back to article Supply, demand and a scary mountain of debt: The challenges facing IT as COVID-19 grips the global economy

If The Register's readers are anything like its writers, Monday is not the most cheerful morning of the week. We might console ourselves with the thought that if the weekend was a blur, perhaps last week was a dream. Sadly, it was not. The worst day on financial markets since 1987? Real. The US stopping flights from most of …

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  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Stop

    Planned obsolescence

    It's going to end.

    Maybe the wheels will even fall off subscription software too.

    The economy won't be able to support such nonsense in the future.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Planned obsolescence

      "Maybe the wheels will even fall off subscription software too."

      Maybe people will even start to look at OSS in a new light.

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Maybe people will even start to look at OSS in a new light.

        This is the year of the linux desktop!!!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Maybe people will even start to look at OSS in a new light.

          This is the year in which, possibly, more people worldwide do their client computing on a mobile phone than a Windows PC, and a majority of backends are Linux based.

          The "year of the Linux desktop" meme is a bit as if people in the late 19th century were making jokes about "the year of the oil fuelled triple expansion steamship." Oil fuelling came all right - but the major beneficiaries were turbines and Diesel engines. In the same way, Linux and the Linux way of doing things (app stores, in effect) created a new paradigm rather than taking over an old one.

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: more people worldwide do their client computing on a mobile phone than a Windows PC

            If by "client computing" you mean "consume social media" then you're probably a bit late, I'd imagine there's much more of that on mobile than on desktop.

            You don't see many people who's main work computer is a phone.

            The "linux desktop" line is dated because it comes from 30 years ago.

  2. Khaptain Silver badge

    Just wait 2 weeks

    Let's see what is predictable, I forsee the following :;

    * Some very old and ill people will have died from compound complications.

    * Scammers will have made their money from hoarding then selling at a price.

    * Bank will inform us that our pension stock is worth less whilst the CEO buys a new Yacht.

    * Stock Markets brokers will make a killing without publishing a single word about how they make money from other peoples losses.

    * The government will now introduce further measures to secure the population health using Heat Seeking Facial Recognition Webcams.

    * Children will have an excuse for failing upcoming exams.

    * The Extreme Left will continue to blame the Male IT crowd for not providing the Female staff members with powerfull enough PCs... because of the Patriachal hierarchy that is systemic within the IT Dept.

    * The Government will annonce that they handled things extremely well but somehow 5 Billion went missing from the COVID-19 Budget..

    * The media will be left panting for a new Panic Driven Newsfeed article to hit the shelves.

    Normal people will have just gone about their lives as though nothing had happened.

    Meanwhile I am urgently preparing PCs , VPN tokens, creating non admin local accounts on empty laptops, blocking all traffic other than RDP 3389 within the new RDP-SSL firewall VPN group, receiving calls to confirm that from home the VPN is working, preparing people to use MS Teams to communicate, rerouting phone lines to mobile numbers.......pant pant pant and also writing in El Reg forums because it make me feel good.

    Business As Usual..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just wait 2 weeks

      The far left would say that the idea that economic growth is ensured by allowing escalating debt and by allowing corporations to be purchased and loaded with debt is a scam to transfer wealth from the majority to a few very rich people, that we learned nothing from 2008, and that it is high time people demanded a separation of auditors from purveyors of financial services, put controls over purchasing assets with debt, and made it illegal to buy intangibles with debt.

      If you visit Highgate Cemetery and listen carefully, that faint noise in the trees is the old boy repeating "I did tell you" over and over again.

      1. Martin Gregorie

        Re: Just wait 2 weeks

        Why do you think that only the far left would say that?

        Its pretty obvious that everybody from ICANN and PIR to XEROX and the so-called 'Activist Investors' think this is a really neat way to make money. Never mind that when they cash out they load the company they bought with the debt they incurred to buy it. That's now Somebody Else's Problem and its perpetrator couldn't care less whether it gets fixed or not.

