Wednesday, 8 April 2020

No, Capitalism Did Not Fail Us



Did capitalism fail us? Has globalisation simply dished up disease and mass death?
In this guest post, Joakim Book reminds us that, while a disease like the one we’re facing would not spread far without people crisscrossing the world, many others would, particularly the ones that humanity has long since mastered: smallpox, measles, cholera, plagues.  Capitalism has not failed us at all, he concludes. Indeed, the very mechanisms that allow for viral diseases to quickly embrace the whole world -- global capitalism and its extensive division of labour -- are the same that made us immeasurably wealthy, and make us more resilient to pandemics of all kinds.

No, Capitalism Did Not Fail Us

The world has been pretty dire in recent weeks.

Seemingly out of the blue, the hard-earned gradual improvements that is human affairs came to a sudden chaotic stop. At times, this looked like the movies: ceased production, abandoned public spaces, supply lines disrupted, aeroplanes grounded, stock markets crashed, supermarket shelves empty of basic necessities and companies letting their employees go – capitalism paused in its tracks; society put on hold.

It didn’t take long before the usual voices hostile to capitalism smugly pointed to the fragility of our times. See how vulnerable your globalised markets are, how delicate is your extensive division of labour! A capitalism unable to withstand the shock of a viral disease of cold-like symptoms didn’t impress. If this nasty business is capitalism’s blind spot, perhaps this is socialism’s hour?

As usual, the promoters of such arguments forget to ask the crucial economic question: compared to what? The socialist utopia of omniscient planners who could have optimally directed our economic efforts exists only in the quixotic minds of those so ideologically blinded by their desires that nothing else matters.

Sure, there are ways of societal organisation that would avoid pandemics like COVID-19. None of them desirable. One route would abolish private property, return to the farms, and re-establish Rousseau’s mythical dream-world of noble savages and close-knit local communities. Without industrial machines and people crisscrossing the world, without supply chains longer than a single person can monitor from his (yes, his) farm cottage, without crowded and hyper-productive cities, a disease like the one we’re facing would not spread far.

But many others would – particularly the ones that humanity have long since mastered: smallpox, measles, cholera, plagues. (Not to mention ignorance, bigotry and war.)

Of the few people that would survive in such a horrendously unproductive and poor world, most would be safe from contracting this coronavirus, most people’s back-breaking pre-industrial work unaffected by the disrupted supply chains currently experienced by societies that have abandoned their normal workplaces.

But it’s hardly a price worth paying. The very mechanisms that allow for viral diseases to quickly embrace the whole world are the same that made us immeasurably wealthy: extensive division of labour and global capitalism.

It’s both odd and wrong to think about societies’ fragilities without regard to the standards of living that they allow. Before the 1820s nobody had ever travelled faster than a horse could carry them, but nobody in their right mind would praise the virtues of that world merely because car travel may involve congested traffic and the small risk of personal injury.

A world of subsistence farmers with little connection to outsiders would be fairly immune to the rapid spread of this disease, but their maintained existence would be much less guaranteed, much more vulnerable to the whims of nature, much less affluent.

Only on a very superficial level does the globalised large-scale division of labour and its accompanying global financial system look frail. In recent weeks, the largest car and truck manufacturers closed their production, partly because a couple of crucial components could no longer be sourced from their suppliers. A shock like this one takes offline much of our breathtaking capacity to produce most things. It transmits its nasty echoes across the world, wreaks havoc, shortages, and despair among innocent people everywhere, from London to Lombardy, from Wuhan to Washington.

On a deeper level, this vast division of labour is showing itself to be remarkably resilient.

Toilet paper producers ramped up production, capitalist exporters meeting the rapid demand. Aviation producers like Rolls Royce and Airbus began producing ventilators hugely demanded by hospitals – as did U.S. car manufacturers. Vodka companies revamped their supply lines to make hand sanitisers, as did chemistry departments in the world’s universities and the perfume and luxury goods manufacturer LVMH. Factories that usually produce iPhones redeployed their efforts to make face masks. The mad urge to obliterate plastic has been rapidly overturned.

Matt Ridley writes in his forthcoming book How Innovation Works, that
the main theme of human history is that we become steadily more specialised in what we produce, and steadily more diversified in what we consume: we move away from precarious self-sufficiency to safer mutual interdependence.
Paradoxically, self-sufficiency – the kind of subsistence living that protects you from global pandemics or financial crises – is what is most precarious. Local risks like storms, harvest failures, or forest fires cannot be dealt with by drawing on resources from elsewhere.

In contrast, depending on others via lengthy global supply chains exposes us to occasional shortfalls of specific goods and relative price changes when storms or viruses knock out some production. But price systems and capitalist entrepreneurs work hard to find more, to adapt, to substitute, and to create the very resources most urgently needed.

Indeed, they work harder, better, faster and stronger than any other system we know. 

Riding out storms and sharing risks across billions of people is a feature, not a bug, and the affluent capitalist nature of our institutions puts us in a better position to deal with them.

* * * * * 
Joakim Book is a writer, researcher and editor on all things money, finance and financial history. He holds a masters degree from the University of Oxford and has been a visiting scholar at the American Institute for Economic Research in 2018 and 2019. His writings have been featured on RealClearMarkets, ZeroHedge, FT Alphaville, WallStreetWindow and Capitalism Magazine, and he is a frequent writer at Notes On Liberty. His works can be found at www.joakimbook.com and on the blog Life of an Econ Student.
This post previously appeared at the AIER blog.
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Monday, 6 April 2020

"Stimulus" from the Santa Claus state will fail us as badly as their phony boom


The world was already awash in debt, borrowed into thin air by the banking system. The cracks had already begin to open up. In setting interest rates to such historically-low levels the financial engineers had already red-lined everything, grievously discouraging savings, grossly inflating every single asset price beyond anything approaching reason, and grotesquely distorting a structure of production already bruised from the disaster of 2008 from which it had never been allowed to repair itself.

But now these bastards have an alibi for the collapse they'd set in motion. This phoney-baloney bubble was already bursting, spectacularly, just as this pandemic hit the globe. It's killing people. But it's rescued the creators of financial apocalypse because everyone's to focused on coronavirus to see their fingerprints for what they are. And everyone can continue to ignore the reality that should be staring them in the face: that we have been consuming the seed corn for decades, and we are just beginning to face the consequences; that for decades now we have over-invested in speculative bubbles, under-invested in productivity-increasing assets, and squandered borrowed money on consumption; that rather than boost productivity, we have lowered productivity via mal-investment, propped up unproductive sectors with immense sums of borrowed money, and finessed the figures to make things look like we were moving forwards.

