COVID-19 and the economy: Where do we go from here?

The COVID-19 story keeps developing. At first, everyone listened to epidemiologists telling us that a great deal of social distancing, and even the closing down of economies, would be helpful. After trying these things, we ended up with a huge number of people out of work and protests everywhere. We discovered the models that were provided were not very predictive. We are also finding that a V-shaped recovery is not possible.

Now, we need to figure out what actions to take next. How vigorously should we be fighting COVID-19? The story is more complex than most people understand. These are some of the issues I see:

[1] The share of COVID-19 cases that can be expected to end in death seems to be much lower than most people expect.

Most people assume that the ratios of deaths to cases by age group, computed using reported cases, such as those included in the Johns Hopkins Database, give a good indication of the chance of death a person faces if a person catches COVID-19. In fact, the cases reported to this database are far from representative of all cases; they tend to be the more severe cases. Cases with no symptoms, or only very slight symptoms, tend to be missed. The result is that ratios calculated directly from this database make people think their risk of death is far higher than it really is.

The US Center for Disease Control has published Planning Scenarios, based on information available on April 29, 2020.* Using this information, the CDC’s best estimate of the number of future deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms is as follows:

Ages 0 – 49    0.5 deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms

Ages 50-64    2.0 deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms

Ages 65+       13.0 deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms

The CDC’s best estimate is that 35% of cases have no symptoms at all. Thus, if we were to include these cases without symptoms in the chart above, the chart would become:

Ages 0-49   0.5 deaths per 1,538 cases (including those without symptoms), or 0.3 deaths per 1000 cases with or without symptoms

Ages 50-64  1.3 deaths per 1000 cases with or without symptoms

Ages 65+    8.5 deaths per 1000 cases with or without symptoms

A recent study of blood samples from 23 different parts of the world came to a similarly low estimate of the number of deaths per 1000 COVID-19 infections. It reported that among people who are less than 70 years old, the number of deaths per 1000 ranged from 0.0 to 2.3 per 1000, with a median of 0.4 deaths per 1000.

The same paper remarks,

COVID-19 seems to affect predominantly the frail, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized – as shown by high rates of infectious burden in nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons, meat processing plants, and the strong racial/ethnic inequalities against minorities in terms of the cumulative death risk.

[2] There seem to be things we can do ourselves to reduce our personal chance of serious illness or death.

General good health is protective against getting a bad case of COVID-19. Thus, anything that we can do in terms of a good diet and exercise is likely helpful. Staying inside for weeks on end in the hope of preventing exposure to COVID-19 is probably not helpful.

Continued exposure to huge amounts of disinfectants and hand sanitizers is likely not to be helpful either. Our bodies depend on healthy microbiomes, and products such as these adversely affect our microbiomes. They kill good and bad bacteria alike and may leave harmful residues. It is easy to scale back our personal use of these products.

There are recent indications that vitamin D is likely to be protective in reducing both the incidence of COVID-19 and the disease’s severity. Web MD reports:

Several groups of researchers from different countries have found that the sickest patients often have the lowest levels of vitamin D, and that countries with higher death rates had larger numbers of people with vitamin D deficiency than countries with lower death rates.

Experts say healthy blood levels of vitamin D may give people with COVID-19 a survival advantage by helping them avoid cytokine storm, when the immune system overreacts and attacks your body’s own cells and tissues.

While we don’t know for certain that vitamin D is helpful, there is certainly enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that it would likely be worthwhile to raise vitamin D levels to the amount recommended by the National Institute of Health (30 nmol/L or higher). People with dark skin living in areas away from the equator might especially be helped by this strategy, since dark skin reduces vitamin D production.

Masks seem to be helpful in preventing the spread of infection. A person’s own immune system can handle some level of germs. If two people meeting together both wear masks, the combination of masks can perhaps reduce the level of germs to within the amount the immune system can handle. Our immune systems are built to handle a barrage of small attacks by viruses and bacteria. Continued “practice” with relatively low combinations of good and bad bacteria (as occur with masks) will tend to build up our bodies’ natural defenses.

