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Looking at this list of failures of the Centers for Disease Control to stop Ebola in the US so far, there’s good reason to wonder if they are up to the job. The cheapness of hospitals and the foolishness of adminstrators and doctors in not being better prepared is inexcusable. Consider the following examples and my common-sense questions about them:
Nurses wore protective suits that are open at the neck.
And then the administrators make excuses as to why this is acceptable practice? Why would you leave anything open? Is it not worth three inches of fabric to complete the isolation in order to stop the spread of Ebola in the US? According to the National Nurses Union (which has no members at this hospital) some nurses reported they were told they did not need to wear masks. Others were seen with gloves that were not taped to their sleeves.
A doctor stated to nurses at Presbyterian Hospital that protective clothing was optional AFTER he said he suspected Thomas Duncan had Ebola.
Why wait for the conclusive test to come back before taking this precautionary measure? If your examination leads you to believe the virus is Ebola, wouldn’t you put safety first?
Was this even a smart financial decision, given the horrible outcome to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital now with seevnty-one staff members in isolation and worldwide bad press plus all the time that staff spent treating the exposed nurses? The cost-saving measure of not requiring full protection must be enormous.
Since the doctor knew where the patient had been and that he had the outward signs of Ebola, why would he risk millions of dollars for the sake of saving a few thousand dollars in supplies that might be used up while everyone waits for the lab results. So, even outside the more important question about the human lives put at stake, the choice to make protective clothing optional until test results came back is financially irresponsible. Add back in the risk to human lives, and it seems contemptible.
So many medical professionals don’t even know how to take the hazmat gear off safely.
I have a family member who is a nurse, and she was told by a doctor to take off her gloves before she peels off her protective clothing with her hands. Why would you even think of doing that? Naturally, she stayed with doing it her own way of taking the gloves off last, even though she is a “mere nurse” and he an “all-knowing doctor.”
If you’re wearing any kind of protective gear, you are only doing so because of a risk of contamination. Therefore, the only safe assumption when removing the suit is that it is contaminated. So, why would you touch it with your bare hands, which are the part of you most likely to touch many other things and people or to touch things that enter your mouth?
My wise relative told the doctor she always wears two pairs of gloves. She puts one pair of gloves on first, then puts on the clean protective gear, then pulls another pair of gloves on over the cuffs of the protective gear. When she takes the gear off, she slips her head out and then pulls the top off inside out, which strips the outer pair of gloves off and into the wadded (now inside-out) suit, leaving her with a completely clean pair of gloves still on her hands for taking off the pants part of her protective wear.
How is the CDC going to stop Ebola in the US if it doesn’t even make sure hospitals everywhere understand such simple procedures as how to remove hazmat gear without touching the infected parts to any part of you or your clothing that will be leaving the isolation room? Shouldn’t this be hazmat 101 in all hospitals? My family member figured that practice out on her own.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital informed nurses that protective clothing was “on order.”
Really??? On order? Why doesn’t buy ambien cheapest every major hospital in the US have full-coverage hazmat suits on hand at all times in case of a local epidemic? It is not as if Ebola is the only contagious epidemic that can hit a community. Hazmat suits offer protection for numerous diseases. Do they not stock them because of cost?
Couldn’t Presby Hospital, at least, SEND A COURIER THAT DAY TO PICK SOME UP? We’re talking the metropolis of Dallas here, not Podunk, Idaho. Surely such equipment is available somewhere in a city that size that could be delivered to Presby within an hour. So, if you’re too cheap to keep the equipment in stock, why wouldn’t you, in the very least, know your closest supply line in advance in case you need such protective equipment in an emergency? Are there actually no other hospitals in Dallas that have this equipment so that Presby couldn’t have called around and bought some immediately while the unaffected hospital ordered some replacement for its own stock?
Presby was either too cheap to send a courier or too stupid to think the risk was worth it, or no one in Dallas has the necessary equipment. So, now two of their nurses could die and 71 of their staff members are in isolation. The level of unpreparedness for an infectious disease outbreak in Dallas sends the stupid meter spinning so fast it may take flight faster than their medevac helicopters.
Speaking of flight, why would anyone at the CDC tell a nurse who’s said she’s been treating the nation’s only Ebola patient that she can fly via public airline after that nurse also tells them she is running a mild fever?
Again, I ask, “Really?” The CDC said it was because the fever was less than the criteria of 100.4. Now, you’ve got to be dumber than a fence post not to know that all fevers start from 98.6 and slowly build. So, if the fever was only 99.9 wouldn’t you wonder if it might not reach 100.4 before the end of the flight, especially if this person just told you she has been working in the isolation ward of the only known Ebola victim living in the U.S. right now, and Ebola is the CDC’s HOTTEST international concern at the moment? Wouldn’t your first thought be, MAYBE we should err’ on the side of caution and not put her in a plane filled with people since she says she is starting to feel sick?
Are these the people who are going to stop Ebola in the US?
You know that part of the problem here is probably hubris — being too arrogant as a doctor or administrator to think you aren’t well enough prepared. Either that, or hospitals are too cheap to have full-coverage hazmat gear on hand. The only other explanation I can think of is the one implied throughout the questions above: there must be a lot of very stupid people involved. So, I wonder, what would they plead — arrogance, cheapness or endless cycles of stupidity?
It cannot be accidental ignorance of their situation because Presby had a nurse on their staff who adamantly took several administrators to task for the flaws in the equipment she and the other nurses were being provided, but none of the doctors or administrators would listen to her. She even pointed out the obvious opening around the neck, which is common in the protective gear of many hospitals. Apparently, it is more important to have your knee caps covered than an area close to your mouth that is in direct line of fire for sneezing or projectile vomiting when you are bending over a patient. Did anyone not think that a male nurse might have nicked himself shaving there, allowing a point of direct infection?
Come on people! THINK! Or admit you’re cheap or that you’re too arrogant to listen to a nurse.
When three people getting Ebola in the U.S. can cause the stock market to shudder, then you know the market has entered that crisis I was talking about when I said the headwinds to the global economy would become so strong in the fall that a single significant event out of the blue — such as Ebola fear — could cause the market to tumble.
