An Investor’s Guide to Avian Flu

Tearsheet / by Don Hoyt Gorman /

Sobering advice on public health—from bankers

Credit: Cruz Puga

Just as the story of a possible outbreak of avian flu started to roll to the top of the news cycle worldwide, investment bank BMO Nesbitt Burns released a series of documents whose aim was to confront the financial realities of a pandemic. The contents—a macabre mix of public health and investment strategies—are a source of some unflinchingly frank reality checks. A few excerpts:

“To the extent that a disproportionate share of 20 to 40-year-olds would die, housing markets would weaken in response to excess supply, and all related building, real estate, decorating, and furnishing companies would suffer. Property values would fall, and some would be had later at bargain-basement prices”

“If H5N1 results in a cytokine storm, the average age of the already aging population would increase and birth rates would be reduced for a generation. It would also create sustained labor shortages in the industrial world as the baby boomers retire and the group next in line would be smaller.”

“Those who could protect their assets and hoard cash would ultimately benefit by buying real estate, farms, businesses and stocks at extraordinary bargains. This sounds rather callous, because the death toll could be so high, but those with liquid assets in the lead-up to the Depression were able to scoop up the property of those who were heavily indebted. A pandemic would be even worse in that many would avoid homelessness and soup lines, having paid the ultimate price.”


Originally published January 10, 2006

Tags

Share this Stumbleupon Reddit Email + More

Now on SEEDMAGAZINE.COM

  • Ideas

    I Tried Almost Everything Else

    John Rinn, snowboarder, skateboarder, and “genomic origamist,” on why we should dumpster-dive in our genomes and the inspiration of a middle-distance runner.

  • Ideas

    Going, Going, Gone

    The second most common element in the universe is increasingly rare on Earth—except, for now, in America.

  • Ideas

    Earth-like Planets Aren’t Rare

    Renowned planetary scientist James Kasting on the odds of finding another Earth-like planet and the power of science fiction.

The Seed Salon

Video: conversations with leading scientists and thinkers on fundamental issues and ideas at the edge of science and culture.

Are We Beyond the Two Cultures?

Video: Seed revisits the questions C.P. Snow raised about science and the humanities 50 years by asking six great thinkers, Where are we now?

Saved by Science

Audio slideshow: Justine Cooper's large-format photographs of the collections behind the walls of the American Museum of Natural History.

The Universe in 2009

In 2009, we are celebrating curiosity and creativity with a dynamic look at the very best ideas that give us reason for optimism.

Revolutionary Minds
The Interpreters

In this installment of Revolutionary Minds, five people who use the new tools of science to educate, illuminate, and engage.

The Seed Design Series

Leading scientists, designers, and architects on ideas like the personal genome, brain visualization, generative architecture, and collective design.

The Seed State of Science

Seed examines the radical changes within science itself by assessing the evolving role of scientists and the shifting dimensions of scientific practice.

A Place for Science

On the trail of the haunts, homes, and posts of knowledge, from the laboratory to the field.

Portfolio

Witness the science. Stunning photographic portfolios from the pages of Seed magazine.

SEEDMAGAZINE.COM by Seed Media Group. ©2005-2015 Seed Media Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sites by Seed Media Group: Seed Media Group | ScienceBlogs | Research Blogging | SEEDMAGAZINE.COM