#carcrash

Experts inside YouTube ride roughshod over medical opinion

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The video of Bakersfield-based microbiology experts, Drs Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, discussing a contrarian view on COVID19 that YouTube took down is still available on this link.

In what world are we living where a video channel prioritises a groupthink generated political opinion that overrides medical experts who have based their findings on available hard data, not wildly inaccurate models? The video was taken down for a ‘violation of community standards.’ You can read the YouTube statement here.

We would understand this if the doctors had no medical training and were pushing wild conspiracy theories. They simply weren’t. All that happened was a sensible presentation of data coupled with opinions based on their background as microbiologists. They think the fears have been overblown.

If you listen to the dialogue, the hard data confirms what we had been saying about the statistics of the pandemic. The doctors compared the data of an open Sweden vs a closed Norway and concluded the data discrepancies of COVID19 were statistically insignificant.

Many of our readers know we are contrarians by nature. We are more curious about what we might be missing rather than just accepting what is commonly reported. When opinions support the data, it isn’t an exercise in confirmation bias. We are genuinely interested as to whether the arguments sound convincing enough to validate them. We are even more concerned when the other side of the debate seek to shut it down rather than expose the flaws in Erickson and Massihi’s thinking.

Is the dissenting view more widespread than the media given credit for? After all the data is a moving feast. We are learning about COVID19 on a daily basis so sticking to the thinking of 2 months ago may not be relevant if the course shifts. Why are governments setting fixed future dates? Why not open up when the data supports it? Hardly any science in politically driven decision making.

An ER doctor in Wisconsin confirmed Drs Erickson and Massihi’s view that it isn’t about science. He wondered why someone in a hazmat suit was taking his temperature when there were next to no patients inside, something that is borne out by the data with so many beds available. Should we fear politics more than the pandemic?

Are governments following a herd mentality which uses poorly interpreted data as opposed to considering herd immunity based on medical science? The economic fallout will likely be way worse than any impacts of the virus itself. As we wrote earlier this week, governments carry zero responsibility for their actions because they can hide behind telling us it was for our own good. We bear the lot in terms of consequences. A terrible equation.

We believe that groupthink is the more dangerous pathogen in society. Whether financial crises or topics such as climate change, dissenting voices have repeatedly been terminated, especially by media outlets. Surely if the data sits with the prevailing sentiment, why not pick the bones out of Erickson and Massihi’s statement and debunk it with more prescient facts? In what world does it help to suppress information? Defeat data with data. This is why we remain contrarians.

The medical discussion surrounding the live clinical data of Erickson and Massihi makes plausible sense. We have all grown up learning that a baby gnawing a dog lead helps its body work out how to fight future infections. The doctors argue that keeping people locked down decreases one’s immunity to fight against COVID19.

The Bakersfield doctors believe that preventing the body from being able to combat coronavirus by not being exposed to it could have the opposite of the intended effect when people start to mingle again. Many people may not even know they have it. So when those people who caught it in a supermarket could restart the process. Does the government return to lockdown again and restart the negative loop?

These doctors claimed to have done the majority of testing for Kern County, California. The data backs up what is being experienced around the world positive test rates for infection are far higher than what is being reported but the death rates are way lower. Having said that, these two owners of seven clinics noted (some might argue somewhat selfishly) that the amount of people getting tested is way lower than their installed capacity. Irrational fear has been keeping people away. Then we are surprised when the natives get restless?

The two doctors recommend putting kids back into school. Slowly reopen other businesses and eventually sporting venues. The doctors questioned how it is OK to go to Costco but not a small cafe. It is reverse logic. There is a far higher exposure in a large business than a local cafe.

The adverse economic impacts don’t match the behaviour of the coronavirus in their opinion. Until a vaccine is found, the human body has the best chance of defeating it. Erickson and Massihi argued that 94% of the people recorded as dying from coronavirus had comorbidities – heart failure, immunodeficiencies, HIV etc. The death toll related to COVID19 alone is a speck.

The doctors added that there has been a sharp rise in domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, depression or mental health issues during the stay home orders. The campaign of fear exacerbated by the media is viewed as a far bigger problem than the coronavirus itself. Massihi suggested that people are becoming afraid to see the doctor for completely non-virus related reasons for fear of catching COVID19 by going to seek medical help. He argued that someone with symptoms of appendicitis avoiding the doctor for fear of contracting coronavirus may die of sepsis.

