Fighting recession

Much of the world is in recession fighting mode. They need to be so, because the advent of the corona virus and the severe responses to it by governments makes recession more likely without action.

The virus has hit international travel and tourism hard, has disrupted Chinese output, slashed the demand for oil and other raw materials, brought freight rates well down and is now disrupting supply chains around the world. It has damaged confidence, and led to investments and orders being put off. Japan had a sharp fall in GDP last quarter thanks to a tax rise, whilst Germany is struggling to grow at all thanks to the anti car policies being followed.

This week the Stock markets of the world have suddenly woken up to the threat that comes from these events. For the first month of serious virus news gold, oil and bonds signalled trouble ahead, and share markets decided it would be short lived and they could look through it. Now they are not so sure.

What can governments and Central Banks do? They can take offsetting action to promote more economic activity, and provide more money to offset cash shortfalls by businesses hit by interruptions to their production and sales.

Taiwan has announced a stimulatory package. China has produced some tax cuts and bank lending at low rates. The Fed, the Peoples Bank of China, the ECB and the Bank of Japan have all put money into markets in various ways to increase liquidity and available funds. China has started to cut interest rates. So far the UK has taken no action to help.

These moves will ease some of the worst features of a slowdown brought on by the virus, but do not deal with the root cause. The best way out is to turn the tide in the battle against the virus by a combination of treatments, vaccinations which are being speeded in research and reducing the spread. That is not easy and we all wish them well in doing so.

As China is discovering, if you go in for lock down and isolation of whole cities after cases have been found you do not stop the spread as some people will already have carried it out of the area, but you do considerable damage to output and activity. It is being debated how feasible and effective lock down is in limiting spread.

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  1. Ian Wragg
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    The green blob must be wetting themselves as all this economic activity comes to a halt.
    After all thats what they want.
    Perhaps after some significant loss of life they may have a rethink.

    • margaret howard
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Ian Wragg

      A disgraceful comment.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

        ER and other green groups want a reversal of growth and an end to the consumerism of modern life.
        No flights, greatly reduced private car use, greatly reduced meat and fish eating, no burning of coal or wood in homes and an end to imported foodstuffs.
        Just a few of their demands.
        So as Ian says the green movement must love the reduction in economic activity due to the Coronavirus.
        Maybe it pains you to face up to the practical effects of the policies they want us all to adopt.

        • bill brown
          Posted February 27, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink


          I agree not a good remark form Ian Wragg

          • Leaver
            Posted February 28, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

            I agree, and would like to distance myself from the comments made by Ian Wragg and Edward2.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 29, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

            I’m not in the least bit surprised Leaver having read your nonsensical comments on this site.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      So where are all the rainbows, sunlit uplands, and the capacity to withstand any crisis, that leaving the European Union was supposed to bring?

      Being an island doesn’t appear to offer much real protection after all, does it?

      • Edward2
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

        Who said that Martin?
        Please give us a source for your claim.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted February 27, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          I will, when you give one for your claim that Remain campaigners said that a Leave vote would mean WWIII etc.?

          My phrase is metaphorical.

          Yours – Leave campaigners’ – was literal, however.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

            So your post was just made up imaginings.
            No one on the Leave side ever said anything like the things you wrote.
            The WW3 Project Fear claim by Remain is real.
            Do a Google search it is all there for you.

        • bill brown
          Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          Edward 2

          Even when you are wrong you will not admit sovereignty issue, so really just another waste of time

          • Edward2
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

            Still think no nation on Earth is independent bill?
            What a odd ideas you have.
            Just as a start bill pick a nation then ask yourself who makes a country’s laws and are the courts in that nation supreme.
            Is it the country itself or another supranational body?

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think being better protected from a virus was ever mentioned as one of the benefits of leaving the EU. You have taken leave of your senses.

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        Just like WWI & WW2 “events” happen which is not of their making but free and independent countries face up to them & decide what is best foe them. A concept you think is wrong for your view of “Little” Britain that needs to be corralled into a federation some of whom caused those “events”. They may need to be corralled but the UK doesn’t as it’s people have expressed.
        You constantly sound like the boy who stood on the burning deck but we must all hope the consequences of your stance doesn’t have the same ending for you and your federalists.

  2. Everhopeful
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    If the virus is as bad as they say…who cares about output and activity?
    Survival will be the only thing exercising minds.
    And if isolation is so ineffective then no one, anywhere, not in palaces or places of government will be safe.
    How they will wish that we still had a health service!

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Who is “they” ? Death rate from the virus is around 1% – not that high in general terms.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        Exactly..but MSM/powers-that-be are definitely trying to panic us.
        “They” = those in powerful positions.

    • steve
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 5:18 pm | Permalink


      “If the virus is as bad as they say”

      As I write the death rate is 2,700 out of a global population of over six billion.

      Uncanny how the global response to it has affected economies and manufacturing, which must be in somebody’s interest.

      We’re being had over mate.

      • Matt
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

        Unfortunately the rate of deaths from other than Coronavirus (because hospitals were overwhelmed in dealing with the disease) will not be counted.

