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Emerging Markets Debt: Clearer Skies Ahead?

While we believe high inflation and monetary policy tightening have the potential to cloud the beginning of 2023, we expect market conditions to improve…



While we believe high inflation and monetary policy tightening have the potential to cloud the beginning of 2023, we expect market conditions to improve as we move through the year and inflationary pressures dissipate, particularly in the United States.

There, we believe a combination of declining food and energy prices, improving global supply-chain dynamics, a still strong U.S. dollar, and softening economic conditions should drive inflation lower. Declining inflation, in turn, should allow for a less aggressive rate-hiking cycle, leading to lower U.S. Treasury yields and reduced risk of a sharp economic contraction.

Despite a better market environment in 2023, we believe global growth is likely to be lackluster. While there is the risk of a recession in the United States, the Fed should be able to engineer a soft landing. Economic conditions could be more challenging in Europe, however, as the continent faces an unprecedented energy crisis. In China, we believe economic conditions should improve after a very weak 2022, but COVID-related measures and uncertainty in the property sector could limit the potential for a stronger economic recovery in the near term.

While we anticipate softer economic conditions in emerging markets (EMs) more broadly, we believe economic growth in these countries could come in around 3.6% in 2023 (approximately 2.5 percentage points higher than the International Monetary Fund’s [IMF’s] projected growth for advanced economies) thanks to improved economic conditions in China and still-supportive commodity prices.

Against this backdrop, let’s examine some of the factors that are shaping the opportunity set and risks in EM debt as we head into 2023.

Chinese Growth Set to Improve

Economic growth was lackluster in China in 2022 due to strict zero-COVID policies and prolonged stress in the real-estate sector, but Chinese policymakers have started to address these challenges by easing macroeconomic policies.

For example, in 2022 China lowered medium-term lending facility and prime loan rates; relaxed the floor on mortgage rates for first-time homebuyers; and encouraged state-owned banks to increase financing to property developers. It also introduced tax cuts and rebates to encourage higher consumption.

We therefore see potential for improving economic activity in 2023. However, we do not believe growth will rebound to pre-pandemic levels, because China is likely to lift its zero-COVID policy very gradually given low vaccination rates among the elderly and the potential for new strains of the virus to emerge. Challenges are also likely to remain in the Chinese property sector, given subdued housing demand and private developer debt restructuring.

Supply and Demand Dynamics Support Oil Prices

As we write this outlook, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are trading around $75 per barrel as investors weigh the impact of tight supply against an uninspiring outlook for demand. In our view, however, the balance of demand and supply factors should support oil prices in 2023.

On the demand side, oil prices reached multiyear highs in the first half of 2022, thanks in part to the war in Ukraine, but fell in the second half of the year due to lockdowns in China and global growth concerns. While there is certainly reason to be concerned about demand growth in 2023, particularly in developed markets, we believe demand from EMs, particularly China, could rebound, supporting prices.

In our view, the balance of demand and supply factors should support oil prices in 2023.

On the supply side, several factors are likely at play. In the United States, oil-supply growth has stagnated recently, but we believe it will likely continue its general upward momentum, thanks in part to the likelihood of more releases from the strategic petroleum reserve.

Outside the United States, we do not believe we will see significant supply growth. While Russian oil seems to have found buyers, albeit at heavy discounts, the effect of sanctions on supply will be more visible in 2023. At the same time, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus (OPEC+) has decided to curtail supply at higher prices and lower inventory levels than past interventions. This suggests we will see a higher floor for prices going forward.

Structural and Cyclical Forces Underpin Metal Prices

Metal prices were weaker in 2022 as the complex faced looming recession risks, sluggish demand, and U.S. dollar strength.

In most of the world, demand was subdued by macroeconomic uncertainty. In China, however, the property-market downturn and zero-COVID policies weakened demand—although some metals (such as copper) managed to offset the demand loss with demand stemming from green energy and exports.

In 2023, we expect structural and cyclical forces to underpin prices. On the structural side, continued investment in the energy transition should support demand for a number of metals, including copper, aluminum, and nickel. On the cyclical side, improved economic conditions in China and elevated market tightness should help metal prices show signs of recovery. Inventories are at multiyear lows and we believe cost pressures will remain, affecting some metals (such as aluminum and zinc) more than others.

