Monday, April 06, 2020

What do we know? What are we learning and re-learning? My top ten

   -- Black swans can happen anytime, anywhere.

2 -- Initial responses are inevitably confused. But trial-and-error learning happens and we do get better. The U.S. was horribly unprepared going into WWI and WWII but, once on track, American productivity stunned enemies as well as friends.

3 -- Policy makers are inevitably pressed to do something. They often flail and go off in wrong directions. Some of the errors have tragic consequences. Others just feed political cronies.

4 -- Scientists as well as investors are quickly mobilized and they do perform. There will be new and better treatments. Doomsday forecasts are almost inevitable but usually too pessimistic.

5 -- Philanthropy and generosity (by the wealthy and by the less wealthy) is widespread and a great blessing.

6 -- Prescriptions for more high-density living and greater use of public transit are once again seen as misbegotten. Romantics and many planners are seen (once again) as not informed by the wiser choices of real people.

7  -- Crises speed up change. All of us chose a blend of communications channels. The shift from eye-to-eye in-person contact to electronic has been going on for some time. It is always a matter of discovering whether there is a better blend for any of us. Technology changes and people change. Both evolve more or less in concert.

8 -- Just as exuberant post-WWII spending finally ended the Great Depression (not the New Deal, not war expenditures) there will be exuberant spending and shopping once the lock-down orders are lifted. This will help to blunt some of the economic doomsday forecasts.

9 -- Fewer people are interested in Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren “democratic socialism”.  Otherwise, all political bets are off. No one can know what silly things any political candidate can say or do at any time.

1 -- In times of crises, there is base behavior and also glorious and gracious behavior. My belief is that there is more of the latter.