More on the “omicron dud”

Following up on “omicron is a dud” – From CDC, forecasted deaths of 10 January 2022:

Source: CDC.

Here is the forecast of hospitalizations.

Source: CDC.

If you thought the deaths forecast was being overtaken by events, I’d tend to agree. Tabulating using more up to date daily data, I get the following graph.

Figure 1: Covid deaths, 7 day moving average (black), weekly deaths from CDC Jan 10 ensemble forecast (red square), and interquartile range (gray +), all on log scale. Source: accessed 1/16, and CDC.

As of 1/15, one estimate of reported deaths per day (I’d bet eventually excess deaths are greater) is 1931. The four week forecast implies 2873 deaths/day on average, with interquartile range of 2177, 3293.


48 thoughts on “More on the “omicron dud”

    1. Econned

      Just like I should have asked Menzie what he meant by “suggesting easing pressures” after asserting back in July that “a measure that focuses on infrequently changed prices — the sticky price CPI — has declined, suggesting easing pressures”. And what did Menzie mean by ”not particularly plausible” when asserting back in June that his “view is that the 7% y/y inflation … is not particularly plausible.” I should have asked Menzie his personal definitions (we all know that definitions are very wishy-washy on Econbrowser.con) of these words before suggesting his suggestions/views/projections/comments were
      I’ll do better.

      1. Moses Herzog

        You’ll have to excuse me, I don’t recall what your prediction on inflation was back in July.

    2. Barkley Rosser


      Anonymous first used the term, and he never said what he meant, although I kind of assumed that given his focus on the oil industry that was what he was looking at, although I could be wrong. Again, in his last post on this, Menzie took that comment and then used it to look at likely impacts of the omicron variant on both public health as well as some economic variables, thus providing useful information for at least two interpretations of what it means, even if this is not what Anonymous originally had in mind, or what you think it means, which, as is usually the case, you have not bothered to provide us any useful infomration or ideas on.

      You avoided it this particular time, but you have frequently accused Menzie of posting as part of some sort of ego trip. I have posed that he has done so as part of a public service motive, although it may well please his ego to feel that he is engaging in public service, which he is. You certainly are not remotely. I shall add as someone who actually knows Menzie personally that he is not at all an egomaniac, or at least does not come across as one in person. This is in sharp contrast to me, who as Moses has accurately pointed out is definitely arrogant. I am an egomaniac, but Menzie is not. He is what he claimes to be, somebody trying to provide useful and interesting information about various economic issues, most frequently about issues that he has experience with and is well informed about.

      I understand that you may not take my view on this seriously, but I suspect quite a few others might. Your credibility in repeatedly calling him out for alleged egomania is totally lacking in any credibility and is simply another example of your trollish role here as someone who mostly posts personal insults about people.

      1. Econned

        Your understating that I may not take your views in this seriously is, for once, spot-on. Well-done. Everything else you wrote is silly. I’ve been clear why I think Menzie is an egomaniac. If you can’t read or don’t care to read, that’s on you. Moreover, if I’m a troll why do you continue to allow yourself to get trolled? Is it because you are a troll as well and you enjoy the back-and-forth? Or does your (self-admitted) ego prevent you from stopping your showing as an absolute fool who fails to be regularly trolled? So many options.

        But to the actual point at hand, your entire first paragraph justifies my gripe and you’re such a fool (see preceding paragraph) that you’re completely unaware of this.

        1. pgl

          “Your understating that I may not take your views in this seriously is”

          Interesting that you start your latest childish rant this way and NO ONE takes what you write seriously. But do troll on as it is what you do.

          1. Econned

            Interesting that you can’t see the reason I started my latest child rant this way is because it’s almost exactly how Barkley Rosser, the commenter I’m replying to, started the sentence I’m replying to.

            You fail so hard and so regularly it’s pathetic. You’re an absolute clown show with every comment.

    3. baffling

      by posting as anonymous, the poster is implying that he/she does not wish to have a conversation/response directly. a unique moniker should be used if one wishes to have their commentary responded to directly. I would urge the use of a moniker other than a porn star, however.

