Wednesday, April 22, 2020

To have a Memorial Day of remembrances and new beginnings we must remain scientifically steadfast

Less than a month ago, in a March 29 post here Memorial Day 2020 - A Day of New Beginnings?, a hope was offered:

    Hopefully, Memorial Day 2020 will not only be a day of remembrance for those lost in wars plus those lost in the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic, but it will mark a week of new beginnings. Hopefully, new cases will have become minimal permitting many states to soon lift business closure orders and "shelter-in-place" orders for people under 65 (but not "safe distance"rules).
    ...This all assumes that the peak caseload in most of the United States will occur shortly before or after Easter Week. Hopefully this timeline is not full of wishful thinking....

The following is a ray of hope based on an daily updated data graph in an article in the New York Times:

Indeed, the peak for new cases of Covid-19 appears to have occurred around Easter Week and that New York Times article notes: "Even as new hospitalizations in the state slowed and the period of explosive, day-over-day growth in case numbers seemed to be ending, familiar routines remained a distant vision."

It has been suggested that "money is more important then love" to Americans. And indeed our state and local leaders are facing protesters demanding the lifting of the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020, that impairment to their freedom of movement and freedom of association in order to earn and spend money.

So now in many states and locales it appears that politicians are responding to that idea by lifting many restrictions within shelter-in-place orders. The infamous Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick yesterday called for the reopening of his state and the country late Monday, restating his mantra there are "more important things than living.”

It is, of course, too soon and that natural human interaction which will result will simply stop the progress on the graph above and increase deaths.

Simply, if we cannot have a Memorial Day that not only involves remembrances but offers new beginnings, we will have confirmed that money is more important to too many Americans than love of their family, friends, and coworkers.

What will be interesting is the extent to which using the map below one will be able to see which color the states that lift restrictions too soon and see increases in new cases and deaths:

Still it is reasonable to have hope that Memorial Day 2020 will not only be a day of remembrance for those lost in wars plus those lost in the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic, but it also will mark a week of new beginnings, at least for those of us who in a state where the leadership eschews denial and believes in science (the press conference begins at 3:36):

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Coronavirus Crisis dilemma: Immunizing the herd without a vaccine to end the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020 could kill 7 million Americans

In the face of the Coronavirus Crisis of 2020, responsible local and state governments initiated the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020 to minimize deaths and hospitalizations from Covid-19.

Today two sources of political pressure to "open" the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020 are rising.

One is the obvious group of "you can't do that to me" folks who are outwardly seeming to advocate a "give me liberty or give me death" philosophy while ignoring what they are really advocating - "give me liberty to spread disease and kill you." Ironically, most are the folks that claim to be "Pro-Life" who are advocating "Pro-Choice" as their right. Donald Trump is cheering them on because he needs them to win reelection.

President George Washington would be turning over in his grave, of course. As he made clear during the Whiskey Rebellion personally leading troops to squash the protest, nothing in the Constitution or American history guarantees freedom from government regulation. We are a government of laws, not men.

But the sign-waving, out-on-the-streets-with-guns protesters are not alone.Not quite as obvious are those criticizing the lack of progress on badly needed testing that's holding up ending the Lockdown, the other folks questioning whether we can wait.

A good example is Dear Governor Newsom: Where Is Our Coronavirus Testing? subtitled A letter to the much-lauded California governor — because we know very little, and it’s frustrating. It was written by Sharon Waxman, the founder, CEO and Editor in Chief of TheWrap. She is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, and was a Hollywood correspondent for The New York Times.

I have to believe that Waxman may have done well in college - she graduated from Barnard College in 1985 and from St. Antony's College, Oxford University in 1987 with a Masters of Philosophy in Modern Middle East Studies. But she must have avoided math classes. And her criticism reflects others who can't do math.

You see, there are about 340,000,000 people (that's 340 million) in the United States. If we tested 1,000,000 (that's 1 million) a day, it would take 340 days to test everyone.  And based on California's share of the population Californians would be testing 117,000 people a day.

Fortunately, however, we don't need to test everyone to know if we've achieved "herd immunity."

In the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic officials or public health specialists refer to "herd immunity." Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through previous infections or vaccination. This provides a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune.

It sounds simple enough. But it takes a substantial percentage of the population to become immune to protect those who are not immune. If enough people are vaccinated, we have herd immunity.

If there is no vaccine for a disease, enough people have to get the disease and survive to achieve herd immunity. Another way to explain it is that a population reaches herd immunity when enough people have survived to achieve the herd immunity threshold (HIT). Oh, and inevitably and unavoidably that means enough people have died!

Consider the chart at the right. Smallpox is a good example of a disease. If smallpox appears in a localized population of 1,000 people and  980 fall ill and 80 survive, those 80 are immune offering "herd immunity" resistance against a future epidemic developing thereby protecting the 20 who were not infected of the original population of 1,000.

Harvard University experts say to reopen the United States by mid-May, the number of daily tests performed between now and then should be 500,000 to 700,000. So if population size is the factor California's share would be 7,200 tests a day.  While mid-May is perhaps overly optimistic, it actually appears California is getting there:

But we need to understand the goal for this level of testing. It is to measure our gains towards "herd immunity" through the spreading of the infection. This will be accomplished by letting people go back to doing their thing thereby contracting the disease. But not too many at a time. And while still trying to protect those most vulnerable to death.

Regarding Covid-19, California Governor Gavin Newsom has used the term to explain the levels of achieving a new normal. One reporter wrote:

    What does “herd immunity” look like in the age of COVID-19? Without a vaccine, about 28 million infected Californians.
    Based on current estimates, about 5 percent of infected people — or roughly 1.4 million Californians — would get severely ill. Of these, 840,000 could die, although there’s hope of holding that number down.
    This bleak strategy may be the only way through a pandemic that is causing profound economic, social and education paralysis. A vaccine, which also could provide herd immunity, is 12 to 18 months away, with likely additional months needed to scale up manufacturing and distribution.
    It’s also very scary. The governor’s promised “light at the end of the tunnel” could instead be the glaring halogens over an ICU bed.

The reporter is using a 70% HIT which if you look at the chart seems reasonable. If you extend those numbers to the entire US., it would mean 231 million Americans will have to get Covid-19 to create a national herd immunity. That would mean 11.6 million would get severely ill with as many as 7 million deaths.

But we don't even know if that will work.

Though people who recover from Covid-19 likely will have some degree of immunity for some period of time, the specifics are unknown. For instance, we don’t yet know why some who’ve been diagnosed as “fully recovered” from the virus have tested positive a second time after leaving quarantine. For instance, we don’t know why some recovered patients have low levels of antibodies.

 In fact there is much we don't know.

We don’t know today  how many people have been infected with Covid-19 and we have no way to estimate that number based on many years of experience like we do the flu. We don’t know the full range of symptoms. We don’t always know why some infections develop into fatal severe disease.

We don’t know what percentage of adults or what percentage of children are asymptomatic and don't know if we will ever be able to know. That is because we don’t know if the United States will ever be able to deploy the 22-million-people-per-day mass testing needed to develop reliable data before next outbreak of Covid-19. Heck, we don’t know when states will be able to test everyone who has symptoms.

We don't know how many virus particles it takes to launch an infection, how far the virus travels in outdoor spaces or in indoor settings (though experts now are saying 4 meters or 13 feet, not 6 feet), or if airborne movements affected the course of the pandemic.

We don’t know for certain if the virus will subside as the Northern Hemisphere enters the warmer months of spring and summer, as many other viruses do. And we don't know that whether it will return perhaps mutated in the fall or winter if it does subside, as many other viruses do.

Assuming a best case scenario we are at least 24 months away from achieving herd immunity with a vaccine. But we don’t know if or when researchers will develop a successful vaccine or whether the coronavirus will or already has mutated thwarting the future effectiveness of vaccines.

In order to give us time to gear up to treat victims, we have instituted the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020 which among other things includes insuring social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” which means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. To practice social or physical distancing as prescribed:
  • Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people
  • Do not gather in groups
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings
Note the words "at least" relative to the 6 feet (2 meters) measurement and again note that experts have discovered that the airborne movements of the virus seems to be 4 meters or 13 feet. So people are also being asked to wear masks.

Members of the pro-Trump right are opposing the Lockdown essentially saying that they have the right to choose how to protect their own safety while retaining all freedom of movement and association. As pictures appear of unmasked folks with guns standing next to each other demonstrating against the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020, one has to puzzle how they relate the Coronavirus Crisis to the common understanding of public safety - are they planning on shooting the virus if it doesn't turn itself in at a the police station?

