Monday Message Board

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.

20 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. June 16, 2022

    “Piketty Calls For ‘Participatory Socialism’: $150,000/Person Universal Inheritance, ‘Confiscatory’ Income And Wealth Taxes”

    “And to that end, Piketty proposes a truly radical policy agenda — a universal minimum inheritance of around $150,000 per person, worker control over the boards of corporations and “confiscatory” levels of wealth and income taxation — that he calls “participatory socialism.”

    “So this conversation isn’t just about the current state of inequality; it’s about the kind of policies — and politics — it would take to solve that inequality.

    We discuss
    – why wealth is a far more accurate indicator of social power than income,
    – the quality of the historical data that Piketty’s work relies on,
    – why Piketty believes the welfare state — not capitalism itself — is the most important driver of human progress,
    – why representative democracy hasn’t led to more economic redistribution,
    – whether equality is really the best metric to measure human progress in the first place,
    – how Piketty would pay for his universal inheritance proposal,
    – whether the levels of taxation he is proposing would stifle innovation and wreck the economy,
    – why he believes it would be better for societies — and economic productivity — for workers to have a much larger say in how companies are governed,
    – how Piketty thinks about the prospect of inflation and more.”

  2. And STILL renewables come out cheaper. So says “CSIRO GenCost 2021-22 Final report July 2022″

    JQ, you said in  , …”whose model of investment analysis is based on concepts like “present value” and payback periods. But in the world of zero real interest rates that now appears to be upon us, such concepts are no longer relevant.”.

    The model of investment seems the same, and zero interest rates are gone.

    JQ, what has changed please, considering “CSIRO GenCost 2021-22 Final report”.

    Good. The CSIRO says “When added to variable renewable generation costs and compared to other technology options, these estimates indicate that onshore wind and solar PV remain the lowest cost new-build technologies.”.

    Bad. The LCOE includes “a return on investment”, which may mean returns are excessive, off-shored, and or potentially use double Dutch Irish sandwich funding to avoid tax. See “Would we be better off without corporations?” – electricity generation?-we would be better off without any private ownership or investment for power imo. 

    And the LCOE includes “An additional process is undertaken to calculate the integration costs of variable renewables.” It also includes nuclear 5%+ SMR. CCS “In this scenario, CCS achieves a 12% share of global electricity generation by 2050.”[CCS is generation???]

    Can’t find storage cost decrease. Perhaps a globally applied rate … “to calculate an average rate of change in technology costs: – 0.35%.”

    In other words, as skewed as Larry Lobby and stakeholders (who-me?) could make it.

    And renewables still come out cheaper. 

    If you don’t like that phrasing above, see what the CSIRO call coal & gas

    – “Flexible technologies”- with inbuilt market failure which WE pay for AND continue carbon pollution – “It is difficult to say which fossil fuel is more competitive as it depends very much on the price outcome achieved in contracts for long term fuel supply and the investor’s perception of climate policy risk.”. See again “Would we be better off without corporations?” – electricity generation?-we would be better off without any private ownership or investment. 

    “5.1.4 Flexible technologies
    “Black coal, brown coal and gas-based generation technologies fall into the category of technologies that are designed to deliver energy for the majority of the year. They are the next most competitive generation technologies after variable renewables (with or without integration costs). It is difficult to say which fossil fuel is more competitive as it depends very much on the price outcome achieved in contracts for long term fuel supply and the investor’s perception of climate policy risk.”

    JQ, we’d appreciate a wise eye over the costs, rates, assumptions please. Big report,  lots of detail & assumptions + imo capital, the profit motive, funding, nuclear & CCS lobbyists smudge marks. And STILL, renewables come out cheaper.

    “CSIRO GenCost 2021-22
    Final report
    July 2022

    Executive Summary

    “In 2019-20, transport (26.5%), electricity supply (25.5%), manufacturing (17.1%) and mining (14.1%) sectors were the largest energy consumers. In electricity supply, fossil fired generation was responsible for 77.4% of supply and renewables the remaining 22.6%, out of which solar PV supplied 7.9% while wind contributed 7.7%.

    GenCost update GenCost is a collaboration between CSIRO and AEMO to deliver an annual process of updating electricity generation, storage costs and hydrogen production costs with a strong emphasis on stakeholder engagement.

    “The report encompasses updated current capital cost estimates commissioned by AEMO and delivered by Aurecon. Based on these updated current capital costs, the report provides projections of future changes in costs consistent with updated global electricity scenarios which incorporate different levels of achievement of global climate policy ambition. Levelised costs of electricity (LCOEs) are also included and provide a summary of the relative competitiveness of generation technologies.