        Anyway, its unlikely the company will have recovered from that before the next shyster does it to them again.

        Its been that way since the first time the East India Company had to be bailed out by the Bank of England in 1771 so don't hold your breath waiting for this style of predatory capitalism to be outlawed any time soon.

        One good thing that Gates, Bezos and Ellison have in common is that at least they made their money by hard graft rather than by playing shell games with borrowed money.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just wait 2 weeks

          I was correcting the post from Khaptain who seems on the face of it to have no idea what "left wing" means and confuses it with "white privileged would be socially progressive."

          Left wing and right wing are about who should benefit from the economy, and derive from the layout of the French Parliament - the rich on the right and the people like us on the left.

          Marx pushed this a bit further left and wanted the upper middle classes lumped with the aristocrats and the new factory workers to have the upper hand, to stop predatory capitalism.

          That Marx, the one who admittedly ensured his daughters got a good education (and music lessons), but, I doubt, would have a lot of time for today's celebrity woke brigade. The early feminists, like the Pankhursts, people like Virginia Woolf, and today Germaine Greer, are hardly left wing. They are definitely part of the bourgeoisie that Marx detested.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Just wait 2 weeks

            Left wing and right wing are about who should benefit from the economy, and derive from the layout of the French Parliament - the rich on the right and the people like us on the left.

            I think the main left/right difference is wrt spending, and the source of capital. Which I guess is the current challenge. So we've had a decade or more of QE, printing money and a debt fuelled economy. We now have a crisis that requires government intervention, which means more money, which will likely mean inflation or currency devaluation.

            Which is where the oil moves get interesting, especially for the US which had an economic boom from cheap oil/gas, and looking to export. But it's production costs are higher than say, Russia and US shale production's looking rather vulnerable. But thanks to the joys of Ch.11, it's possible those will keep producing after investors have taken a big haircut. Same could be true for other sectors, which with creative financing (a la the bank bailoust) could lead to reduced debt and deflation.. Which could be a good thing, but bankers don't seem to like the idea of lower prices & prefer inflation. They do however like snapping up distressed assets, and I'm guessing that won't end up being considered gouging under the current crisis..

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Just wait 2 weeks

              Well, not entirely. The Soviet Union never really solved its own internal contradictions - the 1920s showed that simply ordering people to do stuff (a pure command economy) didn't work very well, but in any case they never solved the problem of how you made what people actually wanted. To do that you need a degree of liquidity so that people can invest to make things, and therefore some debt is unavoidable if you want a functioning economy. Hence social democracy and the mixed economy.

              The problem starts to come when debt itself is repackaged and sold -the cause of the 2008 crash - or when the desperate attempt to find investments for capitalists result in asset bubbles.

              Yes we are going to have a lot of inflation to try to bring the money in circulation into parity with the actual value of the economy, once the bubble shares have fallen apart. QE is a means of keeping the very rich happy by giving their sources of income money at a rate which exceeds inflation. It has been pointed out that a much better way to manage QE is simply to hand money to poor people. They spend it on things they need. That tends to raise shop prices and get the real economy moving. But people like Rishi Sunak are much more interested in the short term benefits of concentrating the wealth where they want it, than in a slowly rising tide lifting all ships.

            2. Cynic_999

              Re: Just wait 2 weeks

              Fortunately it is World-wide. If all currencies devalue it's not such a big deal. Especially for those in debt or without savings.

