A Lesson Learned?

Our pharmaceutical companies have decided to bring back to the US some critical drug production capabilities in view of the People’s Republic of China’s current role in that manufacturing supply chain, the interference the Wuhan virus has caused in the PRC’s ability to produce those critical intermediates, and the separate threat of some ranking PRC officials to cut us off from those intermediates.

A Misstatement of the Case

Gerald Seib opened his Monday Wall Street Journal piece with this bit:

…Americans have learned they can’t really count on Washington to deal with this crisis for them. Local leaders, businesses, churches, sports leagues—all have taken up the task, and done so more effectively than the political leadership in Washington.

That’s as it should be. Responsibility is individual, personal; we cannot wish any of that off onto others, much less government. All government can do—and it should do this much—is help us satisfy our own obligations.

Nationalizing our Economy

A city mayor wants the Federal government to nationalize critical parts of our economy.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is arguing that the best way to tackle the coronavirus outbreak is for the federal government to take over critical private companies in the medical field and have them running 24 hours a day.

“This is a case for a nationalization, literally a nationalization, of crucial factories and industries that could produce the medical supplies to prepare this country for what we need,” de Blasio told MSNBC‘s Joy Reid on Saturday, calling for “24/7 shifts” during what he called a “war-like situation.”

An Illustration

A businessman in the People’s Republic of China, Ren Zhiqiang—who also is a member of the Communist Party of China—has been for some time an outspoken critic of PRC President Xi Jinping’s handling of the nation’s COVID-19 epidemic, a mishandling that allowed an early infection to blow out of control within the PRC and to become a global pandemic.

Outspoken critic: among other things, Ren wrote a widely disseminated essay that took issue with a 23 Feb speech by Xi. He wrote of a

Some Coronavirus Perspective

To put some perspective on national coronavirus infection levels, I’ve picked out some nations that have been in the news lately.  Coronavirus cases are drawn from Johns Hopkins University as of 14 March, and the population data are from Wikipedia. The per capita normalization is from third grade arithmetic.

I’ve emphasized one nation of particular interest.

Population Coronavirus Cases Per Capita Cases (per 10,000) Deaths Per Cent Deaths per Case
People’s Republic of China 1,427,647,786 80,976 0.56720 3,189 3.93820%
Germany 83,149,300 3,758 0.45196 8 0.21288%
US  328,239,523 2,175 0.06626 47 2.16092%

Biden and the Sanders Supporters

In the end game of the Progressive-Democratic Party’s Presidential primary contest—and, yes, at this stage, Party is down to three contestants, with Party’s elite choosing to freeze Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI) out of the contest, she being too willing to speak freely and honestly and too far behind for her axis of approach to counter Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I, VT), the end game is on us—the question arises whether Joe Biden, front runner, can win over Sanders’ supporters, who are every bit as ardent and critically large in number as the NLMSM makes them out to be. Those supporters, after all, will be critical in the general election if Biden is to be electable in the general election.

Currency Swaps and the Federal Reserve’s Role

The currency swaps, the foreign exchange swaps, discussed here are a lifeline our Federal Reserve Bank system extended to other nations during the Panic of 2008.  The arrangements let foreign central banks exchange their domestic currencies for US dollars in order to increase their domestic liquidity in addition to merely printing more domestic currency units.

The Wall Street Journal thinks the Fed should extend such swaps to more national entities than the few with which we still have such arrangements, under the guise of “that’s what the Fed’s role is.”

I have a couple thoughts on this.

A Speculation on Oil

I have one of my own, against the backdrop of the oil production and price war just begun between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The Saudis, dismayed over Russia’s refusal to go along with a proposal to further reduce oil production in the face of declining economic demand that’s potentiated by the coronavirus affair, have announced an increase in oil production.  Russia has responded with a “we can do that, too” threat.

The increase by the one (to begin 1 April) and the threat to match by the other have sent oil prices into the low $30s per barrel with projections into the mid-$20s.  Both nations claim they can afford these prices for the next few years before they exhaust their financial reserves.

How Long Can Russia Hold Out?

What’s behind the oil price plunge and the associated stock index plunge?

Russia refused a Saudi Arabia deal to cut oil production during the current drop in demand for oil by an additional 1.5 billion barrels per day. This would have been on top of the 1.7 billion barrel per day cut begun some weeks ago in response to reduced oil demand driven by reducing Asian and European economic activity.

That reduced demand has been exacerbated by the coronavirus’ panic-driven impediment to overall economic activity.

A British Proposal

In contrast with UK-EU negotiations, begun earlier this week, these are the high points of Great Britain’s suggestion of what a US-UK trade deal would look like.

  • reduce or remove tariffs for UK exports…US has indicated its intention to seek to reduce or remove UK tariffs on US exports in a UK-US FTA
  • customs procedures at the border are as facilitative as possible makes importing and exporting easier
  • address subsidies which have the potential to distort trade. Provisions for fair, effective and transparent competition rules could underpin liberalisation of trade between the UK and the US