    …”Three global scenarios are explored:
    * Current policies: Current stated global climate polices, with the most likely assumptions for all other factors such as renewable resource constraints
    * Global NZE by 2050: A world that is driving towards net zero emissions by 2050 together with high levels of electrification and hydrogen consumption and trade
    * Global NZE post 2050: A world where most developed countries are striving for net zero emissions by 2050 but others are lagging such that global net zero emissions are reached by 2070.

    “In the Global NZE by 2050 scenario,
    – global non-hydro renewable generation reaches a share of 71% by 2050, with the majority sourced from solar photovoltaic (PV) and on- and off-shore wind.
    – Non-hydro renewables also reach a high share of 68% by 2050 in the Global NZE post 2050 scenario.
    – Current policies is projected to see non-hydro renewables reach 34% by 2050.

    “Carbon capture and storage costs are lowest in the Global NZE by 2050 as this scenario offers a strong climate policy ambition to justify deploying CCS in electricity generation, hydrogen production and other industry applications. In this scenario, CCS achieves a 12% share of global electricity generation by 2050.

    “Nuclear generation including small modular reactors achieves global shares of 12% to 15% in 2030 across the scenarios but declines over the remainder of the projection period. Nuclear has a proportionally higher role, at 8% by 2050 in Current policies compared to 5% in Global NZE by 2050 and 7% in Global NZE post 2050.

    Levelised cost of electricity
    … “It is the total unit costs a generator must recover to meet all its costs including a return on investment. 

    “The LCOE is estimated on a common basis for all technologies with one exception. An additional process is undertaken to calculate the integration costs of variable renewables. The required amount of additional investment depends on the amount or share of variable renewable energy (VRE) generated. We calculated the additional costs of variable renewable generation for annual VRE shares from 60% to 90%1 for the National Electricity Market (NEM) and Western Australia. We found that the additional costs to support a combination of solar PV and wind generation in 2030 is estimated at between $16 to $28/MWh depending on the VRE share. These renewable integration costs are similar in level to the findings from the previous GenCost report in 2020-21. However, greater projected cost reductions in onshore wind power have led to an increased preference to combine onshore wind generation and transmission expenditure, with reduced reliance on solar PV and storage to balance energy demand. 

    All estimates are based on a maximum of costs across nine weather years over which the costs were estimated. 

    “When added to variable renewable generation costs and compared to other technology options, these estimates indicate that onshore wind and solar PV remain the lowest cost new-build technologies.”

    A.1.2 The modelling framework
    …”The GALLM models solve this problem by simultaneously projecting both the cost and uptake of the technologies.”

    “The objective of the model is to minimise the total system costs while meeting demand and all constraints. The model is solved as a mixed integer linear program. The experience curves are segmented into step functions and the location on the experience curves (i.e., cost vs. cumulative  capacity) is determined at each time step. See (Hayward & Graham, 2013) and (Hayward, Foster, Graham, & Reedman, 2017) for more information. Both models run from the year 2006 to 2100. However, results are only reported from the present year to 2050.

    “A.1.3 Mature technologies and the “basket of costs”
    “There are three main drivers of mature technology costs: imported materials and equipment, domestic materials and equipment, and labour. The indices of these drivers over the last 20 years (ABS data) combined with the split in capital cost of mature technologies between imported equipment, domestic equipment and labour (Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics (BREE), 2012) was used to calculate an average rate of change in technology costs: – 0.35%. This value has been applied as an annual capital cost reduction factor to mature technologies and to operating and maintenance costs.”

    Click to access GenCost2021-22Final_20220708.pdf

    “Renewables remain cheapest, but cost reductions on hold”

  3. Russian army combat deaths

    BBC’s Mark Urban, 2 July ( ) has been following the Russian Army’s 331st Guards Parachute Regiment based in Kostroma:

    “Our tally of verified deaths in the regiment has risen from 39 early in April to 62 currently. Given the number of missing soldiers and some names not being published, the actual number lost is significantly higher and could reach 120. When one adds wounded at a ratio of three-to-one, total casualties are likely in the 400-500 bracket. This is about half of the 331st regiment’s strength with which it would have entered Ukraine in February. “

    The 331st is an élite force of volunteer professional soldiers. Perhaps the high casualties came from being picked for the hardest missions? The Russian MoD does not publish casualty figures, but oddly enough the secessionists in he Donetsk oblast do, for their half-trained and poorly equipped militia. BBC, June 22 ( ):

    “The human rights ombudsman in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic said last week that 2,128 of its forces had been killed and 8,897 wounded. A further 654 civilians had been killed […]
    UK intelligence officials […] estimate the Donetsk militia alone has lost 55% of its original force.”

