COVID-19: Winners and Losers

By James Kwak

I think it’s highly likely that the dust will clear eventually and that our economy will come back to life at some point in the next two or three years. I know there are certain disaster scenarios that can’t be ruled out, but I think they are unlikely. I’m not going to guess when things will return to a semblance of normal. Really, no one knows.

Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The question for now is: what will that economy look like?

A few things, I think, are clear. The economy will not grow back up to its trend line prior to the pandemic. This, for example, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, is what happened after the financial crisis and Great Recession:


Not only did actual GDP fall, but the trend line of potential GDP fell as well, costing the economy trillions of dollars of output. Behind that loss of potential GDP is an enormous human cost. Recessions cause permanent damage to people who lose their jobs and to recent graduates who can’t find jobs.

There will also be a certain amount of psychological scarring that will affect the economy for at least a generation. People buying safety stocks of dried beans and toilet paper may give the consumer goods sector a one-time boost. But those with enough income will save more, depressing demand, and people will also be much more reluctant to start small businesses.

Amazon will be a big winner, of course. A large proportion of the population, particularly among the affluent, already reflexively shopped for everything at Amazon. (I used to, but now I try to find things elsewhere first, basically for political reasons.) The pandemic is pushing more people to try to fulfill all of their consumer needs online, and they aren’t going to stop when the coast clears.

More generally, big chains will expand their domination over the economy. Tens of thousands of small businesses will vanish, never to return, wiped out by weeks or months of zero revenues. Large corporations will have the capital to swoop in and steal their customer base. Family-owned restaurants will be replaced by national chains. Sporting goods stores will be replaced by Dicks. Electronics shops, if there are any left, will be replaced by Best Buy. Bookstores … well, there aren’t many of those left, anyway.

The other winners will be private equity funds with the nerve to buy assets on the cheap. After the financial crisis, investment funds bought up single-family homes in foreclosure, becoming some of the nation’s largest landlords. This time, the bargains will be found in small businesses desperate for capital and commercial real estate hammered by defaulting tenants.

The business sector will become more concentrated. Inequality will increase. The fundamental trends that have reshaped the American economy over my lifetime will accelerate. The survival of capitalism depends on a large enough proportion of the population having a stake in its survival. For how much longer?

20 thoughts on “COVID-19: Winners and Losers

  1. Another problem you economists are going to have is that the #’s simply wont match reality, you’ll be left juggling #’s that are deflated from real #’s giving false readings and ergo false decisions based on these false readings.

    Soon when nothing adds up or makes sense anymore, you’ll be wondering why you chose this profession to begin with and why are we continuing this soon to become questionable profession.

    Before too long questionable professions will out number useful professions and the education system will remain as clueless as before and reach an all time high of deniability.

  2. I’m a camera op. Mainly sports, all VGK home games, the WNBA Aces, minor league soccer here in Vegas (which is truly haunting at this moment. Before the craycray time, I had shot MLB for two weekends at the yearold LV Ball Patk, the Furry Wilder fight, and was on the PAC 12 Tournament for two days when the world as we know came crashing down. I was fortunate and worked all the time, concerts (toured with Ozzy), residencies, some racing, corporate events, UFC, some reality crap? and a few other gigs kept me busy all year. Sometimes there would be 30days or more of work with not one day off. It’s all over now. Can’t image leagues, arena’s, stadiums, convention or conference centers, or theaters assuming the potential liabilities involved with packing these various venues with thousands or even hundreds of people in very close proximity. Not unless are very successful vaccine is developed. All the Cirque and performer here is out of work for well into the future. As you say – no one really knows. The production going forward will be studio stuff, and content for cable or streaming services. Not in those circles and though very capable of those kinds of applications – there will be many thousands of candidates seeking very few opportunities for positions that traditionally are lifetime gigs. The future, whatever it may be for production and particularly sports and entertainment will never be the same. Never. But as long as predatorclass and the den of vipers and thieves in the finance sector are protected and advantaged – everything will be fine. I’m long on guns and ammo manufacturers.

