As the ball dropped in Time Square and spectacular fireworks went off in cities around the world heralding and celebrating the arrival of a brand new year with great expectations and hope because the outlook for major economies around the world, especially in the US, was simply stellar and projections predicted that things were only going to get better and perhaps the world was moving towards the best year yet. Lacking the ability to see the future, little did humanity know that dark days were ahead and things were going to take a turn for the worst as the world collectively will be hit by an unseen enemy from the East (China) was already spreading beyond its origins, defying borders, and enforcing its will.
For several months since the turn of the year, COVID-19 a never seen before coronavirus, a novel disease has been front on and center on the news and forming a major part of every discussion in the world today because it has caused a lot of death and carnage all around the world, shaking the world of business and medical care delivery to its core. Virtually every country in the world has had to deal with the rising number of hospital occupancy and fatalities.
The Damage in Numbers
The number of confirmed cases in the world have been on the increase daily, rising to over 3 million cases and the total number of fatalities surpassing 200 thousand deaths as the number of cases in the worst-hit countries like the Italy, Spain, the UK since exceeding 100,000 and the US having over a million confirmed coronavirus case. The number of COVID-19 casualties though would have been a lot more devastating but for the decision of governments and world leaders to bite the bullet by making the tough but critical decision to lockdown their countries, shut down their economies, businesses, public places and issuing nation/state-wide stay at home directives to avert the worst-case scenario and slow down the spread of the virus shortly after the disease have been classified as a worldwide pandemic.
These responsive and collective actions though necessary, have effectively almost brought the global economy to a complete halt, darkening global economic outlook, and forcing financial policymakers and agencies to abandon their conventional and proven strategies to respond to the problem and keep the world from falling into the worst financial abyss since the great depression.
Inevitably, despite these unprecedented times, the world will try to pick up the pieces, and countries will make moves to resuscitate their economies and eventually or rather, hopefully, reverse the damage caused by the pandemic. This is already happening as we see governments throughout the world reopening their economies gradually by allowing some businesses both essential and non-essential services to go back to work and putting guidelines in place that are aimed at keeping down the number of cases and reducing the spread of the disease.
Is This Happening Too Soon?
As expected, as governments aim at kick-starting their countries slowly but surely again, there is bound to be discussions or debates about the relaxing of lockdowns to revive the economy with the main headline question; is this happening too soon? At this point, there are 2 active groups of people on either side of the debate; a pro-economy group and a pro-health group. To allow for a fair debate, we will have to take a look at a few talking points put forward by the 2 groups, so read on to learn more about the discuss.
Coronavirus- The Fray Train Vs the Bull
From schools to restaurants, to sports, real-estate, to travel, every industry and business have been greatly affected by the situation caused by the coronavirus and already financial analyst/experts and international business organisations are already predicting that even the biggest economies will struggle to recover from the damage caused by measures to curb the spread of the virus and may take years to fully recover. Earlier in April, the managing director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva put out a statement saying that the body is anticipating an economic fallout as severe as the Great Depression.
If this warning and other financial forecast reports are anything to go by, this only means that the global economy is already in dire straits, and governments should be looking for a way to get back at it and stop the bleeding as soon as possible.
Even more alarming as fiscal stimulus packages totalling several trillions of dollars continue to be rolled out to save businesses, keep people employed, and mitigate the suffering of the citizens of the countries of the world, this strategy is not sustainable which means that the longer these lockdowns are in place the worst the situation is going to get and business owners will have to get back to work if the response is going to have the desired effect.
Is Health Not Wealth?
Though the above arguments and concern are very real and can’t be ignored, the people that are arguing for continued lockdown at least, for now, will point out that the sheer number of coronavirus cases and deaths so far are very scary and have left a lot of people/families in distress because they have lost a loved one or they have suffered the medical effects of the disease. Also, the point could be made that at the beginning of the pandemic, the number of cases simply overwhelmed the medical infrastructure of the countries most hit by the pandemic and a resurgence of the disease as warned by the WHO (World Health Organisation) could be even further put a strain on medical systems and facilities worldwide, thereby causing a re-closure of countries which could prove to be the coup de grace to the global economy as we know it.
How Have Countries That Have Relaxed The Lockdown Faired?
In the United States, several states across the countries are now in the process of slowly reopening their states and relaxing lockdowns with the aid of models that are unique to their states to ensure that their plans work. However, countries like China, Australia, and Germany are ahead of the curve and are now well into the process easing lockdowns and have been joined by other countries such as Spain, Austria, and Denmark amongst others as the number of day-to-day cases are on the decrease. However, in the US and some other countries, there has been a slight spike in the number of cases in some states that have eased their lockdown restrictions.
In conclusion, while there is a need for courage in times like this and a need to get economies roaring again, whatever side of the argument you are on, you most likely will agree that staying healthy and alive should be the priority for any human being, so, while we wish to get back to our lives and make profits, governments must take a lot of precautions before easing their restrictions and continue to educate their citizens about health and safety guidelines that will help us win the fight against the deadly virus while we encourage first responders and health workers to continue being our heroes and we wait for a cure and vaccines that will, truly put us on track and defeat our common enemy for good.