        Nor will the non-Coronavirus deaths caused by the impact to the global economy by the disease.

        The death rate of the above probably far exceed that caused by the flu already.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

        I reckon!

  3. Everhopeful
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    How on earth will they carry out the soviet-style “checks” of undisclosed )and probably unknown) nature as threatened in the news? And close the schools??
    Remember we have to wait for 3 weeks to even see a GP re ONE complaint…and thanks to govts virtually all women up to and beyond 70 are working!
    Who will look after the children?
    Oh…everywhere will be closed….Dr’s surgeries…hospitals…..???

    • Everhopeful
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      Govt should tell GMC to stop with the “red tape” and get retired Drs back ( who prob would not be retired were it not for crazy govt policies)to help.

      • Longinus
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Mortality rates appear to be highest in older people and Government has said that it will not provide PPE for GPs. Why risk your life for nothing?

        • Everhopeful
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

          Well..admittedly it looks as if there is little appetite for doing very much at all!
          A GP posted on here that she just uses a mask and antibacterial wash plus disinfectant.

    • BeebTax
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      I needed a gp appointment yesterday, logged into the the book an appointment” section” on the practice website at 8am,, and was seeing a doctor by 0920hrs. Some luck involved but it can happen.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

        So no problem then?
        The NHS of necessity must be judged by the worst experience…not the lucky best.

      • Fred H
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        Beebtax – – luck? – more like a minor miracle.

    • APL
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Everhopeful: “thanks to govts virtually all women up to and beyond 70 are working!”

      Umm! I think that was the Feminists, perhaps?

      • Everhopeful
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        Many women have been diddled out of years of old age pension they were expecting and had paid for…so have to keep working.
        Agree about feminists who landed women in the workplace..telling housewives they weren’t “fulfilled” and really needed a boss to work for!

  4. Andy
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Getting the blame in early for the Brexit economic carnage! It can’t possibly the Tories fault – it must be the EU, or the BBC, or the Coronavirus. Except we all know who is really to blame.

      Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      The British people took us out of the EU, not the Tory party, who I would argue spent most of their time working hard to prevent our exit

      Oh by the way, Corbyn and McDonnell are both vehement EUROSCEPTICS, just like Farage and Redwood

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

        Indeed, as we already know that one single infected person can spread the virus to 11+ people even before they know they have it. The infection is now clearly out of the bag and will surely spread almost everywhere. Let us hope we can find some way to reduce the inevitable numbers of deaths that result. I liquidated all my few equities about three days ago.

        All sensible people know we need tax cuts, regulation cuts, cheap reliable energy and large cuts in the size of our bloated and rather inept government. Plus cancel HS2 and all the climate alarmism.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          Not that I expect Boris and Sunsak will deliver this. Still they are surely rather better than the many dire occupants that we have had in numbers 10 and 11 for very many years indeed.

          Thank goodness is is not Corbyn, Mc Donnall there.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

        Indeed most of the Tory MP, Theresa May, 90% of the Lords and the BBC propaganda outfit all tried to kill a real Brexit after they had failed to get the result that they desperately tried to obtain. With the sloped pitch referendum.

        As to Corbyn and Mc Donnall that was about the only thing they have ever been right on, but they foolishly changed there mind on this.

      • Andy
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        Why would I care about Corbyn? I don’t support Labour. And the British people gave a ‘mandate’ only for the ‘cake and eat it’ Brexit promised by Johnson in 2016. He has failed to deliver on all of the Brexiteers’ promises. There is more red tape, not less. Fewer rights, not more. There is a border down the middle of our own country. I didn’t see that on a bus. There is no mythical completely cost and friction free trade area stretching from Iceland to Russia. And the only cards you hold are jokers. They didn’t mention any of that, did they?

        There is no mandate for the ‘dog’s dinner and eat it Brexit’ that we are getting from Johnson. But rest assured there is plenty of blame awaiting those responsible.

        • Fred H
          Posted February 27, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          you have been doing a relentless blaming for years.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        No, just twenty-six percent of the British people did.

        You do not speak for the other seventy-four percent, and equally, neither do Remain voters, but nor would they claim to do so, unlike you, evidently.

        • Edward2
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          More ridiculous statistical nonsense from you Martin.
          Would you have little babies voting?

          • bill brown
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

            Edward 2

            Kindly look up a note on Iceland and sovereignty

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

            Non voters and children are people too.

            Read the post to which I reply, and address mine properly in that light.

            You have posted the same tedious, irrelevant reply countless times now.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            Ditto Martin
            Indeed they are people Martin
            But they are not voters.

            If Corbyn had scrapped in with a similar percentage of a vote I doubt you would be on here complaining about a huge Labour majority.

        • steve
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:41 pm | Permalink


          I think you should take your genius to the Electoral Commission and tell them there has been a dirty trick, or something like that.

          Don’t be flobb-ed off mate, keep telling them it wasn’t fair you lost.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

            See above.

