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IPBES assessment report: 50,000 wild species meet needs of billions worldwide; experts offer options to ensure sustainable use

Billions of people, in developed and developing nations, benefit daily from the use of wild species for food, energy, materials, medicine, recreation,…



Billions of people, in developed and developing nations, benefit daily from the use of wild species for food, energy, materials, medicine, recreation, inspiration and many other vital contributions to human well-being. The accelerating global biodiversity crisis, with a million species of plants and animals facing extinction, threatens these contributions to people. 

Credit: IPBES

Billions of people, in developed and developing nations, benefit daily from the use of wild species for food, energy, materials, medicine, recreation, inspiration and many other vital contributions to human well-being. The accelerating global biodiversity crisis, with a million species of plants and animals facing extinction, threatens these contributions to people. 

A new report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) offers insights, analysis and tools to establish more sustainable use of wild species of plants, animals, fungi and algae around the world. Sustainable use is when biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are maintained while contributing to human well-being.  

The IPBES Assessment Report on the Sustainable Use of Wild Species is the result of four years of work by 85 leading experts from the natural and social sciences, and holders of indigenous and local knowledge, as well as 200 contributing authors, drawing on more than 6,200 sources. The summary of the Report was approved this week by representatives of the 139 member States of IPBES in Bonn, Germany. 

“With about 50,000 wild species used through different practices, including more than 10,000 wild species harvested directly for human food, rural people in developing countries are most at risk from unsustainable use, with lack of complementary alternatives often forcing them to further exploit wild species already at risk,” said Dr. Jean-Marc Fromentin (France), who co-chaired the Assessment with Dr. Marla R. Emery (USA/Norway) and Prof. John Donaldson (South Africa). 

“70% of the world’s poor are directly dependent on wild species. One in five people rely on wild plants, algae and fungi for their food and income; 2.4 billion rely on fuel wood for cooking; and about 90% of the 120 million people working in capture fisheries are supported by small-scale fishing,” said Dr. Emery. “But the regular use of wild species is extremely important not only in the Global South. From the fish that we eat, to medicines, cosmetics, decoration and recreation, wild species’ use is much more prevalent than most people realise.”

The use of wild species is an important source of income for millions of people worldwide. Wild tree species account for two thirds of global industrial roundwood; trade in wild plants, algae and fungi is a billion-dollar industry; and even non-extractive uses of wild species are big business. Tourism, based on observing wild species, is one of the main reasons that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, protected areas globally received 8 billion visitors and generated US$600 billion every year.

The Report identifies five broad categories of ‘practices’ in the use of wild species: fishing; gathering; logging; terrestrial animal harvesting (including hunting); and non-extractive practices. For each practice, it then examines specific ‘uses’ such as for food and feed; materials; medicine, energy; recreation; ceremony; learning and decoration – providing a detailed analysis of the trends in each, over the past 20 years. In most cases, use of wild species has increased, but sustainability of use has varied, such as in gathering for medicine and logging for materials and energy. 

Speaking specifically about fishing as an example, Dr. Fromentin said: “Recent global estimates confirm that about 34% of marine wild fish stocks are overfished and 66% are fished within biologically sustainable levels – with significant local and contextual variations. Countries with robust fisheries management have seen stocks increasing in abundance. 

The Atlantic bluefin tuna population, for instance, has been rebuilt and is now fished within sustainable levels. For countries and regions with low intensity fisheries management measures, however, the status of stocks is often poorly known, but generally believed to be below the abundance that would maximise sustainable food production. Many small-scale fisheries are unsustainable or only partially sustainable, especially in Africa for both inland and marine fisheries, and in Asia, Latin America and Europe for coastal fisheries.”  

“Overexploitation is one of the main threats to the survival of many land-based and aquatic species in the wild”, said Prof. Donaldson. “Addressing the causes of unsustainable use and, wherever possible reversing these trends, will result in better outcomes for wild species and the people who depend on them.” 

The survival of an estimated 12% of wild tree species is threatened by unsustainable logging; unsustainable gathering is one of the main threats for several plant groups, notably cacti, cycads and orchids, and unsustainable hunting has been identified as a threat for 1,341 wild mammal species – with declines in large-bodied species that have low natural rates of increase also linked to hunting pressure. 

The Report identifies drivers such as land- and seascape changes; climate change; pollution and invasive alien species that impact the abundance and distribution of wild species, and can increase stress and challenges among the human communities that use them. Global trade in wild species has expanded substantially in volume, value and trade networks over the past four decades. 

