“It’s Like A Ghost Town”: Major Cities All Over The Globe Are Paralyzed By Fear Of COVID-19

We haven’t seen anything cause this much worldwide fear in a really long time.  But even though there is so much fear, we still don’t know if this is going to evolve into the next great global pandemic that kills millions of people or not.  I wish that I had a definitive answer for you.  At this point we do know that the number of confirmed cases outside of China continues to rise at a very alarming rate, and we also know that this virus is about 34 times more deadly than the flu according to the latest numbers.  But in order for it to kill millions of people, a substantial percentage of the global population would have to be infected, and we don’t know if that is actually going to happen.

But in major cities around the globe where there has been an eruption of COVID-19 cases, we are seeing severe disruptions in normal activity.

For example, now that several coronavirus deaths have been reported in the area, the lack of tourists has turned downtown Seattle into “a ghost town”

In Seattle, bracing for the coronavirus also means preparing for what could be a devastating economic impact. Business owners and residents have already seen a drop-off in tourists in areas of the city that heavily depend on foot traffic.

It’s like a ghost town,” Francisco said about the famous Pike Place Market where she has her shop.

If you have ever been to Pike Place Market, then you know that it is normally bustling with activity.

But now virtually everyone wants to stay away, and you can’t exactly blame them.  With this virus on the loose, I wouldn’t want to venture down there either.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has already declared a state of emergency, and this will give her the power to cancel a wide range of public events…

As the death toll climbed Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, a Democrat, proclaimed a civil emergency. The declaration allows her to bypass regulations to increase city spending, contracting and borrowing to address the growing public health threat. It will also allow her office to close facilities and cancel events to prevent the virus from spreading further.

On the other side of the globe, the streets of Seoul are virtually empty right now

The streets of Seoul, the South Korean capital, stood nearly empty this week. Those who do venture out wear masks. The normally busy subways have few passengers and riders make sure to sit far away from one another. Many residents are relying on grocery and restaurant delivery apps.

Most Americans don’t realize this, but the population of Seoul actually exceeds the population of New York City.

Normally it is one of the busiest cities on the entire planet, but due to the fear that more than 5,700 confirmed cases in South Korea has caused, it has also become something of “a ghost town”.

Speaking of busy cities, Beijing’s 21 million residents continue to wait for life to return to normal.

Most people are staying home as much as possible, and those that do venture out risk having their temperatures scanned “at regular checkpoints”

Many shops are still closed in Beijing, and residents’ temperatures are scanned at regular checkpoints, as well as inside each store. On streets that are normally so crowded that people are forced to brush shoulders, those who are out keep a good distance from one another.

Could you imagine the uproar that would ensue if similar “checkpoints” were set up here in the United States?

Let us hope that we never get to that point.

In Milan, things are eerily quiet right now.  In fact, nobody has seen the city this quiet in the entire modern history of Italy

In Milan, Italy’s business capital and the center of the country’s outbreak, restaurants, bars and train stations are much less crowded than normal. The usually teeming Piazza del Duomo, home to the city’s cathedral and lined with shops and bars, was almost empty at points Monday.

Italian authorities are absolutely desperate to get this outbreak under control, and so they are implementing pretty extreme measures.

Incredibly, that even includes banning fans from all sporting events until April 3rd

The Italian government have taken drastic measures to help prevent the outbreak of coronavirus by closing all sport events to fans throughout the entire country until April 3. Italy has been the worst-hit European country from the coronavirus, with 107 deaths so far.

It is nice that they have set a deadline, but what are they going to do if we get to April 3rd and this outbreak has gotten even worse?

Could it be possible that Italian fans will not be able to attend sporting events for the foreseeable future?

And will other western countries soon follow suit?

Our lives could be about to change in ways that we couldn’t even imagine just a few weeks ago.

In the UK, residents are being warned that they may soon have to “put their lives on hold for three months”

Britons could be forced to put their lives on hold for three months under a ‘battle plan’ to combat Coronavirus amid warnings today that the deadly disease could incapacitate a fifth of the UK’s workforce.

Boris Johnson today set out the Government’s blueprint to deal with a mass outbreak of the bug that includes a raft of socially and economically costly contingency moves as a last resort.

Could you put your life on hold for three months?

Of course most major pandemics last longer than just three months.  In fact, the Spanish Flu pandemic lasted for three years and it killed tens of millions of people.

Hopefully this outbreak will not be anything like that.

