Most gunshot wounds are self-inflicted, coronaconomy edition (Sweden v. the Shutdown Karen Countries)

I personally don’t think economic performance is relevant when evaluating coronaplague policy. In a world where people don’t care about anything other than Covid-19 death risk, what difference does it make if they’re getting richer or poorer? That said, unemployment and poverty do lead to poor health outcomes and death. It just takes a while. So there is also a health angle to economics (see this post from March: “If All Lives Have Equal Value, why does Bill Gates support shutting down the U.S. economy?”).

“‘Striking’ Crisis Gap Exposed as Swedish Economy Stands Out” (Bloomber, June 16):

In a report on Monday, Capital Economics presented data that give Sweden an irrefutable edge. From peak to trough, Swedish GDP will shrink 8%; in the U.K. and Italy, the contraction is somewhere between 25% and 30%, according to estimates covering the fourth quarter of 2019 through to the second quarter of 2020. The U.S. is somewhere in the middle, it said.

Sweden has kept shops, gyms, schools and restaurants open throughout the pandemic. But the strategy, which the government says wasn’t shaped with the economy in mind, has resulted in one of the world’s highest mortality rates. Sweden’s state epidemiologist recently acknowledged he would have opted for a tighter lockdown with the benefit of hindsight.

(The article is written for American members of the Church of Shutdown, so the journalist points that Sweden has “one of the world’s highest mortality rates” without noting that the U.S. overall, in Month 4 of various degrees of shutdown, is only about 30 percent behind Sweden, that plenty of U.S. states have experienced higher death rates so far than Sweden, and that some countries that did shut down actually have higher mortality rates than Sweden. And, of course, Sweden is not actually planning on a “tighter lockdown” even when the inevitable second wave hits (Sweden’s latest plan).)

A figure from the article:

A gun enthusiast friend is able to say, in response to about 90 percent of news articles about companies or universities, “most gunshot wounds are self-inflicted.” These economic data from the Shutdown Karen countries add some ammunition to his theory!

(Again, since nobody cares about how poor they become, as long as they can be saved from the evil virus, I don’t think the self-inflicted impoverishment of the shutdown nations is relevant except that it will inevitably result in a shorter life expectancy and more deaths in the long run than any conceivable savings of Covid-19 deaths from the shutdown. See the Preston curve of life expectancy vs. per capita income.)

There might be some measurement errors for the U.S. A lot of our GDP for this quarter, for example, is going to be cleaning up cities after riots, the classic broken window fallacy. Also, people have been spending like crazy to try to adapt to the shutdown. Americans would prefer to go to a gym, but they’re buying home exercise gear as an interim stopgap. (Sweden’s gyms never closed, so they wouldn’t have as much of this type of no-added-value spending.) Americans would prefer to meet people in person, but they’re buying webcams for the Zoom sessions that they don’t enjoy. Ordinarily, Americans don’t need everything in the house or yard to be perfect, but as long as they’re locked into their houses why not fix everything up and tell the landscapers to go deluxe? (Anecdote: We had our shrubs mulched for the first time! I wanted to give Joe the Electrician some work, so we had him do a bunch of low-importance fixes (bad news for the Democrats who envision themselves as champions of the working American; like Joe the Plumber, Joe the Electrician is not easy to persuade: “The thing about Trump is that he does what he said he was going to do.”). Maybe all of this will cost $3,000 and add $500 in long-term value to the house?)

13 thoughts on “Most gunshot wounds are self-inflicted, coronaconomy edition (Sweden v. the Shutdown Karen Countries)

  1. It will probably be area under the curve that matters to GDP loss, vs. peak to trough change. BTW, I’m no fan of Church of the Shutdown.

  2. Regarding the Preston Curve, specifically, the top image link on the wikipedia article:

    The extrapolated curve seems at odds with the actual data points: The curve continues to slope upwards, despite the data points failing to do so. The best life expectancy is at the $32,000 income level, and then there is an actual downward trend in the data points past that.

    After $35,000 income, all data points are below the extrapolated curve.

    Also, the peak of the curve seems delayed. There’s an big outlier below the curve at about $12,000, but without that the actual data points indicate to me that the effects of increased income become increasingly muted after about $7,500.

    Analysis in plain suburban English : A new Honda minivan provides only slightly more utility than a used one, but a Ferrari is nothing but trouble.

  3. The point about Joe the Plumber and Electrician is an interesting one because the mainstream media never pays any attention of these sorts of privileged white folk. A couple of months before the election in 2016 when the consensus view was that Trump was a lunatic, a racist, an antisemite who the Hildabeast would slaughter, I spoke to a friend in Texas. He had taken his boat to a repair shop on the Gulf and the repair shop was run by a Mexican-American, who had a big poster of Trump up on his wall. He said he was voting for Trump because he did not want all the illegals coming into this country. But these are all people of privilege so who cares what they think.

  4. All your conclusions and comparisons to Sweden are speculation at this point. There wont be sufficient data to draw any meaningful conclusions for perhaps years. Even if we had all the data, certainly things like date of first transmission, urban density, etc. all have a huge impact on the outcomes, aside from government prevention strategies and policies. What is clear to me, is that America couldn’t have done a worse job in response. We had months warning as things unfolded in China. The Obama administration took measures to be prepared for such an event, and the government=bad party dismantled it to save millions of dollars, and so now we’re going to take a bath for trillions. So, it’s going to be the same story: we elected another idiot Republican(same theme and outcome with Bush) who gave comparatively paltry tax breaks while devastating the economy. Penny wise, pound foolish. Everyone enjoy the hundreds you saved on taxes while massive unemployment, bankruptcy and inevitable stock market crash ravage onward.

