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By Robert A. Vella

It happened in 1637, 1720, 1769, 1772, 1791, 1796, 1819, 1825, 1837, 1847, 1857, 1866, 1869, 1873, 1882, 1884, 1890, 1893, 1896, 1901, 1907, 1929, 1937, 1962, 1971, 1973, 1982, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2018, and now it’s happening again in 2020 (the worst ones in the U.S. are listed in bold).  I’m talking about market crashes, recessions, and depressions.  I’m talking about capitalism’s Achilles Heel, the repeating cycle of economic boom and bust which makes a few into billionaires and sends many into poverty.  Is this the best we can do?  Is such volatility really a good thing?

There are 7.8 billion people on this planet, far too many for Earth’s fragile ecosystems which are rapidly deteriorating from both our excessive numbers and from our irresponsible activities (i.e. anthropogenic climate change).  It is the perfect environment for deadly disease outbreaks.  It is the perfect conditions for panic.  The current coronavirus pandemic isn’t the cause of today’s carnage in the world’s stock and financial markets.  We humans are the cause.  We have built a civilization on the knife’s edge between richness and ruin.  It isn’t stable.  It isn’t wise.  It isn’t sustainable.

Someone is watching somewhere and shaking their head in disgust.  Homo sapiens… good grief!

In the United States, the leader of this folly, rhetorical warfare rages between two impossible ideological extremes – unbridled capitalism versus socialistic control – as if no intermediate positions exist or are even considerable.  It is philosophical madness which flippantly ignores practical realities.  Why?  Because ours egos are irrational and we allow them to run amok.

Here’s today’s news:

From:  Live updates: Panic grips world markets as coronavirus fear unleashes oil-price war

A new oil price war sparked by the coronavirus sent shock waves through financial markets, with stocks tumbling around the world as more countries implemented measures to contain the outbreak and the United States’ tally of infections passed 500.

U.S. futures pointed to heavy losses on Wall Street on Monday. Overseas, London’s FTSE 100 fell more than 8 percent initially to its lowest in three years; Japan’s Nikkei index slumped more than 5 percent and Australia’s benchmark shed more than 7 percent. Oil prices suffered the sharpest plunge since the 1991 Gulf War, while 10-year U.S. bond yields dropped to a record low as investors sought safety.

The moves underscored increasing alarm about the economic fallout from the coronavirus epidemic. Investors were jolted by Saudi Arabia’s decision to flood the market with cheap oil and cut prices — a risky move for producers — after Russia and other producers resisted calls to slash output in response to weakening demand caused by the coronavirus epidemic. The Saudi retaliation heralded a new battle over market share that could spell trouble for U.S. shale producers and crater government budgets. France’s finance minister on Monday called for a “massive” economic stimulus to shore up the economy.

From:  Historic Day in Markets Has Traders Rethinking What’s Possible

What started with the biggest oil-price collapse since 1991 is shaping up to be one of the wildest days in years for global markets.

Panic selling, margin calls, vanishing liquidity and coronavirus work-from-home arrangements were just some of the challenges traders faced as risk assets plunged, currency volatility soared and money flooded into government bonds. They also had to figure out how an oil-price war and rapidly spreading outbreak will affect the global economy, companies and geopolitics.

From:  Global stocks tumble as oil crashes, compounding coronavirus fears

Global stocks are falling and bond yields are sinking after the implosion of a critical oil alliance caused crude prices to crash to historic lows.

S&P 500 futures plunged as much as 5% Sunday evening, triggering a limit that prevents futures from trading below that mark. Dow futures fell more than 1,200 points, or about 4.7%. Nasdaq Composite futures were down 4.8%.

The sell-off carried over into Asia Pacific, where Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ended 7.3% lower on Monday, the index’s biggest plunge since October 2008. Japan’s Nikkei 225 sank 5.1% to its lowest close in more than a year. South Korea’s Kospi fell 4.2%, its biggest loss since October 2018.

From:  Governments step up coronavirus response as U.S. cases top 500

Governments intensified their efforts Sunday to combat the global spread of the novel coronavirus, as Saudi Arabia followed Italy in enacting new travel restrictions, Iran suspended flights to Europe, and the United States, where the number of cases topped 500, warned citizens against cruise travel.