Resilient Economic Activity Supports Fiscal and Debt Dynamics

Resilient economic activity could continue to support fiscal dynamics across EMs.

We believe the overall fiscal deficit in 2023 will be approximately –5.8% of EM gross domestic product (GDP), marginally lower than last year’s number. Basic balances (current account balances plus net foreign direct investments) should remain healthy at 1.3% of EM GDP, partly reflecting recent terms-of-trade gains enabled by higher commodity prices. Stable fiscal accounts should support debt dynamics in the next year, leading us to anticipate an overall total debt of 57% of GDP in 2023, marginally higher than in 2022.

Effective Central Bank Action Eases Inflation Concerns

The outlook for inflation varies widely across EMs. Central banks have reacted quickly to peaking inflation across Emerging Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, leading to peak policy rates. Asia has been a bit further behind the curve in both inflation and central-bank policy, owing mainly to food subsidies and higher base prices from the prior year.

But broadly speaking, with central banks in many EMs preemptively hiking interest rates, real interest rates in EMs are now significantly higher than they are in advanced economies. This has supported local currencies and added to the positive fundamental landscape.

We expect global inflation to moderate significantly in coming months as the global economy slows, commodity prices moderate, and tighter monetary policy curbs demand.

Corporate Credit Fundamentals Continue Weakening

Fundamental dispersion and varying business cycles are a feature of this diverse asset class, but as we mentioned in last year’s outlook, credit quality does not improve in perpetuity—and in 2023, we believe EM corporate credit fundamentals should see a continuation of the weakening trend that emerged in the second half of 2022.

As central banks around the world raise rates to combat inflation, top lines (revenues) for nonfinancial corporates are feeling the pinch. We also expect loan growth to decelerate in most countries, with the likely exception of China.

For nonfinancial corporates, the inability to fully pass through rising costs in a weaker macroeconomic environment has led to lower earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) margins, and therefore lower cash flows.

Most EM banking systems look better positioned in terms of capital than they were during the Global Financial Crisis.

Offsetting lower near-term cash flows are years of proactive debt-profile management, which has improved interest expenses and kept maturities from becoming a broad problem. This has resulted in low default rates outside idiosyncratic situations such as Chinese real estate and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

For financials, lower growth, high interest rates, and high inflation pose downside risks to asset quality. However, while several large EM banking systems have certain vulnerabilities, few of them have broad challenges that would create near-term solvency and financial stability concerns. Most EM banking systems look better positioned in terms of capital than they were during the Global Financial Crisis, thanks to the implementation of robust macroprudential regulation in recent years.

Technical Conditions Should Provide Support

Technical conditions should be more supportive in 2023, in our opinion. We saw record outflows from dedicated EM debt portfolios, high market volatility, and low liquidity, which resulted in limited new-debt issuance in 2022. Forced selling by passive funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) created significant dislocation in the marketplace, driving prices far below their fundamental values.

While we see market conditions gradually normalizing in 2023, we anticipate another year of limited net debt issuance. Higher funding costs in primary markets should encourage issuers to tap into more affordable multilateral and bilateral financing. We also anticipate flows coming back to dedicated EM debt portfolios, attracted by appealing valuations. Reduced long-investor positioning and high investor cash levels should also add to a more constructive technical landscape.

Valuations Appear Attractive, Particularly Relative to U.S. High Yield

In our opinion, EM debt appears attractively valued on both an absolute and relative basis, with spreads wider than their historical levels. EM sovereign high-yield spreads appear particularly compelling, especially relative to U.S. high-yield levels, the chart below shows. In the distressed credit space, we believe current prices overestimate the probability of credit events and underestimate potential restructuring and recovery values.

Similarly, in the local currency universe, currency valuations remain attractive despite the broad outperformance of EM currencies versus those of developed countries in  2022.[1]

The dollar itself has backed off its peak reached in the third quarter of 2022, but still appears stretched on a longer-term trade-weighted basis. While we do not expect a significantly weaker dollar while the Fed is still in tightening mode, we see some scope for modest EM currency appreciation and a reduction in volatility as risk appetite improves.