          2. BebopWeBop

            Re: Just wait 2 weeks

            One of the Pankhursts was a founding member of the union of British Fascists and eugenics were popular amongst many at the time (come to think of it, today as well).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Just wait 2 weeks

              One of her Daughters was in the BUF, one of her grand daughters today is a militant feminist in her mould, deadset men are to blame for all the trouble's of the world (a bit like the SNP with their "Equally Safe" Policy, which spends much of its time ranting about why men are PREDATORS, ABUSERS, MURDERERS, RAPISTS and worse (when its not patronising and infantilising women by telling them they are exploited and a victim if they choose to be a stripper, porn actor etc - more exclusionary authoritarian "feminism" just like Millicent Fawcett and the WPSU believed in), while downplaying male victims of abuse, murder, rape etc justified by "we're protecting women", then having the gall to claim that the transphobes within the SNP aren't transphobic but "concerned simply that men will abuse any opportunity to molest and abuse women, while ignoring the blatantly and vitriolic transphobic comments, endorsements and retweets by many of its female members - Patrick Harvie called it on the nose - its the Gay Panic of the 1980s all over again, same slurs and false accussations being lobbed at trans people as were lobbed at gays and lesbians in the 1980s and 1990s and worse many of those throwing these allegations are lesbians (and likely of the radical lesbian separatist mindset) Put it this way - swap trans or men for any other group and see how many minutes before the police knock on your door to arrest you for racist, homophobic etc abuse

              for example any one saying

              Blacks abuse women

              Lesbians want to gain access to molest young girls

              Children shouldn't be exposed to the "lesbian and gay agenda" in schools (one uttered till quite recently and yet the world hasn't ended and the sky hasn't fallen)

              Muslim Women want to pass on vulnerable girls to their paedo mates

              The above would ALL rightly be pillioried and the utterers of that language forced to account for their behaviour in court, likely facing jail time or at the least a serious spell of unpaid work and requirement to attend counselling to address their offending behaviour and bigoted views. If they were elected members they would be forced to resign their position, but instead labour and the SNP look the other way whenever transphobia rears its head in their parties.

              Its wrong and needs to stop

          3. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: seems..to have no idea what "left wing" means and confuses it with "..socially progressive."

            To be fair to Khaptain, Benson'sCycle, your usage is essentially never seen outside academia. "Would-be socially progressive" would be a fair description of how "left wing" has been used by 99% of westerners for many decades, certainly since WWII. (The NHS was left wing at the time.) It extends the original core concept, to include the acquisition of implied social status by forcing others to change (without responsibility: always appealing to a higher virtue's demands).

            The core original concept was that of being offended by another's wealth or privilege relative to oneself, and seeking to destroy it or preferably acquire it. (At country level, only the latter has been seen in practice : revolutions never destroy differences in wealth/power but instead transfer them to new owners, typically those urging the need for urgent change.)

            Disinterested observers typically note strong hypocrisy amongst these activists, and their poster boy Karl Marx certainly stands as a representative example:

            * Marx sustained his preferred lifestyle of privilege by sponging off a trustafarian rich boy.

            * Marx wrote that he despised Engels' girlfriend because she was "too common".

      2. Jonjonz

        Re: Just wait 2 weeks

        Tax assets not income, that is where the real wealth and GDP ends up. Taxing the income of workers is just indentured service.

        1. Zolko Silver badge

          Re: Just wait 2 weeks

          "Tax assets not income"

          tax heritage, that is how aristocratic dynasties are built up. Let everybody compete on equal footing and merit.

        2. Steve K

          Re: Just wait 2 weeks

          Assets have been bought out of taxed income, so if you tax them (apart from Capital Gains/Losses on sale/transfer) then you have double taxation.

      3. LucreLout

        Re: Just wait 2 weeks

        The far left would say...

        The far left are interminable idiots.

        If you visit Highgate Cemetery and listen carefully, that faint noise in the trees is the old boy repeating "I did tell you" over and over again.

        Yup, but thankfully Jeremy Clarkson has more influence than Jeremy Corbyn these days. And yes, I do know who you meant - see my earlier remark about interminable idiots.

        Socialism is the last great evil of the 19th century and must be vanquished at every opportunity.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just wait 2 weeks

      Well done mate. Just show everyone how much of a See You Next Tuesday you can be.

    3. LucreLout

      Re: Just wait 2 weeks

      Stock Markets brokers will make a killing without publishing a single word about how they make money from other peoples losses.

