Monday, April 6, 2020

SPX Update: No Material Change

For once, there's not much to add!  From a near-term perspective, I laid out the 2445-55 target back on Wednesday, and that was captured.  I reiterated why 2447 (the low) was a good inflection, and that has held, leading to an opening rally today.  Bears do have one more near-term option, shown below as the alternate count in black:

Assuming 2641 is claimed, the preferred count will be confirmed -- but I suspect bears will show up with more conviction shortly thereafter.  (THAT much is speculation at this point, though, so bears may want to await an impulsive turn, in case the fifth wave extends or similar.)  The above thoughts are part of what led me to show the chart below as my "best guess" projection back on Wednesday.  So far, so good, but don't get too married to this:

In conclusion, the first target zone has done its job as an inflection, but the wave COULD still stretch lower if it so chooses.  The zone near today's open (plus a bit) will likely be the inflection for the alternate count shown on the first chart.  Beyond that, no change from the past few updates.  Trade safe.

Friday, April 3, 2020

SPX, COMPQ: Why I Haven't Joined the LONG-TERM Bear Camp Just Yet

The recent crash caught many people by surprise.  It did not catch us by surprise because the market (under Elliott Wave Theory) is something akin to a jigsaw puzzle, where once you have certain pieces of the puzzle in place, you can take a reasonable guess as to what the next piece might look like.

Back in January of 2019, I spotted a few pieces that didn't quite fit together as they should if the 2018 decline was to be counted as complete... which caused me to hypothesize what that might mean for the future (below, from January 7, 2019).

It took a little longer to play out (I often compress the time aspect of my projections, in order to work with available chart space), but it did play out very closely in terms of market behavior.

My recollection of the "unresolved" 2018 low is, in fact, the reason I immediately jumped from the smallish correction we were expecting, all the way to the extreme crash count (when all that had happened at THAT point was the first little wave off the all-time high exceeded my expectations in terms of velocity).

The decline was actually better-behaved in SPX and ran right to the Red C/4 on the chart -- and bounced (for 400+ points so far).

So now, here we are, with all initial downside targets captured.  Many people are insisting this is the beginning of a new, many-year-long bear market, and while I can completely understand WHY they believe that, I'm still not sold 100% on that belief.

Readers will recall that, about a month ago, before the crash had really gotten rolling, I noted that "C-wave" was sometimes said to stand for "Crash wave." C-waves are third waves, and bring all the power of a third wave to the table.  First or A waves are generally weak, and thus *rarely* function as crash waves.  Therefore, the strength of recent record-setting crash certainly argues for it indeed being a C-wave, and not a first or A wave.

I allow for the possibility that things will get worse, though, before they get better.  Because what I do remain undecided on is whether ALL OF C of 4 is complete.  I'm waiting to see JUST a little more out of the current wave structure before making that call (I'm sort of leaning toward ALL OF 4 being complete, but still not ready to commit yet).

Either way, I am pretty firmly in the camp that this is NOT going to be a 5-10 year bear market, and I think the chart below may help reveal exactly why I'm not sold on this being "the big one" JUST yet:

So, from a big picture standpoint, COMPQ most likely still needs a large fifth wave rally to pair with Blue Wave 1.  Sure, it's always possible that last little pop to all-time-highs was a deeply-compressed (5) -- hence the (ALL OF) alt. (5) label -- but that seems less likely.

Again, what we CAN see on the chart above is that Blue 4 could certainly run lower without creating any problems.  So the question remains whether the recent swing low marks ALL OF 4 or not.

(I've previously written about some of the fundamental triggers that could lead to new all-time highs, in a piece titled: Devil's Advocate.)

Switching gears from the very long-term to the near-term...

Near-term, SPX declined right into my first target zone from Wednesday's update, and has been bouncing since.  In fact, it's followed the blue projection lines as I had them drawn almost to a T in terms of price at the last three turns (I slid the lines over to the right a little for comparison sake).

Now, that said, there's a pattern in the futures market that has been bothering me since yesterday, so I'm not certain that ALL OF C (below) is complete -- so if 2447 breaks, we should be alert to the lower target zones.