We see dentists and dental hygienists wearing face shields. These shields are readily available over the internet and can be worn with a mask or by themselves. We don’t yet know precisely how much protection they provide, but early models suggest that they can be helpful in two directions: (a) preventing the wearer’s droplets from harming others and (b) reducing the droplet exposure from others. Thus, they may be a worthwhile way to reduce exposure to the virus causing COVID-19, even when others are not wearing masks.

[3] The medical community’s ability to treat COVID-19 cases keeps improving.

There seem to be many small changes that are improving treatment of COVID-19. If patients are having trouble getting enough oxygen, having them lie on their stomachs seems to increase their blood oxygen levels. The cost of this change is pretty much zero, but it keeps people out of the ICU longer.

Originally, planners thought that ventilators would be needed for patients with COVID-19, since ventilators are often used on pneumonia patients. Experience has shown, however, that oxygen plus something like a CPAP machine often works better and is less expensive.**

The simple change of not sending recuperating patients to nursing home-type facilities for the last stages of care has proven helpful, as well. Many of these patients can still infect others, leading to infections in long-term care facilities. Tests to tell whether patients are truly over the disease do not seem to be very accurate.

Last week, it was announced that treatment with an inexpensive common steroid could reduce deaths of people on ventilators by one-third. It could also reduce deaths of those requiring only oxygen treatment by 20%. Using this treatment should significantly reduce deaths, at little cost.

We can expect improvements in treatments to continue as doctors experiment with existing treatments, and as drug companies work on new solutions. Looking at cumulative historical mortality rates tends to overlook the huge learning curve that is taking place, allowing mortality rates to be lower.

[4] More doubts are being raised about quickly finding a vaccine that prevents COVID-19. 

The public would like to think that a vaccine solution is right around the corner. Vaccine promoters such as Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates would like to encourage this belief. Unfortunately, there are quite a few obstacles to getting a vaccine that actually works for any length of time:

(a) Antibodies for coronaviruses tend not to stay around for very long. A recent study suggests that even as soon as eight weeks, a significant share of COVID-19 patients (40% of those without symptoms; 12.9% of those with symptoms) had lost all immunity. A vaccine will likely face this same challenge.

(b) Vaccines may not work against mutations. Beijing is now fighting a new version of COVID-19 that seems to have been imported from Europe in food. Early indications are that people who caught the original Wuhan version of the COVID-19 virus will not be immune to the mutated version imported from Europe.

Vaccines that are currently under development use the Wuhan version of the virus. The catch is that the version of COVID-19 now circulating in the United States, Europe and perhaps elsewhere is mostly not the Wuhan type.

(c) There is a real concern that a vaccine against one version of COVID-19 will make a person’s response to a mutation of COVID-19 worse, rather than better. It has been known for many years that Dengue Fever has this characteristic; it is one of the reasons that there is no vaccine for Dengue Fever. The earlier SARS virus (which is closely related to the COVID-19 virus) has this same issue. Preliminary analysis suggests that the virus causing COVID-19 seems to have this characteristic, as well.

In sum, getting a vaccine that actually works against COVID-19 is likely to be a huge challenge. Instead of expecting a silver bullet in the form of a COVID-19 vaccine, we probably need to be looking for a lot of silver bee-bees that will hold down the impact of the illness. Hopefully, COVID-19 will someday disappear on its own, but we have no assurance of this outcome.

[5] The basic underlying issue that the world economy faces is overshoot, caused by too high a population relative to underlying resources.

When an economy is in overshoot, the big danger is collapse. The characteristics of overshoot leading to collapse include the following:

  • Very great wage disparity; too many people are very poor
  • Declining health, often due to poor nutrition, making people vulnerable to epidemics
  • Increasing use of debt, to make up for inadequate wages and profits
  • Falling commodity prices because too few people can afford these commodities and goods made from these commodities
  • Gluts of commodities, causing farmers to plow under crops and oil to be put into storage

Thus, pandemics are very much to be expected when an economy is in overshoot.

