Monday, February 9, 2015

MSF: J'accuse toi; en ce qui concerne le virus Ebola

While Ebola has pretty well vacated the news as cases wind down or folks become calloused to the terrors that came with this plague, it is crucial to find out why was this outbreak so terrible.
The governments of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone were fairly well non-existent and the civil society non-existent  with brutish chaotic lifestyle.  The governments were corrupt and ineffective to deliver even the most basic oversight and public health policy.

So this is used to explain why Ebola thrived here of all places.

But Ebola has always existed in such places, it almost seems to a prerequisite for the disease as the flint of winged bats or "bushmeat" strikes the steel of corruption and poverty.  Yet all other outbreaks in areas just as chaotic  did not reach such a terrible number as this Ebola outbreak.

This outbreak was so obviously different from all Marburg and Ebola outbreaks in the past that it is heard this was a terrible more dangerous (if that was possible) unique  strain of Ebola.

The civics in the three Ebola countries were basically nonexistent, and what did exist was chaotic and corrupt, but so too is Nigeria, or Mali or when Ebola broke out in the past in Uganda or Congo - yet those countries either swiftly ended the Ebola outbreak as in Nigeria or quickly responded and ended the disease as in the Congo and Uganda.  What is different about these three countries- what common factor of explanation is present among the three that was not at other near equally desperate and corrupt countries?

The CDC offers a good starting point to find this deadly difference. They reduce the disease to the standard epidemiology math - which is robust and effective in all outbreaks.  However 
the models were surprised with the outcome  and provide, now 9 months later, "corrections".  The corrections were that more people attended health facilities to begin with than "reported" and there were more contagion than the models estimate in general.

The model had to be corrected in terms of the cumulative cases that occurred by the summer:




And it seemed obvious this was the causative, that the number of hospital stays was way lower than the model predicted:


And what was to be changed so the model calibrates with these two charts is the virulence factor for those who were not quarantined nor in a hospital.  Otherwise the number of infected and the growth doesnt make sense.  But this doesnt jive with the the drop in cases to the recent lows.  The original model says that if 70% of those infected do find either quarantine or a hospital bed will end the outbreak, effectively speaking.  This is a link to the CDC 3 factor  model, easily made available since September of last year.  It is a straight forward but elegantly designed Excel 10 spread sheet and allows the three factors to be directly changed and "what ifs" applied.  Changes which are required to reach to the swift ramp up that did occur shown above.  But then a problem occurs, for by changing the factors,  the "70%" hospitalized rule is changed and the Ebola plague should still be ascending.  Instead the disease did decline in the number of cases to reach the current levels just as if the original assumptions of hospital stay and virulence always existed.

The predicted hospital beds and the corrected:



This also corresponds, the corrected, with the unexpected number of Ebola cases.

But the fact still remains, that when 70% of the infected were quarantined or hospitalized the disease cycle swings down and then effectively ended, and this did happen almost at exactly the day the model predicted it would - within 10 months of the outbreak start.  

This is very important because it means this Ebola outbreak was no more or no less virulent than past outbreaks.

 The model "worked", that it was robust and accurate as these "Susceptible Infectious Recovered" or SIR models. The CDC Ebola model has 3 states to the Infectious phase being hospitalized, quarantined and in the general public and uses an infection factor for the three states - low single digit transmission for hospital and quarantined and a high 30% for those infected in the public space.  This number is based on standard sanitation and procedures and the quarantined are left to die with only occasional morbidity from loved ones who are compelled to help.

The phases in the model for the three group break down:

 
So to match the model to the results, the CDC changed the numbers in the hospital but kept the infection rates of single digits for those being treated or isolated and kept the general public infection of 30% for those in the public unchanged.  And that is what occurred - the disease did have a general infection rate of 30%, that any person untreated and in the general public would infect 30% of those the person came into contact with.  So the model was "right".

That means one of the other transmission rates in the "safe" categories was wrong.

Those quarantined did have a infection rate of the  model's 3% as one's family broke the rules or those burying the person became infected - but it was occasional and folks were left alone to die die alone.

This means the model's "error" was the hospital infection rate.  To have the cases that did occur and the numbers in the hospital, the hospital infection rate has to be almost the same as those infected in the general public, 30% or slightly lower.

Later, as the hospital infection rate dropped to the model's 2%, the disease abated, right on cue.  If the three countries had provided guidance or regulation that required those treating Ebola in the first 6 months making those in health care follow normal sanitation rules - not even the moon suits all were seen walking around in at the end - this Ebola breakout would have been 1/20th the outcome.  This Ebola outbreak was not unique.

While  government must apply basic public health for their citizens - Mali and Nigeria did so - it is the hospitals that implement and provide the standards of that care.  The hospitals in the three countries were not only hapless, but they were aggressively risky in the initial treatment if Ebola.  Almost all of these hospitals were under the administration and control of Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontieres.  The hospital staff were following their directions and administering aid accordingly.  MSF seemed to callously and willfully allow their staff to provide dangerous and near suicidal care. Many of the healthcare workers died and become part of the 30% infection rate in the general public.   This catastrophic failure in following the most simple and basic rules of healthcare is the only way the numbers that resulted fit the model.  Epidemiology math is robust, simple and effective.  It is linear though obviously can be geometric in growth.  It is what it is.

If one tracks the MSF press releases on the disease, there is an obvious pattern.  First, in April,  "this is a tough job but we know Ebola and the people are lucky we are here and we will deal with it"; then by July the MSF goes quite and the meme that this is a most unusual Ebola with unique virulence.

Until more clarity is provided, the numbers suggest that MSF requires a thorough investigation in terms of what appears to be their callous indifference to their staff and patients and their general incompetency. The model provided by the CDC can provide "what ifs" that suggests that the difference in this Ebola outbreak was the MSF.  Chaos and lack of regulatory oversight did exist in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, but this allowed MSF to apply such near willfully shoddy care.  In the first few months it is obvious MSF facilities did more harm than good as they acted as central junction points and turbo charged the spread of the disease, more often than not via the initial health workers.  It appears to me the  lack of government oversight in those three countries was exactly the setting required for the MSF fund raising: highlighting romantic  disaster-medicine tourism for volunteers who bravely leave Toronto to save the poor savages in Africa, and yet they had to  provide the low standard health care that they do I guess to make ends meet - proof is in the numbers.  

