Guest “counter-hyping” by David Middleton
The stock market plunge of the past few days has largely been triggered by the rather modest spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) out of China. Unfortunately this serious epidemic has been hyped by the media and politicians, particularly Democrats. The purpose of the hyping clearly has been to accomplish what neither Hillary Clinton, Robert Mueller or Adam Schiff could do…
5 Ways a Coronavirus Pandemic Could Change the 2020 Election
By Eric Levitz
Donald Trump is not known for downplaying foreign threats. And yet, as the Wuhan coronavirus triggered quarantines throughout China, moved into South Korea, Italy, the United States, and at least 36 other countries — while throttling global supply chains and depressing foreign markets — the fearmonger-in-chief remained sanguine. At the World Economic Forum in late January, Trump assured the gathered plutocrats that the virus was “under control.” Three weeks, hundreds of deaths, and one giant stock market plunge later, the president’s song remained the same.
“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump tweeted Monday. “We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
The source of Trump’s uncharacteristic reluctance to talk up a border-crossing menace to American public safety isn’t hard to discern.
[…]New York Magazine
After idiotically describing a virus as a “border-crossing menace to American public safety,” Mr. Levitz lays out his list:
- “The pandemic could sicken the economy, thereby sending the Trump presidency to an early grave.”
- “The pandemic could throw a spotlight on the Trump administration’s criminal negligence.”
- “Alternatively, the virus just might deliver Trump a perfectly timed economic boost that all but guarantees his reelection.”
- “The pandemic could lend credence to Trump’s anti-globalist worldview.”
- “When socialism comes to America, it may be wrapped in a respirator mask and carrying tissues.”
Mr. Levitz discounts #3 as “less likely today than it did two weeks ago”… And never explains why. He never actually even tries to explain #4. He expounds at great length how Socialism will save us from President Trump’s recession and criminal negligence. Mr. Levitz has a BA in creative writing and an MA in fiction writing.
The Counter-Hyping of COVID-19
I ran across a great article from Fisher Investments the other day:
As the Big Stories Churn
Headlines jump from story to story. Reacting to the latest could be an investing mistake.
By Fisher Investments Editorial Staff, 02/21/2020
We aren’t even two months into 2020, yet many pundits believe the Wuhan coronavirus will make the global expansion gravely ill. Some have already started slashing market forecasts for the year. Frequent MarketMinder readers likely already know we think fears over the virus’s market impact are overdone. But to us, they are part of a longer-running pattern prevalent throughout this bull market. As soon as one huge story fades, another pops up—like a less-fun game of Whac-A-Mole. Here is a look back at some of the fleeting frenzies that came and went over the past 11 years. In our view, the collection tells a simple tale: Investors are better off tuning out the noise rather than reacting to The Next Big Story.
We don’t have to go back far to see this Big Story headline churn. US-Iran tensions dominated headlines at 2020’s start, sparking World War III warnings. Those fears virtually vanished by mid-January, just in time for coverage to flip to the coronavirus. Similarly, while global equities enjoyed their best year in a decade in 2019, the year featured plenty of Big Stories—some scary-ish, others supposedly monumental for investors.
Remember when the US yield curve flattened—and then inverted—last summer, prompting recession forecasts that didn’t come to fruition? When the yield curve “un-inverted” in early October, far fewer trumpeted the news. Earlier in 2019, Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders introduced Medicare for All legislation—gobbling up news coverage. A few other Democratic candidates backed it, too. Health Care stocks reacted negatively to fears of quasi-nationalization in the short term, plunging almost -5% in three days.[i] But that hype passed. Health Care ended the year strong, trailing only Technology in Q4. You could say the same of value stocks’ brief burst of outperformance in September. Headlines were sure it was a huge rotation after years of value lagging. It came and went in a month’s time.