While trade in wild species provides important income for exporting countries, offers higher incomes for harvesters, and can diversify sources of supply to allow pressure to be redirected from species being unsustainably used, it also decouples the consumption of wild species from their places of origin. The Report finds that without effective regulation across supply chains – from local to global – global trade of wild species generally increases pressures on wild species, leading to unsustainable use and sometimes to wild population collapses (e.g., shark fin trade).

Illegal use and illegal trade in wild species are also addressed in the Report – as this occurs across all of the practices and often leads to unsustainable use. The authors find that illegal trade in wild species represents the third largest class of all illegal trade – with estimated annual values of up to US$199 billion. Timber and fish make up the largest volumes and value of illegal trade in wild species. 

As part of its analysis, the Report explores policies and tools that have been used in a variety of contexts with regard to the sustainable use of wild species. Seven key elements are presented, that could be used as levers of change to promote sustainable use of wild species if they are scaled-up across practices, regions and sectors:

  • Policy options that are inclusive and participatory
  • Policy options that recognise and support multiple forms of knowledge
  • Policy instruments & tools that ensure fair & equitable distribution of costs & benefits
  • Context-specific policies
  • Monitoring of wild species and practices 
  • Policy instruments that are aligned at international, national, regional and local levels; maintain coherence & consistency with international obligations & take into account customary rules and norms
  • Robust institutions, including customary institutions

The use of wild species by indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as their extensive knowledge, practices and beliefs about such uses, are also explored in the Report. Indigenous peoples manage fishing, gathering, terrestrial animal harvesting and other uses of wild species on more than 38 million kmof land, equivalent to about 40% of terrestrial conserved areas, in 87 countries. The Report finds that policies supporting secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests, as well as poverty alleviation, create enabling conditions for sustainable use of wild species.  

“Indigenous stewardship of biodiversity is often embedded in local knowledge, practices and spirituality,” said Dr. Emery. “The sustainable use of wild species is central to the identity and existence of many indigenous peoples and local communities. These practices and cultures are diverse, but there are common values including the obligation to engage nature with respect, reciprocate for what is taken, avoid waste, manage harvests and ensure the fair and equitable distribution of benefits from wild species for community well-being.”

“Globally, deforestation is generally lower on indigenous territories, in particular where there is security of land tenure, continuity of knowledge and languages, and alternative livelihoods. Bringing scientists and indigenous peoples together to learn from each other will strengthen the sustainable use of wild species. This is especially important because most national frameworks and international agreements largely continue to emphasize ecological and some social considerations, including economic and governance issues – while cultural contexts receive little attention.”

The Report concludes by examining a range of possible future scenarios for the use of wild species, confirming that climate change, increasing demand and technological advances -making many extractive practices more efficient – are likely to present significant challenges to sustainable use in the future.

Actions are identified for each practice that would help to address these challenges. In fishing, this would include fixing current inefficiencies; reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; suppressing harmful financial subsidies; supporting small-scale fisheries; adapting to changes in oceanic productivity due to climate change; and proactively creating effective transboundary institutions.

In logging this would entail management and certification of forests for multiple uses; technological innovations to reduce waste in manufacturing of wood products; and economic and political initiatives that recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including land tenure. 

In most future scenarios that enable the sustainable use of wild species, the authors find that transformative changes share common characteristics – such as integration of plural value systems; equitable distribution of costs and benefits; changes in social values, cultural norms and preferences; and effective institutions and governance systems. Ambitious goals are found to be necessary but not sufficient to drive transformative change. The Report also notes that the world is dynamic, and that sustainable use of wild species requires constant negotiation and adaptive management. It also requires a common vision of sustainable use and transformative change in human-nature relationships.

Speaking about the importance of the Report, Dr. Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of IPBES said: “This Assessment was specifically requested by, among others, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and will inform decisions about trade in wild species at the 19th World Wildlife Conference in Panama in November.”

“It also has immediate relevance to the work of the Convention on Biological Diversity to forge a new global biodiversity framework for the next decade – not least because of the findings about the untapped potential of the sustainable use of wild species to contribute even more to many of the Sustainable Development Goals, including those on poverty, hunger, good health and well-being, education, gender equity, clean water and sanitation, affordable energy, as well as industry and innovation.”

“We thank and congratulate all the authors and experts for their tireless work – especially throughout the COVID pandemic. The sustainable use of wild species is vital for all people, in all communities – and this Report will help decision-makers around the world choose policies and actions that better support people and nature.” 

