Mainstream Playing Catch-Up on Coronavirus

Coronavirus once again reminds investors that the stock market only discount what it pays attention to. For weeks, I and others were wondering how stocks were staying up given the clear threat from coronavirus. Mainstream media ignored it, many governments downplayed it, and even experts reacted to news of travel bans by calling it racist.

Now the mainstream is catching up. Here's the front-page from Drudge this morning. One of the big early news items about the virus was the HIV-mutation, which fueled conspiracy theories of a man-made bioweapon. Stocks are sliding sharply because the average person and those who don't have time to read a lot of news (including business, investment and government leaders) are playing catchup. I'd wager that by next week, we could be in a position where the greater risk is being caught short when "not as bad as expected" news starts breaking. Not arguing that will happen, but everyone should be caught up by the weekend. The threat of coronavirus is no long a "secret."
The big question is, has the virus been spreading undetected? Despite their confidence, the CDC and U.S. authorities don't really know. Wuhan was a disaster, and China is still under quarantine policies, because it spread unchecked for one month in Wuhan. Based on travel ties, the U.S. should have already had an outbreak. Instead, it has broken out in a seemingly geographic pattern with Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Iran and Italy reporting outbreaks in turn. That might be a quirk of fate or perhaps Trump's travel ban on China worked. One good thing about the travel ban and subsequent policies is that many of the people who come back from China have been sent into voluntary home quarantine. Others have decided themselves to self-quarantine to protect public health. Maybe the U.S. will get lucky.

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