But without a doubt, this is a truly horrible virus.  The following is an excerpt from the account of a 25-year-old British man that actually caught COVID-19

Day 12: I’ve had a relapse. Just as I thought the flu was getting better, it has come back with a vengeance. My breathing is laboured. Just getting up and going to the bathroom leaves me panting and exhausted. I’m sweating, burning up, dizzy and shivering. The television is on but I can’t make sense of it. This is a nightmare.

By the afternoon, I feel like I am suffocating. I have never been this ill in my life. I can’t take more than sips of air and, when I breathe out, my lungs sound like a paper bag being crumpled up. This isn’t right. I need to see a doctor. But if I call the emergency services, I’ll have to pay for the ambulance call-out myself. That’s going to cost a fortune. I’m ill, but I don’t think I’m dying — am I?

I certainly do not want to experience that, and I am sure that you do not want to either.

Coming into this year, I warned about what was ahead, but I definitely did not anticipate that we could potentially be facing a full-blown global pandemic by early March.

COVID-19 could change everything.  I know that many are attempting to downplay the severity of this virus, and that is a huge mistake.

For the foreseeable future, the entire globe is going to be gripped by fear of this virus, and that has very serious implications for all of us.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

The “Unsinkable” Financial Markets Just Slammed Into A Massive “Iceberg” Called The Coronavirus

We just witnessed the third largest single day point drop in U.S. stock market history, and experts are warning that things will only get worse if this coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate.  On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down a whopping 1,031 points, and it looks like there could be more volatility on Tuesday.  In fact, the Nikkei is already down 787 points as I write this article.  Of course this sudden decline is being mostly driven by fear of the coronavirus.  The rapid spread of the virus in South Korea, Italy and Iran over the weekend really rattled investors, and there was a rush to sell stocks when the markets opened on Monday morning.  And the worse this pandemic becomes, the lower stock prices are going to go.

You see, the truth is that stock prices are primarily based on what investors believe the future is going to look like.

For a long time, investors have assumed that the future would be exceedingly bright, and stock prices have steadily trended upwards.

But a coronavirus pandemic changes everything.  If worldwide economic activity comes to a standstill like we are already seeing happen in China, it is inevitable that there will be a very serious global economic downturn.

And this outbreak comes at a time when stock prices have been more overvalued than they have ever been before in American history.  Most stocks have been priced “beyond perfection”, and so it was just a matter of time before those prices started to fall.

As I have explained many times before, stock prices tend to fall much faster than they rise, and the rapid decline on Monday was quite breathtaking

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 1,031.61 points lower, or 3.56%, at 27,960.80. The S&P 500 slid 3.35% to 3,225.89 while the Nasdaq Composite closed 3.71% lower at 9,221.28. It was the Dow’s biggest point and percentage-point drop since February 2018. The Dow also gave up its gain for 2020 and is now down 2% for the year. The S&P 500 also had its worst day in two years and wiped out its year-to-date gain as well.

Tech stocks got hit particularly hard.

If you can believe it, the stocks of the big tech companies “lost more than $250 billion in value” on Monday…

Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Google-parent Alphabet collectively lost more than $250 billion in value as part of a broader market plunge. The tech companies make up nearly one-fifth of the value of the S&P 500, which itself is down more than 3.6%. Apple has the largest exposure to China, as it relies heavily on Chinese manufacturing plants for its top products and on Chinese consumers to buy iPhones.

And overall, global stocks lost more than a trillion dollars in value to start the week.

Of course stock prices were so ridiculously inflated that the markets can easily absorb what happened on Monday.

What really matters is what happens next.

If U.S. authorities can keep this virus from spreading widely here in the United States, the impact on our economy won’t be that dramatic.

But if there is a widespread outbreak, all bets are off.  More than a decade ago, the CBO conducted a study which examined this sort of a scenario, and what they discovered is definitely alarming

CBO did a study in 2005 and 2006, modeling the impact of a 1918-sized flu pandemic on the economy. They found that a pandemic “could produce a short-run impact on the worldwide economy similar in depth and duration to that of an average postwar recession in the United States.” Specifically, a severe pandemic could reduce U.S. gross domestic product by about 4.5%, followed by a sharp rebound.

The CBO assumed that 90 million people in the U.S. would get sick, and 2 million would die. There would also be demand-side effects, with an 80% decline in the arts and entertainment industries and a 67% decline in transportation. Retail and manufacturing would drop 10%.

