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Weekly Commentary: Trouble on the Horizon

Weekly Commentary: Trouble on the Horizon

November 19 – Reuters (Francois Murphy and Paul Carrel): “Austria will become the first country in western Europe to reimpose a full COVID-19 lockdown, it said on Friday as neighbouring Germany warned it may follow suit, sending shivers through financial markets worried about the economic fallout. Europe has again become the epicentre of the pandemic, accounting for half of global cases and deaths. A fourth wave of infections has plunged Germany, Europe’s largest economy, into a national emergency, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, warning that vaccinations alone will not cut case numbers.”
As desperately as we want to put Covid behind us, the irrepressible virus refuses to succumb. Germany reported a record 65,000 new infections Thursday. And, according to Bloomberg (Chris Reiter and Tim Loh), infections are now doubling every 12 days – a trajectory that if continued will overwhelm hospitals within weeks. “In Berlin, there were 79 intensive-care beds available for the city’s 3.8 million people on Friday, while in the northern port city of Bremen, there were just five beds for its 680,000 residents.”

Here at home, infections are on the rise again, as we head into colder weather and the holiday season. Friday from CNBC: “The U.S. reported a seven-day average of nearly 95,000 new Covid infections Thursday, up 31% over the past two weeks…” Outbreaks were up about 50% in two weeks in the Midwest and Northeast. My concern is elevated by fear of somewhat waning vaccine efficacy associated with the early vaccination push. I also suspect there will be less enthusiasm for booster shots. Reasons for optimism include natural immunities, Pfizer’s new antiviral pill, and a list of other encouraging treatments.

Meanwhile, I am not optimistic about the impact Europe’s Covid outbreak will have on the unfolding global financial crisis. Once again, Covid brandishes nefarious timing…

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