52 thoughts on “The Swedish Experiment, Illustrated

  1. 2slugbaits

    Even Sweden is now backpedaling on their “herd immunity” strategy.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2020/06/04/coronavirus-sweden-admits-herd-immunity-strategy-could-improved/3142761001/

    And note that just because Sweden officially adopted a “herd immunity” approach, that does not mean all Swedes followed that strategy. Sweden has the fewest number of people per household in Europe. And it has more people who can work remotely. It also has a well functioning health system. And it has a cultural history of emphasizing social responsibility. And yet, despite all of these advantages, Sweden’s numbers are still worse than other Nordic countries.

    Bruce Hall also made some inane comparison between Sweden and Michigan. Earth to Bruce…Michigan was making very good progress on stopping the spread. Michigan got it’s transmission rate well under 1.00 (down to 0.70) up until idiot Trump started his “Liberate Michigan” nonsense. Then Bruce and his stupid friends started marching and demanding that Michigan open up bars and restaurants so they could exercise their God given right to eat ribeyes and get drunk. Note that in Michigan Rt did not go above 1.00 until after Memorial Day weekend.

    Reply
      1. 2slugbaits

        Looks to me like she’s at least wearing a mask and it is outside, although she’s not socially distancing. In any event, things were already out-of-control two weeks before 7 June.

        Reply
    1. 2slugbaits

      According to EuroStat Sweden’s unemployment rate was 6.8% in March and went to 7.9% in April. That’s actually well above the EU-27 rate, which was 6.4% in March and only went to 6.6% in April. Germany, which had a very stiff shelter-in-place regime kept unemployment steady at 3.5%. Sweden did manage to increase it’s GDP by a whopping 0.1% at a heavy cost in lives, whereas the EU-27 as a whole lost 3.2%.

      Reply
      1. Barkley Rosser

        2slug,

        I just checked, and supposedly Sweden’s economy has declined by 6.79% so far this year. Most of that has been driven by falling exports to the rest of the EU.

        Reply
        1. 2slugbaits

          Could be. The EuroStat data shows a 0.1% increase from 2019Q4 to 2020Q1. The OECD is predicting a 7.8% drop in GDP for the year.

          Reply
      2. Ulenspiegel

        “Germany, which had a very stiff shelter-in-place regime kept unemployment steady at 3.5%.”

        No, millions of Germans are on “Kurzarbeit”. They get up to 60% of their wage from the jobservice for up to 12 months.

        Reply
        1. 2slugbaits

          Right. But they didn’t lose their jobs in the way that American workers lost their jobs. As a result, Germany has seen a drop in GDP because fewer people are working, but with no change in the unemployment rate. That puts Germany in a much better position as its economy reopens because the labor supply effect is very different than it is in the US. Unlike EU countries, the US relies upon state unemployment agencies to distribute benefits when there is an economic downturn. So workers have to be formally moved into the involuntarily unemployed category before they can get benefits. They not only have to be separated from their jobs, but they also have to be actively looking for another job in order to get benefits. The unintended effect of the US system is to push and trap workers into jobs with a lower value of marginal product. In the US state unemployment agencies are organized around the principle of denying benefits unless the unemployed worker can present a case for unemployment relief; i.e., the default position is to deny benefits. The US approach to managing unemployment is ill-suited for distributing benefits during a pandemic; but as Rumsfeld might say, you go into a pandemic with the safety net you have, not the one you want.

          Reply
    2. Willie

      Not all of us prefer blonde. Especially the ubiquitous DC bottle blonde variety. And I worked in Norway for a bit. There are more blonde people there than most other places, but it is hardly universal. Or even a majority.

      Reply
  2. Barkley Rosser

    Sweden is one member of the EU the other members will not allow people from to travel into their states. Apparently the EU cutoff is not more than 20 per 100,000 per day new cases. The US is at 122 while Sweden is at 155, just completely out of control.