* * * * *

By the Numbers – Key Statistics and Facts from the Report

  • +/- 50,000: wild species used for food, energy, medicine, material and other purposes through fishing, gathering, logging and terrestrial animal harvesting globally
  • At least 34%: species that are sustainably used – based on assessment of 10,098 species from 10 taxonomic groups on the IUCN Red List
  • +/-7,500: species of wild fish and aquatic invertebrates directly used by people all over the world; 31,100 species of wild plants, of which 7,400 are trees; 1,500 species of fungi; 7,400 species of wild trees; 1,700 species of wild land-based invertebrates; and 7,500 species of wild amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals
  • >10,000: wild species harvested for human food, making sustainable use of wild species critical for food security & improving nutrition in rural and urban areas worldwide
  • +/-70%: of the world’s poor directly dependant on wild species and on businesses fostered by them
  • 8 billion: annual visitors to protected areas worldwide prior to COVID-19 pandemic, generated US$600 billion per year, with the highest levels of tourist visitors in species-rich countries
  • 38 million: km² of land across 87 countries on which indigenous peoples manage fishing, gathering, terrestrial animal harvesting and other uses of wild species (coincides with +/-40% of terrestrial conserved areas, including many with high biodiversity value)
  • 15: number of the Sustainable Development Goals to which sustainable use of wild species has unacknowledged potential to contribute to achievement of the targets
  • >90%: of the 120 million people engaged in capture fisheries globally that are supported by small-scale fishing – about half of them are women
  • 34%: marine wild fish stocks that are overfished (with 66% fished within biologically sustainable levels, but this global picture displays strong heterogeneities)
  • 90 million: tons of wild fish caught annually in recent decades, of which about two thirds go to human food (and the rest as feed for aquaculture and livestock)
  • 99%: species of sharks and rays officially declared taken incidentally as by-catch, but valuable and often retained for food, causing steep declines since the 1970s in shark species, especially in tropical and subtropical coastal shelf waters
  • 449: species of sharks and rays classified as threatened (37.5% of 1,199 species recently assessed), mostly due to unsustainable fishing
  • 2.4 billion: people (approximately one third of humanity) that rely on fuel wood for cooking); 880 million log firewood or produce charcoal, particularly in developing countries
  • 50%: of all wood consumed globally is logged for energy, 90% in Africa. Use of fuel wood is declining in most regions but increasing in sub-Saharan Africa
  • 1.1 billion: people without access to electricity or alternative energy sources and who rely on fuel wood logging
  • >25%: world’s forests subject to industrial logging
  • Two thirds: global industrial roundwood provided by wild tree species
  • +/-20%: world’s tropical forests (3.9 million km²) currently subject to selective logging
  • 12%: wild tree species threatened by unsustainable logging
  • 15%: proportion of global forests managed as community resources by indigenous peoples and local communities, often with a strong focus on multiple use management
  • +/-29%: of about 10,000 near-threatened and threatened species from 10 taxonomic groups, for which unsustainable harvest contributes to elevated risk of extinction
  • +/-1.4 million: km² of Africa managed for recreational hunting (but unique biodiversity values and ecological and social durability have mostly not been evaluated)
  • 55%-75%: wild meat biomass derived annually from hunting of large mammals
  • 1,341: wild mammal species threatened by unsustainable hunting, including 669 species already assessed as threatened
  • 40: years during which global trade of wild species has increased substantially
  • 4%-68%: individuals and households in Europe & North America that participate in gathering (highest in Eastern Europe), often irrespective of economic status
  • >50%: trade in fish, birds, amphibians and plants derived from farmed sources as a result of a shift from use of wild species
  • 38,700: species listed by 2021 under CITES and subjected to regulation by Parties (with trade in the majority of listed species deemed by Parties to be sustainable)
  • 101: countries with legislation and institutions to fully implement CITES; with a further 43 that can partially implement it
  • US$69-199 billion: annual value of illegal trade in wild species (especially timber and fish), representing the world’s third largest class of illegal trade

* * * * *

IPBES Partner Comments

“Fifty years ago, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was created to address concerns that international trade in wildlife was becoming unsustainable and needed regulation. It was recognized that wild animals and plants are an irreplaceable part of Earth’s natural systems, and they must be conserved. Fifty years later, sustainability is more important than ever.”

“In November, CITES will hold the 19th World Wildlife Conference in Panama. The Parties to the Convention will be making decisions that are crucial for species, and biodiversity, conservation. I’m sure they will see this Assessment Report as a considerable resource, helping to underpin their future work with the latest science from our foremost experts.”

“In 2030, two commitments fall due: CITES’ strategic vision for a world where all international trade in wild fauna and flora is legal, sustainable and traceable… and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Science must guide our actions if we are to meet those targets and IPBES is one of our leading lights.”

