In the Asian Flu of 1957-58, They Rejected Lockdowns
By @jeffreyatucker…
The '57-58 flu is estimated to have killed in one year around 100k Americans, or about 200k in today's population terms. The age profile of death was notably younger than Covid, and pregnant women appear to have been one of the high risk categories.
According to this 2009 paper, "The highest attack rates were in school-age children through young adults up to 35 or 40 years of age...It was attributed to the complete absence of protective antibody among children and young and middle-aged adults."… [pg 7]
The '57 flu swept through the US in 3 months, infecting 25% of the population. At ~100k deaths, this represents an IFR of ~0.3%, consistent with SARS-CoV2 IFR for a population with a median age similar to 1957 America (~30yrs).……
The '57-58 flu is considered the 2nd-worst pandemic of the 20th Century. Estimates put its global death toll at 1-5mil. On 2mil, that would be about 5mil in today's population terms. Surely hard to conclude Covid is materially worse than the Asian flu?…
Given the severity of the Asian flu, one would expect it had disastrous economic consequences according to the view that viruses do the real economic damage, not lockdowns. But this is not the case. While there was a recession in the US from Sep'57-Jun'58, it was not severe.
The severity of the 1957/58 recession is comparable to most of the post-War US recessions (excluding the 2020 Covid recession), was one of the shortest, and had one of the fastest recoveries back to the prevailing trend. HH consumption barely fell.
If viruses are supposed to be so economically damaging through fear and sickness, the Asian flu didn't live up to this expectation. In the 1957/58 recession, real consumption expenditure did not contract as in subsequent recessions. And work absenteeism was low.
It's remarkable how little influence the Asian flu is thought to have had on the 1957-58 recession. The excerpt below is from the Henderson et al paper [2009]. Probably no more than a 1% GDP impact, hardly distinguishable from normal fluctuations.…
The book-length UN World Economic Surveys of 1957/58 discuss the recession extensively. Yet ZERO mention of the Asian flu pandemic inflicting economic damage. This was clearly just NOT a part of the narrative at all.
While the '57/58 recession doesn't appear to have been preceded by the typical monetary/credit excesses of most recessions (suggesting a non-credit cycle explanation), rising inflation & high durable goods demand & industrial prod. in the mid-50s suggest a malinvestment cycle.
A look at the economic data from the time shows that a slowdown had begun in 1956/early 1957 already, well before H2N2 outbreak. An August 1958 St. Louis Fed analysis of the recession also has absolutely ZERO mention of the effects of a flu pandemic.…
This is all quite consistent with this World Bank simulation, which a estimates that a SARS-CoV2-sized pandemic would have a 1-2% global GDP impact.…

Telling that simulations never considered mass total lockdowns: they didn't form a part of viable policy.
Even the 1918/19 Spanish flu had relatively small impacts on the US economy at the time, although probably significantly more impact than 1957/58. This article argues that war effort government spending mitigated the recessionary impact of the flu.…
But this doesn't seem like a sufficient explanation. War spending had soared since Feb 1917, but peaked during the epidemic and began falling precipitously from Dec 2018 as war efforts deescalated. A better explanation is that the pain period was short and people still worked.
There was no great depression of 1919. Instead, a brutal war that trashed immune systems came to an end, freeing up productive resources. Despite 2mil Americans dying in 1918/19 (in today's population terms), the economy was not smashed, and probably grew.…
The point of all this is that we've been told that pandemics smash economies from sickness & fear, while mass lockdowns actually save economies. Yet past pandemics and economic analysis prior to 2020 showed that pandemics don't have very large economic impacts on their own.
SARS-CoV2 by itself - without policy hysteria - might have had a 1% global GDP impact, maybe less given the age-graduated nature of its mortality risk. It's hard to conclude anything other than lockdowns cause almost all the economic destruction we've seen so far.
This is relevant b/c even if you argue lockdowns saved lives by alleviating hospital capacity (a tenuous proposition at best), you have to reckon with its enormous effects on human health and wellbeing in the broadest sense. The economy is our most important life-support machine.
Yet, we've seen no compelling evidence that hard lockdowns save lives and improve health. No systematic case made by govts that lockdowns are worth it. Extraordinary infringements upon literally vital liberties require extraordinary evidence.
(Toby Young)