One example of collapse is that following the Black Death (1348-1350) epidemic in Europe. The collapse killed 60% of Europe’s population and dropped Britain’s population from close to 5 million to about 2 million.

Figure 1. Britain’s population, 1200 to 1700. Chart by Bloomberg using Federal Reserve of St. Louis data.

We might say that there was a U-shaped population recovery, which took about 300 years.

A later example that almost led to collapse was the period between 1914 and 1945. This was a period of shrinking international trade, indicating that something was truly wrong. On Figure 2 below, the WSJ calls its measure of international trade the “Trade Openness Index.” The period 1914-1945 is highlighted as being somewhat like today.

Figure 2. The Trade Openness Index is an index based on the average of world imports and exports, divided by world GDP. Chart by Wall Street Journal.

Many of the issues in the 1914-1945 timeframe were coal related. World War I took place when coal depletion became a problem in Britain. The issue at that time was wages that were too low for coal miners because the price of coal would not rise very high. Higher coal prices were needed to offset the impact of depletion, but high coal prices were not affordable by citizens.

The Pandemic of 1918-1919 killed far more people than either World War I or COVID-19.

World War II came about at the time coal depletion became a problem in Germany.

Figure 3. Figure by author describing peak coal timing compared to World War I and World War II.

The problem of inadequate energy resources finally ended when World War II ramped up demand through more debt and through more women entering the labor force for the first time. In response, the US began pumping oil out of the ground at a faster rate. Instead of depending on coal alone, the world began depending on a combination of oil and coal as energy resources. The ratio of population to energy resources was suddenly brought back into balance again, and collapse was averted!

[6] We are now in another period of overshoot of population relative to resources. The critical resource this time is oil. The alternatives we have aren’t suited to fulfilling our most basic need: the growing and transportation of food. They act as add-ons that are lost if oil is lost.

If we look back at Figure 2 above, it shows that since 2008, the world has again fallen into a period of shrinking imports and exports, which is a sign of “not enough energy resources to go around.” We are also experiencing many of the other characteristics of an overshoot economy that I mentioned in Section 5 above.

Figure 4 shows world energy consumption by type of energy through 2019, using recently published data by BP. The “Other” combination in Figure 4 includes nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, and other smaller categories such as geothermal energy, wood pellets, and sawdust burned for fuel.

Figure 4. World energy consumption by fuel, based on BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Oil has been rising at a steady pace; coal consumption has been close to level since about 2012. Natural gas and “Other” seem to be rising a little faster in the most recent few years.

If we divide by world population, the trend in world energy consumption per capita by type is as follows:

Figure 5. World Per Capita Energy Consumption based on BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy

Many people would like to think that the various energy sources are substitutable, but this is not really the case, as we approach limits of a finite world.

One catch is that there are very few stand-alone energy resources. Most energy resources only work within a framework provided by other energy sources. Wood that is picked up from the forest floor can work as a stand-alone energy source. Wind can almost be used as a stand-alone energy source, if it is used to power a simple sail boat or a wooden windmill. Water can almost be used as a stand-alone energy source, if it can be made to turn a wooden water wheel.

Coal, when its use was ramped up, enabled the production of both concrete and steel. It allowed modern hydroelectric dams to be built. It allowed steam engines to operate. It truly could be used as a stand-alone energy source. The main obstacle to the extraction of coal was keeping the cost of extraction low enough, so that, even with transportation, buyers could afford to purchase the coal.

Oil, similarly, can be a stand-alone energy solution because it is very flexible, dense, and easily transported. Or it can be paired with other types of less-expensive energy, to make it go further. We can see our dependence on oil by how level energy consumption per capita is in Figure 5 since the early 1980s. Growth in population seems to depend upon the amount of oil available.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the economy is a self-organizing system. If there isn’t enough of the energy products upon which the economy primarily depends, the system tends to change in very strange ways. Countries become more quarrelsome. People decide to have fewer children or they become more susceptible to pandemics, bringing population more in line with energy resources.

