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Coronavirus Panic: Expert Opinions You Can't Ignore

Written by Jason Stutman
Posted April 4, 2020

If you consider yourself squeamish, you might want to look away...

According to projections from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the coronavirus-inspired economic shutdown is poised to cost the U.S. a staggering 47 million jobs and send the unemployment rate to over 32%.

This would be the highest rate of unemployment ever recorded in the history of the U.S., and by a long shot. For perspective, unemployment peaked at just 10% during the 2009 recession and at 24.9% during the Great Depression. This is a truly unfathomable figure and one that is, at least in my opinion, far more terrifying than even the most dire coronavirus projections we’re seeing from epidemiologists.

The go-to rallying cry we’ve heard in favor of shutting down the economy in this unprecedented manner is that we are saving lives and, in the near term, that may actually be true. But this argument falls flat on its face the moment you take the blinders off and account for the ripple effects of a full blown economic shutdown.

As I predicted early on, we are already witnessing a rise in collateral damage: suicides, domestic violence, alcohol consumption, and admissions to mental hospitals are all trending upward. Stress induced ailments including heart disease, cancer, stroke, and cirrhosis of the liver are likely to follow.

We were told to “listen to the experts” early on in an abundance of caution but this is where the doomsday predictions of 2.2 million dead in the U.S. have got us. The “experts” are now forecasting a much lower 100,000 to 200,000 deaths after our response to their early estimates have reduced countless businesses and jobs to rubble.

Of course, whenever someone tells you to “listen to the experts,” you know what that usually means. It means listen to their experts and not the experts who disagree.

Always Go for a Second Opinion

The media’s tendency to ignore any expert who contradicts its narrative is as unsurprising as it is appalling during this time of unprecedented panic.

But despite what you’ve probably been seeing in headlines, there are plenty of experts saying that we’re screwing this thing up majorly in our response. That’s why I want to dedicate the bulk of my editorial slot this week to highlight a few of these experts and what they are saying.

Dr. Katz is president of True Health Initiative and the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. Katz says:

I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near total meltdown of normal life — schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned — will be long lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself. The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order… the work force is laid off en masse, and colleges close, young people of indeterminate infectious status are being sent home to huddle with their families nationwide. And because we lack widespread testing, they may be carrying the virus and transmitting it to their 50-something parents, and 70- or 80-something grandparents.

Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi is a former professor at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene. Here’s what he has to say:

[The government’s containment measures] are grotesque, absurd and very dangerous… The life expectancy of millions is being shortened. The horrifying impact on the world economy threatens the existence of countless people. The consequences on medical care are profound. Already services to patients in need are reduced, operations cancelled, practices empty, hospital personnel dwindling. All this will impact profoundly on our whole society.

All these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide based on nothing but a spook.

Nobel Laureate and chemist Michael Levitt puts things much more succinctly, saying: 

What we need is to control the panic… we’re going to be fine.

Michael T. Osterholm is a director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Here’s what he has to say:

“Consider the effect of shutting down offices, schools, transportation systems, restaurants, hotels, stores, theaters, concert halls, sporting events and other venues indefinitely and leaving all of their workers unemployed and on the public dole. The likely result would be not just a depression but a complete economic breakdown, with countless permanently lost jobs, long before a vaccine is ready or natural immunity takes hold.

The best alternative will probably entail letting those at low risk for serious disease continue to work, keep business and manufacturing operating, and run society, while at the same time advising higher-risk individuals to protect themselves through physical distancing and ramping up our health-care capacity as aggressively as possible. With this battle plan, we could gradually build up immunity without destroying the financial structure on which our lives are based.”

I could go on for a while longer, but I’ll cap this off by suggesting you run a Google search for Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a highly qualified Stanford scientist who is reflecting what I have been saying from the beginning: The data sets we’ve been working with to determine mortality rate are unreliable, and coronavirus is potentially far less deadly than we originally thought.

We’ll have more clarity on this within a couple of weeks, as Battacharya and his colleagues are currently performing randomized serology tests. These tests will finally give us an accurate number in terms of mortality rate by giving us a clearer picture of how many people have already developed antibodies to fight the virus.

Simply put, if a large percentage of this sample turns out to be positive, this would indicate a much less deadly virus than originally indicated and a near-term path to herd immunity. This is hands down the most important piece of data we are going to see emerge in April, and possibly in all of 2020, because it will tell us pretty clearly whether or not we can restart the economy.

Stay tuned, and we’ll let you know how it turns out.

Until next time,

  JS Sig

Jason Stutman

follow basic @JasonStutman on Twitter

Jason Stutman is Wealth Daily's senior technology analyst and editor of investment advisory newsletters Technology and Opportunity and Topline Trader. His strategy for building winning portfolios is simple: Buy the disruptor, sell the disrupted.

Covering the broad sector of technology and occasionally dabbling in the political sphere, Jason has written hundreds of articles spanning topics from consumer electronics and development stage biotechnology to political forecasting and social commentary.

Outside the office Jason is a lover of science fiction and the outdoors. He writes through the lens of a futurist, free market advocate, and fiscal conservative. Jason currently hails from Baltimore, Maryland, with roots in the great state of New York.

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