Some Positives in a Virus Wracked World

by John Mauldin

It should be pretty obvious that we need to rethink how our supply chains are constructed. The U.S. is running out of something as simple as mouth-testing swabs. It seems the entire world supply is made by two companies.

When asked where I thought those were, I replied “China.” It is worse. They are both in Milan, Italy.

Milan is currently under siege in total lockdown, and the swabs are stranded on the docks in their own kind of quarantine.  The link in that supply chain has snapped.

We are now all too familiar with the concept of social distancing. We need to think about economic distancing.

When we have economic partners who act irrationally … hiding data about a new virus for months … allowing it to spread worldwide … and destroying supply chains in the meantime … how much do we want to rely on them in the future? Every major flu of the past 20 years has come out of China. Just saying.

This is a virus we can beat. Along the way we are going to learn many vital lessons, so let’s not forget them. Countries that want to hide their data are candidates for economic distancing.

Now let’s look at some positives …

  • Jobs and manufacturing were already migrating closer to the marketplaces of end users, albeit using robots and 3D printing. But that still means jobs.
  • This trend shift away from globalization and toward localization will accelerate. Over time, that means a lot more jobs in North America and Europe. And that will build more reliable supply chains. Next, we really need to look at where critical medical and socially necessary products are made. We can’t fix it all at once, but we should be seriously toeing the starting blocks right now.
  • Once the CDC and FDA stopped trying to control things and got out of the way, we started seeing a “Cambrian Explosion” of innovation and drugs to deal with COVID-19. The Milken Institute has a list of 101 different vaccines and drugs that are in development or being tested.
  • Freed of government regulation, doctors have found that certain drugs already available can reduce the time a patient is sick from 11 days to four days. That will greatly increase the survival rate. It turns out the malaria drug has a significant effect. Who knew? Well, pretty much nobody until doctors began throwing everything against the wall to see what would stick.
  • People have started to post do-it-yourself ventilators made from parts you can buy at a hardware store. Put some of those idled automobile and Boeing workers on an assembly line. History note: The first ventilators were made by Boeing for bombers in World War II. American ingenuity can help us a great deal.

Dr. Mike Roizen asked me to emphasize that there are things you can do to improve your own immunity. His top three: Get a lot of sleep, eat healthy, and manage your stress. I would add as much social distancing as you practically can.

We can do this.

And when I say “we,” I mean myself and my American investor-readers, because our country has blessed us greatly.

We have the means to get through this. Not everyone does. In fact, relatively few do. We are the fortunate ones. This is our calling and our responsibility. Not only can we do it, we must do it.

If you are not in America, you can do it as well. I am pulling for everyone in the world. Every country is going to have to figure out how to deal with its own problems. We need a world that is thriving and growing so that humanity can move forward to a much brighter future.

Hang in there. There is going to be so much opportunity as we come out of this.

All the opportunities that I’ve been talking and writing about over the years are not going away. Just postponed for a few months.