            I do not claim that Leave lost the referendum, just that it was won by a minority of the British people.

            Only a very silly person would say that I try to claim otherwise, I think.

          • Fred H
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

            But if Martin, Andy, MH votes had won maybe they wouldn’t be on here boring the pants off a lot of us.

          • margaret howard
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            Fred H

            I don’t suppose many contributors here find your repetitive one liners especially exhilarating.

          • Fred H
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

            MH — but I try to minimise my boring quips to one line – unlike many others ……try it.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Oh…where were you in 2008?
      Brexit wasn’t even a twinkle in NF’s eye at that point!

    • Richard1
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Maybe the coronavirus has been caused by Brexit?

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. It started in China to reduce exports to us.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      The economic carnage in China is the fault of Brexit ? You should stop reading those Bristol Council reports Andy.

    • The Anti Andy
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      We’ll see if there’s economic carnage elsewhere.

      Andy will doubtless blame Coronavirus on Brexit too.

      • bill brown
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        Anti Andy

        Just more nonsense from you again

    • The Antidolt
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Andy should be very annoyed that Brexiters have the perfect get-out card now.

      Has he ever felt that the world is against him ?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        The world, from such comment that I have read from other nations, seems to be with Andy, but rather against the English who voted Leave.

    Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    The authorities shouldn’t need a reason or pretext to seek out methods of encouraging greater output and productivity. Yes, tax cuts. Yes, less regulation. No, to more taxpayer funded spending on financially profligate, self-interested, State owned entities

    In the case of China. Well, the authorities don’t need much of a reason to impose control over their population. I am suspicious of this government’s actions. This isn’t a democratically elected entity, this is an authoritarian State with a brutal reputation.

    I see no purpose in your party adopting Keynesian economic policy under duress as it bends to the pressure imposed by the left’s austerity narrative. The BBC’s political promotion of the idea that poverty is widespread goes unchallenged. Today’s blog plays into the hands of the Left’s (the Left being Labour, the BBC, CH4 and their parasitic allies that feed off and derive their power from ever greater levels of taxpayer spending) agenda to promote higher levels of State spending that underpins their power base

    If the Tories have embraced Labour spending programs then say so, otherwise have the courage of your convictions and slash tax rates and expose Labour’s network of allies plan to create a culture and narrative of impoverishment with the aim of indoctrinating people into believing we live in some Dickensian environment. The levels of propaganda and lies is disturbing

    Managed and careful State expenditure coupled with reform. is the way forward, not throwing handfuls of cash at this and that.

    • Ex-Tory
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink


    • Nig l
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      Yes guido picked up yesterday how many left wing activists are invited in to the BBC etc and introduced as independent, the latest some absolute BS about life expectancy, I guess at least One eyed Andy believed it.

      HMGs rebuttal process needs to be far more aggressive.

      On the question of the virus, like the flooding, am I alone in thinking their response lacks leadership and urgency?

    • Nig l
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Ps. We see from the IFS report this morning about how this government has dissembled on the deficit and it is only going one way. Spendthrift politicians buying their popularity. Haven’t I heard that somewhere before or ………..for ever.

    • Peter
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps the Conservatives have defaulted to the Blairite model that Mr. Cameron was so keen on?

      Obviously the party needs to differentiate itself from Labour, but it might be a return to centrist politics where Conservative and Labour alternate on a bugging turn basis. Labour still has much work to do to have any hope of forming a government though.

      • agricola
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        The Buggins turn or the divine right to rule approach would leave existing parties very vulnerable to the arrival of a party that comes up with radical but positive solutions to our problems.

        • Peter
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          Existing parties can take comfort in the knowledge that it is notoriously difficult to successfully launch a new party in Britain. New parties can get big votes but that does not translate into seats or power.

          Of course that could change in the right circumstances. However, I sense a return of complacency in Conservative ranks now that the toxic effect of Mrs. May is now a memory rather than an everyday reality.

          Labour have their own problems but still survive.

  6. Shirley
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Having no lockdown or isolation would surely have caused the virus to spread wider and more quickly. Then all countries would suffer even greater economic damage.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      Not at all. We’d all be exposed within a fortnight and could get back to normal with a few less baby boomers around.

  7. Stephen Priest
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    I have family from Piacenza, which very close to Codogno and Lodi in Lombardy, which seems to be the epicentre of the current outbreak.

    The drastic measures taken by the Italian Government may be necessary, or they may be an counterproductive. If these measures bring the Italian economy to a grinding halt, it won’t stop the virus spreading, and count make think far worse.

  8. jerry
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Our hosts second paragraph is as good an essay against Globalism within the supply chain as any. Many companies who have off-shored their manufacturing must be ruing that decision (at least if they have put all their eggs in one Chinese basket), even those who have not might still be regretting their accountants lean supply chains.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      If those accountants are any good Jerry there will be full risk mitigation built into those lean supply chains.

      • jerry
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        @NS; So why all the talk about product shortages or delayed release dates then?!

