Topley’s Top Ten – March 31, 2020

1.September to December 2008…S&P Bounced 9-19% Six Times.

Source Goldman Sachs Stock market won’t hit coronavirus lows until these 3 criteria are met, says Goldman Sachs

By Chris Matthews

2.During That Same 2008 Time Frame Gold Sold Off Dramatically Before Rallying

SPDR FUNDsGeorge Milling-Stanley

Chief Gold Strategist, State Street Global Advisors

As the economic problems that eventually became known as the Global Financial Crisis gradually emerged during the course of 2008, stocks sold off dramatically, as the chart below shows, and gold lost almost 30% of its value between March and November of that year ─ for exactly the same reasons as in the past few weeks. But gold quickly recovered, and the price increased 32% by the time stocks found their bottom on March 9, 2009.

3.Global Petrol Demand Set to Drop 50%

 Global petrol demand is set to drop as much as 50 per cent in some key markets as western economies come to a halt in response to the coronavirus pandemic – FGE, an energy consultancy, said petrol demand in the US alone would fall almost 5m barrels a day next month, equivalent to a 5 per cent drop in global oil demand. World oil demand is forecast to fall by an unprecedented 20m-25m barrels a day, a quarter of normal daily consumption.  “It’s like the entirety of Europe, Africa and the Middle East combined stopped driving”  FT reports.  Stateside Gasoline off 65% in March

From Dave Lutz at Jones Trading

4.Largest S&P Drawdowns Post WW II

5.Visualization of the CARES Act

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

6.Manufacturers Stepping Up to Build Venilators

MANUFACTURINGHonk If You’re Building a VentilatorFrancis ScialabbaWith demand for their *actual* products next to nil, some of the world’s most iconic manufacturers are trying to make up for the critical shortage of life-saving ventilators.Ford and GE Healthcare said yesterday they’re going to pump out 50,000 ventilators in just 100 days. Production at the Ypsilanti, MI, plant will be a 24/7 operation run by 500 United Auto Workers union members. GM’s breathless sprint to build ventilators seems like it’ll be optioned into a Hollywood script: The NYTWSJ, and Bloomberg all went behind-the-scenes of this fascinating corporate drama.Virgin Orbit, Richard Branson’s rocket company, said it will be able to produce a few hundred ventilators per week starting next month, pending regulatory approval.Ventilator Challenge U.K. is a group of 14 British manufacturers (including Rolls-Royce) making two different ventilator models known as Project Oyster and Project Penguin.Looking ahead…expect others to join the party. Medtronic, a $123 billion medical device giant, published the specs for one of its ventilators online yesterday to make it easier for non-ventilator makers to produce their own.  

7.Most Read Thoughts on Corona from Scott Gottlieb..

Full white paper link and WSJ op-ed summary

National Corona Virus Response-A Roadmap to Re-Opening

American Heritage Institute


The Road Back to Normal: More, Better Testing

Rapid diagnosis, targeted surveillance and boosting lab supplies will help beat back the coronavirus.

By Scott Gottlieb and 

Lauren Silvis

Americans are afraid of the health risks from Covid-19. But many also rightfully worry about when the intense restrictions on movement and activity will end. Addressing both concerns will require setting up a robust testing system that can catch outbreaks before they become difficult to manage.

April will be a hard month as the epidemic spreads across the nation. The priorities are maintaining the health-care system, preserving life, protecting the vulnerable, and supporting the economy. The epidemic may calm down by July and August, but Covid-19 is likely to be seasonal and could return with a vengeance in the fall.

How do we crack the current outbreak, develop a plan to return to normal life, and ensure that the virus never poses the same threat again? That will require a system that can detect when the virus is spreading. The system would have three components:

First, a sentinel surveillance system, which collects high-quality data from specific locations and can test a statistically representative sample of patients to detect where and when the virus may be spreading. Such a system could help find small pockets of infection before they multiply into larger outbreaks.

Second, rapid and reliable diagnostic tools. Insurance coverage should be mandatory, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should give flexible guidance that encourages doctors to test liberally. If you have any signs or symptoms of Covid-19, you get a test right away with no out-of-pocket payment.

