A transition from public to private is taking place… is why the future will be very different this time around. The confidence in governments is fading away for a number of good reasons, and it will change the world we live in.
The bond market will go through painful convulsions, which is a big deal.
China is in a free fall, which translates into “take your money and run.” Middle East is in transition, to put it mildly, and then there are some interesting things about Europe. You can never underestimate the Old World, when it comes to making a mess of things.
Northern Europe is flat and well rivered and so countries there can achieve efficiencies and economies of scale. Southern Europe is rugged and lacks rivers and so cannot. The bottom line is that Southern Europe will never be able to compete with Northern Europe economically, just as Northern Europe cannot hope to compete with Southern Europe when it comes to sun, fun, food and flair. (France has a foot in both worlds, which is part of what makes the French so cool.)
The bottom line is that the European union can’t last and the Euro can not either.
However, the thing to understand is that we’re not heading into war, because there is no business in it - nobody wants to occupy the other. All the talks about world war III are nonsense, there are better ways to make money and all the players know it.
But, there are huge differences how the world works from place to place.
In Europe the welfare state is in essence a huge shock absorber, but they’re paying for it with lower living standards.
Or, as in China, the command and control state provides the same function – as long as you play along, you’re left alone.
Once you get to United States, it’s a totally different growth model – the idea here is to optimize the run with no buffers. We will accept short, sharp shock, which will allow the economy to come back without massive amounts of new taxation or state intervention. It is a more difficult method, but it tends to work.
It’s an American thing.
Russia is quiet, and this is not good, the media are not picking up on what’s going on there.
And you know, I have a problem with that – in the communist Eastern Europe years ago, the TV had specialists for each region who would come on and explain the settings as things unfolded. There is nothing like this today, we’ve lost the depth of thinking in understanding the world.
On a lighter note, I rode far North the other day and I was talking to a beautiful gypsy woman while my motorcycle was cooling down in front of a restaurant.
She started the conversation.
“Never take advice from someone wearing a suit and tie,” she said.
“How do you know I am even around people like this?”
She just looked at me.
I put my helmet down and unzipped my jacket. “Now you’re getting into my head, which is a mistake, my head is not a place you want to get into.”
“You know the boss, no?” she ignored what I said.
“I do, and she talks in her sleep.”
She laughed quietly. "Your wife."
“I hope that life will treat you kind,” she said.
“What will happen when they call for you?” she asked sitting comfortably in her light flowing brown dress, the wind moving it as she spoke.
I understood right away what she was saying.
"I never get into a situation without knowing the way out."
She looked at me again.
“They can leave a message at the beep.”
The lockdown of the economy is easing a bit, but I am sure that the hysteria will come back in the fall with the new flu season. The only way out of this mess is for people to stop paying attention to the constant flow of bad news from the media and move on with their lives.
The damage to the economy is huge and our governments are doing a terrible job in handling this simple issue.
As always, over time the economy will adapt and it’s not just about working from home. It is about office space that is not needed and shopping malls that are not important anymore. Working from home means less demand for cars (I just gave up on buying one in Canada and may give up on buying one in Switzerland too.)
The restaurants will stay in business, I hope. I still like to go out and I am a simple man with acquired taste– I like the Kempinski hotel on the boulevard Mont Blanc in Geneve.
The restaurant there is called “Le Grill” - a fantastic view of the Jet d'Eau when it is on, meaning when a high wind is not spraying the water over the city.
It’s a hell of a design.
Back to eating - I am not good at trying new things and I prefer to eat the same meal every time. This tells you how we square-headed civil engineers think, or at least this one here, typing this essay with one finger.
Let’s get down to business, but I will save some good news for the end.
The German government will take 20% in Lufthansa, really nationalizing the business, and this is just one of many to come. The airline will be flying, of course, just under different owners. What people don’t understand is that a bailout is a transition of ownership, from private investors to the government. And there is a long line up for bailouts – we’re looking at a massive nationalization of the economy in Europe.
Throughout history there are three schools of thought in my view. The first is liberalism, which lasted the longest and brought most of the progress. In essence that is the freedom of a person to develop, grow and act.
Then you enter the vulgar ones – first was communism, where the class of people matters, not the individual. That lasted over 70 years, ruining the life of millions. You would think that nothing worse can happen, but it did. The leftist fascist ideology was about dominant race, not person, not class, and it was spit out to the garbage of history after just 17 years, but with the greatest human suffering ever.
