Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Potential Impacts of The 2020 Plague

We are still very early into The Plague of 2020 here in the United States (if you are an out of country reader, welcome and your mileage may vary).  I have already seem pundits "predicting" how this will change how we are are and how we do things.  Since my opinion is as unimportant as any of theirs, I thought I would share some initial thoughts on how I see things changing as a result of all of this.

1)  My best guess for how long this initial "lock down" lasts is through the month of April.  Someone made the observation that the current infection rate and death rate were two weeks prior in the making, so it would seem logical that we are still two to four weeks out from a peak and whatever "lock down" mode we are in making an impact. 

2)  Telecommuting is about to become a lot more of the way the world works.  Forced to do this, more and more companies are discovering that they can get work done with employees working remotely.  They save on travel expenses and office costs.  While it may not go back to these levels once the "all clear" is given, neither will it go back to what it was before.  Office investment trusts, take note.

3)  If you had a robot or automated process, they were likely not nearly as impacted by the requirement to close as other businesses.  Additionally, robots and automation do not have the potential to get Covid-19 (yes, I know, they have other issues and need maintenance).  Look for interest in automation to ramp up following this.

4)  I learned that 10% of the global GDP is dependent on tourism, which is dropping to essentially zero right now (let that sink in).  Beyond the incredible strain and number of failures globally of anything dependent on tourism (hotels, airlines, restaurants, ground transportation, tour companies, attractions, and shops catering to them), a longer economic shutdown means that there will be an even longer time for tourism to recover - if ever.  I predict there may at some point there may an initial rush as people bolt for the freedom of travel (at all), but longer term I see tourism seen more and more as a high-risk high-cost event (many of these will also be affected by more of a telecommuting model).  One caveat:  Local  or even in country tourism may recover.  You can always get home if you drive; not so much if you fly.

5)  Our definition of essential and non-essential jobs will change dramatically - as it is already.  How we look at certain functionalities will change forever.  I think will also spill over into new previously un-imagined jobs and entire career fields drying up .

6)  Large scale gatherings will probably never be the same as they were.  Finance again plays a part here - I suspect many people will think the last thing they should do with their money is spend it on sporting events or movies or concerts - but if the potential for this continues throughout the year, few people will want to risk becoming infected.  And few companies or industries will want the liability and bad publicity.

7)  I have no prediction on politics (as you know, we do not handle those here) but I do think there will be an impact from this.  The one impact I think I can see and safely speak on is that for some states, the question of secession will become more relevant.  The ability and impact of a capitol city to destroy local economies will not be forgotten.

It is fun to speculate, anyway.  In a month, we will see where we are.


  1. The speculations are the stuff of a good novel, I think.

    1. Leigh, I am going through the mind of movies or novels that actually approach these kind of situations. I cannot think of any off hand, but will keep my thinking cap on.

      If I were a better writer, I would dwell more on the social outcomes of these events. They will be tremendous.

  2. We must look to getting through this, and coming out as better people on the other side. This may devolve into politics a bit, TB - so delete it if you feel the need. But... from out here in the out house...

    That meme was going round and it hit us all squarely between the eyes. Perhaps you saw it? It had the stooped over, frail and elderly woman at the supermarket with her cart, confronted with bare shelves. The caption read, "Think, the next time you buy more than you need..." Like the preppers, we always stocked up without a second thought.

    Others started to think too, and shortly the local supermarket opened an hour early and only seniors would be allowed to shop at that time. Everyone smugly high-fived each other, and we all congratulated ourselves on our civic virtue and thoughtfulness toward our elders.

    It was a dismal failure. The seniors came in early and cleaned everything out before the regulars could come in. They didn't give a hoot about parents with kids, or poor people, or anyone else. Nobody called them on it.

    I would like to think the coming hard times serve to draw people together, re-establish shared morals and ethics, and perhaps the resurrection of families and communities.

    But... If it happens, I suspect a lot of blood will have to be spilled first. Glad to hear you guys are all good over there! Hold your kids close, TB.

    1. Glen, I can only think of once I deleted a post that was not spam, and that was because I made a mistake. I may disagree, but that is not reason not publish it - after all, that is how we interact, right?

      I did see that meme. I interpreted slightly differently - yes, there was the aspect of the actual situation, but there was also the aspect of the smugness of all the unprepared posting it saying "See? See? If you at all prepared, you are greedy. And selfish".

      I am glad the supermarkets adjusted their times, although can not confirm or deny that they are buying us out. Even if they are, it would not surprise me - after all, this is the society that we created, right?

      Which is really my problem with all of this. Not the virus - something like this was bound to happen sooner or later. What is painful to me - what really bothers me - is that this is revealing precisely the society that was created. And what was created seems to bother a very few people.

      I would like to believe better as well Glen, and in some cases I think this is happening. But I would argue this is the first inning of nine innings in the baseball game. If we are having these issues already, what happens when we get deeper in?

      Thanks for the good wishes, all of us are home and together now. We will figure the rest out later.

    2. Glenfilthie1:39 AM

      Sorry to try your patience for politics yet again, friend... but I fear that further on in the game... some seriously bad social experiments are going to come home to roost.

    3. Oh, I agree friend. In fact, I think a great many people are going to come face to face with the consequences of what they have supported and realized it was not quite as good an idea as they thought.

      An interesting side note: Apparently divorce requests skyrocketed in Wuhan China after the quarantine was over because lots of people suddenly realized being stuck with their spouse was really not the great idea they thought is was 10 to 20 years ago. I predict this will happen here as well.


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