Friday, 30 July 2021

COVID-19 lockdowns: Is the cure worse than the disease?

Critics of stay-at-home orders or lockdowns often argue that the resulting harms to mental and physical health are worse than the direct harms from COVID-19.

A new analysis of excess mortality figures in countries that imposed lockdowns but did not experience high numbers of cases helps refute these claims.

While restrictive measures are associated with harm to health, there is no evidence that lockdowns rather than the pandemic itself are to blame.
Conversely, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on health in countries, such as Brazil and India, that did not introduce restrictive control measures.

Opponents of government restrictions on personal freedoms during the COVID-19 pandemic argue that lockdowns have taken a greater toll on the public’s health than the disease itself.

They cite factors, such as missed opportunities to screen for illnesses and provide vaccinations, lengthening waiting times for consultations and surgical procedures, and the mental health toll of loneliness and isolation.

People sometimes sum these up as “the cure is worse than the disease.”

Writing in BMJ Global Health, public health experts emphasize that it is challenging to disentangle the health effects of lockdowns from the health effects of the pandemic.

However, their own analysis suggests that it is unlikely that government interventions have been worse for public health — at least in the short term — than the pandemic itself.

Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.

They considered not only overall mortality rates but also disruptions to health services, mental health effects, and the number of suicides.

The research was an international collaboration between scientists in Australia, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Excess mortality

To tease apart the health effects of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, the researchers turned to the World Mortality DatasetTrusted Source.

The dataset includes figures for “excess mortality” in 94 countries between the start of the pandemic in 2020 and the middle of 2021.

It defines “excess mortality” as the difference between the actual number of deaths and the predicted number, given trends before the pandemic.

In Australia and New Zealand, which imposed several lockdowns but experienced relatively few COVID-19 cases, the researchers found no excess mortality during 2020.

If it were true that “the cure is worse than the disease,” lockdowns would have increased death rates in these countries compared with previous years, even in the absence of severe outbreaks.

The researchers found a similar story in South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, which imposed lockdowns despite having few or no COVID-19 cases.

These countries either recorded no excess mortality or relatively small increases.

On the flip side, countries that imposed few restrictions, including Brazil, Sweden, and Russia, have recorded large numbers of excess deaths throughout the pandemic.

“[I]f areas that locked down but had low COVID-19 cases did not see deaths from other causes rise, lockdowns themselves cannot be the cause of deaths per se,” said lead author Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, an epidemiologist at the School of Health and Society at the University of Wollongong in Australia.

“It is possible that they have had mixed benefits, but the evidence is not consistent with a situation where lockdowns cause large numbers of deaths in the short term,” he told Medical News Today.

The authors emphasize that the possibility remains that lockdowns have detrimental effects on health, both in the short and long term.

For example, a U.K. study found an increase in heart attacks within the community during the first wave of COVID-19. However, the research was unable to determine whether government restrictions or COVID-19 caused this growth.

Another study suggested that missed cancer screenings could lead to a large increase in cancer deaths in the U.K. But reduced screening could also result from the reallocation of healthcare staff to pandemic-related work.

Commenting on the new analysis for the Science Media Centre in London, Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh in the U.K., said:

“The authors reach the unsurprising conclusion that the short-term impact of lockdown on mortality rates is considerably less than the impact of COVID-19, while correctly acknowledging that it is extremely difficult to disentangle the direct and indirect effects of either. This is a useful exercise but falls far short of demonstrating that the cure will not prove to be worse than the disease in the long term.”

Other researchers are concerned that the long-term consequences of the disease could be far ranging, particularly with potentially lasting effects on the brain.

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Editors Comments:

 How About Bali's PPKM Lockdown. 

Is the cure worse than the disease?

Almost every day I run into someone in Bali that does not believe the statistics and doesn't think that we need to be locked down.

Then I cite the latest statistics and my projections if we don't get a handle on this.

They are still not convinced. But this is a democracy and everybody has a right to their opinion whether valid or not.

Here is a facebook post that I felt compelled to share with all those naysayers yesterday.


July 29 th. 2021 

Bali COVID - 19 related deaths increase exponentially 440% in last six weeks.

