Silent Spring, the “Virus” Edition

It’s “Silent Spring” in America, courtesy of one too many imports from China.

Bars, taverns, saloons and dine-in restaurants across the country are closing. Governors from sea to sea have ordered “non-essential” businesses to shut down for two weeks.

It’ll likely be longer, sad to say.

Meanwhile, no schools or colleges. No gyms. No sports. No Broadway. No Disneyland. Airlines are slashing flights and parking airplanes. Police will monitor your driving. National Guard at the supermarkets before too long (and you heard it here first).

Just “shelter in place,” to borrow a term from the days of the Boston Marathon bombing.

It’s much the same in many other nations, from France to Peru to Australia. Stay home. Keep your distance.

The. Party. Is. Over.

Fortunately, your “Whiskey Bar” remains open for business. Even better, we’re free; meaning no cost to you. Just a few minutes of your day, and perhaps we can offer some solace, if not ideas.

It’s what we do. Please read on…

I take today’s theme from the book Silent Spring, published in 1962 by the late Rachel Carson. It describes ecological damage caused by overuse of industrial chemicals, especially the pesticide DDT. The title refers to how bird life was vanishing due to chemicals wrecking reproductive cycles. No birds, no birdsong; hence “silent spring.”

Silent Spring is considered one of the seminal books of the U.S. environmental movement, despite myriad scientific flaws. Quibble over Carson’s exact details of biology and chemistry, but her book was a wakeup call that something was wrong with the direction of society.

Too much industrial-scale “chemistry” was killing us.

Well, here we are again. Too much of… something.

As I look out the window of my house, there are no children walking to school. Very few cars or trucks on the roads. Businesses are closed per local authorities. And plenty of anticipation of “national”-scale lockdowns of entire regions.

All courtesy of this virus, of course.

And please spare me… It’s not “just the flu.”

From what we know, the virus is at least 10 times more lethal than the flu. Maybe 50 times. It strikes older people and people with compromised immune systems pretty hard. But it also hits younger people.

In Netherlands and Italy, there are reports of people under age 50 in intensive care for respiratory issues. So no… the virus doesn’t just take out Boomers. (Sorry, kids…)

The medical angle is plenty bad. And right along with the bug, the hit to our “globalized” economy is staggering. Likely a recession-inducing knockout.

Here in Whiskey, we’ve discussed elements of the economic meltdown. We ‘ve talked about how China, Inc. has near-total control over much of the global supply of prescription drugs. We’ve mentioned how many containers from China are NOT arriving at U.S. ports.

In fact, my maritime friends tell me that over 2 million shipping containers have NOT landed on the U.S.-Canadian West Coast over the past two months. That’s a lot of stuff that will never make it to the shelves of American stores or into the inventory bins of American factories.

Irony of ironies… Most commercial shelving in big-box stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and more in American shopping centers and malls comes from China too. So the Chinese-origin shelving will be bereft of many Chinese goods.

Think about that…

Here’s more of what we know…

Our illustrious Federal Reserve cut interest rates to a scooch above zero. And markets are tanking (again). Even the price of gold is falling (again). Ugh. This is the miracle of central banking, taken to its ultimate, worthless end.

Memo to Fed: You can’t buy what isn’t there when the factories have closed. And you can’t service debt with nonexistent cash flow when the whole system has seized up.

Getting back to gold, the price drop was not supposed to happen. When the Fed lowers rates, gold is supposed to soar. And now we’re hovering just above “zero” interest, which is the glass ceiling — or is it a floor? — above those dreaded negative interest rates.

Conventional explanation is that, obviously, people are selling out of the stock market; I’m sure you’ve noticed. In the process, many people, funds and institutions must raise quick cash to meet margin calls on all their losing deals. That’s how this works.

So people sell gold, which always finds a buyer. Gold can always catch a bid, although many of those current bids are lowball stinkers.

If you hold physical gold, keep holding. Do not panic out of real metal. Because on the other side of this storm, you will need every golden gram you have.

And there WILL be another side of this storm…

Right now, we’re at the beginning of a miserable period. Yes, this beast took form in China several months back. But for us in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere, it’s just the “beginning.”

I mean the beginning of the beginning, too. We’re not even at what Winston Churchill described as the “end of the beginning,” after the Battle of el Alamein during World War II. We have a long way to go even to get to the “middle.”

And let’s be frank. It’s going to suck for a while.

It’ll unfold at its own pace, in its own manner.

Eventually, though, we’ll look through the mists and see something that we can call an “end.” Details yet to come, of course.

One thing I can predict, though… Seriously. Absolutely. The U.S. dollar will be weaker, and you’ll really be happy you own gold.

The next monetary system — the one after the current dollar system, which is dying before our eyes — will rely at least in part on gold.

And the U.S. relationship with China — global relations, too, if leaders who make such calls have half a brain in their collective head — will be fundamentally altered. Forever.

It starts with the fact that the Chinese government allowed this to happen.

No, I don’t necessarily mean China created the virus (though that is up for debate). But there is no question that China’s government allowed the virus to spread.

The virus popped up in Wuhan, China in late October 2019. There’s documentation of a couple cases in early November. Then more cases as December arrived. One Chinese doctor posted notes on the matter and was promptly squashed by the authorities. Very Communist; it’s how they roll.

By early January 2020, the virus was breaking out all over Wuhan and the region. Then about 5 million Chinese from Wuhan went on annual travels for Lunar New year.

Past a certain point, even Chinese authorities had to bow to reality. They locked up Wuhan tighter than a drum. Quarantine. People were ordered to remain in their apartments, and if that didn’t work there were helpful carpenters and welders to seal the front doors. (Video on YouTube.)

Too little, too late, however, as a quick check of any news site will tell you. The virus had already gone global.

The Chinese government lacked candor, and failed to take decisive action leading up to what has become a pandemic. That alone should be enough to make every other world leader think twice about their dealings with the country.

Then there’s the economic unravelling to consider.

Thanks to the quarantines, Chinese factories went quiet. Workers couldn’t get to work. Suppliers couldn’t deliver materials. Shippers couldn’t ship. No containers down at the ports.

Again, my maritime friends tell me that over the past two months, over 260 large cargo ships — 10,000 to 20,000 containers and more per each one — were cancelled or sailed partly loaded. Out of over 4million containers that “should” have shipped, 2 million — about 50% — never made it.

What you see on the current shelves — the Chinese stuff — all showed up last fall and early winter. Looking ahead, those missing containers of Chinese goods will compound future shortages of all manner of things.

Expect to start seeing the effects in April, May and June.

This is what happens when a nation — or just its imbecilic leadership class — makes some sort of collective decision to outsource its industrial capabilities. When a nation places much of its fate in the hands of a foreign power.

To some — indeed, to many — it seemed like such a great idea to import all that stuff from China.

But this virus is THE tipping point. You’ll remember these times for the rest of your days. And it’s generational. In decades to come, people will sing songs about this sordid turn of affairs.

For now, though, we have our new version of “Silent Spring” in America, courtesy of one too many Chinese imports. I sure as hell hope that we learn the right lessons.

On that note, I rest my case.

That’s all for now… Thank you for subscribing and reading.

Best wishes,

Byron King

Byron King
Managing Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

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You might think it’s early, but I’m already hard at working prepping for Independence Day festivities on Lake Superior. I have to get ready for a crowd of family and friends at my lake compound. As always, no one goes hungry on my watch!

Byron King

A Harvard-trained geologist and former aide to the United States Chief of Naval Operations, Byron King is our resident gold and mining expert, and we are proud to have him on board as the managing editor of Whiskey & Gunpowder.

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