'Cos the harsh reality is that we weren't moving forwards at all. And it wasn't the pandemic that exposed the lie. It's this pandemic that's allowing the liars to escape responsibility for the destruction that their policies of lose lending and fiscal stimulus unleashed.

And now -- as we're all locked up under home arrest, with nobody allowed to go out and make stuff -- with governments worldwide sending people cheques to keep buying the dwindling amount of stuff that is being made -- mainstream economists everywhere are still scratching their chins on new "fixes," as if "stimulus" from the Santa Claus state will save us instead of sink us all.

For years they've ignored the coming consequences of their economic programme -- which is based on nothing more than promoting the bizarre idea that economic prosperity means living on debt forever. They watched, these central bank planners and mainstream economic engineers, as interest rates had to go ever lower to get the tiniest amount of effect, and as the marginal productivity of every dollar of new debt sunk ever lower. They talked smack about "rock-star economies" and "tech-led booms" while refusing to see the reality in front of them, or to ask themselves the slightest question about their methods.

And now that the consequences are upon us all, they're arguing about a "v-shaped recovery" or a "u-shaped recovery" as if that isn't just fantasy land. And instead of being exposed as the charlatans that they are, instead they're hiding behind the "exogenous shock" of the pandemic as if their gross irresponsibility wasn't responsible for leaving us so unable to cope.

And on panels and advisory committees everywhere, the very people who are responsible for the global economic meltdown their own advice set in motion are now being called on to deliver advice on what to do next.

It's like asking an arsonist how to rebuild after the fire he himself set.

It's grotesque.

LISTEN: And how little intelligent commentary is there at the moment analysing the twin problems of the bursting bubble coupled with the pandemic -- and the irresponsible government and central bank responses. Here's one of the few that I've found: Professors Joseph Salerno and Peter Klein join Tom Woods "to discuss the economics of the extraordinary episode we are currently living through, as well as the likely consequences of how the U.S. federal government and the Federal Reserve Bank are responding."





Friday, 3 April 2020

How Isaac Newton Turned Isolation From the Great Plague Into a “Year of Wonders”


Here's one measure of the scale of this pandemic. Since its establishment eight-hundred years ago, in the year of our lord 1208, England's Cambridge University has been shut down just twice. Once, in the 1660s, for plague. And again just three weeks ago, for this pandemic.
The ‘Great Plague’ of 1665–6 was the worst outbreak of plague in England since the black death of 1348.  As “social distancing” orders emptied campuses throughout England, young student Isaac Newton, a 24-year-old student from Cambridge, was among those forced to leave campus and return indefinitely to his childhood home. As Kerry McDonald explains in this guest post, it became his "year of wonders"....

Isaac Newton, 1642-1727, widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all
time and as a key figure in the Enlightenment and scientific revolution.
[Portrait of Newton at 46 by Godfrey Kneller, 1689.  Wikimedia Commons]

How Isaac Newton Turned Isolation From the Great Plague Into a “Year of Wonders”

University students around the world left campus this month, unsure when they would return and what daily life would look like until then. Forced to leave their friends and classmates behind and return to their childhood bedrooms, young people, who on average are less impacted by COVID-19’s dire health effects, may understandably feel angry and resentful. Free and independent, with their futures full of possibility, these students are now home and isolated. It can seem wholly unfair and depressing. But the story of another college student in a similar predicament might provide some hope and inspiration.
Isaac Newton's Quarantine Experience

In 1665, “social distancing” orders emptied campuses throughout England, as the bubonic plague raged, killing 100,000 people (roughly one-quarter of London’s population), in just 18 months. A 24-year-old student from Trinity College, Cambridge was among those forced to leave campus and return indefinitely to his childhood home.

His name was Isaac Newton and his time at home during the epidemic would be called his “year of wonders.”

Many town-dwellers, like Newton, retreated to the relative safety of the countryside. What is different is how he set his mind to work in this period. Whilst most of us are unlikely to come up with theories that change science and the world as we know it, it is inspiring what can be achieved, even in periods of isolation and change.

Previously undistinguished as a student, away from university life and unbounded by curriculum constraints and professor’s whims, Newton dove headfirst into discovery. “Without his professors to guide him, Newton apparently thrived.” At home, he built bookshelves and created a small office for himself, filling a blank notebook with his ideas and calculations. Absent the distractions of typical daily life, Newton’s creativity flourished. During this time away he explored optics, experimenting with prisms and investigating light; he discovered the differential and integral calculus; and he formulated a theory of universal gravitation that encompassed the whole known universe!

Newton biographer James Gleick writes: “The plague year was his transfiguration. Solitary and almost incommunicado, he became the world’s paramount mathematician.” And its foremost scientist.

Newton himself would say about this forced time away from university life:
"For in those days I was in the prime of my age for invention & minded Mathematics & Philosophy more than at any time since."
The Great Plague eventually ended and Newton returned to Trinity College to complete his studies, becoming a fellow and ultimately a professor. The discoveries he made during his time away from campus, though, would form the foundation of his historic career for years to come and become some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs.

This is a trying time for all of us, as our lives are upended and our routines are disrupted due to the pandemic. There is much to despair about. But this could also be a time for reflection and discovery. The sudden change to the rhythm of our days, and the associated isolation, could unleash our imaginations and inventiveness in ways that might have been impossible under ordinary circumstances.

Rather than being a nadir, this “social distancing” experience could be the peak of your creativity and production. This could be the time when you formulate your greatest ideas and do your best work. This could be your own year of wonders.

An astronaut from the European Space Agency reads Newton's landmark work on
gravity, Principia Mathematicathat helped make space travel possible.
* * * * * 


Kerry McDonald is a Senior Education Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). She is also an adjunct scholar at The Cato Institute and a regular Forbes contributor. Kerry has a B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and four children.
This post previously appeared at FEE.
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If you want to see what a Green New Deal would look like, look around ...


