Fresh Takes

What will a post-pandemic world look like?

Earlier this week, the Institute for Liberal Studies (ILS) hosted a talk by Dr. Stephen Davies, Head of Education at the Institute for Economic Affairs, on what to expect in a post-pandemic world. Dr. Davies noted that many viral pandemics involve a second, and even a third or fourth wave, which can be even deadlier than the first. This calls into question the wisdom of Canada’s strict shutdown, which could merely have delayed herd immunity, leaving us more exposed in the long run.

He also worried about the lasting economic fallout from a long shutdown. At the moment, much of the Canadian economy is essentially “paused,” with employment relationships or restaurant leases intact. But if shutdowns last too long, these links fade, and jobs and small businesses can take a very long time to recover. Dr. Davies characterizes this as an “induced coma” that ultimately is a policy choice, not something the virus forces on us.

Indeed, the employment effects of the virus are nearly all due to the shutdown, not the virus itself. Countries that haven’t shut down, like Sweden and Korea, have seen relatively miniscule employment drops compared to the jobs Armageddon in North America.

Finally, Dr. Davies had some concerns about post-pandemic politics. He expects world trade to retrench and the populist right to grow as people warm to nationalism and identity politics. He also expects challenges from a left that is often giddy at the prospect of deindustrialization or the end of leisure travel, carbon footprint and all. Finally, he has particular concerns about the EU, riven by regional disagreements over national bailouts, and about a China that has seemed to invite international condemnation through this crisis.

To sign up for future ILS lectures, reach out to Matt Bufton at matt@liberalstudies.ca.

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