Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Great Reset Requires Extended Acquiescence To Economic Shutdown


bloomberg |  Shuttering businesses, grounding airlines and ordering people to stay home was hard enough the first time. The thought of having to do it all over again is something world leaders don’t want to even contemplate. From Italy to New Zealand, irrespective of how well the virus was contained, governments acknowledge that fresh waves of the deadly coronavirus are likely and that the policy tools to mitigate the damage are limited. The hope is that localizing quarantines to towns, cities and regions will be enough to snuff out bouts of infections as they come.

U.K.’s Boris Johnson was reluctant to order a lockdown and then ended up in intensive care fighting for his life after contracting Covid-19. Yet he finds the idea of isolating the nation again so off-putting that he compared it to a nuclear deterrent: “I certainly don’t want to use it.” French Prime Minister Jean Castex, was equally blunt: “We won’t survive, economically and socially.”

At the other end of the globe, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern has warned that it just takes one mistake to be exposed to the virus again. But even for her, reverting to a nationwide lockdown would be a “measure of last resort.”

It all speaks to the great elephant in the room: while scientists warn it could take years to control a deadly virus that has killed more than 630,000 worldwide, there is no appetite to sustain the hiatus on travel, work and leisure that has upended everyone’s lives in 2020. With the world facing its worst recession since the Great Depression and U.S. President Donald Trump fighting for re-election in November, voters are on edge.

Politicians of all stripes are looking for ways to ease the pain—not add to it—as fear morphs into anger and discontent. “Populations can be summoned to heroic acts of collective self-sacrifice for a while, but not forever,” political scientist Francis Fukuyama, author of “The End of History and the Last Man,” wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine. “A lingering epidemic combined with deep job losses, a prolonged recession, and an unprecedented debt burden will inevitably create tensions that turn into a political backlash—but against whom is as yet unclear.”

The political calculus is to try and it ride it out. Yet while efforts to get people back to stores, restaurants, bars and hairdressers demonstrate the urgency among governments of reviving economies, they also show the risks.

0 comments: