I’ll start with the conclusion.
In conclusion, the arrival of COVID-19 will usher in a new era after coronacapitalism. It is marked by panic and greed now, evidenced by the unfathomable price hikes. But it will ultimately end up being a huge reset button for the world, when widespread empathy and love for one another sets in after a painful realisation that we are all on one floating rock around one burning pile of gas.
Take the United States in the 1960’s for example. Keep in mind that the Great Depression was actually ended by the second World War; it was not the start of it. On 29th October 1929, the US stock market crashed and was dubbed ‘Black Tuesday’ – officially setting off the Great Depression. World War 2 ended in September 1945, when the Japanese surrendered after the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Great Depression in 1929 was followed by war just a decade after that lasted till 1945: it affected everyone. It affected the rich and the poor, the big and the small, everyone.
For a long while now, man has been as arrogant as man. The rich and powerful think they’re indispensable. They try to squeeze margins, reduce salaries and put so much economic pressure on the masses beneath them – to an extent that life gets so unbearable. For too long have far too many people in the world perpetuated an increasing affinity for dangerous and insular rhetoric, all in the name of patriotism or business.
There is this thing called ‘Suffering’ in whatever mode or manner it may present itself; and when it is right at your doorstep, it is approached differently.
After WW2, it was time to rebuild. But this time, the lesser man or employee or customer standing next to you was no longer one you could not relate to. He wasn’t a just a statistic. You’d appreciate what one dollar or one loaf of bread can do for your fellow man when you can relate to his suffering. That is why the middle-class grew during that time. People realised they had a better chance of survival together through an understanding of suffering.
They knew we can’t not live together.
After seeing all the suffering in Italy and China, after seeing citizens of the most powerful countries scramble for food and medicine, after watching videos of old people and children literally suffocating from severe implications of COVID-19, and after watching the US stock markets close to a 30% decline from mid-February highs, I think real-life challenges that keep increasing the gap between the rich and the poor like loss and famine and disease and poverty and information illiteracy and a lack of healthcare will be much less baffling now.
Now the intro…
Our way of life as we know it is going to change. When the basic, universal form of greeting, which is the handshake, is under review and might probably be substituted, it signals some major incoming global modifications. It signals the era after coronacapitalism, and it is as confusing as it is dangerous, for now.
Coronacapitalism is when the toilet-roll and tissue section of the supermarket is perpetually empty while the vitamins section is always stocked.
Coronacapitalism is when two brothers drive around low-end stores, buying up all the hand-sanitisers they can get. They put it on Amazon at crazy prices and sold a few till Amazon banned them for price-gouging. Now they have about over 17,000 bottles of hand-sanitiser they can’t sell and they’re screwed. We all read this story.
Coronacapitalism is when, last Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – an index that tracks 30 large, publicly-owned, blue chip companies trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) – drops 13%; its largest point drop in history. The S&P 500 Index and the NASDAQ-100 all fell massively as well.
Last week, I ordered and got delivered hand -that doesn’t sanitise. I told my wife and she laughed way too heartily. The delivered product looked like sanitiser, had that jelly feel, but did not have any alcohol in it. Yet, the label read ‘70% alcohol’. What on earth did I purchase? Adding to my pain, it came with a surcharge of 200% on the usual price.
Coronacapitalism is when crooks see new and unique ways to rip-off unsuspecting buyers; because prior to all this, when it looked like hand-sanitiser in a hand-sanitiser bottle, it 99.99% of the time was hand-sanitiser.
In the era of coronacapitalism, the unthinkable suddenly becomes reality. “Nigeria bans travellers from the US” shockingly reads well, considering the reverse situation just last month was “US bans travellers from Nigeria”.
This period is also accompanied by confusion and an ensuing pause or inaction, which in itself is an automatic decision on your choice of response to a world that is unravelling right before your eyes.
Take the Dow loss for instance. The evident downward correction started about a month ago. Traders were in shock last Monday, understandably. The most popular adage on making money in the stock markets is “buy low, sell high”. It’s an easily graspable concept.