– Ivonne Higuero, Secretary-General, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 

* * * * *

“Today one million species are at risk of extinction. And the unsustainable, illegal and unregulated use of species is a large part of the problem. For example, the illegal wildlife trade is a 23-billion-dollar annual business that lines the deep pockets of a few unscrupulous individuals. These people get rich at the expense of nature and ecosystems.”

“This trade also robs countries, indigenous people and local communities of access to their own resources and safe livelihoods. This is because an important value of nature lies in its sustainable use for food, medicine, income generation and livelihoods for millions of people.” 

“It is critical to ensure sustainable use, and fair and equitable sharing of its benefits – particularly to the most vulnerable populations and the communities that are the stewards of nature. Sustainable use can provide a strong incentive for conservation and living in harmony with nature.”

“The Sustainable Use of Wild Species Assessment from IPBES, whose secretariat is hosted by UNEP, is a vital contribution to global efforts to ensure this happens.”

– Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

* * * * *

“The IPBES Assessment Report on the Sustainable Use of Wild Species is a stark reminder that human beings are interdependent with all living beings. Millions of people are living in harmony with nature in UNESCO designated sites worldwide, from Biosphere reserves to World heritage sites. This is a wealth of experience and solutions to reconcile and make peace with nature. It is not too late to act, and UNESCO is fully committed to mobilize the full force of education, science and culture to lead this global transformative change.”

– Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

* * * * *

“The sustainable use of wild species is important to the world’s agrifood systems. It is fundamental to the forestry and fisheries sectors, and it contributes directly to livelihoods, food security and nutrition, particularly in developing regions and indigenous people. Wild species provide a huge range of products, diversify diets, provide multiplies options for income generation, and are part of the cultural and social life of many communities.”

“We must ensure that the use of wild species is sustainable. Failure to do so will compromise the future of agrifood systems and jeopardize efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. It will also undermine the supply of essential ecosystem services, increase the risk of infectious disease outbreaks, drive inequity and conflict, and diminish our capacity to mitigate and adapt to threats of the climate crisis.”

“This report heightens our understanding of how wild species are used and how they can be sustainably managed to benefit the people and habitats that depend on them.”

– QU Dongyu, Director-General, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

* * * * *

“IPBES continues to strengthen the role of science in public decision-making on biodiversity and ecosystem services, ultimately helping to restore the delicate balance between people and our natural world. As part of these efforts, this new IPBES Assessment Report on the Sustainable Use of Wild Species, shows how billions of people depend on approximately 50,000 wild species for food, medicine, energy, and livelihoods. Crucially, it provides policymakers with a framework for sustainable management, one that includes data and analytics to track and trace wild species.”

“Leveraging insights from 420 of the world’s leading experts in this field, the assessment’s latest science, evidence and analysis will help countries to implement the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. It also aims to contribute to a chain reaction of bold action on protecting, restoring, and sustainably managing nature towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Doing so will help the world to break through to a greener, more inclusive, and more sustainable future for all.”

– Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

* * * * *

“The IPBES Assessment on the Sustainable Use of Wild Species is an important tool and source of knowledge for all members of the biodiversity community. In our world faced with biodiversity decline, including as a result of the overexploitation of wild species, we need to better understand the ways forward for sustainable use. The need to better ensure the sustainable harvesting, trade and use of wild species while ensuring benefits to nutrition, food security, medicines, and livelihoods for people especially for the most vulnerable from the sustainable use of wild species has been well recognized in the discussions around the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.”

“In examining the feasibility of and options for the sustainable use of wildlife on land, in freshwater and in the oceans, by people around the world, this report is in fact linked to the draft version of the Global Biodiversity Framework. We expect that this assessment can also be one of the tools to assist implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework, expected to begin after its adoption at COP 15.”

“Let me congratulate IPBES and its community of experts for this work. I look forward to its active use by all Parties and stakeholders to the Convention.

– Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Note to Editors:

IPBES has now released the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the Sustainable Use of Wild Species report. The SPM presents the key messages and policy options, as approved by the IPBES Plenary. The full six-chapter Report (including all data) will be published later this year.

The French and Spanish versions of the news release are provided as a courtesy; some terminology may be changed in official translations yet to be completed. In the event of a discrepancy, the English version of the news release should be regarded as definitive.

Values of Biodiversity Assessment Report launch: Monday 11 July

A 2nd IPBES Assessment Report on how to effectively reflect the diverse values of nature in decision-making will also be launched from #IPBES9, Bonn, on Mon. 11 July at 14:00 CEST.