      “But what was meant by “dud”?”
      no matter what was specifically meant by “dud”, it is hard to come up with a possible description that would not be considered wrong. econnned, maybe you have a better idea of what anonymous meant by “dud”? since he/she is anonymous, I cannot ask them directly. we have multiple posters who go by anonymous.

      1. pgl

        “I would urge the use of a moniker other than a porn star”

        Now if Stormy Daniels joined in sharing her knowledge of that former “President”, you would not have her banned I hope.

      2. Econned

        Why can’t you? Menzie provides links. Yes, it’s silly to have these blog posts, but you can get to the original “Anonymous” comment via two quick clicks. Which is exactly where Menzie should’ve kept the conversation but it’s his blog to promote unfruitful “conversation” if that’s his desire…

        1. Barkley Rosser


          The really funny thing about your “contribution” to this discussion of what “dud” means, is that somehow you put the onus on Menzie. He was somehow supposed to ask Anonymous what he meant by the term. Shame on him for not doing so rather than just proceeding to consider two possible meanings of it, one about public health and one about economic impacts, and then proceeding to gather some relevant data for which he also provided links.

          Rather than actually commenting on the data he provided or the broader issue at hand, you just got all over his case that he did not kowtow to your idiotic demand that he ask Anonymous what he meant, then further larding in comments your totally false claims that Menzie is an egomaniacc. I am an egomaniac, and as it takes one to know one, it is clear that you are one also. Your problem is that you have no substance at all to back it up, just a vacuous egomaniac deluding himself that he is worthy of his overweening arrogance.

          1. Econned

            You idiot. It’s Menzie who ‘asked’. It’s Menzie who created two posts to disingenuously pondered what ‘Anonymous’ meant. I have difficulty even fathoming how you’re consistently this horrible at discussion. What the literal f*ck do you mean by saying “He was somehow supposed to ask Anonymous what he meant by the term. Shame on him for not doing so rather than just proceeding to consider two possible meanings of it”. This is asinine and such a comment would only be made by a blind follower of the Menzie cult. Yes, he should have asked. Why on earth shouldn’t he have asked? You cannot be serious. Can you? Be honest. It isn’t an “ idiotic demand that he ask Anonymous what he meant” if he is wondering what “Anonymous” meant. Which he (acted like) was. You’re such a fool I’m begging to wonder if your comments are genuine. I have to assume it’s the senility – that’s literally the best option for you. It’s so terribly sad.

        2. Baffling

          Econned, I dont know who to ask. They are anonymous. Please improve your reading comprehension. I find it interesting how vigorously you defend the comments, without having any understanding of what they mean either. Same thing you are accusing prof chinn of doing.

          1. Econned

            1) You can’t be serious. Simply follow the links. It takes you directly to the comment in question. You can directly pose any question you desire to the actual commenter – doesn’t matter if they’re anonymous or the Sultan of Brunei. And that’s exactly what Menzie should’ve done – directly ask the question to the commenter.

            2) I’m not “defending” the any comment. What on earth made you come to such a conclusion?

          2. baffling

            they could also clear it up by responding to this post. but haven’t.

            “I’m not “defending” the any comment. What on earth made you come to such a conclusion?”
            the constant whining from you on just about everything.

          3. Econned


            You should actually read my “ constant whining” instead of make erroneous assumptions.

          4. baffling

            econned, I read your comments. they are simply constant whining. you do not like prof chinn, so you take the sophomoric approach and whine about anything that he does. its whining. I have a young child at home who does the same thing on a daily basis. I have become an expert at identifying whining. that is what you do.

          5. Econned

            You’re completely ignoring the point. If you were in fact reading my comments you’d wouldn’t say the things you’ve said. Unless you don’t care about being honest. Which could easily be the case. You’re back peddling by ignoring your prior assertion that in this instance I am defending the comments (which I’m not and you can’t provide support of) to now you whining about me calling out Menzie’s b.s. post. You won’t discuss my actual concern because you know that it is valid. Goalposts should remain in the same location throughout the discussion.

