Day 18 of 30: Calico story.

April1

Calico was doing some kid’s yoga this morning in front of the TV. I sat down to eat and after a while, he said he was going to pause the TV to ask me a question. He paused the TV, walked over, sat down on the chair facing me and asked me, why are we in quarantine? I explained how diseases spread and he listened to me very intently. It was a little surreal. Then we talked about how much we were looking forward to biking outside and running in the park. He asked me if I would throw a frisbee with him when we could go outside. Then, he got off the chair and asked to watch the hungry caterpillar story on Youtube.

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Why do we raise kids with amazing stories and then stick them in cubicles?

March28

We recently got Disney+ so I’ve been watching Rescue Rangers and Scrooge McDuck with Calico. It made me think about the stories I grew up with and how they were always full of adventure, treasure, investigations, secret passageways, and danger. Yet, once kids get to adult age they find out life is much different than these shows.

Why do we do that to them? Is that harmful?

Should we replace these cartoons with cartoons of people adulting and trying to sign up for healthcare and figure out which plan is the best one? Or, maybe a cartoon of people working out of a dark cubicle staring at a screen for 8+ hours? My guess is ratings would take a dive… Or, is this just me, and everyone else watched those but didn’t really think they were what life could be like.

I feel slightly weird watching these with Calico and seeing these amazing adventures only to know that barely anyone gets to have a life like this. Beyond the fact, they are obviously impossible fiction stories it seems like we are glamorizing the impossible. Kinda like the Kardashians, we are having people fixate on impossible levels of wealth. Is that damaging?

I think it is damaging to idolize such impossible levels of wealth. But what about idolizing such impossible visions of what life can be? Is what we are doing now any different than what we did around campfires x years ago?

Something I am thinking about lately…

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Mind blowing post!!! Do you have an internal monologue?

March28

I ran into this post a few weeks ago and it was mind-blowing!!!

WHAT!!?????

People have a voice in their head and it speaks in full sentences??!?!?!?

I can’t hear a voice in my head, I more get images and words that flash in my head and jump all over the place. More like a mind map thing that pops up. If I want to say something in my head I have to say it out loud.

I asked my wife and she has a voice, I asked a few friends and they had voices too. That is crazy to me. What a deeply personal thing that we don’t really talk about. I did not know there was an option for something beyond the flashes of words and images and concepts and ideas.

I always thought in movies/tv where they have that voice in the head portrayal that it was just something they used in movies to show what people were thinking.

Do you hear a voice in your head with your inner monologue? Or, do you get the word/concept/mind-map bit?

This makes me wonder about my speed-reading ability as the video in this post is an interview with someone like me and she reads fast too. And, my ability to speak “crazy” which my life likes where I can jump between random things so fast. I don’t think I ever hear the dialogue in my dreams. So many questions :)

I don’t even know!

Watch this video, I resonated with so much of what she described:

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Calico, Cuts, and Bandaids.

March28

This is from a while back, but I wanted to remember it as it cracks me up :).

A few months ago we realized Calico had a bandaid on and we asked him what happened. He said he cut himself, so he went and got a bandaid, and put it on. The little guy had cut himself with a bread knife making food in the kitchen, got a bandaid out of a high drawer in the bathroom, and put it on. Awesome to see :)

At this point, he has done it maybe 3 or 4 times now.

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Pictures From Lockdown :)

March26

We celebrated Lindsey’s birthday last week under lockdown. We are going to celebrate once we get clear of the lockdown too :). Lindsey made a really cool flour combo from some flour that fell on the floor. It gives Calico some fake sand to play with his trucks in.

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Day 12 of 30: Well, that escalated quickly.

March26

Jobs data is out… 3.28 million people filed for unemployment in the week ending on March 21st. The next week is going to be higher I would imagine. It is a good thing the Democrats got help for labor in the bill that should pass tomorrow. That buys us time to get this under control, flatten the curve, start testing people, build out red/green zones, and get back to work. I am curious to see if recovery is as fast and my guess is it depends on how well this bill supports SMB. Getting money to those businesses is going to be hard if there are too many steps.