In market terms, Ebola is leveraged by its fear factor
This week, it is clear that exact scenario happened. Try googling “ebola fear stock market” and see how many pages pop up from significant market news sites stating that Ebola fear is shaking the market. And look at how many other sites have commentary imploring people not to fear and not to fear monger (because they are concerned that the market is so precarious that mere negative talk could cause it to collapse).
What I’ve said about Ebola is not that the disease, itself, will tear up the economy (though that could happen and would be even worse), but simply that fear of the fear of Ebola might cause the stock market to plunge. In other words, investors’ fear of the public fear about Ebola would cause investors to panic about the market. The first direct sign of that came on Tuesday of last week when news of someone with Ebola-like symptoms on a plane came out. Within ten minutes, the market plunged from being down 50 points to being down 110 with airline stocks taking the biggest hit. The correlation was pretty clear as cause and effect, given the stocks that were immediately hit.
It’s the economy, Stupid, not Ebola Fear
Having said that the market tumbled and bounced because of Ebola fear, I need to explain that it is not fear of Ebola that is destroying the market. It is the rickety condition of our economy leaning into the winds of a European recession, a crisis with Russia, a Chinese move to create an alternate international currency, war in the Middle East, and, far more than anything else, the ending of quantitative easing. (You cannot take $80 billion a month out of the marketplace and not see stocks go down for the simple reason that there is so much less easy money looking for a place to go.)
What I’ve been saying on this blog is there will be so many negative forces in the fall blowing against the economy that the economy will weaken to the point where all it takes is a fear trigger to send the whole thing cascading. It doesn’t make any difference what the trigger is. It could be anything that causes a panic.
This week most stock advisors and economists began seriously fearing that fear, itself, will cause the market to fall. This proves that they deep inside that the market is weak, in spite of all they have been saying on the surface. These are the same bulls who said only a few weeks ago that the market was nowhere near a top and would keep rising.
I wouldn’t be surprised, if the market gives way completely now, if they blame everything on the public panic over Ebola. Rather than admit they were wrong and that the economy is weak and cannot hold up to the headwinds it is facing, the die-hard bulls will say it was Ebola fear that broke the market. But ask yourself, how is it that three sick people who were all in the same hospital in a vast country filled with hundreds of millions of people could cause such a lurch in the market if investors were really as certain as they pretend to be that the economy is recovering and the stock market is not a bubble.
Hopefully, some will become smart enough to recognize the difference between a triggering event when the market has reached its tipping point and the fundamental problems that made the stock market so easy to tip over in the first place. If the market was on the solid path that the bulls proclaimed, Ebola fears would never send it trembling.
It is not the straw (Ebola fear) that breaks the camel’s back; it is the crushing load that is already on the camel. What I’ve said for the past six months is that load is going to pile up in the fall, and when it does, a mere straw will be able to bring everything down. Some will now foolishly mistake the straw for the cause of the market’s crash if it crashes.
The stock market grew fat on artificial life support
I will agree that the stock market is not a bubble, but only because I think it’s a balloon (being far bigger than a bubble). It is in other words, not just a part of the market that is overinflated, it’s the whole thing. The stock market’s sudden deflation and volatility happened because this market is pumped up with the hot air of the Federal Reserve’s free money. (I mean the Fed didn’t inject trillions of dollars into the system for nothing!)
Create $80 billion out of nothing every month in the accounts of deregulated banks for them to play with, and it will certainly inflate the stock market because that is the casino where they go to play. Stop creating $80 billion a month, and there is no new stock inflation. Without new stock inflation, there is no reason for investors to get excited, so the hot air begins to cool, and the market deflates.
It was, for me, a given that this would happen because the rising market was on artificial life support. The patient is brain-dead and cannot survive without the life support. So, why is anybody surprised that the market is falling to rise any higher now that life support is ending? Did they really think the government had done anything to fix the patient’s (the economy’s) internal problems?
This patient’s stomach had ruptured from swallowing too much debt. She was anemic from declining wages. She had a weak heart due to low employment leaving her without strength drive her system. Yet, under her doctor’s care, she had grown morbidly fat on a pumped-up, intravenous, pure-glucose diet of free money for several years. Then her doctors took her intravenous diet away. They sat her up in bed, told her that her entire European family was dying and then forced her to walk naked out of hospice alone and into the frigid autumn winds. Is it any wonder that she was about to fall over as the winds of war and economic chill blew against her? Barely staying upright, she heard that she had been exposed to the Ebola virus on her way out the door. It was too much to bear, and she passed out in the cold where hypothermia is taking what was left of her declining life away.
When her ticker isn’t ticking anymore
If she dies during the Ebola scare, her doctors will gather round and wonder if it was the fear of Ebola that killed her. It will not occur to them that it was their own medicine and the lack of treating her underlying problems that killed her — that the Ebola scare was just too much for a dying heart to take.
Of course, it isn’t Ebola fear that took her life away! It’s a wonder she could even walk before she was beset with fear of Ebola. But leave it to her medical experts to say that she died from hysteria about Ebola. “What a pity,” they will say to each other “that someone who was fattening up so nicely on our medicine should die of a panic attack. She was so close to recovery.”
The experts who are trying to save our economy are as clueless as the CDC has proven to be about stopping the spread of Ebola. If a few cases of Ebola in the U.S. can create quakes in the market when they arrive in conjunction with the other bad winds that were already blowing, imagine what will happen if the disease appears to be spreading beyond the medical professionals who have treated Ebola patients and into the general population. Imagine how much deeper the market will shudder if the epidemic clearly grows beyond the CDC’s ability to control it.
Given the numerous mistakes that were made with Ebola’s introduction into the United States, it’s not hard to believe that could happen … or may already be happening.
A global economic storm has arrived. It’s not blowing full force, but here is what it looks like in a bullet list of recent economic changes:
- Japan’s economy is in rapid recession, dropping 7% with industrial production tumbling 3.3% year-on-year.
- U.K. inflation has plunged to its lowest in five years, edging up fears of a deflationary spiral, and it’s doubtful they can pour more stimulus to any effect into their economy. (Of course, I maintain prices need to drop, since wages have not risen to keep up with them if buying power is going to return to the people who move the economy.)