Four years in development by 82 leading experts from 47 countries, and drawing on more than 13,000 references, the purpose, scope, structure and other information about the report is described in a primer available at

If not yet accredited for advance access:

About IPBES:

Often described as the “IPCC for biodiversity”, IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body comprising 139 member Governments. Established by Governments in 2012, it provides policymakers with objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and the contributions they make to people, as well as the tools and methods to protect and sustainably use these vital natural assets. For more information about IPBES and its assessments visit

Video introduction to IPBES:

Additional videos: 

  • IPBES Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019):
  • IPBES Assessment of Land Degradation and Restoration (2018):
  • IPBES Regional Assessments of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2018):
  • IPBES Assessment of Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production (2016):
  • IPBES Assessment of Scenarios and Models of Biodiversity (2016):

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Acadia’s Nuplazid fails PhIII study due to higher-than-expected placebo effect

After years of trying to expand the market territory for Nuplazid, Acadia Pharmaceuticals might have hit a dead end, with a Phase III fail in schizophrenia…



After years of trying to expand the market territory for Nuplazid, Acadia Pharmaceuticals might have hit a dead end, with a Phase III fail in schizophrenia due to the placebo arm performing better than expected.

Steve Davis

“We will continue to analyze these data with our scientific advisors, but we do not intend to conduct any further clinical trials with pimavanserin,” CEO Steve Davis said in a Monday press release. Acadia’s stock $ACAD dropped by 17.41% before the market opened Tuesday.

Pimavanserin, a serotonin inverse agonist and also a 5-HT2A receptor antagonist, is already in the market with the brand name Nuplazid for Parkinson’s disease psychosis. Efforts to expand into other indications such as Alzheimer’s-related psychosis and major depression have been unsuccessful, and previous trials in schizophrenia have yielded mixed data at best. Its February presentation does not list other pimavanserin studies in progress.

The Phase III ADVANCE-2 trial investigated 34 mg pimavanserin versus placebo in 454 patients who have negative symptoms of schizophrenia. The study used the negative symptom assessment-16 (NSA-16) total score as a primary endpoint and followed participants up to week 26. Study participants have control of positive symptoms due to antipsychotic therapies.

The company said that the change from baseline in this measure for the treatment arm was similar between the Phase II ADVANCE-1 study and ADVANCE-2 at -11.6 and -11.8, respectively. However, the placebo was higher in ADVANCE-2 at -11.1, when this was -8.5 in ADVANCE-1. The p-value in ADVANCE-2 was 0.4825.

In July last year, another Phase III schizophrenia trial — by Sumitomo and Otsuka — also reported negative results due to what the company noted as Covid-19 induced placebo effect.

According to Mizuho Securities analysts, ADVANCE-2 data were disappointing considering the company applied what it learned from ADVANCE-1, such as recruiting patients outside the US to alleviate a high placebo effect. The Phase III recruited participants in Argentina and Europe.

Analysts at Cowen added that the placebo effect has been a “notorious headwind” in US-based trials, which appears to “now extend” to ex-US studies. But they also noted ADVANCE-1 reported a “modest effect” from the drug anyway.

Nonetheless, pimavanserin’s safety profile in the late-stage study “was consistent with previous clinical trials,” with the drug having an adverse event rate of 30.4% versus 40.3% with placebo, the company said. Back in 2018, even with the FDA approval for Parkinson’s psychosis, there was an intense spotlight on Nuplazid’s safety profile.

Acadia previously aimed to get Nuplazid approved for Alzheimer’s-related psychosis but had many hurdles. The drug faced an adcomm in June 2022 that voted 9-3 noting that the drug is unlikely to be effective in this setting, culminating in a CRL a few months later.

As for the company’s next R&D milestones, Mizuho analysts said it won’t be anytime soon: There is the Phase III study for ACP-101 in Prader-Willi syndrome with data expected late next year and a Phase II trial for ACP-204 in Alzheimer’s disease psychosis with results anticipated in 2026.

Acadia collected $549.2 million in full-year 2023 revenues for Nuplazid, with $143.9 million in the fourth quarter.

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Four Years Ago This Week, Freedom Was Torched

Four Years Ago This Week, Freedom Was Torched

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute,

"Beware the Ides of March,” Shakespeare…



Four Years Ago This Week, Freedom Was Torched

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute,

"Beware the Ides of March,” Shakespeare quotes the soothsayer’s warning Julius Caesar about what turned out to be an impending assassination on March 15. The death of American liberty happened around the same time four years ago, when the orders went out from all levels of government to close all indoor and outdoor venues where people gather. 

