I have been mulling the post COVID19 world as this matter continues to evolve. I have been reading a lot of others’ opinions, many of whom I respect and several of whom I despise — but one has to build a base of knowledge, right?
So, here are some thoughts.
This COVID19 Thing Will End
Just to be clear, there will be an end to this COVID19 affliction. Yes, there will.
There will be ingrained better hygiene practices (says the chap on his 16,393rd hand washing since 1 Mar 2020), some therapeutics, and a vaccine.
There will be multiple vaccines and the whole vaccine thing will be integrated with the flu vaccine of which 170MM Americans got the needle this flu season. [I got mine at Costco from a guy who had been to school to learn how to do it. Free.]
COVID19 will become like polio — something we figured out, but which was very dangerous. Dr Jonas Salk, University of Pittsburg, talking to you, amigo.
A Slice of America Will Ignore It Completely
Oh, to be 23-years-old, invulnerable, all knowing [I should have run for office back when I knew everything.], and full of the joie de vivre of youth.
There will be some who will not change a single thing and who will barely recall that anything happened. [I honestly don’t recall a single thing about the Swine Flu or the 1970s gas shortages (I was overseas for the gas shortages.)]
Spring Break will return with all of its debauched, cool, reckless mayhem. It will be like nothing ever happened.
Business Will Come Back With a Vengenance
Marginal businesses that were struggling pre-COVID19 will be body bagged and cremated, but the vast majority of sound businesses will return. There will be rule changes. There will be changes to the numbers.
Every brick and mortar store will have hand sanitizer at the front door, the dressing rooms, and the checkout. Hand sanitizer will be like caviar. Purell will go public.
Tito’s Vodka will continue its line of hand sanitizer and people will get confused and drink the hand sanitizer after drinking a fair amount of Tito’s vodka. Tito will make a lot of money.
Businesses will come back on a crawl, walk, run continuum. Restaurants of the sit down variety may have some density issues.
Serious issue — businesses are going to look at themselves a little different and while it may be a long time until the next pandemic (25 years), they are going to re-design some of their approaches to business. This is not directly connected to COVID19; it is because they had time to think about it and to stress test themselves.
Employees will go to work for businesses that can pay them. There will be a lot of right sizing, down sizing, re-staffing, upgrading, and hiring. For a short stint, the employers will have an advantage as they suck from a pool of 20% unemployed.
Businesses that have swum deeply in the Work From Home hot spring will really be surprised to see how unproductive some of their people have been and will say, “You know, I think we can get along with 25.43% fewer employees.”
Employees will be surprised to find out they can no longer go to work in pajamas. It will be a gradual evolution.
Work From Home
Yeah, WFH is a real thing, but now it will be even bigger. Suddenly companies will be native WFH.
WFHers will have dedicated offices in their homes and they will buy modern art paintings for their backdrops — a nice faux Jackson Pollock is in your future.
Companies will also upgrade the tech for WFH. They will want a certain basic package, not a big hurdle, but something.
There will be an entire WFH protocol, work rules, and dress code.
Zoom will figure out how to have 80 people on one call and Dell curved 34″ computers will fly off the shelves.
One gig Internet service will be mandatory.
Travel v Zoom/Skype/Hangout
Many companies were already up to speed on video conferencing pre-COVID19. This experience just reinforced this smug wokeness. Good on y’all.
Many companies began to use video conferencing as a wheelhouse management technique. Some companies “first timed” it. Lots of learning going on.
Some companies will only recede 5% while others will go whole hog, but the bottom line is that every trip will now be tested by this universal value, “Can we just do this via video conference? If not, why not?”
My candidate for the biggest change is education from grammar school to grad school.
Sure, there were a lot of first rate MBA programs already using Adobe Connect or Blackboard, but now distance learning will be legit and it will not be “home school” funky.
Make no mistake, this trend was already underway, big league, but now it is going to be a tsunami.
In the backdraft of that tsunami is going to be a pretty desperate thinning of the herd amongst colleges and community colleges.
