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Economic Effect of Coronavirus Could Be Revolutionary
Paul Craig Roberts
Coronavirus and globalism will teach us vital lessons. The question is whether we can learn vital lessons that do not serve the ruling interest groups and ideologies.
Coronavirus will teach us that a country without free national health care is severely handicapped. Millions of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. They cannot afford health care premiums, deductions, and copays. Millions have no insurance. This means millions of people infected with coronavirus who cannot get medical help. The morbidity from this is intolerable in any society.
Shutdowns associated with efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus will deny income to millions of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. What do they do for food, shelter, transportation? You don’t have to think very long along these lines to see a very frightening scenario.
Globalism has taken down the ladders of upward mobility by exporting American middle class jobs to Asia. A population once able to save now lives on debt, the service of which is interrupted by recession/depression and by debt service absorbing all net disposable income.
Globalism has also reduced the survivability of our society by making it dependent on externally produced goods, the supply of which can be cut off by disruptions in other societies, by policy disagreements leading to sanctions, and by an inability to export enough to pay for imports, which is what the offshored production of US firms is.
The United States has an unprotected population and an economy in trouble. For years corporate executives have run the companies for the benefit of their bonuses, which are largely dependent on rises in their company’s share price. Consequently, profits and borrowings have been invested in buying back the companies’ shares and not in new investment in the businesses. Corporate indebtedness is extreme and will threaten many corporations and many jobs in a downturn. Boeing is a case in point.
Economist Michael Hudson has for many decades studied the use of debt-forgiveness to restart economies killed by debt burdens. Debt forgiveness for corporations has a different implication than debt forgiveness for individuals. For corporations, forgiving debts lets those who financialized and indebted the economy and the population off the hook.