    So both the best and the worst units on the Russian side have lost about half their initial strength, with similar ratios of deaths to injuries. It is of course possible that the story is radically different for more average units. But Occam’s razor suggests a starting hypothesis that the casualties are similar across the battlefields.

    The Ukrainian General Staff Facebook feed keeps a running scorecard of Russian losses in men and equipment. Today’s estimate for Russian combat deaths is 37,300, an average of 272 a day for the 137 days of the invasion. Apply the conventional ratio of 3:1 for injuries to deaths, and Russia has lost over half of its initial invasion force of about 200,000 – in line with the two detailed samples above. Not surprisingly, there is a steady flow of reports of low morale and declining effectiveness., including from nationalist Russian milbloggers who are all in favour of subjugating Ukraine but notice that the Kremlin is singularly failing to achieve it. The UK MoD thinks the Ukrainians are exaggerating by about a third, but even on their basis the Russian army has suffered losses on a scale that prevents units from operating effectively.

    Russia is a big country and could easily collect 100,000 replacement soldiers if it really tried. There are two problems.

    One is Putin’s self-imposed classification of the invasion as a police operation not a real war, which would justify full mobilisation and conscription. He now has too much political capital tied up in the lie to the Russian people of a low-cost “special military operation” to change tack openly. The result is a series of shoddy expedients to recruit unwilling soldiers, expedients that are both less effective than real conscription and create lots of points of friction and failure round which domestic opposition can grow.

    The second issue is that while shadow conscription can conceivably generate cannon fodder like the Donetsk militia, it cannot possibly replace the lost paratroopers in any useful timescale. Telling anecdata from ISW

    “The GUR [Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate] reported that PMCs [private military companies] are recruiting prisoners irrespective of the nature of their crimes in exchange for full amnesty after serving time on the frontline. […] The Governor of Russia’s Primorsky Krai, Oleg Kozhemkayo, announced on July 9 that Russia is forming the “Tigr” volunteer naval infantry battalion to participate in combat in Ukraine. Kozhemkayo said that not all volunteers have prior combat experience and that they will undergo 30 days of training prior to deployment. Social media users noted that footage of the “Tigr” battalion shows that the recruits are older than traditional military age and are likely in their 50s to 60s. “

    The Ukrainian army, which has certainly suffered heavy losses too but much less than its Russian enemies, is facing soldiers who are getting less competent all the time.

    The deterioration has been disguised by the increasing Russian reliance on dumb artillery, which can still be organised effectively on an early-industrial command mode (officers decide, soldiers execute simple orders without initiative). It’s too early to be certain, but it looks as if NATO heavy weaponry – accurate 155mm guns, accurate longer-range HIMARS rockets – are allowing the Ukrainians to strike at Russian ammunition dumps far behind the front lines. The balance in artillery may be changing dramatically. Russia is not hitting Ukrainian dumps, either because their guns and rockets are too inaccurate, they have lost the drone war for aerial surveillance, or the Ukrainians supply their smaller needs for accurate ammunition without creating vulnerable dumps at all.

    Throwing caution to the winds: the war will be over by Christmas, Ukraine will have won it, and Putin will be dead or in exile.

  4. “The Semiconductor Ecosystem – Explained

    January 25, 2022 
    by steve blank

    “The last year has seen a ton written about the semiconductor industry: chip shortages, the CHIPS Act, our dependence on Taiwan and TSMC, China, etc.

    “But despite all this talk about chips and semiconductors, few understand how the industry is structured. I’ve found the best way to understand something complicated is to diagram it out, step by step. So here’s a quick pictorial tutorial on how the industry works.

    “The Semiconductor Ecosystem

    “We’re seeing the digital transformation of everything. Semiconductors – chips that process digital information — are in almost everything: computers, cars, home appliances, medical equipment, etc. Semiconductor companies will sell $600 billion worth of chips this year.”

  5. No guess as to what happened. And how to present this “media debate” to us plebs, by Brett Victor.

    “Climate change is white colonisation of the atmosphere. It’s time to tackle this entrenched racism”
    . ..
    “Last month, the continued failure on the part of rich white countries to take responsibility for this injustice was on full display at the United Nations climate meetings in Bonn, Germany.
    … [no guess as to what happened]
    ” But the United States and the European Union opposed the move, fearing they would become liable for billions of dollars in damages.”

