Estimating the optimal lockdown time

Anna Scherbina has done some interesting modelling to work out how long we* should all remain in lock-down (* US data).

From the Abstract:

We investigate the optimal duration of the COVID-19 suppression policy. We find that absent extensive suppression measures, the economic cost of the virus will total over $9 trillion, which represents 43% of annual GDP. The optimal duration of the suppression policy crucially depends on the policy’s effectiveness in reducing the rate of the virus transmission. We use three different assumptions for the suppression policy effectiveness, measured by the R0 that it can achieve (R0 indicates the number of people an infected person infects on average at the start of the outbreak). Using the assumption that the suppression policy can achieve R0 = 1, we assess that it should be kept in place between 30 and 34 weeks. If suppression can achieve a lower R0 = 0.7, the policy should be in place between 11 and 12 weeks. Finally, for the most optimistic assumption that the suppression policy can achieve an even lower R0 of 0.5, we estimate that it should last between seven and eight weeks. We further show that stopping the suppression policy before six weeks does not produce any meaningful improvements in the pandemic outcome.

From the conclusion:

The analysis in this paper shows that the suppression policy is unlikely to achieve desired results if it is abandoned too soon. Another interesting finding is that the optimal duration of the policy depends on how effective it is in reducing the rate of new infections. The higher its effectiveness, the sooner the policy can be optimally ended and replaced with the less economically costly mitigation policy until the vaccine becomes available. Finally, the analysis shows that the results are not very sensitive to assigning a high value of life. This is especially important given the ongoing discussions about the value of life of the elderly population, which is the most at risk from the virus.

HT: Marginal Revolution

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54 Responses to Estimating the optimal lockdown time

  1. Chris M

    …until the vaccine becomes available.

    So 18 months? And even then we don’t know the efficacy of the vaccine; the last flu season it ran at only 10% (ie close to useless).

    Forget vaccine for now, what is needed in addition to large scale testing is a curative medication & treatment process. Given Hydroxychloroquine is cheap to manufacture how does it function as a prophylactic with large scale use / availability? Or when used in all patients at first sign of symptoms?

  2. Hay Stockard

    Another educated idiot. I remember when a degree meant something.

  3. Mater

    Their equations are missing “human nature” as a variable.
    People will only dance to the tune for so long, regardless of what their equation says.

  4. Iampeter

    We investigate the optimal duration of the COVID-19 suppression policy. We find that absent extensive suppression measures, the economic cost of the virus will total over $9 trillion, which represents 43% of annual GDP.

    Wouldn’t the cost of shutting down the entire economy come closer to wiping out 100% of the GDP?

    Gotta love these zany studies with no connection to the real world…

  5. Alex Davidson

    That paper is full of so many assumptions that I defy anyone to fully understand it, let alone accept its conclusions. It assumes gold-plated treatment costs and seems to ignore the higher-order economic costs of shutting down the economy. Also I couldn’t help wondering why the author wasn’t carrying out similar cost benefit analysis in relation to other pathogens and concluding that we should all be permanently locked down in a police state without any individual freedom at all. But maybe it all went over my head.

    A much more appropriate and readable article was published on the Mises blog this morning: End the Shutdown.

  6. Natural Instinct

    Anyone who writes this as their conclusion needs to get out more:

    Another interesting finding is that the optimal duration of the policy depends on how effective it is in reducing the rate of new infections. The higher its effectiveness, the sooner the policy can be optimally ended

    I would have thought that was blindingly obvious, not interesting.
    .
    And rember that sentence got through multiple authors, superiors and peer review.

  7. mundi

    The big mistake in the paper is they claim loss of $151 /day for every person in the country when sick, but only less than a third are actually productive and in work force anyway, so the gdp loss number is more like 14% not 43%, and 14% for only a few months, not an entire year.

  8. mundi

    Plus they assume 76% of people getting fever means weeks off work when in reality it passes in a few hours or days at most

  9. Rob MW

    The higher its effectiveness, the sooner the policy can be optimally ended and replaced with the less economically costly mitigation policy until the vaccine becomes available.

