Nations across the world are going through an immense challenge trying to figure out how to best contain the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Governments have been taking cues from neighboring countries and from those that are allegedly nearing the containment phase in the hope that they too can protect their populations and salvage their economies. Utter chaos and sheer panic seem to be taking over the strongest economies on the face of the Earth. There is a clear and expected shift in how both public and private sectors are reallocating their production powers and resources towards healthcare and national security strategies, seeing as they lie at the front of this war against the pandemic.
While many believe this global governance shift is only temporary until all nations surpass the “danger zone” and hopefully succeed in “flattening the curve,” this is not entirely accurate. In truth, the current outbreak will have forever changed economies and societies, even after the crisis is long underway. The materialist world that we’ve grown accustomed to— which now seems like a distant memory—was bound to implode sooner rather than later.
Relishing in a collective behavior of consumerism where the rich were getting richer, and the poor were getting poorer was not destined to last for as long as it did. Modern capitalist economies have continuously neglected human welfare and turned a blind eye to pressing environmental issues threatening our natural habitats. Much like during the times of the World Wars, countries are now turning into war economies, racing to fulfill the surging demands for health commodities – from car manufacturers mass-producing respiratory ventilators, to high-end couture houses abandoning their luscious threads and yarns to cover the needs for medical masks and gowns.
Several industry sectors are stepping up to contribute their fair share, hoping to alleviate the burden and give nations a fighting chance against this ominous virus. As such, let us dig deeper to understand how the Coronavirus war economy will change the world in the impending future.
Healthcare and Welfare Will Become a Priority
Following the old saying that nothing worth knowing can be taught, perhaps we needed to take a few steps back to understand just how essential healthcare is to any properly functioning society. It is ironic how healthcare has been equally neglected in both advanced countries and less-developed ones. In the case of the former, corruption and greed have commodified healthcare into yet another money-making industry, while in the West, poverty, and illiteracy are largely to blame.
With what is currently going on in the world where governments are pledging unlimited funds to researchers and scientists to find a cure against the COVID-19, it is evidently clear that healthcare is bound to become the main focus for future globalized economies. Not only will rich countries invest more money into strengthening their own medical systems and facilities, but they will also have a responsibility to reach out to other less fortunate nations to help them do the same. If there is anything to take away from the Coronavirus outbreak, it is that humans are only as strong as the weakest among us.
Technological Advancement Will Take Giant Leaps
During times of war economy, nations are often caught in hard-work mode. Following the spread of the Coronavirus, countries have locked themselves in and sent their experts to work. With the rapid spreading, scientists are in a race against time to find an antidote that can cure the virus and spare human lives currently under threat.
Technology, on the other hand, is playing a dynamic role on both the front and the back lines. Large tech companies are running their own race, working on developing genetic mapping systems and screening devices to help doctors and medical staff win this fight. In parallel, for all of those on the back lines working from home, technologies supporting remote work are being tested in unprecedented ways. Video conferencing tools and document sharing apps are being used every day throughout the world. In that optic, tech gurus are experimenting with ways to enhance their users’ experience and adapt their products to fit modern business practices.
Just like in times of wars, this sense of urgency is pushing technology further ahead than it would have been prior to the appearance of the Coronavirus.
Many Private Sector Companies Will Be Nationalized
With the insurmountable losses companies in the private sector are reporting, they cannot help but ask for government intervention to help them take the hit and emerge from the current crisis standing on their two feet. As an example, the aviation sector is among the worst impacted with airports closing down, airline tickets cancellations, effectively stopping the whole industry dead in its tracks.
Shareholders and owners who wish to avoid bankruptcy will inevitably succumb to the decision of being bought out and taken over by the state. This is especially interesting in free-market economies, where minimum government intervention supposedly meant that the market was operating at its best and promoting optimal resource allocation.
Nowadays, however, circumstances have changed, and corporations are seeking refuge in the arms of their governments, trying to escape from the economic downfalls caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. Ultimately, all help will be welcome.
Governments and Decision-Makers Will Be Under High Scrutiny
Times of crisis is the perfect opportunity to assess the efficiency and performance of governments and bureaucrats making decisions on behalf of citizens. Now, the recent virus outbreak has given the public a chance to witness their political elites at work firsthand.
As the situation continues to unfold day after day, world leaders have nowhere to escape the public eye. While prompt and firm counter-measures are being met with admiration and applause from some, others believe that their governments are falling prey to a sort of global conspiracy where the world’s largest economies are fighting for world domination. Regardless of whether this is the right course of action, now more than ever, people are beginning to realize that they have the right to question their leaders’ decisions, and expect nothing short of honesty and transparency from their side.
