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Thursday, April 2, 2020

COVID-19 Around the Globe: Observations April 2, 2020 GERMANY

Immunity Certificates

Germany’s Der Spiegel has reported that Germany will issue “immunity certificates” to those testing positive for Coronavirus antibodies.  Certificate holders, presumably free of the virus, can return to the work force and are not subject to social distancing. It turns out that this proposed program would apply to 100,000 subjects and the first results would not be available until the end of April. It is unclear whether the program has been approved.

On Trump’s handling of the crisis

DeutscheWelle, the government funded German international broadcaster, posted the following virulent anti-Trump opinion piece on its international news site:
In the United States, the administration first attempted to portray COVID-19 as a hoax (See Fact Check for rebuttal), and then tried to present it as something far less deadly than health officials had warned. Ultimately left with no other choice, US President Donald Trump was forced into action as the coronavirus began to quickly spread across the country. In doing so, he never missed the opportunity to make crystal clear that his top priority was the health of the US's economy and not its citizens. The country now has more infections than any other.

Masks Don’t Help?

In its news broadcast  of April 1, a German government spokesman advised against the use of surgical masks by the population. He claimed they do not help against Coronavirus. The German government’s unambiguous stance is in contrast to the controversy on the subject of masks in the United States.
Why Germany has the lowest mortality rate
One school of thought is that Coronavirus was introduced into Germany and spread by predominantly young people returning from skiing in Italy and France or from reveling in Fasching in Cologne. We would need the age distributions of Coronavirus victims to test this proposition.

Merkel Seems to approve Tracing Aps for Smartphones

Germany has a long history of fear of government surveillance. Apparently eight European countries are cooperating on  developing a tracing app, which will automatically notify those who have had contact with an infected/exposed? person. From her shelter-in-place, Merkel spoke favorably of the concept.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Some Encouraging News from 1918

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In a 2007 National Academy of Sciences study of the Spanish Flu, researchers used  data on the timing  of 19 classes of NPIs in 17 U.S. cities during the 1918 pandemic to test whether early implementation of multiple NPI interventions was associated with reduced disease transmission. Indeed, the researchers found that “cities in which multiple interventions were implemented at an early phase of the epidemic had peak death rates 50% lower than those that did not and had less-steep epidemic curves.” In other words, the timely introduction of NPI measures reduced peak mortality in the surveyed cities.

The finding of reduced peak mortality seems to confirm that the timely introduction of multiple interventions does indeed buy time to prepare for the peak of the pandemic and in this sense plays a positive role. The finding does not rule out that NPIs simply transfer illness and death to later dates and hence does not lower cumulative mortality.

On this point, researchers find that “cities in which multiple interventions were implemented at an early phase of the epidemic also showed a trend toward lower cumulative excess mortality, but the difference was smaller (20%) and less statistically signi´Čücant than that for peak mortality.”

The lower cumulative mortality rate is the most encouraging finding from the 1918 flu experience, although this finding is less robust than the effect on peak mortality.

Should we follow the Swiss in dealing with COVID-19?

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Within Europe, the Swiss are caricatured as deliberate, unemotional, and  imperturbable. Their reaction to the Corona Virus pandemic fits this stereotype. Of course, it helps that the Swiss are better positioned than other countries with a debt to GDP ratio of 40 percent (versus 81 percent for the US) and a fully funded unemployment insurance fund. (In the US, impending shortfalls at the state level will require huge federal bailouts).

Unlike raucous US politics, the Swiss formed a swift national consensus, and their rescue package is already underway, at an estimated cost of 5 percent of GDP. At this juncture, the US rescue package awaits approval by the House at a cost  that will well exceed ten percent of GDP.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Attorney General Barr: There Are no Predicates for Spying

A review of the public record demonstrates that the Russia investigation rested on a house of cards assembled by high-level officials to prevent Donald Trump’s election or to ensure that his administration would fail. This conclusion rests on mainstream media accounts, primarily of The New York Times. The Russia probe imposed a considerable cost in terms of international status, domestic tranquility, political paralysis and a challenge to the outcome of a democratic election. It weakened the Trump presidency to the benefit of his political opponents, and boosted Vladimir Putin’s claim of the crookedness of American democracy.

go to Washington Times

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Russia Is the Big Winner from the Dems Impeachment Pivot to Ukraine

Ukraine has been thrown under the bus by the media and Democrat forces at the very time when Ukraine was poised to truly join the West. Ukraine has a long, bloody, and tragic history. Our politicians seem intent on keeping up this record.

go to the Hill

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Socialist Planning Failed from the Very Beginning

That the planned socialist economies of the USSR and Eastern Europe suffered from serious dysfunctionalities was revealed already in the 1950s  by American scholars based on interviews with former managers. The Hungarian economist, Janos Kornai, was the first to reveal in 1957 from within the Soviet bloc that the socialist planned economy was not even planned. Kornai went on to study the pathologies  associated with planned socialism, such as soft budget constraints and shortage economies that threaten to bleed over into  contemporary market economies.

go to Public Choice