    It took an intellectual to come up with that ? We’re in bigger trouble than I thought.

    I want the names of those discussing the value of life in relation to the elderly, or in other words, discussing the value of someone else’s life that is not their own. A few of us might have something to say about that and I promise, it will be ugly, really ugly.

  10. Tel

    Using the assumption that the suppression policy can achieve R0 = 1, we assess that it should be kept in place between 30 and 34 weeks. If suppression can achieve a lower R0 = 0.7, the policy should be in place between 11 and 12 weeks. Finally, for the most optimistic assumption that the suppression policy can achieve an even lower R0 of 0.5, we estimate that it should last between seven and eight weeks.

    I think it’s somewhat questionable assuming that any of this works. New York got plenty of warning, implemented a stack of off-the-cuff regulations, and the cases popped up anyhow.

    At any rate their conclusion is completely backwards … if we take the open borders policy as immutable (because it appears to be) then lower R0 means LONGER time for lockdown and if R0 > 1 this goes to infinity. Think about it: if R0 is zero then everyone is in their own isolated bubble and never gets the disease, but also never gets any immunity. Therefore given that the disease will always be coming in from the open borders policy you can never leave the bubble.

    When R0 is slightly > 1 you have the disease continuing to spread at a manageable rate but also immunity forming so that at some stage it will come to a stop. If immunity forms slowly, then the restrictions (presuming they work) will be in place longer. If immunity forms quickly, then you get it out the way sooner.

  11. min

    zThere are so many other factors that would influence R O. such as hand washing , general hygiene etc.
    How many out there have had the opportunity apart from open houses to look in other’s houses. i think you would be shocked how others live in dirt and mess.
    In fact I looked at house open for inspection a few weeks back ., a rental , it was so putrid i told granddaughter who is buying not go in in case as she works in O&G . not all have had the designers through to do place over.. a lot

  12. MPH

    But what if the incremental annual fatality rate is indistinguishable from zero?

  13. Pyrmonter

    So, we should have gone very hard, very early, very briefly.

    Instead, we slid slowly toward something worse.

  14. Sinclair Davidson

    So, we should have gone very hard, very early, very briefly.

    We did go very hard, very early.

  15. Infidel Tiger

    So, we should have gone very hard, very early, very briefly.

    We did go very hard, very early.

    We still talking about a virus?

  16. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    “The analysis in this paper shows that the suppression policy is unlikely to achieve desired results if it is abandoned too soon.

    Another interesting finding is that the optimal duration of the policy depends on how effective it is in reducing the rate of new infections.”

    How unexpected! I am smacked of gob!

    Anna holds herself out to be quite the brilliant modeller, eh? She really ought to stay with floral arrangements or cake decorating though, better matches for her modelling capabilities.

  17. Pyrmonter

    @ Sinclair

    So Bondi beach 10 days ago was ‘go hard’? Nothing like what was happening then in NY, London or Milan.

  18. John A

    min #3387581, posted on April 1, 2020, at 1:20 pm

    There are so many other factors that would influence R O. such as hand washing, general hygiene etc.

    And I don’t see anything about intermediate treatment (quinine etc) whilst awaiting a vaccine, as a strategy to mitigate.

    Sorry but hardly worth disturbing all those poor electrons with the download.

  19. Tel

    There are so many other factors that would influence R O. such as hand washing , general hygiene etc.

    The R0 value is NOT some constant that exists in isolation to everything else.

    R0 is the final average number of people infected for each case, AFTER all other factors are taken into account, including hand washing (if that makes a difference) mask wearing, socialist distancing (if those make a difference) and so on.

    If every person was immediately isolated from everyone else then R0 would become zero right away. We would also all die from lack of food and water, but we would not catch the virus.

  20. Pyrmonter

    @ Tel

    R0 is the final average number of people infected for each case, AFTER all other factors are taken into account, including hand washing (if that makes a difference) mask wearing, socialist distancing (if those make a difference) and so on.

