Don’t Be Fooled: Take this Time to Reduce Risk

Dear Reader,

There’s a chance I’ve had COVID-19 and not have known. It’s possible that my family and friends have also had the virus.

There’s even a chance, dear reader, that you may have caught the virus and not have known.

And, the question that’s been on my mind for a while now: Did my dad have the virus when he passed last 1 February?

I Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during these crazy times.

On paper, my dad never had COVID-19.

The virus officially reached Spain’s shores the day before my dad passed away, on 31 January. This first case was in La Gomera, an island located some 1,800km from where my family lives.

But, I’ve been suspecting that there’s a possibility COVID-19 or some form of it has been around for much longer than initially thought.

It’s something a French doctor flagged this week too.

Did the coronavirus start in December?

From the BBC:

A patient treated in a hospital near Paris on 27 December for suspected pneumonia actually had the coronavirus, his doctor has said.

This means the virus may have arrived in Europe almost a month earlier than previously thought.

Dr Yves Cohen said a swab taken at the time was recently tested, and came back positive for Covid-19.

The patient, who has since recovered, said he had no idea where he caught the virus as he had not travelled abroad.

If this is so, it would explain quite a bit.

Like for instance, why while I was in Spain in January emergency rooms were swamped with people fighting a ‘strong flu’.

Or why, while the amazing doctors taking care of my dad performed numerous tests but couldn’t find what was wrong with him.

Or why, in his last days he developed respiratory problems and had to be connected to a respirator in ICU.

As I say, this is pure speculation. I will never know for sure what happened.

But, if this is the case, then the daily tally we see each day in our screens is likely very inaccurate.

Did the virus start in December? Will it die with the heat of summer? How deadly is it? Will we develop immunity? Is it seasonal? Will the future include seasonal periods of intermittent outbreaks?

There are too many unanswered questions.

Anyway, the point that I’m driving here is that there’s still a lot we don’t know about this virus. And even what we may think we know for sure, may not be so.

It’s a dangerous situation.

This scenario adds a lot of risk when it comes to investment. You have no clue what sort of timeframes you are working with…a day, a week, a month? Anything could change quickly. And we also have artificially low interest rates and an economy propped up by the central banks.

Countries easing restrictions

We are facing an impossible choice between continuing the lockdowns or opening up the economy.

Countries are starting to do the latter.

In Spain, people have been allowed outdoors for the first time in a month and a half this week.

We are looking at easing restrictions in Australia too. Australia may be crushing the virus but as I see it, we are far from going back to normal.

For one, it may very well be a long time until we reopen our doors to the rest of the world. As such, immigration is already expected to drop by 85%.

Australia owes much of its economic record to population growth.

According to data from Domain, over the past 15 years 60% of the five million increase in population came from net overseas migration. The majority were temporary visa holders and students.

And this will directly feed into housing prices.

So far, governments are propping up the economy. For Australia the flood of money accounts to 10% of its GDP. You can see the huge size of some of the global stimulus below:

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But what happens when JobKeeper and JobSeeker run out? It’s possible the governments continue with the stimulus.

Then again, they may not.

As I said, we’re faced with an impossible situation, one that I don’t think will be short-lived.

Life-changing events like this can bring bargains and opportunities for the very few who are well positioned. In my opinion, we are not there yet.

They can also be great wealth destroying events. I’ve witnessed it plenty of times before.

For now, central bank and government intervention is giving us a small breather. Consider taking this extra time to improve your position by reducing risk…not increasing it.


In a brand new report, market expert Vern Gowdie warns of the dangers waiting in a post-COVID-19 world. Plus, he outlines the steps you must take now to protect your wealth. Learn more.


From the mailbag:

A couple of weeks ago I asked what your thoughts on the government’s new tracking app. We got an overwhelming amount of responses…most of them against it.

While there are too many of them to reproduce, here are a few of your replies:

You ask, is this app a good idea or not.  Well, yes and no.  Personally I do not think it is a good idea and I will not be signing up. Having said that, I am lucky in that I don’t have to go anywhere really during this virus crisis. I do understand the governments position however.  They are being pressured from all sides, the failing economy, the people and the press to re-open society and get back to normal sooner rather than later.

Will we ever get back to normal or should we even.  My concern is that once introduced, easily done in times of crisis, will it ever go away and what will it be used for in the future.  That is the scary part.  Of course companies like Google and Facebook can already do this.   Presumably either they or governments are hesitant to get into bed together, after all information is power and power is money.  Of course I am older and less trusting, my kids, well young adults, have grown up with this and don’t see a problem.  They think I am just old and paranoid, maybe so.’

Another reader said:

I don’t think that the App is a good idea.  We have had to give up many of our rights so far in relation to this virus, once we go down the path of allowing us to be tracked, it will develop in to a monster. I hope some of the concessions we have now made will be regained when this is over.

A different subscriber had this to say:

There is always a ‘good reason’ for things like the Trace Together app. With great reasonableness the government invariably explains to us that such-and-such an action/process will make us all safer, more secure, protect our families, help us sleep at night, and so on and so forth.

Such precautions are invariably introduced in the face of some threat — a disease, a foreigner invasion or unwelcome influence, terrorism, etc. But, once that threat has disappeared, this ‘thing’ that has weakened our civil rights is almost never withdrawn.

So, if the government insists on introducing the Trace Together app, I think there must be a bit of quid quo pro: written into the legislation must be a cast iron guarantee that, say, after 1 or 2 years, when the corona virus has been finally overcome, the app/tracing system is withdrawn — no ifs, buts or maybes. Simple!

Another reader said:

I certainly do not want the app. There are so many hackers out there and back doors in software that our privacy is already seriously compromised.

Think of the number of times government and big business systems have been hacked in the last five years and they still say, with a straight face, that our privacy is safe. It would be laughable except our fast disappearing individual privacy it is too serious an issue.

We are fast becoming a totalitarian state. Our government needs do a reality check on where we are being taken in the name of keeping us safe.’

One of our subscribers said:

I will give up my phone!!!!!

And finally:

Totally bad idea, I’m surprised Morrison is even contemplating the idea. I have not been able to buy gold for a number of weeks now. I struggle with the thought that the banks or government would deal ethically with anyone’s money, gold or superannuation.

Thank you to everyone who wrote in. As always, it’s great to hear from you. Feel free to keep writing in with what’s on your mind.


Selva Freigedo
Editor, The Rum Rebellion

Selva Freigedo is a research analyst for The Rum Rebellion.

Born in Argentina, her passion for economic analysis started at a young age. Her father was an economist for the Argentinean governments and the family used to discuss politics and economics at the dinner table.

Argentina is a country with an unusual economic history. Growing up there gave Selva first-hand experience on different economic phenomena such as hyperinflation, devaluation and debt default.

Selva has also lived in Brazil, Spain and the USA.

Back in 2000 she was living in the US as the dot com bubble popped…
And in 2008 she was in Spain as the property market exploded and then collapsed…

She has seen first-hand what happens when bubbles burst.

Selva joined Fat Tail Investment Research’s team in 2016, as an analyst. She now writes from her vantage point in Australia, where she settled in 2015.

The Rum Rebellion