There is a reason we frequently say "health and safety." They are not the same thing.

A difference exist between laws protecting public safety and regulations protecting public health. The protesters are confused as they don't understand the concept of a local or state government "Public Health Department" which is a government department authorized by law to use the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through organized efforts based on informed choices.

This is different from the concept of "Public Safety" departments like police departments which are the government departments authorized by law to use guns to enforce laws regarding criminal behavior. In general there is little commonality between the skills and expertise needed to handle public safety issues versus public health issues. It is police officers who use guns, not health officers.

The fact is that the ability to use a gun is a skill that in no way will protect you or your family from Covid-19. There are a growing number of families that include or included a police officer that will testify to that.

The one fact we know about the disease is that it is personal interaction between people, just socializing or engaging in business, is the human behavior that ultimately kills people. To not be free to interact with people for business or social purposes is contrary to everything Americans believe, except when the obvious result of the interaction will be to unintentionally kill human life.

The real problem is Americans under the age of 100 years old have never seen a worldwide pandemic from a virulent disease that seemingly randomly kills humans and against which no one has any immunity nor can obtain immunity from a vaccine. In fact only those of us older than age 65 can remember in the United States an epidemic such as polio. Fear of epidemics (a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time) and pandemics (an occurrence of an infectious disease over a whole country or the world) was once a part of human life.

Yes, annual influenza pandemics still kill people. In countries such as the United States vaccines though imperfect are available. Because the HIT for influenza is 33-44%, people frequently have some degree of immunity sometimes from prior year similar strains, Yes, deaths from the flu are normally limited to those who have prior unrelated health conditions which makes it seem similar to Covid-19 deaths. But one thing we do know is that a severe Covid-19 coronavirus infection looks nothing like influenza, not even the 1918 Spanish Flu. We do know that Covid-19 attacks the lungs and blood vessels in ways unlike the flu.

Just exactly how much risk are we willing to take to reopen our economy and society to personal interaction? Having had no similar experience, we don’t know how to open things up again, What if the actual safe social distance is 13 feet, not six?

We could, of course, create herd immunity by just ending all restrictions. But we in California quite literally have set a goal to reduce restrictions in order to infect the most people possible while avoiding high hospitalization and death rates.

Last Tuesday Governor Newsom said at his  news briefing: "There's no light switch here. It's more like a dimmer. That dimmer is this toggling back and forth between more restrictive and less restrictive measures."

Make no mistake about it. Ending the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020 will not end the Coronavirus Crisis of 2020. We will discover when we've ended a specific restriction too soon by the level of jumps in hospitalizations and deaths.

With that said, I trust Newsom's approach. And because I know most of them know how to do math, I also trust the group of people he has appointed to his Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery (see below) to help California thread the needle required to stitch our economy back together while minimizing deaths.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

No precedent exists to guide us after the Great Economic Lockdown and Coronavirus Crisis

On January 1, 2020, a formal international economic structure and an informal global economic structure existed. Both were unlike anything that existed in the 19th Century when the economic theories of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and friends became popular. We have significantly interrupted the normal functioning of those structures because of a pandemic threatening the lives of many, many people.

Ignorance still pervades what has become the Coronavirus Crisis though you would not know that from the news relating to the Trump Administration exploring ending shutdown orders.

Covid-19 infections began in China in November 2019 or earlier and as noted in an article in the LA Times may have arrived in the U.S. in December.

In the past, several members of the coronavirus family called "human coronavirus" have infected us annually causing mild respiratory ailments we regard as the common cold. These "colds" are not distinguished clinically from other annual colds. Those infections provide no lasting immunity. The same type of human coronavirus may return after several years, but a different one may cause an infection in intervening years. Incidents peak in the winter, taking the form of local epidemics lasting a few weeks or months. We also don't shut our economy down during these "common cold" epidemics. From this we know that strains of coronavirus behave differently from influenza virus strains.

We don't know if the Coronavirus Crisis will be seasonal like other coronavirus strains. We don't know if the Covid-19 coronavirus will provide any lasting immunity like influenza virus strains. And unlike in cold and flue epidemics, we have instituted worldwide the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020 to limit deaths and major disabilities from the Covid-19 pandemic.