  3. I think we’ll have pretty much a normal economy by the end of the year — by the 3rd quarter from now — but a new normal.
    What we have now is actually three crises, not just an economic one.
    Significant numbers of people will be disabled from surviving Covid-19; there will, of course, be a significant number of deaths. So some net, irreplaceable, significant reduction of revenues.
    Smaller businesses will disappear, not to reappear. It seems that saving for a rainy day is no longer a thing. (Cf that seven fat years story in the Old Testament.) Now maybe long term interest free loans, however they’re managed, would be something of a solution. So the economic thing can be dealt with if our leaders (Republicans obviously, demonstrably excluded, obviously) cared enough to act.
    The financial crisis is no problem; Big Finance controls the Fed; this is 2008 redux.
    My point (finally) is that I’m not persuaded that economically, there’s much to learn from 2008. And, indeed, there’s a new chapter in the 2008 playbook; this time, there’s crumbs for the masses.

  4. I’m not so sure Amazon will be an unqualified winner. To be sure, e-commerce’s share of commerce will rise dramatically, and as the market leader, Amazon will profit handsomely (or not, as Bezos’ financial engineering will plow those potential profits into an ever-stronger grip on cloud services), but their inability to cope with demand has also meant I have turned to competing services when I used not to even bother, because they are still able to deliver, and that means more competition over the long term for them.

  5. The fear of asset seizing profiteering is a very real one, but not one that is so hidden and cloaked in opportunism for shareholders as it had been in the past. One other observation is that any rentier prospects
    are also path dependent upon a real economy that has consumer level liquidity still volatile enough to prevent those assets from becoming liabilities more than cash cows. The magnitude and dimensions of this leveling impact will have to be in some degree a ratio of proportionate means, not necessarily a “rational” model of superfluous domination by finance. The “real” economy, this time, is an infrastructure itself and any appeals to austerity will be a poison pill that will not go down easy. EZ path is EZ crash in this baseline oriented scenario.
    Vox populi, vox Dei

    The ONLY good optimistic vision that is on the horizon is that the entire global economic impact on the ecological path of destruction is on hold for a sustained period of time. Benchmarking changes to environments will permit a generation of measures and perhaps methods that will present scientific foundation for managing climate change. This is no small matter. One must concede and acknowledge that ultimately climate change has facilitated if not precipitated this pandemic. There are both cultural and ecological consequences to be measured now with serious intent. Of course the virus and the economy are equally in crisis. But let us not forget the trilogy and the trifecta involved and engaged in this crisis of humanity and its existential condition.

    In the meantime let us hope that the winners will be the next generation and the big losers will be Donald Trump and his republican Ochlocracy.

  6. Hope always ends in failure, the next generation will be worse off than the millenials whom have already admitted that they expect to own nothing of significance. There is no telling just how bad it could get for the next generation, but things will not be good. Trump and O’s will be just fine, its a cake baked into eternity, you went 0 for 2 Bruce, but the trifecta has yet to come in so better luck there.

  7. The repeal of Glass-Stegall was done by Clinton. One non-stop crime spree since then…Dumping everything on Trump is insulting to everybody who has paperwork from their “before” life…

    Trump was in NYC when AIDS piled up bodies. From a medical/scientific fact based reality, sexual diseases are eliminated from the face of the earth (at least until the next virus spawned by wide spread bestiality gets shared with human females) with “social distancing”. But the “big pharma” business model punished the company which CURED Hep C….go figure…

    Once global government research figured out how viruses kill (after the flu epidemic swept through the misery of daily life after World War I), “research” turned to weaponizing disease, not curing it, and conducted psychotic “research” like the Tuskegee Experiment…who knows what unknown experiments the 5G crowd are conducting today!

    How many “movies” about pandemics have been spitted out recently through the largesse of big corp shamans without a dime from their deep pockets going to the manufacturing of the equipment needed by hands-on clinicians and thosetasked with “bring out your dead”…?

