We hear, from both sides, calls to lift the confinement. Some employers want their employees to return to their offices. As the holiday season approaches, calls for large family reunions will multiply.
Worse, several anti-mask clowns claim that the economic difficulties we face are due to containment, rather than the virus. They believe that resisting sanitary measures will be good for the economy. That coughing in public is a guarantee of freedom.
Containment does not explain everything
However, the latest economic analyzes from the IMF suggest that the economy would not restart automatically with the lifting of containment. Quite the contrary.
Chronicle of Jean-Denis Garon, economist: will the economy restart automatically with the lifting of confinement?
The reason is simple. When we reach peaks of COVID-19 infections, the reasonable majority of people feel uncomfortable going out. She isolates herself and voluntarily distances herself.
In developed countries, up to 60% of the reduction in people’s mobility would have been voluntary during the first 90 days of the crisis … For 40% of effect for compulsory measures. Simply because people are afraid to go out when the number of COVID-19 cases increases.
How do we know this? Thanks to technology.
The IMF has obtained GPS data from mobile phone users for a large number of countries. The researchers were thus able to determine the change in people’s behavior before and after the pandemic … but especially before and after the imposition of mandatory containment measures.
Knowing this, we realize that anti-masks shoot themselves in the foot. They make people believe that the virus is not dangerous … Which risks scaring off the feeling of legitimate fear felt by a reasonable majority of the population. With the consequence of forcing governments to strengthen mandatory health measures.
On the contrary, if they succeed in convincing governments to relax the isolation measures, they risk stoking the fear of the majority and prolonging the crisis.
Ironically, everything anti-masks do has the effect of keeping us isolated for longer. They are heavyweight champions of counter-productivity!
Big land, small rebound
Now let’s talk about economic growth. For Canada, the IMF forecasts an economic decline of 7.1% this year, followed by a rebound of 5.2% next year. Which means that we won’t even manage to get our heads out of the water …
In the medium term, the news is just as bad. The pandemic will change the way we do things, our careers and our production chains so much that the global potential for growth will suffer.
We are also aligning ourselves to erase all the progress made in the reduction of global poverty since the 1990s. Which is saying a lot.
Finally, I recently wrote that an unnecessary prolongation of the crisis will unduly penalize young people. This fear is confirmed, since it is the youngest workers, as well as those employed by SMEs, who are most at risk of losing their jobs.
The portrait is not rosy, I know. But we have to face reality and remember that we all have our part to play.
- Jean-Denis Garon is a professor at ESG UQAM