    “Quantifying national responsibility for climate breakdown: an equality-based attribution approach for carbon dioxide emissions in excess of the planetary boundary”

    Jason Hickel


    “This analysis proposes a novel method for quantifying national responsibility for damages related to climate change by looking at national contributions to cumulative CO2 emissions in excess of the planetary boundary of 350 ppm atmospheric CO2 concentration. This approach is rooted in the principle of equal per capita access to atmospheric commons.”

    Live & interactive – try it.
    And how I’d like to see the “media debate”,above models and values presented as per… by Brett Victor;

    “The importance of models may need to be underscored in this age of “big data” and “data mining”. Data, no matter how big, can only tell you what happened in the past. Unless you’re a historian, you actually care about the future — what will happen, what could happen, what would happen if you did this or that. Exploring these questions will always require models. Let’s get over “big data” — it’s time for “big modeling”.

  6. James Wimberley,

    Hope you are right about the Russia-Ukraine war being over by Christmas and Putin gone. I will avoid making a big prediction. I don’t know enough and the situation is murky.

    But what are the Ukraine casualties? Is not Ukraine also being attrited by this war? It looks like a stalemate to me and I don’t see Ukraine getting much more territory back, if any. But as I say I don’t know much about this.

    Churchills’ attributed words always ring in my mind:

    “Russia is never so strong, nor so weak, as she appears.”

  7. Australia now entering complete COVID-19 disaster as predicted all along by the scientists who understand this pandemic. It was fully predicted: “Abandon all controls other than insufficient and leaky vaccines and we will have an endless crisis.” FULLY PREDICTED.

    Check out the above numbers and graphs. Hospitals and medical systems all over Australia are now on the brink of collapse.

    If you can in any way lock yourself down for two to four weeks now, then I advise you to do so, seriously. The next month (at least) will be the most dangerous period so far in Australia since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

    Meanwhile, the governments and top health authorities are doing absolutely nothing. HCWs are doing their best but the system is collapsing. The people are on their own. Totally on their own. Work from home. Go nowhere. Do this if it is at all possible for you.

    I knew this would happen. I said it would happen. Here it is. Remember, the political and capitalist elites did this completely deliberately. This is exactly what they wanted: a country completely open with no real controls against COVID-19. Even the vaccines are failing, egregiously.

    The question is this. How long does the population accept this? Being told “Catch COVID-19 multiple times in rapid succession and make death or Long-Covid a near certainty for yourself and your loved ones.” This is the reality now. How long do we accept this elite-inflicted disaster before we demand radical change?

  8. Methanol for ships

    The shipping industry has a long “Who, me?” history of obfuscation and denial on the climate crisis. It comes then as a surprise that it seems already to have picked a winner in the competition for its future green fuel. The winner is methanol. Recharge :

    “According to the latest Alternative Fuels Insight report from DNV, 54 methanol-powered vessels are in service or been ordered from shipbuilders (including dual-fuel propulsion systems), compared to eight hydrogen ships, and zero ammonia-powered ones — although orders for the latter are expected soon.”

    Discarding hydrogen was pretty obvious. It has low energy density, requires expensive high-tech refrigeration to stay liquid, and can’t be used in existing diesel engines. Dropping the ammonia option was a harder call; it has good density, is liquid with light refrigeration and/or pressurisation, and like methanol burns in diesels with minor modifications. The disadvantages are toxicity and he need to filter nitrous oxides from exhaust flues. These seem to have been enough, in spite of the uncertainty over relative prices.

    There isn’t any doubt on technical feasibility for any of the three. They are currently manufactured in volume from fossil feedstocks, and there are a good number of commercial and pre-commercial plants in operation or planned using green routes. On methanol, see this IRENA report:

    The disadvantage of methanol is that it’s a hydrocarbon, and the best you can hope for is a net zero industry, not a zero emissions one. Consequently the greenness of the CO2 input can be gamed and neds vigilant regulation. It also needs a concentrated source of CO2, from cement kilns and steelworks say, which in the long run will get scarcer. Direct air capture of CO2 is possible but still expensive.

    I see no reason to second-guess this technical decision by the industry. It is not however a triumph of market magic. The transition in shipping is mainly due to old-fashioned imperial bullying by the EU, which has not allowed the dozy UN organisation IMO, a regulator captured by its industry, to get away with doing nothing. It’s not so much that the flags of convenience (Liberia, Panama, Marshall Islands etc) have no armies that could stand up to say the Dutch navy for a day, as that except for Panama they don’t have real ports. Shipowners have to dock in Rotterdam and Hamburg, and the EU is using the leverage without apology.


