Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

21 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. What does this crisis reveal about the most important members of society? It’s certainly not the equity traders at Macquarie Bank. Rather, the crisis has revealed that doctors, nurses, ancillary hospital staff (care attendants, meal preparers, cleaners, etc), educators (P to 12 and daycare workers) and even people stacking shelves at grocery stores are the people who keep society going. Doctors aside, many of these occupations don’t get anywhere near the the pay they deserve, especially in education. I was speaking to my child’s daycare educator the other day and I asked her whether she enjoyed the job. She said, “Of course I do. I can’t be in it for the money.” While it was a very noble sentiment, I do believe it time that people in her occupation receive the wage justice they deserve. It’s about time we paid the parasites in the financial services and real estate sector minimum wage and ask them, “so how much do you like your job?”

  2. Tom P – Yes if for at least 5 years- “minimum wage and ask them, “so how much do you like your job?”

    Great to hear a mathmatician and epidemiologist advising UK govt. No trascript.

    Re RO he said “16 socal contacts per day to 2 takes ro from 3 to under 1.

    “20 secs to reshare bad info on facebook”

    “Meet a scientist at the frontline of the global effort to halt the COVID-19 pandemic in its virulent tracks.

    “Mathematician and epidemiologist Adam Kucharski’s new book The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread – and Why They Stop couldn’t have landed at a more surreal time.—meet-a-mathematician-at-the-frontline-of-t/12093196

    Timely. Book sales will I assume be brisk.
    Associate Professor Adam Kucharski 
    Mathematician and epidemiologist 
    Author, The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread – and Why They Stop (Allen and Unwin, 2020) 
    London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 
    Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, UK

    The Rules of Contagion

  3. @ Tom Paine: Marina Hyde had a good line about this in the Guardian

    ‘While many are optimistic we’ll entirely remake society in the wake of all this, I’m not so sure. If it takes a once-in-100-years global pandemic to jolt people in public office into the realisation that nurses are actually quite valuable, it’s pretty hard to scale up for the next logical step. You’re essentially looking at an extinction-level event to nudge them into the headspace where we reward said nurses even slightly better. The manifesto page where you seek buy-in for your plan to increase public-sector pay just says “re-route a [****]ing asteroid towards us”.’

  4. Even in this golden age of stupidity, I was taken aback by James Campbell on yesterday’s Insiders. As his ‘final remark’, he offered the suggestion that public servants should do their bit by taking a 20% pay cut..

    Exactly the thing to do in the face of collapsed domestic and international demand and when governments can essentially borrow money for free; so much for the talk of ‘we’re all Keynesians now’.

    (That’s the same James Campbell who was suspended from commenting on Sky after his joke that Bridget Mackenzie should take a bottle of whiskey and a revolver and shoot herself because of the sports rorts fallout. Lolz. Bring back Piers, Speersie — at least his idiocy was entertaining)

  5. I am going to stick my neck out and say that for Australia, I believe this pandemic is now definitely on the wane and has been for a few days. I am not saying we should relax, but I do believe that the crisis has largely been averted, and the apocalyptic warnings will prove to be wrong. My reasoning is as follows and feel free to pick holes in it.

    The peak number of new cases in Australia occurred several days ago now. The number of new cases is not growing exponentially and is in fact slowly declining. This means the R0 is now below 1. This decrease in R0 is due largely to policies implemented a 7 – 14 days before the peak occurred. Say 10 days before. So policies of roughly 2 weeks ago are responsible for a decrease in R0 below 1. The policies since then have become much tighter, which will cause a further drop in R0.

    In a short period of time it will become fairly obvious that R0 can be kept below 1 by much more moderate policies than are currently being imposed.

  6. Joe,

    Sorry, incorrect. If R0 was below 1 our total cases would be declining (delayed about one to two weeks after the actual fact of the R0 going below 1). Currently our rate of increase is slowing, that’s all. Our cases were doubling about every 3.5 days. Now, they are doubling about every 4.5 days. That is still exponential growth. We are still likely in for an Italy-like event at worst or maybe a Germany-like event at best. Much more moderate policies than currently being imposed will not get of keep the R0 below 1. In fact, they would be disastrous.