    I find it bizarre that somehow the reports on Sweden’s now embaarassingly awful performance have somehow not gotten to the Trumpanzees. I keep seeing them touting Sweden in one venue after another. But then, a lot of them still think there is no need to wear masks in public.

    Reply
    1. Willie

      I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. If we are all going to get COVID-19 eventually, I want to get it at the end of 2021 at the soonest. For a whole lot of reasons. The Swedish example is completely negative example.

      Any comparisons between numbers from Sweden and Florida?

      Reply
  3. The Rage

    Both shutdowns and herd immunity failed. There was only one option, mitigation until a vaccine. Chose closures like with bars would be closed, due to the high infections. Now young Swedes will have health problems for the rest of their lives.

    Reply
  4. Not Trampis

    I read somewhere that according to Google there was little difference between people and social distancing between Sweden and Germany. Sweden did not adopt herd immunity.
    you do not have social distancing under herd immunity

    Reply
    1. 2slugbaits

      Right. Herd immunity was Sweden’s official policy, but that doesn’t mean every Swede followed that policy. People do learn (sometimes).

      Reply
    1. pgl

      “You can argue with the author who is a climate researcher and statistician.”

      You often misrepresent the resumes of your chosen “expert”. Lewis was a mathematician before he retired. Only then he took up “climate research”, which basically is a set of papers that represent climate change denial. What up Brucie – you were once again too lazy to check the creds of your own supposed “expert”.

      You remind me of a dog who continues to chase its own tail.

      Reply
    2. Barkley Rosser

      Bruce,

      The numbers in this link of yours show Sweden performing much more poorly than other EU nations. Their death rates are an order of magnitude below their peaks (the major ones), while Sweden has managed only a two third decline. It is simply no role model for anybody, and the ongoing efforts by various Trumpanzees to put it forward as one are simply embarrassing.

      Reply
  5. Moses Herzog

    Menzie, heads up here. There may be some offensive things in the embedded video on the Seattle Times link, but the video doesn’t start up automatically, you have to click on it after the link jump. Menzie and Willie might be interested to know, this event took place in their home state (Olympia to be exact). Does this mean there’s rednecks everywhere???
    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/sacha-baron-cohen-in-character-seems-to-have-performed-a-racist-song-at-a-right-wing-olympia-rally/

    Reply
    1. Moses Herzog

      It’s interesting to note, Matt Marshall, the organizer of the event, and Founder of “Washington Three Percenters” said the people singing along and cheering were “paid agitators”. What Matt Marshall does not explain, is why no one was booing or making sounds of objection. There seems to be lots of giggling as well. Is Marshall saying that Cohen paid ALL of the attendees not to boo or raise an objection?? Marshall can’t really have it both ways can he?? He’s saying it was all Antifa at his own event, that you couldn’t find a single person in the crowd bothered by what was being said by Cohen’s satirical character??

      Reply
  6. Moses Herzog

    @ Menzie
    I know you’re a man who hones a very sharp self-discipline on his economic data. But Mr. Paul Krugman has hinted here and there, that “anecdotal evidence” is sometimes a good place to start when shaping theories or coming up with research questions. Now, this may not give you much in terms of a research topic. But It might give a clue around the outskirts of reported data, on where some individual USA states might be with their GDP:
    https://twitter.com/NathanPoppe/status/1277453679038169088

    The building you see pictured in the tweet, is the building in Oklahoma where the agency that handles unemployment claims is located. Known in Oklahoma as the “OESC” (The female head of which was recently fired, to be replaced with another female head, who so far, has shown no increase in efficiency). Those seen in the long lines on a late Sunday night, some of them there as early as Sunday early afternoon to get in line for an office that doesn’t open until 8:00am on Monday, are people whom have tried multiple times to apply online for weeks/months trying to get unemployment claims that the agency is unable to process, or has already sent to Nigerian fraudsters. Now, I would concede Oklahoma is probably one of the worst on processing unemployment claims, but I doubt they are the only state with a large backlog, that is being handled in a highly dysfunctional manner.