Alex Epstein appeared on America's 'National Report' to argue 'If you want to see what a Green New Deal would look like, just look around ... "



And in the first segment of this week’s Power Hour podcast, he discusses six "filters" he uses to screen out most commentary and claims about COVID-19, to find just the best expert analyses:

The six filters are: 
  1. Do they assume freedom of action means recklessness?
  2. Do they assume lockdown means optimal virus prevention?
  3. Do they advocate universal measures for the highly vulnerable and low-vulnerability alike?
  4. Do they equate diagnosed infections with actual infections? (This is a tactic used to hyper-inflate death rates.)
  5. Do they devalue freedom and quality of life?
  6. Do they treat the goal as eradication instead of management? 
Unfortunately [says Alex], I believe that the policies and studies being used by governments at all levels are committing most of the above mistakes.
    One of the most promising experts I’ve found on this issue is Dr. David Katz of Yale.     While he and I diverge on broad political philosophy I’ve found him to be very precise in his analysis of the real risks of COVID-19 to different demographics—and very wise in his advocacy of selective universal isolation practices and policies vs. the universal isolation practices and policies advocated by political leaders of both parties.
 
Here is Dr. Katz’s page on COVID-19 and here is one of my favourite articles by him.
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Thursday, 2 April 2020

"What’s going on psychologically in this crisis? Stir-craziness. Cabin fever. People have been denied their sense of purpose. They also have lost their sense of choice." #QotD



"From the perspective of a mental health professional who still counsels people every day: What’s going on psychologically in this crisis?
    "Stir-craziness. Cabin fever. People have been denied their sense of purpose.
    "They also have lost their sense of choice.
    "If the authorities hadn’t wiped out virtually ALL options, people would be able to make cost-benefit analyses, case by case. 'Should I skip this activity, or not?' We have lost the right or the ability to use our minds in this way. Psychologically, we are already in a state of martial law. Suddenly we all find ourselves living in something like a totalitarian regime. The food is still on the shelves and hospitals are still open (thankfully) … and we have the Internet. But that’s pretty much it.
    "This is all a shock to the psychological system.
    "What sustains most people right now is a sense that this is only temporary. But it’s also mixed with a lot of anxiety. People sense the contradictions, fear and uncertainty in our 'leaders'.... In a sense, we’re in the state of young children, who perhaps do not understand but sense the errors, contradictions and evasions of their elders. It’s not a good place for a child psychologically, and it’s not good for adults, either ...
    "With choice and personal destiny completely removed from daily life, the psychological status of [people] will not improve.... Either those symptoms of mood and anxiety disorder will worsen in most people, or at some point many will start to get angry. Anger is healthy, but it has to be channeled toward a rational demand at restoring what was lost. We have lost our freedom. It’s rational to be angry and frustrated over that. We have lost our way of life. It’s far deeper than politics and government, although those areas are relevant, of course.
    "It has to do with whether you believe you control your destiny, or you’re totally powerless over it. If you fall into (and stay in) the powerless mindset, you will lose. You will have given up, at which point your political freedom won’t matter much."
~ Dr Michael Hurd, clinical psychologist, from his post 'The Psychological Impact of Lockdowns'
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Wednesday, 1 April 2020

"Your first few days and weeks in a crisis are crucial, and you should make ample room to allow for a mental adjustment. It is perfectly normal and appropriate to feel bad and lost during this initial transition. " #QotD


"Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war. Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened. And so, while it may feel good in the moment, it is foolish to dive into a frenzy of activity or obsess about your scholarly productivity right now. That is denial and delusion. The emotionally and spiritually sane response is to prepare to be forever changed....
    "Your first few days and weeks in a crisis are crucial, and you should make ample room to allow for a mental adjustment. It is perfectly normal and appropriate to feel bad and lost during this initial transition. Consider it a good thing that you are not in denial, and that you are allowing yourself to work through the anxiety. No sane person feels good during a global disaster, so be grateful for the discomfort of your sanity. At this stage, I would focus on food, family, friends, and maybe fitness...
    "Next, ignore everyone who is posting productivity porn on social media right now. It is OK that you keep waking up at 3 a.m. It is OK that you forgot to eat lunch and cannot do a Zoom yoga class. It is OK that you have not touched that revise-and-resubmit in three weeks.
    "Ignore the people who are posting that they are writing papers and the people who are complaining that they cannot write papers. They are on their own journey. Cut out the noise..."

~ Aisha Ahmad, from his article 'Your first few days and weeks in a crisis are crucial, and you should make ample room to allow for a mental adjustment. It is perfectly normal and appropriate to feel bad and lost during this initial transition.'

[Hat tips Paul L. and Stu McK.]
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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

A Pandemic Ramble [updated]


"It may sound noble to say, ‘Damn economics, let us build 
up a decent world’ but it is, in fact, merely irresponsible. 
With our world as it is, with everyone convinced that the 
material conditions here or there must be improved, our 
only chance of building a decent world is that we can 
continue to improve the general level of wealth. The 
one thing modern democracy will not bear without cracking 
is the necessity of a substantial lowering of the standards 
of living in peacetime, or even the prolonged stationariness 
of its economic conditions.”
~ F.A.von Hayek

"The generational effect of the corona-virus is cunning and baffling. By often being so mild in the young and healthy it turns people into heedless carriers. By often being so lethal in the old and sick, it makes carriers into potential executioners of friends and neighbours.... The evil genius of this virus is rapid transmission without making most of its victims sick enough to stay in bed."
The Curious Age Discrimination of This Virus - Matt Ridley, THE RATIONAL OPTIMIST

UPDATE:  "Dr David Skegg, emeritus professor at Otago University's School of Preventive and Social Medicine, also told Parliament's Epidemic Response Committee this morning that New Zealand's response was inadequate and that in particular we needed to step up testing. Unfortunately, we can't step up testing because we still don't have enough test kits."
Assessing the NZ Government's Handling of Covid-19 - Kiwiwit, THOUGHTS FROM 40 SOUTH

"Whether we’re locked down [sic], as people in many countries are, or left to take responsibility for ourselves, adults need to be adults. I’ll try to keep reminding myself that every time I hear the woman in the advertisement telling me to wash my hands often and well as if I was a child."
We Need to Be Adults - Ele Ludemann, HOME PADDOCK