- The European Union is also about to enter deflation.
- U.S. retail sales dropped in September, and wholesale prices fell for the first time in a year. Consumer confidence, however, remains strong (but that was measured prior to this week’s bouncy ride, which could shake confidence).
- For a moment this week, all major indexes in the U.S. stock market erased all gains made in 2014.
- The U.S. stock market has failed at every rally for more than a week, which means to me that the bull run is clearly over.
- British and Canadian housing may be reaching the top of their own bubble, which could trigger banking problems like those that started the Great Recession.
- The U.S. economy contines under a perilous overhang of student-loan debt.
- China’s slowed economy is dragging instead of driving growth.
- Chinese factory prices dropped for a record-matching 31st month in a row.
- The sense of global tumult is being exacerbated by war in the Middle East, the standoff in Ukraine, the extended stand-off with Iran, and street protests in Hong Kong
- Ebola fear is clearly contagious between consumers and investors, resulting in a significant impact on stock markets over just three cases having entered the U.S.
- The Russian economy is being crushed under sanctions, which hurts European exports more than U.S. exports.
- It’s been five years since the U.S. government boldly proclaimed the recession was over (a moment reminiscent of George Bush proclaiming the war in Iraq was over after a hundred days), and the stimulus effects that central banks can give have entered the sharp downward slope of diminishing returns while central banks have surely about reached their capacity for such actions.
- European stocks fell for an eighth day in the longest rout since 2003.
- Oil fell toward $80 a barrel where the Bakken Boom may have to bust until prices go back up because fracking doesn’t pay when crude gets somewhere between $70 and $80 a barrel.
- Commodity prices have sunk to a five-year low.
- Gold and treasuries rose as safe-haven investments.
- So did stocks of Ebola equipment manufacturers (i.e., hazmat equipment).
- Bonds from Greece to Spain slid, and the Greek stock market collapsed (down a massive 9% in just one day), bringing the euro crisis back into the rearview mirror.
- A Bank of America survey of fund managers showed the lowest optimism for economic growth in two years.
- Emerging markets that had been doing well during the Great Recession have begun to deteriorate. West African economies have been ripped to shreds by Ebola, and South American economies are falling apart.
- The Federal Reserve is finally turning off the taps on its expansion of the money supply — once $80 billion a month and more recently $15 billion, which through our fractional reserve banking system gets leveraged up to much more money added to the economy than that.
- The market has returned to its dependency on the Fed, hanging on every word the Fed has to say. (That clearly indicates the market needs the Fed’s assistance to survive as its moves are driven by Fed actions.)
Isn’t that enough to say that economic volatility has hit full force in the fall and declare that I won my bet and don’t have to give up my blog? Still, I won’t claim victory just yet because maybe all of this will go away before year’s end. It’s not a hurricane, but it’s close to being that strong. It could easily grow to hurricane force with so many damaging currents coming together. The ride will be rough and its going to stay rough for some time, but should be less rough for the U.S. than for others. When the Great Recession started, it was the other way around.
A silver lining to the global economic storm
Here are some of the upsides that will uniquely help the U.S. avoid some of the discomfort from this re-emergence of the Great Recession:
Foremost, the U.S. is the one economy in the world that everyone can invest in with hope of lower losses (or even small gains, particularly in bonds but also in some stocks after the initial decline). Nearly everyone outside the U.S. would do better by investing here than in their own economy. So, as other economies go down, some of their losses will come from capital moving over to U.S. investment, which will be a counterforce to what is happening in our market now.
Second, profits of U.S. companies were expected to come out good in the third quarter (because the crash hadn’t started yet). However, expectations are being revised down some. Still, if they come out fairly good that would be enough fundamental good news to help stop the slide of the U.S. market from going much deeper. But that’s counting on a lot of traction against a steep slope and no great worsening of the Ebola epidemic.
Third, cheaper oil and lower consumer debt will also help the U.S. economy weather this storm … at least for awhile. In the end, however, an ebbing tide lowers all boats.
In my mind, there is no question that the economic rough ride I bet my blog on last spring is here, yet some voices remain optimistic:
Fed Chair Janet Yellen voiced confidence in the durability of the American expansion at a closed-door meeting in Washington last weekend….
Peter Hooper, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank AG and a former Fed official, said, “Things aren’t looking bad enough in the rest of the world to drag the U.S. I wouldn’t say the world’s falling apart by any means.” (NewsMax)
I’d say the world is falling apart, and Yellen’s optimism about the durability of American expansion only indicates to me that the Federal Reserve will, as it has in the past, be late to the rescue as the U.S. economy declines. (Not that being slow to restart stimulus is ultimately a bad thing because stimulus has not caused recovery anyway. It has only lessened the fall by postponing the correction.)
“It’s hard to be positive given how negative the mood is in the markets,” said Julian Jessop, chief international economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in London, “but I think sentiment is unnecessarily pessimistic.” (See: NewsMax)
The tumult in stock markets all over the world during the last two weeks says to me the markets were overly optimistic in the first the place. Too many people were ignoring the many impacts of all the economic realities I’ve listed above.
It’s a Halloween economy this October.
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As Franklin Roosevelt said, “All we have to fear is fear itself.” The stock market hangs in such peril that it is the fear of fear that is now driving its surges. The market is afraid that Ebola fear will cause a panicked change in people’s economic activities. The market fears the fear.
When the stock market tops out, it rarely hovers long at the top. Thus, when it is poised to fall toward a correction or a crash, it becomes overreactive as investors worry what thing will trigger panic. Small events can trigger large movements when the market is ready to slide. So, what you see is a market that lurches as if trying to top or match its last high point and then stumbling on some small bit of bad news and then trying again but stumbling over the next bit of news. You see a market that cannot rise past any bad news because it has no more momentum. Typically in other crashes, after several days of that, the bottom gives way.
This is what we’re now seeing.