        The problem being unknown-unknowns, how on earth can anyone build full risk mitigation against something they nor anyone else knew about 90 days ago…

        At best a company could split their supply chain, as one manufacture I could cite had already done (for totally different reasons) but they still requires a fully operative China/Far East, thus they are facing delays at best in their 2020 product range.

  9. dixie
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    “.. governments and Central Banks .. can take offsetting action to promote more economic activity, and provide more money to offset cash shortfalls by businesses hit by interruptions to their production and sales.”

    How exactly? If my production is disrupted because of dependency on parts from China and elsewhere how exactly will the government provide money to cover that or loss of earnings?

  10. Mark B
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    I do so worry when politicians use economic slogans such as, “An end to boom and bust”, and achieving zero inflation (John Major). It shows a certain arrogance and naivety.

    The UK, as Remainers often remind us, is far too small economically to do anything. Being the 5th largest economy renders us imputant, they will have. Much better for the EU Heavyweights of Malta and Greece to demand that the EU do something. /sarc

    I belive the UK is largely insulated from the extremes of world wide economic fluctuations. Being a Services economy helps.

    But if the government wants to help there are many here that have been saying the same things over and over again. Hell, most even voted Tory in the hope that they would. Shame that.

  11. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    What say you to the IFS Sir John?

    It is forecasting a £63 billion deficit without a virus induced slowdown. What is your prediction on current plans? Your stimulus would increase such deficit until the returns start coming in would they not?

  12. Newmania
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I`d be more impressed if John Redwood ever said anything other than spend more money please. This is ,of course, yet more pre-excusing the economic problems he helped created by inflicting Brexit on us.
    The plan is to fool us with our own money ,(when is it anything else ?). Yes the world is experiencing minor perturbations , twas ever thus. It reminds me of the sort of things Labour used to say about 2008 and their misjudgement of the economic cycle . No-one ,( they said ) foresaw this , who could possibly have known ? Few people did see the particular crisis but as I frequently said , a plan that relies on nothing going wrong ever is a ..( hem hem)”poor” one.

    • The Antidolt
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Minor perturbations ?

      No. The perfect excuse has come for Brexiters.

      Phew !

  13. acorn
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Mosler’s law states, “there is no financial crisis so deep that a sufficiently large fiscal adjustment cannot deal with it.”

    In the great financial crash of 2008/10, that law was used to bailout the Banks. It will now be needed for the great virus crash. The magic money tree MMT will deliver as required, just like it did before. For all you nonbelievers, here’s a picture of the tree at work. No government borrowing occured to cover this fiscal guarantee to the Banks that reached 150% of GDP.

    • acorn
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      You may have read today that Hong Kong; Macau and Singapore are going to “Helicopter drop” money on there citizens to boost their spending power and keep their economies functioning at an employment supporting level.

      This is pure MMT style Keynesian deficit spending that will add to their budget deficits; but, will be of no consequence because those governments will get it back, via taxation, in five, ten or fifty years time.

      Helicopter drops are fiscal stimulus NOT central bank monetary stimulus. Central banks don’t have any free capital to drop on the citizenry unless its currency issuing Treasury creates the money and gives it to the Bank to drop. If the central bank did a Helicopter drop on its own account, it would be a loan that needed colateral thrown back into the Helicopter to back it.

  14. Al
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    “The best way out is to turn the tide in the battle against the virus by a combination of treatments, vaccinations and reducing the spread…. if you go in for lock down and isolation of whole cities after cases have been found you do not stop the spread” – JR.

    China is doing the first, the second does not exist – it takes time to develop vaccines – and lockdown and isolation of whole cities after cases have been found will not stop the spread but does limit it. This is because the virus has a two-week (possibly up to 24 days) symptomless transmittable period, so if the victim has been in that city for tthat time, they will have created carriers who would have created carriers and so on. However most people live in work in the same area (resulting in disease hot spots), so shutting down the city contains most of it. The only true way to stop it would be to lock down all travel pre-emptively, which is an overreaction.

    It isn’t bubonic plague, and the media appear to be having screaming overreactions to sell papers, but China’s response is a valid way to limit the spread of the disease while they develop a vaccine and a cure.

    If our government was serious about self-isolation they would be paying minimum wage directly to the people they demand don’t work for two weeks and making it mandatory. Otherwise people will work anyway, as the alternative is losing their jobs, and potentially (at lower incomes) the homes they are supposed to self-isolate in when they can’t make rent.

  15. Alan Jutson
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Crowded public transport would be a real and possible risk to health and infection for those who use it on a regular basis, all those people coughing in a small and confined space.

    Perhaps a business opportunity in the production and selling of good quality masks.?

    • Wonky Moral Compass
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      Possibly. Until people twig that the masks are to protect other people, not the wearer.

  16. Kevin
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    “[Certain central banks] have all put money into markets in various ways”

    I believe you have long desired such action independently of the advent of the corona virus. If you are going to continue advocating for the “creation” of money, why not call for it to be allocated to everyone? This is just an off-the-cuff suggestion, but why not use the created money to open up “Individual Lending Acccounts” (“ILAs”) for everybody? No withdrawals of capital would be permitted, as the money would have to be lent out by the institution that manages the accounts, but interest would be payable to the account holders.

