Strange Days

Strange Days, by the Z-Man.

Way back in the time before corona, it was conventional wisdom that shutting down the economy would have dire consequences for the economy. Whether you were on the panic side or the skepticism side, you were sure that locking down the economy was going to be bad for the economy. The stock market losing a third of its value in a week seemed to confirm it. No matter the truth of the virus, the consequence was going to be an unprecedented economic depression.

Here we are four months on and the world does not look like anyone imagined it when this all started. The promised bodies in the streets never materialized. The virus has thus far been a severe flu season hyped up by mass media. The promised depression has not made an appearance. …

What we are seeing in the economy runs counter to pretty much everything we have been told for generations. The government should not be able to manufacture trillions of dollars without causing hyperinflation. This was something everyone, Left and Right, knew was true not so long ago. Here we are with the US debt at 23 Trillion, a number so large no one can imagine it. So large, no one bothers discuss it anymore. No one cares about the debt.

Similarly, we have been told for generations that the US savings rate was so low that the typical American could not afford to skip a paycheck. Small business was so strapped it could not go a month without business. We’re four months into the lock downs and we don’t have soup lines. Instead, Americans are paying down credit card debt at a record clip. In fact, credit card debt is now the lowest it has been in over a decade and headed for unprecedented lows.

One driver of the credit card debt decline is the collapse in spending. This makes sense, given those empty streets and closed shops. Still, people worried about money tend to hoard cash, rather than pay down debt. …

The weirdness in the economy is just one item. No new movies or television have come out since the panic and no one seems to care very much. Sports entertainment has been shuttered and no one seems to care. All of the spring and summer youth sports have been cancelled. This time of year, kids into baseball, lacrosse, soccer and big-time football would normally be in summer leagues. Their parents would be toting them around the country. None of that is happening.

You can probably spend the better part of a day listing the things that used to be a fixed part of daily life that are now gone. More important, they are gone and no one seems to notice or care.

Time out from the usual rat race. It’s only temporary, right?