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By: Alex Carrick on April 7th, 2020

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The Economy Under COVID-19: Notes From the Trenches - April 7, 2020

Economic News | Alex Carrick | COVID-19

There are currently two crises underway simultaneously. The advance of the novel coronavirus is taking a terrible toll in terms of physical and emotional well-being. At the same time, job losses resulting from ‘social distancing’ are sending the economy into a tailspin. To fight on both fronts, governments are advancing rescue packages of never-seen-before dimensions. Every day, the tremendous number of factors in play reconfigure in a new way. These ‘from the trenches’ notes attempt to shed some light along a murky pathway.

  • Traffic congestion in major cities has eased considerably. As a corollary, average driving speeds are faster. When the road ahead is clear, the temptation to put more pressure on the gas pedal is hard to resist. (This is not an endorsement of such a practice.) It’s odd to think that sometime in the future, driverless cars will show more discipline than humans.
  • The humble parking lot, whether outdoor or indoor, is taking on a more important and expanded role in today’s economy. Real estate deals are being finalized in parking lots. Documents for signing are being passed back and forth through car windows. Then the pens are thrown away. (This is not an endorsement of such a practice.)
  • Veterinarians, with their offices closed, have been setting up mini animal clinics in parking lots. If your dog needs flea and tick medicine, you can sometimes set up a dollars-for-treatment exchange in a parking lot. (This is not an…well you get the idea.)
  • Further on the subject of ‘traffic congestion,’ and as an attempt to limit the distribution of COVID-contaminated droplets, some big-name stores (Kroger and Walmart) are experimenting with one-way shopping aisles.   
  • As a dollop of good news, yes it’s true that an auto manufacturer can quickly switch production from motor vehicle parts to medical equipment. With a little prodding from the Defense Production Act (PDA), General Motors, at its earlier-shuttered Warren, Michigan transmission plant, will soon be producing 50,000 standard face masks (i.e., not the higher particle-blocking N95 variety) per day, or 1.5 million per month. The company is also hurrying to turn out ventilators at another facility in Kokomo, Indiana.   
  • There’s a story making the rounds, and it may be one of those ‘urban legends’, but it says that sales of presentable shirts are staying strong, while sales of pants have been going nowhere. This trend corresponds with the surge in video conferencing. The inference is that men are sitting in front of their computer screens wearing track pants or the lower portion of their pajamas or goodness knows what all. Bottom line: if you’re on a video conference call and one of your colleagues implies that you’re not a stand-up guy, please don’t feel the need to prove them wrong.

Read the previous article here: The Economy Under COVID-19: Notes from the Trenches - April 6, 2020.

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