This especially holds true in regard to budgets, expenditure, and how taxpayers’ money is being utilized to improve the healthcare system and provide them with an adequate level of service whenever they need it the most. As much as the public figures who are in the driving seats during this global crisis cannot be envied, they have an unmatched chance to command people’s respect by showcasing wisdom, transparency, and strong leadership.
Minimum Wages Will Be Boosted
You do not need to take a long look at any country nowadays to realize who are the most indispensable individuals at the moment. Aside from life-saving doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals—after all, it is a sanitary health crisis we are fighting—factory laborers, supermarket workers, drivers, and farmers all play vital roles in this war. They are the ones still going out every single day, proceeding with their regular work shifts, and putting their own lives in danger so that the rest of the people who are called upon to stay home continue doing so in comfort and with relative peace of mind.
Most of these individuals live on minimum wages, which is barely enough to cover basic human needs. In an acknowledgment of the heroic part they are playing, much-needed social and political reform will need to be implemented to guarantee them the proper compensation they deserve and allow them to live more comfortable and fulfilling lives. This segment of society that has been neglected for far too long will finally be atoned for, and their true worth celebrated.
Local Businesses Will Thrive
With countries closing their borders and physically disconnecting from one another, international trade has been put on hold until further notice. In essence, this means that the smaller local businesses will finally enjoy a break from competing with multinational industry giants. Since national companies and ventures can fulfill their production needs locally without having to rely on foreign interventions, this will allow them to flourish, at least for the foreseeable future. Adding to that, the aggregate sense of community during these difficult times will encourage consumers to shop locally. The small neighborhood convenience store will have as much traffic as the big hypermarkets, if not more since movement out on the streets has become very limited, and large gatherings prohibited.
Further down the road, this will boost local economies and have positive repercussions on the welfare of nations.
Humans Will Become Less Wasteful
Since a majority of the countries are living under complete lockdown, with people self-isolating and only allowed to go out for essential needs, everyone is slowly adapting to the concept of surviving on less. People are focusing on fulfilling their basic human needs, and rationing has become a way of living given how uncertain the current situation is vis-a-vis how long it is going to last. Unlike before, no one can afford to go about squandering money carelessly or taking daily life necessities such as water and electricity for granted. In fact, most people would not dare take such risks.
On a bigger scale, governments are also directing their expenditure towards fulfilling the needs of the healthcare sector, while at the same time supporting the private sector to ensure the economy does not collapse in such dire consequences. This reallocation of resources solely aimed at supporting survival is encouraging a universal state of mindfulness, helping us reflect on our old ways and making us realize that we cannot afford to continue living in oblivion. While some might bounce right back into their old ways after the Coronavirus episode, the silent majority will reassess their lifestyles and part ways with their previously wasteful habits.
This is not to say that luxurious lifestyles will be given up; rather, people will become more aware of how they spend their hard-earned money. This change in perception will be enough to enact the necessary changes over time.
Luxury Items Will Become Less Popular
Regardless of their occupations or titles, people everywhere fear to lose their jobs – and for a good reason. With the unpredictability of the current situation, employers cannot prove their capacity to overcome the COVID-19 crisis unscathed. The lack of business and lost revenues will mean that sacrifices will have to be made, whereby some companies will have no choice but to start compressing salaries and even laying off people.
In light of these facts, people will adopt a more conscious-spending approach in an attempt to preserve their livelihoods. This will, therefore, cause the demand for high-end luxury products to dwindle for the time being, especially given that no one truly knows how long the effects of the virus will linger on for. Accordingly, most people will prefer to save their money should the situation drag on and in case they are forced to dip into their savings to attend to their daily needs.
Feelings of Solidarity Will Be Awakened
The Coronavirus outbreak has promoted a genuine sense of community and solidarity across the world. The sheer act of favoring public interest over individualism (staying home to avoid amplifying the problem) is clear proof that people still care about each other’s safety and well-being.
Prior to the COVID-19 virus breaking out, everyone was busy looking after themselves and their immediate families; a few were keen on caring for society as a whole. However, now that governments are busy at work trying to curb the crisis, people back home have taken it upon themselves to take care of one another. Not only does this hold true for citizens in the same country, but globally as well – the feeling of unity and the realization that we are all in this together is bringing out the best in all of us.
Ultimately, with different approaches being taken across several countries in an attempt to contain the pandemic, there is no saying who is right and who is wrong. Be that as it may, it is clear that governments are bringing forward their best defense mechanisms to come out of this crisis with the least amount of physical and financial casualties possible. While treating this virus as if it were a war enemy is comprehensible, there is no denying that we as people have somehow provoked its uprising; the way we claimed this planet with all that it has to offer as a given right was inevitably destined to backfire.
We have come to understand that we are not invincible and that the smallest of creatures can bring life as we know it down to its knees. Perhaps it is the wakeup call we all needed as a species to take a step back and realize that we do not get to set the rules – we are only allowed to play.