The fear of Ebola fear is scaring the stock market
“This feels like a top to me,” said Nicolas Colas as he prepared to host his television show on September 19th. The S&P 500 was stuck in a rut that was 5% below it’s peak. It had tried to push out several times but remained below that invisible ceiling. The amount of hype needed to assure that Alibaba’s IPO was a success seemed like an extraordinary push to him. And a single individual arriving in the U.S. with a disease that has been in and out of the public consciousness since the nineties had the foreboding feel of calamity.
Uncertainty has always been an enemy of a rising stock market. And the uncertain outcome of the Ebola pandemic seems to be exacting a toll on Wall Street in recent weeks.
Slowing global growth, geopolitical turmoil in the Ukraine and Middle East and the end of Federal Reserve stimulus are the most commonly cited catalysts for the market’s pullback. But these are the same catalysts that investors have been worried about for months….
The wild card in the weekslong selloff: Ebola.
“This is, by definition, a situation with an unquantifiable outcome and that it would create market uncertainty should hardly be surprising,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at New York brokerage firm BTIG. “Rational markets, these are not.” (The Wall Street Journal)
When the market is ready to fall, it doesn’t like things it can’t quantify. The forces mentioned in the WSJ article above are the same ones I said last spring would be a serious headwind for the economy, and Ebola is the kind of unexpected event that I said could trigger a collapse of the stock markets without which I did not expect the collapse to happen as early as 2014.
Think of all these pressures on the market like standing on an empty pop can … where the forces pushing down on the can are so extreme that a mere touch on its sides triggers collapse. That is how the stock market appears to be reacting now to Ebola. With one known case in the U.S., the finger was pointed to the can, and the market watched breathlessly to see where the news would go.
The feeling one gets is that, if it becomes clear that Ebola is spreading in the U.S., the U.S. stock market will collapse. Ebola with its images of people bleeding through their eyes is the kind of thing that can spark that panic when the market is poised to give way. Normally, the market would not be so intensely focused on one or two individuals who contract a terrible disease, but this time Ebola looks worse than at any other time and the stock market looks worse than it has in a long time. I think people know deep inside, though many are not admitting it, that the market feels like it is poised to give way. They fear it and are trying to talk it up, but the pep talks of the bulls seems like small amo against Ebola.
The same WSJ article continues,
If consumers and businesses retrench by reducing flights on airplanes, changing vacation plans, or altering business connections in a globally interdependent world, GDP growth rates will fall farther. We do not know how much, at what speed, or for how long….
CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Ebola is the biggest worry in the markets right now and that there is “an overall feeling that something lurks out there we don’t know about.”
That list of concerns exactly matches those that I said a few days before could easily be the result of an Ebola scare, even if the disease does not go any further out of control. Normally, the markets would not be too concerned that a scare over a disease could bring down the econony by its impact on GDP, but everyone knows GDP, itself, is sliding all over the world. The economies of Europe and the even the U.S. can’t absorb much impact right now.
Ebola fear factor rises daily
First, the fear was that Ebola might spread beyond Africa. Then Ebola did spread to the U.S. and to Spain by people entering the country who got the disease in West Africa. Next the worry focused on whether or not the disease could be contained if it got outside of Africa or would it be caught by others within those countries for the first time? Then it was caught by nurses in Spain and Texas who were treating the ill. And these were people wearing protective gear and following special protocols. Still, they caught it; but, still, they were the ones in daily contact with bodily fluids. So, the next step in public concern is whether the disease will spread to other people who were not handling sick and bleeding bodies, who were around the person before symptoms grew bad.
As the world waits to see if the disease will leap the next barrier and infect someone who was near the patient but not treating him, the epidemic has also upped its risk. The death toll from Ebola has been raised by the CDC to 70% of the illness’s victims.
The Ebola virus is killing 70% of the people who contract the disease, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, and as many as 10,000 new cases a week could be reported by early December….
Dr. Aylward said the number of reported cases has been running at 1,000 a week over the past three to four weeks, with the total number of reported cases expected to top 9,000 this week.(WSJ)
The biggest Ebola fear
I think the biggest fear for many people is that the government cannot be trusted in the assurances it gives, nor can the professionals working with the epidemic be trusted when they assure us their procedures are failsafe. We have all seen that, when experts in an industry talk as if things are failsafe, they are anything but failsafe. Their certainty is the very hubris that causes them to overlook the weak points in their plans.
When hearing CDC assurances about Ebola, I think back to when experts of the nuclear industry assured us Fukushima’s reactors were failsafe. It turned out that, even as they were talking, the reactors had already melted down and the experts didn’t know it.
The CDC, for example, has tried to assure the world that Ebola is not airborne — that it must spread by physical contact. And, yet, the World Health Organization has said that the disease can spread via any bodily fluid and from contaminated surfaces that those fluids have touched.
Theoretically, wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus – over a short distance – to another nearby person.
This could happen when virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing (which does not mean airborne transmission) onto the mucus membranes or skin with cuts or abrasions of another person.(WHO)
That seems like splitting hairs to me. If someone coughs in a plane, and their mist drifts over me, I can get the illness, though I’ve had no physical contact with the person. We see teams in hazmat suits fumigating apartments where diseased people have been in case any surface is contaminated because the virus can live for some time in an invisible film of bodily fluid left on any surface. How much logic does it take to figure out that, if you can get the disease from the sweat or droplets of a sneeze left on the surface of a microwave oven hours after the patient has left the building, then you can get it from the droplets of sneeze near your face that are still airborne?
These kinds of assurances don’t ring true to people because they see the great care being taken to avoid the slightest contact with bodily fluid (hazmat suits and fumigation), and they see that people using all of that care have still contracted the disease.
In the very first incident of Ebola spreading within the U.S., we have already seen how easily the system fails when the head of the CDC sited a protocol breach as being the reason Ebola spread from patient to nurse:
Top US health authorities said Sunday a breach of protocol was to blame for the Ebola infection of a Texas health care worker who was said to have worn full protective gear.
Worn full protective gear?