Headlines didn’t hype only scary stories. They also heralded allegedly paradigm-shifting developments. One huge social media company—backed by a number of prominent financial services and payment providers—unveiled plans to release a cryptocurrency named for an astrological sign that isn’t Gemini and rhymes with shmeebra. Some predicted this foray would make digital currencies mainstream, with regulators reportedly worried of potential fallout. Congresspeople got worried and asked incomprehensible questions. Since that announcement, the hype has evaporated and many partners have quietly dropped their support.
You can find myriad examples of Big Stories that were supposed to either impact stock returns or represent a landmark market shift. Instead of altering the investing landscape, they simply fell out of the news cycle as headlines churned onto something else.
The article details the litany of media-hyped crises that were sure to crater the bull market, trigger a recession and enable Comrade Bernie Sanders to finally Make America the Soviet Union Again. None of these CNN/WaPo/MSLSD/NYT fantasies had any legs. The market experienced short-term sell-offs and then marched on.
Thoughts on a Rocky Monday
Monday’s volatility isn’t a call to action, in our view.
By Fisher Investments Editorial Staff, 02/24/2020
US and global stocks started this week on a sour note, as fears over the coronavirus’s spread into South Korea and Italy shook sentiment. The S&P 500 finished Monday down -3.4%, with most overseas markets similarly weak.[i] Coverage of the disease leads virtually every financial news website, which are also teeming with analyses from economists, politicians, analysts and pundits. Generally, their take is negative, operating on the assumption markets are just now catching on to the coronavirus’s potential fallout—and arguing more downside lies ahead. But this rocky Monday doesn’t change our view: Sentiment swings can always hit stocks short term, but the coronavirus is highly unlikely to upend this bull market.
First, some perspective seems in order. While Monday’s swings were large, it is worth remembering that the S&P 500 stood at all-time highs last Wednesday.[ii] Global stocks? Eight trading days ago (February 12).[iii] Since their respective high-water marks, US and world stocks are down a little over -4% each. That is the definition of a short-term dip—of which there have been dozens during the nearly 11-year old bull market that began in March 2009. For example: Last year had two nearly -6% downdrafts (April 30 – June 3 and July 24 – August 15) and one very similar to today’s size in September.[iv] We aren’t suggesting you should anticipate 2019’s hugely positive returns this year, just that even in great years, short-term volatility is normal.
It seems to me that the
mainstream lamestream news media have been on a mission to undercut the America’s confidence and faith in itself since the Vietnam War. The Coronavirus hype is very much like the climate change hype, the war with [fill in the blank] hype, the Russia nothing burger hype, the Ukraine nothing burger hype, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 is very serious. It will ultimately kill thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands. It is a dangerous epidemic, if not already a pandemic. But the market’s reaction to it this week has been seriously overblown… And much of the “credit” lies with the lamestream media, who seem to be wishing for a COVID-19 recession.
While the danger is far from over, COVID-19 clearly does appear to have peaked.
Stay Invested, It’s Not Time to Fear the Coronavirus
By Brian Wesbury & Robert Stein
February 25, 2020
Monday, fear over the Coronavirus finally gripped investors, as both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index fell over 3% – the largest daily declines in two years. These drops wiped out all the gains for the year.
Frankly, it’s amazing to us that the market had been so resilient! Maybe it’s because recent history with stocks and viruses is that markets overreact leading to significant buying opportunities along the way. Over a 38-day trading period during the height of the SARS virus back in 2003, the S&P 500 index fell by 12.8%. During the Zika virus, which occurred at the end of 2015 and into 2016 the market fell by 12.9%. There are other examples, but they all passed, and the market recovered and hit new highs.
Will this happen again? Our view is that it is highly probable.
Much of the pessimism surrounding the virus focuses on the Chinese under-counting the number of infected to save face. However, it’s important to note that a shortage of specialized test kits has caused health officials in many countries to rely on observable symptoms for diagnoses, and because coronavirus mimics the flu and pneumonia in its early stages, it’s also possible that authorities may be over-counting as well.
Instead of looking at it from a total confirmed case perspective, we think the number of total active cases provides a better look into what is happening. This measure takes total confirmed cases and subtracts deaths and recoveries. This gives the total amount of people who have the potential to spread the virus further.