Stop for a second — if you can get a national basic freshman class in English, History, Calculus, Economics, why do you have to pay Harvard all that tuition?
Why wouldn’t teachers become expert in their thing — History of the 1939 Finnish-Russian War, Statics, Dynamics — and be the “go to” person for that course. How can that course not be digitally archived and available at 2:43 AM in Nebraska?
I spoke to an education person and he said liberal arts college profs are the least entrepreneurial persons on the planet, but so what?
Yeah, I see education becoming a lot different. Why not Fun Friday Learn From Home for every grammar school on the planet? Well, because Mom works?
How about Physics Advanced Placement from the lakehouse?
School are really going to change and they were already changing.
Same way education is falling forward into digital, it is time for medicine to start to sprint toward telemedicine.
Look at the symptoms of COVID19 — fever, dry persistent cough, runny nose, fatigue, aches/pains, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, pain in the eye, and loss of taste. [I have given you the comprehensive list. Not all occur to a victim and some victims have none of them.]
Do you see any of those symptoms that could not be diagnosed on a Samsung tablet or an iPhone — the Apple Store would have to get a cut, of course?
With home testing — including serology to determine if you have antibodies — this could be huge.
But, it is not just COVID19; it is everything related to medicine.
Allow me to pick a scab — We have fewer than 1MM doctors in the USA. We need to put a boot up the ass of the American Medical Association and get way more doctors. Stop artificially limiting the supply such that every internist expects to be a millionaire and let’s get some doctors whose main function is to differentiate green snot v white snot and to prescribe accordingly.
The American supply chain — particularly as it relates to pharmaceuticals, medical supplies is coming home. Say goodbye to China.
The entire supply chain is going to be displaced from China even if it stays overseas. The Japanese government is paying Japanese companies to move out of China.
Why? Because the country is unstable; because the leadership is unreliable; because they are liars; because this whole mess might have been a biowarfare lab gone astray.
The supply chain and all those jobs are coming home. As this happens, the economy is really going to rock. This is a 4-year process. Luckily, President Trump will be there to shepherd it to the finish line.
Candidate Trump teed China up during the 2016 campaign. He was right.
President Trump is the first American President to ever look China in the eye and say, “No more, you Communist bastards.”
President Trump is right and he has been right on Chinese cheating, Chinese theft of intellectual property, Chinese barriers to American company access to their markets, Chinese currency manipulation, and China’s basic Communist evil.
While the COVID19 was not foreseen; it will turn out to be a critical element in anointing the USA the undisputed world champion in the tariff war. China will be begging for work in a year while the USA will be the transcendent economy in the world.
Not Made In China will become a thing.
Look, China is not our friend. They are liars. They are our rivals, so let’s “Game On” them and compete.
America First Nationalism
For years, American business has leveraged cheap foreign labor to make products that used to be made in the USA. They then imported these foreign made products back into the USA.
What they did was to use cheap labor (killing US jobs in the process), cheaper than the US labor. That shit is over. Not a screeching halt, but a very definitive slowing.
America First Nationalism doesn’t mean the USA is checking out on running the world or being the great shining city on the hill; it means the leadership is first going to assess how things impact Americans before looking across the oceans or borders.
If the job can be done in America — even at a slight premium — then it will urged to be done in America.
It feels like common sense came home after a long overseas stay and said, “Oh, Auntie Em, there is no place like home.”
The idea of making stuff overseas, plundering cheap labor (prison labor, child labor, Uigher slaves/prisoners), ignoring environmental rules, incorporating questionable ingredients — that shit is over.
American Chamber of Commerce, guys, I am talking to you. I will pay a little more for Made in the USA.
The China thing ties into the America First Nationalism thing — the Chinese exacerbated it because they have woken us up to how dangerous it is to have our medicines and medical supplies made in a foreign country that might just block the shipments — as the Chinese did.
We have an election in November, just seven months from now. COVID19 will figure in the election. It might be a huge issue.