I think that this reflects on the human nature in good way – we dispose of nonsense quickly and hard. That means that there is God in us, or at least our vision of him is in us.
The settlement after the war was called the Nuremberg trials when the justice was served to the war criminals.
By the way, don’t believe in the suicide stories among some of the top nazi officials – they were beaten to death, like Heinrich Himmler. Herman Göring was too, I am pretty sure.
History will always repeat and your memory becomes your greatest weapon so use it good, which is harder for men since the ladies are so much better at remembering things.
I have a woman in front of me right now and she remembers what shoes she was wearing at the high school graduation party and I don’t even remember that there was a party. I think she had a dark blue dress on, but I may be mixing events.
Now for the good news, and no, it will not be from the gospel of St. John.
I bought a Yamaha VMax motorcycle, which is capable of 200hp and 300 km/h on the highway.
“I may have gone crazy,” I said to a friend of mine.
“It wasn’t a long trip,” she said.
I knew that this week was going to be weird because it started off weird.
On the floor of the Italian Parliament, Bill Gates was accused of intentionally looking to reduce the world population by 10-15%. There were politicians, and you can watch it on youtube, who immediately protested to protect him. Why not let the investigation take place for they have no answers unless they are being paid to have none.
The US Senate approved by unanimous consent legislation that could bar some Chinese companies from being listed on U.S. stock.
The bill would require companies to certify that they are not under the control of a foreign government, but obviously there is way more to it.
I grew up in a communist country and I know it first hand – EVERYTHING is under control of the party. That’s the very definition of the communist system, that’s how the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) stays in power.
So the US now has the power to chase out any Chinese company that happens to be listed in New York, the most liquid stock market in the world, and China will retaliate in the effort not to lose face.
It is useful to look this way at what’s coming – China’s main customers are entering a serious recession and the Asians have no domestic demand, except a few cities on the East coast. Say, the foreign demand goes down 20% which likely means about 100M jobs lost in China. How long before these people will be on the streets rioting? What is the brilliant plan to deal with that? Increased oppression works for a while, but not for long. And there is no back up plan.
Let me tell you what I learned in life – if you don’t have a back up plan, you don’t have a plan. I’d say I am a little concerned of what’s coming, and if somebody says they’re a little concerned – that means they’re very concerned. And if they say that they are concerned means they’re desperate.
The Japanese can one day wake up on the wrong side of the bed, scream banzai! and shut the whole Chinese economy down, given the strength of their navy and easy access to oceans, two factors that China doesn’t have. Cut off the supply and delivery lines, that means. It could be a matter of weeks.
Here is my take on it – if your company has a business with staff in China, now is the time to get them the hell out of there.
America will re-industrialize, and we will do it fast, and the rest of the world will have a reality check.
The so-called “developing countries” need to get their affairs in order. You look at sub-Saharan Africa – it’s a royal mess and no leadership.
Who should solve it for them? The Americans used to care but they do not anymore.
You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
In Western Europe the political leadership is nowhere to be found since the problems started, and things go bump in the night..
Saudi Arabia has just tripled its taxes from 5% to 15% percent, as it is suffering from the collapse of oil demand and price. Not to be outdone, federal finance minister Olaf Scholz of the Socialists in Germany (SPD) floated the idea to raise income taxes to 70%. So you make 100K and you bring home 30. Let this thought sink in for a while. This is how problem-solving thinking went at the highest level there.
Or what passed for thinking.
It is not less wild in the US – some states impose what are known as inventory taxes, which means that regardless of whether a business makes a profit, they will be taxed on having inventory, which in this environment they were prohibited to sell anyways. You can’t make this stuff up.
And I know what’s coming next – property taxes will rise, as the municipalities are starved for money. The mad hunt for taxes is on.
I have no idea who is pushing this corona virus nonsense, but someone is.
What I know for sure is this: one of the main functions of power is to conceal power. If you don’t have a lot of power you have to exaggerate your power. You try to conceal your weakness. People who have lots of power don’t want to attract attention to it, so it is really difficult to know where power lies in the 21th century.
What is clear, however, is that the way the elite stays in power is by shaping the way we think, mostly through the mass media narrative.
The politicians are playing along – they don’t bother to look at the data, which proves this virus has been tiny in comparison to the flu.
Times of extreme change are often painful, but for many they provide an opportunity - the Chinese alphabet has the same sign for crisis and opportunity.
