Its the end of the world as we know it…
One perspective is the math. If we take growth models and apply some of the statistics we have on the corona virus and extrapolate that the contagion lives on some surfaces up to 9 days, is airborne, it takes days-weeks to incubate in a host, and can infect people before hosts show symptoms then it stands to reason that its been making its way through major population centers from mid-January and at this point will probably end up as ubiquitous as the flu. End of the world? Probably not.
Yet, the end of the world as we know it is a bit more complex than simply one virus making the rounds. If we look at the effects this is having as another perspective there is a lot of interesting takeaways.
Markets: Capitalism has many mantra’s and one is never to let a good crisis go to waste. Usually, in times like this, we see a run up on Treasury bonds, gold, and investments like bitcoin. Indeed the FED injected 1.5 trillion into the bond market, but it made a little splash and may as well have been a stone thrown into a wave. The reasons could be varied and is more likely a combination of reasons than one specific takeaway. In the lineup, we have a potentially overextended investment sector that lacks liquidity (cash money) to buy up these assets which in a word or two is not good. Another factor could be a general fear of the unexpected as the root cause of this particular crisis is a new flavor and investors are waiting to get more information to guide their next steps. Speculation could continue, but I feel the takeaway here is the novelty of this crisis combined with a global intertwined society has put the entire world’s markets on new and unknown economic ground.
Supply Chains: Where does your TP come from? The vast majority of toilet paper is bought from 3 companies, but where do those 3 companies manufacture this white gold? If you guessed not in the USA you’d be pretty right. If you guessed not in the majority of the developed world, you also are pretty right. The generic medicines that every hospital in the western world relies upon? Without the ability for pharmaceutical companies to rake people across the coals with 1500% markups those have all be off-shored. You’re electronics, the computer chips in your cars, household items? Yup, those all reside in countries where the labor cost (read: slave/child/indentured labor) and manufacturing cost (lack of regulations/safe working conditions/and general oversight) are low. Indeed the vast majority of products that aren’t concerned about intellectual property fall into this category. It is the reason when you type a product into amazon you get thousands of results.
Social – in our ‘modern’ age people’s ability to deal with actual people is dismal in most places and downright hostile often enough that we have all sorts of rules and laws to attempt to ‘protect’. The erosion of the historical community has been happening long before this global hysteria, but it is through events like this where the effects of that degradation are keenly felt. As the constant moving target of what to do is being replaced with closures, cancellations, and warnings the seemingly ever-present distractions of society are being replaced with hysteria. No more events, sports, concerts, social gatherings? Oh my!
Politics: A plethora of bloodsuckers seems perfectly fitting in this current situation. It seems that at all levels of political systems across the world there is a consistent message of ‘we care, but we don’t care’. Rather through indecision, inaction, or over-actions, we’re seeing the host of responses lean to the extremes. In any crisis, measures taken should follow their namesake and be measured. Yet we find ourselves embroiled in a cacophony of a mixed response.
The Global Society: If the above explorations indicate anything it is that we are all connected. Despite that interconnectedness we remain divided as a race of people. Those divisions, those absolutes are responsible for the ineptness, delays, grandstanding, and indecision that is currently magnifying this pandemic into something that is more than itself. It is our archaic adherence to the absolutes we use to define our various tribalisms, divisions, and professed differences that are derailing the various systems of the world that have evolved to be what they are.
Indeed all of this combined suggests that we stand upon a precipice of change even if those changes are responses to the above situations they will have lasting impacts for a time to come. Historically when there are times of burden, great upheaval is more likely to occur. With an election looming in the US a magnifying lens will be focusing on aspects of government and private industry that have worked exceptionally hard to remain outside that lens of discernment. The gimmick of “look over here not over there” loses significant potency when people can’t get toilet paper to wipe their ass.
It may well be the end of the world as we know it, but the world won’t end just yet
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