Personally, I think that those numbers are probably too optimistic.

In China, people are deathly afraid to leave their homes right now, and that has caused economic activity to come to a crashing halt.

In fact, during the first portion of this month vehicle sales in China were down 92 percent

As The Epoch Times reported late last week, for example, sales of Chinese passenger vehicles has tanked a whopping 92 percent “on an annual basis the first 16 days of February,” according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Sales of passenger vehicles only amounted to 4,909 units during the first 16 days of the month, the organization reported, which fell from 59,930 vehicles sold over the same period a year ago. These are the first figures to demonstrate just how hard the Wuhan coronavirus is hitting the world’s largest auto market.

And at this point even Chinese President Xi Jinping is admitting that this outbreak will “have a relatively big impact on the economy and society”.

Up until now, the financial markets have been mostly overlooking the fact that the second biggest economy on the entire planet has been imploding because of this virus.

I think that many investors were assuming that this outbreak was just a temporary phenomenon, but now reality is starting to set in

“The second-largest economy in the world is completely shut down. People aren’t totally pricing that in,” said Larry Benedict, CEO of The Opportunistic Trader, adding a 10% to 15% correction in stocks may be starting. He also said some parts of the market, particularly large-cap tech stocks, appear to be over-owned. “It seems like there’s much more to come.”

Hopefully U.S. stocks will bounce back on Tuesday.  Following a decline of the magnitude that we just witnessed, that is often what happens.

And President Trump is certainly doing his best to keep everyone feeling optimistic.  The following is what he tweeted on Monday

The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!

Hopefully President Trump is correct.

And hopefully he is also correct when he claims that this pandemic will start to subside once warmer weather arrives.

But so far this mysterious new coronavirus is winning the battle, and investors all over the globe are really starting to freak out.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Most Americans Are Not Taking This Coronavirus Outbreak Seriously, And That Is Potentially Very Dangerous

We still don’t know if this coronavirus outbreak will become a horrific worldwide pandemic or not, but what we have seen so far is definitely very alarming.  People have literally been dropping dead in the streets, the Chinese government has locked down major city after major city, and the virus kept spreading very rapidly on a cruise ship off the coast of Japan even though a strict quarantine was instituted.  Scientists that have studied the virus are telling us that it “could be 20 times more lethal than the flu”, and it binds to human cell receptors much more easily than the SARS virus did.  Unfortunately, because the epicenter of this crisis is on the other side of the globe, most Americans are simply not paying much attention to it.  In fact, most of the people that my wife and I have been talking to and hearing from don’t think that the coronavirus is much of a threat to the United States at all.

And if the coronavirus does start to become a problem in this country, a new survey has found that most Americans are quite confident that the government can handle it

More than three in four Americans say they are very confident or somewhat confident in the US federal government’s ability to handle a coronavirus outbreak, a Gallup poll has found, a higher level of confidence than in previous health scares.

Gallup said the results were from a February 3 to February 16 poll that began just days after the Trump administration announced it would suspend entry of foreign nationals who had been to China in the previous two weeks.

Hopefully this coronavirus outbreak will not explode in North America and our normal lives will not be disrupted.

But considering what is happening over in Asia, it would definitely be prudent to take some precautions.  Unfortunately, most Americans are not really doing much of anything to prepare for a potential pandemic at this point.

If a pandemic does not materialize, that won’t be a problem.  But if this virus starts spreading like wildfire in the U.S., we are going to have a massive crisis on our hands.

The time to stop an outbreak from happening is at the very beginning, and the lack of urgency about this virus that we are witnessing from local health officials around the country is absolutely stunning.

According to NBC News, there are thousands of Americans that are currently “under voluntary self-quarantine”.  These individuals have either recently traveled to China or they have recently had contact with someone that was infected.

As you might assume, a “voluntary self-quarantine” is not mandatory.  Instead, NBC News says that it is “strongly encouraged”

Self-quarantining isn’t mandatory, but it is strongly encouraged.

It’s up to the state and local health departments to decide how to manage residents under self-quarantine.

So anyone that doesn’t want to participate can feel free to mix with the general public as much as they want.

Isn’t that great?

And since it is “up to the state and local health departments to decide how to manage residents under self-quarantine”, there is no single set of standards that is being followed.

In other words, state and local health officials are free to make things up as they go along.