    My guess is that we will have at least 10,000 to 14,000 active cases total by the coming Saturday. I had originally predicted 16,000 cases for the coming Saturday but that prediction included active and resolved cases (recovered or dead). This is still an outside possibility if a surge comes through.

    This crisis is far from over. The lock-down will have to last at least 6 months. Slightly eased controls (maybe) will be required for another 6 months after that.

  7. Ikon, total cases will obviously go up – in fact you can’t have a declining number of total cases. The number of new cases is declining – though the data is choppy. Depending on where you look the number of new cases in Australia was between 150 and 500 on the 28th. According to

    “As at 6:00am on 30 March 2020, there have been 4,093 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia. There have been 284 new cases since 6:00am yesterday”

    That is a doubling every 6 to 20 days, not 4.5. This is a result of policies implemented about 2 weeks ago which aren’t nearly as draconian as now. At best it is now linear growth. I estimated around 6000 last Saturday for next Saturday and I think that may be high.

    And I am afraid your much hoped-for revolution is exceedingly unlikely.

  8. >At best it is now linear growth

    I think this would be better expressed as, “At worst it is now linear growth”.

  9. Joe,

    I can’t lose. Either I live to see a revolution or I die and then know no disappointment. 🙂


    …There is no suggestion any super fund is at risk of collapse. Rather, industry sources fear that the forced sale of assets would crush their value, crimping returns for people who remain in the fund.

    …So where is the missing money?

    Now, individual funds will have different performance obviously. Our own growth fund is down less than 1% over the same time frame, but we took dramatic and aggressive measures at the end of January that I know others did not.

    The superannuation market is $3 trillion. It is the market. If, somehow, almost every superannuation fund worked out the same thing we did and sold equities at the end of January, the market would have fallen in January. They didn’t.

    The answer is superannuation funds have unlisted assets that they are not writing down. They are pretending that the prices are mostly unchanged from January.

    A few industry funds have written down assets. For example, AustralianSuper has revalued its unlisted infrastructure and property holdings downwards by 7.5%.

    But look at the rest of the market. The listed property sector is off more than 40%. Airports? Down 30%+. Private Equity? Ha! You are telling me that illiquid shares are worth a few per cent less while listed shares are down 25%+ and illiquid bonds aren’t even trading?

    The writedowns help, but are nowhere near the level the assets would sell for today…

    The perverse superannuation incentive

    The problem is that if you own a fund that reports like this, you can be diluted if other investors leave. And any contributions you make now are at inflated prices. To illustrate with an extreme example, let’s say:
    •you and I are the only investors in a super fund with $100 each invested;
    •the fund owns 50% an unlisted asset and 50% cash. So, the total value of the fund is $200 made up of $100 in the asset and $100 in cash;
    •the asset falls 60% ($60) in price, so our fund is now only worth $140 ($70 each, we both should take a 30% loss), but the fund doesn’t revalue the asset and so reports the fund still being worth $200;
    •I decide to redeem my holding in the fund’
    •the unlisted asset can’t be easily sold, and so the fund pays me $100 cash being half of the $200 that the fund is still being officially valued at. I’ve broken even!
    •this leaves you with $40 of unlisted assets – a 60% loss which is double the loss that you should have taken.

    Net effect

    So, if you are a loyal soldier sticking with a superannuation fund that continues valuing unlisted assets at last year’s prices then:
    1.You are going to absorb the losses of anyone that leaves.
    2.You might even get an additional tax bill because the people that leave trigger a CGT event for you.

    But at least your superannuation fund will be able to “report” higher returns.