    Maybe contact the “corp” that had/has no trouble bringing in opioids across open borders, over and above the fantastic job big pharma did supplying millions of doses to West Virginia cities with a population under 2000, to help back fill docs, nurses, etc. in NYC…? Yea, giving back to the community ain’t a THOUGHT with that OTHER “big pharma” global operation…

    Anyone still remember how federal government health agencies made it possible for insurance companies to deny proper coverage to the Twin Towers first responders whenkidney cancer ravaged their group…? Scientists were real stubborn about no having clear data that the cancers were connected to the brew of chemicals in that rubble….

    So before anyone sends their clueless “elite” millenial news reporter off today on a chase into “history” of Trump-wrong-handling a pandemic contrasting it with the actions of past medical glories,

    you might want to remember that there is NOTHING that was all-good for decades, and this is just a very short list of horrors to rant about that is NOT “trump”. After Viagra, the SMALLEST department in big pharma is toxicology and bench research, oh, and of course, “manufacturing”….

    Tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes are before us which means that you could lose the ONE company Jared picks, so get all unknown-to-Jared “small business” manufacturors on deck (yes, they went into hiding under Obama because Obama wanted their business to be GONE – forever)

    Heck, it won’t take much to train licensed scuba divers to run respirators – and they can come dressed in their wet suits which can be hosed down after their shift :-) See what happens when “science” really is in charge…? Creativity and a proper use of “math” instead of endless suck out algorithms from an alien world of dark pool financial derivatives and hedge fund after hedge fund spouting out delusional speculative theories…all still THEFT, lies and murder…

    Trump shut down incoming travel from China on Jan 31st – what is it with the same question coming at Trump, personally, that he did not take it seriously….

    What’s the bloated alphabet soup of Patriot Act “intelligence” agencies doing – seriously…?

    @Foresta – hey the Demos managed to cough up $800 million TAX dollars served on a silver platter like John the Baptist’s head to the Repub casino mogul power base in Vegas to build the Raiders Stadium…who said “Americans” can’t work together…? I would not place my bets on derivatives NOT disappearing with the touch of a switch…and if the sex slave market takes a hit – well, boo-hoo, can you hear the world’s smallest violin crying the blues for ’em..? I’d stay as quiet NOW as everyone was ordered to be when Comey’s FBI took over the investigation into the Harvest Festival shooting…but if you read the report about what can be done better from Metro Police that they issued once they were allowed to, dealing with a flood of 900+ humans with bullet wounds at the very few hospitals qualified to handle real medical emergencies is worth a read for this crisis…Vegas might be over the peak…COVID-19 deaths probably were counted as part of the huge number of flu deaths this season…but looking ahead, the cleaning crews might have thought “efficiency” is reached mathematically when you stop cleaning so when they casino hotels open up again, I would send in a team to do random sampling of surfaces like poker chips to see what cooties are still clinging on…could be cleaning isn’t needed…yup, lots of craycray…electron charged arosole cooties floating on wifi cell phone frequencies – now that’s the movie to make – Bat Sht Crazy…

  8. For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab POWER…By Selam Gebrekidan
    March 30, 2020
    The pandemic may be a boon to governments with an autocratic bent. In Hungary, a new law has granted Prime Minister Viktor Orban the power to sidestep Parliament and suspend existing laws
    “We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close if not on the heels of a health epidemic,”
    said Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights.

