Stimulus packages. Promises of more cash and more cash. Advice to “Buy now!” These are the “solutions” that we’re hearing from all too many current and former government officials, business analysts and others.
Unfortunately, it’s increasingly clear that these stale talking points; comparisons to previous downturns; and useless solutions; aren’t helping. Two weeks ago, I expressed my fear that the market will lose 30% of its value – when it seemed far-fetched to most. Today, unfortunately, the market had its worst fall in over 30 years, closing nearly 30% lower than it did a month ago. We can no longer afford to misread what’s happening.
If we want to effectively respond to an economic collapse, we need to properly understand its dynamics. We are facing a unique and monumental crisis that doesn’t abide by the conventional rules of economic downturns and market volatility. Just as dollar bills cannot put out a fire, they cannot rectify the current underlying threats to economic stability. Coronavirus is not a matter of spreadsheets and dollars-and-cents. To every person on earth, it is a matter of health and wellbeing, even life and death.
In previous economic downturns, factors such as bad loans and expensive oil were primarily to blame. Now, the economy is collapsing because people’s actual life routines are grinding to a halt. They aren’t traveling. They aren’t shopping. They aren’t going to events. Their kids aren’t going to school. They aren’t spending. Many suddenly find themselves with little to no income as well.
There is a real fear and uncertainty. Coronavirus testing is not properly accessible. There is no cure or vaccine. Our healthcare system is unprepared. Manufacturing and importing are disrupted. Human resources are disrupted. You cannot get toilet paper, adequate water or bleach in many neighborhoods. Our very lives and survival are at stake. Cheap airline or cruise tickets; cheap stock prices; stimulus grants; and all; won’t get anyone to go about their business at the expense of their personal or family safety.
Of course, the solution is not panic. On the contrary, we must be optimistic and motivated to make things better. And if we properly understand the threat, we can do so effectively.
Hopefully, the world’s governments, healthcare professionals and corporate powerhouses can effectively work together to effectively limit the spread of Coronavirus and provide proper resources to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. It is particularly crucial for governments and the business world to make long term adjustments based on the fast changing realities on the ground, such as reduced reliance on imports from China and other parts of the world.
I pray along with the rest of the world that we will see brighter days ahead.
Duvi Honig is the Founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, a Wall Street based global business and community service network