"Robertson warns, though, that all of the support for hospitals and community providers to deal with the surge of patients and support for advice for people caring at home—all of it—is only the beginning when it comes to what needs to be done to support the health service.
    "And when he talks of ensuring 'the core of an economy' continues to exist, he is underlining the kind of mountain the country will have to climb once the Covid-19 pandemic ends.
    "Some authorities think NZ will return to normal quickly and easily if the government succeeds with its lockdown. Others think before it is over unemployment could have climbed to 15% or more of the workforce.
    "Many of the businesses in the tourism and hospitality industries may not survive.
    "Even while the crisis deepens there are industries which are proving how vital they are as pillars of the economy.
    "This week trade data for February showed a 4.5% ($212m) increase in the total value of goods exported in February compared with the same month last year. Dairy products, particularly milk powder, at $4.9bn, led the increase. Statistics NZ also said that in the week ending last Wednesday exports rose 3.7% while imports fell 11%.What New Zealanders will have to absorb in the period the country is locked down is that their standard of living will be permanently depressed unless those vital export industries — dairy, meat, horticulture, fishing — are given every encouragement and stimulus to expand production in the years to come.
    "Dairy farmers are not the enemy, as climate change warriors make out. They could be our saviour in the years to come.
    "Perhaps the Finance Minister ... will get to grips with this basic lesson from the crisis."
After the lockdown, the economy’s recovery will be dependent on dairy farms and their milk - POINT OF ORDER

"The most damaging enemies of Capitalism are not on the left. They are the fair weather capitalists, who pretend to defend it, but don't really believe in it. And, at the first challenge, or crisis, abandon it and claim it's utopian ideal.
    "Please don't call yourself capitalists."
"In a truly capitalist society, here is how the market responds..." - Yaron Brook, TWITTER


"Congress has asked all non-essential businesses to limit their hours or close entirely for an undetermined amount of time."

“We spend billions on ‘public health’. But instead of preparing for pandemics like this, Public Health England has mostly been pestering people about drinking, smoking and sugary biscuits."
What a Real Public-Health Crisis Looks Like - Christopher Snowdon, LAST ORDERS PODCAST



"Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we might have thought that 'the experts' knew best and could guide us. But there is more than one area of expertise. And the speed, scale, and scope of this pandemic mean that we don’t know which areas of expertise matter or how to balance competing considerations coming from those that do. It would be a mistake to try to find one person to blame for what might turn out to be a case of expert failure. The root problem is not faulty expertise or bad actors. The root problem is that we are asking experts and politicians to do more than is humanly possible...
    "Each of us has expertise that few others have. In this sense, we can say that the division of labour is a division of expertise. And that’s what creates trouble at a moment such as this when we are driven to seek out the experts’ advice when taking collective action. The world’s governments today are turning to the experts. But to which experts? Which silos of expertise matter?
    "We are struggling with the tradeoff between stopping the virus and stopping the economy. Epidemiologists warn us to maintain social distancing. They want to put much of the economy on hold. But economists warn us of unemployment and cascading bankruptcies. Psychologists warn us that unemployment and isolation promote substance abuse and suicide. And so on. Who can adjudicate their competing frameworks?
    "Unfortunately, no one can be a grand meta-expert rising above the many lesser experts. The meta-expert would have to know everything, in which case we would not have a division of knowledge at all. Every expert is a lesser expert with prefabricated problems and solutions that define their expertise and apply only to one thin slice of reality. Their disciplinary expertise makes certain problems relevant and prescribes certain solutions to those problems, and only those problems. But this means that when politicians take the collective action recommended by their experts, somebody else is deciding for us 'what is and is not relevant to us.' And those prefabricated 'relevancies' will reflect some areas of expertise and not others, some slices of reality and not others."
Part 1: Which Experts Matter in a Pandemic? - Roger Koppl, ECON LOG

"University of Auckland senior lecturer and epidemiologist Simon Thornley writes:
    'We don’t want to squash a flea with a sledgehammer and bring the house down. 
    believe that other countries, such as Sweden, are steering a more sensible course through 
    this turbulent time.'
"It will probably take months to see which approach to containing the virus, limiting deaths and not damaging the economy too much worked best, but the situation in Sweden doesn’t look that good at the moment compared to New Zealand, and not great compared to many countries.' ...
    "Dr Siouxsie Wiles responds: "For anyone who comes across the opinion piece of an epidemiologist suggesting lockdown is like using a sledgehammer to hit a flea: he studies diet not infectious diseases. Don’t listen to his reckons."
Sweden’s different Covid strategy looks shaky - YOUR NZ

"They found that at that very moment when they first got sick, they had incredibly high levels of virus, sometimes 10000 times that we saw with SARS, in their throats. Meaning they were infectious at that point already and they hadn’t even had symptoms yet of really any nature, they weren’t coughing yet. And that’s where we’re concerned because that’s the kind of transmission [with this virus] …
Joe Rogan Michael Osterholm Podcast Transcript: Infectious Disease Expert Talks Coronavirus - REV.COM

"Even now, people don't understand that a rising number of confirmed infections means a falling fatality rate. Put simply, it is good news. Paying the price here for a failure of math education."
What does the growing number of coronaviruscases really mean? - Jeffrey Tucker, A.I.E.R
"Today, my latest thoughts about how to reopen smart.
    "There is one goal to public health policy right now: Reducing the transmission rate, aka reproduction number.
    "If one person gets it, how many does he or she pass it on to? If the transmission rate is over one, the virus grows exponentially. For example, if the transmission rate is 2, then we have 1000 cases this week, 2000 next week, 4000 the week after that, and so on. If the transmission rate under one, the pandemic ends. If the rate is 0.5, then we have 1000 this week, 500 next week, 250 the week after that and so on.
    "The second goal of health policy is to keep hospitals going so that those who do get it stay alive. That's what ventilators, masks and so on are about."
Beyond testing -- The central question for pandemic policy - John Cochrane, GRUMPY ECONOMIST

"NZ scores 54 in preparedness for a pandemic [35th in the world] ..... Behind South Africa at 55, Italy & Indonesia (56), Australia (75.5), UK (77.9), Canada (75.3) and USA (83.5) at the top."
Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country - VISUAL CAPITALIST

"How should we think about and critically evaluate the torrent of information and reporting coming out daily about the pandemic?
    "That’s one of the crucial issues that philosophers Onkar Ghate and Gregory Salmieri address in a special episode of ARI’s web series, Philosophy for Living on Earth. You can watch the entire discussion below.
    "The discussion addresses the need for objectivity in evaluating the information we receive, identifying the proper role of government, and understanding the vital role of business.
    "The expertise of experts and specialists is crucial, and the ability to communicate that expertise is what allows non-experts to stay informed about complicated and technical subjects. Yet, Ghate and Salmieri point out, this does not mean accepting any expert’s statement on faith. Laymen must be able to distinguish a reliable expert from an unreliable one. Salmieri offers valuable insights on this score; a reliable expert must provide justification for his conclusion rather than simply assert it and respect the fact that he is communicating about his area of expertise to a non-expert."
COVID-19’s Impact on Business and Politics - Paul Taske, NEW IDEAL