Coupled with high nominal and real interest rates (and the latter rising further as inflation falls), we expect currencies to remain well supported by a resumption of inflows into the asset class.

All things considered, we continue to believe that current valuations overcompensate investors for credit, currency, and local rate risk, as well as volatility.

On the local rates side, there is considerable variation in attractiveness vis-á-vis our estimates of excess term premium embedded in local curves. Those markets that hiked early and often (mainly in Latin America but also more recently in Eastern Europe) have seen better support from bondholders with some curves already inverting in anticipation of policy loosening in the second half of the year. We expect curves in Asia to face some additional upwards pressure, at least in the very near term.

All things considered, we continue to believe that current valuations overcompensate investors for credit, currency, and local rate risk, as well as volatility—so EM debt may offer attractive value to investors with a medium- to long-term horizon and a willingness to tolerate a period of higher volatility.

Development Partners Help Meet Financing Needs

We believe development partners will continue to provide critical support to EMs, helping frontier markets meet their short- to medium-term external financing needs against the backdrop of challenging market conditions.

The IMF and World Bank have shown a strong commitment to meeting the external financing needs of frontier markets through both existing and new tools, such as the Food Shock Window (FSW) and Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST). And the World Bank is considering the creation of new tools to support countries in reduction of new emissions.

Lastly, bilateral donors are providing further pivotal financing. Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), for instance, have provided more than $12 billion in financing to Egypt with further financing to follow. 

Downside Risks Remain

Although we are constructive on the asset class into 2023, we acknowledge that there are several downside risks to our optimistic outlook.

We believe current U.S. interest-rate hikes are necessary to dampen inflation and prevent embedded second-round effects in the labor market. However, as the Fed continues with monetary tightening, there is a risk that overshooting rates results in a policy mistake that could potentially engineer a U.S. recession.

Geopolitical tensions are also likely to continue to weigh on investor sentiment. The conflict in Ukraine remains unresolved, with significant risks of escalation. The outlook for Chinese growth appears challenging (as long as China continues to pursue its zero-COVID policy). And tensions between China and Taiwan pose an ongoing headwind to sentiment in Asia.

While it seems easy to point to incidents that could further disrupt market sentiment, it is important to remember that there are always potential disruptors, and the risks are already well known and perhaps even fully priced in by the markets.

Opportunities in Hard- and Local-Currency Debt

We believe EM hard-currency debt could perform well in 2023. We favor high-yield issuers over high-grade issuers, and remain strategically overweight in higher-yielding frontier markets, where we believe investors are overcompensated for credit risk and volatility.

We continue to see scope for fundamental differentiation among countries. We prefer commodity-exporting countries, especially in the energy space, but remain cautious about countries with strong trade and financial links to Russia. We also remain cautious about countries that depend on food and energy imports and countries with negative political dynamics that create institutional risks. We also prefer countries with easier access to financing, especially those that have strong relationships with multilateral and bilateral lenders.

We continue to see opportunities in select distressed debt positions, where we believe bond prices do not reflect realistic assumptions for default risk and recovery values.

Given near-term growth concerns and intermittent primary markets, we are focusing on issuers with low refinancing needs and robust balance sheets.

We also see selective opportunities in EM corporate credit, where we believe a combination of differentiated fundamental drivers, favorable supply technical conditions, and attractive absolute valuations could continue to provide ample investment opportunities.

Given near-term growth concerns and intermittent primary markets, we are focusing on issuers with low refinancing needs and robust balance sheets. In Latin America, our positions are diversified across oil and gas; technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT); utilities; and financials. In Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), our positions are diversified across financials; oil and gas; metals and mining; and real estate. In Asia, our positions are diversified across oil and gas; financials; industrials; metals and mining; utilities; and real estate.

In local-currency debt, we have gradually added both rates and FX exposure after being underweight risk for much of 2022. We believe the higher-yielding benchmark countries and countries where central banks have been most active could outperform from a combination of high carry levels and flattening yield curves. We also see more attractive opportunities in frontier markets, where prices have adjusted significantly and expanded multilateral support could bolster credit profiles and improve policymaking.