We aren’t talking about a small number of people either.  In fact, more than 5,000 people are under self-quarantine in California alone

The California Public Health Department said there are more than 5,400 such people in the state. In Washington state, 745 people have been asked to self-quarantine. Georgia health officials identified about 200 travelers.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said more than 300 people were referred for monitoring.

All it takes is a couple of “super spreaders” to get a real good outbreak going, and to see such a lack of concern about preventing the spread of this disease is quite disheartening.

And this lackadaisical attitude has even extended to actual victims that have been confirmed to have the virus.  The CDC specifically warned against putting infected people on the same flight with non-infected people, but the U.S. government did it anyway

Fourteen Americans who tested positive for the Coronavirus were flown back to the US on a flight with over 300 people who were not infected, despite objections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The flight was filled with people who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, which had been quarantined due to an outbreak of the virus.

Reading this sort of thing makes you want to tear your hair out.

Despite such extreme negligence, hopefully everything will be okay.  But it should be noted that the CDC is telling hospitals that now “is the time to open up your pandemic plans and see that things are in order”

“This is the time to open up your pandemic plans and see that things are in order,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, a top official of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urged hospitals last week as an outbreak of a deadly new coronavirus ravaged much of China.

“For instance,” she continued, health-care providers need to plan for a “surge at a hospital, the ability to provide personal protective equipment for your workforce, the administrative controls and so forth that you might put place in a health care setting.”

Anyone that assumed that this crisis would be largely confined to China has been proven wrong.  At this point, we have already seen significant outbreaks erupt in several other countries in Asia.  In fact, there are now six other nations where “community spread” is taking place…

  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Perhaps the most notable outbreak on that list is in South Korea.  According to the Guardian, 31 brand new cases were announced on Thursday…

The South Korean city of Daegu was facing an “unprecedented crisis” after coronavirus infections that centred on a controversial “cult” church surged to 38 cases, accounting for nearly half of the country’s total.

The city of 2.5 million people, which is two hours south of the capital Seoul, was turned into a ghost town after health officials said the bulk of country’s 31 new cases announced on Thursday were linked to a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

If we don’t want the same thing to happen here, we need to take this virus very seriously.

Unfortunately, that is simply not happening, and all of us could end up paying a great price as a result.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Shocking New Study Says The Coronavirus “Could Impact More Than 5 Million Businesses Worldwide”

When was the last time that we witnessed a disaster that severely disrupted the supply chains of over 5 million companies around the globe simultaneously?  Looking back over the past couple of decades, I can’t think of one.  In recent days I have written a number of articles about the economic impact of this coronavirus outbreak, and what we have seen so far could be just the beginning.  With each additional week that much of the Chinese economy remains at a virtual standstill, things are going to get even worse.  Today, China accounts for approximately 20 percent of global GDP, but that doesn’t tell the entire story.  At this point the rest of the world has become so dependent on Chinese exports that any sort of an extended shutdown for Chinese manufacturing would be a complete and utter nightmare for global supply chains.  In fact, a brand new study that was just released by Dun & Bradstreet has concluded that the coronavirus outbreak in China “could impact more than 5 million businesses worldwide”

The new coronavirus outbreak and subsequent shutdown of huge swathes of China could impact more than 5 million businesses worldwide, according to a new study.

A special briefing issued by global business research firm Dun & Bradstreet analyzed the Chinese provinces most impacted by the virus, and found they are intricately linked to the global business network.

Many people may assume that we could just “make these things somewhere else”, but that isn’t so easy.

New factories would have to be built, workers would have to be trained, etc.

And as Harvard Business School’s Willy Shih has pointed out, there are “some things that are only made in China these days”…

There are some things that are only made in China these days, and not just the usual electronics and toys — consumer products — it’s active pharmaceutical ingredients that go into pharmaceutical supply chains worldwide.

So what is going to happen if economic activity in China does not return to normal any time soon?

That is a very good question.  Unfortunately, there will be shortages, and global supply chains will become incredibly strained.

According to the brand new study from Dun & Bradstreet that I mentioned above, 938 of the Fortune 1000 companies have at least a “tier 2” supplier in the region

Dun & Bradstreet researchers found that at least 51,000 companies worldwide, 163 of which are in the Fortune 1000, have one or more direct or “tier 1” suppliers in the impacted region, while at least 5 million — and 938 in the Fortune 1000 — have one or more “tier 2″ suppliers.

