Tasteless whisky, flooded streets

An old buddy of mine in Aberdeen was formally diagnosed with the WuFlu yesterday.

He’s the only person I know to have actually tested positive, and not just exhibited symptoms which led them to conclude they had it.

While several friends and acquaintances here in London say they’ve had it, few have been formally tested. One, who was certain that he’d had it, was tested and came back negative. Considering the hysteria that arose at the onset of the virus, I imagine there’s plenty of placebo symptoms going around.

My old schoolmate back home is a bartender, and likely caught the virus while on the job at a whisky joint. There was a sudden cluster of cases at a pub called The Hawthorn (different establishment) around the time he started having symptoms – it was that spike in cases that led to the city being locked down.

My buddy is doing fine – luckily for him, his ailments are limited to the inability to smell or taste anything. Unluckily for him, this has poured cold water on his passion for whisky, which he hopes to open a distillery with one day. He reports that Laphroaig now tastes like “slightly oily water”.

Lockdown in my hometown has brought on some more ominous developments. The local library where I spent much of my youth will facilitate online click & collect, but with a twist: you don’t get to pick what books you get, the librarians decide for you. Hopefully this is a custom that won’t catch on, second lockdown or not…

Yesterday I hosted a poll on this letter, wanting to know if you expect we’ll see second UK-wide lockdown this year. My good friend and colleague Nickolai Hubble believes the chances are high enough – and the fallout grave enough – that all investors should make special preparations in the event that it occurs.

Here’s that poll again if you haven’t read yesterday’s note – just click whether you agree or disagree with the statement:

Do you think we’ll have experienced another UK-wide lockdown before the end of the year?

 
Personally, I’m sceptical that the government will enforce another UK-wide lockdown like we had in March. It’s hard to get re-elected if the electorate are worse off since they voted you in – and the longer lockdown lasts, the longer you cripple the economy.

There’s the added motivation of the government to save face, and push the economy hard back into gear now that the second quarter GDP stats are out, and our WuFlu recession has been scored as the worst in the G7.

You can get re-elected on the back of lower living standards if you create and instil enough fear of the virus of course. But I think a lot of folks are fed up with the whole thing – they just wanna get back to “normal”, and not carry on with this whole “new normal” malarkey.

In my neck of the woods in London, the apathy is palpable. Plenty of folks aren’t wearing masks in stores (both customers and staff) and nobody minds squeezing close past others.

I took an Uber Boat (effectively a bus on the Thames) to get to Greenwich over the weekend for a more scenic journey. Unlike other forms of public transport in London, food and alcohol is served on board these “clippers”, and at the stern of there’s no roof so you can catch some sunlight. Packed in there and jostling for space – several fellas not bothering with a shirt – were a large group of folks drinking Foster’s and rosé. As you might imagine, masks were deemed surplus to requirements.

But as anybody who isn’t from London knows, what happens in London is not a reliable indicator for what’s happening in the rest of the UK. I could be completely wrong about the “vibe” regarding the WuFlu; both the political will and public support to back further restrictions on our lives may in fact not only exist, but be imminent. And that’s why one must be prepared.

But I’ll leave you today on a lighter note. It’s a video filmed yesterday morning in Aberdeen that I was sent by a friend. Parts of the city were flooded after torrential rain on Tuesday night, which left parks, cars, and several stretches of road submerged.

A Citroen driver approaches a flooded area…

… sees occupied cars floating helplessly on the water before them…

… and thinks to themselves…

“That can’t happen to me.”

Back tomorrow,

Boaz Shoshan
Editor, Capital & Conflict

PS Back in 2017, it was popular amongst the chattering classes to opine that, “Bitcoin is bad/uselesss, but blockchain technology has a future.” Three years on, and a major Nasdaq-listed company is buying bitcoin by the boatload – find out more in this issue of Exponential Investor.

Category: Market updates

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