In Sum: An Optimistic Outlook

Despite softer economic conditions globally, overall EM credit fundamentals remain supportive—and while we see some pockets of weakness, especially among energy- and food-importing countries, overall we believe EM debt is well positioned to withstand a period of weaker global growth.

Marcelo Assalin, CFA, partner, is the head of William Blair’s emerging markets debt (EMD) team, on which he also serves as a portfolio manager.

Want more insights on the economy and investment landscape? Subscribe to our blog.

The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index is a flagship measure of global investment-grade debt from 24 markets. The J.P. Morgan EMBIGD tracks the total return of U.S.-dollar-denominated debt instruments issued by sovereign and quasi-sovereign entities. The J.P. Morgan GBI-EM tracks the performance of bonds issued by emerging market governments and denominated in the local currency of the issuer, and is broader than the similar J.P. Morgan GBI-EM Global Diversified. (Index information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but J.P. Morgan does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. The indices are used with permission. The indices may not be copied, used, or distributed without J.P. Morgan’s prior written approval. Copyright 2022, JPMorgan Chase & Co. All rights reserved.) Index performance is provided for illustrative purposes only. Indices are unmanaged and do not incur fees or expenses. A direct investment in an unmanaged index is not possible.

Emerging Markets 2023 Outlook Series

Part 1 | Outlook 2023: Better Than Feared
Part 2 | Emerging Markets Equities: Positioned for a Rebound?
Part 3 | Emerging Markets Debt: Clearer Skies Ahead?
Part 4 | China: Zero-COVID Remains Key Growth Variable

[1] Measures the performance of the EM currency basket of the J.P. Morgan GBI-EM Global Diversified versus the performance of the U.S. Dollar Index (which measures the performance of a basket of developed-market currencies versus the U.S. dollar)

The post Emerging Markets Debt: Clearer Skies Ahead? appeared first on William Blair.

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Economic Death Spiral

Economic Death Spiral

Authored by Robert Stark via Substack,

Fed Trap: Financial Collapse or Hyper Inflation?

With this banking crisis,…



Economic Death Spiral

Authored by Robert Stark via Substack,

Fed Trap: Financial Collapse or Hyper Inflation?

With this banking crisis, which has serious Lehman vibes, it is a good time to revisit my article, Is This The End of The End of History, from March of last year. The article dealt with the theme of collapse vs stagnation, and historical cycles, in light of the Ukraine war, the post-pandemic climate, the onset of inflation, and speculation about economic collapse. A point of mine, that has especially been vindicated, is that “a delay in the Fed raising interest rates, could cause a short term rally in stocks, further expanding the bubble. The bigger the bubble, the worse inflation gets, and the longer the Fed keeps delaying raising rates, the worse the crash will be down the road.” For the most part, most of my geopolitical and economic forecasts have come true, though I actually predicted an economic collapse to occur sooner, which actually vindicates that point, that kicking the can down the road will just create a much worse crisis.

Despite countless signs of economic volatility, the recent bank failures, with shockwaves to the entire financial system, are a turning point, where it is clear that there is going to be a severe economic downturn. For instance, Elon Musk recently said, lot of current year similarities to 1929, and Moody’s cut the outlook on the entire U.S. banking system to negative from stable, citing a "rapidly deteriorating operating environment." Even the perma bulls, mainstream media, and financial “experts,” can no longer deny the obvious signs of economic peril. However, the bullish propaganda was still strong as recently as January, which was really the bulls’ last gasp, with the monkey rally, in response to the Fed only raising interest rates by .25 points, plus economic data showing record low unemployment plus a dip in inflation.