The same article goes on to say…
The Dallas hospital where the woman worked said she had worn a mask, shield and gloves during her encounters with Thomas Eric Duncan
Does protocol not include a hazmat suit??? No wonder this kind and beautiful nurse contracted Ebola. The protocol given to her includes only the standard mask over the mouth, face shield and gloves. So, bodily fluids could easily have entered some minor scratch on her skin. Do hospitals and the CDC really not think of these things? Since the CDC says she used “full protective gear,” it’s pretty clear to me that the protocol, itself, is insufficient — that or the CDC is asleep in saying that she used full protective gear. Did no one notice the hazmat suit was missing?
Clearly, if you’re not completely contained in a hazmat suit, the possibilities for contagion to spread by physical contact are present. And, yet, no one thought she needed to be in a hazmat suit when the goal is to absolutely quarantine the disease with no possible chance of contagion.
You have to wonder if officials are thinking at all if, in fact, she was not expected to have a hazmat suit on. If it is required, you have to wonder why no one noticed the suit was missing from the list of protective gear she was known to have worn. This isn’t missing the minutia. This is missing the biggest of the big stuff.
These are the kinds of things that make people think — regardless of all assurances — that the disease could easily spread out of control in the U.S. If something so obvious is overlooked, how many minute mistakes could go uncaught? While every disease has its particulars, 99% of what needs to happen to prevent any possibility of contagion is the same for all diseases, and it appears that the breach of protocol clearly happened within following that 99%. A hazmat suit might have been a good first line of defense when working in a quarantine situation. Ya think?
A Liberian Ebola patient was left in an open area of a Dallas emergency room for hours, and the nurses treating him worked for days without proper protective gear and faced constantly changing protocols, according to a statement released late Tuesday by the largest U.S. nurses’ union. (Yahoo!)
The problem here happened in the most basic aspects of containing any contagion that all of us know about. How could a necessary protection that is so obvious to so many have been missed by an entire hospital full of experts and by the CDC?
Nurses were forced to use medical tape to secure openings in their flimsy garments, worried that their necks and heads were exposed as they cared for a patient with explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting, said Deborah Burger of National Nurses United
And the CDC is still trying to figure out where the breach in protocol was? How about the lack of hazmat suits followed by the the availability of suits that leave holes exposed! And people are suppose to rest assured that the government and medical professionals have this under control? Maybe CDC stands for “Circus of Disease Control.” The blatant errors made here by an ill-prepared hospital even after they knew what they were dealing with make it a little concerning that the CDC is scratching its head to figure out what went wrong!
Clue: I’d start with that protective gear. Every hospital in the U.S. should have full hazmat suits that fit without gaps. I would think that would be one of the ABCs of contagious disease control. Did the CDC notice that “disease control” is two-thirds of their name? Why do I feel like we’re being protected by the Marx brothers? Are hospitals too cheap to keep an adequate supply of something that works universally to help stop the contagion of nearly incurable diseases?
Hospitals create Ebola fear
Some healthcare experts are bristling at the assertion by a top U.S. health official that a “protocol breach” caused a Dallas nurse to be infected with Ebola while caring for a dying patient, saying the case instead shows how far the nation’s hospitals are from adequately training staff to deal with the deadly virus. (Yahoo!)
Ever since Dustin Hoffman treated Ebola victims in the movie Outbreak in the nineties, the world has known what a dangerous disease this is. We’ve also known that many governments have weaponized plagues like this. The world is filled with many other flus and illnesses that can become plagues. All of those can be stopped from spreading with the same kind or rigorous quarantine protocol.
Yet, decades after Outbreak, nurses are now telling us that hospitals don’t train nurses in how to prevent contagion when dealing with an epidemic disease. And Ebola, we are told, is not even that contagious! Nevertheless, hospitals now need to learn on the fly obvious things like having hazmat suits at the ready and requiring they be worn? There is nothing unique about Ebola in terms of what it takes to stop the transfer of germs.
Yet, nurses are saying they have not been trained adequately in how to prevent contagion. That’s one of the scariest things I’ve heard during this whole outbreak. If hospitals haven’t learned yet how to stop germs from moving from one body to another or one place to another with a disease they claim is not transferable by air, then contagion is certain. Whether it is Ebola, bird flu, dengue fever, small pox, or any other plague-like illness, preventing the transport of germs remains the same procedure. Some germs spread more easily than others or resist different disinfectants, but things like wearing hazmat suits and how you remove your gloves, and keeping an area sealed off, all remain the same. All hospitals should have been trained long ago in top-level containment.
In recent months, the CDC has published detailed guidelines on how to handle various aspects of Ebola, from lab specimens and infectious waste to the proper use of protective equipment. (Yahoo!)
The world has known about the high risk of Ebola since the nineties, yet the CDC is just now giving hospitals guidelines on how to handle it? This does not give me reassurance that our experts have done their job. The medical community is apparently flying by the seat of its pants while it waits for the instruction manuals to arrive.
On Wednesday, Texas health officials announced that a preliminary test indicated a second, unidentified health care worker at the hospital had been infected with the disease. (Yahoo!)
Is it any surprise, given the holy hazmat suits at Presbyterian Hospital?
The nurses also alleged that hazardous waste was allowed to pile up to the ceiling.
Does it ever end?
Said the hospital in reply,
We have numerous measures in place to provide a safe working environment, including mandatory annual training and a 24/7 hotline and other mechanisms that allow for anonymous reporting.
And leaving infectious waste piled up in rooms is one of those measures? Did they not know how to handle it properly? Was that not in their protocols? Why not?
Here are just a few other shortcomings in protection that the nurses pointed out:
- Patients who may have been exposed to Duncan were kept in isolation only for a day before being moved to areas where there were other patients;
- Nurses treating Duncan were also caring for other patients in the hospital;
- Preparation for Ebola at the hospital amounted to little more than an optional seminar for staff;
- In the face of constantly shifting guidelines, nurses were allowed to follow whichever ones they chose.
- When Ebola was suspected but unconfirmed, a doctor wrote “using the disposable shoe covers should also be considered.”
Hmm, I wonder how anything could have gone wrong.
Doesn’t sound like the CDC’s problem is figuring out what went wrong, but, rather, trying to count how many things went wrong. And ALL of it basic stuff.