The chart below has been quite valuable for the past few weeks, and I believe it still holds value:

In conclusion, SPX captured its first near-term target zone, and has been bouncing ever since -- so, if nothing else, the market is acknowledging that zone as an inflection.  Whether that will hold remains to be seen, and there is at least a possibility it will head toward the lower targets, so bulls aren't out of the woods just yet.  Beyond that, no change from last update, so please reread if needed.  Trade safe.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

SPX, NYA: Bull Option

Readers have no idea how much I wrestle with posting certain counts.  No idea.  My worst fear as an analyst is never about "me personally" being wrong.  Who cares if I'm wrong sometimes; that's the way of the world.  And my calls, especially my big calls (such as for the crash recently) hit at a pretty high percentage, so I figure I should allow myself a whiff here and there.

No, I wrestle with posting them not because I worry about being wrong, but because I don't want to steer anyone else wrong.  Since day one, that has been my biggest fear -- and now, after many years, I've realized that it just never goes away.

So I want to stress today that yesterday was a pretty big inflection zone (as we've been discussing recently), thus if my preferred read is WRONG, the market is likely headed to new lows from here.  (It didn't help that I found more ambiguity than I had hoped in the micro counts.)

With that caveat out of the way, let's look at the charts.  First up, my preferred count is that yesterday's high was the B-wave of an expanded flat.  Expanded flats are corrective patterns where the market makes a new high (or new low, if pointed the other way) in wave B... it then declines in an impulsive C-wave, which ends the correction.  From there, it typically rallies back up to break the B-wave high.  The impulsive C-wave is designed to throw EVERYONE off the market's scent.  C-waves are strong moves, and the impulse structure causes people to believe that it's the first leg of a new wave down, when in reality, it's the LAST leg.

This makes them very tricky.  This is, in fact, a smaller fractal of the move that I believe has occurred off he all-time high (B-wave high, strong C-wave crash wave).

The pattern above is one I spotted forming in real-time, and I discussed it in detail on the forum.  My first read is USUALLY the right one, so despite finding some gray evidence tonight, I'm holding to the above read for now.  Bigger picture, I suspect it MIGHT play out something along these lines (below) -- but this is highly speculative this early in the game and subject to change as more waves develop, so take with a grain of salt:

Also, don't fail to notice that an IMPORTANT resistance zone was tagged.  Today's open will represent a rejection at that zone.

Next up, let's look a little harder at what else bears have going for them.  First off, we see that SPX finally tagged the upper boundary of the blue channel, which I've been anticipating for a while:

Finally, here's the market that puts at least a little doubt into the idea that yesterday's high was a b-wave, and thus adds some ambiguity into the mix:

In conclusion, my lean is that yesterday's high was the B-wave high of an expanded flat correction, and thus that the market will rally back up to exceed that high, after wave C-down completes.  But it's not quite a "sure thing," so take appropriate precautions.  Bigger picture, the zone around yesterday's high continues to represent an inflection, as discussed previously.  Trade safe.

Monday, March 30, 2020

SPX, COMPQ, NYA: To Simplify Things as Much as Possible, Here Are the Next Zones to Watch

Last update discussed that the market had reached an important upside inflection zone, and Friday simply remained stalled at that zone, giving me very little to talk about.  In the event bulls can generate a rally here, the upside inflection zone stretches a bit higher, as shown by the blue line on SPX:

And the black line on NYA:

COMPQ unchanged:

And from the bull perspective, bulls are still holding the first important long-term uptrend line:

In conclusion, to simplify things as much as humanly possible in a complex time, the first step for bulls is to reclaim (and hold) the zones discussed in the first three charts -- bears, of course, want to hold those zones.  The first step for bears is to claim (and hold) the zone discussed in the final chart.  Until either of those things occur, the market is in something of a broad no-man's-land.  Trade safe.

Friday, March 27, 2020

COMPQ and SPX: Important Inflection Zone

Last update noted that all downside targets had been captured, and the market has rallied since.  I spent literally all night staring at charts, and I have to say, the recent swing low in SPX may be the most difficult pattern (to interpret) that I've EVER seen, in more than 20 years of charting.

Although I spent all night charting, I didn't get much done that I want to publish publicly, and the only definitive conclusion I came to was that this is an upside inflection zone (which we actually knew yesterday and discussed at length in the forums) as best illustrated in COMPQ:

It would be normal for the market to react to such a strong inflection with at least a near-term sell off.  From there, we'll find out if bulls have what it takes to turn that first rally leg into 1/A up and then bounce higher in 3/C up, or if that was "all she wrote" for the bounce.

