Woe is upon us. The mouth of hell has opened.
Has ISIS mastered nuclear technologies? Is the long-anticipated zombie apocalypse underway? Will Donald Trump grab a second term in 2020?
Alas, it is nothing so mild. Matters are worse – far worse. Among our human family of 7.8 billion, more than 100,000 of our brethren – shock! horror! – are suffering from colds.
Cue fear, cue horror, cue tearing of hair. Cue quailing, quivering and quavering on a heretofore unprecedented scale.
Never before in the field of human epidemiology have so many been given the vapors by so little. With Covid-19, the ratio of risk-to-fear has soared off the charts – all charts.
Of course, some are truly at risk: the old, the sick and the medical pros toiling in the eye of the viral hurricane. They must exercise care, and deserve full support.
But if you do not fall into those categories, you have little to fear. In fact, so mild are the symptoms for many that millions of people likely have this disease right now without even realizing it, let along getting treated for it.
This, of course, will not alter the thinking or the behavior of the mollycoddles, fear-mongers and Armageddon merchants among us.
But you, dear reader, are not of that ilk. You are no poltroon. You are a cool-headed, risk-tolerant, rich bastard.
And as you watch great crowds of lesser mortals behaving like a flock of chickens squawking and scattering as “The Colonel” bears down upon them, you are thinking this thought: “Hmmm. There must be big bucks to be made here. But what is the cunning investment destination? Where should I be parking my filthy lucre?”
You are late to the game, my friend: the smart money has already exited Mexican beer stocks. Ditto, as the global economy plummets hell-ward, insurers have long been shorted.
But even if you have not benefited from a negative play on these “catatastro-stocks,” there are surefire investment opportunities out there.
What are they? Read on.
Don’t bother with pharmas. By the time a vaccine is ready to deploy, the global fear and loathing will long have settled down and the world will have moved onto the next big thing.
Instead, get into masks.
Yes, I know masks offer the wearer no real protection – but your uninformed herd animal with a pocketful of panic change does not know that! The average lemming would buy these things by the truckload if he could!
Yes I know this looks like a short-term play – all is going to pass, right? Don’t be so sure.
After SARS, MERS, swine flu, the novel coronavirus et al, there is surely another global panicdemic – that will be advertised as the end of us all – looming over the next horizon. Rest assured, humanity will plunge into another frenzy.
So for now, forget new economy, forget tech. Coronavirus is going to transform humble, no-tech mask makers into the next generation of cigar-smoking, champers-chugging, steak-eating trust-fund favorites.
Buy recommendation: Mask manufacturers.
As millions prepare for weeks or months of home quarantine, anticipate panic buying of long-term comestibles. Forget MREs and special-forces ration packs; too pricey, too niche. Turn, instead, to the global king of canned goods.
Yes! There is no finer source of long-term protein for those hunkered in bunkers than good old-fashioned luncheon meat!
Moreover – as only the most sophisticated epicureans know – spam is the food of the gods. Lightly sautéed in oil, accompanied with a serving of ketchup and a bottle of robust Bordeaux, it is as appropriate for a romantic candlelit meal for deux as it is for a “shovel an infusion of protein down your gullet with a survival knife” intake in a besieged home-fortress.
Buy recommendation: Spam manufacturers.
Let us be savagely frank. In this atmosphere of jitters, yelps and sudden outbreaks of sheer terror, countless lesser persons are going to be suffering from involuntary, in-public, in-trouser defecatory responses.
Biologically, it is unpleasant – who wants to spend the rest of the day with one’s digested breakfast sloshing around one’s loins?
Socially, it is embarrassing – how many people are going to invite a colleague, friend or partner who has suffered this indelicate disaster out for dinner and drinks?
Economically, it is ruinous. If you foul a pair of cream chinos, say, or gray slacks, don’t bother with the pros – your local laundry person will (rightfully) turn up his/her nose in disgust. And don’t bother trying an amateur soap-and-water effort yourself. The only option is burning.
These issues, however, are largely obviated by brown fabric! Not only does this camouflage your error, resultant stains can be easily excised with minimal laundering.
I confidently predict that in the months ahead, charcoal gray and navy blue will be replaced by chocolate brown or burnt umber as the preferred suiting cloth for the dapper lady or gent about town.
Primary recommendation: Brown-fabric manufacturers.
Secondary recommendation: Adult-diaper producers.
In elite investment circles, whispered rumors are circulating that top-security officials in Fort Knox and in Swiss banks are shifting crates of gold to the sidelines of vaults. The aim is to make way for stockpiles of an ultra-safe new investment asset that these institutions are acquiring by the pallet-load.
The rumored material? Roll after roll after roll of arse vouchers.
For reasons that even the finest minds do not comprehend – perhaps it is because uninformed milksops have found that Covid-19 strikes their digestive, rather than their respiratory, tracts – there is a global run on toilet paper.
Not only are supermarket shelves across the first world being stripped of the stuff, a pair of enterprising gangstas in Hong Kong recently knocked over a truck full of it, while the Australian public are being urged to remain calm.
So, all indicators suggest that a roll of soft, scented bum wipe will soon be worth its weight in gold.
Primary recommendation: Toilet-paper manufacturers.
Secondary recommendation: If you missed the ideal price point for the previous asset, consider investing in a related material: newsprint.
Given the atrocious nonsense some papers are publishing, the purpose of this material may soon shift from intended use to a far more fit-for-purpose role….
Note: The above column is satire. The views expressed are not those of Asia Times, nor does Asia Times endorse these recommendations.
Andrew Salmon is Asia Times’ Northeast Asia correspondent. Prior to joining ATimes, his writing appeared in the BBC, CNN, The Daily Telegraph, The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, The South China Morning Post, The Times and the Washington Times. In 2010, his books on the Korean War won him a “Korean Wave” award from South Korea’s National Assembly, and in 2016, he was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.