  17. a-tracy
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    So schools are now shutting locally, who looks after the children at home? Even if Grandparents look after them (and they are in the most at-risk group) the Parents are mixing with other people in the Supermarket, or the Parent who carries on working whilst the other is on childcare duties is mixing with colleagues.

    Our GP surgery sent out a message not to go in for flu-like symptoms. Some spreaders don’t have symptoms. I asked a couple of weeks ago what were Doctors and surgeries being asked to do to protect themselves and other patients and I got some response about Russia?

    If this is just like a normal flu with outcomes the same as normal flu across the age range then what or who is causing this extended response from Head Teachers? What do they know that we don’t know?

    We have coaches and planes bringing back people with know coronavirus, who cleans those vehicles before other people travel in them?

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      Who cleans those vehicles? Unskilled workers from th EU, no doubt.

    Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Maybe this government should start fighting the austerity narrative being pumped out by Labour’s client state operators (BBC) using idiotic academics (are they still on strike or on holiday as some see it?) and other bogus socialist outriders whose only concern is political rather than human concern

    I am sure I am not the only one who is sick and tired of the BBC’s Marxist propaganda. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, PLEASE

    And the attacks on Patel by the civil service and their allies within Labour, at the BBC and at the Guardian are bordering on intimidation

  19. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    In no way am I in business.
    But I know people who are.
    They do not live in UK because the rewards are so small. They go abroad – Australia, Singapore, UAE, USA even Africa, where British initiatives and attitudes are relished.
    The Welfare State needs looking at very carefully. If you sling money at things, then I wonder how much actually gets to the front line?
    Universities, the National Health, the Police especially, teaching – in all these the front line seems to be the place to escape from rather than the place for an ambitious young man or woman to be.
    If we reformed these behemoths, then taxes could some down and we could offer a really attractive package to young, ambitious people.
    Vocation, vocation, vocation…

  20. The Prangwizard
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    It is important to wonder how long this epidemic/pandemic will persist. The percentage death rate seems quite low but it’s understandable that people don’t want to catch it. I will certainly do everything I can to avoid it; I’m probably one of those ‘at risk’ groups.

    Given that it is so very infectious economic stimuli are not going to make much difference. People are not concerned much about ‘flu but this is looked upon differently. I won’t be buying anything more than life’s essentials if I feel I’m at risk and who wil want to work in or go to a crowded place?

    We don’t know if having had it, it can be caught again, and until there is a medical solution it will swirl around the world endlessly if it can. Serious economic consequences are not far off perhaps. I dare say authorities don’t want us to think like that.

    Maybe it will prompt a rethink of the globalist agenda and lead to more self reliance, here at least. It didn’t start here after all and it may not have got outside China in other circumstances.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      I couldn’t care less. Bring it on. I’d rather just have the virus and get it over with, one way, or the other.

  21. formula57
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Mindful that “lock down and isolation of whole cities…. [does] not stop the spread…. but you do considerable damage to output and activity” the Government can take comfort perhaps from advice given to Prime Minister Hacker, being: –

    Leslie Potts, Minister of Sport – “Prime Minister, it’s about the rumour that you intend to make a personal attack on the tobacco industry.” ….

    Hacker – “You’d be consulted. As Minister for Sport, you have an interest.”

    Potts – “Never mind sport. There are marginal seats in Bristol, Nottingham, Glasgow, Basildon and Northern Ireland, all with tobacco workers. I’ve got 4,000 tobacco workers in my constituency.”…..

    Hacker – “I see the difficulty, but if something is right for the country, surely the government must pursue it.”

    Potts – “The government must do what’s right, but not if it affects marginal constituencies.
    – There is a limit.”…..

    Hacker – “If we do nothing, in the next ten years, in this country we’ll have one million premature deaths.”

    Potts – “Yes, but evenly spread. Not just in marginal constituencies.”

    The present Government’s lack of a public education programme is harmful to mitigating corona virus effects, not least in failing to prepare the public mentally for what is to come.

  22. Iain Moore
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    So just in time global supply lines aren’t so great, and President Trump was a visionary in trying to repatriate manufacturing.

  23. Jim
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Brexit was never sold on its economic benefits, we were always going to take a hit. Well now that hit looks a lot bigger.

    Already there is talk of Sunak’s budget being revised and spread out – aka in tatters. Brexit was (or looked) a tightly focused project. But economic headwinds and delays in negotiations are going to dissipate such focus as there was. The whole idea is spreading out. Pretty shortly young Priti will be calling back the fruit pickers and possibly the gravediggers.

    The Brexiteers will need to tighten up their focus and sharpen their strategies – or see the whole project evaporate. Anyone can see what doesn’t work, what we need is what does work! Otherwise Parliament will be sovereign over exactly nothing.

