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Learn from Spain:

We WILL Err – but how?

By Shlomo Maital

Spain has suffered terribly from the new coronavirus. The numbers tell the tale:

Cases overview








For a nation of 47 million, this is a terrible toll. It is explained in part by Spain’s late start in lockdown, and its Mediterranean open lifestyle, in the cafes and markets, during a warm spring.

   But it seems to have peaked. The number of new cases peaked in Spain, at 8,000, daily, on April 2, and has now declined to about 4,000. So Spain is gradually beginning to emerge from lockdown, to revive the economy, in a planned careful and staged manner.

   I think other countries should watch Spain carefully, talk to Spanish experts, learn about their plan, adapt the plan to their own nations’ needs and nature…and in general, we need a global brainstorming conference. An international Zoom of experts.

     Take Korea. There has been a resurgence, there, a second wave, but not huge, 100 cases. OK – what happened? Is the immunity conferred by having the COVID-19 and recovering from it sufficient to give permanent immunity? Or can a huge dose of the virus come back and attack you again? Let’s find out from Korea.

       How is Singapore handling the ‘track down those who spread it’? We will need to have a system for that, when we (many of us) return to work.

       We should have a website clearing house for things countries have learned, but a credible one, with only vetted proven entries by real experts.

         What do we know about this vicious viral enemy? Can we compile a COVID-19 handbook – here is what we know, and how we know it, and what the source of the data is.

     And regarding emerging from the ‘shelter at home’ lockdown — Trump says this is the most important decision of his life. HIS decision? If I were an American, would I feel reassured in having TRUMP???? make the decision?   When his ‘base’ is calling for the resignation of Fauci, a credible epidemiology expert, who urges caution?

       We will make mistakes and already have. Trump’s January-February fumbling cost many lives. Maybe, it is best to err on the side of caution, as we emerge from lockdown. Let’s study Spain carefully.  

Surprise: Germany Leads!

By Shlomo Maital

source: IMF

Quiz: Which country in the world is highly conservative fiscally, avoids deficits like the plague (oops, sorry for that one), hassles spendthrift EU nations (like Greece) for excess debt, and in general has acted like Scrooge?

     You got it. Germany.

   Part two: Which country has seen the extent of the COVID-19 plague clearest and acted most decisively, including massive emergency spending?

       Surprise. Germany. Never would have guessed it.

Lame duck Chancellor Angela Merkel, a trained scientist, trained well in the former East Germany, was among the first to predict massive deaths, and drew scorn at the time – but she is proving right, even though Germany, for many reasons, has the lowest relative death toll (relative to the number of cases).

   And now, she has led Germany to implement the most extensive, massive emergency bailout plan including huge spending, covering salaries of employers and guaranteeing emergency loans for businesses. No other country comes close. (Alas, my own country is right there at the bottom – though, of course, we do not have as deep pockets as Germany does).

   According to the International Monetary Fund, Germany’s bailout package is fully 28% of GDP! And Germany guarantees 90% of emergency loans. All this, to keep businesses afloat, so they can bounce back.

   But I have on caveat, or quibble. Germany: all this largesse goes to Germans. How about Italians and Spaniards? Can you spare just a small slice of your luscious pie for fellow EU countries, suffering badly?   They’re waiting.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital