The virus will cast a far-reaching shadow.
As we cross the 18-month mark of the pandemic, we are arguably reaching the point that the descriptor endemic may be a more appropriate term to employ. This is not meant to downgrade the ongoing seriousness of the medical situation, but it seems increasingly likely that the prevalence of the assorted variants of Covid will have to be accommodated into a world that tries to operate as normally as possible. The chances of an elegant solution that banishes the disease to the history books, in the manner of smallpox and polio, now look sadly remote, but so do the doomsday forecasts from respectable medical authorities that started to circulate in March 2020.
With this in mind, it seems appropriate to imagine what the economic, political and social environment will look like in the months ahead under the scenario of endemic Covid. It is our belief that all three areas will change to a significant degree, with the magnitude of change likely to fall somewhere between that of the financial crisis and World War II. Whereas the former was generally overestimated as a harbinger of change (the ‘new normal’ only differed from what preceded it by a few percentages of growth and a moderate aversion to home-ownership), the shock of the pandemic looks much more likely to recast economic and social activity in the United States and across the world. No doubt some of the more extreme shifts of behaviour will prove to be transient, but many others will prove much more long lasting, almost regardless of the degree of infection or serious illness that prevails in a few quarters’ time.