The problem with natural gas and with the electricity products that I have lumped together as “Other” is that they are not really stand-alone products. They cannot grow food or build roads. They cannot power international jets. They cannot build wind turbines or solar panels. They cannot put natural gas pipelines in place. They can only exist in a complex environment which includes oil and perhaps coal (or other cheaper energy products).

We are kidding ourselves if we think we can transition to modern fuels that are low in carbon emissions. Without high prices, oil and coal that are in the ground will tend to stay in the ground permanently. This is the serious obstacle that we are up against. Without oil and coal, natural gas and electricity products will quickly become unusable.

[7] A major problem with COVID-19 related shutdowns is the fact that they lead to very low commodity prices, including oil prices. 

Figure 6. Inflation-adjusted monthly average oil prices through May 2020. Amounts are Brent Spot Oil Prices, as published by the EIA. Inflation adjustment is made using the CPI-Urban Index.

Oil is the primary type of energy used in growing and transporting food. It is used in many essential processes, including in the production of electricity. If its production is to continue, its price must be both high enough for oil producers and low enough for consumers.

The problem that we have been encountering since 2008 (the start of the latest cutback in trade in Figure 2) is that oil prices have been falling too low for producers. Now, in 2020, oil production is beginning to fall. This is happening because producing companies cannot afford to extract oil at current prices; governments of oil exporting countries cannot collect enough taxes at current prices. They hope that by reducing oil supply, prices will rise again.

If extraordinarily low oil prices persist, a calamity similar to the one that “Peak Oilers” have worried about will certainly occur: Oil supply will begin dropping. In fact, the drop will likely be much more rapid than most Peak Oilers have imagined, because the drop will be caused by low prices, rather than the high prices that they imagined would occur.

Amounts which are today shown as “proven reserves” can be expected to disappear because they will not be economic to extract. Governments of oil exporting countries seem likely to be overthrown because tax revenue from oil is their major source of revenue for programs such as food subsidies and jobs programs. When this disappears, governments of oil exporters are forced to cut back, lowering the standard of living of their citizens.

[8] What our strategy should be from now on is not entirely clear.

Of course, one path is straight into collapse, as happened after the Black Death of 1348-1352 (Figure 1). In fact, the carrying capacity of Britain might still be about 2 million. Its current population is about 68 million, so this would represent a population reduction of about 97%.

Other countries would experience substantial population reductions as well. The population decline would reflect many causes of death besides direct deaths from COVID-19; they would reflect the impacts of collapsing governments, inadequate food supply, polluted water supplies, and untreated diseases of many kinds.

If a large share of the population stays hidden in their homes trying to avoid COVID, it seems to me that we are most certainly heading straight into collapse. Supply lines for many kinds of goods and services will be broken. Oil prices and food prices will stay very low. Farmers will plow under crops, trying to raise prices. Gluts of oil will continue to be a problem.

If we try to transition to renewables, this leads directly to collapse as well, as far as I can see. They are not robust enough to stand on their own. Prices of oil and other commodities will fall too low and gluts will occur. Renewables will only last as long as (a) the overall systems can be kept in good repair and (b) governments can support continued subsidies.

The only approach that seems to keep the system going a little longer would seem to be to try to muddle along, despite COVID-19. Open up economies, even if the number of COVID-19 cases is higher and keeps rising. Tell people about the approaches they can use to limit their exposure to the virus, and how they can make their immune systems stronger. Get people started raising their vitamin D levels, so that they perhaps have a better chance of fighting the disease if they get COVID-19.

With this approach, we keep as many people working for as long as possible. Life will go on as close to normal, for as long as it can. We can perhaps put off collapse for a bit longer. We don’t have a lot of options open to us, but this one seems to be the best of a lot of poor options.


*The CDC estimates are estimates of future deaths per 1000 cases. Thus, they probably reflect the learning curve that has already taken place. It is unlikely that they reflect the benefit of the new steroid treatment mentioned in Section 3, because this finding occurred after April 29.

