“What is all this nonsense about? People are freaking out over nothing. More people die from the flu and no one freaks out about getting the flu. I’m going to host my event anyway. The strong can attend, the weak can just stay home. I’m going to live my life as normal and I’m definitely still taking that vacation.”
These are just a few of the things I’m seeing on Facebook. There’s a lot of talk out there, a lot of confusion, a lot of people spreading false information, false cures, false conspiracy theories about coronavirus being made in a lab, or created as a political attack against Trump to bring down the economy and wipe out his voter base, or that the powers that be above him just wanted an excuse to reset the economy.
In fact, just a few weeks ago I was one of those people. I was traveling across the country going to large events of 700 people or more shaking hands, sharing food and drinks. Now I don’t even want to leave my house. That’s because of the guy I’m about to have on the show today. This will be alarming but this is important information, fact-based and will help protect you if you’re willing to face the facts.
Welcome to Friday the 13th. This morning I woke up like I was in a horror movie. My daughter is still in Prague for her semester abroad. Instead of coming home when we got the announcement that no more flights would be coming in from Europe, she and a few friends thought it would be more fun to just stay in Europe and travel while everything is on sale.
They weren’t really worried because they’re 20 and they’re not really the demographic that the coronavirus zombies are attacking. She woke me up on FaceTime at about 6:00 AM in tears because all the borders are about to get shut down. Everyone has to stay inside and she wasn’t even sure she could get home. We did book a flight but my fingers are crossed that it won’t get canceled and that I will be able to see her tomorrow. Of course, I might cover her in saran wrap and spray her with Clorox, but we’ll see. On today’s show, let’s address what’s really going on and if we should be freaking out or not, and if this is all just a hiccup or if the black swan has arrived.
Now a couple of weeks ago I started to listen to my friend and colleague Chris Martenson because he’s been doing daily YouTube shows that are based on a lot of research and data that most people do not have access to. Chris is a PhD from Duke and has an MBA from Cornell, so he’s a pretty smart guy. He spends a lot of his time just geeking out as an economic researcher and futurist mostly specializing in energy and resource depletion. Now he is obsessed with tracking the coronavirus and I’m extremely grateful for that. He’s co-founder of peakprosperity.com along with our good friend Adam Taggart.
I tell you I’m just so honored to have him here with me on The Real Wealth Show to share with you some things that you might not be hearing elsewhere that could definitely protect you and your family and your assets.
Over the last month, he’s been obsessively tracking the coronavirus, and has been helping the rest of us understand what’s really going on. Definitely go listen to his youtube videos. Just search “Chris Martenson, Peak Prosperity”, and you will be more informed than most politicians. And definitely ahead of the curve in protecting yourself, your family and your assets.
Podcast Transcript :
Kathy Fettke: Chris, welcome back to The Real Wealth Show. I’m so honored that you could take some time to be with us here today.
Chris Martenson: Well, thank you Kathy. It’s good to be here with you.
Kathy: Listen, you’ve always been on top of data and information and helping people prepare for what’s coming. You’ve been really in front of this coronavirus situation when people probably were calling you a little crazy would you say?
Chris: Yes. I feel I tend to be a little early to these things.
Kathy: It’s hard to be early because people– How do you deal with that when you know something to be true? Even just six months ago, I was warning people that the economy is not as strong as everybody thinks. They just all get so mad.
The Adjustment Reaction
Chris: I just covered this in– I’ve been doing these daily video updates pretty much every day, except I’ve taken two days off in the last 49 days now. Yesterday’s talked about this thing called an adjustment reaction. It gets to the heart of what you’re talking about which is we would like to think that we’re all rational and data comes in and we change our minds. That’s not how it works.
All of us when we’re challenged with really disruptive belief altering material go through an adjustment process. Some people go through that faster than others and some people can jump higher than others and some people can do math in their head and all that. This adjustment reaction is something that is very common. It’s very ordinary and people are really going to be going through it with this because the coronavirus impacts everything in our lives. Goodness, Kathy look at all the school closures we just got announced in the last day.
That’s going to be so disruptive for families, for the children, the mothers, the fathers everybody. It’s just a huge disruption and people didn’t want to see that coming in advance because it was just too disruptive and it was going to be a process to adjust to that new information. My work says, well you better adjust early because that gives you more time. You get a gentler glide path on that process rather than having it slam into you all at once. That’s what you find with people who are not ready to face their own adjustment is an emotion. Usually anger, sometimes they’re mad, sometimes they’re frustrated, resentful, things like that.