The impact on businesses in China and around the world is already dragging down economic growth forecasts for the year.

In some cases, the breakdown of global supply chains will simply lead to higher prices for western consumers.

But in other cases there will come a point when certain products are not available at all.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

A new poll via Shanghai’s American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) discovered that 50% of US firms operating in China say shutdowns of factories have impacted their global operations due to the Covid-19 outbreak, reported Reuters.

About 78% of these firms warn that their staffing is currently short at the moment, which would prevent the resumption of full production, leading to massive shortages of products in the next several months for Western markets.

Massive shortages of products?

That doesn’t sound good at all.

Hopefully this outbreak will start to fizzle out and such an ominous scenario will not materialize.  But at this point even Apple is admitting that revenue will be well below expectations this quarter.  In explaining this to the public, Apple cited a couple of reasons…

  • The first is that worldwide iPhone® supply will be temporarily constrained. While our iPhone manufacturing partner sites are located outside the Hubei province — and while all of these facilities have reopened — they are ramping up more slowly than we had anticipated. The health and well-being of every person who helps make these products possible is our paramount priority, and we are working in close consultation with our suppliers and public health experts as this ramp continues. These iPhone supply shortages will temporarily affect revenues worldwide.
  • The second is that demand for our products within China has been affected. All of our stores in China and many of our partner stores have been closed. Additionally, stores that are open have been operating at reduced hours and with very low customer traffic. We are gradually reopening our retail stores and will continue to do so as steadily and safely as we can. Our corporate offices and contact centers in China are open, and our online stores have remained open throughout.

Needless to say, U.S. financial markets are not responding favorably to this announcement.

But what is happening elsewhere is nothing compared to the economic nightmare that is unfolding inside of China right now.

Because of the virus, very few people even want to leave their homes.  As a result, consumer spending has almost entirely disappeared.

In fact, one CEO claims that there is virtually “no domestic consumption” in China right now…

Alan Lim of E-Services Group says there is “completely no domestic consumption” now and “factories are, at best, this week at 25% production … you need approval by the government to say you [can] work.”

Of course it is entirely possible that what is taking place in China could start happening elsewhere if this virus continues to spread.

The total number of confirmed cases outside of China is rapidly approaching the 1,000 mark, and that isn’t something to be extremely alarmed about yet.

But if that number continues to rise at an exponential rate, we will soon see a tremendous amount of panic all over the globe, and that will be extremely bad news for the entire global economy.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Japan’s GDP Is Collapsing, And Experts Are Warning That China Will Be Next

Global economic conditions are really starting to deteriorate quite rapidly.  Economists were projecting that Japan’s GDP would shrink by 3.8 percent on an annualized basis in the fourth quarter, but instead it greatly surpassed expectations by plunging 6.3 percent.  If Japan’s GDP falls again during the first quarter of 2020, and thanks to the coronavirus outbreak that seems very likely, then the world’s third largest economy will officially be in a recession.  But of course the outlook for China is even worse.  At this point, economic activity in China has come to a standstill, and this has thrown global supply chains into a state of chaos.  It certainly appears that the entire global economy will shrink during the first quarter, and that will be the very first time that has happened in more than a decade.  And if this coronavirus outbreak continues to intensify in the months ahead, the economic consequences are going to be absolutely catastrophic.

Even though the experts were anticipating a slowdown in Japan, nobody had any idea that it would be this bad

Japan’s gross domestic product shrank at an annualized pace of 6.3 percent from the previous quarter in the three months through December, according to a preliminary estimate by the Cabinet Office released Monday.

Economists surveyed had predicted a fall of 3.8 percent, flagging the adverse impact of a sales tax increase, weak global demand and typhoon disruption.

The sales tax increase is being primarily blamed for this collapse in GDP, and without a doubt consumer spending in Japan was way down last quarter

Consumer spending fell 11.1% after the national sales tax was raised in October to 10% from 8%. During the same month, Typhoon Hagibis ravaged a large swathe of the country.

Capital spending declined 14.1% and exports slipped 0.4% due to the fallout from the U.S.-China trade war.

Japanese officials were hoping that GDP would bounce back this quarter, but now the coronavirus outbreak has changed everything.

At this point it is very difficult to be positive about the immediate future of the Japanese economy, and an increasing number of experts are now anticipating a recession.  Here is one example

“I’m getting ready for another contraction in Japan’s first quarter. There just aren’t any positive factors to build a positive growth forecast,” said Mari Iwashita, chief market economist at Daiwa Securities Co., flagging her view that the economy is likely falling into recession.