Now multiply the multitude of problems at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital by numerous hospitals that may be just as sloppy. The only thing I’m still trying to figure out (being many steps ahead of the CDC apparently) is whether their plan is a comedy of errors or a horror story of ineptitude.
Hospital managers have assured nurses that proper equipment has been ordered but it has not arrived yet,
O.K., I’m going with horror story of ineptitude. After all of the bad press, the hospital still couldn’t think of paying for overnight shipping of the essential hazmat equipment?
Nurses claimed they had been warned by the hospital not to speak to the media or they would be fired…. The AP has attempted since last week to contact dozens of individuals involved in Duncan’s care. Those who responded to reporters’ inquiries have so far been unwilling to speak.
Ahh, well, at least the hospital has that contained! We don’t have to worry about those pesky leaks of information. That much has been hermetically sealed.
(Note: A later alternate and contrasting account to the report by the nurse’s union appears on CBS, and one has to bear in mind that the union may have its own agenda.)
So, rest assured by the words of your government and medical professionals, you have nothing to fear!
If all of this does not ease your fears, you’ll be glad to know that your government is just now figuring out that hazmat suits are uncomfortable and awkward and, therefore, fatiguing and, so, need to be improved. Apparently, no government employees working in hot climates over the many years we’ve dealt with Ebola in those climates made the government aware of how sweaty the suits get. Let’s hope they get that one worked out in the next few years as doctors and nurses are bound to do better when they can see through their face shields. Improvement is finally … on the way.
Fear of ebola fear itself grows in the stock market
We see the same kinds of empty assurances that are intended to calm any public panic about Ebola being laid on the public by stock market analysts, too. Said Gina Martin Adams at Wells Fargo & Co.:
We continue to view this turbulence as transitory, but likely to continue…. We do not currently see a reason to doubt the long-term upward trajectory of earnings, and ultimately stock prices. Nonetheless, we continue to expect further shake-ups for the equity markets in the short run, as investors adjust to the new policy environment. (The Washington Post)
What the heck does “transitory but likely to continue” mean? If things are transitory doesn’t that mean that they will fade away (i.e., not continue)? She sounds a little like those doctors at Presbyterian Hospital who say not to worry because protective equipment is on the way.
The World Health Organization called the Ebola outbreak “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times” on Monday but also said that economic disruptions can be curbed if people are adequately informed to prevent irrational moves to dodge infection. (AP)
You mean the market can be spared this fear if we all avoid irrational moves like going to hospitals that are still learning what a hazmat suit is and how to wear it?
Staffers of the global health organization “are very well aware that fear of infection has spread around the world much faster than the virus,”
Not to worry, Presbyterian Hospital will soon have that imbalance rectified by getting the disease out there, too.
“We are seeing, right now, how this virus can disrupt economies and societies around the world,” she said, but added that adequately educating the public was a “good defense strategy” and would allow governments to prevent economic disruptions.
Consider the above article part of that education.
For more education on Ebola, you might try the following:
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Here we are only a few days into the Ebola scare since President Obama said airport security in handling Ebola would be tightened up, and watch what happens when a fool on this airplane decides to tell everyone that he has Ebola, is from Africa, and, so, they’re “all screwed.”
YouTube Video of Ebola scare on U.S. Airways Flight 845:
Passengers were detained on the plane for two hours as a precaution, though the crew was reasonably sure the man claiming to have Ebola was a harmless lunatic, and the up-front flight attendant had no problem calling him an “idiot” before the entire crew and passengers.
U.S. Airways released the following explanation for the ebola scare on flight 845:
US Airways flight 845 from Philadelphia to Punta Cana was met yesterday by local officials buy ambien online fast delivery upon landing due to a possible health issue on board. We are following the direction of, and strictly adhering to, all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in place for airlines in response to the Ebola virus. The flight was checked by officials and cleared. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused but the safety of our customers and employees is our first priority.
Yes, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control takes the Ebola scare very seriously.
Five American airports — Chicago’s O’Hare, New York’s JFK, Washington’s Dulles, Newark Liberty in New Jersey, and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta — will begin Ebola screening for all passengers coming out of Ebola regions of West Africa.
For deeper reading on the Ebola scare:
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CBS reports that the World Bank has just issued a dire warning that the economic impact of Ebola could be enormous. An institution usually known for carefully weighed economic statements says that the economic impact of Ebola could be “catastrophic” even if the epidemic doesn’t spread beyond Africa.
By the end of 2015, the economic impact of Ebola in West Africa alone could reach $32,600,000,000. Imagine what the impact would be if the Ebola epidemic were to hit more complexly developed regions of the world, such as Europe or the U.S.
Here is a summary of points made in the CBS article about the economic impact of Ebola:
- The economic impact of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is already a serious crisis.
- Ebola could infect 1.4 million people by mid-January in two nations alone — Sierra Leone and Liberia.
- The first two flights bringing sick American missionaries back from West Africa cost $2 million.
- Governments are already planning to spend large sums to fast-track new airport screenings in order to prevent contagion into their countries.
- The U.S. Coast Guard has announced additional protocols for screening of ship-bound traffic.
- The U.S. government has committed a large number of military and humanitarian resources to combat the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
- Fear of Ebola is causing neighboring countries to close their borders and airlines and businesses to suspend commercial activities in the most affected nations.
- 3,400 people have died in West Africa, about half the total of those who have the disease.
- With that death rate, West Africa alone could expect as many as 600,000 dead people by mid-January if the World Bank’s worst-case scenario pans out. The cost of funerals and the loss of laborers would be astronomical.
Additional facts presented by the BBC about the economic impact of Ebola epidemic:
- Sierra Leone’s Agriculture Minister Joseph Sam Sesay told the BBC, “The economy has been deflated by 30% because of Ebola.” President Ernest Bai Koroma revealed this staggering news to ministers at a special cabinet meeting.
- The Ebola epidemic has already spread throughout the nation of Sierra Leone (12 out of 13 districts to be exact).
- Road blocks, crucial to containing the outbreak in Sierra Leone, are preventing the movement of goods and labor. “We are definitely expecting a devastating effect not only on labour availability and capacity but we are also talking about farms being abandoned by people running away from the epicentres and going to areas that don’t have the disease.”
