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Fragile Bird

Covid-19 #14 - Are We Done Yet?

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1 minute ago, Gareth said:

That's what happens when the Feds make sure there is no liquidity issues and purchased almost every investment under sun to keep the economy going.  I'm sure the next step if there is further signs of trouble is for the Feds to announce that they will purchase ETF's that hold corporate stocks (kinda what Japan did in the 1980s).

The billions being dropped from the sky by helicopter - sorry, trillions - are giving the markets a boost while people wait for ‘normal’ to return. Normal ain’t returning for a couple of years, and that’s only if there is a vaccine that works. Sure the Fed can buy ETFs, but I see that like King Canute ordering the tide to go back out. It didn’t work for the Japanese stock market and won’t work here. The Japanese stock market never recovered because of the fact too many zombie companies remained standing.

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9 minutes ago, DanteGabriel said:

You disrespectful flyover lutefisk-cramming son of a motherless Swede!

I may be a Eurocommie mutt, but I'm no Swede, Masshole! Also, I found this to be hilarious:

Quote

What do Swedes think of Americans?

  • Swedes generally like Americans a lot. This is especially true for young people. However, like in other continental European countries too, the Swedes tend to be very reserved. Contrary to the often overtly loud and very outgoing Americans, Swedes like to keep to themselves and it's generally considered polite to be quiet.

Tells ya what the world thinks of us. I remember the exact moment when I became a bit aware of this while getting drunk in a foreign country.

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6 minutes ago, Fragile Bird said:

The billions being dropped from the sky by helicopter - sorry, trillions - are giving the markets a boost while people wait for ‘normal’ to return. Normal ain’t returning for a couple of years, and that’s only if there is a vaccine that works. Sure the Fed can buy ETFs, but I see that like King Canute ordering the tide to go back out. It didn’t work for the Japanese stock market and won’t work here. The Japanese stock market never recovered because of the fact too many zombie companies remained standing.

I don't think a vaccine will be available anytime soon.  Vaccines are tricky to developed, even for a slow mutating virus like coronavirus.  I would put my money on semi-herd immunity to develop first but who knows.  Never have we seen multi-countries and multi-companies all working together (minus the U.S.) to develop a vaccine before.

I agree with you on the long-term view of the stock market and the economy.  But also believe what the Feds is doing and going to do may have some impact.

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2 minutes ago, Gareth said:

 

I agree with you on the long-term view of the stock market and the economy.  But also believe what the Feds is doing and going to do may have some impact.

Lol, Google a chart of the Japanese market...

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14 minutes ago, Gareth said:

But also believe what the Feds is doing and going to do may have some impact.

The Feds activities are certainly propping things up, but like @Fragile Bird said, it's the dumping of trillions of dollars that's really keeping things afloat, and Congress will have to do several more rounds of stimulus. Our national debt will be well over $30t before this is all said and done, and I have no idea what kind of long term impact that will have.

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4 hours ago, Tywin et al. said:

The Ugly: He estimated between 500 and 1,000 colleges and universities will close for good. He didn't make it clear though if he was talking about traditional four year institutions or just anything that's post HS. But a quick Google search suggests that regardless, that's a huge percentage. So much rich history could be lost forever. 

I am sure Covid-19 is going to make this much, much worse. But there were probably going to be a lot of small colleges closing in the next decade or so just because of demographic factors -- the total number of "traditional age" students will be going down and competition for them among the institutions that depend on them would have been even more fierce. Now we have the added problem that a lot of traditional age students are expected to delay going to college for at least a year because of the crisis.

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54 minutes ago, Ormond said:

I am sure Covid-19 is going to make this much, much worse. But there were probably going to be a lot of small colleges closing in the next decade or so just because of demographic factors -- the total number of "traditional age" students will be going down and competition for them among the institutions that depend on them would have been even more fierce. Now we have the added problem that a lot of traditional age students are expected to delay going to college for at least a year because of the crisis.