The WHO is apparently going through a re-organization and one of their first tasks  is to force a general licensing  and oversight over such organizations like MSF.

'First, do no harm."

I offer the thesis - hopefully refuted quickly not with emotion rock star adulation emotion, but with simple robust math as per CDC model  - that suggests the MSF caused this Ebola outbreak.    


 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"It's the Claims Data, Stupid" - why UER is about to plunge towards 5%

Claims data closes the year at astounding lows which can only reflect a white hot economy. This is not news as first "showed" when successively less and less workers were furloughed during the July auto shutdown for refits, starting in 2012.  This is apparent from a simple year over year of the non-seasonally adjusted data.


 Most get their ideas of claims data taking uncritically the seasonally adjusted data which shows a rather sedate changes that do not portray the jaw dropping drama that is occurring.  I don't think it is because of anything nefarious, it is that the worst of the crisis of 2009 and then a second wave in 2010 hit the seasonal surge from Christmas to the first few weeks of January.  CES/BLS is well aware of this problem and it seems to promote debate internally on the seasonal adjustment machine X-13 ARIMA-SEATS - which is just a fancy smoothing machine seeking auto-regression. This is typical of the tons of solid, bit dull, papers on the problems of the recession.  The bottom line is the memory in the 13A model is 5 years, and the lions share of the crisis hit in December and January 2009 so we are at the end of the out of the norm impact on seasonals.  I do not understand how very seasoned economists blithely carried on reporting claims uncritically accepting this major blemish.  To my read of the data it is impossible to make any sense of claims data unless you look at the nonseasonal data year over year.  The greatest insight is from observing the four key seasonal points.  The most important is the turn and the hit in the first week or two of January.  Above you can see how massive the crisis was with the spike towards almost 1 million claims in a one week hit.  Assuming 500,000 was the "norm", the hit beyond 500,000 was incorrectly being applied to data as a seasonal hit, so the seasonal data then was adjusted too low and did not reflect the severity of the crisis.  This was then carried on through the year and the seasonal applied to periods where employment was improving was reported as not all that good a time.  The error in seasonals was also applied to the next key period, the July auto refit, not reflecting how severe the hit was.  In July 2009 autos were not shutting down just for refit, they were closing down permanently, as the crisis of the July 2009 surge to excess of 600,000 shows.  In time the "miracle" Steve Rattner pulled off in almost single handed saving of the USA auto industry is obvious in the data given how swiftly the seasonal auto refit in July became just that - seasonal.  But the non seasonal data did not provide insight into how dire the environment was - there is no doubt given the non seasonal claims data that the nation was on the verge or had entered a crisis every bit as severe as the Great Depression.  To my read it is as if bathers at  a Miami South Shore beach for a year were frolicking not knowing hundreds of great white sharks were just past the surf line.  The country was a hairs breadth from ruin.  Which, if it had occurred would  have very likely led to world war as all those chronic imbalances from mercantilism currency or oil cartel pricing were settled in only a few months and given a context of a lot of pissed off Americans.

A view of initial claims that makes it easier - at least to me - for several intuitive "aha!" moments is to take the year over year and make them into a heat map. Years from 1992 are the x axis and weeks are the y axis.  Color scale is given on the right and has rich green as "good times" with low claims and white as "tough times".  Keep in mind this is not adjusted by population growth and is, again, non seasonally adjusted levels week by week and year by year.  By moving from left to right one can see an entire decade at a certain week go by, and if one reads up and down one can see the progression in any one year,

Week 28, reading across shows the move to light green to yellow of the rise in the claims from the July auto refit.  The year end turn surge in claims is obvious where the lone pure white spot showing on week 2 in 2009.  And of course the read from top to down on the 2009 column shows  how extraordinary the crisis was and when remedy started to become effective - the most significant was the Rattner auto rescue that was in place by the 2010 July period.  Further more, once the quick death of a severe solvency crisis was alleviated by the Fed via QE I - there is little sign QE ongoing, the majority of QE I and then QE II and QE III had any impact on employment.  Of course the immediate shock alleviation with QE I was critical, but thereafter - once solvency was restored to the system - there is no impact.  One can also see how a "normal" recession of 2007 on become a severe crisis as solvency became the problem starting with  Lehman and then during the surge in LIBOR to Treasury Bills in November and the "jump ball" from the election. 

Most seem to think that they can glibly dismiss claims data, either because they uncritically accept the seasonals, or as the obvious massive discrepancy - the "separate worlds" of claims data to the monthly reported employment data and the side cars that supposedly qualify unemployment like employment to population (EP) ratio or (does not seem chic now) the labor force participation rate.  I think there are several unique features to this crisis versus the only comparable comparison, the monetary tightening induced Reagan recession of trough of 1983 to 1986.  First the Reagan 1983 recession hit in the QI 1983 and was somewhat controlled as it came not by solvency cusp like hit, but was induced by Volcker doubling down in tightening Fed policy.  1983 was induced from monetary policy, not inexplicable exogenous shocks of the 2008 - 2009 crisis.  The hit of 2009 came screaming out of the blue, the recession of 1983 was induced.

This meant that seasonals were not a problem nor made a "looking through a glass darkly" problem in 1983.  The relationship between monthly sample data and the census weekly data was linear and reported honestly the volatility and swings that occurred.  This is not the case in 2009 as the strike was violent and as massive as 1983, the control panel was giving out such "noise" or such a dire status that I dont think the severity was believed, or appreciated, as it was in 1983.  This ended with the monthly data being smoothed and swiftly became out of synch with the weekly claims data.  Claims data relationship to monthly employment data peaked for both at the same time in the 1983 recession.  This is not the case in 2009 where claims data peaked in March 2009 and the monthly data slowly smoothed in and "bled" in how dire the situation was not peaking until June 2010.  At first I think this was an honest error in the fog of war of the crisis, that surely it just was not that bad, but then later I think the White House started to lean on BLS, and with perhaps complicit BLS economists deliberately misreported the monthly UER.  I think that UER peaked in March 2009 towards 11 1/2% and then both claims and monthly data paused, but in a coordinated fashion and then after the Fed assured liquidity and after Rattner's industrial rescue of America, the improvement and mending was swift and very large.  Instead the BLS was now use to smoothing and while it is hard to put the finger on when exactly occurred, BLS threw their lot in with the "Odyessian Fed" and from then on the monthly employment is contrived and is adjusted down only to the point it has  some connection to the accurate, impossible to manipulate, claims data.  Another point should be made in that the disconnect that occurred by March 2009 between claims data and monthly data was so large and so obvious with hindsight, and then maintained, that it clearly dismisses those who feel claims data is irrelevant as it is some sort of different world of  large corporate layoffs.  Clearly the data makes mince meat of that view.  Claims data and monthly data are one and the same as far as reflecting the economy in general.