          6. baffling

            here is some cheese with your whine, econned.

            so what you are saying is you don’t care if anonymous had a valid point or not. that is irrelevant. you only complain that you do not like prof. chinn’s response. sophomoric.

          7. Econned

            My concern is Menzie’s approach. If “Anonymous” had a valid point or not is irrelevant to this concern given what we know. And, of course, Menzie could have easily verified if only Menzie had posed the question. And that’s the problem. You only complain that you do not like my response. Which had nothing to do with you. Sophomoric.

          8. baffling

            econned, prof chinn is under no obligation to inquire further into the meaning of anonymous’ comments. perhaps anonymous should simply be more eloquent in his comments. you seem to have a grudge against prof chinn, and look for anything to complain about him. maybe it is jealousy, maybe you feel inadequate in his shadow. but it is rather sad and sophomoric on your part.

            “You only complain that you do not like my response.”
            no. my concern is your approach.

          9. Econned

            Who suggested Menzie was under such obligation? I certainly didn’t. It’s another poor attempt at discourse by you. But anyone who is unbiased would see that the proper way to understand the statement made by Anonymous is to ask. No need for two (much less one) posts. Anyone who is rational can see that Menzie was completely disingenuous in his wondering what Anonymous meant – else he would’ve simply asked. It’s simple. Your blind devotion to Menzie isn’t fooling anyone other than yourself.

          10. Baffling

            Econned, you may be sophomoric. But at least you make me laugh. Of course you feel prof chinn was obligated to ask a follow up question. Its in your commentary. Have a little more whine with that cheese, chump.

  1. macroduck


    I’m worried that Gresham’s Law applies to blog comments. When I wander into the archives at DeLong’s old place, there was serious, informed discussion. Even today, Crooked Timber manages to attract educated comment on a wide range of topics. Both attract many commenters, regulars and drop-ins. Your content is as thoughtful as theirs, but comments tend to be derailed by intellectual posers and hissing cockroaches. There are only about a dozen regular commenters, many of whom act like zoo monkeys, slinging their feces at anyone who wanders near their cages.

    I can speculate as to why. Your association with the White House might do it. You interest in economic policy, exchange rates, trade, inflation and the like may have drwn the attention of the right-wing disinformation machine. Maybe path-dependency is a problem and you drew the short straw.

    Whatever is going on, thanks for making an effort. It cannot be easy to wade through so much mindless dreck. It would be wonderful if a new, curious and well-meaning crowd would wander in, but Gresham says otherwise.

    1. Moses Herzog

      I think Mark Thoma had the same problem, and or worse. And I hesitate to say this, for fear it might give Menzie thought to change the blog policy. BUt I think when one is extremely tolerant to allow as many varying opinions as he can, that that then attracts some bad elements. Blogs are are really a “no win” deal as far as comments threads are concerned. There’s no magic line, or if there is that magic line is subjectively chosen. I’m grateful to Menzie and Professor Hamilton for the blog, as it offers (overall) lots of value to my life, and joy, and I’m not embarrassed to say that.

      If Menzie changed his policy on the comments for his own mental health, even if that meant I would be filtered more, I feel like I really couldn’t be angry at him. I’m grateful for the blog, as I was “Baselinsecenario” before its demise.

    2. Barkley Rosser


      It has been quite some time since I have looked at Brad’s blog, which usually has had well-informed posts. One reason I stopped looking at it was that he had a vigorous policy of blocking comments, too vigorous in my view.

      1. pgl

        Brad encouraged useful and respectful comments. But his blog alas got very cluttered and lost its focus on economics.

      1. baffling

        as I have stated multiple times, I would encourage prof chinn to ban some commenters. commenting in bad faith does not improve the blog.

        1. pgl

          It is interesting that Brad DeLong and even Mark Thoma banned ubertroll Patrick R. Sullivan but this troll kept coming back with new names. Sort of like Whack a Mole.