    Exactly. Which is why control might have worked. Which is why Richard Epstein’s prediction of low US mortality was not wholly implausible. Yet … it isn’t what we’ve seen.

    Evidently the news that the virus is unlikely to inflict harm on the under 40s has encouraged them to allow its spread. That’s created a problem. So we have majoritarian tyranny on the vulnerable minority. There was a time ‘libertarians’ cared about such things, but they seem to have passed in a rush toward Trump worship and Orban-following (with some honerouable exceptions)

  21. Iampeter

    @Pyrmonter – but countries like South Korea and Germany have some of the worst outbreaks and at the same time the lowest death rates. They’ve done without ANY lockouts or travel restrictions. They don’t have any empty shelves or panic buying.

    We’ve got empirical proof that doing this the “Chinese way” is not what we should be doing.
    I think what’s missing is the understanding that this virus could only have been contained at a very local level back in Wuhan. But the Chinese government “Chernobyl-ed” it up so that’s no longer an option.
    Because this virus is so efficient at spreading in humans it is now here to stay. It’ll be with us seasonally just like the cold and flu viruses.
    In the next 18 to 24 months we are all going to get it and there’s nothing to be done about that.

    The only option is to ramp up healthcare availability. Not cripple industrial civilization and impose police states all over the Western world.

  22. Iampeter

    @Pyrmonter – on second reading of your last comment, you may have actually been saying sorta what I’m saying.

  23. MPH

    Pyrmonter your ‘vulnerable minority’ are the worst offenders for exposing themselves to risk unnecessarily. If they had stayed inside early and protected themselves we’d have no problems.

  24. Models that rely on human nature and behaviour are almost always wrong. That’s why advances in humonoid AI has slowed to a trickle.
    They can’t program a robot to see a chair as a human does. Is it something to sit on, is it something to stand on to reach a high shelf, is it something to pick up and swing at an intruder, is it something to break up and use for fire wood to keep warm or is it something to use to spice up your sex with the mrs? The possibilities for just one item is endless.

    These Wuhan Flu models will be wrong. The only short term solution is to find a cure, which seems to be available now. It should be another week or so to be fairly certain that it works.
    Then it’s back to work for the young and fit, self quarantine and extra care for the old and other vulnerables until a vaccine can be developed.

    The hysteria is unnecessary now. A cure exists.

  25. Tel

    We did go very hard, very early.

    The first known case was in November 2019.

    The WHO were formally notified by Taiwan that this was dangerous and contagious on 31 December 2019. They jerked everyone around for several weeks after that.

    So “early” would have been if Australia responded by January at the latest, and “hard” would have been closing the borders, ports, airports, etc. That could have been done in January, even after you allow for WHO shenanigans.

    Mongolians closed their border to China in 31 January 2020 … nobody called them “racist” either.

    Meanwhile in Australia we had people stubbornly resisting the very idea of closed borders.

    … let me repeat: it is not practical to close the borders, and it is expensive to do so too.

    And that was already 2 March 2020 … so on the topic of practicality, how “practical” is the current system where armed police are hunting down citizens for going outside their house without some arbitrary excuse that will be arbitrarily evaluated based on a set of non-existent criteria? How practical is it to bring in 30,000 foreign students just to have them sit in a small apartment and look out the window at the universities closed? Meanwhile we still have primary schools open, with the kiddies getting symptoms and no one doing any tests. How about that? Is it “expensive” to have half the business in Australia closed? Cos you know we want to avoid closing the borders because it might cause some economic damage here.

    Let me repeat: we were two months behind and still arguing about closing borders when our elite were dumping whole cruise ships of infected passengers into our major cities. Elites who then tried to compensate by the biggest and fastest power grab since Federation.

    Very hard? Very early? Ahhh let’s take a deep breath and say perhaps in the heat of the moment you got that one very wrong.