According to Worldometer, which aggregates statistics from health agencies across the world, total active cases peaked about a week ago at 58,747 and have since been declining. Even with all the new cases we are seeing in South Korea, Italy and Iran (where data is suspect). There have been 30,597 cases with an outcome (2,699 deaths and 27,898 recovered). In other words, the total active cases now stand at 49,923, a drop of 15% from the peak on February 17th.
[…]Real Clear Markets
While vigilance remains essential, hype doesn’t help.
Toning down the 2019-nCoV media hype—and restoring hope
David S Hui
Published:February 12, 2020
As the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak has revealed, the world has become increasingly susceptible to the emergence and outbreaks of new and re-emerging infectious diseases that can spread quickly due to the rapid movement of people globally.1 The appearance of a new infectious disease with pandemic potential usually ignites serious cross-cutting media, as well as scientific and political debate.2, 3 The events surrounding the 2019-nCoV are no different, and for the past 5 weeks, 2019-nCoV has captured global media, political, and scientific attention.4, 5
The balance between providing the information required for appropriate actions in response to risk and providing information that fuels inappropriate actions is delicate. The global media response to 2019-nCoV remains unbalanced, largely due to the continuously evolving developments and, as a result, public perception of risk remains exaggerated.The many unknown factors surrounding the virus are likely to lead to further media hype and aberrant public response. For example, the number of people who travelled to and from Wuhan before travel restrictions and the lockdown were put in place, how many of these individuals were asymptomatic or were incubating the virus, and whether screening and current control measures will be effective, are all unknowns.
As of Feb 10, 37 558 cases were confirmed, and 812 deaths had been reported to the WHO. Outside of China, 307 cases had been detected in 24 countries.6 Therefore, although several hundreds of patients remain in intensive care, the overall hospital fatality rate remains at 2%. Therefore, it is time to reduce the hype and hysteria surrounding the 2019-nCoV epidemic and reduce sensationalisation of new information, especially on social media, where many outlets aim to grab attention from followers. Additionally, the disparity between the strength of language as presented to the media by some researchers and politicians and the inference shared on social media requires more research to determine how content is being relayed on different platforms.
An effective way of putting this outbreak into perspective is to compare it with other respiratory tract infections with epidemic potential. 2019-nCoV appears to fit the same pattern as influenza, with most people recovering and with a low death rate; the people at risk of increased mortality are older in age (>65 years), immunosuppressed, or have comorbid illnesses. There is currently no evidence that 2019-nCoV spreads more rapidly than influenza or has a higher mortality rate.
The media should focus on having altruistic intentions and develop dialogue with the appropriate authorities to protect global health security through effective amiable partnerships. They should highlight vaccine development efforts as well as educational and public health measures that are being put in place to prevent the spread of infection. Although there are many things to still learn regarding how best to respond to disease outbreaks of this nature,7 there are also several positives, such as diagnostics tests being developed within 2 weeks and rolled out globally or the rapid garnering of financial support for vaccine development, which should perhaps be in the headlines, to fuel reassurance rather than fear.The Lancet
Today’s CDC media briefing presented the facts very well… The media coverage, not so much… “Americans should prepare for coronavirus crisis in U.S., CDC says”… Having just listened to the briefing, I’m fairly certain that the word “crisis” was never used, nor does it appear in the transcript.
This is from the CDC’s most recent situation summary:
Situation in U.S.
Imported cases of COVID-19 in travelers have been detected in the U.S. Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 also has been seen among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan, but at this time, this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.
Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including how well it spreads between people, the severity of resulting illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccine or treatment medications). The fact that this disease has caused illness, including illness resulting in death, and sustained person-to-person spread is concerning. These factors meet two of the criteria of a pandemic. As community spread is detected in more and more countries, the world moves closer toward meeting the third criteria, worldwide spread of the new virus.
The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, both globally and to the United States.
But individual risk is dependent on exposure.
