Tim Worstall

Another prediction

Mark it down and remember it:

If the UK current trajectory continues – and as we run out of medical facilities that is a reasonable assumption for the next week or more – then deaths of more than 10,000 a day are likely in little more than a week if the rate of growth seen yesterday continues.

Gee, ya think?

The truly horrific scale of this crisis has yet to emerge, and because of the attitude the UK and USA have taken towards it the chance that we will eventually suffer the most seems high. And that will not be by chance. That will be by choice.

If it doesn’t happen there will be no walking back of the claim that we’ve done it wrong, will there?

A bold claim

Let’s see if it comes true, shall we?

Amongst those impacted there will be several million households that will be out of cash soon – and where starvation will be the issue to be faced as April progresses.

Actual starvation, eh?

This is also fun:

Unless something as big (at least) as the Marshall Plan is in the pipeline we’re not going to come out of this for a very, very long time.

Sunak’s already spending very much more than the Marshall Plan. Just his loans to business are more than 5 times the size of it.

The Marshall Plan’s accounting reflects that aid accounted for about 3% of the combined national income of the recipient countries between 1948 and 1951

That Stalinist NHS

Boris Johnson has been forced to shift strategy on the government’s testing regime for coronavirus after criticism of the slow pace of checks being carried out on frontline NHS staff.

Private laboratories are now being drafted in to do the tests where before these were being performed through a centralised process.

Cue someone complaining about capitalists profiting from the NHS in 3…2…1…


The European Union has weathered the storms of eurozone bailouts, the migration crisis and Brexit, but some fear coronavirus could be even more destructive.

In a rare intervention Jacques Delors, the former European commission president who helped build the modern EU, broke his silence last weekend to warn that lack of solidarity posed “a mortal danger to the European Union”.

There’s a silver lining to every cloud then….


Aren’t Public Health England going to be pissed at this?

The world’s second-biggest cigarette maker claims to have made a “significant breakthrough” in the race to find a vaccine for the coronavirus and would be ready to start mass production within three months.

British American Tobacco (BAT), the FTSE 100 company behind Lucky Strike and Dunhill, said it could be producing up to 3m million doses of a vaccine a week by June – far faster than rivals, which are expecting to take at least a year.

BAT intends to start trialling its vaccine in humans as soon as possible. It is running pre-clinical tests and holding urgent talks with US drug authorities to fast-track permissions.

The treatment is being developed by the company’s health division Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), which has previously come up with a drug to combat Ebola. It claims to have found an antibody that appears to fight Covid-19, and is manufacturing this using genetically modified tobacco plants….

The very thought of it, that Big Tobacco might be of some use!

Lockdowns can only ever be temporary things

Britain’s coronavirus lockdown began to fray on Wednesday night as official figures showed an “uptick” in the number of people using transport.

The number of those using their cars and public transport, which had been consistently dropping since strict social distancing measures were introduced, rose for the first time at the beginning of this week.

It is feared that the sunny forecast for the weekend, which could see temperatures of 20C in London, will prompt more people to go break the rules and go outside and socialise as the Easter holidays begin.

Mervyn King, the former Governor of the Bank of England, warned that there could be a “rebellion” if the measures are enforced for too long.

No, not could be, will be. Only a change on emphasis there though, for Our Merv* is generally right.

*Papists of a certain age from areas of the West Country will have a memory of “Our Merv”. The Bishop of Clifton** was Mervyn, an oddish name for a priest but there we go, there must have been a St Mervyn at some time. During the services there is a “We pray for…..” and that includes the sick of the parish, maybe those recently deceased etc, but also “Our Bishop….” and in this case this would be “Our Bishop Mervyn”. Just part of the ritual. And of course given West Country practices he became “Our Merv”.

Mervyn King is not a Catholic bishop but I’ve always thought of him as “Our Merv”.

**Think that was the Papist see of the time

American progressives

The Coronavirus Deniers and Their War on Expertise
Anything they don’t want to believe is simply discarded as partisan.

by Nancy LeTourneau


We Have No Idea How Many Coronavirus Cases There Are in the U.S.

by Nancy LeTourneau

That sure is a hell of a lotta expertise on show there.

The solution being that we should listen more to the experts, right?

Umm, well, no, not really

When 71% of young men are committing acts against their partners that would unambigously be recognised as criminal in any other context, it’s difficult to pretend that a taste for violent sex is not now mainstream.

All sex would be considered criminal in any other context, no?

This is fascinating from Amanduh

5. What’s the big takeaway here? There are several.

Biden’s communications director, Kate Bedingfield, said the allegations are false and issued this terse statement to Salon: “Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims.”

The story of Reade’s allegations against Biden shows what can happen when the rigorous standards espoused by mainstream publications are sidestepped for a more credulous and politicized approach. The failure to vet this story methodically and to preemptively address its odder elements opened the door to a whirlwind of conspiracy theories and misinformation.