          1. pgl

            Even John Cochrane believes that. Of course when he turned this into a claim that deregulation would magically lead to long-term growth of 4% of more, he was rightfully mocked as violating microfoundations.

  2. Anonymous

    The curious case of App oil production:

    Previously (2011-2014 blog posts, white papers, speeches etc.), James has analyzed US oil production extensively. His basic messages were (1) ‘once you’ve peaked in an area, tend not to reach that level again’ and (2) ‘US oil production increased by moving to new areas, as has world production’.

    His previous work is quite nice in assembling old production records from handbooks and the like. A real contribution (more so than the peak oil flavored analysis).

    One of the iconic past areas of oil production is the App basin. After all, Titusville, PA, is supposedly site of the first oil well.

    If we look at the recent production records, though, it actually appears that the tired old App (century oil production) is close to setting new records. On a national or world basis, this is not critical. After all, the repeaking of US oil and of TX oil is much more substantial. But on an iconic basis (e.g. how App production was featued in James’s articles), it’s telling.

    [Apologies if any errors, I did a bunch of manual transcription.]

    Looking at old peak versus new peak. It appears that both WV and OH have broken their old records.PA (plus NY) has not.

    (none) early peak recent peak
    State MMbopy year MMboy yr
    OH 23.9 1896 28.0 2019
    PA&NY 33.0 1891 7.4 2015
    WV 16.2 1900 19.1 2020

    Looking at total production, it looks like the App overall is just shy of breaking records from 100+ years ago (~54MM bpy).

    year OH NY PA WV tot
    2015 26.7 0.3 7.1 11.6 45.7
    2016 21.6 0.2 6.3 7.6 35.7
    2017 20 0.2 6.6 8.6 35.4
    2018 22.8 0.2 6.5 12.6 42.1
    2019 28 0.3 6.6 17.3 52.2
    2020 23.8 0.3 6.5 19.1 49.7


  3. Bruce Hall

    Some helpful links to put things in perspective: (7-day moving average of cases and deaths) (7-day moving average of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths) Note
    Big question: will cases convert to the same death rate as previous COVID variants?
    CDC’s Walensky cites study showing Omicron has a 91% lower risk of death than Delta
    So, it doesn’t seem appropriate to project deaths using older relationships between cases and deaths.
    No patients with omicron required mechanical ventilation. Additionally, this study found that those infected with omicron who were hospitalized had a shorter duration of hospital stay compared to those with delta. The duration of hospital stays was approximately 70% shorter, with the median of stays being 1.5 days for omicron compared to about 5 days for delta.

    Some indicators?
    • N.J reports 10 COVID deaths, 14,048 cases. Multiple indicators suggest surge is slowing.
    • Massachusetts Reports 12,864 New COVID Cases, 7-Day Positivity Rate Drops Below 20%

    1. Pgl

      Useful data for a change. The NJ link indicates being vaccinated helps. I have some bad news for you. Kelly Anne saw this and has decided to fire you.

    2. 2slugbaits

      Bruce Hall You reported data for NJ and MA. This might come as news to you, but peaking of COVID cases is regional. You should not assume that cases in South Dakota have peaked just because cases in New Jersey have peaked. The Midwest has yet to peak. What’s worrisome is those yet-to-peak states tend to have lower vaccination rates and fewer hospital beds per 100K population. And they tend to be older.

      1. pgl

        Good point. Let me take another one of Bruce’s cherry picked quotes:

        “CDC’s Walensky cites study showing Omicron has a 91% lower risk of death than Delta”

        Well yea for the vaccinated the risk of death is certainly lower.

      2. pgl

        “You should not assume that cases in South Dakota have peaked just because cases in New Jersey have peaked. The Midwest has yet to peak.”

        Bruce’s first link has a map of each state. I clicked on Texas to see how new cases are going and they are taking off like a rocket ship. I’ll leave it to you to check other states such as South Dakota.