- The limiting factor on the movement of agricultural labor right at planting season means food shortages down the road, and the ag economy will be decimated.
- Another serious economic impact of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone is the rise in inflation and pressure on its national currency.
- The Liberian economy had been expected to grow by 5.9% this year but the country’s Finance Minister says this is no longer realistic due to a slowdown in the transport and services sectors and the departure of foreign workers because of Ebola.
- The world’s largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal has seen work disrupted in its iron ore mine as the mine evacuates foreign staff members and puts its local labor on leave.
- In Sierra Leone, commercial banks have reduced their hours of business by two hours to reduce contact with clients.
- The country’s tourism industry has taken a severe knock – some hotels are empty and are laying off staff.
- The closure of external borders is limiting imports and exports.
- Stereotypes of Africa as a place of poverty and disease have started to re-emerge and could cause the collapse of the nascent African Renaissance.
What makes all this very interesting is that the final economic toll of Ebola will not be driven by the direct costs of the disease itself — expensive drugs, sick employees, and busy caregivers. It will be driven by how much those who are not infected trust their governments. If public action is not seen as containing the outbreak and fear of contagion rages, workers will not go to work, business and factories will stay closed, and the economy will collapse. This is called “aversion behavior”, a term you may want to keep in mind. (“The Economic Impact of Ebola,” The Huffington Post)
Other serious concerns about the economic impact of Ebola
There is far more at stake than just the cost of fighting the epidemic. Consider the following likely outfalls to any country that develops a serious Ebola epidemic:
- Loss of tourism to countries affected by the Ebola epidemic. (“There are a lot of other beautiful places we can visit that aren’t crawling with Ebola” or “Let’s vacation closer to home this year.”)
- Loss of business flights to countries badly affected by Ebola. (“Do we really need to go there for this meeting?”)
- If the World Bank’s worst-case scenario in the sections above plays out, images of hundreds of thousands of dying people in West Africa alone would cause world markets to panic. International investors are already nervously watching the Ebola outbreak unfold, and this is happening at a time when the stock market is already showing a lot of volatility. Each new exacerbating bit of economic news increases the risk of a stock market crash.
- In badly affected nations, governments will spend more on health care and containment of the Ebola epidemic inside of their borders while collecting less in taxes — all at a time when they are already seriously short on funds.
- The growing needs of stricken countries will require financial resources from non-stricken countries (already deeply mired in debt) if those countries are going to avoid a global pandemic.
- More trade barriers arise in non-African countries like those already seen at the borders of West African countries, slowing down the velocity of global trade for everyone.
If the number of ill people in Sierra Leone and Liberia reaches 1.4 million by mid-January 2015, how can the Ebola epidemic possibly remain contained in West Africa? That is such a vast number of people wanting to crawl around the globe that containment would surely become impossible to maintain. It’s difficult to maintain even now, with only about 7,000 people infected.
It’s entirely possible that [the] economic effects will kill more people than Ebola itself. A macabre but true thought.
Of course, the dire economic impact of the Ebola epidemic may still be averted if the nations of this world rapidly pull together resources to fight it while these three West African nations still have the disease largely contained within their own borders and if everyone is careful enough in their protocols not to bring the disease back home.
For deeper reading on the Ebola epidemic:
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When you look at numerous key sectors of the economy, they hang together like the bones of a rickety skeleton. Here is a list in bullet points of some economic bones to pick over. When viewed altogether, they indicate the next dip of the Great Recession is likely near and severe:
“There are more obvious light switches today or ticking time bombs” than in 2007, says Barry Sternlicht, CEO of real estate investment firm Starwood Capital Group. “The whole macro global situation is not good.” (MoneyNews)
Key indicators that the second dip of the Great Recession is near:
- Stocks are priced to perfection. The Shiller price-earnings (P/E) ratio is approaching a 26.5, far above the longstanding average of 15.5. If the market is priced to perfection, anything higher becomes overpriced. So, stocks have nowhere left to go but overpriced. Historically, Shiller P/E ratios over 25 are associated with market downturns. The only times it has been this high have been shortly before the crash of 1929, shortly before the dot-com crash, and just before the Great Recession began in 2008.
“Priced for perfection, unfortunately, doesn’t mean attractive,” writes Wall Street Journal columnist E.S. Browning. “It means that stock prices are so high that gains depend on a very favorable investing environment, with strong corporate profits, low interest rates, low inflation and continued global growth.”
“The market is primed for more volatility,” [says] Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman Private Banking. (MoneyNews)
- The stock market has recently smashed all records. Typically, when the stock market smashes through a long-standing ceiling, as it has done in the past month, some investors pull back in order to reap profits from the long climb they’ve just completed. They take a breather and eat lunch. As a sense begins to develop that the market is now operating in rarified atmosphere, investors may start to become wary with the feeling that they are now in the stratospheric zone. So, the market will become more skittish — i.e. volatile.
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has risen 35 percent in less than a month since stocks peaked at record highs.
And the trouble may have only just begun, says Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman Private Bank. “I’m nervous,” he told CNBC. “I think investors have had a holiday from volatility for almost two years, and that vacation’s about over.” (MoneyNews)
- The Federal Reserve is discontinuing quantitative easing, the source of nearly all the new money that has been pumped into the stock market by major banks that benefited from the Q.E.. No new money, means prices cannot rise more. When prices could rise no more in the housing market because people were maxed out on debt (meaning they had no capacity to get more money), the market crashed because people couldn’t pay off adjustable-rate mortgages without a rise in equity. So, too, no new money now means investors will start pulling out of the market because the easy money that enabled people to bid up stock prices is gone. And, because the money was free, the risk-taking has been great … just like with those adjustable rate mortgages. So, the crash will be great.
- Many analysts have been saying the stock market is just another speculative bubble created by the huge cash influx of free money from the Fed.
You can add mutual fund manager John Hussman, president of Hussman Investment Trust, to the list of those who think stocks are forming a bubble similar to the last two market peaks. “Our concerns at present mirror those that we expressed at the 2000 and 2007 peaks, as we again observe an overvalued, overbought, over-bullish extreme,” he writes in his weekly commentary. (Moneynews)
- The bubble has formed in the same high tech stocks where a bubble formed before the dot-com crash. Having learned nothing, major investors rushed to pump billions of dollars into companies that have never seen a dime of profit.