We are doing well here. Spain is waiting to see the curve flatten. Grocery stores are well stocked and apart from wishing I could go on a long bike ride I am well. They extended the lockdown to 30 days which was expected. It isn’t the best news but it has to happen. Now we are wondering what happens at 30 days and I guess a big part of that is what the numbers look like then.

I was thinking today… what comes after this during the presidential election in the USA? I would imagine Trump goes into a full anti-China campaign, they did this, they gave us this, how do you stop someone running on fear and nationalism and racism? I don’t have much hope that Biden can counter that.

 

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Sadly… now is when political leadership REALLY matters.

March23

It will now take good political leadership to keep the economy on standby until we can reopen.

If this feels you with a sense of dread in the USA it should. Trump doesn’t know what he is doing and his team has screwed this up again and again. Even worse, some of his latest tweets indicate he and his team might overwrite health officials and reopen the country before the quarantine has time to work. Thus leading to massive ongoing economic destruction instead of one super painful period and a reboot.

Imagine if he tells the country we don’t need the quarantine after 15 days against the orders of the CDC and medical experts. Now you have the President saying one thing, health experts another, and states left trying to protect themselves individually. And, it becomes a partisan issue. Meanwhile, the economy can’t restart because Covid is still here and growing again, leading to the collapse of the medical system in some areas, and the ongoing fear and panic that create a long term economic depression.

The gov has the ability to make this a short term crisis and one that has 1/50th the impact on our economy. Now let’s hope they do it :).

I am cautiously optimistic. Why?

Because it has to get through a Democratic house and a Republican Senate. The Democrats won’t let the workers of the USA down, meaning payments to people and boosting the shit out of unemployment payments. They might have to back down on some of the corporate controls because we need speed, but I think both sides will try to find a way to bailout SMBs fast with blank checks. And, Congress as a whole has a ton of institutional experience with this due to the big financial crisis. And, because this is artificial I’ve seen comments on both sides that they might be more willing to use some more abstract funding strategies that won’t add to debt (distant hope they mint a $2 trillion dollar coin).

Because State governors are for the most part competent. And, already taking steps the Federal government should have taken weeks ago. They need money and support, but their leadership has so far been far better than Trump.

Because the Fed is run by super smart people who know what they are doing and have a ton of institutional exp given the last crisis. Just listen to a quarterly briefing, they know what they need to do and just need Congress to approve a few things outside their mandate. Amazing people.

Because we have an election in November. Americans are going to vote Trump out of office. He is one of the worst presidents we have ever had. And, he is responsible for this failed response to a pandemic. I despise Joe Biden, but hopefully, he announces Warren or Sanders as a VP and a team to rally the entire left around.

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Day 6 and 7: Feeling the quarantine.

March22

Well… I have one more Ikea thing to build and then I am all out of Ikea stuff… you know what that means… here’s Benny!

We are having a total break from the news over the weekend, it has been quite nice. Basically that means you can’t read anything on the internet :). I spent a lot of time reading this weekend and playing with Calico. And, the sun finally came back to Valencia so we laid in front of it for 20 minutes or so.

 

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Day 5: What comes next?

March20

Friday!

Day 5 of the official Spanish lockdown, another 5 to 6 days and I hope to see the curve flattening and some good news to help the world relax a little :). And, hopefully, the governments get a little more organized to show off financial help for labor.

I’ve been wondering, what comes after this quarantine period?

Massive testing? What is the goal?
From SK it looks like if you do massive testing then at least people know who is sick and they confine themselves to home pushing the rate of spread to lower. But, what I am not clear on is how that helps retail and restaurant businesses. They are still going to see a big impact and I struggled to find data on South Korea. SK has closed schools, stopped large gatherings, and encouraged people to work from home. News articles mention that busses and restaurants are getting busy again, which in the grand scope of things is just a temp blip versus what the EU/USA seems to be facing.