For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
*Under current circumstances, certain people will have an increased risk of infection, for example healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 and other close contacts of persons with COVID-19. CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.
*However, it’s important to note that current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic. In that case, the risk assessment would be different.
What May Happen
More cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States. Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and other places for mass gatherings may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and transportation industry may also be affected. Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. Nonpharmaceutical interventions would be the most important response strategy.
The CDC said that they expect to see some community spreading of the disease in the US at some point in time. They didn’t say this:
Top U.S. public health officials said Tuesday that Americans should prepare for the spread of the coronavirus in communities across the country.NBC News
A community-acquired infection simply means that it can be acquired from a community. Infections among people who did not travel to the Wuhan area or have direct contact with people who acquired it there, are community-acquired infections. The CDC said that they expect that there will be some community spreading of COVID-19 in the US at some point in the future… But that they could not predict when or how severe. They did not say “that Americans should prepare for the spread of the coronavirus in communities across the country.” They said that people should prepare for telecommuting, teleschooling and taking other measures to limit contact with large groups of other people, if possible, in the event there is an outbreak in their community.
The hyping and politicization of COVID-19 by Democrats has been particularly disgusting:
Schumer Blasts President Trump For Lack Of Leadership & Lack Of Plan To Address Spread Of Coronavirus
February 24, 2020
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Trump administration’s response to the spread of Coronavirus. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
The World Health Organization has now reported that there are 79,000 cases of Coronavirus across at least 30 countries, at least 53 confirmed cases here in the United States. As the virus continues to spread, the global economy is already beginning to suffer.
All of the warning lights are flashing bright red. We are staring down a potential pandemic and the administration has no plan. We have a crisis of Coronavirus and President Trump has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts, or how to coordinate a response. We must get a handle on the Coronavirus and make sure the United States is fully prepared to deal with its potentially far-reaching consequences.
But the Trump administration has been asleep at the wheel.
President Trump: Good Morning! There’s a pandemic of Coronavirus, where are you? Where is your plan?
It’s just amazing: as the crisis grows and grows, we hear nothing. Coronavirus testing kits have not been widely distributed to our hospitals and public health labs. President Trump’s State Department overruled the recommendations of the scientists in the CDC and allowed infected passengers from a cruise ship to be flown back into the United States. And, amazingly, at a time when we know that these pandemics can spread, this Administration cut the CDC, the agency in charge of fighting these global viruses, with a senseless 16% cut to its budget!
And my fellow Americans, that’s what they do on all these things: they just cut, and then the president tries to claim credit after we restore the money. He did it in his State of the Union. He was claiming: because of his great work with NIH, we’re curing cancer. He’s cut the NIH every budget, including this one.
It is a disgrace how this man can say one thing and do another, and it’s confounding that it doesn’t catch up with him—with too many Americans and none of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
It’s a disgrace that a U.S. Senator could tell so many lies in so few paragraphs, while trying to politicize a serious health issue and potential threat to our economy.
The World Health Organization has now reported that there are 79,000 cases…
Actually the total number of diagnosed cases exceeds 81,000. However, as of this morning, there are 48,170 active cases, about 1,000 less than yesterday. Once a patient recovers or dies, they are no longer an active case. Active cases are declining.
All of the warning lights are flashing bright red. We are staring down a potential pandemic and the administration has no plan.
Maybe if you spent a little more time brushing up on facts, you wouldn’t lie so much. The CDC is part of the “administration”, they have a plan and they are taking action.
There’s a pandemic of Coronavirus, where are you? Where is your plan?
While it may become a pandemic, at this time it is not… And the CDC is coordinating with international, state and local health agencies trying to keep it from becoming one.
It’s just amazing: as the crisis grows and grows, we hear nothing.
Maybe you should have listened to the CDC’s briefing yesterday… You would have heard a lot… But you wouldn’t have heard the word “crisis.”
President Trump’s State Department overruled the recommendations of the scientists in the CDC and allowed infected passengers from a cruise ship to be flown back into the United States.