No precedent exists to guide us through to January 2021. Still key elected officials are under tremendous pressure from constituents only slightly more ignorant than they are who are pushing to end the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020. Or perhaps they all are crassly merciless believing that humans are just nameless machines feeding labor into the all-important economy. If you think they are not that ignorant or crass, consider this.

In fact a pandemich such as the Coronavirus Crisis was predicted as we can see below in Bill Gates' TED2015 talk explaining what our pandemic would be like. (with transcript).

It is fair to say that almost all the populist voters who supported the Trump movement were and are unaware of what Gates explained. And it is likely that those few who were aware dismissed it as a lie from the political left.

Because of the populist rhetoric reawakening 19th Century attitudes on race, culture, economics, and relative wealth, issues of public health and safety in the reality of the One Earth 21st Century did not come up in election campaign discussions. In the past decade within the western economies deliberate populist political choices were made to accelerate the reversal the 30-year economic globalization pattern that preceded the 2008-09 Great Recession.

The  Coronavirus Crisis and subsequent Great Economic Lockdown of 2020 is an unexpected outcome of those choices.

In the Post-WWII half-century leading up to the Great Recession the global economy expanded, with trade and cross-border financial flows growing and nations working together, albeit haltingly, resisting at times.

Since the Great Recession and prior to the Covid-19 pandemic cross-border financial flows were down more than 60 per cent by value indicative of the success of the populist choice and indicative of opposition to nations working together.

In the past decade overt government intervention and state-against-state economic clashes became the norm. Most obvious are Trump's trade wars which, along with Climate Change denial, blinded the American political debate to any broader "One Earth" reality. And Trump's most antagonistic trade war was with China.

That truth is that the health of the public in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 should have been the primary concern of the U.S. government resulting in a major effort to address the pandemic potential by mid-January 2020. But that was impossible in the political climate controlling American democracy within which money is the only issue, who has it and who can get it.

Government mobilization of the public and corporations to mitigate the Coronavirus Crisis has been compared to the mobilization of civilians and the economy at the beginning of WWII. Yet few, if any, have noted the parallels of American pro-isolationist policies of the Roaring 20's that led to the Great Depression and WWII. And in truth there has been no U.S. government effort to mobilize the public and corporations approaching the scale of WWII mobilization.

The Great Economic Lockdown of 2020 ordered by states and local governments in response to the Coronavirus Crisis has no parallels in history. In the 21st Century humanity exists in a rapidly moving "One Earth" reality created by the colonialism of the 19th Century, the wars and medical advances (including birth control) of the 20th Century, and the technology of the 21st Century. Consider:
  1. Since the end of WWI we have been in an extended period of struggle over globalization between the forces of nationalism against the idealism embedded in a One Earth movement that resulted in the 20th Century nations creating international organizations such as
    • the League of Nations and the United Nations,
    • the International Monetary Fund (IMF),
    • the World Health Organization (WHO),
    • the World Trade Organization (WTO),
    • the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA),
    • the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its probable successor the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and
    • the Paris Agreement,
    all of which facilitate a world economy dependent upon trade and cross-border financial flows, but which have been opposed since The Great Recession of 2008-09.
  2. In the 21st Century a globalized, connected public has come into being outside those organizations as a result of popular, easily accessible technology which is associated with pervasive data production, collection.  analysis, and cross-border sharing; that public is made up of "informed" labor which is also the consumer swimming in a deluge of "infotaiment" in an economy where consumer spending is the major element (for instance 71% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product).
  3. In the 21st Century the world is supporting an aging population; in 1960 persons age 65 and older made up only 5 percent of the world's population while today they make up nearly double that percentage with Europe and North America at 16%. and in 1960 persons under the age of 14 made up 37%,while today they make up 26% which is an 11% drop.
  4. In the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020 well over 20% of labor (including thousands of small business owners) across every developed country has ceased working which means that a comparable percentage of consumers have had their normal income stop as they are the same people; at some point the more fortunate in many nations may receive government funded replacement income created through unprecedented national debt increases which no one has discussed in the context of repayment.
  5. In January before the Coronavirus Crisis was acknowledged in the United States, The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, and other new media noted with seeming concern that the Congressional Budget Office projected that by 2030 federal government debt would rise to $31.4 trillion, 98% of the Gross Domestic Product; but on top of an expected $1 trillion current fiscal year deficit, the Great Economic Lockdown of 2020
    • has caused unemployment to surged dramatically, reducing government income flows from payroll taxes;
    • forced Congress to approved three rescue packages, the most recent of which came with a $2 trillion price tag with more packages being discussed;
    • stimulated the Federal Reserve, after injecting $1.5 trillion into short-term money markets and cutting interest rates to about 0 percent, to implementing plans to boost the economy by buying up mortgage-backed securities and government bonds and creating further plans offering up to $2.3 trillion in economic aid to businesses and state and local governments, including extending $600 billion in loans through its Main Street Lending Program to small and medium-sized businesses, offering $500 billion to state and local governments to avoid budget shortfalls and maintain spending on critical relief programs, and collectively offering up to $850 billion to households, employers, and companies through its corporate credit facilities and Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, much of which is considered potentially unrecoverable unlike the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) of the Great Recession era;
    all of which is expected to push the U.S. national debt, which was was around $22 trillion last year to, beyond $25 billion this year to be considered in the context of even greater debt expansion by other nations around the world.
Again no precedent exists to guide us through to January 2021. In addition to what we don't know about the Covid-19 coronavirus, we do not know how the interplay of the five factors listed above will influence government action attempting a return to economic "normal" and what reactions from labor/consumers will result.