In all fairness, they don’t live by it at all. They screwed up royally the handling of corona virus, which simply shows the lack of quality leadership over there. Beijing has accused the French of using their nursing homes as death camps, has blamed Italy for being the source of the coronavirus (at the very peak of Italian deaths) and has charged the US Army with bringing the virus to China in the first place.
And you know how easy it is to offend the French, they live the life their own way, which I admire by the way. Even on iPhones they don’t have Siri, they have chéri.
And I realize that my opinion comes form nostalgia for a better world. Dispensing it is my way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth. But trust me on the economy.
And I will keep doing it, simply because I grew up listening to people who had something original to say and I learned that basic rules of life mean a lot.
Strong leadership is essential.
Now for the title of this essay - afterburner is a device fitted to the exhaust system of a turbojet engine to increase thrust for the few moments when you really need it.
Or in life, if you go strong for something and you make the extra effort and it costs you.
I can relate – I am not a steady performer, but I have brilliant moments and I live for them.
Luckily I have a hard loving woman who takes me as I am.
It was a late, chilly spring night, and we were sitting on a balcony in the old town with a friend of mine.
“Let’s have a toast”, he said.
“For keeping the rules.”
“I’ll drink for that.”
My rules are from the times before political correctness poisoned the society.
Guess his are too.
All of us, old guys, are pretty strange.
I went shopping the other day. The parking lot was full, so I parked more or less illegally by the curb. The two gentlemen were sitting on the bench drinking beer straight from the cans and were in a visible need to talk to someone.
“Don’t worry man, we’ll watch the bike for you.”
None of them was able to drive it away, that’s for sure, so fine, I even left the key in the ignition.
People are just killing time during the corona madness and having a beer on the bench outside is better than rioting in the streets.
Life has changed and I have a theory about it that may surprise you.
When we have a set back, like right now, the real question is - what do we set back to? I am of the opinion, that the corona virus didn’t really change the trends already in motion, it just accelerated them. Like stress, viruses reveal the weaknesses in the system.
China was in turmoil since 2008 and now their main customer is entering a recession. Russia was on the ropes before oil prices collapsed and this is their main source of income (30% of their GDP comes from selling oil), as it is for Middle East exporters.
The point is - oil is going to zero, as there is no storage capacity left.
Europe was fragmenting fast, and the virus scare will only add to the national separation trend. The borders have come up and there is no pretense any longer for a genuine European solution to this problem.
We see food shortages in developing countries, lines to buy something to eat 4 km long in South Africa for example. The developing countries traditionally didn’t do well on their own, they waited for somebody from outside to come and solve their problems. Well, nobody is coming anymore.
US already have the demography younger than China (which is one of the fastest aging societies in the world) and this is crucial, because the young people spend.
But – the US is slipping into the reality that it trades with itself and maybe a handful of other countries (Japan, Korea, Mexico, Canada and the UK). That transition from global trade into “friends and family” arrangement would normally take a few years to accomplish; however the corona will make it happen fast.
In the past five weeks the United States has thrown $3 trillion in new government spending at coronavirus-related bailouts, relief and economic stimulus. In total the US has already spent more on coronavirus-related actions than the rest of the world combined, tripled. And they will throw in another few trillion during the summer.
Which means that price is no object for the Americans, suddenly making this transition within a few months, not the few years.
What will emerge on the other side of it is that we’ll have American security, but not global security as they provided for free up until now. We’ll have American trade network, but not a global trade network.
China can’t possibly interact economically with the rest of the world without the security umbrella provided by the Americans. Their navy can control maybe 2000 mile radius from the ports, no more.
If you look at the history of China in the last 3500 years, they very rarely have been unified. Their unification now comes courtesy of the American’s security protection.
China only works if someone from the outside provides reasons for it to exist – protection of supply lines, availability of resources and open markets to sell to.
Their way to handle this issue is “social management”. There are already more than 600M cameras installed on Chinese streets. Now they can install cameras in private homes to monitor for “corona virus symptoms”. Let’s be real – if people meet to discuss something, the government will know about it.
If this is not desperation, I don’t know what is.
The trade-off associated with the COVID-19 threat has been portrayed as being between lives and money, but the correct way to view the trade-off is between lives today and lives in the future.
Ponder the last sentence and you won’t regret it.
Many countries are planning to lift the corona virus lockdown gradually, which is a relief.
