COVID-19 and the changing world | Learning by Proxy
During a conversation a few weeks back, a friend suggested that I create a digest of things that one should be reading about. Since I read hundreds of blogs each day, it might be worth sharing some of the undercurrents that I notice.
So I am starting this series called 'You need to know this'. I hope I don't let this die away just like many other things that I have started in the past. So here goes the first one.
You need to know this - 4th April
There is a shortage in the CoronaVirus War supply chain. We were never prepped for this kind of response and that is becoming painfully obvious with each passing day. Governments are starting to request various companies to rework their factories to produce health equipment - the last time this was done was in 1942, World War II. How many genetic tests would have been run on a normal day? It is suddenly skyrocketed! Not only that, even medicines.
Also during this lockdown think about living in the absence of the Internet what would you do? This is exactly what the net neutrality debate was about. The calls to reclassify the internet as a public utility are growing in the US. I think it’s a public utility everywhere. But can they keep blocking the internet all over the world in authoritarian regimes then? It's like cutting off the electricity to keep people in order.
People are sitting at home and watching a lot of TV. Also trading or getting into trading - Across the world. Zerodha saw the highest growth in sign-ups.
Seeing this happen for the first time in my 15 years of broking. Account openings going through the roof after a crash in the markets, new customers being smart, not panicking and telling that it is a good time to start buying for the long term. It is unreal! pic.twitter.com/yLcn2Jl2y2
— Nithin Kamath (@Nithin0dha) March 17, 2020
Health insurers are having a hard time - but car insurers? Nobody is driving around but they are all required to buy car insurance by law in most countries in the world. Car insurance companies are profiting a lot as claims drop off!
The poor people and the middle class are staying locked up at home by diktat. The rich on the other hand are taking their private jets to faraway lands. Is it right? You can see this on Flightradar24.com
The one segment of the economy that we all have come to depend on heavily during these times is gig workers. The food delivery boys are still running around cities delivering food. Essentials are still being delivered, this is forcing a re-think about the classification of these workers. No worries so far as India is concerned, not for now at least.
People losing jobs in different places due to corona
The globalised supply chain is becoming more and more obvious. As Italy is ravaged with patients, garments workers who produced for Italian brands are losing their jobs in Bangladesh. One Million of them have lost their jobs.
One the subject of jobs. Do you know why the companies in the US are so rich? They take a 2 Trillion bailout for their government and then fire all their workers.
These are the US unemployment claims in their historical context pic.twitter.com/NJAqPl9BVg
— How Things Work (@ThingsWork) April 3, 2020
Pollution reduction in the times of corona
The planet has probably been the greatest beneficiary of this crisis. Thousand Greta Thunberg's could not have done what this one virus has done. Air traffic has ground to a halt completely. There is no movement of people in many of the large cities across the world. Industrial production is at its lowest. When we think pollution we do not think Italy - The video shows the precipitous decline. The same is true across the world.
Stimulus - Saving shareholders not employees
The USA released one of the largest stimulus packages that the world has ever seen and the businesses have gone ahead and fired their employees promptly both mentioned above. So the package was really about saving the shareholders and ensuring that their money is not lost, not about the workers. Oh, by the way, the airlines are standing with a bowl in hand. The same airlines which bought back shares worth 2 Billion dollars just a few months ago.
Japan on the other hand is giving away money to their people.
The Indian government was already struggling with lower tax collections and a slowing economy. They decided to increase the tax on oil despite the international price drop to ensure the government takes more from us.
Empty cities of the world
A lot of the cities are under lockdown across the World - Northern Italy, Spain, New York, All of India. This leaves these cities empty and they look like something you would have never seen.
What VCs think startups should do
Is the coming generation going to be called GenC, Seth Godin makes a point.
And Finally, America has become the world leader in CoronaVirus cases in a very short time overtaking everyone. New cases are being added at a rate of 30000 per day, more than certain countries have in total. The death rate has spiralled to over 1000 a day. And leadership has been exemplar. Trump is the worst person to be handling this situation. This will send shockwaves through the global economy because America happens to be the largest economy in the world. I don’t know how long we will continue to say that though.