Daily Investment Interpretations

April 29, 2009

2009-4-29:   If I ever doubted that the news is managed, tonight has laid my questions to rest. This morning, there were over 41,000 Google articles concerning swine flu and its status; tonight, there are none. I had to go to individual news outlets such as CNN to get any sort of status report on swine flu. In the meantime, our schools have closed, with two confirmed cases in one of the local schools, and a number of other students at that school showing flu-like symptoms. Neither of the two affected children has been near Mexico. If this situation escalates... and it obviously will... grocery stores, pharmacies (except for drive-through take-outs), and restaurants (except for drive-through take-outs) will be closed until seven days after the last patient recovers. (I don't know just how this will be handled. People have to have food.) In the meantime, the World Health Organization has raised the pandemic alert level to phase five, which is a courtesy level designed to give world health organizations a little time to prepare for the official phase-six pandemic (presumably coming by or before this weekend).
    Luckily, I spent yesterday and today stocking up on Clorox, hand-wipes, hand cleanser, paper towels, Kleenex, food, and other supplies we might need for an extended period of isolation (four weeks?). At suppertime, we took Amber to see one of our sons and daughters-in-law. Our daughter-in-law is a school superintendent and shared the information I've recited above regarding the closure of drug stores and grocery stores. All public gatherings will also be cancelled until the first wave of this epidemic has run its course. She cautioned us against unnecessary doctor's appointments, and other unnecessary public outings. As we were leaving, she ran out to the car to tell us that it was just then being announced on our local television channels that these two local kindergarten students have tested positive for swine flu. (Both students have been treated on an outpatient basis, and both are recovering.)
    This happens so fast! Right now, the news is full of everything but what you need to know... all about President Obama's approval ratings and what he said today. Dr. Nancy Snyderman on the MSNBC show begins by telling you that its OK on the bus or the rapid transit to hold the poles or touch the seats... and then she adds... providing you wash your hands afterward or carry hand-wipes. (I've got news for you: that's not what Dr. Sanjay Gupta said last night or what my daughter-in-law said tonight. You should stay at least six feet away from anyone who might possibly have the flu, and you should avoid public gatherings. Mexico has just shut down Mexico City, including the subway, except for the most essential services.) She also tells you that surgical masks won't protect you from the flu. (What she doesn't mention is that the kind of H95 masks that infectious disease specialists use and that I've purchased
will protect you from viral infections.) And all the while, on TV, everything goes on la-te-da, as though nothing unusual were happening. Even locally, a great effort seems to be being made by our TV stations to ensure that no one worries overly much about these two swine flu cases, while behind the scenes, my daughter-in-law is being given a grimmer picture that even I would have imagined. 
    Maybe the media know something I don't know. 
    The truth will out soon enough.
    Todd Harrison, who doesn't seem to be given to conspiracy theories, believes that this swine flu is a bioterrorist act on someone's part(!?)

    The indices danced a jig today, after the Federal Reserve hinted that the worst may have passed. The NASDAQ Composite vaulted
38.13 points (2.28%), to end the day at 1,712. The Dow jumped 168.78 points (2.11%) to close at 8,186, and the S&P 500 hopped up 14.89 points (2.16%)  to 874. Oil fell slightly to $51.36, while gold gave up $6.90 to finish at $900.50. The VIX tumbled 1.87 to 36.08.