**I have been told that disease spread can be a problem when using CPAP machines, however. Using ventilators at very low pressure settings seems also to be a solution.




This entry was posted in Financial Implications and tagged , , , , , by Gail Tverberg. Bookmark the permalink.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.

2,824 thoughts on “COVID-19 and the economy: Where do we go from here?

  1. Cryptomoney has no ultimate value, because its perceived (imagined) value is only what the ‘creation process’ says it is.

    which is nonsense

    Because money is only a token of energy exchange.

    you fix my car—i give you money, you use that money to buy food—-that food delivers enough energy for you to fix somebody else’s car. It is a fixed process of universal economics that cannot vary other than in size.

    Even Bezos is locked into the same system. He must continually redirect his capital assets into more throughput warehouses that ultimately deliver cardboard boxes to your doorstep by a food consuming man in a fuel burning van. (in exchange for your ‘real’ money)

    It isn’t possible to bend the economic process to suit your idea of ‘value’, If the process of fixing my car is worth say $£500, you can’t alter that input value and charge me £$ 500,000 just on a whim, or some kind of electronic bidding system that delivers a different value figure–or because rates had changed since yesterday.

    The underlying value of the ‘exchange of goods or services’ is what it is, in physical terms.

    It’s easy to prove to yourself: Just ask for more wages than your labour is worth–you’ll quickly starve to death. Brain surgeon or garbage collector—the law is fixed. Bank robbers might work to different rules, but only in the short term.

    Yes, some people have made money out of cryptocash–just as there are people who always make money out of Ponzi schemes. They get out early and sell their holding to the suckers coming up behind. The oldest trick in the book.

    Ive tried to explain it here:

    View at

    • “Because money is only a token of energy exchange”
      I agree with that. But my intuition is that in a few months/years, only digital currencies will allow people to get most services or goods. Which will give the banks an incredible power over people meaning they won’t be able to control their wages or savings. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t belive the dollar to survive any longer. Today looks like being in a desert with 1 billion dollar but with no food or water. What will you do with 1 billion? nothing…

      • Just another thing: the cryptocash as we know it today will be much different when controlled by central banks…

          • you don’t need so much electricity. Only a few data centers with solar panels and batteries. Must people don’t believe there is a plan but I do. Rich people has known what happens right now. They are prepared and not ready to lose their power / money. So they need a very little tiny quantity of energy to transform their dollars into cryptocurrencies before it’s too late and the dollar disappears. What other solution do you think they have? Of course the rest of humanity will have no or a little quantity of this new currency (which would require a lot of electricity that can’t be produced).

          • Don’t kid yourself.
            We are already on an electronic system. In relation to the overall amount of currency in the world, cash is only a fractional amount. Everything is ones and zeros.
            If the grid (or the net) were to go down, then so does the money system along with your ability to buy most items. Banks no longer carry much cash on hand.

    • quote: “Cryptomoney has no ultimate value…”

      You can say exactly the same thing about all current (fiat) and historical money/currencies (gold / metal based). They are all means of exchange with no intrinsic value. The value they have is based purely on people’s trust. Trust, that in the future you will be able to exchange them for something valuable for you.
      The crypto-currency is the same thing, only in digital form. Instead of hybrid money system – digital (electronic-banking systems zeroes and ones) plus physical (cash) – we’ll have purely digital, under control of the centralized banking system.
      Concentration of power. This is what is required by the PTB right now.

        • Craig, I agree. During almost two years here in Malta, I have never signed a contract or written a cheque. Every purchase, every house improvement (to date, EUR 4000 and counting) has been based on a verbal quote, sealed with a handshake, and paid for cash on the nail.I suppose an economist would call it “disintermediation”, but its true name is trust. As the Quakers said and lived by: “Verbum meum pactum”.

      • Well, it requires two levels of trust: one in the rules of the abstract system, and one in the physical means of delivery and reckoning.

  2. I’m assuming you would need a smart phone or something like it. Smart phone use was at about 60% of the world population in 2019, What are you going to do about the other 40%, who’s going to pay for the other 3 billion phones and the energy to run them when they make less then $4 a day?