Where does that leave us?  There is so few comparables to the 2009 crisis, not even the 1983 recession the only recession as "large" as the 2009  downturn, but is not of the same nature of 2009 being a monetary induced recession versus the 2009 solvency crisis.

There can be no debate that claims data is an accurate depiction of the current status of the USA economy.  The reasons that the monthly data is being presented  in such a doctored and strangely negative basis are over.  Perhaps part of the reason the Democrats took such a drubbing in the election and lost now both the House and Senate to the GOP is that the deception the BLS was maintaining had unintended consequences.  While it did cover up the manipulation of the coverup on how bad the situation was in 2009, and while it did become an important supportive factor for the Fed maintaining "forward guidance" and avoid returning to a data driven rules based policy  and thereby maintain the new Fed extraordinary powers, it also "worked" and convinced the American public that the Democrats were doing a terrible job in managing the crisis.  That is rich irony as the claims data - and also almost all other economic data (but for diffusion data of "pop pols" of ISM guys) - indicate the Democrats did a pretty good job and should have been doing a victory lap into the November election.

And that might be the important point.  Unless the Democrats wish to be eviscerated in the 2016 elections, and really those elections are starting, now is the time accurate and positive (if possible) reporting of employment data occurs.  Tomorrow may be the second month of this process, I suspect it started with the surge in payrolls last month, and we may see a 500,000 or so payroll number along with a large drop in UER to under 5 1/2%.  But perhaps the Fed is still leaning against this reporting and it will not happen.  But what is clear is that within 500,000 or so the monthly employment data will be whatever BLS, along with the clique they travel with or want to travel with, want it to be.  But I do think they are quickly losing freedom to do this and the day of reckoning is upon them.  The administration  will start to pressure the Fed, and they will no longer go along with the Fed with their dour "unemployment is really huge, huge I say!" and secret sauce indicators - that while that allowed the Fed to stay loose while Obama went on a 6 year campaign to centralize Democratic power with patronage and realpolitik austerity,  This strange partnership is no longer required and is now harmful to the administration, so Obama is likely or has already given notice that he is no longer supportive no more will abide by the Fed keeping this "arm waving" emergency status.

Claims data is the current status of the USA,  we are through NAIRU,  and we are now white hot - will we are "verdant" green.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

SP500,Fed and NGDP; War Narrative

With the current give and take on ZIRP and SP500 at record level and DOW breaching 18,000, and quasi-millennialist concepts like "Secular Stagnation" or "New Normal"  - thought it would be useful to look at the long term view.  The following shows not much has changed for the USA in terms of likely growth.  The impact of demographics on the USA may have certain immediate tactical importance - for example as the Great Recession led to early retirement for "Boomers" or for certain sub groups like Hispanic women. ( Hotchkiss, Atlanta Fed "Adjusted Employment to Population Ratio As An Indicator of Labor Market Strength" ) but in the end demographics is not a independent or causal variable but is dependent and acts as an identity in being a main attribute to growth.  So too with productivity, the other attribute to US growth, which  will wax and wane not because of any stagnation or boom, but in terms of the expected duration of the users/creators of the changed productivity.  Productivity in the long run is  a dependent and an identity, as is demographics/population.  Inflation is the third attribute to nominal growth, and it is also a dependent and also acts as an identity.  

The independent variable for US nominal growth, or NGDP, is the amount of profit that can be produced given the current US setting.  And if population, productivity and inflation are dependents, then the amount of profit that can be produced is a optimization problem given the current  legal and security setting of US corporates.  During some phases inflation is stressed and at other times population - and so on.  And that legal setting is the US Constitution and the US "rule of law"  applied to US corporations.  The USA, since it entered the globalized world in being the deciding force for WWI and thereby the lead at the peace conference, creates the mix of inflation, productivity and population required to maximize profit, given the main challenge to the US Constitution and thereby maintaining the capitalist liberal democracy system.
Therefore, it is the security of the USA which will define in the end profit realized and potential - or more simply put it is war which defines the USA profit attributes and growth.  And thereby it is war which define the NGDP of the USA and how the three main factors of  NGDP are weighted in terms of population, productivity and inflation.
Examining how these basic factors  to USA NGDP  have developed over the last century, 4 distinct long phases can be identified.  The story of US growth for the last century, and  subsequent SP500 levels, has been the common denominators  with each of  these 4 phases.  The business cycle, where most begin and end any analysis of growth and markets, is merely an overlay to these phases. Even a casual memory shows that the phases are based upon war.

1. The German War 1914 to 1946
2. Cold War I 1947 to 1967
3. Cold War II 1968 to 1988
4. US Ascendancy 1989 to 2014
Within these 4 phases the breakdown of contribution to NGDP from population, productivity and inflation is  somewhat consistent considering  the huge differences and challenges unique to each phase, but that uniqueness does effect the weights of each factor.  The ability to maximize profits through optimizing the three factors does vary on nominal terms, especially as large changes in inflation are required in a certain phase to maximize nominal profit - but real GDP is, over the long run, a very steady 3% plus growth.   It is this ability to maintain a consistent business setting which allows the US to optimize the three factors that has made the USA the behemoth power that it is today.
The factors weights of NGDP growth, the contribution weights,  are population adding about 20%, productivity about 36% and inflation the rest of about 48%. While the  business cycles overlaid onto these phases are complex and each cycle unique - from the super cycles of the Great Depression and the Great Recession to the minor business cycles that play out every 4 to 10 years - each phase can be  identified and framed by the national conflict or war that was central for that specific phase.  Even the latest  phase - US Ascendancy - is defined by the issue of insurgency to the US cultural and economic hegemony.
The USA economy is a war economy.


