This is just a memo.
It is mid-March and I think it is worth writing a few words of what is happening: a pandemic. Something I have not experienced before. In some places also a pandemonium.
What information do I have at this moment?
- The virus originated in a “wet market” in Wuhan. The type of markets where they have animals crammed side-by-side and, well, virus can jump from one animal to another, to us.
- It is easily transferable.
- It’s death rate is speculated from 0.1% (like the flu) to 2%. Apparently the Spanish flu, an infamous pandemic that killed a lot of people, had 3% or so.
- I am fine, so is my family.
- They cancelled the NBA season.
- It is likely they will cancel the summer Olympics! Unbelievable if this happens.
People in Tokyo are wearing more masks, working from home is encouraged (thought many people keep going to the office), schools are out for the month, more alcohol for hands… that kind of stuff.
Today Trump announced no flights from Europe for the next 30 days. That has some people panicked. (Looking at you CE.) Apparently, the thing to have is toilet paper – everyone is freaking out about it.
We are in Kumagaya right now. We’re going back to Tokyo this Saturday.
Markets are panicking too since Italy is quarantined, supply chains (many of them depend on China) are also suffering since many parts of China have basically stopped working.
So what now?
Speaking from ignorance, it seems unreasonable to isolate everyone who is infectious at this point. Coronavirus shennanigans might be here until we find a vaccine.
I get the feeling that this is going to promote local businesses, new supply chains that are closer to home, less susceptible to this seemingly single point of failure.
Two Days Later (3/14)
Now that things are picking up outside of China, people are panicking a bit more. News are all about COVID-19. Schools are closed.
I just heard in the news, “Europe has become the epicenter of the epidemic.” Stay safe JC.
6 Days Later (3/20)
Well, shit. Seems the virus is really fond of Europe and getting a taste of North America. The US brushed it off during Jan and Feb and, well, I think it’s going to hit from now on.
What about the economy
The world economy is basically halting. In North America restaurants have been halted.
In Venezuela… no one really knows. Apparently open radio and TV started having “technical problems” and information is not flowing. Worrying.
I am sure that in a few years there are going to be new services and business that we today we can’t see as necessary. Sure, everyone will be saying, “I told you…” to what will be evident. But we’ll have to wait for that.
And in Japan…
Who knew that Tokyo, Taiwan and other fairly dense Asian cities would weather this much better than the less populated cities.
Yes, yes… If some time has passed from this post, it is probably obvious. Who would like to say, I told you… ?
9 Days Later (3/29)
Well, interesting seeing the previous posts. The virus is infecting the world. The US is in the lead after failing to take this seriously at first.
The stock market in the US continued to crash, but with talks of “the stimulus package” things bounced a bit. I’m not sure how long this will last but people are preparing for a 2-3 month rough ride.
And in Japan…
The Olympics were cancelled. I thought that was going to be shocking, but compared to the numbers we are seeing, it was more of a reasonable move.
A day after the cancellation the cases in Tokyo went from 10 a day to 40 a day… Perhaps is a coincidence, but awfully suspicious. It feels like the wave is coming to Tokyo. The government asked for people to stay inside but there is a lot of talk that a wave is coming to Tokyo.
More Days Later (April 4/10)
Umm…. what? It is hard to grasp the impact about to hit the different countries. I suspect this will be a push away from globalization and nations becoming somewhat more independent, able to better withstand lock-downs, not have the risk of supplies of critical things being affected by other countries… but, what a time to speculate.
The word on the street is that things will not come back to normal until the vaccine is out. And also that the vaccine may take 1-2 years. Ouch.
Almost a Month Later (5/1)
I’ve been super busy with work, studies, and this “work from home” situation that takes away quite a bit of time.
We are all safe, lucky to be busy at work and healthy.
Here are the numbers…
July 7 – A little over a month later…
So… here we are. No sports, movies, trains, masks everywhere, constant news about the virus. In hindsight… what’s happening makes sense. Some things, like the stock market rallies, are a bit puzzling. But here we are, quite a bit of restriction in movement…
We had a soft “lock down” (meaning, we could go out), and that brought the cases down. But now we are back at 100+ per day in Tokyo, which were the numbers that raised the alarm back in March.
It makes sense, though. There is no magic curing this virus after the lock down. I believe we’ll be going back and forth with these lock downs. Travel is going to be sparse for at least a few months after they come out with a vaccine, and we are a perhaps 6 months to a year until that happens. That is if there are no hiccups.
In the US
As expected, it was tough for many of the US population to comply with authority. The plead to wear masks is answered by many, but taken by many others as some type of infringement on “freedom”. (I will stay clear from digging into these politics at the moment).
But, in short, the US was able to withstand a bit of lock down, the everyone got tired and started partying, apparently.
These are new cases, deaths recorded are coming down steadily.
Let’s hope this trend continues.
And the Stock Market…
Stock markets are hanging in there with the gazillion dollars injected by the government to help people and governments. But I worry.
I worry because many of that help is coming as borrowed money. And that is still money people will need to pay back.
Also, the help is set to run out soon. When it does, if they don’t approve more help… many people are going to go into the welfare system. Getting into the system is not the bad thing (I have been in unemployment insurance), but so many people going into a system that, in the case of the US, is not that good… well that’s going to create pressures that I can’t foresee where they lead.
It’s time to make some predictions – just for fun. I think this new semi-locked down world is going to persist until at least late 2021 / early 2022.
Say they come out with a vaccine in 1 year, 6 months to distribute and vaccinate enough people to feel comfortable again. Travelling will feel risky. masks will be a thing. And many sports will have to take a brake.
I do hope nothing else serious happens (earthquake, another virus, war…) because… well, I can’t imagine what variables will bring. We forget that we are using all our defenses (and most of our monies) to battle this COVID-19 nonsense.
Long term, I think this might be good. This might be a kick in the nads for us to help us understand what is possible to fight for climate change. How radical we can get. The virus was fast and visible, but climate change is slow and harder to act on.
It will also help the world to be more resilient. Optimizing processes is great, but after a point this optimization comes at the cost of resiliency. I mean, it super optimized but throw a small challenge and everything comes crashing down.
I hope supply chains, for example, get better. We should be building infrastructure to get more food from nearby sources.
Let’s see. I feel optimistic for the long-term.
October 29 – About 4 Months Later
Now that weather is cooling down, the world seems to be going into the third (or second?) wave.
US is a mess. Wearing masks, even though they are part of the solution, is a controversy (fuck you, MY FREEDOM!). France and Germany just announced some lockdown measures (not sure how rigid, but things are spiking there, it seems).
Will this be worse than the first wave? Well, people seem to be tired of social distancing, locking down, etc. Plus the holidays are coming… I think in some countries like the US it may be tough. Like I said, late 2021.
How about Japan?
We seem to be doing alright. As long as people keep with the masks!