Wednesday Night #1984

Written by  //  March 25, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Wednesday Night 1984 – an ominous number, given our preoccupation with fake news, Trumpian dystopia and the COVID-19 pandemic. Should you need to be reminded, check out Doublethink Is Stronger Than Orwell ImaginedWhat 1984 means today.

Despite the huge gap between the treatment of the pandemic by the two governments, over the last few days, senior politicians of the U.S. and Canada were both involved in hammering out unprecedented financial aid packages for their respective countries, and in both cases the principal sticking point was oversight. Early Wednesday morning, a deal was reached in Washington, (see POLITICO Playbook: We have a deal)
White House and Congress Reach $2 Trillion Stimulus Deal
The legislation, which is expected to be enacted within days, is the biggest economic stimulus package in modern American history, aimed at delivering critical financial support to businesses forced to shut their doors and relief to American families and hospitals reeling from the rapid spread of the disease and the resulting economic disruption.
Struck shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday, it was the product of a marathon set of negotiations … that nearly fell apart as Democrats insisted upon stronger worker protections and oversight over a new $500 billion fund to bail out distressed businesses.
In Ottawa, after a major miscalculation (provisions by the Liberal government to the enabling legislation to expand cabinet’s unilateral spending powers), the  House of Commons has passed emergency legislation to free up $82 billion to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis.

Meantime, François Legault continues to exercise great leadership and is a reassuring presence during his daily updates for the public. The province has released a list of essential services that will be allowed to remain open. They include:
Grocery stores, gas stations, dépanneurs, as well SAQ and SQDC outlets. Restaurant delivery remains available.
Public transit, airports and taxis.
Banks and most other financial services.
Heavy industry, including aluminum smelters and mines.
Is the SAQ an essential service? A closer look at Quebec’s business shutdown — Legault said Tuesday closing SAQ’s would put additional strain on grocery stores, where wine is sold. He added, with a wink, that a glass of wine can help “reduce the stress.”

We have been wondering where Philippe Couillard MD was and whether he should not be giving a good example by volunteering his expert services during the Covid-19 crisis. The answer came on Monday in La Presse and, no, he is not rolling up his sleeves to join the retired medical experts who have responded enthusiastically to calls for their help. But he is happy to offer his advice from his perch at Denton’s. At least he approves of telemedicine.
Philippe Couillard réclame une cellule de sortie de crise

We note with pride that Wednesday Nighter, Pedro Gregorio, and some engineer colleagues are responding to the Code Life Ventilator Challenge, a joint initiative between the Montreal General Hospital Foundation and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) calling for teams to design a simple, low-cost, easy-to-manufacture and easy-to-maintain ventilator which could be deployed anywhere needed to save lives.

NOTE: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. You can follow the link from this article
The Economic Devastation Is Going to Be Worse Than You Think
The coronavirus’s overwhelming toll on jobs and businesses has only just begun.
NOTE: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. You can follow the link from this article.
“This is a tsunami, with a number of big waves dead ahead.”
Mark Zandi … is the chief economist at Moody’s, an analyst highly regarded by both political parties, and generally not prone to hyperbole. Yet when I spoke with him on the phone yesterday, he immediately reached for the metaphor of a devastating natural disaster to describe the toll that the pandemic will take on American commerce—the businesses it will destroy, the jobs it will wipe out, the retirement nest eggs it will crack and shatter.
But that’s not going to happen as on Monday, defying the pleas of scientists and public health experts, he said he would reopen the economy in the next few weeks.[See: Trump risks the lives of millions to save himself]
Lawrence Martin wonders End the lockdown, save the economy: Is there method in Trump’s madness?
To make his case for reopening the country much earlier than jurisdictions such as Canada will, he is playing down the severity of the potential impact of the virus. At press briefings he has pointed to the huge numbers dying from the flu through these months. Likely “50,000!” he estimated Monday. By comparison, when he spoke 520 COVID-19 deaths had been reported in the United States, though the number was rising rapidly. (Of course, the coronavirus has only been in the U.S. since January.)
One of the few cheerful notes about the market is sounded by Ron Meisels who maintains that “I now expect a recovery rally (Leg B) to occur during April, as the SPX revisits the 2650-2800 area and the VIX falls back towards 40. This should to be followed by another decline by the SPX toward 2280 (Leg C), while at the same time the VIX should rise, but significantly fail to reach its recent high (85). This is called divergence. This may take an additional month, but it should bring about the end of the correction and the resumption of the Bull Market.”
Contrast this with Reuters’ view that “Those pining for a bottom to the gut-wrenching stock market selloff may be disappointed to learn that mega one-day rallies, like the ones seen since Tuesday, are typically not the start of a durable recovery.”