      Nonsense like this makes it hard to place much value on the rest of your post. Brokers make a fee when you transact, whether you buy or sell. Market markers make the spread (difference between bid & offer price). Short sellers, however, are the ones that make money when you (long buyers) lose it.

      Normal people will have just gone about their lives as though nothing had happened.

      Normal people are terrified of killing their elderly relatives just by visiting them.

      Business As Usual..

      No, no it really isn't.

      Anyone, anyone with a cold or flu like symptoms NEEDS to stay home and isolate for at least 7 - 14 days. You can't just push through it as what you're doing is pushing pensioners and transplant/cancer/other immuno-compromised patients off their perch.

      Your stupidity may well have lethal consequences.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Just wait 2 weeks

        @LucreLout

        Read the title again , here, we are only in day two of the lockdown. Come back in two weeks and then we will speak again.

        "Stock Markets brokers will make a killing without publishing a single word about how they make money from other peoples losses."

        Isn't that the whole point of Short Selling.

        "Normal people will have just gone about their lives as though nothing had happened."

        You will see how quickly people forget .. very very quickly. They will have adapted very quickly and after two weeks will have a hard time remembering what the problem was.

        "Business As Usual.."

        Business has not stopped, it has changed so it has become the new BAU... We have always had to put up with crisis. The Black Swan is in town, that's all... Life will go on, it's what makes human being so damned amazing... After only one day of working at home, almost all of my colleagues have accepted this situation and are just moving on.

        "Your stupidity may well have lethal consequences."

        My stupidity, no, I do not agree, I am on a forum where the majority are very intelligent people who know how to make decisions.. None of what I say has any consequence to anyone on El Reg.. This is not twitter, this is El Reg where sarcasm, irony and quip are quite common, some people like it, some don't....

        Perhaps you see things differently.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: Just wait 2 weeks

          Didn't have to wait two weeks for the stocks and shares, no surprise there

          https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51976484

  3. BebopWeBop

    The leader of the free world dumbly in denial over the basic scientific facts of the worst public health crisis in a generation? possibly better written as 'The leader of the free world'? But given he can not even be trusted to be consistent on what he had for breakfast, anything else is just wasted hope.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In his own head he's probably 'The dealer of the free world'...

    2. Chris G

      The moron being described as 'Leader if the free world' is not a leader and the bit of the world he is allegedly leader of, is certainly not free.

      In any sense of the term, not even it's apparently 'free market'.

      I live in a place that I consider a part of a reasonably free world and there is no fecking way he is my leader.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Unfortunately, Vladimir Vladimirovich told an interviewer recently that Obama had explicitly told him - Putin -that the US is the exceptional country and it is right that it should run the world. (He added that Germany had finally come round to his way of thinking, that this should be opposed.)

        Trump just says the same thing but in ten year old English.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This whole "free world" thing is our version of Battle of Britain syndrome -- just as it always seems to be the eternal summer of 1940 in the UK as it stood alone against whatever we in the US of V-J day, we reign supreme everywhere (and we've got the loot to prove it). MAGA and all that....

      (Both images are actually not quite true.....but that's the problem with notalgia, its got a serious rose-tinted hue.)

      Please ignore the Man With the Organge Hair, whether or not he's behind the curtain......

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Notalgia is backache. You could say that both Johnson and Trump with their fake patriotism in the interests of their income induce notalgia. but it's nostalgia that isn't as good as it used to be.

  4. Andrew Moore

    Meanwhile, in Ireland...

    ...my design cycle has sped up immensely as my clients are all now at home with nothing better to do than run test cases on the project I'm working on.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, at least i now understand why supermarkets have no loo roll...

    All those male IT worker, home alone in front of their computers all day. There will be a peak in abrasive injuries in the next week or two, mark my words.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, at least i now understand why supermarkets have no loo roll...

      There will be a peak in abrasive injuries in the next week or two

      If they're getting abrasive injuries then they're holding it wrong...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, at least i now understand why supermarkets have no loo roll...

