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America’s Dark Democracy | Werewolves Unleashed
From:
Albert Goldson --  Cerulean Council Albert Goldson -- Cerulean Council
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York, NY
Thursday, January 14, 2021

 

 

 

Political Civil War

In a Twilight Zone déjà vu there are fascinating yet disturbing historical parallels as Inauguration Day approaches. The shot that killed the US Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt trying to enter the US Capitol building and who now serves as the martyr rallying cry of the pro-Trump extremists, can be eerily compared to the first shot that ignited America’s Civil War at Fort Sumter in 1861, both occurring during a period of a nation deeply divided.

For some historical perspective in July 1864 Confederate Lt. General Jabal Early led a battle-hardened, grizzled military force towards Washington DC known soon to be called the Battle of Fort Stevens and almost succeeded in breaching its defenses. Fortunately for the Union, Early’s long march towards the capital under blistering summer conditions and the need to rest for several days upon arrival delayed the main assault by several days. This fortuitous delay enabled the Union Army to frantically muster enough men to carry out a canon bombardment which discouraged a main assault.

In January 2021 pro-Trump supporters had far more success with less personnel than Lt. General Early in breaching the Capitol building’s under-manned security, entered the building and came within a hairsbreadth of capturing members of Congress.as hostages

Ironically, despite pro-Trump supporters having far less firepower than Lt. General Early, the National Guard will post 20,000 in & around the city for the upcoming 2021 inauguration, slightly less than the 23,000 troops that defended Washington DC in 1864, which powerfully underscores the seriousness of the crisis.

Warlord Trump’s Werewolves

There’s no doubt that this 21st century political civil war is just getting started that will regularly go beyond heated verbal rhetoric. This third surge is undoubtedly a man-made political plague instigated by the proverbial presidential stamp of approval to not only continue rather escalate the fight well after he leaves office. The pro-Trump supporters “voted” with their military surplus boots in storming the Capitol. They may not have “captured” members of Congress but their mission was a success beyond their wildest dreams. This has only emboldened and galvanized this new movement.

More disturbingly is that this event represents a far-deeper breach into the minds of Americans and despite all its democratic laws and military might, exposes the fragility and vulnerability of America’s democracy.

Although Biden clearly won the election with the Electoral College and popular vote it was far from decisive. For this reason this non-decisive victory provides pro-Trump supporters fodder to pursue the “stolen” election claim, one that was not won “beyond a reasonable doubt”, a phrase that cannot be defined quantitatively. Only a Biden landslide would have been the coup de grâce and pre-empted mass violence at the Capitol. Interestingly the election results indicate considerably more about the weakness of Biden’s victory than of Trump’s defeat.

In war there are often a handful of violent diehard holdouts after a formal surrender encouraged by the defeated or deposed leadership. A similar situation might occur in the aftermath of Trump’s election defeat. Trump may be censored on social media yet a multitude of pro-Trump groups have already arisen to communicate his “gospel” to those who consider our constitutional laws as mere guidelines. 

In an oft-repeated historical pattern, after regimes were defeated militarily, the ousted government still held powerful political sway in present-day democracies. The US is no exception. The Trump administration and subsequent scorched earth tactics at the US Capitol building is justifiably alarming and reveals the breath & depth of his influence.

Trump’s charismatic powers run far & deep among his diehard constituency. He received over 74 million votes amongst a wide range of citizens from the unemployed, blue collar disaffected workers to the hidden, albeit wealthy and powerful, not to mention millions of sympathizers all of which represents a daunting demographic. The dramatic violent maelstrom on the Capitol building is confirmation that these 74 million strong voters have his back.

One doesn’t have to read between the lines of Trump’s public statements before, during or after the storming of the US Capitol that he’ll relish assuming the role of a post-presidential warlord and take advantage of an America, physically, economically and psychologically weakened by the pandemic.

The Two Front War

The present-day devastating pandemic surge throughout the country is a drain on the economy that threatens to blow past stress test parameters and triggers an economic seizure and possible collapse.

The incoming Biden administration, along with the “good” members of the GOP who support our democratic institutions, face a daunting two front war each of which has equal top priority:

·         The first is international, the continuing external threat primarily from the emerging troika of China, Russia and non-states, who now smell blood in the water, and intensify their cyber-intrusions.

·         The second is domestic, the internal threat from the pro-Trump continency who, aside from the violent shock troops, has hidden and powerful supporters at all levels of business and society that could undermine socio-economic recovery efforts.

