politics, economy and humans

Following my last rather aggressive rant I’ll try and tone down in this week’s blog post. That’s not to say I am in any way ok with what’s happening in our national and global political landscape and its response to the biggest crisis since WWII. That’s the human part.

As for a view on some of the political leadership, I’d like to share a short video of George Monbiot with you. He puts similar views into a very clear language in a way that I can’t. George is a writer and independent journalist and lives in the UK. I have read two of his books and in general, think he is a lovely chap.

Moving on.

The economy

Economy. Well, I think we can all agree we were hoping 2020 would be “the year”? The word’s New Year resolutions didn’t even have time to be forgotten when Covid19 started emerging. Forget about that. Not going to happen.

Research suggests the current crisis won’t hit the global economy as hard and long as the GFC in 2008 did. Honestly that remains to be seen. I have a different view, but let’s just focus for a moment on why it apparently is not going to be as “tough”.

Research by some clever people of some of the big economics and financial firms suggest that the GFC was essentially a “balance sheet” recession. “The bursting of an earlier housing bubble punched a hole in household balance sheets, forcing a collective shift towards saving/de-gearing rather than spending.” This exposed vulnerabilities in a highly-leveraged banking system and as counter-party confidence collapsed, the financial system froze up. This all manifested itself in a collapse in demand.

A few slides that give you some insights regarding GDPs, credit defaults and more of the current COVID-19 impact.

COVID-19 affects both supply and demand within the economy. Restrictions on people movements (factories, travel etc) reduce the productive capacity of our economy.

The same research suggests that fiscal responses by the governments – ramping up now and over the course of 2020 – will act in time to buffer the economies from recession. Globally, the paper continues, the firms believe there is ample liquidity in the financial systems to absorb financial market volatility.

Maybe, but let’s not forget that we are not talking about corporates helping societies to get back up on their feet but governments. Governments by their very nature need to “borrow” unplanned budgets from the future. As shitty as this sounds (and is) it is borrowed money from our kids. Why? Because governments have only one income stream: TAX. Borrowing from the future means higher tax as we move forward and given the amount of cash needed to get economies back afloat simple means we all have to chip in. Watch this space because none of this is being discussed at all.

Which brings me to my last point.

Everything is going to be better

I have heard many people say, “this is our lesson, the world will be a better place after this”, “people will wake up and see that we have to change” and so on. As I said in one of my blog posts before. This is what’s going to happen.

NOTHING.

Humans don’t run on information.
Humans don’t make decisions on facts.
Humans don’t spend money based on data.
Humans run on feelings.

Humans want stuff, humans want ownership, control and independence (BTW there is a great book I read that explains more of why this will not make you happy) You can read my previous blog post on this in relation to climate change here.

By the way, did you know that the Great Barrier Reef suffered its third mass bleaching event in five years? News of this study came out two days ago. Humans don’t run on information. Humans run on feelings. That’s why anyone who has never dived there or is not directly impacted by climate change barely lifts an eyelid.

Already during this crisis, corporates are gearing up to catch the early bird, be it investments in high demand products, laying off personnel under the banner of Covid19, shifting investments or signing a memorandum of understanding promising government support for coal-fired power stations as everyone else is busy fighting this health crisis. All the while we humans fight over toilet paper.

Oh, by the way, that’s not to say that no humans will look at a different lifestyle once this is over, but I guess you might guess who 🙂

the lucky generation?

We were lucky because we came into the world in countries of advanced capitalism at a time when there was unprecedented economic growth, near ‘full employment’, relatively low inequality of wealth and income, access to education, no shortage of food and no war.

So here we are. Only a few months ago I said to my wife that we are the “lucky generation”. We were lucky because we came into the world in countries of advanced capitalism at a time when there was unprecedented economic growth, near ‘full employment’, relatively low inequality of wealth and income, access to education, no shortage of food and no war. 


My German granddad lost a leg in the second-world war and even though he passed away when I was very young my grandma filled in the blanks for me. I pretty much remember all the stories about the Nazis, the bombings, food shortage and other horrible things.

As Yuval Noah Harari wrote in his book Homo Deus: “We have developed the means to defeat famine, decease and the effect of war…we are more likely to die from obesity than hunger…war is an exceptional occurrence rather than a given, you are more likely to die from diabetes than war and even the Ebola crisis killed “only” 11000 people.”

But here we are.

Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation. The next few months will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture.


I look at my two boys and am pretty scared. Not panicky scared but really scared. Yes, this crisis will pass and we will survive but we will inhabit a different world. We are no longer the lucky generation. Nor are my kids in the lucky generation.

Who knows how this all will impact them. Mental illness and suicide rates are predicted to go through the roof, some Governments including the Australian and US government scare the shit out of me. 