The Japanese economy greatly benefits from the horde of tourists that usually come over from China, and the two nations have developed a very close trading relationship.

Now that those two factors are being disrupted, the outlook for the second quarter is decidedly grim

“There is a good chance of Japan’s economy falling into a recession,” Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, said before Monday’s data was released. He flagged the risks of supply chains being affected if the outbreak was prolonged.

The coronavirus is taking a toll on the number of Chinese tourists to Japan and manufacturing activity due to the economy’s close ties with China, prompting some economists to forecast a contraction lasting two quarters.

Ultimately, it is going to be exceedingly difficult for Japan to avoid a recession.

But if Chinese GDP also plunges into recession territory this year, that will be even bigger news.

According to the New York Times, “the entire global economy could suffer from a prolonged shock in China”, and so investors will be watching the development of this crisis very carefully.

The number of confirmed cases and the official death toll both continue to rise, and the draconian measures that the Chinese have taken to contain the outbreak have slowed the Chinese economy to a crawl.  The following is how Zero Hedge summarized the recent economic data that we have seen come out of China…

While not perfect, and certainly not a comprehensive view of what is really taking place “on the ground”, the above data is a useful real-time indicator of how the people in China perceive the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, and one thing is abundantly clear: as the pandemic spreads further without containment, and as the charts above flatline, so will China’s economy, which means that while Goldman’s draconian view of what happens to Q1 GDP is spot on, the expectation for a V-shaped recovery in Q2 and onward will vaporize faster than a vial of ultra-biohazardaous viruses in a Wuhan virology lab.

Of course many in the financial world are still hoping that things won’t be too bad.

For example, Dun and Bradstreet is hoping that the crisis in China will only “cause a drag of approximately one percentage point on global GDP”

China, the world’s second largest economy after US, contributes about 20 percent to the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, according to a report by Dun and Bradstreet, the Chinese economy might cause a drag of approximately one percentage point on global GDP if prevention of Coronavirus gets delayed beyond the summer of 2020.

That is a wildly optimistic projection, but hopefully they are right.

Hopefully the coronavirus will fizzle out with the arrival of warmer weather and the global economy can start to get back to normal.

Unfortunately, a return to “normal” is probably not in the cards.

Even before this coronavirus outbreak, the global economy was really starting to slow down.  Economic numbers were absolutely dismal all over the world, and many experts were warning that we were right on the verge of the next global recession.

Now that this outbreak has erupted, we definitely have much more momentum in a downward direction.  Very challenging times are ahead, although most people in the western world still don’t understand what is happening.

As far as the coronavirus is concerned, the key will be what happens to the number of confirmed cases outside of China.  Over the past week that number has roughly doubled, and if that keeps happening every week we will soon have a full-blown global pandemic on our hands.

There are now 75 confirmed cases in Singapore, 59 confirmed cases in Japan and 57 confirmed cases in Hong Kong.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep this virus contained, and we are rapidly approaching a major tipping point.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

World Economy Projected To Shrink For First Time Since 2009 As Coronavirus Plays Havoc With Global Supply Chains

For more than a decade, the global economy has steadily grown quarter after quarter, but it looks like that streak is about to come to a very abrupt ending.  The coronavirus outbreak in China has brought the Chinese economy to a virtual standstill, and as a result critical supply chains are in a state of chaos all over the world.  And since it doesn’t look like the Chinese economy will be able to return to normal for an extended period of time, it appears that a worldwide economic slowdown is imminent.  I warned about this the other day, but now we have even a clearer picture of what is happening.  According to Capital Economics in London, this coronavirus outbreak will cause the global economy to shrink this quarter, and that will be the very first time this has happened since 2009

The economic casualties from China’s coronavirus epidemic are mounting as Asian and European auto plants run short of parts, free-spending Chinese tourists stay home and American companies brace for unpredictable turbulence.

That’s just the start of a financial hangover that is expected to linger for months even if the flulike illness is soon brought under control, economists and supply chain experts say. The Chinese epidemic’s aftereffects will likely cause the global economy to shrink this quarter for the first time since the depths of the 2009 financial crisis, according to Capital Economics in London.

And if the global economy shrinks for two quarters in a row, that will officially meet the definition of a “global recession”.