The Biden administration is in an unenviable lose-lose situation that serves merely as a paper stop-gap until the decisive presidential 2024 election that will indelibly determine America’s path in the 21st century.

The Sequel | The Security Nightmare

The overwhelming attention is focused on a potential replay of violence by pro-Trump supporters not only at the inauguration rather at cities throughout the country and during the rest of this dark winter. What is overlooked or perhaps rarely mentioned, are the equally violent extreme leftist counterparts that are just itching for a “pitched battle” whether before, on or after inauguration day in any city or town in the US in a perverse re-enactment of the urban pitched battles during the Weimar Republic.

These unfolding events were articulated in my article published on 7 August 2020 entitled The Upcoming Phases of Turmoil specifying the intensity of violence before the election, the period between the election and inauguration and post-inauguration.

Furthermore the catalysts of violence are the newly inspired lone wolves and anarchists whose sole objective is violence and mayhem> They represent the accelerant that fuels the hatred by hiding under the socio-political banner of either side as they did with the nascent BLM movement.

If violent clashes escalate well past the inauguration period, there’s the potential for the state or federal government to declare a state of emergency and lockdowns. Further along should these emergency measures fail to quell the violence, they may become codified America. This step of last resort will trigger America’s descent down the slippery and often politically unrecoverable path towards a dak democracy whose constitutional rights are interpreted as privileges to be taken away selectively at the whim of the public/private, corporate/governmental masters in an organically produced domestic real-life version of the dystopian series “The Man in the High Castle”.

 

© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

 The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 

As approved vaccines are distributed as a priority to essential workers worldwide and soon to the general population, the decimated hospitality industry, many of whom are holding onto their fingertips at the edge of a financial abyss, will try to meet the pent-up demand by travelers whose disposable income during the lockdowns were not adversely affected and who can afford to travel.

However there are unique factors in the industry that sets it apart that will make its recovery will be extremely asymmetrical due to non-economic, non-quantitative factors.

The Traveler’s Perspective

Vacation plans for tourists, and to a lesser extent for business travelers, are heavily based on word-of-mouth references and recommendations from friends, acquaintances, and business associates. Despite the cutting-edge, marketing cyber-sophistication of the hospitality and related & supporting industries, the core fundamentals of tourism will continue to almost always be “grass roots” oriented through face-to-face conversations. Travelers use technology as a post-decision tool to secure the cheapest and most convenient way to travel, not to confirm their destination decision.

This process was brilliantly articulated in the movie The Matrix Reloaded in which Neo consulted the Oracle face to face. Imagine yourself as Neo talking to your friend the Oracle with respect to where you want to go. In the scene the Oracle explains to Neo, “You didn’t come here to make a choice. You’ve already made the choice. You’re here to understand why you made it.”

·         Firstly because of the extended lockdowns and travel restrictions no one has traveled in almost a year making references and recommendations impossible to come by.

·         Secondly, because of Covid’s fury, even older references are suspect because the status of many venues has changed dramatically, many of which have closed permanently. Everything has changed.

Once freedom of travel becomes a reality there will be limited travel choices, nothing that all the time and money can overcome which means that there’s no way to accurately predict the new tourism landscape.

Feast or Famine

The vaccine’s uneven distribution has begun with richer countries getting priority because of money, logistical distribution while developing and emerging markets, highly dependent are at the back of the line. The latter rely almost exclusively dependent on tourism for revenue.

Like the dynamics of a funnel vaccinated tourists from rich countries will have difficult traveling to developing and emerging countries may still be banned or have limited access because of on-going high public health risks in developing and emerging countries. For this reason domestic tourism will rebound, even flourish, well before international travel.

Furthermore an economy that is “opening up” is defined differently in each country and open to interpretation such as freedom of movement. Tourist may enter a country but will be restricted to specific resorts that are prison-like, gated-community. For this reason the global hospitality industry recovery will be asymmetrical and contingent on location.

Business Travelers

Business road warriors are hospitality’s revenue and profit margin bread & butter. Nonetheless even domestically there will be far fewer business travelers all of whom will be on limited budgets with shorter stays and lower entertainment expenditures.

The business traveler demographic will probably consist of the business core essentials: C-suite executives and technical/sales personnel. During the lockdowns the effectiveness of teleconferencing has been proven to resolve most issues which eliminates future business travel for mid-level personnel.