  11. Chinese company GCL have announced plans for an integrated solar PV factory with an annual output of 60 GW – not a misprint. That’s roughly equivalent to 15 1-GW nuclear power reactors, which are of course not being built anywhere at that scale. I assume this includes lot of hype, and what is really happening is “a very big factory with enough land to expand eventually to 60 GW.” But even so, it shows a striking level of ambition and optimism.

  12. The simulation administrators (God(s) in 19th century language) answers to Malaria is Sickle Cell Anemia. I really hope that this corona miracle virus is not the simulation administrators(SA) answer to Global Warming. If it is their doing the process of shutting down (transitioning)the economy is going to be really crude and often times barbaric. And it probably will not get done it all. This could be the simulation adminstrator giving humanity one last chance to change. But if the SA is behind it why did they bother in the first place? I could have told them there is no point in giving humanity this offer as the vast majority of those in crucial leadership positions will have no interest in taking the offer and the people in these postions have had the abilty to manipulate societies to their will for generations if not centuries.
    I would like to believe that this miracle virus is the creation of a group of intellegent and determined men who actually have a plan to deliver humanity out of the mess that it is in through a series of preplanned stages. But the competley chaotic course of events that has occured up until now does not give me much confidence that what I would like to be the case actually is the case. If this is step one I can not see where step two leads to or how it advances humanity in the required directions.

  13. As an example of the chaotic nature of this event consider this. The German government said that no one could be evicted during this crisis for failing to pay their rent. That makes sense as so many people live paycheck to paycheck and so many people in services industries are suddenly with out a reliable source of income.
    But it has been reported that the shoe manufacturing company Adidas has used this law to stop paying their rent. Which of course then has a a ripple effect creating hardships on people who do not have the deep financial resources that Adidas has.
    If this virus is an act of the SA a lot of chaos could be gettng caused for no good result in the end.
    If this virus is the act of a group of men, for a neferious purpose then they have no doubt figured out how they are going to benifit from this chaos at the expense of everyone else.
    If this virus is the act of men hoping to achieve a noble purpose I can not see how it will succeed without some Fidel Castro style centralized autoritarian leadership. If such leadership emerges we humans are still in for some very painful expiriences.
    The only thing that that I can look forward to is the part where this new leadership gets to hold the old leadership accountable for its sins. The next time that I go to the monastery commissary I am going to buy lots of marshmellows to roast over the “scheiterhaufen” of those meeting their own personal extinctions. Just in case my usual pessimmissem is misplaced.

  14. Addidas in all likelyhood would have stoped paying without the no one can be evicted rule. A good indication for that is that the same was done by most big companies arround the globe. Everybody else with a sufficiently big legal department stoped paying as well. It´s good lawyer logic. When in doubt if you have to pay rent, start by not paying. The legalese is sufficiently new that it´s at least worth trying from their point of view. And any real estate owner that can´t deal with two or three month delayed payments had place in the business in the first place.

  15. Really it´s just Kindergarten business adminstration and the real stakes are exceedingly low for all those involved in such luxury games. I´m far more preoccupied with some bureaucratic unflexible responses for example in mental health support. If my hometown is representative in this regard, that alone will cause a couple of unecessary death in addition to all those suicdes could have hardly been prevented anyway in the current situation.

  16. Lost but not forgotten?

    People on checkouts need PPE too…

    While scomo runs from socialism

  17. “Hateful day when I received life!’ I exclaimed in agony. ‘Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemlance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and abhorred.’ – Frankenstein”
    ― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

  18. Some sources of good news don’t stop.
    From PVMagazine (, a French company has been testing agrivoltaics over vines in the Hérault. It improved the Grenache, “with 13% more anthocyanins – red pigments – and 9-14% more acidity.”, plus lower water consumption and better growth during drought. The single-axis tilt system is run by an algorithm that balances solar output against the needs of the vines. This is a gimme for Australia.

    BT, Covid cases and deaths in Spain have peaked. I guesstimate total deaths will come out around 17,000. Could ave been better, could be a lot worse.

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