Kathy: There’s just so much mistrust and I keep hearing it’s just the flu and what in the world’s going on and people are stupid. I got to tell you my own personal situation. I’ve been listening to you daily. I just can’t wait until your broadcast comes out and it has been so enlightening. I do have asthma. This is important to me. I canceled all my travel, everything to stay home, but I’m not the only one home. I’ve got a very strong healthy husband, Rich. He does go out and he had a friend come over today from LA who has been walking around and I just started to sob because I’m like there’s nothing I can seem to do to protect myself. Am I overreacting?
This is Not the Flu
Chris: No, you’re really not. This is not the flu and the list of characteristics and reasons why it’s not the flu are long. Among these, we have to look at the data which says that there’s about a 15 to 20% serious complication rate on this and it hits people of all ages. Of course, the older you are, the more it tends to hit but it’s not a free pass for people who are under the age of 70. It’s still very serious and even those who get it and maybe don’t go into the ICU and they recover, data is coming out to say that they may have lifelong implications from that lung scarring and stuff.
It’s a very, very serious disease. To speak to what you’re dealing with right there, I made the decision, as soon as we have the first known case that was within a 20-mile radius of my house, which happened just about a week ago, I pulled the plug and I said, “You know what? I need my house to be my green zone. I need to know that there’s one place where I don’t have that little reptilian brain stem part wondering if every surface I’m touching is contaminated.” I can’t have that sort of stress in my life. Me and my fiancé, we made the decision. Our house is a green zone.
Flattening the Curve
What a hard decision. It means that the child that she has with another man who comes on routine regular back and forth visits and custody, that had to stop. It means that people we would normally have over, we had to pull the plug on that, those connections. It’s very hard. It’s really disruptive and it’s not easy to make these decisions. My advice is always, you have to make these decisions early because our job now is to what’s called flatten the curve.
We can’t have people swamping the medical system because too many people caught it all at once, and then very treatable conditions turn into actual mortalities because the system is swamped or– I was talking and working with our local hospital ambulance crews here. They’re just concerned because a normal ambulance call that might take eight minutes for a heart attack, might take an hour once they get swamped.
That makes all the difference, so our job is to not get it. It’s a really important job not just for ourselves personally, but as community members, our job is to stop the spread of this thing. The best way to do that, the only certain way to do that is with social distancing and that means a lot of things.
The Need for Social Distancing
Kathy: Again, I had to call a friend yesterday and say, “Why are you putting on a live event?” California has already passed a– I don’t know if it’s a law but is asking people to not hold events and if you do stay six feet apart, which is impossible. It’s just the message is not getting out there which is why I’m doing this. I’m not trying to freak people out.
From listening to you and others who really understand what’s going on. If we just stay home, which is actually pretty awesome, there’s a lot of things. There are books you maybe haven’t read and gardening you haven’t done and that guitar is dusty. There’s so many wonderful things to do at home. We can work from home a lot of us. I don’t know why it’s so difficult.
Our grandparents had to go to war and we’re just being asked to sit on the couch. Somebody has said that earlier, so I don’t understand the resistance.
Chris: I don’t either but it’s really routines, people like our routines. We know that this is going to be very, very disruptive in terms of the economic earnings for a lot of people who can’t work from home. I certainly get it. This is a time though where I think we have to say look, the public health emergency is so large that we have to set aside all these other considerations. We will work together as a nation as a community to figure out how to get past that and it’s going to be hard. We can get past it, but it’s such a different world if we accidentally overburden our medical system and we get into what we’re seeing now is happening in Italy.
They are just about today or tomorrow, it looks like their entire hospital system is going to be past capacity and then they have to make really, really hard decisions that all of us are thankful we never have to make in our lives but somebody has to make them. Spain just put an emergency quarantine around the entire Madrid area. It’s just these things are happening and we can see it happened in China. It’s happening in Europe right now. I think still in the United States people are thinking it can’t happen here, but it can and it probably will.