I think you're right. There was going to be a consolidation of smaller institutions regardless. A recession was coming anyways, this is just one on speed, and paying people to stay home rather than go out and shop is a new thing to deal with.

One fear I have though, and this is not limited to academia, is so many companies/universities/etc. are going to massively downsize their work force. There are so many redundant roles that will be discovered and removed, especially when places are needing to cut all unnecessary costs. My office could easily cut its staff in half and be fine, and even though idiots largely run it, they will figure it out. I finally heard from them today and there are no changes despite our state reopening. I wouldn't be shocked if I never go back. And frankly, big picture, that would be a good thing. There's no point in wasting anymore time there. Plus I've been good and have been studying for grad and law school. :)

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15 hours ago, Tywin et al. said:

One fear I have though, and this is not limited to academia, is so many companies/universities/etc. are going to massively downsize their work force. There are so many redundant roles that will be discovered and removed, especially when places are needing to cut all unnecessary costs. My office could easily cut its staff in half and be fine, and even though idiots largely run it, they will figure it out. I finally heard from them today and there are no changes despite our state reopening. I wouldn't be shocked if I never go back. And frankly, big picture, that would be a good thing. There's no point in wasting anymore time there. Plus I've been good and have been studying for grad and law school. :)

Totally agree with this. The US unemployment numbers are atrocious, but commentators are pointing to the fact that 78% of workers are saying their layoff is temporary. To me, that's crazily optimistic (but glad @Tywin et al. that you have a plan!).

A whole bunch of service jobs are just going to be plain eliminated. For those restaurants, pubs and bars that don't just straight out close, the ones that survive are going to be aggressively cutting costs and running as thin a staff as possible. For all the big companies out there, there's going to be essentially a huge coordinated cost cutting out there all at the same time. R&D will be decimated, headcount will be reduced, divisions will have to come up with across the board cuts.

I just don't see how 80% of the 30 million plus people are going to instantly go back to their jobs.

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6 minutes ago, Jeor said:

A whole bunch of service jobs are just going to be plain eliminated. For those restaurants, pubs and bars that don't just straight out close, the ones that survive are going to be aggressively cutting costs and running as thin a staff as possible.

To be fair I think those jobs will come back eventually even if it takes a while with some restaurants and bars going out of business and having to be replaced over the long term. People are desperate to go back to going to pubs and restaurants.

It's industries that might make a long term shift as a result of all this were the job losses might be more permanent. Off the top of my head retail has been shifting online for a while and I expect this will accelerate the process, I think a lot of companies might choose to cut back on traditional office space and I could see there being a contraction in the aviation sector.

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10 minutes ago, ljkeane said:

To be fair I think those jobs will come back eventually even if it takes a while with some restaurants and bars going out of business and having to be replaced over the long term. People are desperate to go back to going to pubs and restaurants.

It's industries that might make a long term shift as a result of all this were the job losses might be more permanent. Off the top of my head retail has been shifting online for a while and I expect this will accelerate the process, I think a lot of companies might choose to cut back on traditional office space and I could see there being a contraction in the aviation sector.

I guess those service jobs will come back eventually, but it's going to take a much longer time than a snapback - especially if it involves existing pubs/restaurants closing down and new businesses having to start up again.

I agree retail is going to be the sector most hard-hit. Shopping malls are going to shrink or disappear; of the retailers that survive, I suspect a lot of them are planning to close a bunch of stores nationwide.

Consultants are going to find it tough - when corporations begin instituting budget cuts or budget controls, you'd expect hiring outside consultants is going to be the first thing on the chopping block.

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13 minutes ago, ljkeane said:

To be fair I think those jobs will come back eventually even if it takes a while with some restaurants and bars going out of business and having to be replaced over the long term. People are desperate to go back to going to pubs and restaurants.