It was not quite a law and it was never voted on by anyone. Seemingly out of nowhere, people who the public had largely ignored, the public health bureaucrats, all united to tell the executives in charge – mayors, governors, and the president – that the only way to deal with a respiratory virus was to scrap freedom and the Bill of Rights. 

And they did, not only in the US but all over the world. 

The forced closures in the US began on March 6 when the mayor of Austin, Texas, announced the shutdown of the technology and arts festival South by Southwest. Hundreds of thousands of contracts, of attendees and vendors, were instantly scrapped. The mayor said he was acting on the advice of his health experts and they in turn pointed to the CDC, which in turn pointed to the World Health Organization, which in turn pointed to member states and so on. 

There was no record of Covid in Austin, Texas, that day but they were sure they were doing their part to stop the spread. It was the first deployment of the “Zero Covid” strategy that became, for a time, official US policy, just as in China. 

It was never clear precisely who to blame or who would take responsibility, legal or otherwise. 

This Friday evening press conference in Austin was just the beginning. By the next Thursday evening, the lockdown mania reached a full crescendo. Donald Trump went on nationwide television to announce that everything was under control but that he was stopping all travel in and out of US borders, from Europe, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. American citizens would need to return by Monday or be stuck. 

Americans abroad panicked while spending on tickets home and crowded into international airports with waits up to 8 hours standing shoulder to shoulder. It was the first clear sign: there would be no consistency in the deployment of these edicts. 

There is no historical record of any American president ever issuing global travel restrictions like this without a declaration of war. Until then, and since the age of travel began, every American had taken it for granted that he could buy a ticket and board a plane. That was no longer possible. Very quickly it became even difficult to travel state to state, as most states eventually implemented a two-week quarantine rule. 

The next day, Friday March 13, Broadway closed and New York City began to empty out as any residents who could went to summer homes or out of state. 

On that day, the Trump administration declared the national emergency by invoking the Stafford Act which triggers new powers and resources to the Federal Emergency Management Administration. 

In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a classified document, only to be released to the public months later. The document initiated the lockdowns. It still does not exist on any government website.

The White House Coronavirus Response Task Force, led by the Vice President, will coordinate a whole-of-government approach, including governors, state and local officials, and members of Congress, to develop the best options for the safety, well-being, and health of the American people. HHS is the LFA [Lead Federal Agency] for coordinating the federal response to COVID-19.

Closures were guaranteed:

Recommend significantly limiting public gatherings and cancellation of almost all sporting events, performances, and public and private meetings that cannot be convened by phone. Consider school closures. Issue widespread ‘stay at home’ directives for public and private organizations, with nearly 100% telework for some, although critical public services and infrastructure may need to retain skeleton crews. Law enforcement could shift to focus more on crime prevention, as routine monitoring of storefronts could be important.

In this vision of turnkey totalitarian control of society, the vaccine was pre-approved: “Partner with pharmaceutical industry to produce anti-virals and vaccine.”

The National Security Council was put in charge of policy making. The CDC was just the marketing operation. That’s why it felt like martial law. Without using those words, that’s what was being declared. It even urged information management, with censorship strongly implied.

The timing here is fascinating. This document came out on a Friday. But according to every autobiographical account – from Mike Pence and Scott Gottlieb to Deborah Birx and Jared Kushner – the gathered team did not meet with Trump himself until the weekend of the 14th and 15th, Saturday and Sunday. 

According to their account, this was his first real encounter with the urge that he lock down the whole country. He reluctantly agreed to 15 days to flatten the curve. He announced this on Monday the 16th with the famous line: “All public and private venues where people gather should be closed.”

This makes no sense. The decision had already been made and all enabling documents were already in circulation. 

There are only two possibilities. 

One: the Department of Homeland Security issued this March 13 HHS document without Trump’s knowledge or authority. That seems unlikely. 

Two: Kushner, Birx, Pence, and Gottlieb are lying. They decided on a story and they are sticking to it. 

Trump himself has never explained the timeline or precisely when he decided to greenlight the lockdowns. To this day, he avoids the issue beyond his constant claim that he doesn’t get enough credit for his handling of the pandemic.

With Nixon, the famous question was always what did he know and when did he know it? When it comes to Trump and insofar as concerns Covid lockdowns – unlike the fake allegations of collusion with Russia – we have no investigations. To this day, no one in the corporate media seems even slightly interested in why, how, or when human rights got abolished by bureaucratic edict. 

As part of the lockdowns, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which was and is part of the Department of Homeland Security, as set up in 2018, broke the entire American labor force into essential and nonessential.

