Friday, May 22, 2020

The impact of the pandemic on political systems

The covid-19 pandemic will cause a major change in the political systems in many countries.  To address the economic disruption, many countries have to implement fiscal stimulus plan that cause a large increase in debt. It required the government to play a large role in the economy. The neo-liberal system that has been in favor for the past three decades, and which advocated a smaller role for the government, failed to produce a suitable response. The government had to step in.

Is Zoom secure

I used Zoom for online talks. Someone asked me - is Zoom secure? I like to give my views. We need to identify what is the risk of using Zoom.

WOTC - Extension of circuit breaker

Wisdom of the Crowd: 66% disagree with the extension of the circuit breaker and prefer other ways to stop the spread of the corona virus. 34% agree with the extension.

WOTC - Infected foreign workers

Wisdom of the Crowd: 51% of the respondents think that the infected foreign workers will not pose a danger to the general community. 49% think that it would.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Reduce reliance on foreign workers

The covid-19 crisis has shown the flaws in Singapore's reliance on foreign workers. 

Due to the unsanitary and overcrowded conditions in the foreign worker dormitories, the covid virus has inflected most, if not all, the foreign workers. 

 It has caused the government to implement a circuit breaker (it is actually a lockdown) for two months. The cost to the economy is a horrendous $60 billion (my estimate), which could have been used to suspend GST totally for six years. 

 Looking ahead, what can Singapore do to reduce the reliance on foreign workers?

Foreign workers in community facilities

There are videos showing the foreign workers in the community facilities who are not observing social distancing. They congregate and socialize.

Some people commented that they are having a good time - no need to work, get three meals a day and get paid in full.

But other people said that they depend more on overtime pay, so the confinement is hard on their finances. 

It becomes a lose-lose situation.
I hope that this is a good lesson for the country, and for the government. The reliance on foreign workers is bad, and has hit us badly.

Quora: If Trump were to cancel debt to China, would other countries think twice about buying US bonds in the future?

Buddha Buck, studied at University at Buffalo answered

Let’s rephrase that: If Trump were to default on 4% of the US debt, would every investor in the world think twice about buying US bonds in the future?

Yes, yes they would. And for good reason. It would mean that the trustworthiness of the US government to pay back the debt — like it has been doing continuously since 1789 — is gone. The US would be a dead-beat nation, unable to raise money via debt it needs to finance its operations.

The US economy would collapse. Of the $22T GDP, a good $5T of that comes directly from government spending. Except the government can’t spend anything because they don’t have the money.

Taxes would go up sharply, and government spending would fall. Neither of which is particularly good for the economy.

Investors would flee US Bonds, driving the price of those bonds down and the yields up, reflecting the suddenly increased risk of owning the bonds. Prices of other bonds and of stocks, etc, would go up as literally tens of trillions of dollars flood the market from former US Bond-holders who now want something else, anything else, than US Bonds.

The main “country” that owns US bonds is the US. Not the US Government (although it owns quite a lot of US bonds), but the US public. Retirement funds, banks, wealthy individuals, companies, hedge funds, etc. The same is true for other “countries” that own US bonds — it isn’t just the governments, it’s other institutions as well. The reason it gets lumped all together is that the US Treasury reports only on the aggregate nationality of the bondholders. When you hear $1.268T of the US debt in February was owned by Japan, compared to $1.092T owned by China, that means that $1.268T of US debt was owned by entities based in Japan, not the Japanese government or the Japanese central bank.

It would also likely lead to Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. There is a very strong argument to be made that defaulting on the debt is unconstitutional. Certainly the completely foreseeable outcome of the debt is bad enough that even the Senate Republicans can’t cover for it.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Platform to process the contact tracing records

The govt require workplaces and business outlets to implement contract tracing. This must involve tens of million dollars. Most of the cost is incurred by businesses and are passed to their customers through higher prices.

How well is the contact tracing records being used? How often have the govt identified people who have been in contact with the infected people from their database?

Expansion of isolation facilities

There is a positive aspect in the actions taken by the ministerial task force during the covid-19 crisis.
They were able to expand the isolation facilities quickly when the need arose.

Discharge of patients staying in isolated facilities

1,164 patients were discharged from hospital and isolation facilities on 14 May 2020. This was described as a "high".

This is how I see the significance of this figure.

Quora: Why is the White House in “complete chaos” over the coronavirus?

  1. usually when a new administration comes in there is a ‘handover period’ when the new team bed in with the old team to get briefed on the role and get a handle on the big issues. The Trump administration didn’t do this - they just fired everyone from Obama’s staff and then tried to work it out as best they could.
  2. A huge number of Federal posts still remain unfilled even after firing all the previous Obama staffers. This includes, amongst other things, the Federal task force (set up by the much hated Obama ) for dealing with infectious disease pandemics.
For bonus points: the US used to embed a member of staff permanently with China’s CDDC (equivalent of the US CDC) so that the US could be updated on any relevant developments in China. The Trump administration cancelled that post in 2017.
So, at the time when it really, really needs expertise and experience around it, the Trump White House finds itself very much alone. That has had fairly predictable consequences at the worst possible time.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Who should Joe Biden select as his vice president candidate?
2. How do you see the low spread of infection in the community?
Vote in

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