  26. Pyrmonter

    @ Iamp

    What I was getting at is that private action was, predictably, not going to solve the collective action problem: the private benefits for the young of avoiding infection are fairly low and there is no scheme of liability imposing on them the costs of transmission to others – this is a very large group, so it wasn’t going to be resolved by an Olstrom-like ‘private collective action’ scheme. That meant governments needed to act – co-ordinated protection from infection is the sort of collective good that, in practice, only the state can provide (a bit like, say, stable currency, or defence from foreign state aggressors). Unfortunately, and despite having more resources than ever and more effective state power than ever, our government(s) failed to act in time. We have today had both the NSW Premier and the Cth DCMO say this thing cannot be eliminated, leaving the alternative of very expensive suppression – a half-way house that neither protects the vulnerable, nor lets us return to an ordinary life.

    The economic costs will be real. As also will be the political ones. And for those here who have retained much sympathy for the coalition, there is bad news as to where the political problems will arise. So far as I can recall, our trade minister was a Senator from South Australia, not the minister for immigration. And the ministers with responsibility for domestic commerce were the Treasurer and the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. But, apparenlty, so also is the Minister for ‘Home Affairs’, who is now threatening laws on ‘price gouging’, as well as imposting prohibitive tariffs on trade, after a beat-up by the tabloid journalists at Nine: https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/coronavirus-australia-jail-for-people-sending-face-masks-sanitiser-to-china/news-story/b6b166732670eca9a42385158104a323

  27. Pyrmonter

    @ Tel

    There is no need to ‘close the borders’. There is a need for quarantine. Anything more is gesturing in the direction of the race baiters in PHON (and the Dutton cheer squad)

  28. Pyrmonter

    @ MPH

    The private risk for the ‘vulnerable’ is still modest – they’ll get hospital treatment at present. The point is that the infection is spreading, the pool of the infected doubling every 3-4 days or so. That is laying up a major problem for a few months, which will coincide with winter. It’s bleak. And our governments have failed.

  29. Tel

    Exactly. Which is why control might have worked. Which is why Richard Epstein’s prediction of low US mortality was not wholly implausible. Yet … it isn’t what we’ve seen.

    And the take-home conclusion from that is the measures they put in place (“distancing” and whatever) made very little difference, and were therefore useless. Either the virus is doing something that no one understands, or heavy enforcement does not make people take appropriate precautions.

    Thing is, so much of this bullshit has been arse covering. Let me spell this out: there has been an equipment shortage in all the Western nations and no one has figured out the full cause of that, nor has anyone been held responsible … including extremely basic items like alcohol cleaner, rubber gloves, masks, protective suits for hospital staff. Instead of admitting there’s a problem we had the CDC explaining sincerely to the numpties that they are too darn stupid to wear a mask, and anyway it would not help. We had Andrew Bolt sincerely telling people that soap and water was all they needed even when those are not portable and anyway alcohol sanitizer works better … thus doing his arse covering duty when people are asking, “WTF can’t I buy hand sanitizer??”

    The Australian Commonwealth with the task allocated to them of protecting the borders and the powers they have given themselves to snoop on all communications in the entire nation, had not idea whatsoever that vast amounts of basic medical equipment were being shipped out of the country. People talked about this, taking note that it always seemed to be Asians buying up all the supplies, but those people were called “racist” because you are not supposed to notice that. Eventually even the newspaper reporters found it, and only then because an insider pointed it out to them. The whole information was right there on social media, including photographs and the Commonwealth were totally blindsided. They had no idea.

    Belatedly they made it illegal to export medical equipment, and that’s an interesting question open to discussion about whether that’s a good way to do things, but at any rate it does fall within the Commonwealth bailiwick to be handling that question, so at least they are sticking within the Australian Constitution for a change.

  30. Kneel

    “There is no need to ‘close the borders’. There is a need for quarantine.”

    Maybe – OK, probably.
    But we went from 500,000 UK dead and 2.2million US dead, to 20,000 UK dead to now <5,000 UK dead.
    We just didn't – and still don't – have the numbers we need to know.
    So yeah, we should be careful – but not panic.
    If the numbers we are seeing are representative, then it was a major over-reaction.
    When we start testing large numbers of "random" people from the population for both CV infection and CV anti-bodies, we'll have a better handle on the numbers.