They also set up and enforced censorship protocols, which is why it seemed like so few objected. In addition, CISA was tasked with overseeing mail-in ballots. 

Only 8 days into the 15, Trump announced that he wanted to open the country by Easter, which was on April 12. His announcement on March 24 was treated as outrageous and irresponsible by the national press but keep in mind: Easter would already take us beyond the initial two-week lockdown. What seemed to be an opening was an extension of closing. 

This announcement by Trump encouraged Birx and Fauci to ask for an additional 30 days of lockdown, which Trump granted. Even on April 23, Trump told Georgia and Florida, which had made noises about reopening, that “It’s too soon.” He publicly fought with the governor of Georgia, who was first to open his state. 

Before the 15 days was over, Congress passed and the president signed the 880-page CARES Act, which authorized the distribution of $2 trillion to states, businesses, and individuals, thus guaranteeing that lockdowns would continue for the duration. 

There was never a stated exit plan beyond Birx’s public statements that she wanted zero cases of Covid in the country. That was never going to happen. It is very likely that the virus had already been circulating in the US and Canada from October 2019. A famous seroprevalence study by Jay Bhattacharya came out in May 2020 discerning that infections and immunity were already widespread in the California county they examined. 

What that implied was two crucial points: there was zero hope for the Zero Covid mission and this pandemic would end as they all did, through endemicity via exposure, not from a vaccine as such. That was certainly not the message that was being broadcast from Washington. The growing sense at the time was that we all had to sit tight and just wait for the inoculation on which pharmaceutical companies were working. 

By summer 2020, you recall what happened. A restless generation of kids fed up with this stay-at-home nonsense seized on the opportunity to protest racial injustice in the killing of George Floyd. Public health officials approved of these gatherings – unlike protests against lockdowns – on grounds that racism was a virus even more serious than Covid. Some of these protests got out of hand and became violent and destructive. 

Meanwhile, substance abuse rage – the liquor and weed stores never closed – and immune systems were being degraded by lack of normal exposure, exactly as the Bakersfield doctors had predicted. Millions of small businesses had closed. The learning losses from school closures were mounting, as it turned out that Zoom school was near worthless. 

It was about this time that Trump seemed to figure out – thanks to the wise council of Dr. Scott Atlas – that he had been played and started urging states to reopen. But it was strange: he seemed to be less in the position of being a president in charge and more of a public pundit, Tweeting out his wishes until his account was banned. He was unable to put the worms back in the can that he had approved opening. 

By that time, and by all accounts, Trump was convinced that the whole effort was a mistake, that he had been trolled into wrecking the country he promised to make great. It was too late. Mail-in ballots had been widely approved, the country was in shambles, the media and public health bureaucrats were ruling the airwaves, and his final months of the campaign failed even to come to grips with the reality on the ground. 

At the time, many people had predicted that once Biden took office and the vaccine was released, Covid would be declared to have been beaten. But that didn’t happen and mainly for one reason: resistance to the vaccine was more intense than anyone had predicted. The Biden administration attempted to impose mandates on the entire US workforce. Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, that effort was thwarted but not before HR departments around the country had already implemented them. 

As the months rolled on – and four major cities closed all public accommodations to the unvaccinated, who were being demonized for prolonging the pandemic – it became clear that the vaccine could not and would not stop infection or transmission, which means that this shot could not be classified as a public health benefit. Even as a private benefit, the evidence was mixed. Any protection it provided was short-lived and reports of vaccine injury began to mount. Even now, we cannot gain full clarity on the scale of the problem because essential data and documentation remains classified. 

After four years, we find ourselves in a strange position. We still do not know precisely what unfolded in mid-March 2020: who made what decisions, when, and why. There has been no serious attempt at any high level to provide a clear accounting much less assign blame. 

Not even Tucker Carlson, who reportedly played a crucial role in getting Trump to panic over the virus, will tell us the source of his own information or what his source told him. There have been a series of valuable hearings in the House and Senate but they have received little to no press attention, and none have focus on the lockdown orders themselves. 

The prevailing attitude in public life is just to forget the whole thing. And yet we live now in a country very different from the one we inhabited five years ago. Our media is captured. Social media is widely censored in violation of the First Amendment, a problem being taken up by the Supreme Court this month with no certainty of the outcome. The administrative state that seized control has not given up power. Crime has been normalized. Art and music institutions are on the rocks. Public trust in all official institutions is at rock bottom. We don’t even know if we can trust the elections anymore. 

