Through the gates of night - predictions of the post pandemic world

There’s a lot of possible paths here. One low hanging guess is likely is a decrease in traditional service industry jobs that are low paying with low benefits yet still are apparently too costly to for parent companies to afford. This might cause a decline in retail property values, already shaken. Paradoxically this may give rise to more, not less, gig economy work as these jobs are unlikely to be replaced.

OOPS, can this be moved to P&R

I think in the short-term there will be a lot of businesses that result in people gathering together that will see a decline – events, sports, restaurants, movie theaters. Sports are somewhat immune since the real money is in TV, which may even grow.

I think this will boost internet commerce and strike another blow to retail. The gig economy for delivery may see a boost or the growth of another kind of delivery service that isn’t gigs but pays workers far less than UPS or Fedex. I guess Amazon’s Prime service is already there with something like that.

I also wonder about social mannerisms – will hugs and handshakes disappear? Will we see more handwashing stations put in public places and disinfectant wipes handed out? Will the French still kiss one another on the cheek?

This has been scary but it’s not exactly the black plague. In six months things may be back to normal or not. The big x factor is the economy – are we in for another depression? If so, can the conservatives hold onto power by subverting the democratic process?

I hope daycare workers and teachers see a massive pay bump. It’s just about impossible for my wife and I to do our jobs at our usual efficiency and keep our one year old out of danger – and we don’t even have to educate him like parents of older kids do!

Depending on how long the quarantine lasts, I imagine that younger adults might start hooking up with a furious intensity, heedless of danger, with a mindset of “oh, I accidentally bumped into you, and we’ve read John Donne’s “The Flea”, so we might as well sleep together.” Or so I idly fantasize.

I think the really frightening changes will come about if/when there’s another wave of this in the fall.

I have heard people say that the recovery would be U shaped. With a drag at the bottom but eventually a strong upturn. That kind of makes sense to me. It would all depend on peoples willingness, and businesses willingness, to return to normal, or at least some kind of normal. It would also depend on how low the bottom of the U went.

The thing about daycare workers is that their pay reflects the pay of their employers. So daycare workers who work for rich people can be pretty well paid (think nannies and au pairs) while the rest of them are poorly paid. The way to raise their pay is to raise everyone’s pay.

With teachers it is a function of the appetite for taxes and (again) the pay of the parents. Teachers lucky enough to work in wealthy school districts make much better pay than all the other teachers. So either everyone has to make better income and support higher taxes, or school teacher funding has to change dramatically, e.g. to feature fiscal transfers between funding districts, counties, states.

It depresses me, but neither of those things (much higher median wages, higher taxes with better distribution of revenues) seem very likely to me at all. I think we are far more likely to see worse jobs, not better ones — more gig economy jobs, stagnant pay for line-level work — and stagnant wages. Companies will want to ‘get the economy going’ again, but there will be a big pool of unemployed / underemployed people desperate to work, and that will hold wages down.

Longer term, companies will have learned that they can do without some jobs / work and that excess employees are a liability. They will be reluctant to ‘fully’ staff up. A lot of skilled jobs can be done from home, and employers will believe they can pay someone less to do the work from home — trust me on this, I’ve heard the boardroom conversations asking why we should pay people as much to work from home when we’ve eliminated their transportation and wardrobe costs.

Government response to lingering unemployment and wage stagnation will come in the form of things like new training initiatives and / or tax breaks for companies. As if the problem is that there aren’t enough skilled workers, or companies would hire more people if the just didn’t have to pay pesky taxes. I’d like to hope for more, but I don’t see anything breaking things open electorally in the Senate, and that is where good ideas will go to die.

I think a lot of businesses may adopt to allowing people to WFH. It’s safer. People tend to like it. It can cut down on office space cost. And it’s better for the environment.

The ideal for me would be to WFH but go into the office (in non-pandemic times) once or twice a week for meetings.

I am also ready to give up shaking hands. I predict if there’s a movement to do that, it will again turn into a war between eternally-angry conservatives and sane people, much like the “war on Christmas.”

This is what I’ve been doing for the last 15+ years. We have a day dedicated to meetings, lectures, talks, etc, and a second day where there’s a single meeting in the morning for a large group, followed by more casual meetings with a much smaller group (more like a hallway meeting), then everyone heads home by lunch.

It’s really nice to have a few days where you can do hallway meetings via zoom/slack if you need to, but otherwise you can focus on work.

The good thing about all this is the Luddites who couldn’t handle the zoom/slack meetings before now HAVE to, and have realized it’s 95%+ as good for most interactions. Bonus: my boss thinks they are BETTER than in person meetings, as he finds reading figures/plots/text off his laptop far preferable to reading off a poorly focused screen at the front of the room. He also finds zoom meetings more fair, as zoom doesn’t enforce the usual seating hierarchies where senior people all sit together with junior people on the periphery. People now have an easier time interacting with me when they need 15 minutes of my time to consult on something now that we’re all at home.

Everyone’s had to learn how to handle remote etiquette (people now raise their hand or wave on video if they want to speak/interrupt) and it’s going great. For years I’ve wished that we could adopt teleconf technology more fully, and encountered a ton of resistance. Now people are learning it’s an incredibly useful tool.

There are well known historical alternatives, I’m sure one of them would be considered fine by the most extreme conservatives.

… Maybe not so much for other people though. :D

Well I can respond with this

And maybe a Spencer special

I think there’s going to be a huge nationwide party when the quarantine is lifted and bars reopen. People hugging on the street, random camaraderie, like coming out the end of a war.

After like a week of that I think we’re in an economic depression as many service industries collapse because people learned to live without them.

I guess the one argument against that happening is that after 9-11 many worked from home only eventually return to the office. I imagine technology has improved since then so maybe that was a problem. But I don’t know that working from home is a good thing for everyone.

You will see strong national economic policies to encourage on-shoring and taking companies from China. This will be a challenge since things can be made cheaper in China and other developing countries. Therefore if countries are serious about relocating some supply chains to back home, there will need to be government subsidies in place.

Overall, I think you will see a strong pushback against globalism and some trade areas. I would anticipate in the next year you see some journalism on WHO and some of their problems.

I think there will be more skepticism of these international bodies b/c they are so subject to insider takeover. They should all be treated like the UN council on Human Rights.

I have some bad news for you.

Here is an interesting if a little quixotic take on what the future could hold

The comments show he’s being way too optimistic. Nothing will fundamentally change - 2020.

Things will change the way they changed after 9/11. Remember, that was said to be the death of irony. Irony seems to be alive and well these days.

What changed after 9/11 is we got some bullshit laws pushed on us through the Patriot Act. I wonder what kind of bullshit they’ll try to push on us in the name of safety over this that’s really a benefit to the wealthy elite?

My money is on an automatic stabilizer program where in times of stock market free-fall the Fed prints money to buy shares as fast as they can to shore up prices, then shreds them or gives them to the companies to prevent any whiff of dread socialism.

Social tracing as a necessity to control public health. With the advantage that it isn’t even a lie that we need it and there isn’t much of an alternative… for a short amount of time, but why not keep it to catch the next invaders? And catch unregistered persons? And don’t think about spreading untrue stories, as determined by an (not really) independent group.

Also, yes, every corporation too big too fail now, and you have to pay for it. I expect striking to keep being severely limited in a few places of the Eurozone.