Schmucky… Those are U.S. citizens. You know, the sort of people you and the president took oaths to protect. A lie of omission is still a lie. Those people are quarantined on U.S. military bases until they recover or we can be reasonably certain they will not develop symptoms.
And, amazingly, at a time when we know that these pandemics can spread, this Administration cut the CDC, the agency in charge of fighting these global viruses, with a senseless 16% cut to its budget!
And? Apart from the Department of Defense, just about every federal agency could have its budget cut by 20% and still be able to perform its legitimate functions. Furthermore, the CDC’s budget wasn’t even cut. This statement is both a lie and a red herring fallacy. In the briefing yesterday, Dr. Messonnier specifically said that the CDC did not lack the resources it needed and the administration is making another $2.5 billion available.
Schmucky, maybe you should read more and flap your gums less…
CDC Outlines Pandemic Plans As Coronavirus Concerns Rise
2020-02-25 Aislinn Antrim, Assistant Editor
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declined to declare the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic,1 however the CDC is preparing for potential pandemic conditions.2 In addition to the agency’s preparations, the FDA and the White House also announced new initiatives Tuesday to combat the spreading virus.
“We are still at the stage of containment, but we are already starting to plan for mitigation,” said Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.2
In a CDC press conference Tuesday, Messonnier said she expects to eventually see community spread in the US, meaning cases will begin appearing without a known source of exposure.2 Community spread is already being observed in several other countries outside of China.1
The virus meets 2 of the 3 criteria for a pandemic, Messonnier said. It has caused illness resulting in death, and sustained person-to-person spread, but has not yet qualified as a pandemic because it lacks the definition for “worldwide spread.”2
For now, the CDC is continuing to focus on individuals that have traveled to China or have been in close contact with a patient with COVID-19. By planning for community spread, however, Messonnier said this focus may shift to a more broad population.2
“If that happens, it will be more and more important that the clinicians have a full tool kit,” she said.2
To that aim, the CDC also is working on the diagnostic tests for COVID-19, which had previously been malfunctioning. While Messonnier did not give a specific timeline for the release of new tests, she said they are hoping to roll the tests out “soon.”2
Currently, 12 locations around the country can test samples, as well as the CDC. The CDC has no backlog or delay, Messonnier said.2
In addition, the White House has requested appropriation of $1.25 billion in emergency funding to continue supporting critical response and preparedness activities, as well as $535 million in emergency supplemental funding to be transferred from Ebola response efforts to the COVID-19 preparedness effort.6
“This funding would support all aspects of the US response, including: public health preparedness and response efforts; public health surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory testing, and quarantining costs; advanced research and development of new vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics; advanced manufacturing enhancements; and the Strategic National Stockpile,” said Russell T. Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, in a letter to.6
In a tweet, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the requested funding is overdue and “completely inadequate” to tackle COVID-19.7
Messonnier concluded that while the situation is concerning, legislators, health care professionals, and the public should focus on preparedness and prevention.
“I’m concerned about the situation, [the] CDC is confirmed about the situation, but we are putting our concerns to work preparing,” she said.2Pharmacy Times
Nancy… How in the hell would you know that the funding was “completely inadequate”? Is it because it doesn’t address climate change and alphabet people?
And now, Comrade Bernie likens COVID-19 to another fake crisis…
Bernie Sanders Likens Coronavirus to Climate Change ‘Crisis’
HANNAH BLEAU 26 Feb 2020
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), during Tuesday evening’s Democrat debate in Charleston, South Carolina, essentially likened the coronavirus outbreak to the climate change “crisis.”
During a brief segment on the coronavirus, Sanders brought the climate change “crisis” into the mix, addressing both with a similar level of urgency.
Death toll from:
- COVID-19 = 2,771 as of February 26, 2020, 13:55 CST
- Climate Change Crisis… Dean Wormer?
Oh… But the Climartiat statistics say that climate change has killed millions of people, maybe billions…
Name them. The COVID-19 victims all have names.
- COVID-19 is serious problem… But not a crisis.
- Climate change is what climate does… And not a crisis.