5 Months into a Pandemic
5 Months into a Pandemic
An update to my March 6th post
On March 6th of this year, I made my first medium post. It was in the early stages of the pandemic here in the United States and I felt the need to share my initial thoughts with the information available at that time. Unfortunately, the number of cases and deaths have exploded since then, and after a brief plateau, we are now experience a new surge in cases. As promised, I’d like to share my thought on what I think we can expect over the next few months, with a focus on economic and social trends.
To start, it’s important to understand what brought us to where we are today. Using the interactive timeline provided by Newsphere, the snowball effect of the pandemic becomes quite clear. However, we appear to be at a crossroads. While some areas of the globe, like New Zealand and much of Europe, have at the moment “flattened the curve”, the United States has at best plateaued in terms of daily new cases.
Economically, there has been a growing disconnect between main street and wall street. Although stocks had a historic plunge in March, they have rebounded dramatically, with many retouching or eclipsing their all time highs set before the pandemic began. Yes, the stock market is generally forward looking, pricing in future cash flows and economic strength. But our Federal Reserve Bank has played a significant role in the rapid recovery, engaging in massive liquidity injections and bond purchasing programs, while also setting new rules and regulations on companies. For instance, the Fed recently restricted shareholder payouts from some of the nation’s biggest banks. Additionally, an economy back at 100% is highly contingent on the containment of the virus. With cases on the rise and some states that had previously opened up going back on lockdown, it would not surprise me to see stocks slump once more. The severity of such a downturn is highly dependent on the status of Covid-19’s spread, the actions of governors, and the prospects of a vaccine.
Another variable in the equation is the upcoming presidential election. The country is divided on so many fronts. It’s blacks vs. whites. “Socialists” vs. “Conservatives”. Left vs. right. Up vs. Down. Even the simple action of wearing a mask when out in public has become political. Yet, so many of our country’s divisions are a facade. According to a 2018 Axios article that highlights a study titled Hidden Tribes, America’s two extreme wings comprise just 14% of the population, “yet it often feels as if our national conversation has become a shouting match between these two groups.” Divisions will continue to accelerate as we inch closer to November. I would not be surprised to see tensions boil over once more, or for ongoing protests to continue through the summer into the fall.
Overall, the impact of Coronavirus goes well beyond the death and destruction caused by the disease itself. It’s tentacles extend and latch onto the very social fabric of America, removing the thin veil of order that has been keeping the pot from boiling over. It has unveiled that the pillars of liberty and freedom that have held up our country for over one hundred years are cracking and are in desperate need of repair, should we hope to exist for another hundred more.