We don’t pretend to be doctors for a second. We offer no medical opinions here. We merely question why a social media channel decides it knows better than medical experts?

We understand a private business has the freedom to act in ways it sees as best for shareholders, but this seems far more sinister –  using its power to shut down free speech. Perhaps the doctors should sue YouTube for violating their first amendment rights. If there was ever a need for control over media censorship, this makes a great test case.

US auto inventory highest at any point excluding GFC

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US auto sales didn’t blow the doors off in March. As discussed in Sunday’s “New cars for 40% off” auto makers are struggling. One dealer has chopped prices for some models from 40% to 46% in the last few days. Ford sales down 7.2%YoY, Chrysler down 33.1%YoY and GM managed a paltry 1.9%. Hyundai and Kia were down 10% and 15% respectively. For all makers click here. Despite some of the highest level of incentives, auto inventories are at the highest point at any time excluding GFC. Used car prices have fallen the most in any recorded month since Nov 2008. Loan maturities hit a new record of almost 67 months.

“Looking for a new car? This maybe last year’s model but it’s new and 46% off (this was 40% off two days ago). I recall seeing such lunatic deals the last time we headed for a collapse in auto sales. Mac Haik Ford in Houston is practically giving cars away. Even some of the 2017 models are getting chunky discounts.”

The NADA Used Car Guide’s “seasonally adjusted used vehicle price index fell for the eighth straight month, declining 3.8% from January to 110.1. The drop was by far the worst recorded for any month since November 2008 as the result of a recession-related 5.6% tumble. February’s index gure was also 8% below February 2016’s 119.4 result and marked the index’s lowest level since September 2010.”

WolfStreet noted “Used vehicle wholesale prices determine the value of the collateral for $1.11 trillion in auto loans that have boomed on higher prices, higher unit sales, longer maturities (the average hit a new record of 66.5 months in Q4), and higher loan-to-value ratios (negative equity)”

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Just another sign of tapped out consumers and the ineffective recovery where the can has just been kicked down the road. Payback will be a bitch.

ZeroHedge wrote:

“If GM piles on incentives at this rate three months in a row, it would spend nearly $4 billion on incentives, in just that quarter, just in the US alone. How much dough is that for GM? In Q1 2015, GM reported global net income of $2.0 billion. In Q1 2015, it reported global net income of $0.9 billion. These incentives can eat an automaker’s lunch in no time. And they did in the years before the industry collapsed during the Great Recession.”

New cars for 40% off

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Looking for a new car? This maybe last year’s model but it’s new and 40% off. I recall seeing such lunatic deals the last time we headed for a collapse in auto sales. Mac Haik Ford in Houston is practically giving it away.  Even some of the 2017 models are getting chunky discounts.

Jim Glover Chevy near Arkansas River is also trying to shift 2016 metal. Why buy used when a 2016 new Malibu is $7,000 off?

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Chrysler is also chucking discounts left, right and centre. Northwest Dodge Houston is taking $14,000 off new Rams.

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ZeroHedge wrote:

If GM piles on incentives at this rate three months in a row, it would spend nearly $4 billion on incentives, in just that quarter, just in the US alone. How much dough is that for GM? In Q1 2015, GM reported global net income of $2.0 billion. In Q1 2015, it reported global net income of $0.9 billion. These incentives can eat an automaker’s lunch in no time. And they did in the years before the industry collapsed during the Great Recession.”

The National Automotive Dealer Association (NADA), a division of JD Power wrote,

Manufacturers dialed up incentive spending 18% last month to help reduce new vehicle inventory levels that are at a decade-plus high.”

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The NADA Used Car Guide’s “seasonally adjusted used vehicle price index fell for the eighth straight month, declining 3.8% from January to 110.1. The drop was by far the worst recorded for any month since November 2008 as the result of a recession-related 5.6% tumble. February’s index gure was also 8% below February 2016’s 119.4 result and marked the index’s lowest level since September 2010.”

WolfStreet noted “Used vehicle wholesale prices determine the value of the collateral for $1.11 trillion in auto loans that have boomed on higher prices, higher unit sales, longer maturities (the average hit a new record of 66.5 months in Q4), and higher loan-to-value ratios (negative equity)”

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It doesn’t bode well.