    2. Attacks lungs/heart/brain/blood vessels/capillaries/many other systems and organs
    3. Rapidly Mutates
    4. Primary Route of Infection via Aerosol
    5. We develop very low natural immunity against new variants
    6. Vaccine immunity wanes rapidly against new variants.
    7. Reinfection risk is very significant
    8. T-cell apoptosis occurs (a form of abnormally hasted T-cell death in this case)
    9. Damages immune system
    10. Causes Cumulative infection damage as dangers add up with multiple infections
    11. Causes Long-term illness


    12. Masks work to reduce infection
    13. HEPA filters and fresh air work to reduce infection
    14. Avoiding public and crowded places work to reduce infection
    15. Keeping up to date with boosters still helps a lot but we need more controls.


    16. This crisis will get worse and worse unless and until we implement a full suite of controls, bring Re (effective transmission rate) below 1 and try to trend the situation towards elimination.

  10. Long Covid – like war, great for GDP. And wealth transfers. Like extinctions, long covid will be spared extinction, as it is infectious – for profit. Get the market away from pandemics. 

    “Thousands seeking unproven long Covid blood treatments abroad

    “Procedures such as apheresis, or ‘blood washing’, and anti-clotting therapy are being offered in Europe

    “Apheresis, a blood filtering treatment normally used for lipid disorders, involves needles being put into each arm and the blood passing over a filter, separating red blood cells from the plasma. The plasma is then recombined with red blood cells and returned to the body via a different vein.

    “Gitte Boumeester, a trainee psychiatrist in Almelo, the Netherlands, tried it after developing severe long Covid symptoms.

    “After undergoing treatment at The Long Covid Center in Cyprus at a cost of more than €50,000 (£42,376), she returned home with no improvement to her symptoms. She received six rounds of apheresis, as well as nine rounds of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and an intravenous vitamin drip at the Poseidonia clinic next door to the clinic.

    “Boumeester was also advised to buy hydroxychloroquine as an early treatment package in case she was reinfected with Covid, despite a Cochrane review concluding that it is “unlikely” the drug has any benefit in the prevention of the disease.

    “Dr Beate Jaeger, an internal medicine doctor, began treating long Covid patients with apheresis in February last year at her clinic in Mülheim, Germany, after reading reports that Covid causes issues with blood clotting. She told the BMJ she has now treated thousands in her clinic after patients shared their stories on social media and via word of mouth.

    “Jaeger accepts that the treatment is experimental for long Covid, but said trials are taking too long when the pandemic has left millions of patients with the condition worldwide.

    “Chris Witham, a 45-year-old long Covid patient from Bournemouth, England, spent about £7,000 on apheresis treatment (including travel and accommodation costs) in Kempten, Germany, last year. “I’d have sold my house and given it away to get better, without a second thought,” he said.

    “Keith Richards Blood Transfusion
    “Did Keith Richards have his blood changed to beat a drug addiction?”

  11. Ikon’s “Pt.#3. Rapidly Mutates” – Omicron variant BA.2.75.

    …”Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, who was the first to identify Omicron as a potential concern back in November 2021″ … “It is definitely a potential candidate for what comes after BA.5. Failing that, it’s probably the sort of thing we’ll have come along next, ie a ‘variant of a variant’.”

    “‘Centaurus’: virologists express concern at new Covid subvariant

    “Omicron variant BA.2.75 has been detected in India, UK, US, Australia, Germany, and Canada

    …”chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said there weren’t yet enough samples to assess its severity.

    “In addition to its apparent rapid growth and wide geographical spread, virologists have been alerted by the sheer number of extra mutations BA.2.75 contains, relative to BA.2, from which it is likely to have evolved. “This could mean that it has had the chance to evolve an advantage over an already successful virus lineage, said Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds.

    “It’s not so much the exact mutations, more the number/combination,” said Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, who was the first to identify Omicron as a potential concern back in November 2021. “It’s hard to predict the effect of that many mutations appearing together – it gives the virus a bit of a ‘wildcard’ property where the sum of the parts could be worse than the parts individually.

    “It is definitely a potential candidate for what comes after BA.5. Failing that, it’s probably the sort of thing we’ll have come along next, ie a ‘variant of a variant’.”

