Normal is not an option (?)

From Arnold Kling, excerpt:

In the long run, I don’t expect normal either. Pre-crisis, our patterns of specialization and trade were optimized for efficiency at the expense of fragility. Expect supply chains in the future to have a lot more redundancy and to be less driven by cost minimization. The Chief Risk Officer’s approval will now be needed before the CEO will approve a major new supply contract.

We will develop a lot of what you might call social-distancing capital, including the ability to make use of remote meetings and distance learning. Last night, some folks attempted a virtual session of dancing. Most of the time was spent getting a bunch of old people up to speed on using Zoom. Next time, we might be able to dance. People will get accustomed to new forms of entertaintment.

Many sectors were way too levered–households with too little savings and too much debt, businesses with too little cash reserves and too much debt, and governments with too much debt and unfunded liabilities. Behavior is likely to change going forward. I expect to see a major reduction in financial intermediation. Financial intermediaries, such as banks, are in the business of issuing riskless, short-term liabilities backed by risky, long-term assets. This allows the nonfinancial sector to do the opposite. I don’t think that we will be able to sustain as much financial intermediation as we did before, and the result will have to be individuals and firms undertaking fewer risky, long-term projects.

The challenges for other countries will be much more difficult. De-globalization is taking place, and that will produce losers and bigger losers (it won’t produce many winners). Become familiar with Peter Zeihan’s way of viewing the world. Don’t take the international order for granted. Zeihan emphasizes that the U.S. is one of the few countries that produces enough food and energy for itself. China, on the other hand, needs to import both. That would lead one to predict that China will be in the “bigger loser” category.

And NASDAQ is in the green today!


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