India has mounted the largest attempted lockdown yet in the coronavirus crisis, ordering 1.3 billion people to stay at home from midnight for three weeks to prevent a public health disaster. Modi ordered the three-week shutdown in a speech to the nation on Tuesday evening, some four hours before it came into effect. The consequences of shutting down the $2.9-trillion economy will be far-reaching and ramifications include banning of the export of a malaria drug that is being tested as a coronavirus treatment, saying it had [to] meet domestic demand.

Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas address Modi’s move, along with the postponement of the 2020 Japan Olympics (Jeremy provides useful information regarding the process involved) and Trump’s declaration that he would reopen the economy in the next few weeks.

Cleo adds to our list of one more thing to worry about:
Will The Dragon Lash Out?
COVID-19: Could China make its move?
Intelligence analysts generally reckon there are some things that could happen but that won’t happen.
A Chinese attack on U.S. forces or friends in Asia was one such thing. But COVID-19 might make analysts rethink.

When news is on hold as media wait for developments, it is always fascinating to see what angle of a topic attracts the attention of pollsters, pundits and think tanks. One such item is The Atlantic story Red and Blue America Aren’t Experiencing the Same Pandemic
“A flurry of new national polls released this week reveals that …Democrats consistently express much more concern about it than Republicans do, and they are much more likely to say they have changed their personal behavior as a result. A similar gap separates people who live in large metropolitan centers, which have become the foundation of the Democratic electoral coalition, from those who live in the small towns and rural areas that are the modern bedrock of the GOP. Government responses have followed these same tracks. With a few prominent exceptions, especially Ohio, states with Republican governors have been slower, or less likely, than those run by Democrats to impose restrictions on their residents.”
A graphic illustration of the reality of the divide is Stephen Maher’s account in Maclean’s Escape from Florida: My 2,400-km drive back to the sanity of Canada – In Florida, the beaches were open, people filled bars, and many just couldn’t seem to grasp ‘why everyone is panicking’ “The further north I got, the more seriously people seemed to take the virus. In Pennsylvania and New York state, the digital highway signs—the kind that usually warn of congestion ahead—all had warnings about the virus.”

Thanks to Tony Philbin for trying to change the topic today: How long is it since you gave thought to UFO sightings? And, by the way, the correct terminology is “unidentified aerial phenomena”

Good news:
Quebec animal hospitals, shelters to remain open after being declared an essential service
The SPCA has moved its application system online and has seen a significant upswing in demand.
“Right now we’re getting tons of applications from people who want to adopt an animal. We’re also getting a lot of calls about people who want to take animals into foster care,” said Anita Kapuscinska , SPCA Montreal spokesperson.
And in the U.S., according to Alone no more: People are turning to dogs, cats and chickens to cope with self-isolation “As schools close and millions of people across the United States work from home, the promise of companionship even in a time of isolation is prompting some to take in animals. Many say they finally have the time to properly train and care for a new pet.
Let us hope and pray that these adoptions are lasting and that by the time that things return to normal, the animals will be firmly entrenched in the hearts and hearths of their new families.
And this from Australia – remember when bushfires dominated the news?
Koalas are returning to the wild after Australian bushfires

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