Present-Day State of Global Tourism

Global tourism is a critical component of the world’s economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council there are 330 million hospitality jobs worldwide which represent one-tenth of the global work force and 10.3% of the global GDP in 2019.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization(UNWTO) chart entitled Covid-19’s Crushing Impact on International Tourism provided by Statista, an online statistical service, articulates how the pandemic has adversely impacted the global hospitality industry:

“Domestically, according to the US Travel Association US travel spending is down 45% from 2019. Already 3.5 million or 40% of the travel jobs have been lost with an additional one million by year’s end.” Their forecast is that pre-pandemic levels won’t return until 2024.

Even with limited international openings, domestic tourism will far outstrip international tourism because in an increasingly unstable geopolitical world notably Americans will be more comfortable traveling in their own country with the same language, culture, and rapid ease of return travel to their hometowns in case of sudden full lockdown mandates.

With respect to the hospitality industry financially, the pandemic has been a crushing blow. The following chart developed by UNWTO and presented by Statista entitled Tourism Back to 1990 Levels as Pandemic Halts Travel powerfully underscores this reality and the difficulty in recovery:


Zero Hour | The Re-Set

Of all the components in international tourism airlines are best suited to adapt to the uneven recovery. Historically airlines are far better prepared and adaptable in adjusting to demand with fewer flights, smaller aircraft, re-routing through hubs, etc. maintain competitive pricing while securing a reasonable profit. On the other hand geographically fixed services such as hotels have a fixed costs and fixed number of rooms and do not have the means to reduce the cost of those unfilled rooms.

With respect to the international and domestic hospitality industry, the logistical challenges and manufacturing to scale of the vaccine will continue to be problematic and delay global economic recovery through most of 2021. Furthermore the continued global economic recession will depress travel & leisure demand which means that the hospitality industry recovery will be arduously slow and painful.

 

© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 

 

The FDA and British government approvals of Covid-19 vaccines marks the beginning for the upcoming Herculean logistical effort required to inoculate billions of citizens worldwide. For this reason a robust global supply chain will be required at each stage from manufacturing to final delivery.

This global inoculation effort is unprecedented. Past inoculation efforts have been country-specific or regional to combat epidemics, not pandemics, and not without its share of complexities and inevitable difficulties. Even if one uses those earlier efforts as operational templates, the sheer depth & breadth of the forthcoming global distribution effort is far more overwhelming logistically, economically and politically. It’s one thing to have an approved and safe product, it’s another to manufacture it to scale and safely distribute it globally requiring the most stringent requirements.

Just imagine trying to supply vaccines to one city, akin to the 1947 Berlin airlift which took place over many months and saved German citizens from starvation. A similar logistical effort but on a global scale will be required to save the world from economic collapse. For this reason this is why air cargo is a key component in the critical path of this supply chain/distribution process.

Investment Opportunities in Air Cargo Transport

The major airlines will play a major role in the transport of vaccines worldwide and investment in any specific airline stock will provide a good return on investment based on a growing and long-term sustained demand for worldwide distribution. The following are the types of air companies that will literally do the heavy-lifting:

Airlines

The following three major US airlines at the forefront to transport the vaccine worldwide are:

1.    American Airlines [NASDQ: AAL]

2.    United Airlines [NASDQ: UAL]

3.    Delta Airlines [NYSE: DAL]

Airfreight Cargo

The three major airfreight cargo companies who already specialize in transporting pharmaceuticals but now must do it at scale as a priority are:

1.    Fedex [NYSE: FDX]

2.    UPS [NYSE: UPS]

3.    DHL [OTC MKTS: DPSGY]

My investment preference is Air Transport Services Group (ATSG: NASDAQ) because of their broad-based worldwide provider of air cargo. According to their website, “ATSG is a leading provider of aircraft leasing and air cargo transportation and related services to domestic and foreign air carriers and other companies that outsource their air cargo lift requirements. ATSG, through its leasing and airline subsidiaries, is the world's largest owner and operator of converted Boeing 767 freighter aircraft.” Their services encompass four tenets: (1) leasing, (2) operating, (3) maintenance, repair and overhaul and (4) flight & ground support. Furthermore because of their wide range of services they have more aviation logistic partners.

However the following are present-day aviation logistical challenges against the background of a strong demand that far exceeds supply:

Air Cargo Freighter Shortage

Securing the numerous mothballed aircraft configured and certified for air cargo (cargo freighters) is easier said than done. Even if all the available air cargo freighters were in operation right now, their numbers fall far short of what is required for the global transport of the vaccine.

