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How can professionals prepare for the post Covid-19 economy?

Your attention please:
This is a global economic reset.

A reset of the scale that last happened after the second world war.

Because of the lock-down, the travel restrictions and the general doom and gloom in sentiments – we are in a global recession.

Most experts have little clue on how to tackle this, simply because no one has experienced anything like this in the living memory of this world. This is out of syllabus – a black swan – a Baba Yaga[1] that no one foresaw coming.

All major economies will contract[2] – at least a third of all jobs[3][4] will go.
One-third to half the value in many large economies will disappear in the short to mid-term[5] [6] .

We are sure about a global recession – we can only hope this does not turn into a full fledged global economic depression.

There’s a very high possibility that a gainfully employed you,
reading this right now, (from anywhere but perhaps India and China[7] ),
may lose your job in the coming months[8] .

The only question is – how deep is this gloom and how long will it last?
The only question is – How can we prepare for what comes next?

Your attention please:
This is a global economic reset.


Remember 2008? – Forget about it!

Just to refresh our collective memory – not very long ago, we saw a huge-ass recession around the year 2008 – which lasted for 517[9] days and shaved off at least 57% market value of the listed stocks in the United states.

During this recession – millions of people lost their jobs, savings and homes and many ‘too large to fail’ companies, literally went down the drain.

Now have a look at this[10] :

This graph is a good measure of what to expect in the coming weeks and months.

2008 – 56% of market value was lost in 517 days.
2020 – 20% of the market value is already lost in the last 21 days[11] [12] .

Brace for impact.


Let’s get down to a few basic points first.

  • While experts have differing views – Covid-19 may end up affecting as many as 100 million people around the world, claiming as many as 1 million lives[13] [14] .
  • There are at-least 100 million households in India (about 50 million just in construction) – where the earning member is employed in the unorganized sector – the current lock-down and the subsequent slowdown in the economy means that at-least 400 million Indians become super-vulnerable economically, some having no legit means to even feed themselves in the short term. If the local governments slack in their duty – this may even lead to rioting, crime and a breakdown of our social fabric[15] [16] .
  • We are expecting double digit drops[17] in the GDPs of the largest economies around the world. We’ve already seen this happening in the Chinese economy – the other large economies might follow.
  • There is an 80% drop in the sales of automobiles in China[18] . Brazil is expecting a GDP growth rate of -5.5% in 2020, USA is expecting -2.8%, France and UK are expecting -5%, Germany is expecting -6.8%, Italy is expecting -7% growth and China is expecting just 1% growth – the lowest in China’s recent history[19] .
  • The S&P 500 declined about 18%[20] , which is its worst performance since the fourth quarter of 2008. The Dow Jones has declined by 21.5%[21] , which is their worst since 1987 and the Nasdaq Composite Index has come down by 12.6% – and this is just the start.
  • We all shouldn’t forget that covid-19 is a public health crisis and not really an economic crisis – the economic strife is the resultant effect of this global health scare.
  • The thing that matters most right now is confidence – if people in general and institutions, organizations and small and medium sized businesses in particular do not have confidence in a better future – we’re all doomed.
  • Please remember, this is the first of its kind pandemic, where we know both the cause and the affect – unlike the last ones like the Spanish flu or the Black Plague, where we mostly remained clueless and thus helpless. We are better equipped this time and that’s a plus.
  • In the short term the print, travel, hospitality, tourism, real estate, and global supply chain will take a major hit – In the next 2–3 years, we will see large implications of this pandemic on the energy, export, auto, entertainment and banking sector. We can also expect changes in global taxation regimes and a major shift in manufacturing. Globalization will take a back seat.
  • We will see a few very large movies being released direct to home this year – Would eagerly wait to finally see a Salman Khan movie, first day first show on Netflix(?).
  • This will re-invent the lately sagging innovation scene in healthcare with greater institutional budgetary allocation – this may even help revolutionize health insurance and tele-medicine.
  • Lending rates will come down across the board, making the post-covid-19 world, one of the best times to start up. Many individuals currently in the quarantine would finally experience the kick they were waiting for, to pursue what they always wanted to – leading to many successful professionals leaving their ‘safe’ jobs to follow their passions.
  • The greatest hit will be absorbed by what is generally known as the gig economy and the newly enthused drop-shipment industry. Some of the people who are dependent on daily or weekly payouts to run their households will suffer the most from this lock-down and economic unrest.
  • The government incomes across countries will get stretched – while some may finally be nudged to implement a universal basic income or temporary income support of some sorts – as the revenue of the governments get reduced – all countries (except perhaps North Korea and Pakistan) will be forced to shave their defense spending to fund the rehabilitation of their citizens.
  • It is supremely important for us to contain the spread and defeat this virus collectively, as soon as possible – whatever be the cost. The longer it stays relevant – the greater and more long-term will be the damage to the global economy.