  12. “Brad DeLong asks what America can learn from its past bouts of inflation

    “In 1947 and 1951 the problem went away by itself. In 1920 the Fed tightened too much, says the economist

    ” Bond traders appear to expect a little extra inflation over the next couple of years, but after that a return to what has become considered normal. Unless workers and managers see more inflation in the future than bond traders—something that seems unlikely to me—they have no warrant for pushing for high wage increases or thinking that they can get away with price increases ahead of a continuing inflation wave. So there is considerable hope (though hope is not confidence) for a soft landing.”

    “Michael Pascoe: But what if the inflation hawks are wrong …”

    “And what is our 10-year bond market saying? It has retreated from last month’s high nudging 4.2 per cent to a little over 3.4 per cent – hardly the stuff of high inflationary expectations.”

  13. Fox compares Trump to Watergate. Jan 6 will get worse for Trump et al.

    “During a break in Tuesday’s testimony, Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier described the hearing as “jaw-dropping” and comparable to Watergate. He went on to say that Hutchinson’s revelations about Trump’s actions—which included him demanding that police let his armed supporters attend the Jan. 6 rally because “they’re not here to hurt me”—were both “compelling” and “stunning.”

  14. 123 – One Hundred and Twenty Three – Authors! Of “Predictive performance of multi-model ensemble forecasts of COVID-19 across European nations”

    [Comments please -Where is ensemble forecasts and predictive performance for economic market welfare policy models? With 123 authors. Regularly. And we the plebs, encouraged to alter risk & decisions to see changes of priors, both model and modelled.]

    Ikon et all… “we found that the most influential and best choice was to use a median average of models instead of using the mean, regardless of methods of weighting component forecast models.

    “Predictive performance of multi-model ensemble forecasts of COVID-19 across European nations”

    123 Authors! 
    “Results Over 52 weeks we collected and combined up to 28 forecast models for 32 countries. We found a weekly ensemble had a consistently strong performance across countries over time. Across all horizons and locations, the ensemble performed better on relative WIS than 84% of participating models’ forecasts of incident cases (with a total N=862), and 92% of participating models’ forecasts of deaths (N=746). Across a one to four week time horizon, ensemble performance declined with longer forecast periods when forecasting cases, but remained stable over four weeks for incident death forecasts. In every forecast across 32 countries, the ensemble outperformed most contributing models when forecasting either cases or deaths, frequently outperforming all of its individual component models. Among several choices of ensemble methods we found that the most influential and best choice was to use a median average of models instead of using the mean, regardless of methods of weighting component forecast models.

    “Conclusions Our results support the use of combining forecasts from individual models into an ensemble in order to improve predictive performance across epidemiological targets and populations during infectious disease epidemics. Our findings further suggest that median ensemble methods yield better predictive performance more than ones based on means. Our findings also highlight that forecast consumers should place more weight on incident death forecasts than incident case forecasts at forecast horizons greater than two weeks.”

    “All data and code for this study are openly available on Github: covid19-forecast-hub-europe/euro-hub-ensemble.

  15. Most of @Ikonoclast claims is wrong,

    We’ve known that it is impossible to eradicate COVID-19 for, at minimum, two years. Because it’s ineradicable, it’s also fruitless to temporarily eliminate and policies designed to suppress its spread need to be carefully designed so they are sustainable in the long run. We can’t get rid of it, so we need to just live with that fact, and find a way to move on with our lives. Known all this for two years. Nothing new. None of this is up for debate.

    Fortunately, we are now armed with a few new facts about the bug which point to an obvious path forward.

    As I pointed out in another thread, the evidence is that reinfection isn’t anywhere near as big a threat as primary infection, even vaccinated primary infection (this is also true of the famed, but very poorly-documented “long COVID”; one of the few things we know about it is that vaccines make it less likely and less bad). You’re extremely unlikely to get very sick or die from reinfection, at a level similar to the flu. There is no evidence that this protection wanes.

    Other studies show that new variants are NOT more deadly than Omicron, which was also less deadly than OG coronavirus, of course.

    What that means is that: COVID-19 has essentially one shot to kill or hurt you, and if your vaccines and boosters are up to date, it almost certainly won’t. I got it and I’m fine.

    In short: it is factually wrong to say “we develop very low natural immunity against new variants” or that it “causes Cumulative infection damage as dangers add up with multiple infections”.
    It is wrong to say “Reinfection risk is very significant”. Nup.
    It’s also not clear that COVID-19 “causes long-term illness”. At the moment, our best bet is six months to a year with sensible treatment.
    None of this is reflected in the best evidence available to us today.