It is important to emphasize that the same figures in media, banking, and government, who were recently shilling a soft landing or mild recession, were previously saying that inflation is transitory. It is especially laughable to think that there are people who take someone like CNBC’s, Jim Cramer, seriously, who in 2008 told his audience don’t be silly on Bear Stearns, right before it crashed, and more recently shilled for Silicon Valley Bank, and is still predicting a soft landing. A lot of the recent propaganda is practically identical to right before the 08 crash, as well as during stagflation in the 70s, and even before the Great Depression, as the media has vested economic and political interests in propping up the markets. The financial YouTuber, Maverick of Wall Street, brilliantly uses this “self-love” gif of  Jack Nicholson, from the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as a metaphor for whenever perma-bulls see any data that may signify a Fed pivot, causing stocks to rally. As the desperation really kicks in, expect further talk of a soft landing, as well as more rallies in stocks, as we saw in response to the bailouts, as well as desperate investors switching back and forth between the NASDAQ and S&P500, which happened in 08. So any return to bullish sentiment is actually a sign of greater economic catastrophe. The stock market rallying over bad economy news, as a sign of a potential pivot, just further shows that the markets are not a good metric for the health of the economy. Not to mention that the top 1% own over half of all stocks.

It has always been the case with bubbles, that the greater the size of the bubble, the more copes to deny reality, and the more vested interests there are in preventing the inevitable crash. Certainly many corporations and banks have made economic decisions based upon an assumption of a soft landing or Fed pivot. This also explains the gaslighting to justify that the 2010s economic boom, especially in tech, was based upon productivity and innovation, when it was primary due to Fed monetary policy, plus data mining in the case of Big Tech. While it is silly for conservatives to blame wokeness as the primary culprit of bank failures, wokeness and bullshit DEI jobs, are a symptom of the corruption that Fed policy enabled. 

Fed Balance Sheet: Return to QE


The current banking crisis is triggering more stock buybacks, and a return to Quantitative Easing with the bank bailouts, including plans to inject another $2 Trillion into the banking system, on top of the $300 billion increase in the Fed’s Balance Sheet, in just the last week. This seems counter intuitive, as QE caused inflation, but the economy is so addicted to the “Cocaine,” that is  cheap money. So basically quantitative tightening is being implemented and interest rates raised  to stop inflation, but as soon as the first major economic disruption of raising rates is felt, then a return to financial policies to further prop up the bubble, causing more inflation. Now the Fed is trapped with two bad options, raise rates or pivot, both of which will lead to inevitable economic doom.

Populists can talk about nationalizing the banks into public debt free banking, and Austrian School libertarians can call for ending the Fed, and returning to a gold standard. While it is true that the Federal Reserve is a corrupt system, that is quasi private in how private banks own shares, the reality is that we are stuck with this system of relying upon the Fed’s interest rates, for the incoming economic crisis. If the Fed continues raising rates, there will be a liquidity crisis, with more bank failures. While interest rates were close to zero, banks used uninsured deposits to both invest in securities and purchase bonds, and thanks to fractional reserve banking, banks are only required to hold a fraction of deposits. So when rates rose, bonds fell in value and unrealized losses surged, so the banks were not able to pay off their depositors.


Regional banks make up about half of all US banking, so any contagion in the banking system, as people and businesses move their deposits to mega banks, deemed “too big to fail,” could trigger a Depression. One of the main reasons that the economy has not crashed sooner is because more people have been tapping into their savings and maxing out their credit cards. However, high interest rates will cause many people to default on their credit card debt, which will exacerbate the banking crisis. Not to mention Auto loans defaults wiping out credit unions, and the potential for another mortgage crisis, due to rising mortgage rates. There is a ripple effect, as far as rising interest rates being felt by debt holders, and now is just the tip of the iceberg. This could end up being a multifaceted debt crisis, in banking, corporate debt, personal debt, and government debt.

Besides the Fed likely pivoting soon due to the banking crisis, higher rates will make interest payments on the National Debt too expensive to pay off, risking a default on government debt. Overall levels of debt, both public and private, are much worse than when Fed Chair, Volcker, raised rates very high to successfully quell inflation. Any freeze in Federal spending or a default on the national debt, in response to the debt ceiling, will crash the economy, and any major extension in the debt ceiling will accelerate inflation. There is a good chance that inflation will be tolerated, with the dollar greatly devalued, to make government debt cheaper so that creditors eat the costs.