Third, coronavirus serology tests, which screen blood for the antibodies that confer immunity after exposure to a pathogen. This is essential for tailoring interventions to stop local spread. If you know that a large percentage of people have been exposed and developed some immunity, it may allow for less-restrictive measures. These tests can be added to routine blood draws with no additional hassle for the patient.

The technology for doing all these things is at hand. Sometime this week, we estimate, America will be able to test more than 100,000 patients a day. That number will keep growing. Based on recent data, some 750,000 coronavirus tests have been conducted in the U.S., with about 125,000 people testing positive. This capacity can be repurposed to routine surveillance once the epidemic has abated.

But the sentinel surveillance system doesn’t exist. Congress needs to build it with dedicated funding, perhaps as part of the next stimulus package. This will also require an efficient data-collection system that allows cases to be identified and tracked in real time without overburdening providers with data entry and case reports.

Innovation is expanding screening capacity. On Friday the Food and Drug Administration authorized a test by Abbott Labs that can tell if someone is infected with Covid-19 in as little as five minutes. The test is run on the same small, portable platform Abbott uses in its tests for flu and strep throat. This new device should make point-of-care testing easy and common starting next week.

One weak link in expanded screening has been community testing sites. The other is supply chain. There are enough testing platforms, which are expensive. But labs are running out of liquid reagents, the plastic wells in which samples are prepared, and the synthetic sticks used to swab noses.

Some testing companies, such as Abbott and Cepheid, control their entire supply chain, but most don’t. Government can give preferential reimbursement—i.e., pay more—for important testing products that are produced in the U.S. And reagents, swabs and other testing products all need to be added to the national strategic stockpile.

Once we break the current epidemic, and learn where coronavirus is dormant, Americans can gradually leave their homes, return to work, attend school and congregate. Certain measures aren’t going away soon: You won’t crowd into elevators or see many self-service buffets. Airlines will advertise their deep cleanings. But the lockdowns will end—and the goal should be making sure these intrusive interventions aren’t necessary again.

Dr. Gottlieb is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a board member of health-care companies. He was commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, 2017-19. Ms. Silvis is a senior vice president at Tempus Inc. and was the deputy director of the FDA’s medical device center and the agency’s chief of staff from 2017-19.

8.Daily Testing Of All Americans Is The Only Answer

Laurence KotlikoffContributor

The only way the economy will restart is daily testings of all Americans. It’s as clear as day. It’s also the solution the president rejected just yesterday.

way to save potentially millions of American lives and prevent a depression that will make the Great Depression look tame is to do daily testings of all Americans.

Testings refers to doing temperature scans, a quick chest exam by stethoscope, a quick questionnaire about Coronavirus (CV) related symptoms, multiple PCR (swab) tests, antibody tests (as soon as they are available), and saliva and urine tests if such become available. Anyone who is negative on all indicators/tests would be given a badge to wear during the day that would permit them to go work, frequent restaurants, shop, etc. Anyone who is positive on the indicators/tests would be quarantined together with their family members and have their contacts be subject to immediate tracing.

The reason we need to do daily testing is because of the potential to be infected without showing physical symptoms or having enough virus to be detected by the physical checks and diagnostic tests. Moreover, someone could be healthy today and infected tomorrow because they catch the virus later in the day.  

Contact tracing needs to be done with the help of a CV App downloaded on all our cell phones. The CV App would record all our contact information, but also be able to communicate on its own with the CV Apps on other people’s phones and record all past physical contact. Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook should be teaming up this very minute to produce such an App with the help of countries where similar Apps already exist.

Governors and CEOs are not going to restart their economies and businesses without this type of system to assure them they aren’t sending people to their deaths. It’s that simple. The pictures out of Italy and New York are just too grim to treat this as the standard flu, which kills a lot of people too. The president is right that the cure can’t be worse than the disease. But we have no way to compare the loss of national income to the loss of even a single life.

The only way the economy will restart is daily testings of all Americans. It’s as clear as day. It’s also the solution the president rejected just yesterday. He’s not likely to reverse his decision without strong political pressure. Consequently, the Chair of the National Governors Council should announce this policy and pressure the congress and president to adopt it. In addition, congress should pass legislation mandating and funding daily universal testing.

