How Bad Would Avian Flu effect the Stock Market? Down 10, 20,30 %

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by mahram, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. Ok everybody from kudlow to the corner guy at cnn says that if one case of avian flu is found in the continental united states it would result in stock market tanking. But by how much, 10%,20% 50%. Any hard numbers.
  2. just21


    Wall Street Journal

    'I Read the News Today, Oh Boy'
    October 11, 2005; Page A17

    In "A Day in the Life," John Lennon captured the sense of resignation generated by the daily diet of doom and gloom fed to us by broadcasters and newspapers. He and his Beatles collaborator Paul McCartney wrote it all off with comic inanities: "Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall."

    Yet it's hard to shrug off earthquakes, fires, floods, bombings, warfare and all the other images that flood in on us thanks to the miracle of modern communications. We not only hear of the event but the often-terrible stories the survivors have to tell, the accounts of officials, and the instant commentary on what it all means. When an event can be predicted, weather forecasters and emergency-preparedness officials predict the worst to avoid accusations later of criminal complacency.

    If there is any comfort in all this, it sometimes can be found by sharply discounting apocalyptic theories, including breathless predictions of economic collapse, massive social disorder, energy shortages or pandemics. More often than not, over-the-top forecasts are the product of the innate need in all of us to get attention, a need that can now be gratified through access to microphones and TV cameras that transmit words and images instantly to a world-wide audience.

    Especially in need of attention are those of us in the news media. Our jobs and the fate of our enterprises depend on it -- hence, the occasional temptation to exaggerate. For government officials, no problem means no appropriation from the legislature -- so make it as big as you can. All those non-governmental organizations (NGOs) need to attract donations.

    In all cases, there's a penalty for being wrong -- the loss of reputation -- but tomorrow's massive news budget will blot from the collective consciousness most of the nonsense uttered today. If you write a best-selling book that predicts hard times in, say, five years, you will have banked your royalties well before anyone knows if you were right or wrong.

    Looking back into both the recent and distant past offers support for this thesis. Hurricane Katrina was of course a big disaster, flooding large numbers of Louisianans and Mississippians out of their homes and businesses, causing an estimated $35 billion in insured property losses, severe damage to the Gulf-centered oil and gas industry and nearly 1,000 deaths. Yet the U.S. economy only hiccupped, as was made plain by last Friday's report of only a slight decline in employment in September.

    A lot of "news" that went out over the airwaves didn't happen, as Mark Steyn comments in the October 3 New York Sun. There was no rampage of rape and murder in the Superdome, no 10,000 dead. One man was arrested for firing at a helicopter but he may have been signalling for a rescue. Mr. Steyn, a bit of a partisan himself, saw in all this misreporting a concerted campaign to discredit George W. Bush. Who knows? The idea that political zealotry sometimes infects the minds of newshounds isn't totally implausible.

    But let's go back nearly 20 years, to Chernobyl, a disaster from which the nuclear-power industry has not yet recovered. When the reactor in Ukraine exploded in April 1986 during a clumsy test procedure, the scare stories had Laplanders losing their reindeer herds, distant Germans dying of radiation sickness and forecasts of as many as 800,000 additional cancers in humans over the next 70 years.

    A new and exhaustive study by United Nations and governmental agencies assesses the damage 20 years on. Only 56 people have died from causes related to Chernobyl radiation, 47 of them plant personnel killed by the blast or in fighting the fire that resulted. Some 4,000 children developed thyroid cancer but nearly all were cured and only nine died. The study projects 4,000 cancers over time, mostly among workers directly exposed to blast radiation, a far cry from the 1986 alarums.

    The restricted area around Chernobyl has become a veritable "game park," says one U.N. observer. Because of hunting restrictions, deer, wild boar, bison and other creatures roam freely and in good health. Environmental radicals who want to return forests to their natural state could do worse than using a nuclear blast to drive out all the humans -- but don't get any ideas, please. The U.N. estimates that 70% of the area could be safely returned to productive use.

    Those dire predictions of 1986 can be excused partly by ignorance. Nuclear radiation had been studied extensively by then, using the only other examples of mass exposure, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But those were results of atom bombs, whereas the main damage from Chernobyl was the release of radioactive particles. It can be suspected that some of the reporting was tainted with hysteria fanned by a powerful and ubiquitous environmentalist lobby that had targeted nuclear power for destruction.

    So what's the latest big scare story? It would seem to be avian flu. President Bush himself is looking into whether Americans are prepared for a threatened "pandemic." Federal agencies, naturally, are saying they need more budget. But keep in mind that while human flu can be highly contagious and dangerous, the transmission of animal diseases to humans is rare, according to some of the more trustworthy epidemiologists.

    Maybe we should take a hint from Peter Cameron, a laid-back columnist on Australia's tranquil Gold Coast:

    "Australians ignore the threat of suicide bombers in Bali but fear everything else from the old wives' cupboard. Up to 50 million people are predicted to perish from avian influenza if there is a pandemic, yet less than 800 died from SARS.

    "All this scaremongering goes on when cardiovascular disease accounts for about 40% of Australian deaths each year. CVD, pardon the pun, leaves AIDS, cancer and strokes for dead when it comes to killing capacity.

    "What about malaria and tuberculosis? Millions die from these diseases in the Third World. The response of Western nations is to turn a blind eye and spend millions and millions preparing for avian influenza."

    Well said, mate. And I hope you're right.
  3. maxpi


    Avian flu first has to mutate into something that is spread human to human before it can be a big threat. If we had a case in the US right now it would not be a big deal.
  4. I think you would get a knee-jerk selloff on the S&P. Maybe 8-12 points, then cooler heads would prevail and take it back up.

    Remember when that passenger plane was quarantined due to a potential SARS outbreak on the runway (I think it was in San Diego) two years ago? S&P's fell out of bed the second it hit the news and spent the rest of the afternoon creeping back up.
  5. tomhaden


    Just from reading the anti-US title of the message, I knew it was are old anti-US friend, mahram.

    P.S. He is not only a troll. He is an anti-US troll.

  6. LOL Tom anti george bush policies and republican policies isnt anti american. Its the same kind of rhetoric that you republicans used to shut down the people who said there wasnt any weopens of mass destruction in Iraq.

  7. calends


    During various outbreaks of the plague, wealth increased. The living inherit the wealth of the dead. The wealth is divided amongst fewer people, ergo per capita wealth increases.
  8. mhashe


    I wonder how much of this is over-reaction and yet another form of sensationalism to scare the public. Is Kudlow having another slow news day?
  9. ok, but what does it mean for the stock market, meaning the big 3 indices, down 10%, down 20%.

  10. lol the supreme court thing is pretty much played out. Well I dont know why kudlow doesnt rail against bush's big government policies. I thought he hated that stuff

    #10     Oct 11, 2005