What next?

Since we have established the urgency and seriousness of the current situation – let’s move on to things that one can do.

Please remember – we individuals, are the building blocks of our economy. When we apply our skills to create value – our economy churns ahead.

Our ancestors struggled against elements of nature – our parents and grand parents struggled against scarcity in general and the steep learning curve of technology – we on the other hand have to fight and remain relevant despite intelligent algorithms and more capable robots.

This hairpin bend in the game changing economic churn has somehow coincided with a global pandemic – which has lead to you sitting right now at home, with a lot of free time – Boss, this is your silver lining.

Use it judiciously.


Heroes wanted

Once the cloud of uncertainty is past us – the economy will require new leaders – new problem solvers and new story tellers. People who can innovate, find loopholes and shortcuts, enthrall a crowd and come up with better, cheaper and faster solutions more quickly.

We need people who can inspire, people who can give hope, people who can deliver.

We are in an urgent need of heroes.

No, we don’t need each and everyone of us to become the Elon Musks or Mary Koms of their respective fields – in the short term, all we need, is to ensure that when we as professionals do one plus one – we come out with something more than two. That’s it.

Over-deliver. Pliss.

While one way to achieve this is to work harder, but perhaps a more sustainable way is to go ahead and acquire new skills and upgrade.

Here below thus, is my personal list of 10 to-do’s which one can indulge in their free time, while they are in quarantine. Break a leg.

The list:

  1. Curate taste: You must have come across a tobacco product tagline – Swad Badi Cheez Hai (Taste is a big deal) – no truer words were ever said in advertising. While you’re free, have a deeper look at some of the greatest artwork, online – it is your time to sit back and appreciate the finest in human endeavors – there is art in the circuitry of Apollo 11 – there is an art in Tesla deciding to launch a Roadster as their first product – there’s art hidden in how the keypad on your mobile phone works – This art often is the difference between unimaginable success and regular failures – please slow down and start noticing – you’ll enjoy and learn.
  2. Read: Read anything that you like. Reading is the cheapest form of time travel – the most cost effective way to have a direct one to one with the best minds of our times and history – reading is also important, because it teaches you how to put your own ideas across – to tell a story – The most important skill which is almost never taught in our schools – a skill which you’d need to convince your future employers, investors and even a spouse, in case you’re unmarried. Read more – pliss!
  3. Have a routine: Generally speaking, the difference between a successful person and an also ran, is self discipline. Countless studies like the famous Marshmallow Test have revealed that delaying pleasure, actually helps you become really good at what you pursue. Having a basic routine in your life, especially at a time when you’re practically locked in your house is not just necessary, but crucial in whatever plans you make for world domination.
  4. Develop a hobby: Many among us might look down upon hobbies, but it really helps you acquire a new perspective. If you’re not passionate about anything – what are you really doing with your life? No sane person ever succeeded in anything – without a little bit of insanity. Acquire a hobby – it will help.
  5. Learn a non-native language: Scientists believe that learning a new language may help you life longer[22] . I personally believe that learning a new language is like acquiring a new super power – If you’re an Indian looking for an easy start, my personal suggestion – try learning one of Spanish/Urdu Reading/Thai/Korean/Kannada – You can finish the basics of any of them within a week – thank me later 🙂
  6. Start a website: It is surprisingly super easy nowadays for anyone to set up a personal website – yours should reflect your personal creativity – be a mode for you to share some of your thoughts and ideas – display some of your personal/professional achievements and everything else that you’d like people to come across, when they search for your name on google. The process of figuring out how to set up your own website, will also help add another feather on your professional cap. Go for it.
  7. Call up old friends and acquaintances: In our regular rigmarole of life, we often get disconnected with the very people, who were very important for us at some point in our lives. That best friend from school, that favorite teacher of yours, now retired – perhaps an old neighbor you spent your growing days with – This is perhaps a great opportunity to reconnect – without expectation – to genuinely know what they are going through and help in case you can. Do try.
  8. Write: We might have read hundreds of books, but some of us might catch a cold, if someone asks us to write a paragraph about anything. We underplay this skill to our own peril. Just like Mohammad Ali Jinnah, most of us end up never writing anything (except what is required for day to day work) at all. This makes us handicapped, when it comes to expressing our wants, desires and ideas to the people at large. This also leads to a low sense of self esteem in many, which further leads to mediocrity – please stop worrying about what the world thinks and start writing – write about anything you like – you will learn as the time flies – please make it into a daily habit and do not forget to send me a cheque, in case this helps you become a billionaire.
  9. Make a list: We are nothing without the hundreds of lists dangling in our conscience. 10 things to do before I retire – 20 places to go, before she turns 30 – 100 experiences, every human must have – the lists can go on and on – right now, please make a list of 3 things you’d love to achieve, as soon as the world has defeated COVID-19. Make that list and share it with your loved ones – see how the universe conspires to help make your wishes transform into reality. Best of luck.
  10. Learn to be more thankful: Smile – say thank you and enjoy all the blessings around you. Having loved ones around is perhaps the greatest gift, not cherished by us in general. We are nothing without our family – there is no happiness in a life, not lived for the loved ones. We are social animals – the only way we feel happy is when we give.

This is perhaps the best time to sit besides yourself, and have that long pending chat with the most ignored person in your life – you. It is perhaps time to count your blessings – it is perhaps time to renew some of those crazy promises, that a young you made to yourself – as our economy is going into a reset – perhaps it time you do a reset to your own life as well.

Best of luck!


Thanks for reading
Cheers and peace.

Footnotes

[1] Baba Yaga – Wikipedia

[2] 5 charts that show the global economic impact of coronavirus

[3] More than half of American jobs are at risk because of coronavirus

[4] The Economic Devastation Is Going to Be Worse Than You Think

[5] 6 charts show the coronavirus impact on the global economy and markets so far

[6] Coronavirus outbreak has cost global value chains $50 billion in exports

[7] All countries except India and China will go into recession, says UN

[8] Coronavirus job losses could total 47 million, unemployment rate may hit 32%, Fed estimates

[9] Coronavirus job losses could total 47 million, unemployment rate may hit 32%, Fed estimates

[10] https://trends.google.com/trends…

[11] Stock market hit by coronavirus: Reasons for turmoil, what equity investors should do now

[12] Wall Street suffers worst day since 1987 as recession fears grow – business live

[13] Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis

[14] Coronavirus Live Updates: Half of Humanity Under Lockdown Orders

[15] Unorganised growth

[16] Workforce in Organised/ Unorganised Sector

[17] https://www.jpmorgan.com/global/…

[18] China Car Sales Drop Record 80% as Virus Empties Showrooms

[19] Global Economic Prospects

[20] Market And Macro Data Signal  COVID-19 Economic Crisis Will Be Worse Than In 2008

[21] Stocks dive on Dow’s worst day since 1987, tech crashes and Bitcoin is no haven – TechCrunch

[22] Learning a Foreign Language Can Help You Live Longer