After this pandemic the data will be crunched and costs of preparing for future pandemics, including the costs of creating structures to limit the impacts of those pandemics, will be considered for inclusion into a recovering economy.

The problem is many nation-states are controlled by glib semi-competent politicians served by the "infotaiment" media. And too many are committed to broad free-market policies constraining the possible consideration of government options to intervene in the economy even in a stressful pandemic situation.

Perhaps it is just a well we Americans have an experienced reality TV host as our President as a lack of precedent to guide him through to January 20th, 2021, will not be of concern - his writers can just make things up to suit him. What happens after that is another story....

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Ignore economists. The number of people without wages will far exceed The Great Depression peak, and it's about the human struggle not economics.

Until March 2020 the United States has never had a depression within a consumer economy heavily dependent on international trade. Now we are in the Covid-19 Depression which has no precedents to offer economists data for statistical models.

Economists are noting that the unemployment percentages are climbing to as much as half that of  the Great Depression.

That is an irrelevant statistic. Right now, today there are more people who have lost their jobs than there were in the midst of the Great Depression. Right now, today there are more families impacted. And among those families there is illness and death from a pandemic the breadth of which has not been seen since the end of WWI.

A comparative review of the current economic reality seems necessary.

In 1932 the United States was in the depths of the Great Depression with some 15 million people unemployed.

If you have been hiding in a cave over the past two months, you may have missed headlines like this ’No words for this’: 10 million workers file jobless claims in just two weeks.

The story tells you that "more than 6.6 million U.S. workers filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, on top of 3.3 million a week earlier, marking unprecedented devastation across the labor market." What it doesn't tell you is that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were already 5.8 million unemployed at the end of February.

So, let's word the truth as simply as possible:

As of last week the number of people on the official unemployment roles in the United States exceeded the number of people unemployed in the depths of the Great Depression.

Unfortunately those current numbers are not complete. As the article notes:

    Additionally, the number doesn't capture self-employed workers, who are not eligible for state unemployment benefits....
    Also left out of the count are people who left the workforce voluntarily for any reason — including to care for a sick family member, a child home from school, or because they are sick, themselves, from Covid-19, the illness caused by the unique coronavirus.

In other words, the Covid-19 pandemic has already resulted in more Americans looking for income-producing work than there were in the depths of the Great Depression.

Economists have a different take as noted in a Market Watch story: "The soaring U.S. unemployment rate might not match the peak of 25% seen during the Great Depression of the 1930s, but it could come uncomfortably close in the next few months."

The numerical between our society today and how it was prior to the Great Depression is that there were 123 million Americans with a workforce of 49 million (40%) while there are 331.0 million Americans today with a workforce of 165 million today (50%). But today's statistical labor workforce is different. There are far more women and far fewer workers over age 60.

In addition to the pandemic cause, the issues are more complex. Today we have Unemployment Insurance, Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security ,and numerous "public assistance" programs that didn't exist in any form in 1932. Today we have the federal government about to send to taxpaying adults $1,200 each (and $500 per each kid in the family). And today we have the federal government making emergency loans to small businesses, some even forgivable.