So, I guess if the EU/USA does this, they keep schools closed, stop big gatherings, but reopen retail and restaurants once they flatten the curve. And, they test everyone as much as possible and for people that are positive confine them for 14 days. Maybe then you push the R factor under 1 or 2. The end goal being 80% of normalcy, get the economy back on its feet, and then keep pushing it lower while working on a vaccine.

How do you jump start to travel again?
I am curious about what happens here. Do you have a medical card once tests are abundant to show when you were last tested negative in order to fly? What happens if your city/state clears Covid and how do you allow travel from places that have not? The EU really needs EU to EU travel as its a huge part of the economy as does the USA. How do they plan to do that?

It sounds like the idea is green/red zones. So you might have areas that are known to be safe, you restart the economy there. And, then you have red zones that could either turn into red zones and get locked down. I am curious to hear more as it is early days…

An impression of Trump and Republicans right now:

Good outline here on what comes next.

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It’s starting… unemployment claim data.

March19

Some data on unemployment claims is starting to emerge…

15 States had 629,988 unemployment claims this week. To put this into perspective, last week we had 281,000 initial jobless claims in the entire USA.

At the height of the 08/09 financial crisis the highest we had in a week was ~655,000.

  • From Monday to Wednesday, Ohio reports 78,000 unemployment claims. The entire week before that number was 6,500.
  • Michigan sees a 550% increase in unemployment year over year (rough est this week).
  • Connecticut is seeing around 10,000 per day and increasing every day.
  • MA had 20,000.

People are being turned down for silly reasons… and the gov needs to step in to increase the amount of unemployment and make it easier to get. Things we should have fixed before a CRISIS, hopefully, we don’t let it go to waste. Unemployment needs to be pegged to salary and it needs to support the people who need it most, gig workers and all the people not working FT.

“Beyond the question of contract and gig economy workers, even many employees are not going to be able to take advantage of this because of Ohio’s overly stringent earnings requirements, which are among the toughest in the country,” he said. “If you make the $8.70 an hour, which is Ohio’s minimum wage, and you work 30 hours a week, you don’t meet this overly strict earnings test. That’s why in the fourth quarter of last year just 21% of Ohio’s unemployed were getting unemployment benefits.

I’ll be curious to see how the stock market reacts and if this was priced in…

Here is a good summary by NYTimes:

I am confident the government will get this sorted. Gov can be slow-moving but unemployment is an easy one to fund, make easier, and increase in order to give the temp bandaid to get past this initial period.

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Day 3 and Day 4: Soladarity!

March19

Well, today Lindsey has a birthday in quarantine :). Calico and Lindsey are making small birthday cakes which is very sweet. We are looking forward to properly celebrating it in a month hopefully. Our spirits are high, next week is going to be much harder. I wish I could go for a bike ride outside on the trails.

I am hopeful that within 4 to 5 days we see two things.

  • First, real economic plans on how to protect the massive surge in unemployment and stabilize labor’s fears. And, specific plans on how to bail out and protect the airline/travel/restaurant industry. We need to slap a big old bandaid on the economy for 60 to 90 days.
  • Second, to massively increase testing capacity in the EU and USA so that they can get an accurate count of the problem. We are going to need that to emerge on the other side with confidence and evolve how we fight the panic after the quarantine period.

Both are needed to staunch the panic and anxiety everyone is feeling.

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Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Trump Team’s Economic Response.

March18

Do you want to see how an external financial shock becomes a depression?

Just take a look at the Trump team’s plan and their communication thus far.

This silly plan to give $1,000 dollars to people is a terrible idea.  People are not spending money because they don’t have money, they are not spending money because there is a virus and they are staying home.