The cost of this policy is minuscule compared to the cost of keeping the economy closed. It’s also the best and surest way to save potentially millions of lives. Not going this route would constitute a moral disgrace and guarantee an economic disaster.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Laurence Kotlikoff

9.F.A.Q. on Stimulus Checks, Unemployment and the Coronavirus Plan-NY TIMES

The $2 trillion relief bill will send money directly to Americans, greatly expand unemployment coverage and make a number of other changes.By Tara Siegel Bernard and Ron Lieber

President Trump has signed a bipartisan $2 trillion economic relief plan to offer assistance to tens of millions of American households affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Its components include stimulus payments to individuals, expanded unemployment coverage, student loan changes, different retirement account rules and more.


Frequently asked questions and advice about life under the coronavirus.

Here are the answers to common questions about what’s in the plan. We’ll update this article as we know more about the details.

More information on getting assistance can be found at our Hub for Help.

Stimulus Payments

How large will the payments be?

Most adults will get $1,200, although some would get less. For every qualifying child age 16 or under, the payment will be an additional $500.

How many payments will there be?

Just one. Future bills could order up additional payments, though.

How do I know if I will get the full amount?

It depends on your income. Single adults with Social Security numbers who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will get the full amount. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less will receive a total of $2,400. And taxpayers filing as head of household will get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less.

Above those income figures, the payment decreases until it stops altogether for single people earning $99,000 or married people who have no children and earn $198,000. According to the Senate Finance Committee, a family with two children will no longer be eligible for any payments if its income surpassed $218,000.

You can’t get a payment if someone claims you as a dependent, even if you’re an adult. In any given family and in most instances, everyone must have a valid Social Security number in order to be eligible. There is an exception for members of the military.

You can find your adjusted gross income on Line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax return.

Do college students get anything?

Not if anyone claims them as a dependent on a tax return. Usually, students under the age of 24 are dependents in the eyes of the taxing authorities if a parent pays for at least half of their expenses.

What year’s income should I be looking at?

2019. If you haven’t prepared a tax return yet, you can use your 2018 return. If you haven’t filed that yet, you can use a 2019 Social Security statement showing your income to see what an employer reported to the I.R.S.

What if my recent income made me ineligible, but I anticipate being eligible because of a loss of income in 2020? Do I get a payment?

The plan does not help people in that circumstance now, but you may benefit once you file your 2020 taxes. That’s because the payment is technically an advance on a tax credit that is available for the entire year. So it will depend on how much you earn.

And there are many other provisions in the legislation. You may be able to file for unemployment or for one of the new loans for small business owners or sole proprietors.

Will I have to apply to receive a payment?

No. If the Internal Revenue Service already has your bank account information, it will transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has.

When will the payment arrive?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he expected most people to get their payments within three weeks.

If my payment doesn’t come soon, how can I be sure that it wasn’t misdirected?

According to the bill, you will get a paper notice in the mail no later than a few weeks after your payment has been disbursed. That notice will contain information about where the payment ended up and in what form it was made. If you couldn’t locate the payment at that point, it would be time to contact the I.R.S. using the information on the notice.

What if I haven’t filed tax returns recently? Will that affect my ability to receive a payment?

It could. File a return immediately, at least for 2018, according to the I.R.S. website. “Those without 2018 tax filings on record could potentially affect mailings of stimulus checks,” the site says.

If you’re worried about money that you owe that you cannot pay, the I.R.S. recommends consulting a tax professional who can help you request an alternative payment plan or some other resolution.

Will most people who are receiving Social Security retirement and disability payments each month also get a stimulus payment?


Will eligible unemployed people get these stimulus payments? Veterans?

Yes and yes.

Will U.S. citizens living abroad get a payment?

Yes, as long as they meet the income requirements and have a Social Security number.

