Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Snap Back?

The notion that the world's leading economies will quickly recover from the slump (in Britain, said to the worst since 1709*) become orthodox. 

The few dissenting voices still forecast a strong resurgent tendency once the brakes are released. 

The UK Chancellor today used the phrase 'snap back' to normal. 

Maybe it's because I live in a city which is unlikely to bounce back quite so strongly from the start of Q3, that I perhaps have a more jaundiced view on this.

Globally we've reached the concertina phase, both in terms of the disease and the downturn (the Dow too, probably), yet it seems to me that the medical experts and the economic experts are still not really communicating in a joined-up manner. 

The former have been talking about a pandemic with effects on healthcare services lasting at least 18 months, the latter of a steady return to near normality in the second half of 2020.

In particular the word 'peak' is being used rather disingenuously, as if the virus itself was approaching a point of exhaustion, when in fact what we see is the point of suppression it has been possible to achieve via lockdowns. If we were all to leave home tomorrow we'd start to see an altogether scarier sort of peak.

The parts of our local economy in Antigua which will struggle through the rest of the year at least have their equivalents elsewhere, in London for example, proportionally smaller perhaps, but with deep roots across the whole of society and thus perhaps with wider ramifications.

The OBR report in the UK today suggests a 35% GDP contraction now, easing to 13% by year end: worse than the effects of the 2008 crash and both world wars. 

Does anyone really imagine that the moment we are technically able to once again go to bars, restaurants, cinemas, stadiums, museums and on holiday, we actually will, to anything like the level seen before the pandemic? (The immediate snap back may well indeed be pronounced, but sustainable?)

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the economy, says Sunak. Sure, a soldier on the battlefield is usually in the best condition of his life, right up until....

I detect a wilful faux-naivety about how connected the global economy has become. Nations are dealing with the virus independently, so perhaps they are also assuming the economic symptoms can be handled similarly.

And politicians the world over have a clear rationale for spinning our collective state of fuckedness positively. Negativity would have clear negative impacts. As for the US administration, dishonesty is simply the default. 

PS: Que alguien me explíque....why is De Museo still open, and offering home deliveries? Josticks, samurai swords and Paolo Coelho are not essential services.

* What actually happened in 1709? The real Robinson Crusoe was rescued...but the South Sea Bubble didn't occur until 1720.

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