A Journal of the Plague Year (30)

April 15, 2020

The corona virus is going to re-write much more than the balance sheets of many nations and companies. Mostly because nobody knows how that re-write will work out. Economics is about to have a Close Encounter with the Real World. Even in tiny Montenegro, China has a $US 750+ billion stake in future development:

…It’s hard to identify one weak link in the chain,” said Scott Morris, co-author of the study, titled “Chinese and World Bank Lending Terms: A Systematic Comparison Across 157 Countries and 15 Years”, and a CGD fellow. “It’s the whole chain.”
Chinese loans have helped fund much-needed energy, mining, hydropower and other infrastructure projects in more than 100 developing nations under the estimated US$8 trillion Belt and Road Initiative, spurring economic growth and improved living standards.
Belt and Road Initiative explained
But analysts say China’s singular lending practices leave many developing countries increasingly vulnerable in the current environment.

Now that the credibility of China has evaporated, due entirely to their response to the coronavirus outbreak, one important lesson is apparent: credibility is difficult to build, but very easy to lose…maybe forever.

Well, they lost it.

No, there’s no second chance or try. That was it. The only time you really have to deliver and not f*** up and you didn’t. Sorry pal, you’re toast.

Which is why President Trump is right yet again; WHO deserves everything it gets; or rather, doesn’t. Long time coming. Many other international institutions have a reckoning approaching.

On another front, there may be a possibility for journalists to convey the reality of scientific uncertainty. Perhaps. From science20.com:

Not much has improved. When famous television anchor Jake Tapper was recently caught not bothering to even be skeptical about a claim by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that President Trump called COVID-19 a “hoax”, he washed away his inability to separate his politics from his job by saying the President lies so often he wasn’t skeptical when the Democratic Rep. “mischaracterized” Trump.

So Republicans routinely lie in Tapper’s mind while Democrats mis-characterize so little he never assumed it would be an issue. He did not use terms “lie” and “mischaracterize” by accident. The public is right not to trust smart people who use language to manipulate rather than inform. If you want them to trust you, avoid it. You will get caught. Don’t be a Jake.

Which describes pretty much the behavior of the Fake News Media today. Their credibility is a thing of the past. Anyway, the Internet has not yet been destroyed and remains a font of information and data. Forget the China Newspeak Network and do your own work. It’s all out there.

Rebel Yell

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Arran Gold

The Belt and Road Initiative was a great way to export Chinese labour who worked on the entire project. The development contracts were written so that Chinese could take over the underlying asset in case of non-payment. I don’t know what the Chinese can do with a road in the middle of the country but we could see some infrastructure projects, like ports and airports, being handed over if that happens.


Failure to repay the loan has already resulted in the re-possession of the harbour facilities in – I think- Zanzibar.

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