If you’re under the age of 70, you may have forgotten that we have been here before. We battled a mysterious virus that caused outbreaks repeatedly for more than 50 years. For some, these outbreaks didn’t have much impact. For others, the outcome was paralysis, breathing assistance in the “iron-lung,” or death.
In the 1950’s, the nemesis was polio and the fear was very similar to today. People didn’t know what was safe, where to go or who to interact with. We were scared and socially distant, but we trudged on.
Finally, after many years of research, Dr. Jonas Salk created the vaccine for polio in 1953.
Today, we face a similar foe. There are some things we believe we know about the coronavirus, but so much more that we don’t know. How do we get it? Who is vulnerable? What does it do to us? How do we function safely?
The defensive reaction has been to shut everything down. However, this has significant implications too.
We are attempting to balance “health care” and “economics.” This high wire act continues to be uncomfortable and lacking solid answers. It is very hard to assess the options and outcomes and I am the first to admit I have no great ideas.
Two months ago, the economy was operating at peak output. Unfortunately, most Americans had less than $500 to deal with any unexpected issues. Having their jobs yanked out from under them has catastrophic implications.
Twenty-five percent of our workforce is unemployed and re-starting the economy is not as simple as flipping a switch. Some jobs will never return. Despite the quick rebound in the financial markets, things could get quite worse before showing structural improvement.
Compounding matters, families are constantly on top of each other. There are challenges with home-schooling, work-from-home, depression and other psychological issues.
Obviously, there is a lot riding on “The Great Economic Restart.” Here are 10 things to consider as we move forward:
1. Reopening is not a binary decision with outcomes that are completely good or bad. There will be trade-offs. Some people will get sick. We will continue to treat the coronavirus; it has not gone away. However, many people will return to work and feed their families.
2. Common sense should always be used when engaging others and the public. Next week, I will be on a plane. However, I will wear my mask and wash my hands frequently. If you, or your loved ones, are headed out, wear your masks. Some form of social distancing will be with us until we find a cure. Again, the coronavirus is still with us. Be smart.
3. In case you have forgotten, we are Americans. It is a bad idea to count us out. We are entrepreneurs. It is in our DNA and our culture to solve problems and overcome obstacles.
4. Capitalism is fluid and dynamic. It will work. The ability to change is one reason we are so good at entrepreneurship. We will think of new ways to conduct business.
5. The Federal Reserve has become the de-facto central bank for the world. The U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency. The dollar is in great demand by people around that world. That puts us in a position of strength not available to other nations.
6. Interest rates will remain low. That makes borrowing cheaper and encourages spending and investing to boost the economy.
7. We will bring back manufacturing and critical industries. This will deliver better control over production and distribution systems and create jobs in the process. Moving jobs back to the U.S. will not only make our economy stronger but give better control over our destiny.
8. Texas will be a big winner for the same reasons we have been a huge winner over the last 20 years. We have great universities with a highly educated workforce. We have some of the best health care systems in the world. We have access to lots of low-cost energy. We have tremendous land that is relatively affordable. We have no state income tax. We have fantastic highways, airports, rail and shipping. Capital flows to where it is most efficiently used….the Lone Star state.
9. Better internet will come to rural Texas as our society learns to work remotely.
10. Lastly, having a vaccine will quickly change the dynamics of how we operate. Just this year, more than 3,000 scientific research papers have been published on COVID-19. Additionally, more than 500 clinical trials are being conducted in 34 countries. Never in the history of the world have so many smart and talented people simultaneously worked on one issue.
Work hard, be smart and stay well.