Source: Peter G. Peterson Foundation

A tight labor market is the main case that the bulls make to prove a strong economy. However, the official BLS jobs numbers are “baked” to exclude those who have given up on seeking employment, as well as counting 2nd or 3rd jobs. Not to mention that the BLS numbers were exposed by the Fed as overstating 1 million jobs during 2022. Even if one accepts the “baked” numbers, layoffs have a lagging effect on unemployment, including by industry (eg. tech layoffs before service sector). Now new jobless claims have grown at the fastest pace since Lehman'. It is also noteworthy that just about every recession has been preceded by low unemployment numbers. The increase in layoffs will put further pressure on the Fed to pivot, which on top of increased unemployment benefits, will cause inflation to surge again. This creates another doom loop, as inflation leads to more unemployment, as consumers are forced to cut back on spending.

Source: ZeroHedge

While bulls can say that this time is different from past crashes, all of the signs are pointing to this crisis being much worse than previous crashes. For instance, the economic recovery, after Volcker was done raising rates to fight inflation, was possible because of lower levels of debt, but the US has never entered a recession with debt/GDP at 125% and deficit/GDP at 7% in at least 85 years. Also the fallout of the 2008 crash was mitigated by a strong dollar, which also minimized the effects of inflation last year, but inflation will surge if the dollar is weakened. Despite signs of a pivot, the Fed has been moving much faster to fight inflation, then in the past, even with Volker. This crisis is also unique in that rates are being raised while entering a severe recession, and inflation could coincide mass layoffs. While the general assumption is that severe economic downturns are deflationary, financial commentator, Peter Schiff, makes a compelling case as for why an Inflationary Depression is a likelihood. Under this nightmare scenario, which would be much worse than even the Great Depression, inflation will negate any of the remedies that ended past crises, such as the New Deal, quantitative easing in 08, and the covid stimulus. Other signs of economic peril include, the steepest yield curve inversion since the early 80s recession, which is a barometer that has predicted just about every single recession, a major decline in ISM manufacturing sales, a big decline in savings rates, and Americans’ credit card debt approaching a record $1 Trillion.


This is the perfect storm with inflation, stagflation, recession, a potential debt crisis, as well as energy and supply chain issues. With this bubble to end all bubbles or too big to fail on steroids, the Fed has two choices, cause a liquidity crisis by shrinking the money supply, or letting inflation rip. While raising rates appears to be the least bad of these two options, further rate hikes are futile with the return of QE. A combo of QE plus interest rates having to remain high, is what could lead to that scenario of inflationary financial collapse, that Peter Schiff warned about. Though most likely it will either be long term stagflation or a deflationary Depression. This is not a hyperbole, nor clickbait, but a Depression is a very real possibility, especially if policy makers continue to kick the can down the road, to prop up the bubble.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Tue, 03/21/2023 - 17:25

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Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis

Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis

Authored by Jordan Schachtel via ‘The Dossier’…



Three Years To Slow The Spread: COVID Hysteria & The Creation Of A Never-Ending Crisis

Authored by Jordan Schachtel via 'The Dossier' Substack,

Last Thursday marked the three year anniversary of the infamous “15 Days To Slow The Spread” campaign.

By March 16, yours truly was already pretty fed up with both the governmental and societal “response” to what was being baselessly categorized as the worst pandemic in 100 years, despite zero statistical data supporting such a serious claim.

I was living in the Washington, D.C. Beltway at the time, and it was pretty much impossible to find a like-minded person within 50 miles who also wasn’t taking the bait. After I read about the news coming out of Wuhan in January, I spent much of the next couple weeks catching up to speed and reading about what a modern pandemic response was supposed to look like.

What surprised me most was that none of “the measures” were mentioned, and that these designated “experts” were nothing more than failed mathematicians, government doctors, and college professors who were more interested in policy via shoddy academic forecasting than observing reality.

Within days of continually hearing their yapping at White House pressers, It quickly became clear that the Deborah Birx’s and Anthony Fauci’s of the world were engaging in nothing more than a giant experiment. There was no an evidence-based approach to managing Covid whatsoever. These figures were leaning into the collective hysteria, and brandishing their credentials as Public Health Experts to demand top-down approaches to stamping out the WuFlu.