"The Federal Reserve has unleashed what’s frequently been called a bazooka in its efforts to calm markets. Its next step could be to go nuclear.
    "Should conditions on Wall Street deteriorate significantly, the central bank could go where it’s never gone before: to passively intervene in the stock market for the first time ever... "it is clear that they will go into whatever nook and cranny in the market that starts to choke,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial."
‘Nothing is out of the question’: What it would take for the Fed to start buying stocks - CNBC

"As with current Fed policy, there would be both winners and losers if the Fed did nothing. Either way, there will be pain, but without the Fed we'd actually build the foundation for a more sound and lasting economic system."
What If the Fed Did Nothing? - Noah Bonn, MISES WIRE

"With the stock market now crashing and many people facing unemployment in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, governments are reacting with a variety of measures allegedly aimed at stabilizing the markets and promoting economic security. What effects will these measures have on the economy? Will they address the root causes of the crash--or might they aggravate the situation?"
"Some of the questions covered in the discussion include:
* How does this crisis compare to the 2008 crisis?
* What did the markets look like before the pandemic hit?
* How has the coronavirus affected the markets?
* What will be the short-term and long-term consequences of the measures taken by the Fed?
* What is an optimistic, yet realistic, scenario for the future, and what can we learn from this crisis?"
... the Pandemic's Damage to the Economy - Austina Vergana Cid, NEW IDEAL


"The less agile and adaptive a society is, the more severe its impotence in a crisis. Thanks to an obsessive reliance on monetary policy to fix every problem, our society has increasingly abandoned innovation and productivity."
The Political Management of the Coronavirus Crisis - Rahim Taghizadegan, MISES WIRE

"Global Supply Chains began to truncate in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008. The global COVID-19 lockdown has accelerated the process. Businesses will reassess the trade-off between efficiency and resilience. Supply chain resilience is not without cost."
Is this the End of Globalisation? - Colin Lloyd. A.I.E.R

"Government institutions, including central banks, have long been responsible for increases in the cost of living. But the burden often falls most on those who are just starting out in their adult lives."
How Governments (and the Fed) Make Life Harder for Young Families - Bradley Thomas, MISES WIRE

"Household debt-to-GDP ratios in countries including France, Switzerland, New Zealand and Nigeria have never been higher, according to a January report from the Institute of International Finance."
A global consumer default wave is just getting started - ECONOMIC TIMES



"The world today faces the most ominous threat to freedom as we’ve known in many generations. The reason and occasion: a pandemic disease. It and the policy response to it has changed fundamentally almost everything we used to take for granted: the right to earn a living, the right to travel, the right to associate, and even hope in the future itself. The calamity has been unparalleled, with social, economic, and political consequences yet unknown. All we really know is that nothing will be the same.
    "The American Institute for Economic Research has now produced a book on the topic, written by our researchers in real time as the crisis unfolded. You will be struck by its prescience, first page to last. The book is available on Amazon now: Coronavirus and Economic Crisis...
    "A mere forty days after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the US, even before rates of transmission or recovery could be accurately calculated, plans were in motion for over $4 trillion in government stimulus and bailout packages. Central banks unleashed a torrent of programs, flooding the world economy with money. And even at this point, the American Institute for Economic Research was still nearly alone in bringing liberal ideas and analysis to bear on the unfolding calamity.
    "The contributions of every economist and thinker in the liberal tradition have been vindicated throughout what are likely only the beginnings of this disaster: Menger’s and Fetter’s work on the subjective theory of value, which informed both the actions of individuals who acquired goods in advance and the prices that were later offered by people desperate to acquire them. The warnings of Hayek with respect to the pretense of knowledge, and of Morgenstern regarding the questionable accuracy of statistics in the social sciences. Ludwig von Mises’ observation that government intervention always results in further interventions owing to the unintended consequences of the first round of tinkering. And our own E. C. Harwood’s encouragement to be bold in the defense of liberty along with his counsel that “for integrity, there is no substitute.”
    "This book chronicles AIER’s coverage of the opening phase of the world coronavirus outbreak, through the full onset of the crisis, with speculations on the future of wealth and liberty in light of both the virus and the political response.
    "It includes contributions by Vincent Geloso, Jeffrey Tucker, Bruce Yandle, Pete Earle, James L. Caton, Raymond C. Niles, Robert E. Wright, Joakim Book, John Tamny, Robert Hughes, Stephen Davies, Brett Dalton, Scott A. Burns, Edward Stringham, Art Carden, Adam Thierer, William J. Luther, Allen Mendenhall, Stephen C. Miller, Veronique de Rugy, Max Gulker, Richard M. Salsman, and Richard M. Ebeling.
    "It is 250 pages.
    "May this book serve as important documentation of what this country and the world can learn for the future."
Coronavirus and Economic Crisis: The First Draft of History - Peter C. Earle, A.I.E.R.



"As power expands in a ratcheting-upward way, power becomes ever-more valuable and intoxicating to possess – meaning that competition to grab power becomes ever-more intense. This increasingly intense competition for power, in turn, selects those persons who are both most hungry for power and least bound by ethical restraints in pursuing and using it."
Leviathan and Crises - Don Boudreaux, A.I.E.R.

"With much of the world on lockdown [sic], the coronavirus pandemic has chipped away at individual liberties everywhere..."
Coronavirus and Autocrats: Never Let Pandemic Go to Waste - Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ


And finally ... 