    Food for thought: it looks like, even in Italy, this is a lower number than "standard" seasonal flu deaths. If we didn't have a CV test, we might not have even noticed, other than to say it was a "bad" flu season, if that. It's certainly looking like the UK at least will have reduced excess winter deaths from respiratory infection this season than average. Think about that: less than normal with CV. Why are we locked down again?

  31. Tel

    There is no need to ‘close the borders’. There is a need for quarantine. Anything more is gesturing in the direction of the race baiters in PHON (and the Dutton cheer squad)

    Bullshit, that’s exactly the attitude that caused the problem.

    We had the opportunity, and we failed.

    Dutton at least made some small effort, but if you want proof then check the history of the Spanish Flu where Australia was indeed able to prevent it getting here for quite some time, but not indefinitely.

  32. Pyrmonter

    @ Tel

    Dutton strutting around as a would be Orban is at the heart of the problem. It’s arbitrary exercise of state power for no purpose.

    This is pertinent, though its focus is northern hemisphere: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/when-disease-comes-leaders-grab-more-power/608560/

  33. HP

    The comments by some suggest that they thing this virus can be “stopped” and that it wil go away somehow.

    That is believing in fairy tales.

    Even if you could lock down everything world-wide; if this virus pops up again in some far corner of the world, chaces are 3 months later we will be right back where we are.

    Measles, mumps, rubella, poliovirus, etc.. none of them went away. Neither will this thing.

    This virus will be included in the vaccination schedule, once a vaccine is available. Kids will be immune from a very young age. That is the way we will achieve herd immunity in the future.

    But for all of us who missed that opportunity of a vaccine at a young age, I have some bad news.

    A vaccine apparently is at least 9 months away, some say 19 months.
    We cannot lock down the economy for that duration. The only reason we have hospitals and the life-saving equipment, is that we have (had) jobs to pay for them. Even the doctors and nurses who are doing a great job right now would like to get paid for their efforts, I am guessing. Take the jobs away, and all of that comes to an end, and right quick.

    In absence of a vaccine, most of us will have to do it the hard way. If the risk is not unacceptably high, you will likely just get this virus and get sick. Fight it off, and get better, hopefully and be immune from then on.

    Most cases show only mild symptoms. Mortality rate of this Wuhan Flu is around 0.7% according to the latest numbers I heard. (Normal flu around 0.1%.)

    When 6-7 out of 10 people have had it, that R-zero is going to drop to the point that the Wuhan Flu outbreak will die off.

    If the risk is unacceptably high, self-isolation is the only thing you can do. But choose wisely, you will be in for the long haul: 9-18 months depending on who you believe.

    Right now, the government is buying time with this flattening-the-curve effort. It will slow the outbreak down. It won’t stop it.

    That also buys you time.

    The news I am receiving out of the Netherlands is that 80% of the Corona patients overflowing their ICU capacity at the moment, is overweight to obese and often suffers from high bloodpressure, etc..

    Best thing you can do for yourself, is use the time the government is buying, and get some exercise.

    If you still thought this things can be stopped with a lock down:
    Stop believing in fairy tales. You are an adult now. Cannot afford that anymore.

    Get ready for the inevitable.

  34. C.L.

    This is pertinent, though its focus is northern hemisphere: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/when-disease-comes-leaders-grab-more-power/608560/

    “Around the world, rulers are using the pandemic as an excuse to grab more power. And the public is going along with it.”

    Thanks for the scoop, Pyrmonter. Two threads, two different Pyrmonters.

  35. Iampeter

    What I was getting at is that private action was, predictably, not going to solve the collective action problem:

    Yea I hear what you’re saying. I would describe it a bit differently in that the function of government is to protect rights and that includes quarantining people with infectious diseases.
    But the problem is that in this context the virus in question is not that different to cold/flu and so there is no quarantining it. Like I said in my post, the countries most successful at dealing with this are those that ramped up healthcare capacity, not quarantine.

