To understand why the world economy is in grave peril because of the spread of coronavirus, it helps to grasp one idea that is at once blindingly obvious and sneakily profound.
One person’s spending is another person’s income. That, in a single sentence, is what the $87 trillion global economy is.That relationship, between spending and income, consumption and production, is at the core of how a capitalist economy works. It is the basis of a perpetual motion machine. We buy the things we want and need, and in exchange give money to the people who produced those things, who in turn use that money to buy the things they want and need, and so on, forever.
What is so deeply worrying about the potential economic ripple effects of the virus is that it requires this perpetual motion machine to come to a near-complete stop across large chunks of the economy, for an indeterminate period of time.
In spite of the billions that governments will spend to prop up the economy, our standard of living is going to decline. Or at least it will FEEL like it is declining -- we won't have the restaurants around anymore that we used to love, we won't be getting the variety and quality of food we are used to seeing in grocery stores because the agricultural and shipping industries are going to be in such disarray, we won't have sports or new TV shows or new movies or touring theatre companies or concerts or community events. For many of us, our retirement savings are taking a hit that we won't be able to recover.
Not to mention, of course, the hundreds of thousands around the world who will get sick, and the tens of thousands who will die in the next 18 months to two years, before a COVID vaccine can be developed and put into production and reach the market.
Goodbye yellow brick road, yes indeed.
Someday maybe we will say "I remember when you could walk into a store and buy bananas any time of the year".
So in the meantime, I can only keep my spirits up by searching out some "good news" stories. Because once again, in a crisis, people have a remarkable way of pulling together, pushing though, helping themselves and each other to cope and to manage and to survive.
“But where shall I find courage?” asked Frodo.
“That is what I chiefly need.”“Courage is found in unlikely places,” said Gildor.
“Be of good hope! Sleep now!”
@CoronavirusCast— Raptor Girl SK- We the Champs! (@raptorgirlSK) March 17, 2020
You wanted some positive stories.
Here you go. This man must be a listener.
Sask. First Nation chief prepared for COVID-19 pandemic weeks before it hit https://t.co/1zRd7e74O3
While our doors may be closed, we'll still bring the Gallery to you online.— National Gallery of Art (@ngadc) March 14, 2020
During our closure, we’ll take you on a tour, gallery by gallery. Each day we’ll focus on one room and the works of art on view within it. #MuseumFromHome pic.twitter.com/VfI4Nm8kj5
We're better than our political leadership. https://t.co/ez9K1RChDP— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) March 16, 2020
Louis Vuitton is switching all its perfume & cosmetic manufacturing factories to make hand sanitizer gels. https://t.co/p6I5QC1s4d— Krishnan (@cvkrishnan) March 15, 2020
Hope they were able to find some TP https://t.co/3gBnXKJAKB— Kevin Smith (@Global_Smith) March 15, 2020