The COVID-19 crisis is simultaneously thrusting Americans into the pre-urban homestead economy of the 1830s, re-creating the Depression-era joblessness of the 1930s, and pulling forward the virtual economy of the 2030s. We are living in the weirdest economy ever.
Reason 1. ...the economy is not really “broken,” a global pathogenic pulse...has suddenly interrupted an otherwise normally functioning economy. That means we can’t solve the economic crisis until we solve the public-health crisis. That’s why stocks have jumped...every cheery vaccine headline is a corporate-equity stimulus.
Reason 2 ...this crisis combines an unprecedented shutdown of the physical economy with an unprecedented federal effort to distribute emergency cash to tens of millions of families...With millions of Americans earning more in unemployment than they were at work, personal income soared in April by 10 percent.
Reason 3 ...although retail is in the toilet, just about everything that has to do with housing is fine...The plague economy is extraordinarily unequal. Many high-income workers can afford to buy new homes because they are, for now, inoculated from the economic devastation by virtue of the fact that they can do their jobs from home...Digital technology’s insulation from the physical world might be the most durable aspect of this crisis...The at-home economy has diverged from the out-of-home economy. The stock market has diverged from the labor market. And the technology sector has, for now, accelerated into the future, breaking away from many other publicly traded companies.
...today’s economy is that of 1830, 1930, and 2030, all at once... What year will it be tomorrow?