I have lived through two inflection points in American society– 9/11 and the Great Recession. Both of these events have ramifications that can still be seen today. 9/11 lead to the TSA being in every airport, the Patriot Act, and two major wars. The Great Recession led to Dodd-Frank. I believe the COVID-19 global pandemic will have a significantly larger impact on our everyday lives than either of those two events.
Everyone keeps saying we will return to normal soon. I think they are wrong. I think the old normal is gone. We shut down the national economy for 6 weeks. Well over a million Americans will have been infected and well over 60,000 Americans will have died because of COVID-19. I think society will move in a direction that’s risk-adverse to diseases and– hopefully– more conscious about black swan events. Here are some ways that could happen.
1. Movie theater consolidation mainly to show blockbuster films. More drive-ins to show smaller movies.
2. Move to work at home– especially for large companies.
3. No more family style buffets.
4. An increase in homeownership as a hedge against being stuck in a small environment for weeks on end again.
5. Less usage of mass transit. More use of individual transportation.
6. Many more businesses will choose to insure against disease outbreaks.
7. Online shopping will benefit. Less big box stores and more big box distribution centers.
8. Decrease in the number of revenue losing sports for universities.
9. Decline of the cruise ship industry.
10. Calls for K-12 education to shift online. I think this would be one of the most important and necessary changes but I also think it’s one of the least likely.
Then again, I might be really off-base.