Some Sanders supporters are lobbing wild accusations of a cover-up by the mainstream media and Time’s Up for not publicizing Reade’s story. In turn, some Biden supporters are being reckless — whether by assuming Reade is lying, or by spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories about her, or both. No doubt some folks on either side of the political divide would be reacting the same way no matter what, but the situation has been made significantly worse because of the slipshod manner in which Reade’s allegations were reported and released.

Organizations like Time’s Up and mainstream journalists take great care with politically sensitive accusations like Reade’s. That isn’t because they’re cowards. It’s because they fear situations just like this, where piecemeal reporting and the perception of slanted coverage create a political food fight that ends up pushing what is supposed to be the central concern — resisting sexual harassment and violence — to the sidelines.

No matter how it may be interpreted, “believe women” has never been an injunction to publish every allegation of sexual abuse without hesitation or reservation. It’s about taking these stories seriously on their own terms, instead of dismissing them as women’s attempts to manipulate people and public opinion. For journalists, it means we must take stories of sexual abuse seriously and treat them carefully and thoroughly; as Rebecca Traister said on Twitter in 2017, that means publishing stories that are “reported, investigated, fact checked & backed up by the outlets reporting on them.”

What can be said is that Reade’s story is credible and compelling in some important ways, and also comes with a number of troubling red flags. For a variety of reasons it has not been taken seriously on a national level, but those reasons do not include a mainstream media conspiracy to protect Joe Biden. Rather than becoming the subject of serious investigation, this has instead become an occasion for die-hard supporters on both the Sanders and Biden sides to score points on one another online. Actual facts have been supplanted by reckless conspiracy theories spun by enthusiasts of both candidates. Whatever the facts of this case may be, the #MeToo movement deserves better than to be dragged into the sleaze like this.

What’s so great about this is that this was exactly the response that Amanduh and Salon gave to those allegations of sexual assault against that Republican judge nominated by Orange Man Bad.

Good to see consistency, isn’t it?

Helping out David Friedman

You should go here.

If you have any of the required accents then record the quotes and send them in.

Although there is a confusion there about the King James. Surely even Americans know that God is an Englishman?

Finally! Governments have conquered the markets!

These arguments no longer stack up, at all. If bond markets don’t want to fund a deficit now a government in many countries can simply turn its back on the market and fund itself. It’s not governments that are being shunned now: it’s the bond markets that are. The situation has completely reversed.

The same is true on interest rates. QE has proved that these are now almost entirely under government control. Threats to rates from the bond market no longer really exist in any meaningful sense.

So will money flee? It can still. It’s true that money is moving towards the dollar, for example. But the reasons have nothing to do with deficits. They have instead to do with economic fundamentals. Exchange risk has not gone away. Governments who, for example, wish to put themselves outside world trading blocs when the full extent of our interdependency is becoming ever more apparent, do see moves against their currency. But that’s not because of the scale of spending; that’s because of relative trading weaknesses in the real economy.

So, the bond markets are now neutered.

The age old threat to government’s spending, always wheeled out by the supposedly great who were rarely up to much good, has been laid to rest. Thank goodness.

There still both FX and inflation to deal with.

But beyond that just look at how he’s actually thinking. There’s some reification of “bond market” there instead of it being what it is, the aggregate of tens of millions of savings decisions. And those decision aren’t going to change are they? Peeps will save money in things they value, not in things they don’t.

This is the flip side of his Green Bonds etc ideas. No idea of where the demand for a savings instrument comes from.

Err, why?

Those comments – made in the context of post-Brexit trade deals – now look foolish to the point of madness. The world of pointing to a sector’s share of national GDP to decipher how “important” it is must surely be over.

Share of GDP is an important measure of how economically important something is. It isn’t true of non-economic measures of worthiness.


Not, perhaps, the best of precedents

Harry and Meghan eye Malibu properties close to where Princess Diana planned to live with Dodi Fayed

And it will be Meghan driving that choice. Having actually been there – a number of times – it ain’t that much cop. Unless you want the cachet of living there, a cachet that exists in that acting and showbiz set and not really anywhere else.

And if I were being really unkind I’d mutter something about marrying well being madame’s only chance of gaining a residence in Malibu. An ambition likely to exist given her membership of that set that thinks there’s the cachet.

Confusing information

It comes as the latest NHS data from UK hospitals showed a more than doubling of deaths in just four days, with 381 new deaths reported on Tuesday, bringing the toll to 1,789. They included 28 patients with no underlying health conditions, one of whom was a 19-year old man.

What’s the relevant number to be considering here?

Depends upon the definition of underlying really. But there’s at least an argument that the relevant one for public policy services is the 28, not the 381/


Among the various considerations over the coronavirus one we really do need to add to the mix.


Decisions about what to do are being made by small groups of people. And it’s easy enough for small groups to get caught up in a spiral of ever more extreme words and actions. This being one of the manifestations of groupthink.

No, I do not say this is the explanation for all. But I do say that it explains at least the appearance of some of what is going on.

The cure for groupthink is opening up the decision making group to others. From outside the previously exclusive group.