Still, there is a lack of perspective, so also understanding, of why it was imposed in the first place and why it is being lifted now, as the system delivers such events with regularity. We have corona virus every year as part of the flue season, but there is no reference provided as to how this one compares.
In the end, I believe, money talks and forces the right behavior (it is the world’s smallest violin, no?). And you know I like the sound of a violin.
We need to be open for business, but for now the entire world is still under lockdown and quarantine.
I may get a nice deal on a Harley-Davidson out of that, but it doesn’t make me feel good.
The damage to the household sector is so severe that it is going to impair living standards for a long time. This problem is compounded by the fact that the most financially vulnerable are experiencing the majority of layoffs. As of this writing US jobless claims soar past 30 million (out of a work force of 164M). France's economy shrank an eye-popping 5.8%, the biggest quarterly drop since 1949. In Spain, the contraction was 5.2%. Germany is projecting that its economy will shrink 6.3% this year.
Fiscal and monetary programs that are being put in place are redefining how the government interacts with us, and they will remain in some form or fashion forever. There is no return to free market economy from here.
The central banks have essentially created a new moral hazard by socializing credit risk, but the real danger is elsewhere. The amount of money pumped into the financial system doesn’t have the ability to create inflation - the European Central Bank has been creating money for the last few years like it is going out of style, but they just can’t get any inflation going.
It just shows that the quantity theory of money is wrong.
Problem is that the bankers are also in control of the cost of money in the form of interest rates. By manipulating rates they violate the natural laws of supply and demand. They can create money at will and price it at 0%, which ruins the savers and retirees, impairs capital formation.
The next financial crisis is coming from pension funds that are not able to meet their obligations, have no doubt about that.
In the end, money is just a mental concept represented by computer entries. The few percent of it’s stock that exists in physical form is mostly for convenience. What follows, is that inflation is also a mental concept and once it’s triggered there is no stopping it – in the 1920’s in Germany people were paid twice a day, this is how quickly the money value was going down the drain.
Money has value as long as the people have trust in the government.
This may now be broken as we're looking at the most tragic case of governmental, medical, and media malpractice in the history of the world.
Now for the good news - supply lines have been cut. The world will become way more local.
Amazon’s dumb-ass business model will sink with the oil and trucking industries.
Tesla posted 16M profit, which is laughable in any universe given the company stock market capitalisation. The board should be out in the parking lot looking for new jobs by now.
The real thing is that commerce will persist in human life, of course, it will just be reorganized differently.
There are huge opportunities for smart, young people who recognize this.
I know I think in terms from before they invented political correctness.
And you know what? I like it that way.
In the Cambridge something-something dictionary the title means my true thoughts, and this essay is supposed to be just that, which is not easy since I have a one-track mind and a double standard.
I learned my weaknesses quite well as my life passed by.
Let’s get down to business now.
West Texas Intermediate, the oil grade most associated with American production, plunged down to -$40 April 20. For a while yesterday, sellers had to pay people forty bucks to take a barrel of crude.
As of this morning, there are still at least 24 supertankers carrying at least 50 million barrels of Saudi crude en route to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Most will arrive in May, seeking to fill up as much of what remains of U.S. storage as possible.
But the big show will happen when the world runs out of storage capacity.
Most folks in the know are now musing that what storage remains, will be filled up completely sometime in May or early-June.
All this flies in the face of the theory that fossil fuels are finite, that they somehow are a product of dinosaurs dying and forests and threes from before.
Like dinosaurs went to one place in the desert to die? Why there? And why we’re getting so much from the oil from under the bottom of the oceans? How did the fossil get there?
Whenever the West catches a cold, Africa catches pneumonia. The Middle East is in the process of being destroyed and Asia remains a pit of slave labor, crowded living conditions, and inadequate infrastructure.
This is not right, something is wrong. The problem is that the media have psychologically terrorized people and broken one of the critical ties in civilization, where everybody comes together and we all benefit from the synergy. All this is gone now because of a virus that has maybe 10% mortality rate of a regular flu.
And we have an economy that is 70% service oriented, so interaction is critical, not silly social distancing for no reason at all.
I age gracefully but I am still surprised with what is happening, the Covid-19 hoax, the climate change hoax and so on, and how seriously some people take it.
What disappoints me is folks wearing facemasks and bypassing me in a wide circle on the grass as I limp on the sidewalk.
There is no pandemic people, it’s just nonsense from TV, nothing dangerous out there.