Do you buy now when the markets are at their lowest to sell high later? What if you’re stuck with stocks you can’t sell at a profit because the markets continue to free-fall? Do you dump your ill-performing stocks to cut your losses? What if the market picks up soon after? Whether you make up your mind or not, the markets remain active during the chaos.
During coronacapitalism, the hierarchy of needs isn’t turned upside down: it is reshuffled. In like some sort of a game of high stakes dice within a broken Jumanji rendition, toilet-paper seems to be steadily making its way to becoming legal tender in the West. A lack of informed expectations is leading many to overprepare. Maybe over-purchasing toilet-rolls gives the broken and afraid a sense of control over at least one part of their lives. Maybe panic-buying begets panic-buying; we see t-rolls being bought and we follow suit. Or maybe it’s just natural to overprepare for an incoming danger we know not how to effectively manage, because the situation is currently evolving.
The current growing estimates of the coronavirus or COVID-19 casualties aren’t reassuring at first glance. Dangerous incoming threats, indeed, need equally drastic measures. But, luckily, our recommended ‘drastic’ measures to the deadly virus fall somewhere between social distancing, washing your hands and keeping hydrated with other simple life-hacks. Panic only leads to a blurred understanding and an off-the-mark counter.
The real losses in this time of coronacapitalism are obviously the losses of life. Second to that is the effect all of this is having on businesses and world markets. Local businesses are taking a huge hit. Some industries, like the aviation industry, are getting the much shorter end of the stick. The International Air Transport Association estimates that airlines and the global aviation industry need up to US$200billion in government support to survive this period of coronacapitalism.
It is within this frenzy that some entrepreneurs and companies are finding their pot of gold. I don’t think anyone planned to make fortunes during this time of disaster. Some people just happened to have the right product or service. If you already integrate e.commerce into your business, chances are you’re going to ride the tide of online purchasing.
Obviously the cleaner and sanitiser industry is seeing a big boost. Products like Dettol and Purell are probably sold out worldwide. Simon held last week’s Founder Institute session on Zoom Video, a service that eliminates the need for face-to-face meetings. Services like those should be thriving very well.
The crooks that sold me the non-sanitising hand-sanitiser saw an opportunity, and they took it. News of petty crime during a time like this gets lost within all the news. Hackers and cybercriminals are right now busily exploiting the networks of average employees which are now working from home. More than ever in our history, hundreds of millions of people all over the world have been placed in some form of isolation – and many of them are working from home, on less secure systems than those in their offices. In this coronacapitalistic period of anxiety and mental pressure, people are more likely to fall for scams and other malicious cybertricks.
Coronacapitalism thrives on fear. People do irrational things when fear sets in. It should take a very short amount of time to fact-check information on the Internet or from the authorities. Still, when the fear sets in we panic and are ever-ready to overprepare. It is why US$1 facemasks are selling in some countries for US$100 and why some pastors are making a fortune selling miracle solutions they claim cure COVID-19.
Ghana’s president, His Excellency Nana Akufo Addo, has been highly proactive. When the country had single-digit confirmed cases of COVID-19, government intensified public education and ordered establishments to provide hand-sanitisers, running water and soap for washing hands, allowed businesses to run but suspended all public gatherings, and closed down all schools private and public, only exempting BECE and WASSCE candidates – reiterating the urgent need to adhere to social distancing protocols.
As I stated in my conclusion at the beginning of this article, all things shall pass. This, too, shall ultimately end. A reset button for the world will result in a widespread empathy; and love for one another sets in after a painful realisation that we are all on one floating Earth around the same Sun.
So, let’s accept this responsibility to help one another. Some kind-hearted people all over the world are showing much-needed compassion during this period of coronacapitalism. Older people and those with serious illnesses are most at risk. You only need to realise that the sick and elderly in our community cannot scramble for essentials like food and medicine. When we can, we should help them perform simple chores like food errands and picking up essential medicine.
Compassion can’t be forced down your throat. In scary times like these, we could all use some good karma. Be your brother’s keeper and remember, it is the vulnerable that we must protect.
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Have a lovely week!
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Maxwell Ampong is the CEO of Maxwell Investments Group, a Trading and Business Solutions provider. He is also the Business Advisor for the General Agricultural Workers’ Union of TUC (Gh). He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.