"Dear New Zealand Police, Aotearoa has not given you a blank cheque for your response to Covid-19...
    "Most Kiwis understand and accept the decisions the government has made. An overwhelming majority of the population has accepted massive restrictions on daily life and the sweeping away of civil liberties and freedoms...
    "You need to remember that you can only police the country effectively with the consent of the public. Contradictory messages and over-the-top enforcement will rapidly erode public goodwill and result in increasing failure to comply.
    "In turn, that will raise the spectre of order starting to break down. New Zealand does not want to go there...
    "The public was ... already anxious about mission creep in your use of armed teams. The sudden conferral of wide-ranging new powers on officers arising from Covid-19 exacerbates that worry...
    "You, the police, are there to uphold the law. New Zealand is ... not a police state.
    "We, the public, will obey the new laws. But we will also be policing your use of them."
An open letter to the police in a time of Covid-19 - Catriona MacLennan, RNZ NEWS



Here's Supergrass:


[Hat tips and thanks to Catallaxy Files, Vicki the Sane One, Rusty Bertrand, Spiked. Cartoon by Josh.]
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"Bankruptcy of a large corporation does not leave a crater behind. The point of bankruptcy is precisely to keep the business going. Bailouts are not bailouts to 'the corporation' .... Bailouts are bailouts to stockholders, bondholders, creditors, unions." #QotD


"Bankruptcy of a large corporation does not leave a crater behind. Bankruptcy is reorganisation and protection, not liquidation. The point of bankruptcy is precisely to keep the business going....  Bailouts are not bailouts to 'the corporation,' which isn't a thing.... 
Bailouts are bailouts to stockholders, bondholders, creditors, unions....
    "If the government does bail out [these] stockholders and creditors, it makes a lot of sense not to let them take on so much debt again. [Stock] repurchases per se are not the villain, as companies can borrow and pay big dividends. We might ... start by finally, finally, removing these huge subsidies to debt."

~ John Cochrane, from his post 'Bailouts v Bankruptcy'
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Are masks effective?


Are masks effective?

Joe Rogan interviewed American infectious disease epidemiologist Michael T. Osterholm, regents professor, and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, and asked him about the effectiveness of hand sanitiser and masks. Here's the main part of his answer:
Michael Osterholm: (43:20)
The hand sanitisers actually are a great thing for stopping a lot of infectious diseases. They actually are really good. They’re good for your hands, in terms of the skin. They kill the bad bugs. The whole issue of using your hands, touching your face that people all concentrate on, the data’s actually very weak that this kind of virus is going to be transmitted that way. I wouldn’t tell you to stop using hand sanitiser, but don’t think it’s going to have a big impact on this bug....

Joe Rogan: (44:00)
Well, why is [the US health adviser] telling people not to touch their faces?
Michael Osterholm: (44:02)
Because the thought was is that there are receptors around your eye right here that actually for this virus could get in and then get into your body. The data we have on this [bug] is too sparse to say that that’s the case. I think the primary thing about hand washing is legitimate....
    One of the things, people want to do something. They want to feel like they’re doing something, and so we tell them, “Wash your hands often to prevent this disease.” I feel like we’re not being really honest with the people. That the data [for this bug], and we’ve looked at this very carefully, really is about just breathing air, and that’s a hard thing to stop. Keep doing the hand washing, but don’t think that that’s going to stop the disease. You asked about the masks-

    Well, there’s two kinds. Basically, the surgical mask, which just fits over. The reason it’s called a surgical mask is because it’s loose fitting, just fits, kind of ties behind you. It was worn by surgeons so that they don’t cough or drip into your wound. It was never made to protect you from bugs coming in, so those little spaces on the sides: that’s not a problem if I’m breathing into the cloth right in front of my nose, but in terms of the air coming in on the side, they’re not effective at all. People wear them, they look like they’re doing something, they’re not.

    Now, if you are sick, they may help a little bit from you transmitting because if you cough, then you cough right into that cloth, and some of it will embed in there and not get out around.

    The other one though is called an N95 respirator, but for all intents and purposes it looks like a mask. It’s just tight face- fitting and it has a seal at the nose, et cetera.... we use them in healthcare all the time, all the time. They use them, actually, about 90% of them are used in industry, so when they’re grinding things or asbestos, et cetera, they don’t breathe in all these parts.
Joe Rogan: (45:55)
If we have one of those, that’ll do something.
Michael Osterholm: (45:57)
They’re very effective, they’re very effective. The problem is, we have a big shortage. Right now, we have hospitals that are down to just a couple days worth of these masks, the respirators. It’s because we don’t stockpile anything in this country. Hospitals don’t have the money to do that...
[Transcript of whole interview is here. Numbers refer to minutes into the interview, if you prefer to listen to it.]
In short: 
As infection specialist Eli Perencevich, MD, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa’s College of Medicine, told Forbes, the vast majority of people should not wear a face mask, even if there are cases of the coronavirus in their communities.... “The one time you would want a mask is if you’re sick and you have to leave the house,” Dr. Perencevich told Forbes. “If you have the flu or think you have COVID, that’s when you’d put on a mask to protect others. In your house, if you feel like you’re sick, you should wear a mask to protect your family members.”
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Monday, 30 March 2020

"Dear New Zealand Police, Aotearoa has not given you a blank cheque for your response to Covid-19... You need to remember that you can only police the country effectively with the consent of the public." #QotD


"Dear New Zealand Police, Aotearoa has not given you a blank cheque for your response to Covid-19...
    "Most Kiwis understand and accept the decisions the government has made. An overwhelming majority of the population has accepted massive restrictions on daily life and the sweeping away of civil liberties and freedoms...
    "You need to remember that you can only police the country effectively with the consent of the public. Contradictory messages and over-the-top enforcement will rapidly erode public goodwill and result in increasing failure to comply.
    "In turn, that will raise the spectre of order starting to break down. New Zealand does not want to go there...
    "The public was ... already anxious about mission creep in your use of armed teams. The sudden conferral of wide-ranging new powers on officers arising from Covid-19 exacerbates that worry...
    "You, the police, are there to uphold the law. New Zealand is ... not a police state.
    "We, the public, will obey the new laws. But we will also be policing your use of them."

            ~ Catriona MacLennan, from her op-ed 'An open letter to the police in a time of Covid-19'
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The coronavirus isn't the cause of this next bust, but it will make it worse



And now, here's the good news: The coming economic hit from the coronavirus will be exacerbated by the already-arriving hit from the bursting of the "everything bubble." That's the bubble, inflated by central banks, in the price of virtually every asset from shares to houses -- the bursting of which announced the collapse of the phony boom and the end of this business cycle.
    The likely emergence of an economic bust is not due to the coronavirus, as suggested by popular thinking, but is rather the outcome of the Fed's monetary policy. Boom-bust cycles are not caused by shocks such as the coronavirus. The mechanism that is responsible for the them is central bank monetary policy. The coronavirus shock is likely to weaken the pool of real savings, thereby amplifying the economic bust, but it has nothing to do with the boom-bust cycle as such.
    As Frank Shostak explains in this guest post, in a free, unhampered market economy there is a tendency toward harmony between production and consumption; but in trying to "fix" what they've already broken, the central bank disrupts this harmony....

