Here's the article I want so much to write:
"Once again, like Ebola in 2014, like Fukushima in 2011, like SARS in 2003 and like Chernobyl in 1986, the coronavirus was just one more amazing buying opportunity. Chernobyl and Fukushima were contained. Our milk was still good. The radioactive waves didn't move on to Point Dume or Mendocino. They figured out SARS before it killed thousands of people and there were no mass uprisings or death-filled cruise ships or fatal subway cars and bowling alleys because of Ebola."
Oh each had a panic. But the panic was overdone as soon as it got out of hand. It turned out that stumbling, bumbling authorities, the foolish, well-meaning but over-their-heads engineers and scientists actually did stop the transmission of evil that was meant to wipe out mankind. There was no Andromeda Strain or Contagion or Stand. There was just a frightened population that, perhaps, had every right to be frightened because as ubiquitous Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge Fund fame wrote, in an article entitled Is the Market Grossly Underestimating the Potential Impact of Coronavirus Epidemic: "Fear of a risk that cannot be assessed without any confidence is entirely rational."
I don't know who really writes under the name of the antagonist and protagonist in Fight Club, but he or she has posted the scariest article I have read yet about how this one's the big one, that it could be bigger than the big one, maybe even bigger than your wildest imagination because the incubation period is so long that it can't be stopped because people are out there infecting everyone else.
As incapable as your body is of handling the virus, the Chinese government and its economy are even more incapable -- and the officials who are trying to stop it are hopelessly outgunned and outmanned. The coming downward spiral of confidence and the waves of disease headed our way just when we have central banks propping up stocks could not be a more toxic brew. As consumption craters, the ever-mobile Chinese will be spreading this disease around a helpless globe where researchers are fighting the epidemic with the armory of the last war. Sure, only 3% of the infected have died, but then again the great flu pandemic of 1918-19 killed a similar percentage, but because it was so contagious, 50 to 60 million people, many of them young and able bodied, died a horrible death.
But not before their heads were bashed in by a few unaffected souls armed with clubs, cross-bows and occasionally even handguns.
Okay, maybe not the latter. That's The Walking Dead, but that might as well be a good enough name for the rest of us, just as good as the name Tyler Durden.
Now here's what's so difficult. Let's say I decide to go with history and say that if Chernobyl didn't get us, and SARS or Fukishima or Ebola, what happens if this is the big Durden? But if I say that Durden -- I can't believe I am still using his name -- I will scare some people out of the market, but if things get out of control, I will simply say " It sure seemed right at the time."
Now I like to take a middle ground when I can. I would like to think that things could get worse before they get better -- but they will get better. There is no surety of that, though. I do refuse to pander to the panic in us all. I would rather have you buy stock in some high-quality companies that will do okay even if we have a Durden moment -- but if there are 15 million people who get sick, that means 140,000 who are hospitalized and 8,200 who die. In other words, a verisimilitude of this year's flu situation in our nation.
But then again, that would scare you too much. So perhaps I can say that there are good people working on it, using gene sequencing and powerful antivirals that didn't exist at the time of SARS. Perhaps I could say that it would have been fanciful that you could develop something for it back then. But at the same time, I could go all Durden and simply say they are all lying bumpkins and there are already hundreds of thousands who might be sick -- and that can tip over China and tumble the West. Is that better? It's the state of what's in play and any attempt to be calm will be met with derision by smarter, more-motivated people than I am, even if the motivation is to scare the bejesus out of you with a version of the cold hard facts.