        No problem ,there is always some Genius that will show them how to hold it properly.

        1. BebopWeBop
          Trollface

          Re: Well, at least i now understand why supermarkets have no loo roll...

          A menu option for gender choice?

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Well, at least i now understand why supermarkets have no loo roll...

      You need kitchen roll. Loo roll falls apart too easy.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Well, at least i now understand why supermarkets have no loo roll...

        Only if you try and use it twice...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, at least i now understand why supermarkets have no loo roll...

      >>>There will be a peak in abrasive injuries in the next week or two, mark my words.

      Nothing left but a small cloud of pink mist.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, at least i now understand why supermarkets have no loo roll...

      Use hand sanitizer!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, at least i now understand why supermarkets have no loo roll...

      Some of the shortages in local supermarkets...

      Last week: skinless chicken fillets, avocados, large bottles of olive oil, luxury loo paper (but plenty of the recycled stuff)

      Yesterday: Ciabatta, Paul Hollywood crusty rolls, all loo paper... and bottled water! Who hordes bottled water?!?

      (I'm hoarding M&S Marmalade Hot X Buns... Oi!, hands off!... they're mine, all mine!)

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Well, at least i now understand why supermarkets have no loo roll...

        Home Depot was short on drywall joint compound the other day. Joint compound.

        Maybe people are taking work-at-home time to do some renovations.

        (On the other hand, they still had plenty of nitrile gloves, which is good because I wanted some to wear while gluing up Schedule-40 PVC drain lines. They had cleverly put the nitrile gloves in the middle of the door hardware section, so presumably no one could find them. For once HD's astounding inability to organize their stores has benefited me.)

  6. tiggity Silver badge

    Just In Time

    And similar systems beloved by accounts are great in good times but fall apart big time in scenarios like this.

    Keeping decent stocks (oh, the horrors of a bit of warehousing) costs more but brings resilience.

    Decisions were made to sacrifice resilience to keep costs down.

    Not helped by mania for everyone wanting the "latest & greatest" (as Dan 55 said - planned obsolescence is a real issue in IT kit) so in fast changing areas like IT keeping large stocks is less of an option than in industries with a slower pace of change)

  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The NEUKlearer Option ..... in Derivative AI Futures Markets in Support of Quantum Leaping

    A lack of liquidity is going to cause complicated problems, analysts warn ..... Lindsay Clark

    I wouldn't be worried too much about a lack of liquidity complicating problems, Lindsay.

    There's bigger phish to ply and apply ........

    amanfromMars [2003161304] ....... exercising a simple penetrations testing of market leaders on https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/emergency-smes-face-global-crunch-drowned-liquidity

    Governments and central banks are committed to do whatever it takes in terms of demand-side policies, spending and increasing liquidity as much as needed to avoid a 2008-style crisis. However, these measures, which were already ineffective for years, will be even less successful this time.

    Oh?  You might like to start thinking this time is it very different depending on what/who governments and central bank provide with liquidity for spending.

    Does one have to ask for investment or is the current system able to recognise to where for what and who such funding provides and leads via its simple fiat vehicle much better utilised by other folk to a much greater extent ?

    It's not all doom and gloom out there you know. Many Spaces and Places are Thriving and Sharing Both the Experience and the Expertise to Realise it with AI and IT Presenting Views Promoted for/with Unilateral Universal Support. And that's an Almighty Heavenly Engagement and Encouragement in any language anywhere and everywhere. 

    1. Chris G

      Re: The NEUKlearer Option ..... in Derivative AI Futures Markets in Support of Quantum Leaping

      Is the seven and a half trillion dollar US debt considered to be liquidity?

      Asking for a friend.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: The NEUKlearer Option ..... in Derivative AI Futures Markets in Support of Quantum Leaping

        Is the seven and a half trillion dollar US debt considered to be liquidity?