    We have today had both the NSW Premier and the Cth DCMO say this thing cannot be eliminated, leaving the alternative of very expensive suppression – a half-way house that neither protects the vulnerable, nor lets us return to an ordinary life.

    Exactly. It’s like trying to suppress the flu. The cure here is much worse than the disease.

    There is no need to ‘close the borders’. There is a need for quarantine. Anything more is gesturing in the direction of the race baiters in PHON (and the Dutton cheer squad)

    Damn that’s on point.

  36. Pyrmonter

    No, CL, a Pyrmonter who is constantly sceptical of both the motives and capacity of governments to do good, (for reasons founded in the ‘knowledge’ problem as well as public choice) yet who recognises that there are times when government action to co-ordinate is the only possibility, and yet fears that it is bound to fail. One who advocated for strict action for weeks, but who fears now that the best time for action has passed.


    The basic principle of a free society, that the coercive powers of government
    are restricted to the enforcement of universal rules of just conduct, and
    cannot be used for the achievement of particular purposes, though essential
    to the normal working of such a society, may yet have to be temporarily
    suspended when the long-run preservation of that order is itself threatened.
    Though normally the individuals need be concerned only with their own
    concrete aims, and in pursuing them will best serve the common welfare,
    there may temporarily arise circumstances when the preservation of the
    overall order becomes the overruling common purpose, and when in
    consequence the spontaneous order, on a local or national scale, must for a
    time be converted into an organization. When an external enemy threatens,
    when rebellion or lawless violence has broken out, or a natural catastrophe
    requires quick action by whatever means can be secured, powers of compulsory organization, which normally nobody possesses, must be granted to somebody. Like an animal in fl ight from mortal danger society
    may in such situations have to suspend temporarily even vital functions on
    which in the long run its existence depends if it is to escape destruction.
    The conditions under which such emergency powers may be granted

    without creating the danger that they will be retained when the absolute neces-
    sity has passed are among the most diffi cult and important points a constitu-
    tion must decide on. ‘Emergencies’ have always been the pretext on which the

    safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded—and once they are suspended
    it is not diffi cult for anyone who has assumed such emergency powers to see
    to it that the emergency will persist.

    (it continues, to deal with constitutional safeguards absent from our regime)

    From Hayek’s Law, Legislation and Liberty, vol III, chapter 17.

  37. Pyrmonter

    @ CL – we are all right to be sceptical of government seizures of power, and especially of that which accompanies dissembling about accountability of the sort exhibited by the Commissioner of ‘Border Force’. Remember that just because the person wielding those powers today may be sympathetic to integralism or something else which captures CL’s fancy, you can expect that tomorrow those powers will be held by an avowed socialist, or ‘progressive’.

    Political actors overwhelmingly act out of self-interest and with limited information about what they can do. The past month has, I fear, shown that abundantly, both here and abroad.

    @ Iamp – I can see the costs of doing nothing – they are themselves high, both directly (death rates that may approach .6% of the population, over and above the background rate – that’s San Marino, so far); and I can see the costs but also benefits of ‘freezing’ the economy to allow a stoppage in transmission. What I think is guesswork is where the costs and benefits fall in between. Can it all be mitigated by further ‘social distancing’ (if only it woudl be observed). Or do we need to persist with the lockdown I am finding quite destructive of productivity, and where the ‘compensation’ arrangements threaten incipient hyper-inflation? It isn’t obvious. Which, I suppose, is just to restate the knowledge problem.

  38. David Brewer

    Blind Freddie can see that the impact on value-added output of the virus alone is hardly above statistical noise, as would have been shown by previous studies of the impact of various flu outbreaks. Whereas the impact on value-added production of arbitrarily halting manufacturing, construction, transport, non-food retail, etc., for months, which has never been done in human history, is enormous. So the only question is where did this study go wrong?