 I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it's important for everybody to see the reality of what's going on in Bali so that we can all work together to end this pandemic as soon as possible.

 For those of you that still think Covid - 19 is not dangerous and are wondering why the federal and state governments have enacted PPKM stage IV restrictions in Bali the last week a picture is worth a thousand words.

Back on June 16th. we only had one death per day related to Covid – 19.
Five weeks later it had increased to 44 per day and yesterday it was at 33 a 330% increase.

Don't think because you're young your immune.

I know firsthand of three young children aged 7 to 17 that were diagnosed with the new variant of COVID 19 in just the last couple of weeks.

So, stop the handshaking, hugs for greetings, wear a mask in public and wash everything you touch with alcohol otherwise your name may be added to the chart above.
The vaccines will not 100% protect you against getting COVID - 19 and there's a minuscule chance that you could still die even if you are vaccinated.

For those of you that want to be conspiracy theorists please don't waste your time commenting on this post.

I'm doing it because Bali is my home. I have two children and several other family members here.

We have a 17 yr. old business that has been losing money for 1.5 Years due to Covid -19, so we want this to end as much as anyone.

I worry about our +70 staff and their families and hundreds of friends I am concerned about.

I am also concerned about every other foreigner and Indonesian living here and throughout Indonesia and the rest of the inhabitants in this world.

Especially those in Third World countries that can’t get vaccines.

So please do your part. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash your hands, and limit social contact to only what is necessary.
Please share this blog if you care.


Thursday, 29 July 2021

The End Of The Housing Boom Will Be When Mortgage Rates Rise In 2022

Editor's Comments: 

Below is another warning shot across the bow for realtors developers and real estate investors plus homeowners around the world.

I've been saying for months now that the rapid rise in real estate prices around the world has been primarily caused by two major unusual factors.

(1) First is during the a year and 1/2 of Covid - 19 crisis the supply of real estate has not been able to keep up with the demand. 

(2) A large portion of that demand has been fuelled by ridiculously low interest rates as low as 1% to get a mortgage with little or no requirements for credit worthiness and ability to pay back the loan.

This is much like the scenario when the Sub Prime crisis reared its ugly head in 2007 and I gave a major sell signal for most real estate around the world.

Throughout my 50 years of real estate buying selling and brokering one thing is evident when interest rates begin to rise after being ridiculously low that is usually the end of the housing market.

So, in my professional opinion I believe the end is near for most real estate markets in the Western world Asia and even Australia and New Zealand.

When it dies the crash will be deadly as people will scramble to sell properties to avoid paying higher mortgages they can not afford.

First-time homebuyers will have to pass because with higher interest rates they simply can't afford to qualify for the mortgages .

You might ask why a fifty-year realtor is talking like this because few will.

The reason is simple one of the main reasons I love the real estate market in Bali is because most real estate here is purchased with cash so rising and falling interest rates have little effect.

 When you factor in that the crisis has caused real estate prices in Bali to drop 20% to 50% this provides for the perfect scenario to follow the age-old advice of buying “when the blood is running the streets”.

So, I will go on the record right here and now as stating in the next year or two prices of most Western and Asian real estate markets will top and drop dramatically, and the complete reverse will be true of the Bali real estate market.

Lawrence is Owner, President of 17-year-old Pt. Bali Affordable Lifestyles International ( PT. B.A.L.I. ). 
His spouse and partner Azizah is a fully licensed Indonesian Notaris with a master’s degree in Indonesian Law specializing in real estate. Together they and their 60 + professional staff provide a one stop, efficient location for Buying, Selling, Leasing and Renting Asian Real Estate. 
They manage Best Bali Real Estate, Bali Luxury Retirement Villas starting at $198,888 Bali Luxury Villas Rentals starting at $99.00 & Bali Luxury Villa Sales Starting at $158,000, + Bali Paradise Beach Estates sales starting at $350,000 & Rentals starting at $78.00 ++ per night.

For the past 10 consecutive years, they were awarded the Certificate of Excellence and the Hall of Fame Award from the Worlds Largest Travel Site, Tripadvisor. This places them among the top 2 % of hotels and villas listed by Tripadvisor worldwide.