    • I was at Moscone Center when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, held and examined it, and wasn’t quite sure (it was released months later).
      Never have had a “smart phone”, even when Apple tried to give me one.
      Excellent tracking device.


    ‘FBI chief slams Chinese cyberattacks on U.S., calls it ‘one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history’

    “To achieve its goals and surpass America, China recognizes it needs to make leaps in cutting edge technology, but the sad fact is that instead of engaging in the hard slog of innovation, China often steals American intellectual property and then uses it to compete against the very American companies it victimizes, in effect, cheating twice,” he said, adding that the Chinese government targets “research on everything from military equipment to wind turbines.”

    “When asked if the United States had an estimate on the financial damage the Chinese government has caused on the American economy, Wray said he didn’t know of an exact number, but added that “every figure I’ve seen is breathtaking.”

    • China has a different code of ethics. Not coming from the Judeo-Christian tradition, I don’t think, “Thou shalt not steal,” is part of it.

  4. New York (CNN Business)It’s no longer all about the Benjamins. Or the Jacksons, Lincolns and Washingtons, for that matter.

    The pandemic has accelerated the demise of cash because of infection concerns — and that’s great news for Square as well as Venmo owner PayPal.
    Their stocks are surging this year as people shun physical bills and coins, shop online and send payments digitally in an increasingly contactless world. The use of paper currencies was already in decline before the coronavirus outbreak, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    PayPal (PYPL) shares have surged 65% while Square (SQ) has more than doubled so far in 2020. Both stocks are at all-time highs. And given the favorable trends, it’s likely that each stock could continue to thrive
    Yes, Apple has set up shop on Amazon. That means you can get official Apple products with free Prime shipping.
    When we go back to eating out, more of us will pay with our phones
    When we go back to eating out, more of us will pay with our phones
    Analysts are particularly bullish on Square and its popular Cash App.
    On Monday SunTrust’s Andrew Jeffrey boosted his price target on Square, led by Twitter’s (TWTR) Jack Dorsey, to $150 a share — nearly 20% higher than the stock’s current levels.
    “Square is poised to take meaningful direct deposit share from banks,” Jeffrey said in a report, adding that “pandemic stimulus highlights Cash App’s unique functionality, which we think can ultimately supplant traditional checking accounts.”
    Square and PayPal are modern day banks for younger users
    Other analysts agree that Square — thanks largely to its Cash App — is becoming the modern day version of a local community bank branch for millennials and Gen Z.
    “Customers are clearly flocking to Square’s neobanking services,” said Rosenblatt Securities analyst Kenneth Hill in a report last week.
    Hill upgraded his rating on the company to a “buy,” adding that “as Square develops, rolls out and monetizes a slew of services across the payments and financials ecosystems, it will lay the groundwork to make the company a need-to-own name for years to come.”
    PayPal is benefiting from some of the same trends.
    “Even as the broad Covid-19 lockdown measures are slowly eased around the world, demand for PayPal’s services remains at the elevated levels observed in April,” MoffettNathanson analyst Lisa Ellis wrote after her meeting with PayPal CEO Dan Schulman last month.
    Ellis said that Schulman noted there is “absolute certainty” that PayPal will add at least 15 million new active users in the second quarter.
    Paypal co-founder: Tech companies must start taking the moral view
    PayPal co-founder: Tech companies must start taking the moral view 02:01
    PayPal is also looking to expand its offerings to become even more of a one-stop shop for the financial needs of younger consumers. In addition to Venmo, the company recently bought shopping discounts and rewards site Honey.
    There has also been speculation that PayPal and Venmo could soon offer the ability to buy and sell bitcoin through the two platforms.
    PayPal has not made any formal announcement about that just yet. Such a move would make sense given how successful bitcoin trading has been for Square.
    Its Cash App revenue from bitcoin has nearly quintupled from a year ago, to $306.1 million, Square said when it reported its first quarter results in May. Bitcoin transaction sales accounted for nearly a quarter of the company’s total quarterly revenue.
    With that type of growth, it seems only natural that PayPal would want a piece of the crypto pie.
    “After Square’s large success with bitcoin trading…it was inevitable companies such as Venmo and PayPal [would] follow suit,” said Guy Hirsch, US managing director for brokearge firm eToro, in a report last month. “These large fintech payment firms see an opportunity for significant growth in the cryptomarket.”

