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Weekly Update 20 March 2020

There are now a quarter-million confirmed coronavirus cases, over 10,000 fatalities, and the economy is on track (in our opinion) for the worst recession since 1937. Other than that, things are pretty quiet.

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Asteroid Impact

Japanese scientists launched a tennis ball-sized cannonball at an asteroid and filmed it. The asteroid, Ryugu, has a surface texture like freeze-dried coffee. Presumably, they taste about the same.

Civil Unrest

Gun sales in the US are surging this week as fears of civil unrest led to panic buying. This includes many first time, presumably untrained, buyers.

According to one shop owner, “Even the non-firearms people are wanting firearms. We’ve got a lot of new people who have never had guns before coming in.”

In a related story, supermarkets have asked for police protection, fearing lethal food riots.

The Middle East is poised for increased civil unrest off the back of coronavirus. Between low oil prices and pandemic panic, the region is becoming a tinderbox for terrorist recruitment.

Lebanese prisons have already seen riots over cramped conditions.

1,375 Brazilian prisoners escaped during a similar riot. 586 of them have been recaptured.
Intelligent Prepper Comment: Selling firearms to untrained desperate people seems like a pretty bad idea.


China, which is taking full advantage of global coronavirus chaos, threatened to use EMP weapons against American warships Tuesday.

“Chinese military experts,” said that “the Chinese military has the option of using new approaches, including the deployment of electromagnetic weapons,” in order to “counter US’ repeated trespasses into Chinese territorial waters.”

This is obviously unhelpful.

Epidemic Disease

Confirmed Cases - 254,697
Deaths - 10,447

Forty million California residents were ordered to shelter in place yesterday as COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus claimed its ten-thousandth victim.

Meanwhile, Italy overtook China as the country with the most fatalities despite reporting 40,000 fewer cases.

A Chinese Red Cross official criticized what he described as lax restrictions yesterday: "Here in Milan, there isn't a very strict lockdown: public transportation is still working and people are still moving around, you're still having dinners and parties in the hotels and you're not wearing masks … I don’t know what everyone is thinking.”

The American State Department has restricted all foreign travel, a mandate previously only enacted during wartime.

It's not all bad fact, we dedicated half of yesterday's COVID-19 update to the good news. Check it out for a pick me up.

Extreme Weather

Brazil has faced a series of extreme weather events since the calendar flipped to 2020, with different states inundated with floods, torrential downpours, and mudslides that have killed 150 people in just a few months. 

Financial Collapse

Global markets continued their freefall this week, with the American S&P500 wiping out all its gains since President Trump took office in January 2017.

Some pundits are forecasting a global recession combining the worst of both 2008's financial collapse and 9/11's worldwide upheaval.

Intelligent Prepper Comment: While it's easiest--and frequently incorrect--to compare a current situation with something familiar, it does make a certain sense.

Because we were deep into a bull market when coronavirus struck, there's a long way to fall (see 2008). Combine that with the horrible uncertainty and fear (9/11) around a pandemic, and we have the worst of both.

Further, consumer debt is at an all-time high while wealth distribution as it a historic low. This catastrophe will hit the most vulnerable hardest in terms of both public health and finances. The rich will get richer in both relative and absolute terms.

Finally, unemployment is set to skyrocket from 3% to as much as 20% overnight. Goldman Sachs, an American bank, forecasts jobless claims will rise from around 230k per week (February) to 2.25m this coming week. The largest increase on record.

And this time, there's not much the Federal Reserve can do to help. Because the Trump administration pushed for low-interest rates through a deep bull market, there are no levers to pull. The parachute was deployed early, and now it's gone.

Finally, both the US and the UK are wasting precious time dithering about rescue packages. The American Senate is finally back from holiday with a seed of a package in hand, but it's far too little and much too late.

This is bad now. It's going to get far worse.

Carter Hopkins

Carter is a former US Army Ranger, US Army intelligence officer, and counterintelligence officer with the Defence Intelligence Agency. He has a BA in Political Science from UCLA and an MA in Security Studies from Georgetown.

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