So here we are on the verge of the worst economic downturn in more than a decade, and even if this outbreak miraculously ended tomorrow it would still take quite an extended period of time for global supply chains to return to normal.

In particular, the auto industry has been hit extremely hard

The ripple effects of China’s shutdown are spreading, with the auto industry especially hard hit. Nissan temporarily closed one of its factories in Japan after running short of Chinese components, one week after Hyundai in South Korea did the same. Fiat Chrysler warned that it may shutter one of its European plants. Some U.S. manufacturers could face parts shortages in one to two weeks.

“I worry that it’s going to be a bigger deal than most economists are treating it as right now,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz, the German financial services company. “It will take time to restart all these economic engines.”

Of course the global economy was already slowing down before this coronavirus outbreak started, but this has definitely helped to accelerate our problems.

One big red flag is the fact that Caterpillar’s sales are suddenly dropping.  After “33 consecutive months of increases”, Caterpillar’s sales have now fallen for two months in a row.  In fact, January’s enormous 7 percent decline caught many analysts completely off guard…

If Caterpillar is still the global industrial bellwether and leading manufacturing sector indicator it has been for the past century (and absent the Fed somehow printing buildings or excavating mines, it is), then the world is about to enter the worst manufacturing downturn since the financial crisis.

According to CAT’s latest retail sales data, in January the company posted a 7% drop in machine sales, the biggest drop since Jan 2017, and only the second consecutive negative print since December’s -5% drop following 33 consecutive months of increases.

Across the Atlantic, major supply chain headaches have contributed to stunning factory output declines throughout the eurozone.

Just check out these numbers

Factory output fell by 4.1 percent in the final month of the year compared with the same month a year earlier, according to figures published by Eurostat on Wednesday. Germany was among the states which suffered the most, as production dropped by 7.2 percent. Italy was close behind on a 4.3 percent decrease while France was down 3.2 percent.

Those numbers absolutely scream “recession”, and they aren’t likely to get any better until this coronavirus outbreak is over.

So all eyes will continue to be on China, and right now activity in major Chinese cities is way, way below normal.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

Specifically, Morgan Stanley suggested that real time measurements of Chinese pollution levels would provide a “quick and dirty” (no pun intended) way of observing if any of China’s major metropolises had returned back to normal. What it found was that among some of the top Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Shanghai and Chengdu, a clear pattern was evident – air pollution was only 20-50% of the historical average. As Morgan Stanley concluded, “This could imply that human activities such as traffic and industrial production within/close to those cities are running 50-80% below their potential capacity.”

If the number of cases continues to rise at an exponential rate, there won’t be a “return to normal” any time in the foreseeable future.

So barring some sort of a miracle, we should all settle in for a very long global economic downturn.

But at least one small segment of the global economy is booming at the moment.  Thanks to fears about the coronavirus, demand for private jets has absolutely skyrocketed

Wealthy travelers and major corporate clients are rejecting commercial airline travel and looking to private jets as a way to isolate themselves from the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The uptick in interest comes as more airlines cut scheduled flights to and from mainland China and Hong Kong in the wake of the spread of the disease that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The elite are going to do all that they can to insulate themselves from this virus, and considering how easily it spreads, it is hard to blame them.

As I discussed earlier this week, a prominent medical expert in Hong Kong is warning that 60 to 80 percent of the total world population could ultimately end up catching this virus.  And if that were to happen, it would greatly escalate all of the other problems that we are currently facing.

I am still hoping that such a scenario is not going to happen.

I am still hoping that global authorities can get this horrible virus under control soon, but with each passing day it is becoming more difficult to be optimistic about this outbreak.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

The Number Of Coronavirus Cases Has Just Exploded, And Many Fear That The Worst Is Yet To Come

Just as the mainstream media was starting to speculate that China could be getting this outbreak under control, a dramatic spike in the numbers has changed everything.  All of a sudden people are freaking out again, global financial markets are gyrating all over the place and medical experts all over the world are making bold pronouncements of doom.  On Wednesday, Hubei province reported 14,840 new infections and 242 more deaths from this virus.  But the biggest reason why there was such a jump in the numbers is because a decision was made to reclassify patients that had been “clinically diagnosed” but up until now had not been counted as “confirmed cases”.  The following comes from CNBC

China’s Hubei province reported an additional 242 deaths and 14,840 new cases as of Feb. 12 — a sharp increase from the previous day. The province said it is starting to include “clinically diagnosed” cases in its figures and that 13,332 of the new cases fall under that classification.