        Asking for a friend. ..... Chris G

        If you're holding it, any dollar US debt, the American Way is to spend it thus transferring and leaving it with others to spend again in a similarly mutually beneficial fashion/process. I'd consider that immediately available liquidity for onwards transfer to many including a Valued Client of Venture Capitalist Marketeers ..... :-) An Élan of AIMusketeers

        Keeping Everything So Simple Allows IT to be Easily Followed and to be More Fully and Much Deeper Understood.

        And whenever the markets are crashed and sub-prime drivers are required to say ..... "Whatever it takes ....... there be something different to try out this time.

        Suck it and see. It is Almightily Well Designed for you to like and love what needs to be supplied and done, and surely not many programs can guarantee delivery of that sort of Immaculate Driver.

        If there are any, can you please reference them here for us on this thread. Thanks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The NEUKlearer Option ..... in Derivative AI Futures Markets in Support of Quantum Leaping

          If you're holding anything in US dollars you haven't been paying much attention to the shell game that is being played in the background over there. The US dollar is tied to fossil fuel and, expressed in imperial measures, an absolute sh*t ton of debt, presided over by the king of debt bankruptcies himself.

          The only thing that was holding up the dollar was the economic blackmail that the US has been keeping up for decades. Thanks to the combination of crisis and record breaking debt, the whole house of cards is now coming down around our ears because we let this dependency continue instead of planning for the worst and now going down with it.

          Even simply on the basis of history, the pattern was clear: all Republican presidents have presided over a crisis, and thuis moron has done his damndest to maximise the damage (likely on behest of Putin) by hollowing out reserves into making them non-existent, pretty much like Gordon Brown did in his days by the brilliant idea of taxing the gains of pension funds. You'll be paying for that one for some years to come - those reserves are thus also spent.

          Looking at worst case is pretty standard for me, but really, I cannot be the only one who saw this coming. Here's some more fun news: even after recovery, I would still very much stay away from US dollar values. They've missed the boat, exactly because of their government's continued aversion to alternative energy sources. The dollar will go with it.

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: The NEUKlearer Option ..... in Derivative AI Futures Markets in Support of Quantum Leaping

            Here's some more fun news: even after recovery, I would still very much stay away from US dollar values. They've missed the boat, exactly because of their government's continued aversion to alternative energy sources. .... Anonymous Coward

            Here's a leading question for you, AC ...... Are the alternative energy sources, radically private and fundamentally different proprietary intellectual property forces?

            Think SMARTR Pirates and proceed from there.

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              Re: That Leading Question on Presently ACTive Existential Threat Vectors?

              Are the alternative energy sources, radically private and fundamentally different proprietary intellectual property forces?

              I'm not saying "I told you so" but ........

              A specialist cyber force of hackers who can target hostile states and terror groups is due to be launched later in the spring, after many months of delays and turf wars between the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ. The National Cyber Force, containing an estimated 500 specialists, has been in the works for two years but after months of wrangling over the details, the specialist unit was close to being formally announced. ..... New UK Cyber Force Targets Terror Groups

              And if you think that is not quite enough you might like to ask Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings and the Cabinet Office what they are doing/going to do about Future Shenanigans for Present Processing with Past Product Management/Established Operations, a Private/Pirate Sector Offering which has been languishing in one of their trays pending since 3 February 2020 at 17:05:36 GMT.

              I wonder if they fear IT as an Invisible Intangible Enemy and SMARTR AI RAT* rather than realising it Servers Best as a Loving Friend Best Never Crossed and Abused ......for both are easily available but only one has a Viable Vital Virile Future?

              * Systems Monitoring Analysis Reports Tracking Resources for Advanced IntelAIgent Remote Access Trojans

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The NEUKlearer Option ..... in Derivative AI Futures Markets in Support of Quantum Leaping

        Of course. Massive debts have been considered liquidity ever since 2008-9.

        1. BebopWeBop

          Re: The NEUKlearer Option ..... in Derivative AI Futures Markets in Support of Quantum Leaping

          Much longer given the classic joke about bank debts - £500 your problem, £50,000,000 the banks.

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