    • Senorpablo – your comments are an example of revisionist history. The fact is that George W Bush was the last president to do something real for pandemic preparedness. Also, do a little research on what he did for HIV which is still paying huge dividends in Africa and elsewhere. I’ll help you get start with your fact-checking. 1). 2). . If you could find anything comparable done by a president before or after Bush, I’d appreciate the help.

    • Terry, I never made the claim Bush was responsible for Trumps pandemic response. Bushes devastation was economic. If Bush made progress with respect to disease and pandemics, great. Obama also made progress. That’s my claim. The only similarity I drew between the republicans, Bush and Trump, were economic devastation. Your claim that Trump ignored the work Obama and Bush had done only underscores the point–vote for republicans and the result is economic peril, regardless of the mechanism.

    • I know that is what you’d like to believe but it isn’t governments that do things, it is people. The CDC (and WHO) missed the boat on Covid-19. I’ll grant you that Trump has been an idiot but his action or in actions or foolish comments has probably had very little to do with anything Covid-related. The vast array of experiences across the globe with wide range of leaders and politics has proven that Covid can bring them all to their knees. Or, maybe you would like to highlight an ideologically-based response that proves somehow that it is in fact Republican ideology that created havoc here. Maybe you would like to look within the US at what mayor of NYC did right or wrong, or even the Gov of NY?

    • Sorry Senior Pable, here you’re full of it, or both uninformed, and didn’t read the article.!

      From the Article:

      “The Obama administration utilized the stockpile during the 2009 H1N1 and 2016 Zika outbreaks but did not replenish it. The Trump administration also failed to replace those items despite warnings the stockpile was not prepared for a pandemic, according to NBC.”

      This means the Obama administration actively decreased the preparedness. This has been well known for a long time. In short, Trump sucked as much as Obama for not building up a stock of N95’s, and they both made W look good in comparison.

      Also, California abandoned its stockpile of ventilators and 50 million N95 masks, because Jerry Brown was unwilling to spend $6 million per year to store them:

      “Together, these two programs would have positioned California to more rapidly respond as its COVID-19 cases exploded. The annual savings for eliminating both programs? No more than $5.8 million per year, according to state budget records, a tiny fraction of the 2011 budget, which totaled $129 billion.”

    • Terry –
      Water it down and shrug it off. That’s a common nonsense republicans say when faced with the reality that when they’re in control of government, everything becomes a fiasco. For example, when you point out that Reagan pioneered massive deficit spending, they like to argue that congress controls the spending. Same thing when you realize that republican white house officials are convicted at a rate 38x that of their democratic peers. All politicians are crooks! The republican platform is built on lies, cons, and bs, so it’s no surprise Trump was willingly elected to be the leader of the party. When will the winning end?

      Viking –
      From the article and your own quotation: “The Obama administration utilized the stockpile during the 2009 H1N1 and 2016 Zika outbreaks but did not replenish it.”

      So according to you, Obama is responsible for not restocking supplies used during the zika outbreak, which was still ongoing up to the month Trump was elected. Nevermind that Trump would never wear a mask himself, recommending instead to drink bleach. I suspect it will come out in time that Trump was warned by a wide variety of experts, medical, military, economic, etc. of the risk long before the virus took hold in the US and chose to do absolutely nothing. “One day it will just disappear.” Perfect for the leader of the, my thoughts and prayers is better than your science, political party!

  5. You’re right except that it’s going to be worse than you predict. I think the bottom is going to be very deep and the damage is going to be permanent. We’re going to do crazy things to try to stop the implosion before it’s all over.

  6. For some of the church of shutdown, the drop in GDP is a feature. They see this as a dress rehearsal for what they want to do to the economy in order to stop the flow of greenhouse gasses into the air, and no, they really don’t care how poor we become.

  7. From the Bloomberg article cited above:
    “Meanwhile, a fresh set of forecasts by Danske Bank on Tuesday shows the economy of Sweden faring worse than that of Norway and Denmark. Swedish GDP is set to shrink 4.1% this year, compared with a 3.5% contraction in Denmark and Norway, according to Danske.”

    Not sure how meaningful any of these statistics are but here is evidence, or ‘evidence’, that Denmark and Norway did better than Sweden both with Covid-19 deaths and the economy. So far.

  8. I am an American living in Sweden. I can tell you that Sweden’s response to the pandemic has been an unmitigated disaster. The authorities were totally unprepared – no PPE, no testing, no plan to protect elderly in care homes. 70,000 operations have been postponed during the pandemic because the healthcare system was gutted by the liberal government over the last 20 years. Here is the link for that (can use Google Translate to read it):
    My son’s middle school was decimated: 200/600 students were out sick for the entire month of March, and 20/42 teachers were out sick for 4 weeks or longer. Many teachers became so sick that they were hospitalized and diagnosed with “lung inflammation”. This news was never published in the media – this was deliberate to hide the true extent of the devastation. The Public Health Authority kept telling the people that it’s just the flu and that the symptoms are so mild that many people do not even know that they are infected! The elderly at care homes were injected with morphine and allowed to die without any medical treatment. Sweden holds up an image of utopia and paradise to the world that is totally false.

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