It is the nature of the war prevailing that will define the economy and the nature of the growth the USA experiences.
 When the phase war is not one of attrition but one of conquest and domination, US productivity surges as the duration of forward expectations can extend making investment to produce such productivity less risky, but when the phase war is one of attrition, as it was in phase  Cold War II,  from the worst of Viet Nam morass to the final caving of the USSR in 1989, productivity is almost halved as the duration for forward expectations is halved as risk increases.  Anyone born prior to 1960 can remember as a young child being woken at night by a siren and always wondering if this was the night the Russians attacked and nuclear war commenced.   When the USA entered the post USSR phase of hegemony, the Ascendancy phase - despite the popular generally gloomy economic and political narrative that has almost been constant in this phase - productivity and population doubled from the attrition of the Cold War II phase as risk to forward expectations dramatically declined. And despite the terror of 9/11 and the so called "failed" wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, few Americans than ever as a percent of the populace saw war, and the world became undeniably safer and safer as insurgency against the American hegemony was dealt with. 
While NGDP varies, real GDP is stable around 3.2% for the last century.  Inflation is the "buffer" , a sector identity such that the results are a  steady, or optimization of nominal corporate profits  so that real GDP is  kept steady. 
The above  is the basic axioms of  Minsky-Keynes depiction of the US economy.   All other powers that have been authoritarian based, or corporatists (fascism), socialist or communists, and that have come to depend upon a globalized economy  then have had no choice but to attack the USA for they are quickly put into a zero sum world where either the US system or their system prevails.  That results in war, and is why the USA has been defined by war, or the USA capitalist liberal democratic system with profit maximization at its core, is always being tested or challenged even to the point of possible destruction.  That in this warrior nation state,  the drive to maximize capitalist profit (which are more often than not the opposite to rentiers profits)  prevail and is our defining characteristic - not a "people" or religion or geographic area.
The USA is a capitalist liberal democracy,   and this defining characteristics has been the cause of all the wars for the last century, as state corporatism of the Germans, and  then the Marxist-Stalinist socialism of the USSR,  realized that they were in a struggle to the death with the USA  as their forms of government were mutually incompatible with the USA capitalist liberal democracy and they would cease to exist unless the  USA was eliminated or changed to a different system.  

The Table:

The current ratio of the growth of  SP500 to NGDP is at the highs for the last century.  That the average ratio has been where the SP500 growth is 1/3 of the NGDP.  Why this change?  When the war threatens the survival of the USA, SP500 lags terribly, and in addition to this risk if the war is one of attrition,  as it was in the dark second phase of the Cold War,  most of NGDP growth, and thereby to make the required nominal capitalistic profit, is provided by inflation. Now that has been reversed, matching the perhaps hubris of the USA immediately after Hiroshima and the smashing of the German corporatism model.
Yellen and company have it all wrong, as long as the USA is empowered for war, able to fight war such that it is reasonable to see the USA prevail,  inflation is not something that can be generated nor really curtailed,  but is rather an identity responding to the USA security policy.  The Fed can only be an administrator and make the best of the phase war for the period,and can only focus upon inflation in the end.  And by focusing on inflation the Fed can only seek to have the necessary changes inflation move discreetly.  This is the purpose and the theory behind the Taylor Rule, to allow feedback such the Fed can make the necessary identity moves in inflation as effective as possible.  In the end the Fed cannot curtail or encourage the inflation rate that will occur.   The Federal Reserve is always, in the end, an administrator and every attempt at "policy" will only delay or unnecessarily speed up the monetary status that will occur.  For in the end inflation is an identity, not a causal variable.

Population is also created or will be whatever is required, in the end, to maximize nominal capitalist profit.  Whoever unlike any other form of government, with the liberal democracy such population results can only in the end be a good.  The Malthusian concerns of "global warming" types or just about any demographic concern is something that will have nothing to do with any reasonable foreseeable economic time period.  Malthusian and Millennialistic concerns should be seen for what they are - religiosity that is no longer fulfilled with traditional religion.  If concepts like global warming - and I have no interest debating it here - are valid and are science, then they will simply be priced into profits as any cost and thereby be solved with the relentless pursuit of capitalist profit. Such is the power and beauty of a liberal democracy.  This also means that all consideration of NGDP based upon demographics - all the ad nauseum of late on Boomers and their spawn is trite.  What will be the demographics in the USA?  I can answer with confidence and total predictive capability - it will be whatever maximizes capitalist profits.  To me that means that there will be a relative resounding boom in immigration and perhaps the Mils will have more kids than one thinks at this point.
The other major attribute for growth, that contributes almost 1/2 of growth is productivity.  That seems to be on track at the usual .45 weight.
Going forward the table in context of the true nature of the warrior America economy  suggests that the current FOMC is assuming more power than it really has, that it will in the end only "shepherd" the inflation required and that all "extraordinary" measures will cease - likely not really required nor as important as all consider for a couple of years now.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Fraud that is "Odorliberalism" in Germany, Munchau Naive or Complicit to the Fourth Reich?

USA Munchau just wrote a most important analysis on why are Germans so darn ignorant of basic Keynesian and Monetary economic theory:

The wacky economics of Germany’s parallel universe

He goes on about how Germans just seem completely out to lunch on the most basic economic canon.  That what are accepted ideas of Keynes and Friedman, by both right and left, the German leadership and economic academia are strangely oblivious or ignorant about - even with the proximity to Austria.

He recaps "odorliberalism", a supposedly unique economic theory to Germany based upon the terrible toll the chaos and economic disruption of the 1920s and 1930s caused to Germany, providing a German wise knowledge of the reality of how all economic policy not based on balanced budget and careful stewardship of the currency value will lead to chaos and  upheaval.

"The Germans have a name for their unique economic framework:  odorliberalism. Its origins are perfectly legitimate – a response of Germany’s liberal elites to the breakdown of liberal democracy in 1933. It was born out of the observation that unfettered liberal systems are inherently unstable, and require rules and government intervention to sustain themselves. The job of the government was not to correct market failures but to set and enforce rules."

This is rubbish.  The German's themselves do not believe this and likely they are amazed the rest of the EZ and OECD is taking this hog-swill seriously.

Munchau does get the history right though, in terms of when this "odorliberalism" first appeared and when it gained ascendancy in the German economic policy formulation.  And to note this history and to consider the markers and timing gives important insight into Germany today, the state of the EZ, and what is to be done going forward.

