It’s Monday, March 23rd, and we’re about a few weeks into full-blown COVID-19 panic. Back in December, we all became somewhat aware of the virus and its outbreak in Wuhan, China, however, I’m almost certain that initially, nobody knew how big of an impact this would have on the world.
COVID-19 started as a health crisis; then, it grew into being a financial crisis, now it's grown into a global panic and even a toilet paper crisis.
Moments like what we are currently experiencing are unique. These are isolated events that are pretty much unexplainable. We don’t know how they happen, we don’t know how big of an impact it will have, and the scariest part is, we don’t know how long this will last.
One of the more interesting things surrounding panic, similar to what we are experiencing, is that these unique events open up the doors to our world. Think about the 2008 financial crisis. This event caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes, it caused widespread panic and market uncertainty, but one thing it also did was give everyday people like us the ability to take a look on the inside and really get to understand our financial system along with the level of greed within it. We learned about the executives who were behind the greed, and we learned about the companies that were apart of the crisis. On one end, we came to understand the complete lack of regulatory oversight by our government. On the other end, we saw a complete lack of responsibility from the financial industry.
Interestingly so, If the 2008 financial crisis never happened, we probably would’ve never had the ability as everyday people to know what was going on behind the scenes. With that being said, I want to be clear and say that these events are horrible and should never happen. However, what I’m also saying is that these events are immense learning experiences for us all, so be sure to maximize the amount of information that we can take in from them.
Now, moving onto the COVID-19 panic. In this case, it’s not necessarily a crisis stemming from the financial markets, but we still do have the opportunity to look behind the scenes at what’s really going on. One of the more obvious examples is the visibility that we now have into our government through seeing their ability to act in the best interest of the American people during a time of crisis. I don’t think this comes to anyone's surprise, but our government once again seems to be asleep at the wheel, being reactive and not proactive. A stimulus bill has yet to get passed, virus numbers continue to grow, and people continue to get laid off from their jobs. Unfortunately, this is often the case; governments move incredibly slow and are in a constant entanglement with bureaucracy. Moving forward, we simply have to hope that the government will get the ball rolling, until then, the private sector will most likely spearhead the more effective initiatives.
Inside the private sector, it certainly hasn't been perfect, but I think for the most part we can all be grateful for the actions of a few:
Mark Zuckerberg - actively working with the State of California in providing medical equipment to hospitals and bringing test kits to everyday citizens
Jeff Bezos - Amazon announced that they have cut down their supply chain to be solely focused on helping people gain access to home essentials and medical equipment.
Bill Gates - provided $100M to aid global detection, isolation, and treatment of COVID-19.
Mark Cuban - personally paying employees of the Dallas Mavericks who aren't able to work due to the NBA shut down and actively working in the community to provide financial support.
So as you can see, in some cases, we see complete lack of action, and in some cases, we see immediate action and response from people like Zuck, Bezos, Gates, and Cuban (as well as some who I may have left off).
Overall, the point I’m trying to get across is that events like what we are going through now, contain valuable learning experiences. In times of crisis, we can see behind the walls of our government, financial system, and even our society.
Most importantly, we can all see who will lead us through the fire, and who will hide in a corner and protect merely themselves.
The story of the COVID-19 panic of 2020 is already seeded in the textbooks of our future, so from here, it’s just a matter of how we want this story to end.