    BTW, the main thing I wanted you to see was the pic with the line forming 10:00pm at night on a Sunday, with cars still pulling up—but the entire comment thread under the tweet is also worth skimming for some jaded/demented “entertainment”. Everyday, they cut off the lines, with law enforcement present (Gee, I wonder why law enforcement is present for people who can’t get their checks and are having their water and electricity turned off by the state regulated monopoly and with 3 months rent unpaid, due like, yesterday??) at roughly 180 people, because that is all that building of people can process inside of ONE day’s worth of “government business”.

    Reply
    1. Moses Herzog

      Did I forget to mention???~~~ BOTH Oklahoma’s state legislature and Governor have been Republican for at least 9 years now.

      Reply
  7. Phil

    Poor post or I guess just shallow tweet?

    As has been demonstrated, the vast majority of lives lost have been in elder care homes. Would lockdown have prevented that? Maybe, but only because it buys time to devise policy to protect those homes. Sweden has had very little testing except in the last week, no masks and no lockdown. This should warrant incredibly study but instead becomes a game of political deflection on all sides.

    Reply
    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Phil: As somebody who comes from Seattle area, and has a parent in a facility, let me just say — the outbreak in the region was marked in an … elder care home. The region subsequently imposed tight lockdown. Where did the region (not Washington state) then go…?

      Reply
    2. macroduck

      The vast majority? Simply untrue. Not even a slim majority of deaths occurred in elder care facilities. As of early June, elder care facilities accounted fo just over 1/3 of Covid deaths:

      https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/health/info-2020/coronavirus-nursing-home-cases-deaths.html

      Took me about 30 seconds to disprove what you claim “has been demonstrated”. The increase in infections in the south in recent weeks has been among the young, and many could have been prevented by quarentine efforts. You really smooched the pooch with this one.

      Reply
  8. ltr

    “As somebody who comes from Seattle area…”

    About nursing homes in the United States, a number of states have used nursing homes to transfer hospital patients to. Also, a number of governors have signed or supported laws taking away liability from nursing home owners. New York was one of these states, Andrew Cuomo such a bill-signing governor. Also, NHS hospital patients in the UK were moved to nursing homes.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/13/nyregion/nursing-homes-coronavirus-new-york.html

    May 13, 2020

    Buried in N.Y. Budget: Legal Shield for Nursing Homes Rife With Virus

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/25/world/europe/coronavirus-uk-nursing-homes.html

    May 25, 2020

    On a Scottish Isle, Nursing Home Deaths Expose a Covid-19 Scandal

    Reply
      1. Willie

        As another person who now lives in Seattle, I can say that this part of the state has been moving carefully and cautiously since the initial outbreak. My mother is in a retirement community. Not quite assisted living, not quite not assisted living. They have been in what amounts to lockdown since it started to become obvious that there was a problem. I can’t speak as well about what’s going on over the mountains, but I would expect the same level of caution. If it hadn’t been shut down, my mother and a whole lot of others would likely be dead or debilitated now.

        I haven’t heard any reports of anybody recovering from being dead. Not in Sweden or anywhere else.

        Reply
  9. ltr

    About Sweden, where the government chose to more or less let the coronavirus run through the country, along with having a remarkably high ratio of deaths to confirmed coronavirus cases, 8.1%, Swedish daily data have recently been withheld from the public.  This while the Swedish official who designed the do not interfere policy criticizes approaches to limit the infection spread taken in other countries.

    Reply
    1. Ulenspiegel

      “with having a remarkably high ratio of deaths to confirmed coronavirus cases, 8.1%”

      As this number depends on number of tests and test strategy, it is often quite useless in an international comparison.

      The only hard number you have are deaths per capita, and here Sweden stinks.

      Reply
  10. ltr

    “As somebody who comes from Seattle area…”

    Please know that I so wish your parent, and all your family well. My hopes are with your family.