It is my belief that "odorliberalism" is a deliberate recidivist policy by the German power to return to the bad old days of perceiving a need to dominate Europe, to seek expansionary room, only this time not agrarian "lebensraum" but now "econsraum" to where peace can be maintained with the German people, especially the working class by finding markets for their extra productivity and finance the state programs that allow the state to subsidize wages in the form of percs and employment stability.  That this "econsraum" is required so as to have the German worker accept low rather homogeneous wage levels yet maintain productivity and to not concern themselves with the good fortune of the state centric capitalistsand financiers.  A "grand bargain", if you will.  That this was especially critical when the unification of Germany seemed likely as such across the board deal was required to absorb the near shattered E. German volk.  So goes the laudable start to national application of "odorliberalism".

Munchau provides the odorsliberalism history, starting first immediately after WWII and coming from the still relatively intact Bundesbank and the mainstay of the German "center right" - it was the policy of the rentiers and national state capitalists still formed in national capitalists collectives with a troika of banking, insurance and industry grouping.  Competition was not the issue, the issue was to, always with patriotic fervor, to revive the German economy.  To pull Germany our of the ashes, that at all costs order and a state collective policy between capital and workers was required.  That the chaos rooted in the liberalism of the the 1930s was what allowed the madman Hitler - who no one knew what he was about until after the war - to gain control.  This is of course nonsense.  As Keynes sketched out effortlessly in "Consequences" written in 1919, it was not the liberal ideals that delivered Germany to Hitler, but the crazed effort for the victors of WW I to extract revenge and then homage from Germany in the form of monstrous repatriations and severe curtailment of all heavy industry - especially coal and steel. That "odorliberalism" was not a response to this liberalism danger but in fact to continue with the national socialism agenda of the coalition between state, labor and industrialist collectives - or "corporatism".  That after the end of WW II, the only group of volks still left who provided the world with WW II were  ensconced in the Bundesbank, and while the winners went after the more obvious war capability of Krupp, Messerschmidt, Bayer, IG Farben, and others - all those who sponsored and dealt with Speer - they left pretty well alone the financial arm of the German war machine, especially the Bundesbank.  Most of the "bad" industrialist also survived WW II pretty well intact and Speer was not hung by piano wire, only jailed.  The occupiers, facing the now aggressive USSR quickly returned Germany to almost the same industrial and financial structure it had before and during WW II.

Odorliberalism was the "banner" and is fascism - or "national socialism.  Full stop.

The brilliant "good Germans" like Adenauer immediately countered the "odorliberalism" fascists by  working closely with the Frenchman Jean Monnet and with, at that time USA support, used the Monnet Plan framing to dispense Marshall Plan funds and start the plan's execution with the various industry and defense and monetary groups that were the early precursors to the EZ, with the European Coal and Steal  - the European Coal and Steel which effectively kept the Ruhr power base from the "odorliberalism" folks.  This followed with the long line of basically CDU, Adenaur's party, controlling the German economy and occasion swings to the left.  Keynes was well understood and the economic savior of Germany was to be integration and cooperation and eventually the "United States of Europe".  Then the big problem was not Germany but French exceptionalism in the form of  Gaullism, and UK nostalgia for when they could enter a room without the Yanks and matter.  But with liberal French and UK support, and just common sense that "odorliberalism" was all fine and allowed, placated with nonsense about the DM, the Monnet Plan financed by the Marshall Plan was the way to go to lift Europe out of the ruins created by Germany, with many of the German war leadership still ensconced and position of power in the leading industrial executive offices, banking and insurance.  Especially in the Bundesbank. 

This led to where Kohl and Mitterrand joined hands at Verdun in 1984 and swore eternal fidelity of both countries to Europe and to each other - the hand holding was unscripted and moment of greatness for them both.  



and culminated in 1991 both proposing a corps strength W European army that would coordinate with NATO, perhaps even be a member of NATO, but be another important institutional marker on the way to the "United States of Europe".  That phrase, "the United States of Europe" were oft mentioned by Kohl and Mitterrand and the Socialist and CDU of Germany.  Kohl, as late as only a few years ago, felt the USE was necessary to allow the full integration of a post-reunified Germany.  Mitterrand felt this was the route so as to maintain French relevancy, to contain Germany and to offset the USA.

But at the same time Germany reunification occurred, the "odorliberal" croud in Germany surged ahead and it was "odorliberalism", nicely cleansed to talk about the pragmatic costs of absorbing the bankrupt East Germany and to address how Germany had become the "sick man of Europe".  This was the primary platform of Schroder.

All changed.

At the same time France, often to do with bizarre levels of corruption, went through chaotic change of government and the revival of the anti-USE Gaullist party.

As Schroder embraced "odorliberalism", he found a willing Gaullist party to team with.  And also Schroeder found the German center of balance had swung several hundred miles East and the primary concern was not the USA, in anycase, but now Russia.  There is also something strange of this focus on Russia, often the more important factor for foreign and international economic policy for Germany than the USA, so strange that Schroeder retires as a director in the inner sanctum of Putin's power base - Gazprom - and then even though the party of Kohl comes back with his so called protege Merkel, Merkel is never to say "United States of Europe" and is in more frequent contact with Putin than the USA or France.  This eventually ruptured her relationship to Kohl to the point the great man


of Europe talks about what a naive barbarian Merkel is, in a book he authored forthcoming. He has, for history sake, disowned Merkel and finds her a traitor to the great German European dreams and she has adopted the Russian centric and "odorliberalism" of Schroeder.  I strongly suspect that the impact of powerful legacy Stasi files now in Putin's hands transfixes Merkel and limits her ability to carry on the USE dream, she is compromised and has been co-opted by the neo-fascist of Germany.

Further more, Schroeder, using "odorliberalism", and carrying on with the shrewd conversion rate Kohl was able to secure for the Ostmark, or DDM to the the DM of basic use of 1:1 and then a still very rich 2:1 for substantial savings of blocks and then 3:1 for speculators.  This dramatically cheapened the DM post 1990 as was considered a massive "give-away" to the East German people by the West Germans.  But it was incredibly shrewd if Kohl had the Euro in mind.  By cheapening the DM prior to the Euro, and than maintaining that relative cheapness, Germany entered the Euro at levels, 1.955 DM per EUR,  bizarre in terms of any sort of comparison to productivity or purchasing power parity to the the rest of the to be EZ countries.  The DM should entered the EUR at a much richer level, say 1.2 or 1.3.  However the justification of the incredible rich conversion of the Ostmark to reunify Germany, and the large turmoil of the other reserve currencies in the 90s after the re-unification - such as Soros "raid" on  Sterling - all masked this entering into the EUR at such a favorable term pretty well unnoticed.

It is interesting to note that the ideals of odorliberalism were ignored by all in reunification with East Germany, but then again that was under Kohl's watch.  Schroeder, as soon as the DM absorbed the DDM, quickly made odorliberalism his platform for all things EZ, such as the ways and means of the ECB, the making of transfer payments taboo, and the insistence or at least taking the high grand in balanced budgets or parsimonious response to any stress in terms of deficit spending.  This odorliberalism now not only swing control to the national capitalist-workers alliance of old, but also was used as a cudgel to coral the rest of the EZ to respond with maximum efficiency for Germany to the very cheap DM entry to the EUR.

And, it worked incredibly well, in the end hamstringing the peperipherals not allowing any remedy to imbalances but reduction in employment.  And whenever either a federalist answer, reverting to the Monnet-Kohl-Mitterrand United States of Europe, with the ability of federalism to remedy gross imbalances by ways others than massive unemployment, or whenever the stressed economies try to seek remedy through fiscal deficits and spending, Germay howls the "odorliberalism" rant, now not just a German device to secure power for the corporatist elite via a pact of labor to industry, but "the way" that all of the EZ should adopt.

In short, Germany has moved from the greatness of Kohl's federal Europe to the neo-fascist economics, now called a much less frightful odorliberlism of Merkel.

So this is where I find a person as smart as Munchau disingenuous, perhaps.  Maybe he is such an arrogant man that he thinks the lack of understanding Keynes and Friedman in Germany must mean they are crazily naive and ingorant.  That they never ever even cracked open Keynes.  That is of course nonsense.  If there is one trait Germany has shown ever since Bismarck organized the modern state of Germany in 1871, it the ability of the elite in all forms, labor, industry, finance, and academia to conspire.  To figure out a master plan for the master volk and then stick to it.  That Germany should lead.

The USA is complicit in this Fourth Reich.  As the EZ crisis blew out, various Washington DC agencies reached out to find out what was the problem, what was the reason of the crisis.  It became apparent that the reason was Germany using the absence of EZ democracy in the strait jacket of a no-transfer remedy confederacy. The highest in the USA understand this and know well the role Germany is taking, their dominant powerful position in Europe, completely at odds of even a few years ago as professed by Kohl.  That a 180 had taken place from the spirit of Adenauer back to the spirit of Hitler or Napoleon - take your pick.  Bismarck always was clear that hegemon of all of Europe and econsraum was not for Germany.  Hitler of course changed that, citing the national  glory ("will") that is central to fascism.  But the USA also realized that despite the shift to Putin, the USA controlled the area in the end, for Germany could proceed as it was with odorliberalism imposed upon all the EZ as long as Germany did not have to pay for security, the Euro Corp Kohl and Mitterrand envisioned, correctly, as required for the United States of Europe.  And the USA realized that if the United States of Europe did form, it would have such a Euro Corp, that the USA must leave Europe, that the EZ crisis would vanish and a powerful state every bit the equal to the United States would appear.  This country as a democracy would be a blessing for the USA, but what if old bad ways emerged of Napoleonic or Hitler type?  So instead of calling Germany down from odious odorliberalism and their rape number II of Europe, the United States instead went great lengths to understand when do the unemployed youth of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece start civil war and insurrection.  The results decided upon are not yet reached, so as to prevent the United States of Europe forming, odorliberalism is allowed to carry on an pummel Europe.

This ability to dominate Europe for the sake of provincial German interests was of course suppose to have been dashed with WW II.  But Germany to my mind is showing it still is morally corrupt by selfishly and blindly and conveniently embracing ideology that suits German hegemony over all of Europe. Odorliberalism is simply this century's version of the current tract.   Folks like Munchau are either innocently naive or complicit in this still obvious national characteristic of Germany.  Germany must be curtailed and returned to the peace settlement of WW II, the Monnet Plan and in short order, the creation if the United States of Europe.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Response to Pettis Latest Blog - Pettis is a "Must Read" - War on the Horizen - US complicit in EZ crisis

I wrote this in Michael Pettis comment section in response to his brilliant posting today:

http://blog.mpettis.com/2014/10/how-to-link-australian-iron-with-marine-le-pen/

"How to link Australian iron to Marine le Pen"

My comment:

As usual brilliant,  and you are frighteningly alone showing your academic courage.  But I have some thoughts which I hope are additive.

It should be understood that it is not just that  there is a curious  Dornbush  "suddenness"  that resolves imbalances, but if those imbalances were built as policy, especially policy that at its heart is meant to provide societal control, increase government power or repair a perceived deficiency in power or alleviate a risk to power (Tienanmen) , or to counter a foreign security risk, the imbalances created by policy can only be resolved by "un-policy".  In other words via catastrophe and jumps which will be weeks in the process versus the decades that the policy required to build those imbalances.  Since imbalances created are the results of policy, it means by definition they have the current group in power committed "all in" on those imbalances.  China may actually be able to remedy the imbalances by a change in policy based on Confucius ideals of the greater good -but that has never been accomplished in history be it the Athenian mercantilism   to Roman wheat trade with Egypt to American housing market.  So the odds as defined by history is that China will experience a very severe cataclysm ,right up there with a Yihetuan or Taiping event. I hope not, as that would result in war.

That is what is unsaid - maybe it has to be unsaid -  that such imbalances are not just severe economic conundrums lacking sensible policy - but are always the cause of all war.  These imbalances, therefore,  are the most important foreign policy and security issue for the USA and all world governments.  If they are successfully deflected from the international lines of transmission - for example the USA "ate"  the first phase of the China imbalance resolution via the solvency event of 2008 - they will always cause at best intense internal insurrection or a civil war and at worst global war.  Very serious stuff indeed.

These imbalances are intolerable for this globalized world.

