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In the last 100+ years we had The Great War (later “World War I”), the Great Depression, and the Great Recession. I think it’s time to give a name to the first self-inflicted worldwide depression: the Great Panic of 2020. Getting the right name for the current crisis could frame the public debate on the policy solution. Other suggestions for a name are welcome in the comments section.
Financial depressions in the 19th Century were known as “panics.” The Panic of 1837 was one of the worst with bank failures, bankruptcies, and 25% unemployment. Some historians believe it lasted almost seven years.
Reporters and talking heads on TV are constantly attributing the current depression to the coronavirus pandemic. I don’t agree. It’s the reaction of governments all over the world to the COVID-19 pandemic that has destroyed millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth. Dennis Prager in a recent column made the case for “why the worldwide lockdown is not only a mistake but also, possibly, the worst mistake the world has ever made.”
The body’s auto-immune system’s reaction to the COVID-19 virus can cause a cytokine storm which fatally attacks the lungs and other major organs. Similarly, the lockdown policies to the COVID-19 are a reaction that affects public health.
Many people are dying, or will die, because of the body politic’s overreaction to the virus. They are the patients who are not receiving medical tests, treatment, and care because of the shutdown of “non-essential” medical care at hospitals all over the western world.
The Great Panic of 2020 is harming the economy directly. Opinion polls indicate that people are afraid to return to their normal routines. If 75% of the public refuse to eat at a restaurant, go to a movie theater, fly in an airliner, or go on a cruise, how can the economy start any recovery?
The sad fact is that the COVID-19 virus is fatally afflicting a small segment of the population, (e.g. the elderly, especially people in nursing homes). For example in Minnesota, about 80% of the deaths associated with COVID-19 are in nursing homes and the victims have a median age of 83 years.
A sane policy would revive the economy for everyone else while protecting those vulnerable people from infection.Published in