To offset this shortage air companies are converting passenger jets to cargo freighters, the best suited being wide-bodied, long haul models. One such example is the conversion of the new but economically disappointing passenger A-380 which has a 50-ton cargo capacity.

Furthermore these large aircraft can only fulfill cargo flights between major hubs with long runways that can handle this type aircraft. Smaller air cargo aircraft will be required to transport the vaccine to secondary urban areas, non-urban areas and more remote areas.

Qualified Pilot Shortage

Another challenge is the severe shortage of pilots. Because of lockdowns and an almost cessation of air travel, many pilots were either furloughed, let go (younger pilots) or offered early retirement packages (senior pilots).

The next step is to (re)hire pilots who are experienced flying air cargo freighters and train those who haven’t. Unlike a truck driver who can learn quickly on a different model truck without passing a regulatory-mandated check ride, pilots must be certified on the particular type of air cargo aircraft. The shortage of air cargo freighters and qualified/certified pilots compounds the problem to distribute the vaccine at scale.

The following chart entitled Thousands of US Pilots Face Furlough This Fall provided by CBS News and presented by Statista, an online statistical firm, highlights the challenge of pilot callbacks to meet the surge in demand for vaccine air delivery. What should not be overlooked are the critical support services required including maintenance personnel who are also on furlough.

 

Stress Test for Global Supply Chain

Air cargo comprises less than one percent of transported goods with pharmaceuticals being one of those goods that are usually air shipped. Pharmaceutical companies have established supply chains but they are not designed for mass global distribution. For this reason its architectural structure must be heavily modified, expanded and made a priority over the shipment of regular prescription drugs such as those for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and anti-depressants.

Early Pandemic-Related Company Investment Recommendations

With respect to pandemic-related products & services and stock recommended track record, my earlier SA article entitled SA article 25 March 2020 entitled USA: A Brutal Coronavirus Economic Reset published 25 March 2020, I was extremely bullish and recommended a strong buy for Moderna Inc. [MRNA: NASDAQ] in the biotech section who had just begun developing a vaccine. Present-day their vaccine is on the cusp of FDA approval and their stock price has exploded from $27.13 on 25 March 2020 (the publication date of my article) to $125.73 on 22 December 2020.

The logistics and air transport are unlikely to provide the explosive returns as Moderna, I believe that it’s immediate to long-term prospects for steady growth are excellent.

Outlook

Because of the aforementioned aviation logistical challenges I forecast that these air transport equipment and professional services shortages will push back the overly ambitious mass distribution and inoculation schedule well into the late summer and fall of 2021. I project that this transportation demand will continue unabated well into 2022 particularly to lesser developed countries and geographically difficult to reach regions.

Ironically the approval of additional vaccines in late winter and spring will not ease the distribution problem because they will offset the difficulties in the mass production of upcoming newly-approved vaccines. This will create an even larger ready-to-ship inventory which will outstrip the increased availability of air cargo transport equipment and professional services not to mention the stockpiling of vaccines. For this reason the need for air cargo transport services will continue well into 2022.

  

© Copyright 2020 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 





 

 

It is an open secret of the extreme disconnect between the surge in the stock market erroneously labeled as an “economic recovery” that’s underway and the brutal suffering and reality of the common working man and woman.

Indeed there is a psychological pent-up demand, a nostalgic desire to return to the old normal in a new normal era. For this reason once the vaccine is widely distributed there will be an economic spike fueled by consumer demand but it will be short-lived as the reality of a continued broken economy and broken personal finances set in. Even your currently employed consumer will realize his limited post-pandemic financial resources because of the changing work dynamics and even pay cut if he decides to continue to work remotely.

Small Business’ Last Stand

Some “vigilante” small businesses, particularly the low profit margin eateries and bars, remain open in defiance of government mandates with respect to indoor and outdoor dining restrictions. Then there are the lucky ones in some municipalities in which the restrictions are on the books yet unenforced.

Understandably from the small business perspective it’s profits over pandemics for the purposes of survival – for the owners, not just the business - because the governmental restrictions, not the virus, represent an existential threat. They know that the cavalry is not coming because government bailouts are only for big businesses. In fact the government is seen not as the rescuing and protective cavalry of the small business owner, rather as rapturous raiders who have historically decimated their profits through capricious regulations and high taxes. For the little guy there are no parachutes. It’s “go for broke” and “go down swinging.”