To put it bluntly, these longtime government bureaucrats had no idea what the f—k they were doing. Fauci and his cohorts were not established or reputable scientists, but authoritarians, charlatans, who had a decades-long track record of hackery and corruption. This Coronavirus Task Force did not have the collective intellect nor the wisdom to be making these broad brush decisions.

Back then, there were only literally a handful of people who attempted to raise awareness about the wave of tyranny, hysteria, and anti-science policies that were coming our way. There were so few of us back in March in 2020 that it was impossible to form any kind of significant structured resistance to the madness that was unfolding before us. These structures would later form, but not until the infrastructure for the highway to Covid hysteria hell had already been cemented.

Making matters worse was the reality that the vast majority of the population — friends, colleagues, peers and family included — agreed that dissenters were nothing more than reckless extremists, bioterrorists, Covid deniers, anti-science rabble rousers, and the like.

Yet we were right, and we had the evidence and data to prove it. There was no evidence to ever support such a heavy-handed series of government initiatives to “slow the spread.”

By March 16, 2020, data had already accumulated indicating that this contagion would be no more lethal than an influenza outbreak.

The February, 2020 outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship provided a clear signal that the hysteria models provided by Bill Gates-funded and managed organizations were incredibly off base. Of the 3,711 people aboard the Diamond Princess, about 20% tested positive with Covid. The majority of those who tested positive had zero symptoms. By the time all passengers had disembarked from the vessel, there were 7 reported deaths on the ship, with the average age of this cohort being in the mid 80s, and it wasn’t even clear if these passengers died from or with Covid.

Despite the strange photos and videos coming out of Wuhan, China, there was no objective evidence of a once in a century disease approaching America’s shores, and the Diamond Princess outbreak made that clear.

Of course, it wasn’t the viral contagion that became the problem.

It was the hysteria contagion that brought out the worst qualities of much of the global ruling class, letting world leaders take off their proverbial masks in unison and reveal their true nature as power drunk madmen.

And even the more decent world leaders were swept up in the fear and mayhem, turning over the keys of government control to the supposed all-knowing Public Health Experts.

They quickly shuttered billions of lives and livelihoods, wreaking exponentially more havoc than a novel coronavirus ever could.

In the United States, 15 Days to Slow The Spread quickly became 30 Days To Slow The Spread. Somewhere along the way, the end date for “the measures” was removed from the equation entirely.

3 years later, there still isn’t an end date…

Anthony Fauci appeared on MSNBC Thursday morning and declared that Americans would need annual Covid boosters to compliment their Flu shots.

So much of the Covid hysteria era was driven by pseudoscience and outright nonsense, and yet, very few if any world leaders took it upon themselves to restore sanity in their domains. Now, unsurprisingly, so many elected officials who were complicit in this multi-billion person human tragedy won’t dare to reflect upon it.

In a 1775 letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail, the American Founding Father wrote:

“Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.”

Covid hysteria and the 3 year anniversary of 15 Days To Slow The Spread serves as the beginning period of a permanent scar resulting from government power grabs and federal overreach.

While life is back to normal in most of the country, the Overton window of acceptable policy has slid even further in the direction of push-button tyranny. Hopefully, much of the world has awakened to the reality that most of the people in charge aren’t actually doing what’s best for their respective populations.

Tyler Durden Tue, 03/21/2023 - 18:05

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From the bed sheets to the TV remote, a microbiologist reveals the shocking truth about dirt and germs in hotel rooms

The filthy secrets of hotel rooms and why you might want to pack disinfectant on your next trip.




Relaxing in filth? Pexels/Cottonbro studio

For most of us, staying in a hotel room is either something of a necessity – think business travel – or something to look forward to as part of a holiday or wider excursion.

But what if I told you there’s a large chance your hotel room, despite how it might appear to the naked eye, isn’t that clean. And even if it’s an expensive room, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any less dirty.

Indeed, whoever has stayed in your room prior to you will have deposited bacteria, fungi and viruses all over the furniture, carpets, curtains and surfaces. What remains of these germ deposits depends on how efficiently your room is cleaned by hotel staff. And let’s face it, what is considered clean by a hotel might be different to what you consider clean.