  24. Bob
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    The govt are over taxing and borrowing money to give away.
    The cost of debt interest is higher than the education budget.
    This is all being dictated at supra national level in pursuit of UN Agenda 21 and global government under the auspices of the Bilderbergers.

  25. BOF
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Surely, Sir John, common sense would dictate that a competent Government would first of all abandon boondoggles (HS2) to redirect spending to more important and essential projects. Repeal the Climate Change Act and abandon zero carbon which will never be achieved without completely bankrupting the country. Abandon IR35, which will damage the economy and reduce tax revenue. Abandon International Aid. Abolish the HoL.

    At the same time reduce the stupendously wasteful public sector and remove all the mandarins not fully behind implementing policy.

    Huge savings to be made to give the country a buffer against setbacks as being experienced by the current corona virus pandemic.

    Unfortunately it seems I was mistaken, and voted for the Green party.

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      you’re right….it appears 17.4m people voted for the green party

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      I did vote for the Green Party. Much good it did. Another wasted vote.

      • Fred H
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        I think people that voted for every party in the GE is now questioning if their vote was wasted!

  26. Bob
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Is Rishi Sunak planning to post a selfie on twitter holding today’s Guardian and wearing a Unite union badge?

  27. Norman
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I speak as a former post grad virologist, and (for past 40+ years) veterinary epidemiologist. We used strict import and internal movement controls, isolation and stamping out of the relevant notifiable disease, followed by rigorous cleansing and disinfection of infected premises.
    Clearly, there’s a limit to what can be done in human disease controls in today’s mobile world, so the response has to be proportionate, governed by well-informed common sense, and with a realistic chance of success. Keep things in perspective , and fight damaging misinformation and hype like the Plague!
    Sensible, preventative advice on optimizing health will also prove valuable.
    Then, ‘Keep calm and carry on!…and watch how you cross the road!

  28. Fred H
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    The Chinese suppressed early information about the virus. Spread began due to normal contact and then secondly the ease of travel and tourism took it much further afield than inland China. If the authorities had suspended air travel out of the first city and subsequently others the world may have contained it without the dreadful damage being done – loss of life now enormous.

  29. Fred H
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink


    Setting out details of the Integrated Review – first announced in December’s Queen’s Speech – No 10 said Brexit presented “new opportunities to define and strengthen Britain’s place in the world”.
    Its remit, as set out by the government, is to:
    * define the government’s ambition for the UK’s role in the world
    * set out the way in which the UK will be a problem-solving and burden-sharing nation
    * determine the capabilities needed for the next decade and beyond to pursue objectives and address threats
    * identify the necessary reforms to government systems and structures to achieve these goals

    The review is expected to conclude later this year with input from Whitehall departments, including the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

    • Fred H
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      oops — meant to write ‘taken from the BBC website’.

  30. George Brooks
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    The Government and the banks must act quickly as this virus will wreak havoc far worse than ‘Project Fear’ could ever have been described for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Whole fleets of cargo ships are locked up in Chinese ports and I imagine this is also happening in Korea and Japan. J I T chains have been brought to a standstill and this will take economies into a spiral dive.

    On the bright side this is a fabulous time to tell the Chinese that we don’t need their help or equipment in our 5G network. We may be a little late with this up-grade but at least all the design and manufacture can be under our control. Farage is absolutely right to attack Boris et al over this decision.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

      This Farage bloke, he’s a radio presenter? Why should we take note of his utterances?

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        Perhaps because he is spot on in what he says?? People scoff at his statements which invariably turn out to be true.

  31. James Snell
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Why must we have to fight recession- some say that recession is good for the soul- helps us to get a better perspective on things and of what we want to achieve- where we want to go. Everything can’t always be on the steady up and up as nothing else matters in life except GDP and growth

  32. Sakara Gold
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    It is now patently obvious that the coronavirus epidemic is spiraling out of control in the EU, there have been 11 deaths in Italy from 330 cases. This represents a fatality rate of 3.3% – approaching the mortality of the 1918 “spanish” flu pandemic.

    There are reports in the free asian press this morning that there is evidence that the virus is mutating and becoming more virulent, also that “patient zero” in Wuhan worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology – co-incidentaly located a couple of miles from the live bat market.

    I find today’s comments by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that there are no plans to stop flights from Italy extremely complacent; the only way to prevent this epidemic from gaining a dangerous foothold in this country is to close the ports, airports and the Channel Tunnel imediately which he and the Transport Secretary have refused to do.

    Matt Hancock has been very badly advised and if the government now fails to close our borders it will be responsible for countless UK infections – the Singapore government has closed its borders and appears to have got it’s infection rate under control. We must do the same.

    • Iago
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      plus 9.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Sakara. I heard that someone who had visited Iran recently couldn’t get out through normal borders but could board a plane into Heathrow where he wasn’t even checked. Under control, my arse.

      • Sakara Gold
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

        The form of checking – taking a traveller’s temperature – is ineffective. One thing is obvious, an infected person can pass the virus on to many people without feeling ill or having a raised temperature.