It's industries that might make a long term shift as a result of all this were the job losses might be more permanent. Off the top of my head retail has been shifting online for a while and I expect this will accelerate the process, I think a lot of companies might choose to cut back on traditional office space and I could see there being a contraction in the aviation sector.

It's hard to say, because each industry is different, but I feel like ten years from now we'll look back and view this event as what caused automation to go wild. 

That doesn't have to be a bad thing, but it will be, because rather than use it as a tool to improve our lives and give us more time to relax, it will probably just continue the wealth gap. 

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2 hours ago, Jeor said:

Consultants are going to find it tough - when corporations begin instituting budget cuts or budget controls, you'd expect hiring outside consultants is going to be the first thing on the chopping block.

Depends on the industry and what kind of consultant we're talking about. There are a lot of circumstances where consultants and outside contractors truly are the cheaper option than staffing up. Especially for one-time projects that require special expertise.

But it is something I'm thinking about a lot, since I work for a consulting firm. I tend to think my specific kind of work, which is mostly for governments rather companies, won't face cuts; since it didn't in the last recession. But there's always the chance things are different this time due to the severity of the problem.

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On 5/22/2020 at 8:39 AM, Iskaral Pust said:

An acquaintance of ours, an oncologist, included us on an email a week or two ago in which he advised that a regimen of aspirin would be a simple and effective treatment for a lot of Covid cases because it seems to primarily attack through inflammation, and because aspirin is already established as cheap, available in volume and safe to most people.  He based this on his years research of chemo treatments.  The email went quite long with some technical explanation.

I thought it was bizarre for any doctor to offer widespread unsolicited medical advice.  It felt like a crank message TBH.

(I don’t know him well but our close friend who is an oncology surgeon, and also included on the email, did confirm that this guy is an oncology research doctor.  But offered no further opinion)

Something I read about the 1918 flu was that one theory it was so lethal was that doctors were over proscribing aspirin.  There were a lot fewer arrows in the quiver and aspirin was still a new a shiny wonder drug.  But doctors hadn't learned how long it can take the body to clear a given dose and ended up proscribing mega doses on top of mega doses.  Probably wasn't as big a factor as the automobile, but at least they now know the maximum safe dosage.

19 hours ago, Ormond said:

I am sure Covid-19 is going to make this much, much worse. But there were probably going to be a lot of small colleges closing in the next decade or so just because of demographic factors -- the total number of "traditional age" students will be going down and competition for them among the institutions that depend on them would have been even more fierce. Now we have the added problem that a lot of traditional age students are expected to delay going to college for at least a year because of the crisis.

I would also add in the factor of long distance learning.  Where financial concerns are an issue, why go to a four year school when you can distance learn from your local community college for lower level prerequisites for as low as 5% of the price or so?  The price differential isn't necessarily new, but by necessity more people have been exposed to long distance classes and there will only be a stigma of snobbishness, not quality, going forward I think.

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2 hours ago, ljkeane said:

People are desperate to go back to going to pubs and restaurants.

Not everyone.
For each person "desperate" to go back to "normal," you'll find someone who's either afraid of the virus, or just reluctant to go back to "normal" for various reasons: their favorite places will close for good, they were never that enthusiastic about socialising, or they found new ways to socialise.
Point is, demand will not instantly go back to normal. You'll have a spike as lockdowns end, but that won't necessarily last, and will probably not be enough for all pubs or restaurants.

As for online learning, I'm kinda torn.
- It's harder to learn in front of a screen (it requires more focus, motivation, and obviously some basic computer skills) and not everyone can do it. In my experience, even "digital natives" don't necessarily do well online. In fact, I'm tempted to say online learning increases existing socio-economic inequalities. Students from poorer backgrounds find it harder for several reasons: they're not used to using computers as tools (they use smartphones more), their internet access isn't great, they often have less time because they work or baby-sit (so they work at night)... etc.
BUT
- Logistically speaking it's interesting for everybody.
The main problem in my eyes is that, of course, many universities will just see the shift as an opportunity to implement budget cuts, when in fact developing online learning would require significant investments (training teachers and students, reorganizing the infrastructure, ensuring equality of access... etc).