Still, we need to take note of the observations in Life for the Average Family During the Great Depression;

    The Great Depression (1929-1939) was the worst economic downturn in modern history. The preceding decade, known as the “Roaring Twenties,” was a time of relative affluence for many middle- and working-class families. As the economy boomed, new innovations allowed for more leisure time and the creation of a consumer society. But the economic depression that followed those boon years profoundly affected the daily life of American families, in ways large and small.

Even the affluent faced severe belt-tightening.

    Four years after 1929 stock market crash, during the bleakest point of the Great Depression, about a quarter of the U.S. workforce was unemployed. Those that were lucky enough to have steady employment often saw their wages cut or their hours reduced to part-time.
    Even upper-middle class professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, saw their incomes drop by as much as 40 percent. Families who had previously enjoyed economic security suddenly faced financial instability or, in some cases, ruin.
    The average American family lived by the Depression-era motto: “Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.” Many tried to keep up appearances and carry on with life as close to normal as possible while they adapted to new economic circumstances.
    Households embraced a new level of frugality in daily life. They kept kitchen gardens, patched worn-out clothes and passed on trips to the movies as they privately struggled to retain ownership of a home or automobile.

It's going to be different in the 2020's than in the 1930's, but many things are going to feel the same.

The immediate cause of the Covid-19 Depression is different from the immediate cause of the Great Depression. It is at this point that a need arises to note that the economists who determine when we are having a "recession" do not formally recognize the term "depression." Say what???

As explained in Wikipedia: "In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction when there is a general decline in economic activity." Also as noted in Wikipedia: "In the United States the National Bureau of Economic Research determines contractions and expansions in the business cycle, but does not declare depressions."

Maybe we need to understand what, in narrative form, was the Great Depression. Consider this description:

    The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasting from 1929 to 1939. It began after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and employment as failing companies laid off workers. By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its lowest point, some 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half the country’s banks had failed.

Obviously here in the 2020 Covid-19 Depression we are facing a bad economic depression across the whole world, not just the industrialized world. Though it started with a pandemic, within six weeks we have had a stock market crash. Right at the moment consumer spending has crashed, production has shut in many industries, retailers and service businesses have closed, and the companies laid off the workers. We already have over 15 million Americans who are unemployed. So far the banks have not failed and the hope is that portions of the economy can begin to recover this Summer.

But unlike in the Great Depression, we have a consumer economy based heavily on international trade. Consider this from the South China Morning Post:

    On Tuesday, the Port of Wuhan, a vital cog in China’s heavy industry supply chains, reopened for business after more than two months of being locked-down at the centre of China’s initial coronavirus outbreak.
    In the same week, Ethiopia closed its land borders, Myanmar cancelled all commercial flights and South Africa restricted cargo movements to non-essential goods, joining the United States, Canada, Mexico and most of Europe in deploying draconian containment strategies aimed at stopping the virus’ spread.
    It was a case of one door opening and 50 slamming shut. This winding down of international connectivity is set to paralyse global trade, the effects of which can already be viewed through a number of early indicators, and advance governmental statistics.

For the month of February the Port of Los Angeles. the Port of Tacoma, and the Port of Washington saw declines in imports from China of more than 40%. Four of the top imports into the Port of Los Angeles fell more than 50% when compared to the previous month: children’s wheeled bicycles and toys; computers; seats; and cell phones and related equipment.

LAX and JFK in February saw a drop of more than 50%, while Chinese imports to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Anchorage International Airport dropped more than 40%.

These drops were in February when manufacturing and shipping from China were shuttered. As of March we know that there has been a huge decline in retail sales in the United States which will/has resulted in a major decline in orders.

As noted in the previous post, hopefully sometime between Memorial Day and Labor day states will  be able to lift business closure orders and "shelter-in-place" orders allowing a "new beginning" for the American economy. But we don't know yet if that will be possible as there is even discussion of a second wave. (For more on that possibility there is the Forbes more alarmist story The U.S. May Be Heading To A Second (Or Even Fourth) Wave Of The Coronavirus Epidemic. Here’s What That Means and the more tempered NPR story Researchers Fear A 2nd Wave Of COVID-19 In China.)

Simply, in the coming months within the U.S. economy a human struggle will occur which will create data for future economists to study but which will be uncomfortable-to-tragic for the rest of us to experience and to remember, particularly for members of the Millennial and GenZ generations.