As we’ve seen, this virus I call it jokingly the honey badger virus because I have to make some light of it. It’s relentless, it’s a terrible foe, you don’t want to go up against it, and it will escape almost any enclosure you put it in. Who has it gotten to lately? Well, the First Lady of Canada, the prime minister’s wife. It’s gotten to Tom Hanks. It’s taken out about 15% of Iran’s leadership at this point in time. It’s just spreading really far and fast and it doesn’t care how rich you are, it doesn’t care where you are in the social structure, what kind of politician you are, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have any data yet to suggest that we’re going to have any different of experience with it in the United States. We’re just about 10 to 14 days behind Italy’s experience on the charts.
Critical Test Kit Shortage
Kathy: My biggest concern again, from hearing the things you’ve been saying is, we don’t have the test kits, so we don’t know. When we see data about the U.S., it’s not real data. We just don’t know, we haven’t been testing.
Chris: Yes, I can go further than that. I can tell you that there are many, many, more cases than reported in the United States. Because of that, it’s completely bordering on criminal failure to test. The way you treat something like this is not that hard. It’s hard to pull off but the concept isn’t hard. First thing, you stop new cases from coming in. We should have stopped travel back in January 22nd or 23rd, somewhere around there. Just stopped it. I know it would have been hard, people would have been disappointed, but that’s what we would have to have done.
Then you have to test, test, test and when you find somebody who’s got it, you have to do very aggressive what’s called contact tracing. If I had it and I was on a bus, they got to go find everybody who was on that bus and maybe quarantine all of them. Let me cut to the other side of this. Hong Kong. Hong Kong is right on the border of China. What did they do? First thing they found out within the next day, they closed all their borders with China. That’s hard. That’s their main trade partner and it’s just very disruptive, but they did it. Then they immediately went into aggressive social distancing.
Hong Kong Knew What to Do
The people all knew what to do. They had face masks for everybody. They’re decontaminating surfaces twice a day. There’s squads of people out there, wiping down everything with Clorox bleach, handrails, banisters. Then they did the super-aggressive contact tracing. As a result, not only do they have practically no cases of Covid-19, but they also completely destroyed this year’s flu season over a month early, a fraction of the cases they would normally have which proves that this is how you take care of a virus. You do things like that. It begins with you and I and people listening, good hygiene, hand-washing, six feet apart as you mentioned, not going to big gatherings, being really conscious about not touching your face.
These are hard new habits to take in. I think we lost some time on that story in the United States. Very slow response from the government. We’ll get there. In the meantime, because of that lost time I think people have to be prepared for the idea that we’re going to have an experience that looks a lot like Europe, just a couple weeks behind.
Kathy: Maybe less. My friend from LA came into our house today. He’s said he didn’t touch anything. I don’t know. Is there a way to just clean the energy? Do I have to worry about that or how do I clean my house?
Chris: Well, first off, if anybody’s coughing, they don’t come in your house. If they’re there and you have any concerns at all, my favorite thing to do is a half-cup of bleach in a gallon of water, and you want to just wipe surfaces down. This is the tricky part. It’s the drying of that solution on the surface. If you wipe it you don’t want to wipe it back to dry. You just wipe it on there and you let it dry. It’s about a minute to two minutes and it’s a very, very powerful disinfectant. You can spray with Lysol too if that feels easier somehow, but I just have bleach and water, works great.
Kathy: I need to go get some bleach. Don’t drink it. Don’t spray yourself.
There’s a video of a father spraying his kid with Lysol, not recommended, I’m imagining.
Chris: No, I bet the internet’s full of stuff you shouldn’t do.
Kathy: Another myth is people are like, “I’m healthy. I’m not going to get it.” Is that true?
Chris: Well, everybody’s going to get it at some point. This going to become a circulating thing, just like the seasonal cold. The question is, when does everybody get it? I got a very high contagious level. By the way, some people will get it and never even know it. They’ll be that far down on the symptomatic scale. Other people will get it and maybe notice a little something.
Boosting Your Immune System
Of course, it’s a bell curve of experiences. I think most people are going to get it. It’s going to feel like a little heavier than usual flu. For the people who are on the far end of that bell curve, of course, it moves into the lungs, and it creates what’s called interstitial bilateral pneumonia. The spaces between all the cells really fill up with with fluids. That’s really our bodies fighting themselves. It’s an aggressive immune response as much as it is the virus doing damage itself. For everybody, I would recommend, of course, you want to be as healthy as possible, get as much sleep as you can. Vitamin C and vitamin D3 both seem to be important. There’s a lot of data around that right now. I also have data around elderberry syrup. I use that very religiously myself.