    The cloud will run things


    ” “The Great Reset agenda would have three main components. The first would steer the market toward fairer outcomes. To this end, governments should improve coordination… and create the conditions for a “stakeholder economy…” It would include “changes to wealth taxes, the withdrawal of fossil-fuel subsidies, and new rules governing intellectual property, trade, and competition.”

    The second component of the Great Reset agenda would ensure that, “investments advance shared goals, such as equality and sustainability.” Here the WEF head states that the recent huge economic stimulus budgets from the EU, USA, China and elsewhere be used to create a new economy, “more resilient, equitable, and sustainable in the long run. This means, for example, building ‘green’ urban infrastructure and creating incentives for industries to improve their track record on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics.”

    • while such things as “fairer outcomes” and “equality” are noble endeavors, these paragraphs are a load of pseudo Utopian fantasy.

      it’s intellectual rubbbish.

    • Whenever I hear the term “stakeholders” I fear for my freedoms, my money and my property.
      Or, put another way, all stakeholders are not equal. It seems the controlling stakeholders always have the advantage.

  6. Here’s a story about difficulties with supplies of imported goods in New Zealand caused by effects on supply lines of cut backs of international flights since the onset of the COVID-19 lockdowns. The article suggests that it is a tough situation but that retailers are more positive about future prospects. I have to wonder how reliable such positive expectations are given energy and other resource issues not related to COVID-19 – which the article does not mention at all, of course.

    • “There was a significant improvement in retailer confidence, with 73 per cent of retailers saying they expected their business would survive the next 12 months, he said.”

      so 27% of retailers expect to fail within the next 12 months.

      “We are still in a period of catch-up, but we will emerge out of this in late August or September and that is when there will be a reckoning around job numbers and the economy,” he said.

      this is what I keep sensing as the reality of the situation. The reckoning is coming later this year when a large % of the unemployed realize that they are permanently unemployed.

      • Just what preys on my mind as I view the shops in the city centre which are still closed and boarded up here, quite a few of them. It’s painful to think about.

        It will be particularly hard for people as the winter brings long, dark and often depressingly wet days in Britain.

        A saving grace during lock-down was the lovely weather here, one of the loveliest Springs I’ve ever seen.

        One wonders what the political effects will be. The Left should be the champions of the unemployed working class, but they are mired in the puerile absurdities of identity, gender and race politics, which are totally irrelevant to the real hardships which are descending on the masses.

  7. “In a financial crisis, the theory goes, people cut back on gym memberships, eating out, and holidays. But on a bad day (and during a financial crisis, those bad days are legion), a consumer will still reliably reach for retail therapy: picking up a cupcake, a magazine, or, famously, a tube of lipstick.

    “This financial crisis might be different. After all, why wear lipstick when no one can see your smile anyway?”

    • How true.

      I learnt to bake my own cupcakes and pastries in lock-down, haven’t bought a magazine in months and won’t take out a subscription for delivery in case the publishers go bust.

      And as for lipstick, well darlings, for whom would I be putting it on? The dog?

      • One imagines that male grooming has plunged on your island, too, Sir Harry?

        • Xabier, alas it is so. I haven’t had a haircut since February and am starting to look as if I have escaped from a Jim Henson show.

          • One might name it the ‘Freedom for Scotland!’ cut? Such an inspirational film of total twaddle.

            • “Braveheart” was fantastic entertainment but unfortunately also anti-English celluloid demagoguery, and quite harmful in that respect.

    • Well, with spatial distancing of 6 ft, no one needs to wear deodorant anymore!
      Have deodorant sales fallen?

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