JPM’s Kolanovic Finds Coronavirus Lockdowns “May Have Caused More Deaths Than Covid-19 Itself”

A certain subset of financial commentators who despise Trump and his policies yet are fervent adherents of Marko Kolanovic will have a real “cognitive dissonance” trying to rationalize and comment on the JPM quant’s latest observations on the coronavirus pandemic, in which he finds that “data favors further reopening” in line with what the administration is currently promoting.

  • Tyler Durden

Writing that “while the epidemic and markets largely followed our forecasts, politics emerged as a new and significant risk. Despite the conditions for re-opening being mostly met across the US” Kolanovic observes that this is “not yet happening in the largest economic regions (e.g. CA, NY, etc.)” Instead, while “the virus risk is abating globally, political/geopolitical fallout is emerging as a new risk. For example, just today the US senate passed a bill to bar Chinese companies from being listed on US exchanges.”

Mocking “flawed scientific papers [which] predicted several million virus deaths in the west”, an outcome which clearly has not happened (with the authors of said papers claiming that this is a result of the measures taken in response to their original forecasts), Kolanovic writes that “in the absence of conclusive data, these lockdowns were justified initially. Nonetheless, many of these efforts were inefficient or late” meanwhile more “recent studies indicate that full lockdown policies in some European countries did not produce any change pandemic parameters (such as growth rates R0) and hence might not have yielded additional benefits vs. less restrictive social distancing measures” where the case study of Sweden is most prominent.

Kolanovic elaborates on this point as follows:

Figure 2 below show virus spread rates before and after lockdown for different countries around the world, and Figure 1 shows the spread for US states that have re-opened. In particular, regression shows that infection rates declined, not increased, after lockdowns ended (for US states we show most recent R0 vs R0 on the day of lockdown end, and for countries we show infection rates). For example, the data in Figure 2 shows a decrease in infection rates after countries eased national lockdowns with >99% statistical significance. Indeed, virtually everywhere, infection rates have declined after reopening even after allowing for an appropriate measurement lag. This means that the pandemic and COVID-19 likely have its own dynamics unrelated to often inconsistent lockdown measures that were being implemented.

Further slamming the continuation of full lockdowns, Kolanovic then writes that “the fact that re-opening did not change the course of pandemic is consistent with mentioned studies showing that initiation of full lockdowns did not alter the course of the pandemic either. These virus dynamics are perhaps driven by the elimination of the most effective spreaders, impact on the most vulnerable populations such as in nursing homes, common sense measures unrelated to full lockdowns (such as washing hands, etc.) and weather patterns in the northern hemisphere, etc.”

To be sure, the lockdowns remained in place “while our knowledge of the virus and lack of effectiveness of total lockdowns evolved.” However, at the same time, “millions of livelihoods were being destroyed by these lockdowns. Unlike rigorous testing of potential new drugs, lockdowns were administered with little consideration that they might not only cause economic  devastation but potentially more deaths than COVID-19 itself.“…


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