    If we want to adopt an evidence-based approach, here it is:

    Clearly our first priority should be boosting, boosting, boosting. We need to make sure as few people as possible get the bug outside the goldilocks zone, which means a huge vaccination campaign.

    Priority two needs to be primary care. This shouldn’t be surprising; that’s always a top priority for medicine. Like with most medical complaints, if we can get COVID-19 early, we can smash it. We have developed a number of drugs to help the (hopefully vaccinated) body kick its butt. These drugs rely entirely on speed. If we get it later, death rates are higher. Looking at our death tolls, clearly we’re not doing this well enough.

    Priority three is sensible, sustainable policies designed to slow spread of airborne infectious diseases. Your grants programs for improved ventilation, your masking on public transport, and so on.

    None of this is possible if people are scared that public health measures just mean lockdown. Or if they’re convinced vaccines and drugs won’t help them if they get this magical airborne Ebola that avoids vaccines and drugs. Or if they’re convinced there’s nothing we can do but avoid the virus at all costs. This is all just factually wrong.

    Just to restate: we can’t get rid of the bug. It’s here to stay. Nothing we can do will change that. Therefore, we need to minimise the hard it causes. I think this is the most sensible approach to achieve that.

  16. Andrew Gelman needs JQ, as “I know nothing about this topic of the value premium”.

    “The results suggest that the original value premium estimate is upward biased because of a chance result in the original research decisions.”- Mathias Hasler

    “Forking paths in the estimate of the value premium?

    Posted on July 11, 2022 11:41 AM by Andrew

    “Mathias Hasler writes:
    “I have a working paper about the value premium and about seemingly innocuous decisions that are made in the research process. 

    “Here’s the abstract of the paper:
    “The construction of the original HML portfolio (Fama and French, 1993) includes six seemingly innocuous decisions that could easily have been replaced with alternatives that are just as reasonable. I propose such alternatives and construct HML portfolios. In sample, the average estimate of the value premium is dramatically smaller than the original estimate of the value premium. The difference is 0.09% per month and statistically significant. Out of sample, however, this difference is statistically indistinguishable from zero. The results suggest that the original value premium estimate is upward biased because of a chance result in the original research decisions.” [End]

    “I’m sympathetic to this claim for the usual reasons, but I know nothing about this topic of the value premium, nor have I tried to evaluate this particular paper, so you can make of it what you will. I’d be happier if it had a scatterplot somewhere.”

    “Is the Value Premium Smaller Than We Thought?”

    Posted: 16 Jul 2021
    Last revised: 30 Aug 2021
    Mathias Hasler

    “A theory of anticipated utility”
    J. Quiggin
    Published 1 December 1982

    2,823 Citations
    Highly Influential Citations

  17. Just in case: topology. 

    “Squaring the circle”
    JULY 4, 2005

    “Reading John and Belle’s blog, not the place I would usually look for unfamiliar maths results, I discovered that the circle can be squared in Gauss-Bolyai-Lobachevsky space . Checking a bit further, I found this was not a new result but was shown by Bolyai back in C19.

    “I haven’t found a link that shows how the construction was done, though. Can someone point me in the right direction, please?”

    James Wimberley replied
    “There must be an academic ethnic joke about Hungarians in this, on the lines of “a Hungarian is someone who goes into a revolving door behind you and comes out ahead of you.”

    “Foundation Announces the Simons Collaboration on New Structures in Low-Dimensional Topology”

    Despite the many successes these gauge theoretic invariants have had in the past 30 years, the tools used to study 3- and 4-manifolds have advanced very little. However, we are currently at a precipice where ideas from disparate areas of mathematics and theoretical physics foreshadow the existence of a new generation of tools, promising new and more powerful invariants to better probe the structure of smooth topology in 3- and 4-dimensions. As with the gauge theoretic tools, it is anticipated that this new wave of techniques will lead to the resolution of fundamental open problems extending far beyond the localized study of low-dimensional topology. The Simons Collaborations on New structures in Low-Dimensional Topology brings together a team of researchers, covering a variety of different perspectives, who can synthesize the interconnections between fields and overcome the barriers preventing progress in uncovering the next generation of tools in low-dimensional topology.

  18. Burden of Proof, von Neumann style; “To ask in advance for a complete recipe would be unreasonable. We can specify only the human qualities required:
    patience, flexibility, intelligence.”

