I'll be honest. A part of me wants to resist very strongly the notion that we have something material to fear concerning this latest pandemic
We have all been here before. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I have developed a strong intolerance for all of the unnecessary
hand-wringing I've participated in through the years because of one doomsday scenario or another.
But this one feels different.
Three days ago I was completely disinterested in this topic and the death count only stood at 17. But then the Chinese government imposed the largest
quarantine in human history. The Washington Post is reporting that 35 million people are affected by the quarantine restrictions.
Think about that for a moment.
In case you didn't know, the political and social situation in China has been deteriorating in China for a couple of years now. The trade war has
hurt them deeply. It's economic growth has been the slowest since the early 1990s. Nearly a year ago, Xi signaled his deep concern by summoning
"...hundreds of officials to Beijing recently, forcing some to reschedule long-planned local assemblies. The meeting seemed orchestrated to convey
anxious urgency. The Communist Party, Mr. Xi told the officials, faces major risks on all fronts and must batten down the hatches."
I only mention this to set the context for the quarantine. Xi couldn't possibly want this. No country would. History teaches that quarantines are
politically dangerous. They're the shortest route to civil unrest, and already the first reports are coming in of food shortages as a consequence of
But it's not enough to describe it just in that manner. One has to get a sense of scale of this quarantine to truly appreciate what's going on
35 million people.
(Unprecedented Chinese quarantine.)
If you add up the population of the largest cities in the United States, you would need to include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix,
Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Austin, Jacksonville, Fort Worth, Columbus, San Francisco, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Seattle,
Denver, Washington DC and Boston.
Get the picture?
So back to why this one feels different. A week ago the Chinese authorities were arresting people for posting on social media about the illness. Now
they've imposed the largest quarantine in human history.
Bottom line: If the Chinese government is scared enough about this virus to make that kind of unprecedented move- particularly during a time of clear
weakness for Xi's government- what do they know that would be worth risking a level of social unrest never-before-seen since the revolution in
By the hour I am seeing reports of confirmed cases popping up across the globe. As of this post, we only have two cases in the United States. I would
call this our golden hour.
Whether a pandemic follows or not doesn't even seem to be the real issue anymore. What I predict is that eventually this topic will be the only thing
we are talking about. There will be runs on consumer goods. We have seen this many times before. Think Y2K...every hurricane or massive snow storm.
If the Chinese are panicking, so will everyone else.
And the panic may well be justified....or not. But panic will come.
If a pandemic materializes, that will be the best of our time. Because in my opinion, almost always worse than the disaster is the aftermath. But even
if a pandemic doesn't materialize things could get very difficult in the near future.
From my perspective, it makes sense to use this weekend wisely to prepare. The expense is a small amount of insurance for whatever may come over the
next few weeks.
Don't wait until you find the rest of the public has woken up. By then it will be too late to change your circumstances very much.
Like I said at the beginning of this thread, a big part of me wants to resist all of this. But let's just call this a hedge.
Better safe than sorry.