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Coronavirus will bankrupt more people than it kills


Writing for The Independent, Omar Hassan looks at an aspect to the current Coronavirus situation few others seem to have taken any notice of.


Coronavirus’s economic danger is exponentially greater than its health risks to the public. If the virus does directly affect your life, it is most likely to be through stopping you going to work, forcing your employer to make you redundant, or bankrupting your business. The trillions of dollars wiped from financial markets this week will be just the beginning, if our governments do not step in. And if President Trump continues to stumble in his handling of the situation, it may well affect his chances of re-election. Joe Biden in particular has identified Covid-19 as a weakness for Trump, promising “steady, reassuring” leadership during America’s hour of need.


Worldwide, Covid-19 has killed 4,389 with 31 US deaths as of today. But it will economically cripple millions, especially since the epidemic has formed a perfect storm with stock market crashes, an oil war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, and the spilling over of an actual war in Syria into another potential migrant crisis.


We may look back on coronavirus as the moment when the threads that hold the global economy together came unstuck; and startups and growing businesses could end up paying the price.


Just as important as fighting the virus — if not more important — is vaccinating our economies against the incoming pandemic of panic. Human suffering can come in the form of illness and death. But it can also be experienced as not being able to pay the bills or losing your home.


Small businesses in particular are struggling as supply chains dry up, leaving them without products or essential materials. Factory closures in China have led to a record low in the country’s Purchasing Manager’s Index which measures manufacturing output. China is the world’s largest exporter and is responsible for a third of global manufacturing, so China’s problem is everyone’s problem — even in the midst of a trade war between the White House and Beijing.


All this makes it even more worrying that governments continue to see this as a health crisis, not an economic one. It is time the economists took over from the doctors, before the real pandemic spreads.