    “it was he who invented the term “zero-sum game”

    “von Neumann invented the minimax theorem. … Generalized, it says “assume that your opponent will act in the way that best serves their interests at your expense, then plan accordingly”.”

    + Stanislaw Ulam anecdote re developing monte carlo method.

    (h/t reviewer)
    Long read.

    “Book Review: The Man From The Future…

    “John von Neumann invented the digital computer. The fields of game theory and cellular automata. Important pieces of modern economics, set theory, and particle physics. A substantial part of the technology behind the atom and hydrogen bombs. Several whole fields of mathematics I hadn’t previously heard of, like “operator algebras”, “continuous geometry”, and “ergodic theory”.

    “The Man From The Future, by Ananyo Bhattacharya, touches on all these things. But you don’t read a von Neumann biography to learn more about the invention of ergodic theory. You read it to gawk at an extreme human specimen, maybe the smartest man who ever lived.

    “By age 6, he could multiply eight-digit numbers in his head. At the same age, he spoke conversational ancient Greek…”

    . ..”The couple would buy a new car every year, usually because von Neumann had totalled the previous one. His vehicle of choice was a Cadillac, ‘because’, he explained ‘no one would sell me a tank’. Miraculously, he escaped largely unscathed from these smash-ups, often returning with the unlikeliest of explanations. “I was proceeding down the road,” begins one fabulous excuse. “The trees on the right were passing me in orderly fashion at 60 miles an hour. Suddenly one of them stepped in my path. Boom!”

    “The Man From The Future avoids mentioning a rumor, spotted on Wikipedia, that part of von Neumann’s problem was a habit of reading books while driving.

    “Most surprising, at least to me, John von Neumann was reportedly quite fun to be around – the life of the party. He used his prodigious memory not just for mathematical theorems but for an almost limitless amount of jokes and gossip. You can find a list of his favorite jokes in his brother’s biography. Here’s one:

    Bonus: “although he briefly touches on other issues including global warming (in 1955!)”

    “Can We Survive Technology?”

    Click to access von_Neumann_1955.pdf

  19. I’m going to quote a great thinker today. He (?) is probably little unknown. And yet he has put the case so well.

    “What does privatize profits, socialize losses mean?

    Around the world, the free market rewards competing, positioning and elbowing, so these have become the most desirable qualifications people can have. Empathy, solidarity or concern for the public good are relegated to the family, houses of worship or activism. Meanwhile, the market and private gain don’t account for social stability, health or happiness.

    The people who do essential work – taking care of the sick; picking up our garbage; bringing us food; guaranteeing that we have access to water, electricity and WiFi – are often the very people who earn the least, without benefits or secure contracts. On the other hand, those who often have few identifiably useful skills – the pontificators and chief elbowing officers – continue to be the winners. It is these people who make millions – sometimes as much in an hour as healthcare workers or delivery personnel make in an entire year.

    Simply put, a market system driven by private interests never has protected and never will protect public health, essential kinds of freedom and communal wellbeing.

    The narrow kind of macroeconomic thinking currently dominating the halls of government and academia invokes a simpleminded teenager who variously berates and denounces his parents, only to come home, time and again, when he is out of ideas, money or support. Boeing, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America – all would be bust without public bailouts and tax breaks and subsidies. Every time the private system works itself into a crisis, public funds bail it out – in the current crisis, to the tune of trillions of dollars. As others have noted, for more than a century, it’s a clever machine that privatises gains and socialises costs.

    When private companies are back up and running, they don’t hold themselves accountable to the public who rescued them. As witnessed by activities since the 2008 bailouts.

    Now is the time to assert the obvious: without a strong public, there can be no private. My health depends on public health. My freedom depends on social freedom. The economy is embedded in a healthy society with functional public services, not the other way around.

    This moment of pain and collapse can serve as a wakeup call; a realisation that the public is our greatest good, not the private. Look outside the window to see: without a vibrant and stable public, life can quickly get poor, nasty, brutish and short.” – Aditya N Gokhroo posted on Quora.

  20. Ikonoclast: – “Now is the time to assert the obvious: without a strong public, there can be no private. My health depends on public health. My freedom depends on social freedom. The economy is embedded in a healthy society with functional public services, not the other way around.


    Meanwhile, an interesting perspective expressed in a tweet @MtShastaWriter on Jul 16:

    SARS2 infection, repeatedly, on a worldwide scale in countries with little healthcare resources will negate the need to migrate.

    This may be one of the reasons the world is letting SARS2/MPOX rip. It accomplishes genocide without any government actually taking an active part.

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