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1 minute ago, Rippounet said:

Not everyone.
For each person "desperate" to go back to "normal," you'll find someone who's either afraid of the virus, or just reluctant to go back to "normal" for various reasons

That's not really my experience. Of course it's anecdotal but I'd about 90% of the people I speak to about what they most want to do when lockdown's over involves going to either a bar or restaurant. Of course that doesn't necessarily translate to the same level of demand in the short to medium term as we're still negotiating various restrictions but I'd be surprised if there's actually a significant change in the demand for leisure services like that in the longterm.

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9 minutes ago, ljkeane said:

That's not really my experience. Of course it's anecdotal but I'd about 90% of the people I speak to about what they most want to do when lockdown's over involves going to either a bar or restaurant. Of course that doesn't necessarily translate to the same level of demand in the short to medium term as we're still negotiating various restrictions but I'd be surprised if there's actually a significant change in the demand for leisure services like that in the longterm.

The problem here is what people mean by "when the lockdown is over." It may be different in the UK, but in the USA the polls I've seen show at least half of Americans believing that governments are ending the lockdown too early. There are a lot of Americans who aren't going to be ending their personal lockdowns until they are sure their communities are meeting the CDC standards, not what their governor says. 

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1 minute ago, ljkeane said:

That's not really my experience. Of course it's anecdotal but I'd about 90% of the people I speak to about what they most want to do when lockdown's over involves going to either a bar or restaurant.

As I said, you'll have a spike as lockdowns end, but whether demand is sustained in the long run will obviously depend on many factors.
Quite obviously, anyone who is vulnerable to the disease -or has a loved one who is- will not rush to public/crowded places as long as the virus is still the main topic in the media ; some will be careful even beyond that.

And it's one thing to be eager to go back to a bar or restaurant, and another to do it as regularly as before or even more frequently (which would probably be needed to save many businesses).

It all depends what the second wave will look like in each country - as well as how the media covers it. Even people who are eager to get a beer or a burger right now may not risk the life of their parents or grandparents for that beer or burger further down the line.

Anecdotally the people I know who are really eager to go out again are young people living in large cities. Everybody else is thinking twice about it. And lockdown here ended almost two weeks ago.

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1 hour ago, Rippounet said:

Not everyone.
For each person "desperate" to go back to "normal," you'll find someone who's either afraid of the virus, or just reluctant to go back to "normal" for various reasons: their favorite places will close for good, they were never that enthusiastic about socialising, or they found new ways to socialise.
Point is, demand will not instantly go back to normal. You'll have a spike as lockdowns end, but that won't necessarily last, and will probably not be enough for all pubs or restaurants.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the suggestion was that it would be instant. I do think just about everyone is desperate for things to go back to normal; its just that many of us acknowledge that this isn't possible so long as the threat of the virus remains.

I"m not going to any bars or restaurants until there's a vaccine (or the virus mutates to be harmless or something), but I have a ton of pent up demand to go. And once I can, I will be; constantly.

I'm sure some people will adjust, find that they like more remote socializing, but I think that's an incredibly small minority. Just like the Roaring 20s came after the 1918 pandemic (and WWI), I think eventually there will be something similar this time around. But it's not going to be this summer or fall.

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5 minutes ago, Fez said:

I do think just about everyone is desperate for things to go back to normal; its just that many of us acknowledge that this isn't possible so long as the threat of the virus remains.

I would have thought being "desperate" to go back to normal and acknowledging that it will take some time were somewhat mutually exclusive.
Anyway, yes, quibbles aside, we all agree it's going to take some time. I was merely agreeing with @Jeor that many bars and restaurants will close and new ones will eventually have to be created to meet demand.
I could see it easily taking years to go back to pre-pandemic levels.

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