That aid should be targetted to people affected, either boost unemployment to 100% of your salary/1099 or make a new program that guarantees every business their people cost if they are affected. You have to stop the panic and get people less worried about money. You have to create time to tackle the virus so that you can reopen in 60 days.

We could easily see 1 million PLUS people laid off in March. Restaurants and retail are shutting down for 1 to 2 months and if you don’t give the people laid off support this is going to keep rolling downhill.

And, you need to help businesses, you could push all rent/mortgage payments for 2 months to start. At least their bailouts are looking decent. They need to keep industries afloat so there are jobs when we get back to work.

My biggest worry is not the virus, nor the fundamental economics underlying our economy, it is the inability of Trump and his team to respond and communicate a response. If this thing is going to really IMPLODE it is because his team isn’t listening to economists and targetting aid where it is needed. These plans take time to implement, but you can announce them now, and start opening up credit lines to the big businesses to staunch the flow. Then work on helping the smaller organizations that are going to be harder to scale a response too. And, I like modifying unemployment because it is already in place and states just need money to bump up minimum payments ASAP.

That said, I don’t know shit, but I do know we have a TON of people already unemployed in restaurants and retail. And, they are not all going to instantly get jobs with Amazon or pizza delivery. And, you need them to come back to the restaurants that had to let them go as soon as we get the virus under control.

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Day 2: Shock & Awe

March17

I’ve been slowly putting together a batch of Ikea furniture, which is incredibly calming (jk). I’ve got a coffee table and a couch to go and I think I’ll be done. And, I have to figure out how shelves go into the entertainment center I built yesterday.

As a family here is where we are at for day 2 of the quarantine :)

Interesting times! I really hope the USA gets their shit together and implements a really painful but needed quarantine on a national scale. With a 2 to 4 week implementation, we might be able to beat this. But if the USA keeps dragging its feet it’s going to be even more painful for the economy. And, way harder to get it back on its feet if they prolong this. Some of the manufacturing data that came out today was really really bad. We are going to continue to see some crazy numbers coming in as the economy comes to a hard stop until covid gets squashed.

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Thoughts on where our economy goes from here…

March16

My worry is how do we get out of this mess.

Everyone is hoping for a V-shaped recovery, but I do not see that as likely.

Not only did the USA botch just about everything they could, but the current response is still too slow. Europe dragged its feet but at least now they are now serious with countrywide lockdowns. I do not think a V-shaped recovery is likely for Europe either though… especially because tourism is such a huge part of GPD here.

The USA is going to have to go into lockdown to get this under control. It is already happening unofficially which is worse than officially, an unofficial lockdown is just going to prolong the pain. At least with an official lockdown, you pick the times and everyone has to go into lockdown together to stop the spread and give the USA time to respond.

Who is most affected right now? (USA numbers)

  • Restaurant industry – 15.3 million workers.
  •  Retail – 15 million workers.
  • Air Transport – 10 million workers.

The unemployment numbers for March/April are going to be crazy as restaurants are going layoff entire teams and close for ~1 to 2 months. I can’t imagine retail is going to be much different. All these businesses have thin margins and do not have savings to weather 2 to 3 months with no sales. And, that is a lot harder to bail out than 3 or 4 big companies.

And workers? In the USA, unemployment benefits max out at ~$800 a week and they do not count tips. That is a lot of people who won’t have money to pay rent or buy groceries.

The investor Warren Buffett once gave a famous warning:

“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”

Not only do we face a severe problem in labor, but we are about to see which businesses have fucked up their balance sheets with cheap debt. Given the amount of cheap credit floating around this is going to be interesting. Especially since the FED is going to do everything possible to help, but you can’t create consumer demand when you are facing an existential threat like this. I can easily see companies getting bailed out or loans at 0%, but that is adding even more dead wood to their balance sheet. It might be the only choice and hope to burn it all down later with a *natural* recession.