      3. Bruce Hall


        Yes, the variant episodes tend to be sporadic and seemingly random in progression, but you can get a nice snapshot of what is happening here:

        You’d have to following it for awhile to see trends, but it’s very helpful for current conditions. It’s also useful for a quick comparison among the states to see the infection rates per 100K population. There are no hard/fast patterns among red/blue highly vaccinated/less vaccinated states. There is a “Hotspots” feature that provides map data in a table.

        1. pgl

          “There are no hard/fast patterns among red/blue highly vaccinated/less vaccinated states.”

          Gee and I thought Mr. Magoo was blind. Vaccinations do not lower deaths? Look harder. Oh wait – you are already in trouble with Kelly Anne so never mind.

        2. pgl

          Gee Bruce your latest source reports: “Mayo Clinic is tracking COVID-19 cases and forecasting hot spots. All data and predictions include the delta and omicron variants and other SARS-CoV-2 variants.”

          Cases and not hospitalizations and/or deaths. Last year you were telling us all cases do not matter but now you are trying to get us to focus only on cases? Hypocrite I guess. BTW – you cannot access the role of vaccinations by a focus only on cases. But we have been through this before. I guess you have what are called malleable opinions!

      4. Moses Herzog

        @ 2slugbaits: On the chance you are curious about low population, southern, illiterate, red states.

        53 deaths in my state yesterday. I don’t think that’s a 7-day moving average, just flat reported, but I don’t know since our state health dept keeps changing how and when they report every 3 minutes. The TV news reported that cases “shattered” the old record. One of my relatives cancelled a hospital appointment because of this “mini-wave”, so, we shall see. I suspect it will get worse here over the next 3-4 weeks, but that is only gauging it from my resident state. The national I am actually seeing something (certainly economically) between now and mid-March.

        There’s a new craze sweeping the nation called “The Walensky Method” where if you get badly ill you wait 5 days and then go back to work without testing yourself. “The Walensky Method” is based on trumpian research which says if you never test then no one has the virus. trumpian science proves It’s only after you test when virus rates rise. It seems backwards to me but Walensky’s like….. a genius….. and stuff….. so who am I to say?? Write it down and then google it “The Walensky Method”. Ok??

        Remember kids trumpian science is “continually changing” and “The Walensky Method” is specifically tailored to those people who get seriously ill and then are non-contagious 5 days later that also didn’t test at the end of the 5-day period, thereby “ensuring” they are non-contagious. Because how can you be contagious if you haven’t tested?? Why does Walensky have to keep repeating this logic??—-remember kids, the science is “continually changing”

      5. Barkley Rosser

        Now now, 2slug. Gov. Noem of South Dakota has assured us that, unlike Dr. Fauci or Joe Biden, she can single handedly stop any coronavirus from infecting anybody in her state. That is why she allowed that big motorcyle rally the last two years, pay no attention to apparent evidence of infection rising not only in SD but neighboring states as well. That is all just fake news, of course. Tsk tsk, 2slug, I thought you knew better, :-).

  4. Ivan

    The outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 variants are extremely difficult to predict with good precision. Anybody who at this time dare to declare Omicron’s final outcome in the US is just demonstrating their ignorance. The modeling of pandemic outcomes, even with huge error bars, tend to oversell itself – although it is better than nothing and much better than whatever some ignoramus pulls out of his a**. One of the biggest wildcard factors is change or lack of change in public behavior and policy. Those things are extremely important for infection control, but highly unpredictable (they seem to have little connection to scientific facts). The other problem is that the models are based on variants that soon become obsolete when another variant with substantially different epidemiological and pathologic properties takes over. So with Omicron you either build your model with robust data from a variant the is considerably different, or you use highly insufficient data from Omicron. So far data from many different countries supports the idea that Omicron is more infectious, but less dangerous (especially in fully vaccinated people). However, if a virus infect 5 times as many people but has a hospitalization rate only half as bad as the previous variant – hospitals will still be overwhelmed. At this time NYC and Washington DC appears to have peaked in case numbers. However, we cannot yet call a peak in hospitalizations or deaths. It will probably be at least 2-4 weeks before they will give us a decent guess at (if and) how much different the hospitalization and death rates are with Omicron compared to previous variants.

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