How It Plays Out

The emergence from the “Dark Winter” of 2020-2021 will ignore the economic rubble with the brief spurt in consumer spending that will give the mainstream media the illusion of a V-shaped recovery underway. This ultra- short-term jump in consumer spending is just that, V-shaped spending but not V-shaped recovery. Recovery is sustainable over many months or years. The mass inoculation gives consumers freedom of movement but because of continued mass unemployment, will be still imprisoned by debt.

For this reason the markets will push further into record territory as the black-clad Pied Piper leading investors merrily over the edge because of this misread, and for others who do recognize it, pure greed thinking they can exit before it crashes. As I’ve always stated, regardless how quickly you exit is meaningless when the entire building is collapsing.

The following chart entitled Service Sector Struggles to Recover Lost Jobs provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and presented by Statista, an online statistical firm, shows the dire situation of the leisure & hospitality sector which has lost almost 3.5 million jobs. The sectors that have suffered the most are the ones that are labor-intensive, difficult to automat and the last ones to make considerable recoveries.

 


These job losses are far too severe for even the most robust V-shaped economic recovery to bring it back close to pre-pandemic levels even by end of 2021. Mass unemployment, corporate reconfiguration and overhauling 2021 budgets to adapt to a less intense work environment, robotics/automation, high level of flexibility indicate a cautious, uneven, drawn out economic recovery. Corporate financial projections beyond 3 years are not better than using a dart board.

Time Compression | Short-Term is the New Long-Term

Not only immediate (or near) post-pandemic rather medium-term consumer behavior during unprecedented times. We’ve endured three catastrophes in the 21st century in less than a generation: 9/11, the Great Recession and Covid-19, all of which has directly or indirectly affected most of the world’s population.

These aforementioned catastrophes mirror the more often occurring “once-in-a-century” occurrence which has now become a misnomer. Because the intensity of these oft-occurring catastrophes are uncontrollable and unpredictable, it’s near impossible economically and psychologically to prepare properly for every type of catastrophe.

Imagine the possibility of a future far worse pandemic (Covid-19’s ease of transmission with Ebola’s lethality) or a market crash occurring in short order and longer lasting than their predecessors.

For these reasons it may prompt a redefinition of how short, medium and long-term are defined. In broad terms, when people think of long-term one imagines 10, 15 or 20 years. Using the first 20 years of this century as a baseline, short-term may now be one year, medium term 2-5 years and long-term 5-10 years – in other words a time compression outlook.

As the impossible has become the plausible, personal, business and government expenditures may take on a new dynamic with a radically different projections and risk assessment models.

 

© Copyright 2020 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 

 

 

The pandemic has exiled many workers into the cloud – a de facto digital Off-World colony as in the dystopic movie Blade Runner which has redefined how workers communicate. The parallel to the movie, which ironically was released in 2019, the same year in which Covid appeared, is unerring to the present-day crisis. In the movie those who were could not pass the medical remained in a hyper-dense, environmental petri dish. In 2020 those whose professions require hands-on work such as essential workers in the medical field and support services as well as those in retail and blue-collar jobs, must also toil in a viral toxic environment.

During the carefree pre-pandemic era, the visual cues at work with respect to body language determined whether the worker’s body language was (in)congruent with their words.

Since the digital world has dominated communications since March and will continue well into 2021, the ability to accurately read body language has greatly diminished. With far fewer visual ‘tells’ remote work has become literally remote communication in the non-technical sense.

We Are All Digital Ambassadors

Since March those fortunate to work remotely have communicated via Zoom or similar software. Regardless of their title or positions, the worker has seized the initiative to take advantage in becoming their own movie director and producer by leveraging their home as their Hollywood studio with complete control of what viewers see.

Human contact is paramount and provides a modicum of warmth even the most austere and sterile designed office space. Remote work offers a psychological sabbatical for many workers with respect to having total control over their work environment for several reasons. Job satisfaction has been declining for years as management imposes greater demands, longer work hours, greater responsibility but stagnant pay, and limited promotional opportunities particularly for middle age workers who are trapped under the invisible glass of age-discrimination. In other words the digital workplace provides a certain albeit temporary level of empowerment.

Inception Meets The Matrix

The virtual cloud allows the ability to merge the visual special effects of the movies: The Matrix meets Inception. As a creator the worker creates and customizes his own environment and reality to “get ready for his close-up.”