        The correct strategy to deal with this “novel” coronavirus is to seal the borders while our well-developed vaccine industry develops a vaccine.

  33. agricola
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Well we know we are up the proverbial creek minus paddle. For paddle read government perception of what the current state of commercial activity is or an indication that our various financial arms are doing anything more positive than wait and see.

    I am going to suggest something heretical now. Indications are that Corona Virus is not as devastating as Flu. With Flu we have an annual injection against it. Nevertheless I read that 8000 to 10, 000 die from it in the UK every year. Yes with CV the current weakness is a lack of injection agsinst it. I think World efforts to contain it have been correct and the chances are it is seasonal like Flu. If so we might just get a lull in its spread while a vaccine is created to bloc it. As with Flue there will always be those who are vulnerable through existing health states and those who fail to take up the vaccine.

    I am sufficiently patient to await the budget. Providing it takes into account our departure from the EU, the current blip in World activity, recognition that the current tax regime is not fit for purpose, and the desperate need to support an entrepreneunrial new world I will accept that the message has at last got through.

  34. kzb
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe the complacency about this virus. The draconian measures in China are actually working. The number of case resolutions (recovery or death) has finally overtaken the number of new cases. Not so in the rest of the world where growth is still exponential. China is doing the right thing. To do otherwise is to value some utterly fiddled statistic like “GDP” over thousands of lives. Ordinary workers have not benefitted from “GDP” for many years, but they expected to give their lives to its continued increase.

    • a-tracy
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      ksb – we can’t build a large enough hospital in a few weeks and our hospital beds are taken, so we couldn’t follow the draconian measures if we wanted to, sending all these children home, do both their parents have to also stay at home, no visits to the shops for those parents, no visits from Grandparents, how far do you want to go ksb?

  35. John McDonald
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John,
    I do hope your views on isolation of areas and people to prevent the continued spread of the virus are not the Government’s view, but it does seem like it. Economic growth at any price including the lives of people.
    We now have our own potential risk at the Holt School in Wokingham. Let us hope and pray that this does not put your view to the test.

    Reply I have no wish to risk people’s lives where risk can be reduced or prevented. I do not understand what you think my view is.

    • Irene
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Just seen mention of the Holt being closed for a deep clean. I sincerely hope that all turns out well there.

      JR, while we’re on the subject of deep cleaning, perhaps you would be able to suggest to Sainsbury’s in Winnersh that it also undergoes a thorough deep clean. The disgraceful condition of all the scales there this morning, in the veg department, is something I reported to Sainsbury’s this very morning. That was before I heard about the Holt. It may give a whole new meaning to the experience of Smart Shop if they don’t do something soon to improve hygiene in that store.

      • Irene
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        My apologies – it’s not the Holt that has been closed for a deep clean, it’s another school in Old Windsor.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

          The Holt School is not in Old Windsor. It is in old Wokingham. Is it shut? Does it need a deep clean? Who has been cleaning it? Are they being sacked? Let’s get a grip and get our schools clean. Perhaps every pupil could be given rubber gloves, dettox and a cloth and all spend one period learning the skill of cleaning whilst getting all our schools as clean as a new pin and virus free. Our schools could then be used as temporary hospitals – or mortuaries – when the virus really gets cracking.

          • Irene
            Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

            Suggest you read before you leap. Otherwise you’re just wasting your energy.

    • margaret
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Yes you do John .Your view seems to be saying that isolating areas is of little use due to unknown cross infection and spread , but more significantly economic issues which will take a downturn, take priority.

      Reply No, that is m not my view. Safety comes first, but closures need to be based on evidence that they contain the virus.

    • Matt
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Closing down the global economy risks even more lives.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      There is clearly very little the government can actually do, given that it seems people can infect many other people before they even know they have it and they can do the same. Let us hope most people have either some inherent immunity to catching it and that for those that do catch it that for the vast majority it will be only a mild illness. I tend to think it far more worrying that the government pretend it is. Certainly more worrying and immediate that the climate alarmism religion. Perhaps we can find some antivirals that help or breathing devices for those more badly affected. The statement in the house today was largely meaningless waffle.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

        Why do you tend to think? Surely you can control your thinking. Embrace the virus. Let’s show the rest of the world how tough we are and that, post Brexit, we are once more the lion that roars. Or something. Let us show them all, also, that we can burn as much carbon as the next man. Or woman. Or people who are gender fluid. Let us be the country that freely allowed the virus to spread and laughed at it.

  36. glen cullen
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just been inform that there is potential for a 4 day week and a pay freeze at work (potential recession)…what do I do next

    Cancel the purchase of a new car (HS2)
    Change my holiday aboard to UK (deceit)
    Budget bills & reduce consumption (debt)
    Cancel subscriptions (international aid)
    Increase productivity at work (immigration)
    Stop using credit (fiscal management)
    Buy local (support UK industry)

    Should be able to ride out any potential recession unless my employer replaces me with cheaper foreign agency staff and taxation is increased

  37. steve
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Well I had a chuckle the other day when I saw on the news how JCB – a supposedly great British plant machinery manufacturer- is running into trouble because they can’t get the parts they need for assembly from China.