    Reply
    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      ltr: Thank you, that is much appreciated. And best wishes to *all of us* in America; under the current covid-19 policies implemented at the federal level, we will need all the luck we can get.

      Reply
      1. Willie

        That is the truth! As much as I dislike Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney, I’m going to give them credit for her broadcasting a photo of her father wearing a mask with a caption that said real men wear masks. Maybe that will change some minds about masks.

        Reply
        1. pgl

          VP Mike Pence has been seen wearing a mask and says everyone should too. Which likely means Trump will ask the VP to resign.

          Reply
  11. sammy

    The measures should not be absolute. The significant measure is the smallish DIFFERENCE between Sweden’s (only minorly modified lockdown) policy and say, the US lockdown and whether that was worth 40% of GDP.

    Reply
    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      sammy: Recall, a 40% SAAR decline in 1 qtr means roughly a 10% decline in 1 qtr, so we did not lose 40% of annual GDP of around $20 trn. By the way, S. Korea achieved minimal fatalities (under 300) for minimal GDP loss — suggests we are far inside the production possibilities frontier for mitigation.

      Reply
    2. Baffling

      Actually sammy our gdp losses are not insurmountable. They are temporary, and we have tools (unemployment insurance for instance) which can mitigate their effects.
      On the other hand, you seem to support an approach that results in significant death for certain populations. This is not reversible and its effects cannot be mitigated, other than its reduction in future social security and medicare payouts.
      I must say your attempt to compare the Small DIFFERENCE between a lost dollar and a lost life is rather morbid and unenlightened.

      Reply
    3. Ulenspiegel

      A better comparison would be Austria, a country of the same size but only with 1/6 of Sweden’s per capita deaths, it will be interesting to see a comparison of GDP changes in both countries in a few months.

      The response in the USA was faulty, not a useful point of reference.

      Reply
  12. ltr

    “The point I was making was that if you shut down, that can have an impact on elder care facility death rates.”

    Sorry, I agree, but I do not understand and am interested in the terribly unfortunate experiences of so many residents of nursing homes. I am bothered by the experiences of so many nursing home residents. This however is a matter I know little about, so I sent along NYT articles which I think important.

    I hope I was not insensitive and did not mean to interfere.

    Reply
    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      ltr: sammy seemed to imply because fatalities were concentrated in elder care facilities, a lockdown couldn’t impact the fatality rates there; but that is not clear at all. Thw workers in such facilities live, after all, in the wider community.

      Reply
  13. ltr

    S—- seemed to imply because fatalities were concentrated in elder care facilities, a lockdown couldn’t impact the fatality rates there; but that is not clear at all. Thw workers in such facilities live, after all, in the wider community.

    [ Early on, surely from January 20, Chinese medics treating coronavirus patients or protecting against the spread of infection began to isolate themselves to protect family and patients. I know that of the army medics who worked with severe cases at the makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, no medic was infected, but that means no medic spread the infection. I do not understand why later on nursing home residents in New York or New Jersey or the UK or Sweden were not protected.

    The thrust for the Chinese was isolate. A Massachusetts nursing home, residents and staff, should subsequently have been isolated. ]

    Reply
  14. ltr

    S—- seemed to imply because fatalities were concentrated in elder care facilities, a lockdown couldn’t impact the fatality rates there; but that is not clear at all. The workers in such facilities live, after all, in the wider community.

    [ Why were workers in elder care facilities not isolated? This makes no sense. But, the New York Times has reported workers in such facilities were at least at times, possibly often, left distinctly vulnerable, and this means so to residents they cared for. ]

    Reply
  15. Ivan

    The main lockdowns are not instituted by governments – its done by sensible people who are deciding to stay home for their own safety. The economic indicators in Georgia were nosediving BEFORE the government did its (short) shut down. They have not recovered much after the shutdown was lifted. Government shut downs and mandates are not having big impacts on the economy. Small businesses working on razor thin margins are doomed whether they lose 30% or 40% of their business. Until the infections are way down, no sensible person will decide to go and do that frivolous self-indulgent discretionary spending that is the foundation and lifeblood of our economy. If you want to save the economy you have to get rid of the virus.

