Supply Chain Disruption at the Source

Retailers are beginning to suspend, or cancel outright, orders from their Asian factories and other suppliers.  So far, it’s intended to be temporary; for example:

Ulrika Isaksson, an H&M spokeswoman, said “our long-term commitment to suppliers will remain intact, but in this extreme situation we need to respond fast.”

The suspensions and cancelations might—might—seem warranted regarding Asian suppliers, but the temporary nature of them, to the extent they’re warranted at all, should be limited to South and East Asia—in the main, Vietnam, Republic of Korea, and Japan.

A Start

But we need to go further.  Recall that an official of the Communist Party of China threatened to cut off US access to life-savings medicines that are manufactured in the People’s Republic of China [Bing Translate translation from the Xinhua publication].

If China retaliates against the United States at this time, in addition to announcing the travel ban on the United States, it also announced the strategic control of medical products and the ban on exports to the United States, then the United States will fall into the ocean of new crown [corona] viruses.

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.

Precision and COVID-19 Rates

Holman Jenkins had a piece last Friday on the relationship between recessions and the end of infectious disease epidemics. His central thesis was that Covid-19 Can’t Spread if You Stay Home.  From that, folks are neither buying things nor working at the production of goods and services for others to (not) buy, and that’s the stuff of recessions.

But he closed with this comparison, which missed a larger point about what it is that we need to target in order to end an infectious disease epidemic, particularly one like the current coronavirus epidemic which has such skewed outcomes.

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

Proportional Responses

Last week, Iran-backed terrorist organizations in Iraq fired rockets into an Iraqi military base that housed, among others, American and British soldiers, killing two American soldiers and one British soldier, a medic.

In response, we struck some of those terrorists’ operating locations.

The US strikes targeted five separate weapons storage facilities in Iraq associated with Kataib Hezbollah, a Shiite militia group operating in Iraq that US officials said has frequently targeted bases where American service members are based.
The strikes aimed to degrade the group’s ability to conduct future attacks against US and coalition forces….

And this:

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%

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


…but no cigar.  Senator Mike Lee (R, UT) has some thoughts on fixing the  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and its secret FISA Court.  He’s on the right track, but his ideas fall short.

Lee wants to fix the FISA Court and tighten the parameters under which it operates. This Star Chamber cannot be fixed; it must be disbanded and the sections creating and empowering it must be rescinded from the FISA altogether.