But I found this next bit of information interesting.  This comes from SentimenTrader.  I make no claims to the veracity of the data, and draw no conclusions from this data, but it is interesting to know:

Finally, near-term, SPX appears due at least a correction, if not more:

In conclusion, we are at a big-picture inflection point.  Many markets reached important long-term resistance zones yesterday.  Bulls must reclaim those zones to feel confident in a meaningful bottom.  The normal reaction of the market to such zones is to sell off... so we'll see if bulls can find support on the way down, or if that was the end of a larger Wave 4 bounce (meaning new lows on the horizon).  We'll discuss that in more detail in the next update if it's appropriate to do so.  Incidentally, if bulls can claim and hold the inflection zone TODAY, then that would be a good sign for them.  Trade safe.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

SPX, INDU, DAX: All Downside Targets Captured

Last update suggested lower prices were probably still needed, as has basically every update since the all-time-high... and each time, lower prices were reached.  1100 SPX points of profit is a heckuva few weeks!  Most would consider that to be a good few years.  Of course, it's never enough, and now everyone wants to know if the bottom is in.

Many are confidently proclaiming it is (how many of those folks caught the decline, I wonder?).  Many others are confidently proclaiming this is a bear market bounce (how many of THOSE folks caught the decline, I also wonder?).

Me?  Well, I'm confidently proclaiming that it's just not clear.  But I will say this:  For the first time since the crash began, there are at least enough waves that the bottom COULD be in.  Is it?  Don't know.  The easy money is over, at least for the moment.

But, again to reiterate:  It is at least POSSIBLE, for the first time (in my view), that the bottom is in.  So that's more hope than bulls have had in a while.

Let's look at some charts.  SPX may be the best intermediate chart if we want to simplify things as much as we can:

The SPX near-term chart has performed well:

Stockcharts was playing games with me again and refused to save my annotations (again), so I had to take a screenshot... but INDU ran to its first downside extension target, then bounced up to its first upside target, leaving it in a sort of near-term no-man's land for the moment:

Finally, bulls NEED to maintain a breakout in DAX to get things started.  So far they've only rallied back to the downtrend line:

In conclusion, for the first time since the crash began, it is at least POSSIBLE for the wave to be complete.  The low is a mess, though, so I can't say for certain that it actually is complete, because we could be dealing with a micro b-wave low.  I simply need to see a little more out of this current move to be more confident in either direction -- which (and I know it's hard to believe after hitting a big call like we just did) is sometimes just how the market is.  It's not predictable every second of every day, so we'll take things cautiously for the moment.  But again, bulls do at least have a chance here, for the first time in a long time.  Trade safe.

Monday, March 23, 2020

SPX and INDU: Devil's Advocate

[NOTE:  If you recently registered for the forum and completed all the steps, please be aware that we have had a TON of new sign-ups lately, so I am a bit behind on getting new accounts approved.  Thanks for your patience!]

About two years ago, I penned a piece titled:  The Acrobats: Why the Central-Bank-Driven "Prosperity" MUST Eventually End.  In that piece I wrote that we were not expecting the bull market to end anytime soon and that we should (quote): "partake of the punchbowl for as long as the party is still going."

But my piece was intended as a response to those who had come to believe the Fed was invincible, and that the Fed could thus prevent all future bear markets.  So I also listed two reasons why the bull market would, inevitably, eventually end.

I want to reprint the second portion of that response here today:

Reason number two is that everything moves in cycles of endless change.  You've heard me say this before, but consider this:  Change, in a very real sense, is exactly what creates our perception of time. Without change, time effectively ceases to exist.

Imagine if all movement in the Universe, down to the subatomic level, were to completely stop right where it is at this exact moment.  If that were to happen, then the Universe would be "frozen in time."  Time itself would cease to exist.  Stopping change from occurring would stop time from advancing.

Time is fundamental to the nature of reality.  Change is fundamental to the nature of time.  So change itself is likewise fundamental to the very nature of reality.

The Central Banks may appear all-powerful, but they are not capable of altering the nature of reality.

So, even if they could cheat the system as often as they wanted (which, as we just established, they can't), then eventually the fundamental nature of reality would impinge upon the dream.  Something would happen that alters the playing field.  It's unavoidable.