Because video meetings are usually pre-scheduled, they provide the worker more time to literally “set the stage” and prepare his work and personal presentation which eliminates the sudden impromptu face-to-face meeting. This allows the worker to gradually develop an Academy Award worthy performance in a familiar and customized setting. Off-screen is “out of sight, out of mind” but beware the ‘hot’ mic. In this era of the split screen, a split-personality is the only way to go.

Putting this same high-level, on-screen performance in person at the office all day, every day is exhausting. Murphy’s Law dictates than any slip-up will occur at the wrong place, at the wrong time in the presence of the wrong person or group.

Digital Body Language | The New Baseline

Determining the new body language baseline in the digital world is far more challenging for several reasons. The primary difficult is that many workers are reinventing themselves on camera because of their remote location in their fortress home and can confidently establish new personas.

Although one can use vocal cues such as inflections, tonality, and cadence as a guide, some people verbally communicate somewhat differently in person vs on the phone vs teleconferencing in which older quirks are not visible or suppressed and new ones are accentuated.

With respect to visual cues, a considerable component of body language has been removed because one only views the upper body or perhaps only the head of the person on screen. Nervous tics, gestures, and tells can be more easily hidden by creative camera angles, lighting and positioning or simply filling the screen with the person’s face.

Because of the aforementioned reasons, the digital arrangement forces reading body language far more challenging because the baseline has shifted dramatically.

Group View vs Group Think

Body language is an important component in the face-to-face business world. However the present-day necessity and convenience of digital communications has eliminated a critical element – the collective group body language - whether internally (in-house) or externally in negotiating with an outside firm.

Face-to-face meetings often feature several members of varying seniority of a specific unit, department or division. Each individual provides his own unique specific body language baseline signature. Using these behavioral baselines, tells determine whether everybody in the unit is onboard with an idea. An example could be a manager’s effusive proposal genuinely supported by his body language yet betrayed by his underlings’ body language that convey profound reservations.

However in remote meetings, there’s only one view of each member of a group as separate individuals, not as a collective as it would be in person. To the untrained eye in remote viewing it’s impossible to determine whether the group’s body language moves in harmony or independently.

Because of this digital silo effect, monitoring the screens in which this group appears and correctly ascertaining the group dynamic is difficult by the highly controlled environment each person has created for himself for purposes of career/job self-preservation.

Remote meetings eliminate the power dynamics of the seating arrangements which provide a strong signal as to which persons have the most influence regardless of official title.

On the bright side for workers, remote meetings prevent a senior member from using psychological leverage (aka intimidation or bullying) not only in physical space but also in power settings like their office or an executive conference room.

The C-Suite Dilemma | Lost in Translation

Executives get paid the big bucks because they are the decision-makers. However because they rely heavily on face-to-face visual cues to determine the level of certainty on information provided, remote communication makes this much harder to assess despite state-of-the-art, computer-driven data.

The C-suite needs to know in their gut whether their underlings genuinely believe the figures they’ve presented, particularly with group presentations. Because of a fragile economy there’s far more at stake than market share and profitability to the point that their decisions will determine if the firm survives. This is why face-to-face meetings are more invaluable further up the corporate command chain.

In-Person Meetings On-Demand

Some firms in professions that can easily operate profitably with a large portion of their staff working remotely will begin to re-think whether important meetings are best held in-person rather than remotely. In particular in high stakes, highly competitive fields, the savvy C-suite executive may insist that his direct reports be in the office full-time and insist that they in turn do the same for their important internal meetings. The post-pandemic economic landscape is about to get rougher and seeing whether someone sweats or stays “cool, calm and collective” may make the biggest difference.

 

© Copyright 2020 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 


Hedonistic Death Wish

The super-spreaders are the 21st century “willing executioners” who are knowingly a danger to themselves and others by engaging in self-destructive behavior through underground mass parties and other gatherings without a modicum of guilt. This triggers the vicious cycle of viral surges that compels municipal, city and state governments to tighten restrictions which in turn provokes these same irresponsible citizens to flaunt their independence (and so-called “rights”) on a larger scale which sometimes explodes into street protests and violence. The irony is that a many of the viral surges are occurring in rural areas with open spaces yet closed minds.

These post-presidential election tensions prove that the defiance is (and always has been) unmistakably politically-neutral and against government power whether GOP or Democrat, the latter inheriting an unabated nasty reality. The Democrats are not loved, merely tolerated as a reluctant alternative to a dysfunctional and corrupt GOP.