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More from @RussLamberti

15 Jan
Best news of 2020 was Covid isn't dangerous to children, after panic that the young could be vulnerable. None of the miserable Covid fearmongers actually celebrated this fact. They just pivoted to new fear campaigns and pretended that children were still risk vectors. Nuts.
Children are the bright light of Covid. Closing schools or masking children all day at school and pumping them full of Covid fear is a macabre type of abuse by a generation of cowardly adults.

And we've known children are ultra low risk from very early on.

Bureaucracies can't solve complex problems.
Read 4 tweets
30 Aug 20
Last night, a peaceful couple was executed in cold blood on their farm near Newcastle KZN, with no apparent motive other than some form of sick terrorism. Criminologically, this can't be likened to (also horrendous) township violence. Different problem.…
My work on this problem so far leads me to the tentative conclusion that on avg male farmers are murdered at a similar rate to the avg SAfrican male. This is often taken to mean that farm murders are not a uniquely bad problem, but I think it supports the opposite conclusion.
Firstly, male commercial farmers are not the average SAfrican male. They are middle-to-high income earners, living in extremely low-density, formal & secure houses. They are also considerably older than the avg male, roughly twice the age. Any criminologist would tell you that...
Read 17 tweets
29 Jul 20
Putting highly sensitive, unproven assumptions into models with hundreds/thousands of lines of opaque code spitting out numbers that get handed to bureaucrats to tell tens of millions of people how to live is not how any of this is supposed to work
The epistemological and political philosophy failure that this entire chain of policy formation entails represents what's wrong in most other areas of public policy. This technocratic authoritarianism remains THE barrier to progress in C21st, thrusting us toward impoverishment.
The fact that 'the models' were hopelessly wrong irks me far less than the fact they were used to devise a course of action that violated human agency in the most egregious and unconscionable fashion. That's where the real shame lies, not with play-play spreadsheets.
Read 7 tweets
14 Apr 20
As the chattering classes fawn over the president's "stunning and brave" lockdown leadership, the truth, as always, alludes them. Lockdown reveals a weak, unimaginative, detached, reckless, weather vane leader. 1/n
1. The state doesn't have the capacity to enforce lockdown or deal with its resultant chaos. The president made one of the most fundamental strategy errors - committing his govt beyond its logistical capabilities.
2. Expecting the poorest SAns to endure lockdown itself and the
resulting economic fall-out reveals detachment from reality, far too ensconced in palace affairs and nursing the patronage networks of his elite circle to realise how unpopular his plan is with the masses.
3. Applying a one-size-fits-all plan for 60 mil ppl shows the president
Read 8 tweets
19 Dec 19
All JSE Alsi real total returns (real $) since 1994 occurred in just 5 years: 2002-2007. Outside of that period (1994-2002 & 2007-2019), real $ Alsi delivered - 0.9%/year.
2002-2007 Alsi real $ gains came on the back of a commodity boom, global debt binge, and rapid domestic capital consumption to fund rampant household consumption. The company carnage on the JSE is testament to a very widespread destruction of wealth.
Also wouldn't underestimate how leveraged BEE financial engineering on a mountain of easy money from '03/04 goosed the SA stock market. Doesn't mean wealth wasn't created during this period, only that it was simultaneously destroyed elsewhere. Go see the carnage in small-town SA.
Read 5 tweets
12 Dec 19
The ANC took reins in '94
Those cadres were commies to the core
Marx was exhumed
Wealth was consumed
And now the whole place is done for
SAA turned off the flights
Eskom turned off the lights
Cadre deployment
For crony enjoyment
This is when reality bites
They thought BEE was a slam dunk
But it was really just pure bunk
Shameless flaneurs
An economy downgraded to junk
Read 8 tweets

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