The government said that a total of 1,310 people have died in the province and that 48,206 people have been infected in the region.

So this really wasn’t as big of a change as many are making it out to be.

The following is what Hubei province is saying about the decision to reclassify patients

With the deepening of understanding of new coronavirus pneumonia and the accumulation of experience in diagnosis and treatment, in view of the characteristics of the epidemic in Hubei Province, the General Office of the National Health and Health Commission and the Office of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine issued the “Diagnosis and Treatment Plan for New Coronavirus Infected Pneumonia (Trial (Version) “adds” clinical diagnosis “to the case diagnosis classification in Hubei Province, so that patients can receive standardized treatment according to confirmed cases as early as possible to further improve the success rate of treatment.

According to the plan, Hubei Province has recently conducted investigations on suspected cases and revised the diagnosis results, and newly diagnosed patients were diagnosed according to the new diagnosis classification. In order to be consistent with the classification of case diagnosis issued by other provinces across the country, starting today, Hubei Province will include the number of clinically diagnosed cases into the number of confirmed cases for publication.

Overall, there are now 59,805 confirmed cases inside China, and the death toll has now passed the 1,300 mark.

But those are not the most important numbers.

To me, it is far more important to watch what happens to the number of cases around the rest of the world.  Ultimately, that will determine whether this becomes a true global pandemic or not.

A week ago, there were 227 confirmed cases outside of China, and now there are 524.  Over the course of about a week we have seen that number more than double, and that is definitely very troubling.

And we continue to get more anecdotal evidence that the situation inside China is far more dire than government officials are admitting.

For example, the Chinese government has been encouraging many businesses that shut down for the virus to reopen so that the economy can start humming again, but it looks like that may have been a huge mistake.  In the city of Suzhou, a confirmed case was discovered right after one company reopened their doors, and that resulted in 200 employees immediately being placed under quarantine.

This virus is completely and totally out of control in China right now, and any attempts to “return to normal” too quickly will just make things worse.

Wishful thinking isn’t going to solve anything.  It has become exceedingly apparent that this virus can be transmitted from person to person with extreme ease, and the Chinese need to settle in for a very long battle with this virus.

At this point, this virus is spreading very rapidly even among the police and the military

A staff member at the Central Theater General Hospital (Hankou Hospital) in Wuhan confirmed armed police officers were hospitalized.

Among them, 1,500 Chinese soldiers and 1,000 armed police are being quarantined, and China Human Rights and Democracy Information Center, headquartered in Hong Kong, reported on February 10 that 10 CCP soldiers and 15 armed police have been diagnosed with the new virus in Hubei province.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital (Hainan) Hospital in Sanya is preparing to test 3,000 people for new virus pneumonia samples.

300 armed police were isolated to a training site of the Hubei Provincial Corps of the Armed Police.

An epidemic has emerged in the Chinese Navy. After a serviceman of the Navy Submarine Force in Sanya, Hainan, was diagnosed with Covid-19, 300 sailors were isolated, and training programs on nuclear submarines, scheduled to start this month, have been suspended.

As this crisis continues to intensify, experts all over the planet are fearing the worst.  Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London says that the death rate among those that have the virus in Wuhan could ultimately go as high as 18 percent, and Hong Kong epidemiologist Gabriel Leung is warning that most of the population of the globe could end up being infected if dramatic action is not taken.

But other medical professionals believe that this outbreak will start to fade once warmer weather arrives.  Hopefully they are correct, but Dr. Nancy Messionnier says that it is still way too early to make that sort of an assumption

Dr. Nancy Messionnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sounds a similar note when it comes to predicting a slowdown of cases with warmer weather. “I think it’s premature to assume that,” she said during a call with reporters on Wednesday. “We haven’t been through even a single year with this pathogen.”

We shall see what happens.  But even if this outbreak subsides when the weather is warm, it could still flare back up again in a massive way once next winter arrives.

In fact, many experts believe that we will now be dealing with this coronavirus year after year for the foreseeable future.

Hopefully that is not true, but without a doubt our world is getting a little bit crazier with each passing day.

It seems like one crisis after another just keeps popping up, and there will almost certainly be more great challenges that we must face in the months ahead.

For the moment, this coronavirus outbreak is taking center stage, and the numbers are getting significantly worse every 24 hours.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

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