The Defiant Ones

This demographic encompasses a broad spectrum of the citizenry as the on-the-cusp of FDA-approved vaccines are distributed. Here are some of the reasons why more people will not ever take the vaccine.

  • ·         Some mistrust government regardless of their political leanings who have actively and enthusiastically collaborated with private industry on projects which have created an increasingly wide socio-economic chasm heading towards feudalism featuring a tiny elite and everyone else.
  • ·         Many believe that FDA and other health agencies have little credibility and are politically compromised and pressure by Big Pharma to fast-track the approval of vaccines which may not be thoroughly scientifically fully vetted particularly those utilizing the unregulated and novel artificially genetically created mRNA technology.
  • ·         Others are justifiably paranoid about the Orwellian collaboration between Big Tech and Big Pharma to legally gather a trove of personal information during testing and inoculation.
  • ·         Notwithstanding there are those who simply hate needles and will wait for a flavored chewable tablet.

The scientific community has bandied about the idea that the population will be reasonably safe if only 70% of the population takes the vaccine. This brings up those defiant ones who have no intention of taking the vaccine and will be sufficiently (but not completely) protected without having to take the vaccine.

A vulnerable and increasingly greater part of the citizenry include the psychologically compromised with or without medication who are figuratively dying of cabin fever and others who merely need a gentle push to the dark side to engage in over-indulgence and even irresponsible hedonistic behavior.

Corporate Psychological Corruption

Since the Revolutionary War Americans have carried an anti-authority gene regardless of their origins including those recently arrived and granted citizenship. As Barbara Kellerman, author of the book entitled “Followership” describes the American anti-authority mindset, “Under certain circumstances civil disobedience is more admired than civil obedience.”

During the past decades corporations have utilized mainstream media and more recently social media as their de facto capitalistic pimps to super-charge, ramp up and brainwash the consumers’ self-entitled obsession to buy more luxury-labeled stuff with a myriad of products & services all of which are now indelibly ingrained in the American psyche.

This generational method of control has backfired spectacularly with government and corporations unable to cage the beast it created as it runs amok with ever increasing numbers of uncompliant Americans. Because instant gratification has become ingrained as a “right”, citizens are unwilling to comply short-term even if it’s for the public good with the opinion, “I have a right not to follow the health mandates even if it kills me.” This is the price corporate and governmental authority pays when one removes the ubiquitous “food & circus” dogma created to pacify the citizenry.

This corrupted reasoning has enabled some citizens to over-ride the public good through bad behavior by ignoring social distancing, discarding masks and eschewing safety practices against an existential threat. The good citizen behavior for the public good for many Americans is nowadays merely an option, not a civic duty.

Societal Psychological Side Effects

Fueling their ire has been the government’s gross incompetence at the municipal, state and federal levels in initially handling the pandemic from communications to providing essential medical equipment to the upcoming vaccine distribution. The physical side effects from the vaccine inoculations may be fleeting but the socio-economic scars will remain long after the virus is defeated.

The perverse irony is that Biden-Harris administration faces the American public’s wrath as mass unemployment, potential mass evictions, continued food insecurity, and monumental debt underscoring a scorched earth American economy which are not solvable in a one-term administration and could backfire spectacularly in the 2024 presidential election.

The present-day Democrats are less incompetent and corrupt than the GOP in handling this crisis which is palatable for the immediate future. However in the long-term, the deeply scarred American economy will not have sufficiently recovered by the 2024 presidential election even with the best & brightest. For this reason the 2024 presidential election will be the most contentious in the 21st century dwarfing the intensity of the 2016 presidential elections and provoke an even larger, aggressive and defiant citizenry.

 

© Copyright 2020 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.


The imminent FDA approval and recent British government approval of Covid-19 vaccines marks the beginning for the upcoming Herculean logistical effort required to inoculate billions of citizens worldwide. For this reason a robust global supply chain will be required at each stage from manufacturing to final delivery.

This global inoculation effort is unprecedented. Past inoculation efforts have been country-specific or regional to combat epidemics, not pandemics, and not without its share of complexities and inevitable difficulties. Even if one uses those earlier efforts as case studies, the sheer depth & breadth of the forthcoming global distribution effort is far more overwhelming logistically, economically and politically. It’s one thing to have an approved and safe product, it’s another to manufacture it to scale and safely distribute it globally.