    However, for the virus epidemic, government mandates can make a big difference (where common sense fail). A transmission rate (R0) of 0.95 vs. 1.05 define the difference between a failed epidemic and one with exponential growth. The whole game in epidemiology is to bring the average number of transmissions from each new patient down below 1.00 – then stay tough and wait it out, because you have won and the virus lost. The last part is where human nature fail us and government mandates must step in.

    The narrative of the Swedish approach is that we all will get sick sooner or later so let’s just get it over with so all have been infected and we can get back to normal. It fails at so many levels. Not all people will follow the “let’s get it over with” ideology (especially if they have seen others get ill or die). So there will always be a substantial number of people who refuse to sacrifice their health and life – so you cannot “get it over with” and the drag on the economy will continue. The presumption is that if people have it once they will never again get it – but that is not true for other Coronaviruses. It is entirely possible that peoples natural immunity will only protect them for 2-6 months. Finally the suggestion that it doesn’t matter whether people get it now or later doesn’t hold water either. We have already seen improvements in treatments and progress towards a vaccine – if I have the choice of being infected in March this year vs March next year the choice and survival chances are pretty obvious.

    Reply
    1. baffling

      ” Until the infections are way down, no sensible person will decide to go and do that frivolous self-indulgent discretionary spending that is the foundation and lifeblood of our economy.”
      judging by the number of people i saw doing just that in houston from memorial day on, i would say you overestimate the number of sensible people in society today. in a similar vein, i underestimated the number of voters who still held strongly racist views in their hearts.

      Reply
      1. Ivan

        I agree that it can be chocking to see how few sensible (informed?) people are present in this country. But even 20% sensible behavior will have devastating effects on most small businesses.

        The fear of this pandemic goes up when its danger gets more obvious. I would be curios to see the cell phone data on “going out” on Memorial day vs 4’th of July and have it correlated to the “publicity/severity” of the pandemic in different areas of the country.

        Reply
        1. baffling

          as you noted, we have had informal lockdowns regardless of whether a governor was strong enough to implement them, or too weak to challenge trump. and this will not go away. many people will continue to safely lock down into the foreseeable future. even idiots like bruce hall have admitted that they are locking down. the problem is the (not insignificant) percentage of the population that refuses. they are the ones who continue to let the virus burn, and until this slow burn subsides, the rest of the population will maintain their defacto lockdown. a smart governor will recognize this, and implement a mandatory lockdown to get rid of the slow burn. that is the only way the population actually returns to an active marketplace. those that are arguing against the lockdown are supporting an approach that will keep the economy running at lower rates for much longer. same thing with masks. the greater the use of masks, the quicker we return to a more fully functioning economy. those protestors are to stooooopid to understand this concept. stopping a lockdown and no masks results in MORE covid infections and an even worse performing economy. this is the result of folks like rick stryker and bruce hall’s position.

          Reply
    2. 2slugbaits

      Sweden’s current effective reproduction rate (Rt) is currently at 1.2, so things are still getting worse.
      https://epiforecasts.io/covid/posts/national/sweden/
      An Rt of 1.2 implies (ceteris paribus) that 16.7 percent of the population will have to become infected before Sweden reaches a steady state Rt of 1.00, meaning the daily number of new infections will plateau until either a vaccine is found or people lose immunity and the Rt begins to climb again. By way of comparison, Sweden’s current Rt is the same as Arizona’s. A lot of Swedes are gonna get sick.

      Reply
      1. Ivan

        An excellent point. Furthermore, unfortunately there is a play between severity of the pandemic and public behavior/mandates. The Rt is influenced both by public behavior and general immunity. When things get better (Rt<1.00) governments and individuals begin loosening up – which raise the Rt. So even when Sweden get to 16.7% having real truly lasting and protective immunity changed behavior may still keep their Rt on the wrong side of 1.

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.