This is how God protects his children, he allows them to think. Be one of them.
For the moment, we don’t have an economy. Nor does much of the rest of the world and nobody has the slightest idea how to bring it back.
Believe me, that’s a problem.
Gas is cheap, I was out on my motorcycle today, it was about 2 degrees and snowing from time to time. It cost me $15 to fill up the tank.
In my life I made a long journey from an altar boy in a small village in Eastern Europe to the “one percenter” crowd, you know, the ones that don’t fit and don’t care.
Reading lots of good books likely kept me safe.
Writing one even more.
You’re hearing now from someone who’s seen it all.
From the category “I can’t believe what I’m hearing”, comes a statement by Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the EU and Commissioner for Competition, who said that EU states should now nationalise companies in the fight against China.
Consider, that the European Central Bank has been buying stocks in selected blue chip companies, which flies in the face of fair market competition and her role, but I will let that one slide. Just don’t whine that Apple got a tax deal in Ireland.
Let me tell you something about nationalized industries, as I was a born and raised in a communist country. Nationalized companies are painfully inefficient and uncompetitive. They go down in flames in a matter of time, there is no exception. There is only one way for them – down.
Back in the Iron Curtain days, the joke was that if they introduce our economic model in the Sahara, they would run out of sand within a month.
If a ship is going through a storm on the ocean, do the passengers make decisions by committee, or do they let the captain decide what to do? You need a boss, not government running businesses.
But there is more to the statement by Ms. Vestager, and it’s serious.
Who in their right mind would invest in European companies if they were to be nationalized? The stock market sell off would be brutal at the first indication of this idea getting traction. This would ruin retirees, who already suffer from ultra low bond yields.
If a long bond (say 30 years) pays 5% coupon, for every million you save in your retirement fund you get $50K a year. If, as right now in Switzerland, the same bond yields -0.129%, you simply are getting taxed, there is no income (a bond yields negative if the market price exceeds the face value of it and all coupon payments combined).
It’s quite possible that I am losing touch with reality, I just have trouble getting it anymore.
As Mark Knopfler had it “the right becomes the left and the left becomes the right.”
Perhaps the Covid-19 scare is here to keep us at bay and focused on something else. Somehow Bill Gates is outspoken now and he is voicing his concerns about overpopulation and availability of vaccine to fight the virus.
Well, you can’t have both, you can’t be long and short the same trade (in market terms).
He is also a contributor to WHO, an organization that has been asleep at the wheel, and president Trump is right pointing out this fact and cutting payments ($116 million a year). This should kick the organization into a higher excitement, as money is the language everybody understands.
Meanwhile, countries opted for flat-out medical Gestapo action. Stories are coming out of Switzerland that a doctor, Thomas Binder, who has spoken against the coronavirus fraud, was arrested. He’s been brutally attacked by the Swiss SWAT team in his medical practice.
I am of the opinion that we have become utterly intolerant of uncertainty.
This is not good, it kills the entrepreneurial spirit and appetite for risk taking, both essential factors of a successful economy.
But in the absence of certainty, that age-old human cognitive skill called pattern recognition, which has made us such a successful species, kicks into high gear scanning the field-of-view for answers. They will not be pretty, but this is the way out from current mess – life will eventually find a way to normal.
It is essential to understand that our only deterrent against war was the strength of the American economy, which everyone relied on to sell products.
I hope they teach kids this obvious fact elsewhere too, I know they do in Canada – I am impressed with the level of thinking that goes into education here, it’s really that good.
Germany exports 50% of what they make, a totally misguided national policy. China is not even remotely able to absorb internally what they produce. There are more exporting countries I can name which are doomed to failure. And they will fail.
It’s the paying customer that saves the world, always.
And it’s us here, but we will buy local, no issue.
America’s engagement in the world trade is only about 10% of the GDP, so really nothing.
If we choose a reset, the MAGA (making America great again), which I think we’ve already did, a number of countries will go into tailspin, as in the toilet, direction down.
Make no mistake – this is what the Trump controversy is all about, the rest is just blubbering.
China, South Korea and Japan get most of their energy supplies through the Hormuz Strait (two miles waterway in each direction plus two miles buffer in the middle). Iran is on the other side, aggressive and hungry for power. And you know what? You can’t beat the Persians, their geography makes war in Afghanistan look like a walk in the park.
Obviously the Iranians know that.
