There are vaccines coming online for COVID 19. I’m uncertain of the long term effects of these, because they have been pushed through clinical trials. I’m not arguing with the logic of this. Because the epidemiologists have crashed the economy, there was a pressure for a way forward, and a vaccine was seen as the cure.
But one won’t know until we know it works. Not all vaccines do. And not all those who are in the high risk group will take the vaccine. I’m not against vaccines — I paid for Hepatitis B in my 20s because I was in a at-risk group for that virus when it could give you fulminant hepatic failure (and kill you) and I recently paid for the Zoster vaccine because I don’t want shingles, thank you very much.
But COVID generally does not kill you. People are mistrusting authorities. So I think this is optimistic.
Next question: How soon can we vaccinate that many people? Several constraints will dictate the answer. One is how fast Pfizer and Moderna can produce vaccine doses, and it appears to be taking longer than initially thought. There may be 35–40 million doses available by year-end. Since each patient needs two, that’s enough for 20 million people.
Dr. Bob Wachter of University of California, San Francisco, reviewed the production schedules and estimates the US can vaccinate 150 million people by June and the entire country by December. He made this handy chart to show the progression. If this is right, and you are an American not in one of the groups listed above, you won’t get the vaccine until June at best, and probably later.
The good news is we should reach herd immunity (which Dr. Wachter thinks is around 70%) by September 2021. It might be a little sooner, depending on how much immunity there is in the large (and still growing) population who were infected and survived.
But one way or the other, by year-end the vast majority of Americans should be safe from COVID-19. Everybody who wants a vaccine should have had a chance to get it. Some will resist but Wachter thinks they will be a relatively small number.
But economically, that’s not the end.
This vaccination timing matters to the economy. It means that all our current precautions—masks, crowd restrictions, capacity limits—all those things will continue for at least six more months, and probably longer. That’s the best case.
One not-so-little detail people are missing about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines: The trials show recipients may still carry the virus even if it doesn’t make them sick. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla admitted this in an NBC news interview just last week.
If so, person-to-person transmission may not drop as quickly as hoped, and the economically problematic restrictions will have to stay in place longer.
One more thing…
Notice who isn’t on the vaccine priority list: healthy, middle-aged people in non-essential occupations. That means the corporate executives, lawyers, accountants, computer experts, investment managers, journalists and others who now mostly work from home. They represent a disproportionately large part of consumer spending.
So the people the airlines, hotels, restaurants, theaters, and retailers need most—their best customers—will be the last to get vaccinated, and therefore the last to resume normal economic activity.
That’s the right way to do it: protect the most vulnerable and their caregivers first. But it will delay the economic recovery.
Right now I hear a lot of people saying life will start getting back to normal in April or May. Maybe so, but stress the word “start.” Very little will be normal by then.
Everything I see says we are maybe halfway through this marathon. I’m not sure people and businesses are prepared to wait that long. And I’m certain financial markets aren’t.
If the model is correct, then most of our service industry won’t survive. Locally, we have the nation in a lockdown, but within the nation life is pretty normal, so local businesses will survive. Our tourist towns are imploding, and retail is suffering.
A three-week freight unloading delay is set to disrupt Christmas shopping and could see Boxing Day sales nixed in New Zealand as retailers struggle to fill their shelves.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and it’s put the shipping industry under extreme stress.
But it’s internal issues at Auckland’s port that are exacerbating delays. Only three out of its eight cranes are running due to a combination of staffing and technology problems.
A plan seen by Newshub shows ships could have to wait in the harbour for more than three weeks before they’re unloaded.
‘It’s a bit of a mess’: Delays at ports due to COVID-19 causing frustration
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford says stocks aren’t being delivered to retailers and some products won’t be on the shelves before Christmas.
“Most [retailers] will not want to come out and say they’re running short of stock.”
Stores across Auckland are already struggling to replenish stock. Suppliers are telling The Homestore in Newmarket they simply won’t get some of their premium products.
“Normally we’d place orders and get them by the end of the week, but now we either can’t get them or they’re looking like this side or the other side of Christmas,” The Homestore general manager Chris Sinclair says.
“Maybe offering us the b-rated brand just so we can fill the gap and not have the shop look so empty.”
Ships are being diverted to Northport and Tauranga, and KiwiRail is putting on extra trains to get items back to Auckland. But Christmas is two weeks away and stores are already running very low on stock.
So as a consequence, the government is considering taxing almost everything. If you trade houses, the profit you make on the house (net profit) counts as taxable income. The top rate will be 39 cents in the dollar. In addition you will pay GST on the house, which is 15 cents in the dollar.
But the family home is exempt, and property held for other reasons — ie. not to flip — is exempt. If you keep it: at present, for at least five years. The Government is considering increasing this time. And they are blaming the opposition, who bought in the rule, setting the holding time at two years.
But under sustained pressure to do something more to curb rocketing house prices, Robertson has asked the Treasury for new advice on whether the current settings were working or should be changed, including changes to the bright-line test.
The test itself is not quite a tax: It’s a rule to make sure people making money selling residential property pay income tax on that sale.
It is already the agreed-upon law of the land that people who make a living flipping property should be paying income tax on those profits. The test was designed to make sure this was happening.
The National Party introduced the test when last in government, setting the “bright line” at two years. This meant any property other than the “main home” sold within two years of purchase would be netted, with any profit made to be taxed as income.
Labour extended it to five years after coming to power in 2017.
In her first line of questioning, Collins asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern twice if she could rule out a change, getting two long answers from Ardern that did not see her rule out anything. Instead, Ardern offered jabs at National for having introduced the test that it was now against extending.
“I note the bright-line test policy – introduced by National, extended by Labour – is something we’ve asked for some analysis on over the impact it’s having in the market, and in this current environment that is absolutely the right thing to do,” Ardern said, grinning.
“We need to know what levers are and aren’t making a difference to house price increases.”
In short, this government is not going to encourage us to work productively. We need to do it anyway. They are goign to tax our savings. We need to do it anyway.
Because if there is one thing this year has taught us, it is that a rainy season can last for more than a year. Three months expenses saved is a minimum. I suggest aiming for six.