A five and a thirteen-year-old boy died in the UK of Coronavirus, Germany today has 800 infected kids in the age group 0-4 and 1600 in the age group 5-14. Australia doesn’t show any numbers and I suspect that’s due to the fact that kids are not tested because they don’t show any symptoms.

Of course, these numbers are a tiny drop in the ocean compared to car accidents or the “normal” flu. To be honest, the next person that comes up to me with that braindead explanation I’ll… never mind. Car accidents don’t jump on the plane and go viral in another country. Get a f&%*ing perspective and do some reading on how serious this is.


What is totally beyond me is why in Australia childcare centres and schools are still open? Both are hotbeds of infections at the best of times and even though the kids “show little to no symptoms” they are can very well be infected, carry the infection and pass it on. Like every other human being. Whether they actually die from this (well they seem in the UK?? Hello!!!) is totally irrelevant, they should be in self-isolation as every adult. In our case, the boys have been kept from school for the last 4 weeks starting with the first news from Italy.


Please don’t come to me with the “essential service workers” won’t be able to go to work if they have to look after their kids. There are solutions for this and I can tell based on my litmus test of 7 doctor friends, they have had their kids at home before you even knew about the virus. Of course, doctors and nurses are not the only essential workers. That includes cleaners, postmen, truck drivers, grocery store workers and so on but please, there are super-easy solutions for this such as dedicated childcare workers or centres for essential workers. It is pretty straight forward, more importantly, everyone gets tested (kids and carers) going in/out. There you go.


I am super angry and had to write this down. I currently live in Australia and am extremely unhappy with how the Government is dealing with the crisis. I am a big fan of Bill Gates, not for his achievements with Microsoft but this guy has single-handedly eradicated Polio off the face of this earth, was in involved in helping with the Ebola crisis and even warned about this current crisis 5 years ago (see video below) and he says (with a focus on the US) “if we do it right, we’ll only have to do it once for six to 10 weeks, but it has to be the whole country,” on the complete lockdown of the US. The same is true for Australia but I fear the exact opposite is going to happen. We are not in full lockdown at all and given the decreasing numbers of daily increase of new cases we will soon see a softening of the self-isolation rules. I do not believe this is over yet and we have not done enough testing. A second wave as predicted and active in man countries is highly likely. 


The weird thing is, Australia has the unique advantage of space and distance. Our major cities are wide apart making a lockdown and detailed monitoring much much easier than in any other country on this planet. 
And for everyone talking economy here’s my take: we can bring an economy back to life, dead people not so much! And please don’t be so shortsighted. We are part of a global economy even, even if Australia was all hunky-dory tomorrow we have umbilical cords to economies like China, UK and US, plus the rest of world that send tourists to Australia. Australia’s  Service industry comprises over 70% of the GDP. It dominates the economy, which employs over 79% of our labour force! That’s the tourism, media and entertainment, healthcare, logistics, education, and finance sectors. Without the other world economies being well again we will have no economy!

Let’s be safe rather that sorry. 

March 2015 – Bill Gates

go, and self isolate!

21.03.2020

I have to write this down. Even if it is just to keep a historical record.

At the time of writing this the SARS COV-2 virus (covid19 or Coronavirus) has infected 1072 Australians and claimed 7 lives.

Source: https://www.covid19data.com.au/

This number has been doubling every 2-3 days for the last two weeks and it’s exponential trajectory towards doubling every day. By that time we are in deep shit. That time is not in 10 months but in 10 days!

With that in mind I do not understand why Australians (never mind the government) are not self isolating?? Yesterday Bondi beach welcomed over 1000 people happily frolicking on the beach, tonight on my walk through the park I passed restaurants full of people.

Why do I have an opinion on this?

Two reasons really. One is primary school maths. 1700 on Monday, 3400 on Wednesday or Thursday, 7-8000 by next weekend, and thats only the tested numbers!! The true number is a multiple of this. Primary school maths. No magic fairy will bring that down. We are 14-20 days behind Italy. Believe in maths not magic.

Second reason. I am no Virologist or epidemiologist – no, but I worked for 18 months as an advisor to the UK pandemic Influenza preparedness Programm. All we did was simulate and develop responses to such an outbreak. I remember some of the outcomes. Even though theses were only Excel models.

Oh, there is a 3rd reason. LOOK at what it is happening in Italy, France, Germany… how dense can you be and think this will go away? It won’t.

If the numbers end up as predicted we WILL RUN OUT OF MEDICAL help! Australia has 2230 ICU beds. That’s Intensive Care Units beds. 874 in NSW. Guess how quickly they are full? Not to mention the exhausted doctors and nurses and all other helpers. Why do you think they are posting photos like this? For fun??

In Italy 627 people died today.

Let’s not become a second Italy. Please stay home. Look after yourself and stay safe.