"Black swan events" (unexpected high-impact improbable events) are really a misnomer, in the sense that, while each improbable event may in itself be unique as a standalone, such events are not rare as a collective.  So an individual "black swan" may be rare, but flocks of black swans are not.  They are instead all-but-guaranteed types of events that come about (in a seemingly-cyclical fashion) because time itself is -- fundamentally -- constant change.  

And if things are going smoothly, then change can only be in the opposite direction. 

The moment the sun reaches its zenith, it begins to set.  There's nowhere else for it to go, unless we altered the nature of time itself and could somehow freeze everything, to stop change from occurring.  But not even Janet Yellen's impenetrable hair helmet can halt the progression of time.

So the Central Banks hope this will die the way they "want it" to, but they do know it has to die eventually, to preserve faith in the system.  Obviously, they hope it will not be a Black Swan Event that ends this round, because they lose all control in that situation.  But for reasons just discussed, that is a very real possibility.

One way or the other, it does eventually end.

As I said, it may not be tomorrow, and may or may not be "soon," so I'm not saying we should start worrying obsessively and blindly shorting every rally.  In fact, I would strongly suggest you do not do that.  Let's partake of the punchbowl for as long as the party is still going.  When the time comes for it to end, the signals will be there.

As I said, I wrote this partially because I wanted to provide at least a bit of "early" education for the new generation of investors.

And I did want to put to rest the myth that this "new prosperity" could go on "forever."  It cannot go on forever, because the fundamental nature of reality forbids it.  Trade safe.

So, needless to say, Coronavirus has proven all this out and clearly falls into the category of : "eventually the fundamental nature of reality would impinge upon the dream.  Something would happen to alter the playing field."

Coronavirus has torn asunder the best laid plans of mice and men.

But the story doesn't end there.

I think that part of what makes a successful speculator is the ability to find balance.  The nature of the herd is to overreact in BOTH directions.  The nature of the successful speculator must thus be the opposite:

To seek reasons for caution when others are fearless and -- on the flip side -- to seek reasons for hope when others are hopeless.

Now, this doesn't mean that as soon as everyone is hopeless, you should blindly become hopeful (nor vice-versa), because sometimes the herd is spooked by a very real threat.  It simply means that you don't allow the herd to drag you into group-think, and you thus calmly attempt to continue to assess the CHANGING situation.

Because, just as I wrote in The Acrobats:  "The moment the sun reaches its zenith, it begins to set," the reverse is likewise true:  Once the sun reaches its nadir, it begins to move on toward morning.

The fundamental nature of reality means that change comes in both directions.

In reality, as I said initially, change is the constant.  "For the better" or "for the worse" is merely a judgment that we humans apply to those changes.

So the bottom line I'm trying to get at is this:  The majority of people react to their own thoughts as if they were "real," the way, say, a tree or a rock is real.  They have a thought, and then they simply accept that thought as true.  But thoughts are not real.  And they are often not true.  So, to be ahead of the herd, we must be our own harshest skeptics.  We cannot afford to be overwhelmed with "the emotion of the moment" by taking even our own thoughts at face value, but must instead seek to chip away at our own ideas -- to find out if those ideas are solid, if they are merely possible, or if they are completely baseless.

We turned bearish near the high -- then began looking for a broad market crash almost immediately thereafter, while most people were still thinking "short-lived correction."  NOW, however, many people have begun thinking this will never end.  And surely that means we should at least start looking for hope.

Consider this case:

What if a cure or vaccine is announced directly?  If that occurs, then the economy will not only return to normal, but it will return to normal along with trillions of dollars in Fed money to fuel a blistering rally.

So the economy will return to "normal," but on steroids.

And one positive we can probably anticipate, at least for the U.S. economy, is a repatriation of some of our production and supply chains.  We are learning the hard way that globalization is another system that is best suited for "days of wine and roses" and not necessarily for the hard times (it's interesting that there has been a "global" push toward populism ongoing for the past 3-5 years, and this virus seems, in some ways, to be underscoring that push -- but that's outside the realm of this particular discussion).

Anyway, this, along with the charts, is one reason I haven't QUITE become convinced yet that we're entering a long-term (being defined as several years or beyond) bear market.  Sure, it's absolutely possible that we are.  To consider the worst case:  Perhaps this drags on and on with no vaccine/cure, and the economy continues in gridlock, and the Fed becomes impotent, and thousands of companies go bankrupt, and we never fully recover.  And/or perhaps the stress causes a critical systemic failure.  Those are both very real possibilities.