Uncertainty continued to permeate the response effort, however, amid muddled directives from the Trump administration and reports of some patients unable to access testing. A virus-stricken cruise ship made its way to California to dock — only for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to decline to discuss the details of the federal response plan during a national television interview.

From:  COVID-19 latest: Markets tumble as cases grow in the US and northern Italy goes into lockdown

The number of cases of the novel coronavirus has risen to more than 108,000 globally, with at least 27,000 cases outside of China, as the economic trauma caused by the outbreak continues to impact global share markets.

At least 3,821 people have died as a result of the virus so far, with the majority in mainland China. But figures outside of the country where the virus was first reported are growing, even as China slowly starts to get back to normal.

Almost 100 countries and territories have now confirmed cases, and dozens of deaths have occurred in Italy, Iran and South Korea. Italian authorities have placed much of the northern part of the country on lockdown , affecting nearly 15 million people, while other regions will face varying forms of travel restrictions. More than 7,300 cases and 366 deaths have been confirmed in Italy.

From:  Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Paul Gosar are self-quarantining after interacting with person who tested positive for coronavirus at CPAC

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar on Sunday said they would self-quarantine after interacting with a person at a conservative conference who has tested positive for the coronavirus — making the pair the first known members of Congress to have possibly come into contact with the rapidly spreading virus.

[…]

Cruz, in his statement, said physicians have advised that others who he’s interacted with “should not be concerned about potential transmission.” But, Cruz added, he notified Vice President Mike Pence, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the president’s new Chief of Staff Rep. Mark Meadows, high profile figures who also attended the annual conference.

[…]

On Saturday, the American Conservative Union announced in a statement that one of the attendees at CPAC had tested positive for COVID-19. Trump and Pence both spoke at the event.

From:  Rector of prominent D.C. church tests positive for coronavirus

Washington — The first person to test positive for coronavirus in Washington, D.C., is the prominent leader of a historic Episcopal church in Georgetown, the church said Sunday.

The Reverend Timothy Cole, rector of Christ Church Georgetown, was diagnosed at the hospital Saturday night and is in stable condition, according to the Reverend Crystal Hardin, the assistant to the rector, who spoke at a press conference outside the church Sunday.

In an email to parishioners obtained by CBS News, Cole confirmed he has tested positive, and said services were suspended “out of an abundance of caution for the most vulnerable among us.” All services were canceled Sunday, the first time the church has closed since a fire in the 1800s, Hardin said.

From:  Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups

WASHINGTON — Erik Prince, the security contractor with close ties to the Trump administration, has in recent years helped recruit former American and British spies for secretive intelligence-gathering operations that included infiltrating Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump agenda, according to interviews and documents.

One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation. Mr. Seddon directed an undercover operative to secretly tape the union’s local leaders and try to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization, documents show.

Using a different alias the next year, the same undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger, then a former C.I.A. officer who went on to win an important House seat in Virginia as a Democrat. The campaign discovered the operative and fired her.

Both operations were run by Project Veritas, a conservative group that has gained attention using hidden cameras and microphones for sting operations on news organizations, Democratic politicians and liberal advocacy groups. Mr. Seddon’s role in the teachers’ union operation — detailed in internal Project Veritas emails that have emerged from the discovery process of a court battle between the group and the union — has not previously been reported, nor has Mr. Prince’s role in recruiting Mr. Seddon for the group’s activities.

9 thoughts on “Carnage in the Markets: Coronavirus bites Capitalism’s Achilles Heel

  1. “Ben Carson to decline to discuss the details of the federal response plan”

    Most likely because he hadn’t been told what they were … or even more likely, he didn’t want to discuss anything that make anger his boss!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your opening remarks. We humans alone must claim responsibility for the unraveling of our planet’s Web of Life.

    Interesting development with Cruz and Gosar. It serves the administration well to recognize that COVID-19 is an equal opportunity parasite.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Someone is watching somewhere and shaking their head in disgust. Homo sapiens… good grief!

    It’s about time we acknowledged that mankind has evolved: we’re no longer homo sapiens sapiens (‘the wise, thinking man’); we’re now homo fatuus brutus (‘the foolish, stupid man) :/

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks again Bob for the excellent info. I went to the store in my way from work and I’ve never seen so few people there for the evening rush. The shelves were stocked, just no people and a bit creepy. It’s the only store for several miles and it was dead. Are people really that scared?

    Liked by 1 person

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