In the early days of lockdown, Henry Kissinger warned that if the mitigation plan does not go well, the world will find itself set “on fire.” He died in 2023. Meanwhile, the world is indeed on fire. The essential struggle in every country on earth today concerns the battle between the authority and power of permanent administration apparatus of the state – the very one that took total control in lockdowns – and the enlightenment ideal of a government that is responsible to the will of the people and the moral demand for freedom and rights. 

How this struggle turns out is the essential story of our times. 

CODA: I’m embedding a copy of PanCAP Adapted, as annotated by Debbie Lerman. You might need to download the whole thing to see the annotations. If you can help with research, please do.

*  *  *

Jeffrey Tucker is the author of the excellent new book 'Life After Lock-Down'

Tyler Durden Mon, 03/11/2024 - 23:40

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Red Candle In The Wind

Red Candle In The Wind

By Benjamin PIcton of Rabobank

February non-farm payrolls superficially exceeded market expectations on Friday by…



Red Candle In The Wind

By Benjamin PIcton of Rabobank

February non-farm payrolls superficially exceeded market expectations on Friday by printing at 275,000 against a consensus call of 200,000. We say superficially, because the downward revisions to prior months totalled 167,000 for December and January, taking the total change in employed persons well below the implied forecast, and helping the unemployment rate to pop two-ticks to 3.9%. The U6 underemployment rate also rose from 7.2% to 7.3%, while average hourly earnings growth fell to 0.2% m-o-m and average weekly hours worked languished at 34.3, equalling pre-pandemic lows.

Undeterred by the devil in the detail, the algos sprang into action once exchanges opened. Market darling NVIDIA hit a new intraday high of $974 before (presumably) the humans took over and sold the stock down more than 10% to close at $875.28. If our suspicions are correct that it was the AIs buying before the humans started selling (no doubt triggering trailing stops on the way down), the irony is not lost on us.

The 1-day chart for NVIDIA now makes for interesting viewing, because the red candle posted on Friday presents quite a strong bearish engulfing signal. Volume traded on the day was almost double the 15-day simple moving average, and similar price action is observable on the 1-day charts for both Intel and AMD. Regular readers will be aware that we have expressed incredulity in the past about the durability the AI thematic melt-up, so it will be interesting to see whether Friday’s sell off is just a profit-taking blip, or a genuine trend reversal.

AI equities aside, this week ought to be important for markets because the BTFP program expires today. That means that the Fed will no longer be loaning cash to the banking system in exchange for collateral pledged at-par. The KBW Regional Banking index has so far taken this in its stride and is trading 30% above the lows established during the mini banking crisis of this time last year, but the Fed’s liquidity facility was effectively an exercise in can-kicking that makes regional banks a sector of the market worth paying attention to in the weeks ahead. Even here in Sydney, regulators are warning of external risks posed to the banking sector from scheduled refinancing of commercial real estate loans following sharp falls in valuations.

Markets are sending signals in other sectors, too. Gold closed at a new record-high of $2178/oz on Friday after trading above $2200/oz briefly. Gold has been going ballistic since the Friday before last, posting gains even on days where 2-year Treasury yields have risen. Gold bugs are buying as real yields fall from the October highs and inflation breakevens creep higher. This is particularly interesting as gold ETFs have been recording net outflows; suggesting that price gains aren’t being driven by a retail pile-in. Are gold buyers now betting on a stagflationary outcome where the Fed cuts without inflation being anchored at the 2% target? The price action around the US CPI release tomorrow ought to be illuminating.

Leaving the day-to-day movements to one side, we are also seeing further signs of structural change at the macro level. The UK budget last week included a provision for the creation of a British ISA. That is, an Individual Savings Account that provides tax breaks to savers who invest their money in the stock of British companies. This follows moves last year to encourage pension funds to head up the risk curve by allocating 5% of their capital to unlisted investments.

As a Hail Mary option for a government cruising toward an electoral drubbing it’s a curious choice, but it’s worth highlighting as cash-strapped governments increasingly see private savings pools as a funding solution for their spending priorities.

Of course, the UK is not alone in making creeping moves towards financial repression. In contrast to announcements today of increased trade liberalisation, Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers has in the recent past flagged his interest in tapping private pension savings to fund state spending priorities, including defence, public housing and renewable energy projects. Both the UK and Australia appear intent on finding ways to open up the lungs of their economies, but government wants more say in directing private capital flows for state goals.

So, how far is the blurring of the lines between free markets and state planning likely to go? Given the immense and varied budgetary (and security) pressures that governments are facing, could we see a re-up of WWII-era Victory bonds, where private investors are encouraged to do their patriotic duty by directly financing government at negative real rates?

That would really light a fire under the gold market.

Tyler Durden Mon, 03/11/2024 - 19:00

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