Nearly half of Nasdaq Composite stocks are down 20% from a year ago, meaning they are all deeply mired in a bear market. The Nasdaq is made up largely of high-tech stocks, which is where market vulnerability showed up in the last crash of a speculative stock market. (The Great Recession Blog)
The Hulbert Nasdaq Newsletter Sentiment Index has dropped “an incredible” 75.5 percentage points (to minus 6.7 percent from 68.8 percent) since the Nasdaq Composite stock index hit a 14-year high…. “We currently observe the ingredients of a market crash,” said Hussman (MoneyNews)
- The mother of all bubbles has nowhere left to go. A study by Deutsche Bank was published this summer that tracked the roll over of economic bubbles through the decades from the Japanese collapse to the dot-com crash to the housing-market crash that started the Great Recession. Their conclusion is an important warning, coming as it does from one of the biggest financial institutions in the world:
The “near two-decade rolling series of inter-related bubbles … [has] nowhere left … to go given that it is now in the hands of the lenders of last resort (governments and central banks….) The worst case scenario being future restructuring….”
Former Reagan budget director David Stockman [agrees]: “Central banks all over the world have been massively expanding their balance sheets, and as a result of that there are bubbles in everything in the world, asset values are exaggerated everywhere.” (Economic Collapse News)
- The student loan crisis peaked. Over the past two years, The Great Recession Blog has been pointing out that student loans were approaching a point of massive default. Students coming out of college were not getting jobs but had huge debts to pay. The long job slump of the Great Recession and the reduction in wages for those jobs that remain have not helped the situation. Student loan defaults dipped for the first time in quite awhile this summer; but remain high and create a perilous situation if another economic crash were to happen.
- Contracts to buy homes slide one percent in August, sparking economic slowdown worries. The housing market started to struggle again in mid 2013 when the Fed announced it would begin to start pulling down quantitative easing.
August contracts fell in all four geographical regions — Northeast, Midwest, South and West — compared to the prior month. (MoneyNews)
- Europe and Japan are falling back into recession. Even Europe’s economic powerhouse, Germany, appears ready to take a third dip in the Great Recession while the rest of the world hovers on the brink of being dragged down by each nation’s massive debt.
“I think Europe would probably be our number one area of concern,” Zients, director of the White House National Economic Council, told the Economic Club of Washington today. “They’re potentially going to have a triple-dip recession.” (Bloomberg)
On a global level, growth is being steadily drowned under a rising tide of debt, threatening renewed financial crisis, a continued squeeze to living standards, and eventual mass default…. Contrary to widely held assumptions, the world has not yet begun to de-lever. In fact global debt-to-GDP – public and private non financial debt – is still growing, breaking new highs by the month…. The only way the world can keep growing, it would appear, is by piling on debt. Not good, not good at all. (The Telegraph)
- All major banks now operate deep inside a realm of experimentation where investment bankers use cash reserves created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve in quantities never before imagined by economists. We have no experience to guide us in where this will go.
- Hong Kong’s student protests could become the kind of trigger that tips the global economy. Beijing is not likely to yield to protestors. They’re not likely to back down. Since Hong Kong is a major stock market, what happens in Hong Kong has some impact throughout the world’s modern economies.
The latest show of popular dissent represents one of the biggest threats to Beijing’s Communist Party leadership since its bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy student protests in and around Tiananmen Square. (Yahoo!)
That’s not a lovely set of bones. Hanging together as they do, they look to me like a Halloween threat to the economy. I believe the second dip into the Great Recession will be a plunge worse than the first because all nations have exhausted their credit limits, which they used for economic stimulus. Thus, they have no credit capacity for more stimulus when needed again. Moreover, they have exhausted all the usual tricks that central banks pull out for economic stimulus, which have given less bang for the buck each time they’ve been employed.
Nearly all the nations of the world have squandered their options without resolving the underlying problems of their economies, the primary problem in the first place being that the economy was all built on expansive debt. Recovery from the next plunge will have to be a global effort that changes the way the world does business.
What the great second dip (third for some countries) is waiting for is a sufficient trigger — something that will overtax the rickety structure. While the economic system will eventually topple from its own dead weight, it is weak enough now that increasingly smaller triggers can bring it down. While something like a global ebola epidemic or war with Iran could certainly collapse the ailing structure, it may be the crash of a single bank or single national economy in the right place at the right time that gets the bones to fall, or it may be a terrorist attack on the financial grid. The point is that vulnerability is extremely high, and the number of potential triggers is growing as fast as the number of serious fractures in the global economy, making the economic collapse more imminent.
Consider briefly these additional factors talked about in previous articles here on The Great Recession Blog that are likely to contribute to a second dip into the Great Recession:
- Russia and China, who were recently the largest buyers of U.S. debt, are pulling away from using U.S. dollars in their reserves, meaning the U.S. will eventually have to pay higher interest to finance its colossal debt once the government-funded bond-buying from quantitative easing is over.
- Russia and China are creating a secondary currency for trading oil, raising further difficulty for the world’s largest economy when it needs to finance debt through something other than the money printing known as quantitative easing.
- Russia and the Western World are entering an economic cold war of eye-for-an-eye sanctions at a time when the global economy cannot absorb economic suppression.
- Tensions between China and Japan are growing as they play war games in the ocean. Likewise between China and the Philippines and China and Taiwan.
- Tensions from the Iranium Crisis could come to a head this fall when talks are scheduled to end, and solutions are not forthcoming.
- Middle East tensions are worse throughout the Middle East than they’ve been in half a century.
- The number of terrorists and terrorist organizations in the world seems to be increasing and spreading out, not decreasing.
- Our dependency on the internet/cloud creates greater vulnerability where a small number of terrorist can reek havoc globally.
- A new U.S.-led war has just begun in Iraq.
Next article in series on the second dip in the great recession:
Other articles predicting the second dip in the Great Recession:
Suggested deeper reading for The Great Recession:
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