    A few pointers:

    – the baseline scenario includes the value of a statistical life (VSL), which increases the estimated costs of a no-intervention scenario by a factor of 11 (from $1.2 trillion to 13.2 trillion, Figure 1, page 16). Yet “[s]ome may argue that VSL should not be included in the benefits calculations because it does not represent a true monetary outflow…” (page 11)

    – “For the calculation of the costs of lost productivity due to illness, we use the assumption in CEA (2019) that one missed work day represents a productivity loss of $151.88.” This assumption is continued for those in age groups 65-74, 75-84, and over 85 (page 24) whereas the lost productivity of persons in these age groups, measured as missed work days, approaches an asymptote of zero.

    – “We have also not factored in the cost of government stimulus policies.” (page 13)

    – “Given that widespread testing for COVID-19 is not available, it is very likely that the fatality ratio is significantly lower than the one we used.” (page 13)

    – “We have assumed that 10% of the population is asymptomatic. However, this number is likely to be larger given the lack of widespread testing.” (page 12)

    – Also, no account is taken of the economic impact of the psychological effects of keeping the entire population under house arrest for up to 34 weeks. These effects may include, for example, depression due to unemployment or other assorted mental illnesses, and outcomes such as suicide, murder, drug abuse, alcoholism etc.

    I do wonder sometimes how much reliance I should place on such modeling studies…

  39. JC

    Plodes..

    Great work with your recent postings. They’re a good read, especially the one about the debt situation being created in the US. While I don’t agree with you that Trump is as leftist as you suggest, there is a tinge of that with the stimulus.

    As you appear to be very weak on economics I’ll help you on this score. If the Fed had done its job much earlier and eased monetary policy we wouldn’t be staring into the economic abyss. All they needed to do was target nominal income and then let it rip. The only form of stimulus is monetary.

  40. JC

    Dutton at least made some small effort, but if you want proof then check

    the history of the Spanish Flu where Australia was indeed able to prevent it getting here for quite some time, but not indefinitely.<

    /blockquote>

    Australia caused the third wave by sending it back to Europe and it was deadly. We’ve done our part for pandemics 🙂

  41. old bloke

    Tel
    #3387777, posted on April 1, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    Mongolians closed their border to China in 31 January 2020 … nobody called them “racist” either.

    North Korea closed their border with China more than a week earlier, on Wednesday 22nd January.

  42. egg_

    Models that rely on human nature and behaviour* are almost always wrong. That’s why advances in humonoid AI has slowed to a trickle.

    *Farr’s Law of epidemics, per an earlier CL post.

  43. Tel

    Pyrmonter, Spain closed their borders a few days after Poland. You are calling them all “racist” too, right?

    Actually the entire EU has closed borders (with some exceptions) because all racists.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51927790

    I know that the jetset class like Anne Applebaum feel an intense entitlement to go wherever they like whenever they like, and she is proud to publish the details of her son illegally sneaking past the quarantine measures, but actually I hope the Polish authorities find the kid and impose some punishment, because he is very much like the 30 doctors who slipped into Australia.

    Poland had their first death on 12 March and closed borders 13 March … then they went past 30 deaths on the 30 March, making it 18 days from first death to past 30 deaths.

    Spain had their first death on 3 March and crossed 30 deaths only 7 days later on 10 March … then eventually closed borders.

    Italy had their first death on 21 February and crossed 30 deaths on 1 March which was 9 days later.

    Those jetset world destinations Spain and Italy ended up doing a lot worse by these numbers. Admittedly it’s early days and each country is different to the others. Poland on the whole is much poorer than Spain or Italy and cannot afford the best medical care, nor can Poland afford to shut down their economy to the same extent. So far Poland is looking OK … the evidence suggests that closing the borders early works very nicely thank you.

  44. Pyrmonter

    @ Tel

    The Doctors who ‘slipped in’ did so lawfully: the law they supposedly ‘breached’ hadn’t come into operation.

    While I suspect the polish (and Magyar) governments are racist, I’m not complaining about that. I’m complaining of their arbitrary restrictions and slide toward strong man government.

  45. BorisG

    So Bondi beach 10 days ago was ‘go hard’? Nothing like what was happening then in NY, London or Milan.