Some thoughts…

  • You might see the French/Spanish/Italian GDP’s crash by 5% to 10%. Tourism and what it supports is huge and that is all going bye-bye. Maybe if Europe can get this under control fast they could at least retain EU to EU tourism. And, China might step back up in a few months if Europe can clear this. But, I could easily see the EU banning the USA from visiting for a long period if they can’t get this under control (or requiring records/tests in order to visit).
  • Trump is an absolute idiot and could drive the USA right off a bridge. I could easily see him declaring no lockdown… thus putting half the USA in lockdown and half not (he has already done this with poor leadership). Then this becomes a battle between cities and states and prolongs the economic damage.
  • You are starting to see problems in the corp bonds/loans market. If companies were counting on refinancing debt or getting that to fund x project that might all disappear. Then you have fewer companies investing in the company, downsizing, and this gets even worse.
  • The USA has a terrible social safety net and the medical system is beyond broken. Maybe this will spawn real fixes to that system… but maybe not. I’d love to see us fix unemployment, improve social security, add paid sick and vacation days, and more. But until poor people and the young start to vote that will NEVER HAPPEN.

So you might ask… why not just weather the virus?

We could, but there is a huge RISK there.

Society doesn’t tolerate mass breakdowns well… if 60% of Americans get Covid the entire medical system breaks down.

You will have people dying at home from both Covid as well as other things. And, because you can’t handle the breakdown you see a much higher death rate. Say the death rate is 3.4%, which is ~7 million people in the USA. That doesn’t count all the other people who will die because they can’t get a bed at a hospital.  Even in South Korea where it is 0.8% right now, that would be ~1.7 million people (keep in mind they have a ton of active cases, their patients are way younger than the average because of the cult that caught it, and their hospital system is still working).

People are already terrified and panicked. They are not going to overcome that and go eat out and buy things while watching everyone die. And, if they have to watch 1.7 to 7 million people die over the next 12 months the political implications are HUGE. Which should scare the shit out of everyone.

I hope we see some leadership emerge in the USA. People forget how important that is in times like this. Can we get Zombie FDR back in the White House?

 

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Day 1: Spain in lockdown.

March16

Day 1 of 15 days to see if we can get the virus slowed… here is a video showing how society is currently handling this (jk).

Every night at 8 pm or 10 pm the city erupts in applause for the health care personal and emergency personal. Very cool and def a strong sense of solidarity currently :). It has been hard to explain to Calico why we can’t go to the park, going to be a long couple of weeks. If not a few months.

My main worry is how do you protect and reboot the people living paycheck to paycheck, as well as restaurants and the travel industry? 15% of Spain’s GPD is tourism. From the 07/08 crisis, Spain’s economy dropped ~4%, unemployment hit 27%, and tourism growth dropped only 13%. This has the potential to be much larger than that. Everyone likes to talk about a V-shaped recovery since this is artificial, but if it lasts longer than 2 to 4 weeks the economic damage isn’t going to be artificial. Even harder, is how does the Gov reboot this. This isn’t a liquidity problem, this is a problem where a huge swath of your economy is 100% shut down but still has rent payments on the building and payroll. I’ve seen several restaurants in Seattle post that they fired everyone last week, closed for 2 months, and hope to reopen then. Maybe the Gov can super beef up unemployment payouts, as I am not sure those will cover an apartment in most places in the USA. Not to mention all the other costs.

On the good side… maybe the EU will get their shit together and reboot financial integration for the entire block. And, really start spending to help everyone reboot as well as demand better labor conditions. Spain is really broken when it comes to hiring with almost no flexibility and no incentives for businesses to take a risk and hire someone. They should shift a lot of labor protections to the government to keep it balanced.

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This is bwb’s personal blog so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up too, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean, although mostly at sunset as I’m a ginger. I love to travel, eat exotic food, read, and use my imagination. I love creating and developing ideas into businesses, understanding how all businesses work, and building cool stuff. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And, I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And, we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).


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