The Dems will try to sell the narrative that POTUS was late to the game and caused lots of Americans to die. It will get very bloody.
President Trump will layout the timeline showing he closed the country to China when we had zero deaths and six cases.
Candidate Joe Biden will wake from his nap and be reminded he said, “Come on, man. China is not our enemy. They’re not such bad guys.”
Sleepy Joe has a few months to figure out how to counter that.
In the meantime, the Dems in the House will launch another investigation — Russian collusion, Mueller, Ukraine phone call, impeachment — and Adam Schiff will be on the leftist media nightly with Speaker Pelosi talking their #TrumpBad book.
Adam Schiff will absolutely call for another impeachment. Absolutely. This will ensure President Trump is re-elected and Trump2020 may bring Adam Schiff on as a campaign consultant.
So, politics, yes. COVID19 will be one of the main things.
The other big issue will be the economic recovery. If the economy is starting to hum — not humming, just starting — President Trump will bask in the glory.
Joe Biden will have six different programs whereby to reward doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, law enforcement, truck drivers, shelf re-stockers — it will be an obscenity of bidding for votes.
Guess what? I have no problem with this.
The National Debt
We will wake up after the November 2020 Election Day and say, “Well the old boy, the Donald J Trump fellow, won the damn election — not as close as I thought it might be, but WTF are we going to do with this National Debt that is now up $6T?”
The answer, dear reader is, unfortunately, “NOTHING.”
Tenants, landlords, mortgage lenders, pension funds, REITs are going to get a damn good lesson in reworking real estate obligations.
If you have a five year lease with two years run and you are in default (couldn’t make your rent payment), then you and the landlord will sit down, extend the lease, maybe decrease the rent, and end up with fairly equivalent cash flows using a Net Present Value Approach.
Same idea, but substitute landlords and mortgage lenders. Terms get extended, payments missed get folded back into the principal, and NPV is the rule of the land.
This happens all the time in Bankruptcy Court. It is a known skill.
Sophisticated lenders will figure this out in a NY Minute — why? They don’t want to take back this real estate. They have huge numbers of problem mortgages.
It may take a push from the FED or President Trump, but this is what is going to happen in Rework City.
Cities are going to be rethought. I doubt much gets done. I imagine there are some folks who bail on NYC, but NYC is NYC and there is only one.
Lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth, but the subway is going to be the same — huge pipeline of future disease spread.
Attic Stock and the Strategic National Reserve
States are the first line of defense on public health through their State Departments of Health (with country public health departments). State Health Departments are where the “attic stock” of additional medical supplies are stockpiled.
States like New York who have woefully disregarded this requirement — the NY Assembly voted down bills to add 16,500 ventilators to the NY attic stock for 4 years — will suddenly get religion.
The Strategic National Stockpile — the FEMA/DHS national stockpile used for hurricanes and other national emergencies, usually limited to maybe a few hurricane hit states — will also be replenished and expanded.
Public workout facilities will be slow to recover because of their diverse customer base.
High school and intercollegiate sports will be negatively impacted. If more schooling is done remotely, sports will have a funny feel.
Bottom Line It, Big Red Car
OK, here is the bottom line as viewed from a pile of bolts who mainlines 10W40 for extended mileage:
It will be crawl, walk, run and the first crawlers will be turned loose on 1 May 2020.
Geography is going to matter.
Urban environments are going to be slower than the ‘burbs.
While the Trump admin has tried to slap the problem with a checkbook — and they have done it pretty damn well, hat tip to Sec Treas Mnuchin — it is not enough money.
Marginal businesses are toast.
Everybody will be impacted, but in wildly varying degrees.
Young, stupid people will continue to test positive for being young and stupid.
Elderly persons will be very slow and cautious to return to their old behaviors — look, this is one of the reasons they didn’t get picked off in an earlier thinning of the herd.
In a year, it will be completely rear view mirror — therapeutics, vaccine, easy sailing. We will have fewer than 60K dead. It will not feel like the flu, but the numbers will be flu-like.