I don’t know if it works on this one, but it works on every other virus it’s come up against in my personal life. Again, not medical advice, I’m just telling you what I do. These are all sort of immune boosting, supporting things people can do, they could make a big difference. If I, or when I get it, I got to be honest about this, I want to be on the easy side of that scale.
Kathy: Just keep your immune system up, not someone like me with asthma. Am I basically screwed? [laughs]. Can I keep my immune system up or–?
Chris: Well, I actually have two strategies. The first is, I don’t want to get it at all. I’m going to give myself enough time here to really aggressively isolate and peel, just keep my distance as much as possible because there’s a chance somewhere out there that there is a vaccine coming. I don’t have a lot of hope for that upfront because this is very closely related to SARS, which was a virus that came around in 2003. A lot of effort was put into trying to create a vaccine for that and none managed to succeed. Now, technology has moved along. We have a lot of new approaches. There are all sorts of different vaccine technologies are trying things called RNA vaccines, which I don’t know a lot about but as I’ve been reading about them like, “Well, that’s pretty promising.”
DNA vaccines beyond the ones we’re familiar with are called attenuated viruses. Usually they grow the virus and weaken it significantly so it can’t really do its thing and then they put it back in you. Then your body sees it and says, “Oh,” and makes antibodies and now you’re immune. We don’t have a lot of data yet to know if that’s coming but a strategy would be to say, “On the first pass, we might think somewhere between 40% to 60% of the people in the world might get it on the first year. I plan to be on the percentage that doesn’t get in that first year. I think everybody with a, what’s called a comorbidity out there, anybody with heart disease, diabetes is a big one that’s very poorly indicated for this thing, cancer, things like that.
I haven’t heard about asthma per se, but I would, of course, it’s a respiratory illness. I would think that might be on the list, but I haven’t seen that listed directly yet.
Protecting Your Personal Wealth
Kathy: All right. Stay healthy, exercise, eat well, take your vitamins, elderberry, I hadn’t heard that. Very good. Economically we know this is taking a big hit. Is there any safe place for money today?
Chris: Well, I’ve been in cash for a while myself and hiding out in gold for a while. That’s simply because I think this is going to create such extraordinary economic damage. I don’t really know where to hide at this point in time. Such as it is, I’ve been thinking that I would want to be in cash and also real estate. I’m closing on a property in two weeks here.
Kathy: What kind of real estate? Rental stuff?
Chris: Well, sort of. It’s an interesting thing. Kathy, I just bought a brand new spread here in Chester, Massachusetts. It’s a very nice place, really. Across the street, there was this old lodge that had been lived in residentially by a couple for 50 years, but it used to be this grand lodge. It’s got 13 bedrooms and bathrooms. It’s just gorgeous and beautiful and all these things.
Myself and a team of investors and everything I learned from the real estate radio guys on the cruises, I put together a syndication, found some investors and so we’re going in on creating a– It’s going to be an event center. It’ll hold weddings and people will be able to rent rooms and things like that. More than that, we’re also going to have the regenerative farming right nearby — rowing elderberries and have pecans and lots of trails. Collectively, the two propertgies will have 270 acres and thousands of feet of screen frontage. It’s very beautiful. A place for people to come and reconnect and regenerate and things like that.
Kathy: I love it. You’re not afraid of having cash in the banks?
Chris: It’s funny you should mention that. I was just at the bank this morning. I did take some cash out of the bank, like physical cash just in case.
Kathy: Put it in the safe.
Chris: There’s always a chance that, what we’re seeing now in Italy and in Spain, they’re starting to close lots and lots of facilities. If they close banks as one of those places saying, “We can’t have places where people might bump into each other if it gets to that stage.” Well, just two days ago my credit card was fraudulent. It happens. I got the call that, “We’ve deactivated your card.” I had to go in. What if the bank was closed and my card was deactivated? Now what?
Kathy: Got to have some cash.
Chris: Yes, that was my personal wake up call to save maybe a little cash just in case.
Kathy: Excellent. All right. Well, Chris, I can’t thank you enough for being here. I know you’re just in high demand. I’ll make sure that our audience knows how to reach you and watch these videos. Thank you so much for being here today.
Chris: You’re welcome. It’s been my pleasure.