    Early or late is not on absolute time scale but in relation to the number of infections. Or deaths.

  46. BorisG

    @Pyrmonter – but countries like South Korea and Germany have some of the worst outbreaks and at the same time the lowest death rates. They’ve done without ANY lockouts or travel restrictions. They don’t have any empty shelves or panic buying.

    The opposite is true. South Korea instituted mobile phone surveillance that you would be first to condemn as a gross violation of your freedoms. Germany is in near total lockdown from about 2 weeks ago, with meetings restricted to 2 people. Get your facts right before posting your bullshit.

  47. BorisG

    Sinc, thanks for posting this. Alex all such projections always contain lost of assumptions. This is a new virus and it is better to have some projections than none at all.

    I notice that none of the critics have provided any alternative modeling.

  48. BorisG

    New York got plenty of warning, implemented a stack of off-the-cuff regulations,

    Too late. And for such dense living, it may need to be harder still.

  49. BorisG

    Plus they assume 76% of people getting fever means weeks off work when in reality it passes in a few hours or days at most

    In stakes of stupidity this trumps it all. Go back to work and infect others?

    Need to be quarantined for 2-3 weeks, until two tests are negative.

  50. Tel

    South Korea instituted mobile phone surveillance that you would be first to condemn as a gross violation of your freedoms.

    We already have that in Australia, been there for years. Comms corps must keep metadata (both Internet and phone) and that rule came in about 5 years ago … plus most of the state police have stingrays so they can use your phone as a bugging device and snoop your calls, SMS, GPS, etc if they like. There was an unofficial metadata agreement going back ohhh long time in the communications industry, but its formalized into law now.

    Pretty sure these have been condemned as gross violations of freedom many times, but that dun make any difference.

  51. BorisG

    Pretty sure these have been condemned as gross violations of freedom many times, but that dun make any difference.

    You can form a policy party, gain the majority public support, become PM of Australia and abolish it.

    I heard policy strategists on TV saying this would face too much opposition. Perhaps people are ok if this is used against terrorist groups but not to spy on people with viruses.

    In my view this would be ok and certainly less painful than shutdown of the economy.

  52. egg_

    So Bondi beach 10 days ago was ‘go hard’? Nothing like what was happening then in NY, London or Milan.

    Early or late is not on absolute time scale but in relation to the number of infections. Or deaths.

    Crap – it’s exponential – the sooner, the better.
    Hence, T100 (cases) reference start on all curves.

  53. Iampeter

    Great work with your recent postings. They’re a good read, especially the one about the debt situation being created in the US.

    Not sure why. Nothing in my posts has changed and your positions haven’t changed either as can be seen from the rest of the post.

    While I don’t agree with you that Trump is as leftist as you suggest, there is a tinge of that with the stimulus.

    So you don’t agree Trump is a leftist when he’s signing $1 trillion dollar spending bills and regulating trade and immigration like an old-school democrat, but once he’s signing $2 trillion dollar bills you think there’s a “tinge of that?”

    This is why conservatives cannot be taken seriously. Not as an alternative to the left and not even as a political movement in their own right.

    As you appear to be very weak on economics I’ll help you on this score. If the Fed had done its job much earlier and eased monetary policy we wouldn’t be staring into the economic abyss. All they needed to do was target nominal income and then let it rip. The only form of stimulus is monetary.

    This is the sort of thing I’d expect to be reading over in Paul Krugman’s comments section from one of his supporters. Easing monetary policy is worse than spending bills. This is what sends all the insidious false market signals that leads to booms, which then necessitates the corrective busts and is at the root of ALL our economic problems. This is basic stuff and if you haven’t got your head around it then you shouldn’t be trying to suggest anyone else is “weak on economics.”

    I’ll also add that this is supposed to be a right wing blog, yet when I post pretty uncontroversial comments, like Trump spending trillions and regulating trade makes him a leftist, everyone loses their minds. But when JC posts boilerplate leftism then no one says anything.

    Hmmm.

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