Typically, assessment of hotel room cleanliness is based on sight and smell observations –- not on the invisible microbiology of the space, which is where the infection risks reside. So let’s take a deep dive into the world of germs, bugs and viruses to find out what might be lurking where.

It starts at the lift

Before you even enter your room, think of the hotel lift buttons as germ hotspots. They are being pressed all the time by many different people, which can transfer microorganisms onto the button surface, as well back onto the presser’s fingers.

Communal door handles can be similar in terms of germ presence unless sanitised regularly. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser after using a handle before you next touch your face or eat or drink.

The most common infections people pick up from hotel rooms are tummy bugs – diarrhoea and vomiting – along with respiratory viruses, such as colds and pneumonia, as well as COVID-19, of course.

Hotel door opening.
Welcome to germ paradise. Pexels/Pixabay

Toilets and bathrooms tend to be cleaned more thoroughly than the rest of a hotel room and are often the least bacteriologically colonised environments.

Though if the drinking glass in the bathroom is not disposable, wash it before use (body wash or shampoo are effective dishwashers), as you can never be sure if they’ve been cleaned properly. Bathroom door handles may also be colonised by pathogens from unwashed hands or dirty washcloths.

Beware the remote

The bed, sheets and pillows can also be home to some unwanted visitors. A 2020 study found that after a pre-symptomatic COVID-19 patient occupied a hotel room there was significant viral contamination of many surfaces, with levels being particularly high within the sheets, pillow case and quilt cover.

While sheets and pillowcases may be more likely to be changed between occupants, bedspreads may not, meaning these fabrics may become invisible reservoirs for pathogens – as much as a toilet seat. Though in some cases sheets aren’t always changed between guests, so it may be better to just bring your own.

Less thought about is what lives on the hotel room desk, bedside table, telephone, kettle, coffee machine, light switch or TV remote – as these surfaces aren’t always sanitised between occupancies.

TV remote lying on pink bedding.
Handle with care: the TV remote is often one of the dirtiest items in a hotel room. Pexels/Karolina grabowska

Viruses such as the norovirus can live in an infectious form for days on hard surfaces, as can COVID-19 – and the typical time interval between room changeovers is often less than 12 hours.

Soft fabric furnishings such as cushions, chairs, curtains and blinds are also difficult to clean and may not be sanitised other than to remove stains between guests, so washing your hands after touching them might be a good idea.

Uninvited guests

If all those germs and dirty surfaces aren’t enough to contend with, there are also bedbugs to think about. These bloodsucking insects are experts at secreting themselves into narrow, small spaces, remaining dormant without feeding for months.

Small spaces include the cracks and crevices of luggage, mattresses and bedding. Bed bugs are widespread throughout Europe, Africa, the US and Asia – and are often found in hotels. And just because a room looks and smells clean, doesn’t mean there may not be bed bugs lurking.

Woman making bed in hoteroom.
Get those cushions off the bed straightaway. Pexels/Cottonbro studio

Fortunately, bed bug bites are unlikely to give you a transmissible disease, but the bite areas can become inflamed and infected. For the detection of bedbugs, reddish skin bites and blood spots on sheets are signs of an active infestation (use an antiseptic cream on the bites).

Other signs can be found on your mattress, behind the headboard and inside drawers and the wardrobe: brown spots could be remains of faeces, bed bug skins are brownish-silvery looking and live bed bugs are brown coloured and typically one to seven millimetres in length.

Inform the hotel if you think there are bed bugs in your room. And to avoid taking them with you when you checkout, carefully clean your luggage and clothes before opening them at home.

As higher-status hotels tend to have more frequent room usage, a more expensive room at a five-star hotel does not necessarily mean greater cleanliness, as room cleaning costs reduce profit margins. So wherever you’re staying, take with you a pack of antiseptic wipes and use them on the hard surfaces in your hotel room.

Also, wash or sanitise your hands often – especially before you eat or drink anything. And take slippers or thick socks with you so you can avoid walking barefoot on hotel carpets – known to be another dirt hotspot. And after all that, enjoy your stay.

Primrose Freestone does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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