But at present, I'm still slightly more inclined to think "months" instead of years ("months" at least in terms of finding the bottom, which is where the bear technically ends -- it will of course take some time to recover all the losses).

As noted, I do, of course, keep an open mind to the other possibility -- I mean, after all, my long-term counts going back to 5 years ago (and beyond) had the price zone near the recent all-time-high, and the 2019-20 time frame, as an inflection zone for the long-term end of a Cycle/Supercycle degree rally.  So maybe the recent high was it, and this is actually "the big one."  I can't stress enough that I'm not ruling that out.

But what I want to stress even more is that my approach right now is to "trade what I see" and not get too hung up on the long-term here.  After all, we can't trade a move that's 3 years distant, we can only trade what's right in front of us.  

We were bullish just before the all-time high, then we caught the top, AND we caught the crash, and we have remained on a bearish footing as the market has continued to make new lows.  As long as it keeps pointing lower, we'll keep riding it lower.  Hopefully when we finally get that first impulsive rally, we'll likewise turn around and catch a good chunk of the ride back up.

I'm glad that I recognized the big pending crash wave ahead of time, to give long-term investors a chance to get out well before the massive carnage ensued, but in the end, being on the right side of the market in real-time is really all that matters.


I began this piece on Sunday, with futures limit down, then took a nap, then came back and have been working on it (and the charts) for the past couple hours... but just now, the Fed announced that it would buy unlimited "Trashuries" and Mortgage Securities.  So if you're looking to sell either, call the Fed and tell 'em Charlie sent ya'.  (Do NOT mention my name!  I will disavow.  "DISAVOW!")

On a more serious note:  Is this Fed action the "hope" we were just discussing?  Perhaps, but probably not.  The thing to keep in mind is that we can't compare Coronavirus with the 2008 Financial Crisis (which is what many people are trying to do).  In 2008, the system WAS the primary crisis and it could thus be addressed and remedied directly by the Fed.  The Fed was on the same plane as the 2008 crisis.

The Fed is not on the same plane as the current problem.

Coronavirus represents a fundamental economic issue which is CAUSING a financial problem.  This puts the Fed one step removed from the actual crisis, so it may not be cured with simple Fed action.

Anyway, I'm running out of time before the open, so let's look at some charts.  Near-term first -- and again, while the Fed move seems bullish, let's not put the cart before the horse.  Let the charts, not the news, lead the way:

Bigger picture, this decline could continue to run if it wants -- it has plenty of room before the KO level:

Finally, SPX has now resolved its pattern satisfactorily, but that doesn't mean it has to end here:

In conclusion, I like to be early, so people can absorb what I'm saying (plus, that's the whole point).  I fully expect I am a bit early to be talking about hope, but we should start preparing now.  If any game-changers arrive to stop the virus, then we'll have an economy under resumption AND we'll have gobs of Fed money backstopping everything.  That said, again, since Coronavirus represents a fundamental problem that the Fed can't cure, bulls would -- perhaps for the first time in many decades -- be wise to take Fed-only announcements with a grain of salt. Trade safe.

Friday, March 20, 2020

(Repost) Sunday Thoughts: Coronavirus is NOT America's Biggest Problem

NOTE:  Some readers suggested I repost this piece from last weekend for folks who may have missed it the first time around, so, "by popular demand," here it is again:

We have a bad situation in America.  No, I'm not talking about Coronavirus per se, I'm talking about the problem that many of us have known about for a while... a problem that Coronavirus has simply laid bare:

I'm talking about, in part, the complete breakdown of trust among different societal factions.  This isn't a result of Coronavirus, it's a problem that Coronavirus is simply exposing more plainly, for all to see.

I've been noticing it more and more, because some people with whom I often agree are suddenly giving advice that I very much disagree with -- and I know exactly WHY they're doing it (and I understand it).

But let's start with what I DO agree with:  Panic is never the correct response to anything.  Emotion clouds judgment.  Panic is a strong emotion, and as such leads to stupid decisions.

It is to your benefit to avoid panic in any stressful situation.

