Crypto Market Commentary
2 April 2020
Doc's Daily Commentary
The 1 April ReadySetLive session with Doc and Mav is listed below.
Mind Of Mav
How We Beat Covid-19 Part 3 – What Comes After
This week we’ve been covering the big picture of the global financial recession and the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Sunday we discussed how we got here monetarily and what’s driving market behavior.
On Monday we discussed expectations for the future of the markets and economies of the world, and the endgame of economic conditions present today.
On Tuesday we talked about the last three months of Covid-19 response and spread, and what the next 6 months will look like for the US, as well as the critical steps that must be taken now to flatten the curve.
On Wednesday, we analyzed the possibilities of slowing and controlling the spread of Covid-19, and the endgame for the virus based on conditions present today.
Finally, today we’ll be discussing the aftermath of the inevitable societal changes that are occurring right now, and what that means for the future.
To think of what comes after and discussing how to rebuild while Rome is currently burning seems a bit out of touch, doesn’t it? Perhaps I finally understand Nero and his fiddle.
Let’s first discuss how our society and economy have been destabilized as it will help give a better picture of how to put it back together.
To start, about one in five people in the United States have lost working hours or jobs, based on the latest jobs report. I highly suspect it’s worse than the numbers tell us. Hotels are empty. Airlines are grounding flights. Restaurants and other small businesses are closing. Inequalities will widen: People with low incomes will be hardest-hit by social-distancing measures, and most likely to have the chronic health conditions that increase their risk of severe infections.
We can measure the damage in lost jobs and closed businesses, but there’s also immeasurable damage being done to our collective health.
Even after infections begin to subside, we’ll still have a secondary pandemic of mental-health problems. What I find to be one of the cruelest aspects of this virus is how it has ripped us all apart when we need community the most. At a moment of profound dread and uncertainty, people are being cut off from all human contact. Hugs, handshakes, and other social rituals are now tinged with danger.
People with anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder are struggling. Elderly people, who are already excluded from much of public life, are being asked to distance themselves even further, deepening their loneliness. Asian people are suffering racist insults. Incidents of domestic violence and child abuse are likely to spike as people are forced to stay in unsafe homes.
Health-care workers will take time to heal: One to two years after SARS hit Toronto, people who dealt with the outbreak were still less productive and more likely to be experiencing burnout and post-traumatic stress. Quarantine also affects everyone differently. There are people in Wuhan that now refuse to leave their homes and have developed agoraphobia, or fear and avoidance of places that might cause feelings of panic and entrapment.
But, it all can get better. After all, this is a small example of conditions today, but tomorrow we could see the potential for a better world when all of this trauma is behind us.
Pandemics can also catalyze social change. People, businesses, and institutions have been remarkably quick to adopt or call for practices that they might once have dragged their heels on, including working from home, conference-calling to accommodate people with disabilities, proper sick leave, and flexible child-care arrangements. Perhaps people of the world, and especially those of us in the US, will learn that preparedness isn’t just about masks, vaccines, and tests, but also about fair labor policies and an equal healthcare system.
Warning to my fellow Americans — this next part is going to be a bit spicy due to enmity regarding the Federal response.
Looking directly at America, it’s apparent that aspects of our identity may need rethinking after Covid-19. Many of the country’s values have seemed to work against it during the pandemic. Its individualism, exceptionalism, and tendency to equate doing whatever you want with an act of resistance meant that, when it came time to save lives and stay indoors, some people flocked to bars and clubs.
Having internalized years of anti-terrorism messaging following 9/11, Americans resolved to not live in fear. But SARS-CoV-2 has no interest in their terror, only their cells.
In truth, and in some morbid sense of irony, isolationism is the worst possible response to a global pandemic. Yes, it might work for a small Pacific island, but a worldwide crisis is when we need to come together the most, not sow the seeds of distrust and dereliction.
Isolationist rhetoric has had consequences too. After years of a Trade War, American citizens saw China as a distant, different place, where bats are edible and authoritarianism is palatable, failed to consider that they would be next or that they wouldn’t be ready (China’s response to this crisis had its own problems, but that’s for another time). People simply believed the rhetoric that containment would work. “We keep them out, and we’ll be okay.” When you have a body politic that buys into these ideas of isolationism and ethnonationalism, you’re especially vulnerable when a pandemic hits.
What’s clear is that survivorship bias begets apathy. The other major epidemics of recent decades either barely affected the US (SARS, MERS, Ebola), were milder than expected (H1N1 flu in 2009), or were mostly limited to specific groups of people (Zika, HIV). The Covid-19 pandemic, by contrast, is affecting everyone directly, and is changing the nature of their everyday life. That distinguishes it not only from other diseases, but also from the other systemic challenges of our time. When an administration prevaricates on climate change, the effects won’t be felt for years, and even then, the effects will be unevenly distributed.
What is clear is that such uniform systemic threats are democratizing experiences. People whose privilege and power would normally shield them from a crisis are facing quarantines, testing positive, and losing loved ones. Senators are falling sick. The consequences of defunding public-health agencies, losing expertise, and stretching hospitals are no longer manifesting as angry opinion pieces, but as faltering lungs.
After 9/11, the world focused on counterterrorism. After Covid-19, attention may shift to public health. Regular people who think easily about what a policewoman or firefighter does finally get what an epidemiologist does.
Such changes, in themselves, might protect the world from the next inevitable disease — a positive benefit of this harrowing experience is that, even while deeply traumatic, it could have been worse with a more effective virus. The countries that had lived through SARS (which was about 4 times more lethal than Covid-19) had a public consciousness about this that allowed them to leap into action. The most commonly uttered sentence in America at the moment is, ‘I’ve never seen something like this before.’ That wasn’t a sentence anyone in Hong Kong uttered. For the US and the rest of the world, it’s abundantly, viscerally clear what a pandemic can do now.
So, lessons about microbiology aside, what will become of us when the dust settles?
I’ll look to America as one of the potential lynchpins, especially as it relates to their own destiny.
The lessons that America draws from this experience are hard to predict, especially at a time when online algorithms and partisan broadcasters only serve news that aligns with their audience’s preconceptions. Such dynamics will be pivotal in the coming months. The transitions after World War II or 9/11 were not about a bunch of new ideas. The ideas are out there, but the debates will be more acute over the next few months because of the fluidity of the moment and willingness of the American public to accept big, massive changes.
The way I see it, we stand at an inflection point that has two distinct and diametrically opposed possibilities. Truly, this is a crossroads of history.
In one potential world a year from now, we can envision the majority of Americans believe that the US defeated Covid-19 through enduring tenacity. Despite his many lapses, Trump’s approval rating has surged. Imagine that he succeeds in diverting blame for the crisis to China, casting it as the villain and America as the resilient hero. During the second term of his presidency, the U.S. turns further inward and pulls out of NATO and other international alliances, builds actual and figurative walls, and disinvests in other nations. As Gen C grows up, foreign plagues replace communists and terrorists as the new generational threat.
One could also envisage a future in which America learns a different lesson. A communal spirit, ironically born through social distancing, causes people to turn outward, to neighbors both foreign and domestic. The election of November 2020 becomes a repudiation of “America first” politics. The nation pivots, as it did after World War II, from isolationism to international cooperation. Buoyed by steady investments and an influx of the brightest minds, the health-care workforce surges. Gen C kids write school essays about growing up to be epidemiologists and virologists. Public health becomes the centerpiece of foreign policy. The US leads a new global partnership focused on solving challenges like pandemics and climate change.
In 2030, SARS-CoV-3 emerges from nowhere, and is brought to heel within a month.
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