many, many businesses will be highly questionable – not least because demand won’t be there, or if it is, it will be dramatically reduced by Covid-19 mitigation measures (social distancing etc). The latent adverse socio-economic effects of Covid-19 are, in my opinion, starting to overwhelm the health impacts …

      Quite what this means in terms of market- versus command-economics, heaven only knows …

      Like

  11. Hi Moraymint
    Yet again another interesting post,
    I can’t wait to read the other two posts,
    Only issue other than what you’ve addressed today is the influence the WHO has behind this pandemic! This worries me more than all the other scenarios due to the fact of follow the money, Bill Gates, Chris Whitty, to name but 2 whom will profit massively from an agenda that has seemed to have been in the making since at least 2015,
    I personally went through terrible financial difficulties during 2008 recession, This appears to me to be on another level,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Paul. The WHO will be up for some serious scrutiny after this episode. I know that there’s been a lot of interest in Bill Gates’ potential role before and after and Covid-19; I must take a closer look at the various analyses in the public domain. Like you, I was hammered by the 2008 GFC; lost a lot of money, but still here and happy!

      Like

  12. If we were to lose 150 million due to Covid-19, your suggestion in your worse case scenario, then in species survival terms it’s an irrelevance. What we’re suffering from is our species’ rational irrationality. All we have to fear is fear itself. Well, we’re lapping it up big time.

    We’re being bombarded 24/7 with ‘end of World’ news bulletins and massive doses of emoting, let’s scare everyone crap-less junk news. The modern news/social media machine is showing itself to be extremely dangerous. Bad news sells clicks and boy oh! boy it’s working.

    We’re talking ourselves into an economic depression that isn’t based on any rational analysis of the situation. If governments had prepared as well as the likes of Korea and Latvia then Covid-19 would be a non event.

    Spanish Flu was a disaster but didn’t destroy the global economy, but Wuhan Chinese flu might very do so and I wonder who gains from that? Here’s looking at you China!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks John. I think that on balance politicians in the western/liberal democracies will err on the side of nobody must die of Covid-19. Full-stop. Like I said in the post, we’ve become a risk-free society. Right now, unless and until I see evidence to the contrary, my money is on western governments in particular causing greater and greater damage to economies because they can’t bear the prospect of a high Covid-19 death rate. Even if in the great scheme of things that death rate is in fact a relatively small percentage of all deaths from all causes. Donald Trump could, I suppose, be the exception to prove the rule, albeit of course even he doesn’t possess the divine right of a king (much as he’d like to). This one could run and run – which I suppose is the overall thrust of my post. I re-emphasise my sympathy for the politicians. They/we are of an era and I don’t envy them making these decisions at the moment. The whole situation is amplified by the internet, social media and omnipresent information. Talk about operating in a goldfish bowl, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Then Boris has a unique opportunity to stop the rot and cajole other World leaders into adopting a strategy that ensures we don’t collapse the economy and society. When you think of the trillions that have been blown on Global Warming/Climate Change/The Climate Emergency etc you could weep, when it was obvious, or should have been to those that are paid to protect us, that our greatest threat was a pandemic.

        I’m yet to be convinced by Boris. He’s a charmer and clearly very bright, however I’m not sure he’s no more than a glorified chancer and bluffer. I hope I’m wrong!

        Like

        1. Martyn Edwards · ·

          John,

          MM has correctly identified President Trump as the Main Man dealing with the dreaded lurgy. And you have identified Boris as his potential sidekick

          I would agree with you that Boris has the potential to be a key player in shaping the response of the West to the global pandemic. I should, however, like to expand your character assessment.

          I share your reservations about him. I got the impression that he waited to see which way the wind was blowing before committing himself to leaping aboard the Leave bandwagon. He played his hand at the very last moment. A prize opportunist if ever there was one. The truth is though, that the Leave campaign sorely needed him to take over the reins. He was, and still is, for now at least, a vote winner.

          I saw him address the public from the Buttercross here in Winchester when he was on the Referendum campaign trail. There was a highly vociferous and hostile Remainer element in the crowd. He was goaded consistently by several unpleasant individuals standing immediately in front of him. He dismissed them with the consummate ease and contempt which comes naturally to an experienced and gifted politician, even in the face of a direct physical threat.

          He is indeed a “glorified chancer and bluffer”, but, significantly, he is a bruiser too. It simply remains to be seen whether the Wu Flu has knocked the stuffing out of him.

          Martyn Edwards

          Liked by 2 people

          1. moraymint · ·

            Good comment. I shudder to think where we’d be, both on Brexit and now Covid-19, had there been any other one of the leading contenders at the helm. Like so many high profile politicians (Farage and Sturgeon come immediately to mind), he’s Marmite: you either love him or hate him. No guesses as to which camp I’m in …

            Like

  13. Chaswarnertoo · ·

    Hi, moray, hows tha been? Long time no post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Welcome back! Good to note your presence here!

      Like

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