And I'm not speaking theoretically here.  I've lived through my share of serious personal crises, as anyone who's read my sidebar piece (titled: Some of Pretzel's Unique Real-Life Experiences) knows.  I've been mortally wounded and have faced the prospect of my own death.  I've watched loved ones die in front of my eyes.  I've been through other dire situations not discussed in that piece.

I haven't led "an easy life" by any means; I have been pushed to the edge by forces beyond my control, and I have been forced to stare into the abyss, against my will, for long, unbroken moments.

As a result, I like to believe I have a solid sense of perspective on life itself.

So yes, I agree that panic is worse than useless; it is a counterproductive emotion.  Even if I knew for a fact that the Earth was going to collide with the Sun tomorrow, I still would NOT panic.  I would set about trying to enjoy the little time we have left.  I don't do "panic."  Period.

(While writing this, I'm reminded of an old Buddhist parable my father was fond of:  The Monk and the Strawberry -- about living in the present moment and remembering to enjoy it and be thankful, even in the most dire circumstances.)

Anyway, I feel all this is important to mention, because I've seen some people conflating reasonable caution with "panic," and thus belittling anyone who advocates any degree of caution.  But these are not the same thing.

Let me give an analog that is similar, yet an order removed, for clarity:  I live in Hawaii, and we've had our share of "false alarm" tsunami warnings over the years.  In the past 10 years, I can think of at least three.  Each time, the authorities warned us of a potentially-devastating tsunami, due to strike within hours.

Yet each time, basically nothing happened.

Does that mean that nothing will EVER happen?  Of course not.  Tsunamis are real things, and they do SOMETIMES happen.  Therefore, while I never panic over tsunami warnings, I do consult a brief checklist to make sure our supply of canned goods and water is sufficient, and so forth.

Yet I also recognize that the more false alarms there are, the more dangerous the situation becomes.  Not externally, but internally:  Human nature leads us to become increasingly complacent with each additional false alarm.  ("Oh, great, another tsunami warning.  Yeah right!")

The first time you hear a tsunami warning, you are motivated to take action out of fear.

Then nothing happens... so the second time you hear a tsunami warning, you are motivated to take action out of prudence.

Then nothing happens AGAIN... so the third time you hear a tsunami warning, the only thing that keeps you action-oriented is discipline.

To assume every warning is going to end in a false alarm is magical thinking.  Tsunamis exist, therefore the reality is that, EVENTUALLY, one will actually hit -- no matter how many false alarms we have to endure beforehand.

We thus have to treat each tsunami warning THE SAME in terms of taking prudent action, even though the majority of those warnings will be false.

In the absence of fear to motivate us, we must take action purely out of discipline.

It's not unlike trading, in this regard.

We likewise know from history that pandemics are real and -- just like our tsunamis here in Hawaii -- we must likewise realize that one will eventually hit.

To pretend nothing will ever happen is no different than panicking.  They are flip sides of the same "extreme" coin.  The response of "panic" and the response of "complete denial" are, for all practical intents and purposes, THE SAME RESPONSE.

One must find the middle path, where one takes reasonable precautions, yet one does not give into the herd impulse to stampede.

I am laying this all out because many are assuming that COVID-19 is simply "media hype" or similar.  And I can't say I blame them, because the media has brought this upon themselves.

When our volcano here in Hawaii erupted a couple years ago, the national media got MOST of the coverage wrong.  I spent many hours in the comments section at YouTube, correcting reports from CNN, NBC, et al, all of which gave facts that were SO FAR OFF it was mind-numbing.  At one point, a CNN anchor said something to the effect of: "The island is completely overrun with lava!"  As if I would have to dodge lava bombs on my way to the grocery store.

In reality, we could BARELY tell anything was happening where we lived, and even then, only if we drove a few miles to the side of the mountain where we had a clear view of the nighttime glow, which itself was many more miles distant.  The eruption impacted just a tiny portion of Hawaii's land mass, along the order of 1%.  If you drove maybe an eighth of the way across the island (which is a massive 4000+ square miles in size), you couldn't even tell an eruption was happening.  It was business as usual outside the immediate eruption zone.

So I completely understand why some people assume COVID-19 is yet another media panic over nothing.

And because I know the news is a business that is required to sell advertising, which they have learned to do via sensationalism (sensationalism gets our attention, but often accomplishes the opposite of "informing" us), I even allow for the possibility that maybe I'm wrong; maybe it isn't as bad as I suspect.