  9. DOJ Wants to Suspend Certain Constitutional Rights During Coronavirus Emergency
    2020-03-21, Rolling Stone
    Posted: 2020-03-30 02:20:29
    The Trump Department of Justice has asked Congress to craft legislation allowing chief judges to indefinitely hold people without trial and suspend other constitutionally-protected rights during coronavirus and other emergencies, according to a report by Politico.
    Media coverage in March 2020: Power layers of crisis exploitation and betrayal of the public trust

  10. Anarchistic Vulture Capital dressed as ‘hedge funds’ don’t like the old labels of Corporate Raiding, but perhaps ‘Tomb Raiders’ fits them better today? Instability is their playing field; to Hades with the real economy at stake.
    Private equity eyes industries crippled by coronavirus: ‘They have been waiting for this’
    Published Wed, Mar 25 202012:48 PM EDT Updated Wed, Mar 25 20202:29 PM EDT
    Hugh Son@hugh_son
    Alex Sherman@sherman4949
    Lauren Hirsch@laurenshirsch
    “Vulture investors, especially in private equity, are waiting in the wings to scoop up scores of struggling businesses on the cheap,” tweeted Rohit Chopra, an FTC commissioner.
    Key Points
    Investment giants Blackstone, Carlyle and KKR, has a record $1.5 trillion in cash ready to deploy and has been actively seeking deals across the struggling travel, entertainment and energy industries, according to a half-dozen investment bankers.
    “They have been waiting for this type of market dislocation,”
    the head of mergers at a major Wall Street firm said.
    The first deals are likely to be investments rather than full-on takeovers, the bankers said.

  11. @Alabama; Failure always ends period. Hope has nothing to do with it. There’s a fine line between futility and fatalism; but hope is a vision not a mission. What you seem to display is a baked in mission creep. That’s not an option. The material dispossession and existential predisposition that you conflate with the millenials is one of political identity media hype; standard market practice to create ambivalence and a sense of defeat. This is not punk rock. This is not a drill. We expect to win not fail. You are either with us or behind, but either way failure talk is OLD and getting feeble in the face of real challenges. Get on board. Or just stay boring.

  12. After re-reading the post; That last ending is not what I intended and it sounds sarcastic unintentionally. let me please amend that to say
    @Alabama;. Get on board: United and Connected; we will take charge of changes ahead. It’s not about “ownership” as much as it is about saving democracy in an economy that prioritizes social justice. The common good is the common wealth. God’s Speed to us all.

  13. Council of Europe Strasbourg 24 march 2020
    Secretary General writes to Viktor Orbán regarding COVID-19 state of emergency in Hungary
    Letter from Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić, for the attention of Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary

    “The COVID-19 pandemic legitimately prompted Council of Europe member states to take drastic measures to protect public health. These measures are restricting a number of individual rights and liberties enshrined in constitutions and in the European Convention on Human Rights. Whereas the applicable national and international human rights norms allow for such restrictions, their severity may require the implementation of a derogatory regime in the form of a state of emergency, as provided for by the national constitutional order.

    I am following the developments concerning the state of emergency in Hungary with great attention. In this context, I should like to underline that the measures which member states take in the present exceptional circumstances of the pandemic must comply with both national constitutions and international standards, and observe the very essence of democratic principles. An indefinite and uncontrolled state of emergency cannot guarantee that the basic principles of democracy will be observed and that the emergency measures restricting fundamental human rights are strictly proportionate to the threat which they are supposed to counter.

    Also, democratic debate in national parliaments, in the media and the internet, as well as access to official information and documents are essential elements of any free and democratic order and of particular importance in crisis situations to maintain trust and confidence within society.

    Our member states are rightly determined to address the threat resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, but this must be done in a manner that respects the fundamental values of the Organisation: democracy, rule of law and human rights. The Council of Europe remains ready to help them in this endeavour, including by making available all expertise and assistance which may be useful. I invite the Hungarian authorities to seize this opportunity”.

    Letter sent from the Secretary General to Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary

  14. From today’s wallstreetonparade’s website update on the non-human madness that is “finance” – “…What makes the New York Fed’s bailout of Wall Street so much more dangerous this time around is that it has decided to use a different structure for its loans to Wall Street – one that will force losses on taxpayers and, it hopes, will provide an ironclad secrecy curtain around how much it spends and where the money goes….”

    Someone wanna continue talking about “autocracy”….?

