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Covid-19 Has Long-Term Effects on Health and Wealth

Covid-19 Has Long-Term Effects on Health and Wealth

Wednesday, 26 August, 2020 - 05:00

Many Covid-19 patients keep feeling sick for months after infection. Known as “long haulers,” there may be hundreds of thousands of such people in the US. But in a way, we’re all at risk of being pandemic long-haulers.

The coronavirus and its obliteration of normalcy have led to a separate pandemic of depression and despair, writes Andreas Kluth, particularly among young people and those perpetually unlucky millennials. These effects can weigh on people for a lifetime and can be deadly in their own right, constituting a second health-care crisis policy makers must confront.

One big trigger for depression and other chronic health problems is being unemployed for a very long time, and the ranks of people in that category are swelling, warns Michael R. Strain. This is yet another crisis policy makers must address yesterday, with more relief for the unemployed.

(Congress has had months to do this, but the hopelessly dysfunctional Senate is floundering; Karl Smith has some ideas for reforming it.)

Many of those being laid off were formerly employees of the country’s midsize businesses, those with between 500 and 15,000 employees. Bharat Ramamurti, part of the congressional commission overseeing March’s stimulus package, writes that these businesses, which employ some 48 million Americans, have fallen through the cracks and are at risk of going under en masse. The only relief they got was access to easy Fed loans through the Main Street Lending Program. But they don’t need more debt; they need direct relief. Otherwise the landscape will be permanently scarred by their absence.

Also overlooked in the government’s stimulus plans were the thousands of small farms that supply high-quality meat and veggies to restaurants and foodies, writes Adam Minter. Without relief, your local farmers market may be reduced to those guys who sell tube socks and CDs.

Not all the long-term changes have to be bad. Nobody expected this, but the world’s pharmaceutical giants have (mostly) made profits secondary to public health in this crisis, writes Max Nisen. Rivals are sharing knowledge and resources to get treatments and vaccines to as many people as quickly as possible. It would be a shame if such behavior ends along with the pandemic.

Last week’s Democratic National Convention was mainly all about reminding voters that Joe Biden is not President Donald Trump. This week’s Republican National Convention will basically try to do the opposite: remind voters that Republicans are not Democrats, which the GOP will try to sell as being much, much scarier than Trump, writes Ramesh Ponnuru.

Sure, there will be a platform of sorts, in the form of a list of Trump-generated bullet points, notes Jonathan Bernstein. But this list lacks detailed plans for such lofty promises as creating millions of jobs, fixing infrastructure and ending terrorism. Not that any details are needed because, again, the core message is simple: Democrats are scary.

A secondary message of the GOP convention might well be, “Hey, look at the stock market.” Because stocks are at record highs, more or less. This argument is less effective than it might have been six months ago, before 180,000 Americans died and millions lost their jobs. Still, record highs. The sustainability of such records is a different question, and John Authers finds plenty of reasons for doubt. For example, Apple stock has led the rally, jumping to a $2 trillion valuation, but you’ve got to wonder how it can possibly go much higher anytime soon. The rest of the market isn’t quite as juicy as Apple and its fellow FANGs, but it’s still pretty rich, John writes.

To be fair, some of the latest rally has been based on hopes the Trump administration can successfully push some barely tested coronavirus treatments and vaccines on the country, which could boost growth and profits sooner than expected. If that works, though, then Apple and other pandemic-times market winners face a reckoning. Maybe we’ll spend more time partying and concert-going than staring into our Apple phones. And maybe many of today’s safe-haven retail stocks will become losers when we’re no longer stockpiling RVs and above-ground pools, writes Conor Sen.


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