This is the problem with years of "The Media Who Cried Wolf."  When a real wolf finally DOES show up, nobody believes them anymore.  They shot their credibility years ago, on all the pretend wolves they tried to get us to panic over.

This is part of the breakdown of trust that I'm talking about.

So it's partially a communication problem:  We have no "national channels" that are universally trusted anymore.  (In fact, as a general rule, the less you trust the media, the better off you are.  As noted, this creates a big problem when a real "wolf" finally does show up, but there's not much we can do other than to demand higher standards from our news organizations and hope they can repair the bridges they have burned... but building trust takes time.)

The breakdown is partially political (neither side trusts the other to respond appropriately).

And it's partially a breakdown of trust in even the institutions that are supposed to be neutral.  Our institutions of science and/or higher learning long-ago threw away the cloak of neutrality in exchange for partisanship -- and now many people no longer trust those institutions either.  And quite understandably.  Science still works, but when certain organizations have (quietly) abandoned universal ethics in favor of situation ethics, then science is no longer practiced at those organizations.  Some people start to doubt "science," but really, science itself isn't the problem, the PEOPLE who are not doing honest science are the problem.

So my overarching point is:  We have a near-complete breakdown of trust across multiple facets of society.

And Coronavirus is revealing this to be the massive problem that it is.


So maybe this is what finally ends our decades-long run of prosperity.  Not Coronavirus proper, but a society that, quite simply, can no longer function as a whole.  No organization can function properly without trust.  A marriage without trust is in dire straits.  A business partnership without trust is doomed to fail.

A society without trust -- and thus without the ability to communicate efficiently -- cannot function cohesively.  And a society without cohesion is not a "society" at all.  It's a loose collection of factions, which lacks the bond required to get through the inevitable difficult times.

Loose collections of factions will splinter when faced with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

We've become this weak in part because we are no longer united in a larger vision -- and the larger vision we have abandoned seems to be the quest for truth itself.  Because while you and I may not agree on what, exactly, is correct -- if we are both committed, honestly, to finding the truth, then we are united by that larger vision, despite our individual disagreements.

We've forgotten (or choose to ignore) the reality that there is no "your truth" and "my truth." There is simply THE truth, and to the extent that either of us fails to align with it, then either or both of us are wrong -- and we will pay the price for our folly when we are crushed against objective reality.

Coronavirus isn't going to break society -- we have done that ourselves.  We have done that by valuing partisanship over intellectual honesty.  By valuing personal agenda over truth.  And by behaving as though "the end justifies the means."

The end does not, and cannot ever, justify the means.  A foundation built without a strong commitment to truth is no foundation at all -- because it contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction.  A foundation without truth will always crumble under pressure.  Because, ultimately, what is "truth"?

Truth is simply what is.

And that which is will always crush that which is not.

If I believe my Styrofoam raft is capable of weathering a massive oceanic storm, that may be "my personal truth," but it either is or is not objectively true.  If it is not objectively true, then my Styrofoam raft will blow apart in the storm, and I will drown.

Truth is simply "reality, as it actually is."

Prior generations knew this.  This wisdom has been learned not over decades, not over centuries, but over millennia.  This is why every decent ancient source of wisdom values TRUTH above and beyond most other things.

Postmodernism, post-truth, etc. have gained much traction in recent years, because we want truth to be the equivalent of "personal opinion," when it simply isn't. It feels good when everyone is deemed to be "right" about whatever it is they believe, no matter how far off they may be. It might feel good to tell everyone they're correct about everything, but it's dangerous, because life is dangerous.

Knowing the truth helps keep us from walking off a cliff.

So it's high time for us to discard those outmoded and dangerous ways of thinking. In this sense, perhaps we should view Coronavirus as an opportunity.  A warning for society that we desperately need to repair trust, across multiple platforms.

We can only repair trust if we commit to honesty in both seeking truth and in conveying that truth to others.  Even when what we have to say it isn't what we "want" to be true.  Even when the truth proves our prior beliefs wrong, or requires us to face personal embarrassment.  Even if the truth isn't what other people want to hear, or requires us to endure mockery.

Because if we don't allow painful truths to crush us now, emotionally, then they will inevitably crush us later -- and not only emotionally, but in actuality.

Are we up to that challenge?

We had better be.