    In recent trade negotiations between China and USA, the Chinese officials brought this reality-check FACT to the attention of USA officials – “….we do not have the ability to stop the flow of illegal fentanyl into USA….”.

    Running through different “war strategies” against Nihilists, Anarchists, and the biological threats from human ant colonies while sheltering in place is fun. When completely surrounded by criminal (not really autocracy, is it?) activity to weaken the ethical “herd immunity” of hard-earned civilization provided by the Industrial Revolution in USA, figuring out who to shoot first is argued about alot – I go with my WWII refugee Mom’s adamant command (who can argue with experience?) – “…first kill the drug dealors…”. When a human being makes a free will choice to lose their soul dignity to greed, they signed their own fate….

    Too bad there isn’t a “trump derangement syndrome” among the elite for some really degenerate human speciments who can now use social media and politics to protect themselves with “government” – is there a new definition for for “fittest” when talking human evolution “survival of the fit-test”….?

    Next up – the “can never be safe” internet that we all MUST use….probably the only way to take down electron charged arosole viruses is to blow up the infrastructure, and blowing that sht up is way more fun than setting off fireworks…another fun way to take down an unwanted drone buzzing over you is with a potato launcher :-)

    We’re just never going to get “chipped” by banksters, in case anyone is wondering what is motivating non-political people to take up arms…yea, it’s a war. A defensive war, at this point. The list of pre-emptive strikes against We the People is shamefully long for a 1% self-proclaimed power grab – “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”…

    Threatening? Good. We’re civilized, though.

    Declaration of Independence….it’s not about a “constitution” protecting inalienable rights. But REAL Americans know that…

    NOW, once again, It’s about our duty to neutralize bat sht craycray “Matrix” games…they are not going to stop, they’re insane….

    Questions that can’t help but be asked by the kids paying attention – how come there are not a dozen big budget hollowood films about people hunting down “justice” for the killing of Czar Nicolai – didn’t the Nazis come AFTER that…?

  15. @Woych – what business is it of yours in Hungary?

    from wallstreetonparade’s article today – “…What makes the New York Fed’s bailout of Wall Street so much more dangerous this time around is that it has decided to use a different structure for its loans to Wall Street – one that will force losses on taxpayers and, it hopes, will provide an ironclad secrecy curtain around how much it spends and where the money goes….”

    Deal with “autocracy” at home first…

  16. Naturally no offense taken Bruce, but arnt we all products of our own education and environment? And as education and today’s button pushing environment destruct the human being from a physical stand point, a body mechanics stand point, the chances, the odds, that these new members of society will be superior (or even equal) to the ones who will leave behind their ideas or wealth, are reduced. This is plain physics from a developing brain and body mechanics point of view. Its an invisible denominator that hope can not over come, it’s baked into the future as culture, and will refuse to be changed. It can be seen in today youth and will lead to early heart disease of many of today’s youth, and the future even being worse.

    At this point even I am wondering if there will be enough quality people to save even a small off grid community from the destructive future that awaits us all.

  17. So man acting as a god is a nightmare, especially when you grab “religion” away from evolutionary and experiential culture and turn it into a protection racket for sinners….go figure…who could have prophet-sized that…?

    “Science” in USA has collapsed completely as witnessed by the Boeing story.

    And this isn’t the site to try and pretend that the banksters did not flash crash themselves again in September 2019. Yet another Chinese origin virus (how many is that now – 3?) wasn’t the cause of the economic sickness present in Wall Street since 2008, but no surprise that the spin is on, right?

    @Alabama – there are still “countries” with quality people – globalist “media” in USA makes it easy to know who they are because they are on their hit list….the irrational censorship of quality people and the deplatformiing of them from the MUST USE internet is a damage to the potential of human intelligence that cannot be retrieved when what was done was VICIOUSLY censoring quality “stuff” like The Urantia Book to FAVOR stuff like “bestiality” videos!

    But I am meadering – shame on all of you self-proclaimed scientists still pretending to be dispassionate, just the facts, ma’am, problem solvers – all you have to do is deplatform bestiality videos (everyone has to sacrifice something for the greater good, right?) to have enough bandwidth for everyone working from home if you shut down 5G…the elite from Boston to D.C. are on land-lines for their CNN interviews – why?

    Forget reading Parts 2, 3 and 4 of The Urantia Book – the REVELATIONS that human beings could never figure out for ourselves in a million years and we were never even designed to know so much about what is out there in the stars if Mom and Dad did not teach us about it are all in Part I – you got time to read it now, right? :-)

    From Paper 12 of The Urantia Book – “…Not only in the realms of life but even in the world of physical energy, the sum of two or more things is very often something more than, or something different from, the predictable additive consequences of such unions. The entire science of mathematics, the whole domain of philosophy, the highest physics or chemistry, could not predict or know that the union of two gaseous hydrogen atoms with one gaseous oxygen atom would result in a new and qualitatively superadditive substance—liquid water. The understanding knowledge of this one physiochemical phenomenon should have prevented the development of materialistic philosophy and mechanistic cosmology.

    12:9.4 (141.5) Technical analysis does not reveal what a person or a thing can do. For example: Water is used effectively to extinguish fire. That water will put out fire is a fact of everyday experience, but no analysis of water could ever be made to disclose such a property. Analysis determines that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen; a further study of these elements discloses that oxygen is the real supporter of combustion and that hydrogen will itself freely burn….”

    PROVE that it was NOT the deployment of 10,000 5G towers in Wuhan that gave “life” to this “novel” virus in that particular extremely polluted human ant farm environment. Prove it! That would be “science”….

    Stop “weinsteininig” and “epsteining” HALF of the species – WOMEN – and deplatforming them from the fields of science and religion just so you can get your sports team scores and bestiality videos delivered through walls in your “internet of things” where MAN is “god” only in his own “mind”…

  18. Ramble if you must, but just how much electricity can one make from 100 gal/min of water falling 20 feet from it’s source? These are the things of use to me that will be hard to find someone else that can provide the same answer to.

    And what part of off grid is contained in a 5g tower? There is use, and there is useless, see the future, hear the future, be, the future.

  19. The Declaration of Independence’s “inalienable rights” certainly understands that a private printing press of fiat $$$$s using their predatory “government” apparatchiks to seize power over others saying you “MUST use the internet that can NEVER be secured” has crossed the boundary of human dignity, even if you are an atheist!

    What a 180 in “philosophy” about “saving business” from 12 years ago!!

    Not for one second should any high-faluting virtue signaling media pontificator BELIEVE that banksters et al “found jesus”. Even they realized that the drug cabals they unleashed on VERY CAREFULLY SELECTED communities who were robbed and then “terminated” in 2008 financial crisis were going to jump on this virus to take out their 1% masters – criminals are never loyal nor do they need to re-invent the wheel of power grabs with brute force.

    The fact that people finally channeled their inner Klingon – “today is a good day to die” – when this “future” was being water-boarded into people as the next fait accompli –

    “…ooops – it’s just a glitch that you cannot get out of the bestiality video website…”

    Wanna know how bat sht crazy the weinsteining and epsteining of Urantia community was/is – check out this website – It’s all code-talking among the alphabet soup “intelligence” agencies (remember Schumer and his infamous “we have six ways to Sunday” to keep Trump deplatformed) desperately keeping their iron grip on “religion” for the $$$$…it’s quite the “revelation” about how low and how nuts you can go when ANY self-proclaimed take over the voice of god…all for the $$$$.

    Indeed – the “future” is up for grabs….We the People “through no fault of their own” all the way back to 2008 – locked and loaded…may God help us – psychotic drug lords to the left of us, psychotic “intelligence agencies” to the right…good idea to “shelter in place” – you can see them coming in time to go all Klingon :-)

    Jared embedding his buddies into FEMA operations…? Yikes! His peers from school daze call him “the devil”…

    Internet needs a cleanse of viruses, no?

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