10.Why Warnings, Guidelines And Restrictions Don’t Work

…And what you can do right now to influence others

When President Trump declared a national emergency due to the Coronavirus at a White House news conference, he couldn’t resist shaking the hands of taskforce members in the Rose Garden. In fact, several US officials shared the same microphone, shook hands and touched their faces at the press briefing. Healthcare veteran Bruce Greenstein, Executive Vice President of the LHC Group, put an abrupt end to the absurdity by closing his fist and offering up an elbow bump. 

While there is no known vaccine for the Coronavirus we can all still learn from a legendary psychiatrist who was well known for his “miracle cures”. Milton Erickson’s unorthodox approach to behavior change tapped into the power of his patient’s unconscious mind – the part of the mind responsible for most of our behaviors, especially habits like hand shaking and face touching. 

Walk the Walk

The following story from Erickson’s childhood may serve as a helpful metaphor for influencing the behavior of others in an effort to flatten the curve.

One snowy morning the young and insatiably curious Milton Erickson woke up early to conduct a little experiment. While walking the snow-covered pathway on his way to school, he zigzagged back and forth through the rapidly accumulating snow to create a wavy-patterned trail on the otherwise straight route. When he returned home that afternoon Milton was amused to find that others had followed his lead, tracing his absurd meanderings rather than taking the more direct route. 

From that early lesson, Milton realized that people have a tendency to act without thinking, living their lives on autopilot by simply following the well-worn paths established by others. Erickson grew up to revolutionize psychotherapy and become a leading authority in medical hypnosis and one of the most effective psychiatrists ever. He was known for his ability to rapidly and often unwittingly transform lives and behaviors – much like he changed the habits of his schoolmates on that snowy day.

Go There First

Behavior change therapy has demonstrated that one of the quickest, easiest and most effective ways to influence someone else’s behavior is to simply do the thing that you want them to do. When you lead the way by changing your own behavior, you have a much better chance at influencing their behavior as opposed to telling them what to do. That’s because we are all hardwired to learn through imitation especially in social environments. When we are in unusual and uncertain social situations we automatically follow the lead of others, often without thinking. 

The most important step to changing our collective behavioral inclinations is to take action. The more frequently we walk the paths of new behaviors, the more automatic and habitual they become, ultimately requiring little or no conscious attention or effort. So, if you want to change a certain pattern of behavior in others, interrupt their pattern by exhibiting the specific response you want them to emulate. If you want someone to give you more social distance, then back off yourself. Stay home. Elbow bump. Or be the first to model the mask and gloves in the grocery store, etc. 

The Paradox of Restrictions

It may seem counter-intuitive, but this information overload we are all experiencing and the overwhelming sense of impending threat can be very counterproductive. All of these warnings, regulations, restrictions, guidelines, recommendations, advice, etc., may inadvertently be encouraging us to behave in exactly the opposite manner we are being told. Think about it. Who enjoys being told what to do, especially every waking moment on every media channel? This ominous information can create a form of psychological resistance and a tendency to respond in the opposite direction. 

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This psychological phenomenon known as reactance generates an uncomfortable motivational state of arousal in response to information, people, rules or regulations that pose a threat to our personal freedom and decision making. When we feel our choices are being taken away from us, we often push back against these restraints and engage in the contrary and often defiant behavior. Recently, public spaces like parks and beaches became oddly crowded even though residents were ordered to say home and practice social distance. The actions by these defiant crowds only led to more restrictions.

Reactance is why kids ignore parents, criminals break laws, women hate “mansplaining”, and college students crowd beaches during spring break. One study even discovered that those scary warning labels about the risks of heart disease or emphysema actually stimulated the nucleus accumbens, the “craving spot,” in the brains of smokers. It’s troubling to think that a government-mandated warning intended to save lives by reducing smoking and curbing cancer may be effectively promoting big tobacco.

Freedom not Freedumb

What makes this more challenging, is that our nation was built on the cornerstone of freedom. If we want to lead our way out of this pandemic perhaps we can steal a page from the story of Erickson’s school days by freely choosing our own path to safety. If not for yourself, do it for those who are more vulnerable. It may sound trite, but we can’t really change other people but we can change ourselves. Right now, focusing on what you are and not doing can be the most patriotic thing you can do. 

Douglas Van Praet