Your ideas on Saravelos "Euroglut" are thoughtful.  And Saravelos is thoughtful to approach Europe on an international identity perspective like the good Minskian I am sure he must be.  But that glut does not exist in truth.  The real imbalance is not that that Germany and a few Nord fellow travelers have excess savings and low demand, but that all of those savings are matched and then some by the deficit in the PIIGS.  The T2 accounting has become ubiquitous such that it no longer terrifies or even really acknowledged . And the Nord EZ feel they have successfully forced the PIIGS into a long term acquiescence of the policy that built the T2 imbalances, and they will remedy those imbalances via labor.  Thus the 50% youth unemployment in Greece today, near matched in Spain and Portugal.  And with Italy starting to follow.  This remedy though is a fiction, a Potemkin policy which is providing the illusion that the Nord have the ability to consider  exporting their excess savings and deflation to the USA.  What will happen is all those savings will be marked down so the entire EZ will net to levels the T2 net would now indicate (and then of course the "shadow" netting added as well) so that all that Euroglut goes "poof".  Of course the last time Europe had this process WW II occurred, and it is  telling that you went to Keynes "Consequences of the Peace".  The only constructive answer that can work for Europe is that the T2 and other shadow imbalances are netted across Europe via transfer payments both spot and forward via trans-Europe unemployment insurance like payments and social security and health coverage.  There is the small issue of a constitutional apparatus being built to administer this.  So I do not think the "Euroglut" is of any risk to the USA.

What I do know is that the highest levels foreign  policy formulation in the USA from the beginning of the Euro crisis were well aware of all I say above and anticipated the current status.  I heard such discussion first hand.  The USA policy formulated for the EZ crisis from 2011 on was to give Germany  a "green light" to force PIIGS to use labor to maintain and work to remedy the EZ imbalances.  That very capable US analysis calculated thresh hold levels of unemployment in the PIIGS that they feel could be maintained before insurrection and the return of fascism.  That Fed Reserve support of the regional central banks along with one off ad hoc measures like the IMF "troika" would also assist  in  maintaining  German hegemony of Europe.  France would be bought off by calling this a Gaullist European solution.  This was sought by the USA policy authors because of the obvious logic that the only possible competitor to United States hard power would be a  Monnet Plan "United States of Europe".  So the USA is supporting the German hegemony at the terrible cost of strapping the PIIGS, thereby keeping Europe in one vast chronic "frozen" economic crisis.  The USA has no interest in seeing a land and naval force develop that would equal the US military.  And a United States of Europe would have a land and sea force the complete equal to the United States.

Lastly you are wrong (said with respect),  There is one economist who clearly anticipated both the USSR demise as well as the Japanese crash.  Whats more she correctly predicted the "lost decade(s)" of Japan that followed the 89 crash.  I am not certain that  she was aware of this (but I would imagine this autodidact economist must have read Minsk), but she used a very clean application of Minskian like identities to global imbalances to reach insight.  Whats more she freed herself from the national account data and considered the world as populated by large city-state economic regions and where the imbalances reside.   For example she would focus on imbalances between Honshu and Tokyo and much as Japan to the United States.  That person was of course the great Jane Jacobs.  Just as you went back to "Consequences", a read now of "City and the Wealth of Nations" is a good use of time.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Common Sense Shows the Household Survey is in Error, Under-reporting Employment by 1 Million (5 1/8%)

If UER-6 and household survey unemployment rate (now at 5.9%) showed  labor slack, a parallel status would be found in the insured unemployment data. Or the the ratio of insured labor force to total labor force would have changed significantly, dropping in similar fashion as the labor force participation rate.

But data  clearly shows that the ratio of insured labor force to total labor force has been unusually steady, ever since the large influx of women entered the work force in the 1970s onward.  The ratio of insured labor force to labor force does drop similar to  the labor force participation rate drop,  during the 2008 to 2009 business slowdown, but has corrected swiftly while the labor force participation rate has stayed unchanged.


The ratio of insured labor force to labor force has returned to levels experienced throughout the decade prior to the solvency event of 08.

The weekly initial claims and continuing claims data is accurate and timely. It is not a derived level or rate from a sample as it is comprehensive.  But for the ARIMA seasonal adjustments, the insured claims is consistent and accurate and factual.  It is what it is.  The BLS and CES uses the state data to calibrate and revise the household survey which by definition is  a sample, and the establishment business survey that derives payroll.  The household and establishment data can only be accurately portrayed with little margin of error every 10 years with the census - but even then that window of accuracy comes as hindsight after the census data is ordered and cleaned.  So BLS and CES depend on the above stable ratio to calibrate and revise the household and establishment data using the timely and comprehensive claims data.  At least they have done so for the 40 years prior to 2008. But in this solvency event with both the slowdown and then the recovery,  BLS and CES have not applied the claims data with the same rigor they have in the past.   If they had done so, using the 80% to 85% insured to total labor force ratio, the unemployment rate would have experienced much higher rates at the economic  nadir and then much lower rates as we recovered.  It is obvious that given the insured labor force to labor force ratio relative stability, the household data is now in error and will have upward revision of approximately 1 million employed.

That would change the current 5.9% unemployment rate to 5.1% unemployment rate raising the labor force participation rate accordingly and eliminating the unusual spread between UER-6 and UER-3.

Here I take the weekly complete census of insured unemployment rate and divide continuing claims by that rate to end with a derived household unemployment rate using insured unemployment and the stability of the ratio of the subset insured labor force to labor force.


 The last data point for both - August 2014 - is provided. The growing error in the household data by calibrating to the weekly claims census is obvious.  It also shows the error is approximately .8 % in the unemployment rate or approximately  1 million employed.

The magnitude of this error  is shown in the Beveridge Curve for insured unemployment and for household unemployment.


This shows the insured data coordinates to other impressions of the recovery like retail sales, consumer lending, durable goods and especially autos; while the household unemployment data is out of synch with other economic data, including  the JOBS data.

Detailed and complex contortions explaining why the household survey is accurate are more and more frequent, but none of these discussions even bother to explain the census based claims data - since it cannot be done -  it is simply dismissed or there is some sort of bizarro world parallel universe explanations that  claims data only reflects the rate of layoffs. That of course makes no sense when one considers the continuing claims data which drops only as employment picks up.

So the insured data Beveridge Curve is the accurate and complete depiction of the nations employment status.

The   reality is the employment levels are showing a near record if not record robust strength that can only occur with a consistent 4% real GDP. The unemployment rate when it is finally revised to the correct level will show that the current unemployment rate is about 5 1/8%.

This means that the FOMC is in the midst of one of the most significant policy errors in the history of the Federal Reserve since 1913.  That the whole premise of "forward guidance" is in error as the inflation rate is not related to the output gap, and then the output gap now being used is in error as right now there is no labor slack left and,  unless a new internet like technology flows into the economy as it did in the 1990s, heightening productivity, significant inflation given all the capacity being used will certainly occur.

But why is there no inflation now given a correct read of an extremely tight labor market? Where are the wage pressures that theory says should exist now.