Just imagine trying to supply vaccines to one city, akin to the 1947 Berlin airlift which took place over many months and saved German citizens from starvation. A similar logistical effort but on a global scale will be required to save the world from economic collapse.

This is why air cargo is a key component in the critical path of this supply chain/distribution process. However, here are the aviation logistical challenges that will hamper transport and delivery.

Air Cargo Freighter Shortage

Securing the numerous mothballed aircraft configured and certified for air cargo (cargo freighters) is easier said than done. Even if all the available air cargo freighters were in operation right now, their numbers fall far short of what is required for the global transport of the vaccine.

To offset this shortage air companies are converting passenger jets to cargo freighters, the best suited being wide-bodied, long haul models. One such example is the conversion of the new but economically disappointing passenger A-380 which has a 50-ton cargo capacity.

An important logistical note is that these large aircraft can only fulfill cargo flights between major hubs with long runways that can handle this type aircraft. Smaller air cargo aircraft will be required to transport the vaccine to secondary urban areas, non-urban areas and more remote areas.

Qualified Pilot Shortage

Another challenge is the severe shortage of pilots. Because of lockdowns and an almost cessation of air travel, many pilots were either furloughed, let go (younger pilots) or offered early retirement packages (senior pilots).

The next step is to hire pilots who are experienced flying air cargo freighters and train those who haven’t. Unlike a truck driver who can learn quickly on a different model truck without passing a regulatory-mandated check ride, pilots must be certified on the particular type of air cargo aircraft. The shortage of air cargo freighters and qualified/certified pilots compounds the problem to distribute the vaccine at scale.

Air Safety

During this logistical aviation ramp-up the FAA has already relaxed and waived safety measures to transport the vaccine in bulk. For example the vaccine requires plenty of dry ice to maintain its chemical integrity which can emit carbon dioxide. Because aircraft do not have carbon dioxide detectors installed on board, this poses a danger to the air crew. However because of the urgency, the FAA has allowed five times the normal amount of dry ice on air cargo flights.

Stress Test for Global Supply Chain

Air cargo comprises less than one percent of transported goods with pharmaceuticals being one of those goods that are usually air shipped. Pharmaceutical companies have established supply chains but they are not designed for mass global distribution. For this reason its architectural structure must be heavily modified, expanded and made a priority over the shipment of prescription drugs such as those for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and anti-depressants.

Ironically these are the same drugs that keep many people relatively healthy especially during these unprecedented times of stress. These people are heavily dependent on these prescription drugs because of health-related problems resulting from obesity, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and a rapidly aging demographic. In a perverse possibility some people could die from lack of access to their prescription drugs before receiving the Covid vaccine because of supply chain priorities.

Tough Choices

The pharmaceutical companies are under high-level governmental and societal pressure. They face this mutually exclusive choice between the vaccine combatting a viral pandemic that is an existential threat to the global economy and prescription drugs. For the purposes of the overall public good the pharmaceutical leadership will probably give top priority to vaccine shipments, a decision that follows the adage of priorities of the fictitious hedge fund owner Bobby Axelrod of the TV series Billions in which he states, “The greats never sacrifice the urgent for the important. They handle the immediate problem and make sure to secure the future.”

Security

Aside from maintaining its chemical integrity during transport, the physical security of the vaccine is paramount at each stage of the supply chain. Because of the myriad of transport and exchange points it will be impossible to provide the same level of high security at each stage. Criminal elements are already probing these vulnerabilities such as the cyber-criminals who have already launched aggressive probes into any vaccine-related company.

Other nefarious parties are already salivating at the opportunity to capitalize and sell a high-demand and valuable commodity on the black market or worse, dilute the product and sell at a discount. The more violent methods range from truck hijackings and storage theft to more silent and insidious insider chicanery.

End Result

The initial public euphoria for a spring 2021 delivery of the vaccine to the general population will rapidly dissipate because of the aforementioned extreme aviation logistical challenges. I forecast that these transport equipment and professional services shortages will push back distribution and inoculation well into the late summer and fall of 2021.

Ironically the approval of additional vaccines in late winter and spring will not ease the distribution problem. The addition of new vaccines will offset the difficulties in the mass production of newly-approved vaccines which will create an even larger ready-to-ship inventory. However the increase of transport equipment and professional services will not be enough to offset this larger inventory.


© Copyright 2020 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

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