It takes all of US 5th fleet stationed in Bahrain to keep the Strait open, a huge amount of firepower unmatched by the rest of the world’s navy combined, but it takes only one destroyer to shut the passage down if the Americans leave. And they’re leaving.
At about $20 dollars per barrel of oil, the budgets in the Middle East are getting busted, the Saudis budgeted $100 from here to eternity. They have many princess’s to pay off.
You don’t hear about them much, no? You know what happens when children in the next room are quiet for too long.
And how come Putin is not being blamed for Covid-19? He used to be the pouching bag for whatever goes wrong in the world. How did he manage to dodge that one?
A disease that has 10% fatality rate of a regular flu has shut down the worlds’ economy and it will take years to recover.
And where is Geneva’s WHO in all of this? Weren’t they supposed to be the health organization? Worldwide, no less.
Or are they the definition of “asleep at the wheel”.
They’re actually privately sponsored, not a government organization. Dig into that one at your own risk.
I will be 51 tomorrow, the time just flew by.
Here is Bob Dylan again:
“There must be some way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.”
And now the hour is getting late.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.
Dubai has been ruled by the Al Maktoum family since early 19th century.
Under Sheikh Mohammed it became a phenomenal development story - between 1995 and 2015 the GDP increased from $11 billion to $101 billion, all while reducing the contribution of oil revenues to GDP from 18% to 1.2%. Dubai export saw a 645% increase during the same period, while gross fixed capital formation increased by 733%.
The Sheikh has built Dubai into a local hub, with the economy mostly driven by services, trade, transportation and logistic, retail and tourism.
The Dubai International Airport beats Heathrow in the number of international passengers, and the quality of living in the city ranks above that of Tokyo and Seoul, to name a few.
“There is no looking back, and anything less than number one is not acceptable”, he said.
He also owns the third largest ocean going yacht in the world – a very nice piece of machinery.
In an example how well Dubai is managed, the Sheikh ordered setting up drive-through stations for Covid-19 testing and regular disinfections of the streets.
On that note, I always thought that it is good to hear both sides of the story, and I recently came across a talk on corona virus by an American epidemiologist with impressive credentials.
He said that, as in every respiratory disease, we should protect the elderly and the fragile, because if they get pneumonia, they have a high risk of dying.
On the other hand, children do well with these types of diseases, their immune system is evolutionary and designed to be exposed to various sorts of diseases as they go through life. They should keep going to school, which will strengthen their immune system. In fact containment only prolongs effect of the virus.
What people are trying to do is “flatten the curve” and it’s not easy to figure out why, as it only prolongs and widens it, and the respiratory disease will stay in the population longer than necessary.
This is not the first corona virus and it won’t be the last, it’s a part of every flu season. Normally it peaks after about two weeks, then declines, and after one month it’s all over.
The professor was of the opinion that if it hadn’t been for government intervention the epidemic would be over by now.
Let’s take Sweden as an example of a different thinking, a country which has not locked down its economy and society.
Sweden has not closed the bars. Shopping malls are open. Schools and companies are open too. There are some restrictions such as on gatherings of over 50 people. But, in comparison with most European countries, life in Sweden is relatively normal.
As of this writing, Sweden has the death rate from corona virus of 33 per million of the population. In France it is 83, in Italy 230, in Switzerland 101.
Whether the professor is right or not, I can’t judge, but what’s clear to me is that we were all been caught off guard.
In a world with this level of people connectivity, the government needs to have a buffer and plan to handle crisis like this, call it insurance policy, and the absolutely worst thing one can do with insurance is try to time it.
But the officials did, and by now the whole world is in a damage control mode.
There is no reliable data on the number of cases (that would require testing EVERYONE), or deaths (the official line usually is “possibly corona virus related”) and so the governments shut down the economy without knowing exactly what they’re doing.
Dubai is a quiet place these days, I saw a picture of gazelles roaming the empty streets, replacing the booming Bentleys and boxy Mercedes G-Wagen.
The way it works there, the shorter the number on the license plate the richer the owner– two digits could mean a billionaire.
The hotels on Jumeirah, the palm island, are empty, beaches and water tours cancelled. The magnificent Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world is closed to visitors, if there are any.
The population there consists of about 80% expats. The rest of them, the locals, when they get married, they get a piece of land from the Sheikh to build a house - he doesn’t want his subjects to rent a home.
Significance, not just success.
Strong leader, and a cool guy.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler