The Consensus Being Challenged..

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March 29, 2020
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Having highlighted the role of Professor Neil Ferguson and the team of catastrophists at Imperial College in the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease response (Oxford versus Imperial) it was interesting to see the article in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday pointing out how much he and his team have already been criticised in the past and adding the role of their forecasting in model in driving the BSE panic. As previously noted, science should propose and politicians dispose. In both previous examples, however, politicians hid behind the false certainty of ‘the science’ afraid of being blamed for every death and turning a blind eye to the opportunity costs of the scientists’ imposed policy. Millions of healthy animals were slaughtered unnecessarily during the FMD ‘crisis’, costing billions, while the projections of 150,000 deaths from BSE crippled the UK beef industry and destroyed exports for years.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/03/28/neil-ferguson-scientist-convinced-boris-johnson-uk-coronavirus-lockdown-criticised/

The Imperial Covid-19 death projections of 510,000 on a do nothing scenario and 250,000 ‘extra’ unless a full lockdown have already been quietly reduced to 20,000 and now 5,600 (which isn’t much more than an averagely bad flue season). And yet in the same way the BSE death total of less than 200 deaths was quietly swept under the carpet, the catastrophists are insisting that they were right. Presumably in the same way Goldman Sach’s risk managers were right ahead of the Lehman collapse?

As a small aside, the Imperial College school of public health also published a rightly criticised and improbably precise estimate of the the public health costs of a no deal Brexit this time last year. Apparently 4110 more people would die from heart attacks and 8290 from strokes over the next decade because a no deal Brexit would mean we would not import any fruit and vegetables. Seriously. As (sadly) with both Project Fear and indeed the Green lobby, many scientists arrive with an agenda and we would do well to treat precise forecasts with a far greater degree of scepticism, rather than the combination of confirmation bias and fear that we currently do.

If we had not known about a new virus out there , and had not checked individuals with PCE tests, the number of deaths due to ‘influenza like illness’ would not seem unusual this year
John Loanidis Professor Medial Health and Research Stamford University

Meanwhile, if we start looking beyond the ‘official’ scientists we find some very interesting articles being published by highly qualified experts such as John Ioannidis at Stanford, quoted above and linked below. In particular the point about the nexus between science, probability and policy and the importance of reliable data.

A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data

And he is far from a lone voice, for those interested, here are a series of quotes from almost two dozen eminent medical experts in a similar vein

https://off-guardian.org/2020/03/24/12-experts-questioning-the-coronavirus-panic/

https://off-guardian.org/2020/03/28/10-more-experts-criticising-the-coronavirus-panic/

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Political Cicadas - no change in the product, just the sales team

The habit of spending long periods underground before re-emerging is not limited to the Cicada, for while this year sees the coincidence of the 13 year year Cicada cycle and the 17 year one, something that last happened 221 years ago, it is also 17 years sine Tony Blair was last in power and 13 since Francois Holland (likely PM in the French Hung Parliament) was. Both now look to be re-emerging to ensure continuity of policies that never really went away. The key sources of protest across Europe - crippling expensive wars against Russia and Climate change as well as uncontrolled immigration have only been addressed in the doubling down - the first thing UK PM Starmer did was fly to Washington to offer more money to NATO, while his Chancellor promised more money for Net Zero. Meanwhile, the left alliance put together to thwart Le Pen is even more pro immigrant than Macron. For markets, there is no prospect of lower spending and every prospect of higher taxes - the only 'Change' visible but not the one promised. The Technocrats and Globalists expecting this 'democracy' means that the populous will go quietly will be disappointed, especially with the arrival in the Autumn (once the Cicadas have gone) of the great populist, anti open border, anti net zero and anti war populist Donald Trump.

Market Thinking July 2024

The scorecard for the first half puts Equities, commodities and Gold in the top half of the table, with cash and fixed income in the lower half. This is consistent with the steady but uninspiring macro backdrop and positioning ahead of a tricky H2 from a political perspective. The anomaly of the Market Cap weighted SPX out-performing the equal weighted SPW by over 10% points tells us both that the SPX is no longer telling us anything about the US economy and that this excess return is for taking (considerable) concentration risk. Meanwhile, with Bond analysts 'pivoting from the Pivot' the fixed income markets have calmed down a little and leaving The Donald' rather thna 'The Fed' as likely the biggest policy influence on Markets over the next 12 months. In particular, we would look out for a 'Trump Plaza Acord" early next year, 40 years after the last one- something the FX markets aren't talking about, but the asset allocators seem to be (at least subconsciously) pricing in.

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