"Recipients Hall of Fame Award, awarded to only 2 % of the Hotels listed on TripAdvisor Worldwide." 

They have thousands of satisfied guests and clients worldwide. Lawrence is one of Asia’s best-known travel & real estate investment experts. He provides daily information on Bali + World News & Views & Best Bali Real Estate Blogs & Facebook Posts. 

Head Office: Jl. Karangsari # 5, Sanur, Bali, Indonesia 80228 

Tel. Office: 62-361-284069 Fax: 62-361-270143, Mobile: or 
Whatsapp: English Language: 62-8123814014 Bahasa Indonesia: 62-8113864993 


 The End Of The Housing Boom Will Be When Mortgage Rates Rise In 2022

Bill Conerly
Senior Contributor

New construction in Richmond, CA. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Getty Images

The current housing boom will flatten in 2022—or possibly early 2023—when mortgage interest rates rise. There is no bubble to burst, though prices may retreat from panic-buying highs.

The boom produced some frantic buying, bids in excess of asking prices, and plenty of worry among would-be homeowners. But this has not been a bubble. A bubble is not simply rising prices, but demand not justified by fundamental economic factors. The key to the buying boom has been low mortgage rates plus a shift in desired housing type.

Mortgage rates hit what was then an all-time low of four percent in 2011, and then remained in that neighborhood until the pandemic, when they hit three percent. The decline in mortgage rates in 2020 dropped the monthly payment on a house by 12 percent, enabling many people to buy houses now rather than later.

In addition to the low mortgage rates, some people saw a future of remote work and wanted more space, which often means moving out of an apartment into a single family house. Others found urban living less fun, so they headed into the suburbs where houses are more common than apartments. 

The increased demand for houses drove prices up, quite predictably. Yet the supply could not adjust as fast as demand. Home builders ramped up production in the second half of 2020, but after a few months they ran into supply constraints. Ready-to-build lots were all bought up, labor for construction was hard to find and social distancing made workers less productive. Now rising materials prices and goods on back-order squeeze profit margins. That’s how we find ourselves in the current housing boom.

But this boom is not a bubble, because the rise in prices is easily explained by the fundamentals of cheap mortgages and supply limitations. Recent housing starts are below historical averages, though that is justified by lower population growth. But with the shift from multifamily to single family housing, recent construction levels make sense. There need be no sudden drop in new construction to maintain a reasonable equilibrium.

When will the boom end? The two keys are satisfying the new demand and mortgage rates. Low mortgage rates allowed young families to buy houses earlier than they otherwise would have. It did not change the economics of buying for people who were never going to be homeowners. Instead, low mortgage rates enabled people to achieve their dreams earlier than they otherwise would have. In this sense, the strong housing market of 2020 and 2021 has been borrowing from the future. However, the shift in preferences from urban living to suburban living by people who previously could have bought houses is permanent new demand. At least, so long as they don’t become disillusioned about homeownership.

Mortgage rates are likely to rise when financial markets anticipate more inflation and action by the Federal Reserve to stem inflation. Although the Fed’s traditional tools impact short-term rates, with only small effect on mortgage rates, the new actions by the Fed impact mortgages directly. The Fed has been buying mortgages wholesale, depressing mortgage interest rates. The Fed has also been buying many treasury securities, which are often competitors to mortgages for institutional investors.

Mortgage rates are likely to rise a full percentage point by mid-2022, though this forecast exceeds the average prediction of my fellow economists. They doubt long-term interest rates will rise by a percentage point even out to December 2022. If they are right and I am wrong, then the housing market will remain strong longer.

Business leaders in the housing supply chain should enjoy their strong sales this year but not anticipate further growth in the coming years. Major capital projects must pencil out with sales back at 2019 levels.

Prospective home buyers should probably chill. It’s been a tough buying season. Although prices are unlikely to fall nationwide, there will probably be easier buying opportunities in 2023. 

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Bill Conerly

I decided to become an economist at age 16, but I also started reading my grandmother’s used copies of Forbes. After degrees including a Ph.D. from Duke and three years…