    Perhaps they wouldn’t have this problem if their product was all British. Oh wait a moment….that would mean paying British workers the going rate for quality products, can’t be having that now can we.

    Serves them right.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Except that they operate in a competitive market so the company had little choice but to source some parts from China and similar. Had they not they would not be able to compete and customers would simply go elsewhere.

      • dixie
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

        Your attitude that cost trumps all aspects is the cause of our situation where so many jobs and manufacturing have been outsourced resulting in the Huawei scandal.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 12:03 am | Permalink

      You can’t blame them for embracing globalisation. Every politician for decades has been telling us it is right and proper to abandon manufacturing and make a living cutting hair, mowing grass or serving coffee.

      • steve
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Mike Wilson

        “Every politician for decades has been telling us it is right and proper to abandon manufacturing”

        A lot of decades, starting with H. Wilson.

        Reply Most politicians claim to support manufacturing but now the green movement is out to end manufacture of a wide range of current products like cars and planes using fossil fuels

  38. margaret
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    In the UK at present it is difficult to diagnose any potential Coronary virus infection . There are so many other virus’s which present in the same way.When a pt comes into my consultation with a fever ,my mask goes on, I disinfect all surfaces and door handles regularly and hand wash .We are in the front line. We have people coming in from Italy and as we do not know the incubation period or the period when CV is the most infectious , no accuracy can be sought.The government guidelines are for people to isolate themselves until a potential sufferer has self- limited the infection. We do not take any oral/naso -pharyngeal swabs and more often than not they need to visit prior to being informed to self isolate. We consider paracetamol the drug of choice to reduce any fever and of course whilst making illness more comfortable it also masks these symptoms of fever.

    • margaret
      Posted February 26, 2020 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      corona virus of course , before someone gets their heart into attacking an objective view.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 12:09 am | Permalink

      At least you’ll be lucky enough to be exposed to the virus, have a few sniffles and develop immunity. The rest of us poor saps who are not medics will have to cower trembling in our homes, or, indeed, our bedrooms – whilst hysterically awaiting our fate. If the advice is that one should self isolate and that married couples should not occupy the same bedroom, then my wife and I are ahead of the game in that respect – if in no other.

      • Irene
        Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        You have a very fortunate wife. Long may she continue.

        • Fred H
          Posted February 27, 2020 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

          love it !!

      • dixie
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        Are you Andy?

  39. glen cullen
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    It’s a free trade agreement we want, nothing more nothing less… why does the ne EU mandate include

    (55) provision for social security coordination
    (75) development of low carbon economy
    (76) level playing field commitments, including effective carbon pricing
    (81) framework for the management of shared fish stocks
    (83) uphold Union fishing activities
    (89) must ensure open and fair competition, encompassing robust commitments to ensure a level playing field
    (91) ensure the application of Union State aid rules to and in the United Kingdom
    (94) United Kingdom applies the common standards applicable within the Union
    (96) & (98) & (101) not reduced below the level provided by the common standards applicable within the Union and the United Kingdom at the end of the transition period
    (104) and the Council of Europe European Social Charter
    (107) for civil society participation
    (111) The security partnership should comprise law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, foreign policy, security and defence
    (112) preserve the autonomy of the Union’s decision-making
    (113) automatic suspension if the United Kingdom were to abrogate domestic law giving effect to the ECHR
    (131) to facilitate the interoperability of the respective armed forces
    (148) establish a dialogue between the European Parliament and the Parliament of the United Kingdom
    (155) arbitration panel should refer the question to the CJEU
    (162) negotiating directives will not include Gibraltar

    • Know-Dice
      Posted February 27, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Boris should just walk…

  40. anon
    Posted February 26, 2020 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    There seems to be much we dont know or are not told.

    Air & rail travel from hotspots should be curtailed, with potential screening & more cleaning on mass transit.

    Time is needed develop vaccines and allow for more beds and kit to deal with the burden on in patient high dependency care.

    I doubt we could build hospitals in a week!

  41. /ikh
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    I am somewhat perplexed, if we all lived to exactly 100 years old then the annual death rate would be one percent per year. Likewise if we lived to 50 years old then it would be two percent per year. Why the panic?

    We are spending significant amounts of time and money on something that looks to be irrelevant. Panic for panic’s sake.


  42. SecretPeople
    Posted February 27, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    As China is discovering, if you go in for lock down and isolation of whole cities after cases have been found you do not stop the spread as some people will already have carried it out of the area

    Correct. Schools close down for a month at Chinese New Year. Some British people I know who have been teaching in China (Wuhan) for years had left to go travelling during the holidays – just as news of Coronavirus was breaking. They first visited Malaysia and then went on to Singapore. If, due to the outbreak, they found they were unable to fly back to China they were considering returning to stay with family in the UK. So they had visited two further countries whilst theoretically incubating the virus. There must be many thousands of people in similar circumstances.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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