That is easily explained pragmatically with obvious cause.  The 2008 solvency event hitting the "consumer of last resort" USA market made the USA specific event a global event.  That has created the illusion there is this Rogoff Reinhart "global economy" when there is not.  There is the massive hegemon USA economy and then the rest.



As the other sovereign economic units respond to the USA solvency crisis, almost all have resorted to a mercantalistic currency  policy.  Abenomics, China and now Germany via the Euro reversed the trade weighted decline of the dollar to a consistent 2 1/2% per annum enriching  of the dollar on a trade weighted basis. One can see when the dollar has a period of unchanged values then CPI then surges,  as we saw in the the 2nd Q 2014.  The lack of inflation is solely  dollar level caused and explains about 130% of the inflation that would have occurred now given the lack of capacity in the US economy.  If the FOMC persists in this gross misread of the current status - and perhaps Fischer does realize that as shown by his recent focus on exchange rates - and seeing that the dollar level has always been an administered rate, established by the US hegemon after considering security needs first then domestic needs second, the dollar will cheapen as it usually does, suddenly,  after some keystone forum as the USA asserts their power.  Then a calm to cheapening dollar will expose  the reality of the tight labor market  and little capacity of the US economy.  A large surge in inflation will occur to levels that may approach 6%. That is if the Fed carries on with ZIRP.

The BLS,  and the CES  - who does the heavy lifting and revisions for the BLS - very clearly go over the source of error in the household data and how it is repaired/revised by claims data:

"On an annual basis, the establishment survey incorporates a benchmark revision that re-anchors estimates to nearly complete employment counts available from unemployment insurance tax records. The benchmark helps to control for sampling and modeling errors in the estimates."

And the margin of error for the household data can be substantial:

"...the threshold for a statistically significant change in the household survey is about 400,000..."

(Both quotes from  http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.faq.htm

Given the solvency event was a once in century trend event that experienced a dramtic sudden reversal, it is easy to see that a cumulative  error of three or four months has occurred of about 1 million employed.

The US current unemplyment rate is now about 5 1/8%.  It is very difficult to refute the above logic.  I cannot.





Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ebola is an unsuccessful disease - why is it creating such impact?

Ebola is a lousy and ineffective virus, as a virus goes – at least in the human sphere.  The epidemiology math  “p” factor in morbidity and virulence  is lousy and requires massive mutation to ever make the big time in becoming a world class killer, like HIV or ubiquitous malaria. 




Retching blood in great agony, or crying tears of blood is great drama, far more terrifying than night chills of malaria or the sarcoma of AIDS, and makes great press.  And like any body fluid spreading disease with high levels  of morbidity – and with all  the blood and gore – it’s  first hit is noted and effective, to say the least.  But the fact it does kill in such a gruesome high profile way with lots of  fluids slopping around, makes it more a terrible and deadly test of basic infrastructure and public health policy than as a effective killer disease.  Most locales have no problem dealing with Ebola, it is a minor though dramtic.  Obviously many African locales are failing utterly.

But Ebola is not a major health risk for the world.

The current press and media are either deliberately doing great harm so as to sell ad space, or they are maliciously  enjoying this gruesome tale, or they are very poor journalists and have made no effort to define the story and get the facts. The press coverage on Ebola is close to or is criminal.

Epidemiology, the science backing the spread of a disease or condition, is  well understood and specific.  The Atlanta based CDC has released a model for Ebola at stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/24900 where one can download a easily used Excel spread sheet. 



  Inputs for the population of the area of concern; the ground zero beginning carriers numbers;  the infectious time for the carriers;  hospital, home quarantine and wanderers commitment rates;  how infectious or effective in transmission the disease is while in the hospital, home quarantine, or wandering around – all these variables can be entered to find out how many Ebola cases will occur.  Then a 40% mortality rate can be applied to calculate the deaths Ebola can cause.
I used a very high number of 20 Ebola carriers make it to the USA and go to 20 different cities, not knowing they have Ebola at first. But as soon as they are thought to be at risk I have 95% hospitalized, 3% under home quarantine, and 2% loose in the population.  The 20 different locales means this happens to a population of 200,000,000 (20 times cities of 10MM – obviously a very dramatic number), and the transmission rate of the disease I use .001% in the hospital,  5% while in home quarantine and those wandering around having a 30% infection rate.


The numbers – and keep in mind this is well understood science with little if no debate in this outcome – well a 5% confidence band which is what I instructed the CDC model to solve to – comes out with a Ebola, as far as the US is concerned, a non-event. No Brad Pitt World War Z.


Since this is material is easily found and can be vetted by those more experienced than I quickly, and since the CDC has made this available in a very easy form to understand and do “what ifs”, some disturbing conclusions emerge.

  1. Why isn’t the CDC and the US public health authorities making this well known?  One can conclude that they are spinning Ebola, again from the US perspective, into a monster story into realms of fiction – why? Why aren’t the US public health guys doing their job at a a most critical time of public concern?  Why are they allowing this panic to emerge?
  2.  If I am wrong and the public health authorities are making this available to the press – this CDC spread sheet was easily found – why is the press deliberately ignoring the facts and spinning this into a Hollywood horror sci-fi horror movie?  If the press is aware I can only see this as one of the most callous if not criminal acts of the press that I can remember.
  3.  Or is the press  simply stupid and have been swamped by Twittter and have been reduced to a most ineffective and unprofessional status?  If they are bungling to the point of malfeasance the Ebola story – what other stories are they also “blowing”?  is this Ebola hack coverage defining?
  4. This presents a very grim picture of how terrible lifestyle , infrastructure and public policy is for those stricken African countries.   If the most basic hygiene were applied or the most basic hygiene applied at mortuary or tending to the dead, or just if everyone would wash hands – Ebola would be as it should be, a bizarre one off event striking like lightening some very unlucky folks. 
Ebola is piker of a disease, even in Africa it is at best semi-pro.

What is killing Africans is not Ebola, but that  a very easily contained disease like Ebola can kill so many.  It is the basic African lifestyle and infrastructure that is the disease.  Case in point is that Nigeria, not high on many folk’s list of successful countries, has dealt with Ebola successfully.  That is a frighteningly damning for those countries not dealing with Ebola successfully.  They must be hell on earth.  At the very least all countries need to be brought up to the relative “rich” levels of Nigeria in terms of public health – at the very least.