The coronavirus isn't the cause of this next bust, but it will make it worse

As analysts warned of a severe slowdown in growth and a possible recession if the virus continues to spread, government policymakers everywhere moved to ease public anxiety over the coming economic hit. Central banks cut interest rates. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund signalled that they were also ready to assist, particularly poor nations. Monetary policymakers from Japan to Europe pledged to act as needed to stem any economic fallout as infections spread.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says global growth could plummet to just 1.5 percent in 2020, far less than the 3 percent it projected before the virus surfaced, should the outbreak sweep through the Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America. If things get bad enough, Japan and Europe could plunge into recession, the OECD warned. Predictions for the United States were nearly as bad: Most analysts expect zero or negative growth in the second quarter, with some forecasting a potential recession before year’s end.

Mainstream analysts however are blindsided by their misunderstanding of the causes of the business cycle. In the mainstream view, the coronavirus is seen as inflicting both supply and demand shocks, which economists hold makes it difficult for policymakers to handle. But this only a symptom, not a cause.

Economic Shocks: The Mainstream View

From the Great Depression of the 1930s until the early 1970s, most economists viewed economic fluctuations as the outcome of "shocks" to aggregate demand. Sudden changes in consumer preferences were said to cause a fall in aggregate demand, which would drag the entire economy below a path of stable economic growth. In contrast, a sudden increase in optimism was said to lead to excessive consumer expenditure, which would push the economy above a stable growth path.

Mainstream economists regarded these deviations from stable growth paths as failures of the market economy to coordinate demand and supply. Consequently, it was seen as necessary for the government and central bank to interfere in order to bring the economy onto a stable growth path.

This way of thinking views "the economy" as an entity in itself rather than as the sum total of human economic interaction -- as an object that moves along a path of stable economic growth, and which is occasionally pushed off course by shocks. In this view, whenever a shock pushes the economy above the path, it sets in motion an unsustainable economic boom. Likewise, a shock or a sequence of shocks that push the economy below a trajectory of stable economic growth results in an economic bust.

According to this way of thinking, a major source of disturbances is a sudden change in people's psychology. Hence, if “out of the blue” consumers and businesspeople become optimistic and embark on a buying spree, this pushes the economy above the stable trajectory and sets in motion an economic boom. Likewise, recessions or economic busts are set in motion if people suddenly change their psychology and stop spending.

Since deviations from the path of stable economic growth are costly, it is held that the government and the central bank must always be on guard to introduce policies that will offset these deviations. For instance, if people become pessimistic the central bank must offset this by accelerating the money supply growth rate and by lowering interest rates and vice versa. In addition, the government must raise its expenditure in order to offset their sudden unwillingness to spend. Similarly, it is the role of government authorities to be vigilant to various other shocks such as the coronavirus spread and counter their effects by means of suitable policies.

Although it is held that one can devise a set of rules that would enable authorities to keep the economy on a stable trajectory, in reality it is not that simple. Because of variable lags between policy changes and their effect on various parts of the economy, it is not possible, so it is argued, to establish the correct timing of various policy measures. It is also maintained that a lack of sufficient knowledge regarding the strength of the economy makes it very hard to decide on the required degree of monetary and fiscal measures.

Consequently, in many instances monetary and fiscal policies rather than stabilising the economy have instead become a major source of instability.

The Market Economy Does Not Move along a Trajectory

A market economy cannot be compared to an object that moves along a particular trajectory. In a market economy, producers exchange among themselves various goods and services. Through the production of goods and services a producer acquires means that enables him to secure the goods and services of other producers. A producer exchanges things he has produced for things he prefers more.

In a free market economy, every producer pays for his consumption, or funds it, by means of the goods and services he has produced. It is, however, the availability of final goods and services that ultimately determine people's well-being. The stock of these goods is what the pool of real savings is all about.

Although shocks can disrupt the pace of economic activity, they have nothing to do with the phenomenon of recurrent boom-bust cycles. This phenomenon requires a mechanism that persistently and systematically feeds and supports it. The only mechanism that does this is central bank monetary policy.

Monetary Policies and Cycles

While in a free, unhampered market economy there is a tendency toward harmony between production and consumption, this is not so once we introduce to our discussion the central bank, which disrupts this harmony.

In a free unhampered market economy, money facilitates the exchange of one producer’s production for the production of another. By means of money, something is exchanged for something else. However, this is not so when the loose monetary policies of the central bank set in motion the creation of money that is borrowed into existence out of “thin air.”

This newly generated money gives rise to new consumption that is not supported by the production of real wealth. Money out of “thin air” gives rise to various activities not fully demanded by consumers that would not emerge in a free-market environment. The emergence of a welter of these nonproductive "zombie" activities constitutes an economic boom. During an economic boom, real savings are diverted from more productive activities to more nonproductive activities by way of money out of “thin air,” weakening the production of real wealth.

Whenever the central bank tightens its stance, i.e., raises interest rates and curtails this monetary pumping, the existence of various nonproductive activities is undermined and their existence becomes threatened. This is the essence of an economic bust, or recession. (Observe however that a tighter monetary stance during a boom slows down this diversion of real savings to nonproductive activities, which helps wealth generating activities.)

It follows that an economic bust is nothing more than the liquidation of nonproductive activities that had emerged under the support of previous loose monetary policy. Note that the reason recurring boom-bust cycles is that central bank authorities continuously pursue so-called monetary policies that are aimed at navigating the economy toward a path of stability and prosperity.

So How Do We Categorise the Effect of the Coronavirus?

So, if recessions are about the liquidation of nonproductive activities how do we categorise an event such as the coronavirus? What is the contribution of a virus to a recession? The answer is this: that the coronavirus has nothing to do with the phenomenon of a recurrent boom-bust cycle; however, it does have the potential to paralyse production activity, which undermines the pool of real savings and therefore future prospects for economic growth. 

This could especially be worse if the lagged money-supply growth was declining too, which would mean that we would also be observing a decline in nonproductive activities. In this case the impact could be profound.

This means that any economic bust we see emerging because of the fall in the growth momentum of money is amplified by the economic effects of the coronavirus. This is likely to magnify the bust. 

So, is this what we are observing currently in the money supply? In the shorter term from a monetary perspective, the slight pickup in the growth rate in the AMS at the beginning of 2018 indicates that we may see a slight improvement in the economic picture for at least the first half of this year before reverting to slowing down. It is also worth noting that over the long term the yearly growth rate of the AMS fell from 13.9 percent in April 2012 to –0.6percent by August 2019 (see chart).

The coronavirus can only make things much worse as far as the pool of real savings is concerned. It is questionable how the loosening of the monetary stance by the central bank can defend an economy from the coronavirus. All that such policies are going to generate is a further depletion of the pool of real savings. Loose monetary policy cannot speed up the development of the necessary vaccine to fight the coronavirus, for example. Such a policy is going to damage further the pool of real savings, delaying any future economic revival.

The Coronavirus Will Not Be the Cause of a Bust

Contrary to popular thinking, the likely emergence of an economic bust is not due to the coronavirus, but is rather the outcome of the Fed's monetary policy. Boom-bust cycles are not caused by shocks such as the coronavirus. The mechanism that is responsible for the them is central bank monetary policy. 

The coronavirus shock is likely to weaken the pool of real savings, thereby amplifying the economic bust, but it has nothing to do with the boom-bust cycle as such.

* * * * * 
Author: Frank Shostak
Frank Shostak's consulting firm, Applied Austrian School Economics, provides in-depth assessments of financial markets and global economies. 
His post first appeared at the Mises Wire.
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Song for the day ...


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Friday, 27 March 2020

Uplift Friday: How Innovation Works


Difficult times need uplifting conversation. Like this ...

Consider: No matter how bad things are, we still live in amazing times -- so amazing that, even though we're all locked up, we can still watch a great interview with a fellow in a closet in the north of England!

Enjoy the conversation: The Rational Optimist talks about How Innovation Works:

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This pandemic is a top-seven moment in NZ's history. Discuss. [Updated]


[UPDATE: For those trying to get down to seven key events, I'm conceding defeat for the moment. I have a list of eight Anchor Dates -- as I'm calling them -- which I've posted over at my Politically Incorrect History of NZ blog. Enjoy!]

You know, I've started writing a book. A book on New Zealand history. A book that describes New Zealand history from birth to today, telling the story through this place's most important explanatory moments.

The idea to tell the story that way is that our brain is only capable of holding so many particular facts in our head at one time as one "mental unit." Some suggest seven as the maximum number of facts at one time; that we can integrate and hold in our minds seven discrete facts as one mental unit, but after this (for most of us) the integration becomes more difficult if not impossible.

This is one reason that housing set-ups -- flats, co-housing, apartment complexes -- generally work well with up to seven people or seven units, which means everyone knows each other, but very badly thereafter. Above this number, the "mental unit" of "us" as begins breaking down into smaller clusters of "us" and "them."

Seven is the magic number then. Which is why I've been working on seven major facts by which to explain the history of this place. Seven events that in themselves are so causal -- in that they either caused so much in turn, or were caused by a whole stream of ideas and events -- that just telling the story of these seven events (and what they caused and were caused by) would be sufficient to tell the story of this place in a way that the reader can then hold out history as a single mental unit.

The technique has been called "History Through Induction." Allowing the reader to induce for themselves the nature of the place or period discussed. And so, based on this idea, I've been assiduously researching and investigating our own place's past so I can narrow all the stories down to telling all about the seven most important, most causal, events.

And I was nearly there! At the start of this week, I was down to just ten.

Now I'm up to eleven!

I'm up to eleven, because we now have a new event to add to the list: this pandemic -- our reaction to it, what caused the virus and our own reaction(s) to it (or lack thereof), and what might happen next to us.

Like WWI, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, WWII, the Fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11, this pandemic is one of this century's world-historic events. Not all of those other events make my top seven. Not even my top ten.

But I think this pandemic, and our reaction to it, probably does.

What do you think?

Would this pandemic makeyour own list of the top-seven events in New Zealand history?

And what would be your other six?

If you tell me yours, I'll tell you mine...
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'Montessori Parent Coronavirus Survival Guide'


Parents eager to make the most of their children's stay at home will love this FREE new guide, put together by Trillium Montessori 'Montessori Parent Coronavirus Survival Guide.'
With some essential information about the developmental needs of your child, a few simple tweaks to your home and schedule, and a dash of confidence, you can get through an extended school closure and come out the other side stronger and happier than ever!
    This book will show you how.
Spoiler: You don't have to replicate school at home in order to give your child a rich Montessori educational experience!
The book is for parents of children of all ages, available as a FREE Kindle download at Amazon. >>>>> CLICK HERE.
Schools around the world have closed their doors and as a parent of a child who attends a Montessori school or a homeschooling parent who is interested in incorporating fundamental Montessori principles into their practice, the Coronavirus Survival Guide delivers a pathway for your family to not only survive, but to thrive while practicing social distancing.
    10 contributing writers with over 200 years of collective experience as trained Montessori educators, parents, and school leaders, deliver a path of wisdom to optimally support you and your children from birth through adolescence, thriving during extended school closures.

After reading 'Montessori Parent Coronavirus Survival Guide' you’ll know how to:
  • Talk to your children about the coronavirus pandemic
  • Balance your needs as an adult with the needs of your children
  • Manage sibling conflicts
  • Meet the needs of children of differing ages with a clear, consistent approach geared to their development and interests
  • Feel confident your expectations of and for your child are developmentally appropriate
  • Establish and maintain new routines without stress
  • Create age- and interest-appropriate spaces in your family home without having to buy a thing! 
  • Offer a variety of easy-to-implement activities for every age
  • Talk with your child to reduce their resistance and gain their cooperation 
Most importantly, you will have the tools and inspiration to build and maintain your connection with your child during this unprecedented time in their lives.
Enjoy!

[Hat tip Laura Flores Shaw]

PS: Let us know in the comments what you're planning with your children...
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Song for the day ...


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Thursday, 26 March 2020

Can we stop using a word more appropriate for prisons? [updated]


Can we please stop using this awful bloody word.

It's bad enough that it's another Americanism we don't need.

It's also an entirely inappropriate way to talk about free people. Its meaning comes from prisons:


And it's been getting way, way, way too popular here in New Zealand this month. Here's its local hockey stick:


Stop it!

Contrary to every reporter and every politician -- all of whom have been relishing the word way too much recently -- we are not "in lockdown." We have been locked up

UPDATE: