Restarting the Economy

How to Restart the Economy and Ease the Lockdown Measures?

Covid-19 pandemic has caused a global depression within a few months. There is no cure currently as of this writing or a vaccine. The only viable option available to remove these economic sudden stops and bring back productivity and normalcy is to design a way to stop the spread of the virus transmission.

Thus far, the governments and various health departments have issued self-isolation measures, lockdown measures, advice on PPE such as N95 respirators and surgical masks, hand sanitisers, washing the hands with soap for minimum of 20 seconds to dissolve the virus. But the measures have not been enough to stop the contagion and rise in number of deaths globally. Here is a snapshot of the global pandemic via John Hopkins University

There is a case in every continent, and those who initially flattened the curve such as Singapore and South Korea and China are reporting new cases. The second wave and reinfection are what is preventing those countries from a return to normal. To be precise, pre Covid-19 normal.

Furthermore, what we know so far from the researchers is that even if vaccine is developed, the vaccine fades away and the risk of infection remains once it does. We are coming dangerously close to a time, where only the healthy population survives and the others slowly inch closer to death. This is a stark reality when you look at the number of deaths and how quickly it has spread globally. The first cases were reported some say in December, some say in November, the bottom line however, is that in Four Months, the global cases stand at 2.9M, the deaths at 203.5K.

There is no consistency in measures and response either, different policy makers have taken different approaches. Some who responded earlier, limited the number of fatalities, others who were slow to respond and hoping for herd immunity have witnessed an exponential rise in number of cases and deaths. In previous wars, military heroes and political heroes emerged. In this new war, it is the doctors and nurses fighting the invisible forces of the universe.

The health damage is not limited to covid-19 fatalities, the mental health, domestic abuse, paedophilia, sexual and physical abuse is creeping and gripping upon those who are vulnerable. Here is an article by FT related to this subject; The Hidden Health Costs of UK Lockdowns. This is not just a UK phenomenon. The bigger risks are developing countries.

The reason I am mentioning this is because everything is very much connected to the global financial system. Economic failures, risks and unemployment in the developing world where many are daily labourers face unprecedented risks. This economic collapse of demand and work is creating ripples and affecting the mental health.

Economic Impact

To understand the global monetary system and how it is currently shaping, have a read of this thread by Raoul Pal of Real Vision. Flight to dollars has caused a shortage of dollars globally, everybody wants to hold the reserve currency because 55% transactions occur in dollars globally. The stock market has seen outflows in trillions of dollars since the spread of pandemic.

The travel and tourism industry has come to halt with forecasted business travel spend revenue loss in billions of dollars. According to data by Statista, China is projected to lose $404.1 bn, Europe is projected to lose $190.5 bn, with the rest of the regions bringing the forecasted total to $810.7 bn. The actual numbers will be much worse because it is difficult to quantify the impact of coronavirus and the extension of lockdowns with each milestone.

Here is a look at US Non-Farm Payrolls for the month of March. April’s data will be released on the 1st Friday of May given no delays. The US economy lost 701 thousand jobs in March, much worse than market expectations of a 100K cut, reflecting the effects of the coronavirus and efforts to contain it. It is the first decline in payrolls since September of 2010, but the figures were not as bad as those seen in 2008 as the number excludes the last two weeks of March when unemployment claims surged by nearly 10 million. About two-thirds of job losses occurred in leisure and hospitality, mainly in food services and drinking places. Employment also declined in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction via Trading Economics.

I think the next couple of months are going to look terrible,” White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told reporters. “You’re going to see numbers as bad as anything we’ve ever seen before.” Reported 26thApr20, 15:33 BST.

The US economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, less than market expectations of a 22 million cut, and after declining by 870K in March. It is the largest drop ever, bringing the employment to 131 million, its lowest level since February 2011, due to the coronavirus pandemic and consequent restrictive lockdown restrictions imposed such as business closures. Job losses were widespread, with the largest 7.7 million decline occurring in leisure and hospitality. Almost three-quarters of the decrease occurred in food services and drinking places (-5.5 million). Employment also fell in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry (-1.3 million) and in the accommodation industry (-839,000). The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised down by 45,000 to +230,000, and the change for March was revised down by 169,000 to -870,000. With these revisions, employment changes in February and March combined were 214,000 lower than previously reported. [Trading Economics]

I do not think any amount of economic data justifies the message I am trying to convey. The reality is not yet fully quantifiable. Looking at the April NFP data, some of the quantifiable impact can be seen. Although investors such as Ray Dalio and others iterate that this was a likely outcome, coronavirus is the cause for the effects which would have inevitably taken hold of the global economy. He is right, the global economy would have come to this point because of some other cause. However, what can we do to address current issues? What can the people with wealth and money do to address this issue? Call me a cynic but, is that best that they can do? With vast resources in possession, the best minds, tech available? I am sure they are equally dumbfounded at their own powerlessness when faced with the forces of universe. We have already witnessed negative oil prices, the futures for May WTI Crude oil contract settling in negative territory for the first time in history. What more are we waiting for before we kickstart the economy? Yes, it is a dangerous approach and majority are against it because everyone fears the virus, the risk of reinfection and the burden on the health and medical facilities. However, we leave many bigger problems unaddressed, if we do not find an alternative to a new normal. A normal amidst the pandemic and a post-pandemic normal. Politicians are weaponizing the pandemic in US to smear at each other’s inadequate responses.

I am addressing this document as a proposal to put out an alternative solution. It seems a viable option, effective in theory to stop person to person transmission of the virus. It can be an effective way of easing the lockdown measures while researchers and scientists work hard at finding a cure and developing a vaccine. And as we know thus far, vaccine is not the ultimate solution. I am sure the people involved in inventing and designing these measures are doing their best and I wish them the best of luck, considering they are really putting the heart of the world before anything else.

A Drink from the Cup of Knowledge

Long ago in a distant land, a boy was looking to find something to give him purpose in life. He searched and searched, but then everything changed, when he decided to go at war. War within himself. He set on a journey to travel within. 

He decided to walk down the same path of overcoming the ego that many great people had tread before him. 

Once when Rumi’s Friday procession was marching towards the masjid to deliver the Friday sermon. On the way, he encountered a mystic, a wanderer. The wanderer stopped his horse by getting in the way, looked at Rumi and asked him this question. Shams [(sun)-the name of the wanderer)] asked of the scholar, “O you who are as knowledgeable in meanings as a money-changer is with coins, tell me who was greater, Muhammad, the Elect of God, or Bayazid?”

“Muhammad is the Prince and the Commander of all the Prophets and all the Friends of God. All power and greatness is his.” Rumi Replied. 

Shamsuddin asked, “In that case, what does it mean that the Prophet said, ‘Glory be to You! We have not known You as You ought to be known,’ while Bayazid said, ‘How great is my glory. How exalted am I, the sultan of sultans.’”

Some may have called Bayazid’s statement/poetry Blasphemy, but Rumi knew what it really meant.
Rumi answered, “Bayazid’s thirst was quenched and the container of his comprehension was filled by a single sip, and he appeared to have been satisfied. The light entered in proportion to the opening of his heart. The Chosen one of God (peace and blessings upon him) had a profound desire that had yet to be satisfied. For the Prophet it was thirst upon thirst. His blessed chest had become God’s vast dominion… For that reason he said, ‘I have not known You as You ought to be known’.”

The cup of knowledge/wisdom and the thirst for knowledge/wisdom are directly proportional, the greater the thirst, the more it can hold. 

How big is your cup? How thirsty are you for knowledge and wisdom? Are you content with little or let ego take control and make you think you know it all. Or, do you continually learn and learn more because your heart and mind remain open?  This is a great reminder for a people who once sought knowledge even if they had to travel to far places, places as far as Fars and Cheen. In the medieval times, those were vast distances to cover. Have a listen to this lecture, thank you Youtube for recommending it to me. Spirit of Islam. p.s. I am not trying to preach, that is not my intent. I am not qualified to do so, neither do I have knowledge of such level. I am a firm believer of the teaching; practise what you preach! I struggle everyday. We bicker more than we do Dhikr. That made me laugh, listen for some good Islamic rhymes. Liquor conference and Dhikr Conference. Hamza Yusuf is one of my favourite scholars. To check out his work go to https://zaytuna.edu/ this is the college he has established for traditional Islamic studies in Amreeka. Check out https://sandala.org/ to access his lectures, recordings and explanation of many books. Amazing person(Tayyab, Mumtaaz) and very humble. So if you wonder, where does my knowledge of the self and Ruh(soul) comes from, it is Hamza Yusuf’s lectures and explanations of the many books he has delivered lectures on. While you’re at it, check out these lectures 17 benefits of tribulations.

In all chosen paths of enlightenment, be it the way of Buddha, the way of Moses, the way of Christ or the way of Muhammad peace be upon them all. Or even just a spiritual path to enlightenment. First, you measure your cup and see whether your thirst has already been quenched. Refill your cup over and over, the gems will hold, and the froth will be removed just like when a cup overflows with excess liquid. But once you find your chosen path and after many lessons you have learnt to hold more gems than froth. Dig down in that cup and turn it into a well. Perhaps something even magical that never seems to get full. This reminds of the scene when Dumbledore is drinking to recover the fake amulet (a Horcrux) already recovered by R.A. Black. No more Harry, please stop! That’s a little magical crazy. I am not talking in that sense. 

Hmm, talking about this and thinking of Dumbledore and his old friend the dark wizard, forgot his name lol and I call myself a Harry Potter fan. Oh yeah- Grindelwald. Grindelwald and Dumbledore once set upon a journey to become great wizards seeking power and motivated by greed. Don’t be the dumb Dumbledore. Be the wise Dumbledore, who upon realising that love is a stronger force than power, changed his ways, although only after suffering great losses. I don’t know why I even started comparing the path of righteousness and purification to the path of Deathly Hallows. I guess, some of you might find it interesting looking at it from this perspective. The path of enlightenment whether righteousness, gaining knowledge or whatever pursuit of happiness you choose to go after, they all have similarities. Principles, you find them take different outward appearances but principles hold through time. As Dumbledore says, “Love Harry, it’s love that protected you and shielded you. That’s how you got the scar on your forehead.” 

In all paths to greatness, the road is rocky, the path is difficult to remain steadfast upon. