World bracing for economic turmoil after coronavirus pandemic
The deadly coronavirus continue to cause global disruption. Although some countries have taken steps towards lifting some of the restrictions implemented to tackle the pandemic, there still have not been any major changes. As long as countries keep their borders closed, we shouldn’t expect things to go back to normal anytime soon.
In any case, when we do reach the point of what is considered “normal,” we will see that everything is going to be vastly different. For one thing, the entire world is aware that there is a huge economic recession unfolding.
In March, a lot of countries began announcing economic aid packages to minimise the fallout from the global outbreak. These packages are meant to help citizens and businesses that have fallen on hard times. However, nobody knows what sort of packages will be announced after the crisis. Still, the real hardships are going to begin in the post-coronavirus era.
Two Fridays before the publication of this article, the Turkish government announced at 10 p.m. that a 48-hour curfew would begin for that weekend, starting at midnight. All social distancing and other measures were suddenly thrown out the window as people rushed to markets en masse to stock up for the next two days. Everyone knew this would worsen the spread of the virus, but it was too late.
However, the real issue we need to think about is what will happen when those people who took to the streets waiting to get into the markets begin to go hungry. If this continues, Turkey’s economic situation will take a turn for the worse, and many people won’t even be able to buy bread. We need to consider what people will do when matters reach that point.
Add to this, the thousands of criminals being let out of prison with a bill passed by Turkish parliament on Tuesday. It’s always been difficult for ex-convicts to find work, and given the recent economic difficulties, it seems pretty likely that this demographic will continue to commit crimes.
In the United States, particularly in rural areas, many people believe that guns are the best way to deter crime, but it’s certain nevertheless that there will be an increase in violence in the country as more people line up in front of gun stores to stock up weapons in preparation for uncertain times.
In fact, this is not the first time the world has faced a pandemic. While it’s true that other viruses haven’t been this virulent or contagious, there is discussion about similar outbreaks throughout history. In recent times, for example, the SARS virus served as a warning.
Many films, series, novels, and comic books have featured story lines about a disease, which takes hold of the world and paralyses it. For example, World War Z told a realistic story of a fast-spreading disease, but with zombies. The 2011 film Planet of the Apes was similarly important in terms of showing us how fast a virus could spread these days. However, the story that is the closest to what we are experiencing today is a film produced in 2011 called Contagion.
In the movie, the disease begins in China, where a pig eats a bat, and then the chef who cooks the pig shakes hands with his many customers. Within a short time, the disease spreads across the entire world, and everyone, much like today, is confined to their homes in a bid to stop the contagion. Although the mortality rates in that film are much higher, the movie was extremely prescient about the pandemic-related problems we are facing today.
After the SARS outbreak of 2002, or the swine flu pandemic of 2009, some countries began taking precautions, and it seems they are much better prepared to overcome COVID-19 due to these measures. Still, there has never been an epidemic that spread this quickly, and no country is prepared for the ensuing economic disaster.
In the post-corona era, we could learn our lessons and develop better health systems and a more egalitarian economic system, but this will be very difficult. However, before we can even reach that point, it unfortunately looks as though we will have to live through a period of increased violence.
It’s my hope that in the future, the world won’t be like in the TV series Incorporated, where one group is extreme wealthy, while everyone else is packed into slums, or like the film Elysium, where the rich live in luxury on another planet and leave the poor to survive on a rotting Earth.
If countries fail to work together in taking steps to change the existing system as they did after World War II, the first few years following the coronavirus will be extremely difficult. Under the current system, the rich will continue to get richer, income inequality will deepen, and it will be increasingly difficult for people to find, money to meet their most basic needs.
Stay at home if you can because after all of this is done, you’re going to need your health more than ever.
© Ahval English
The views expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.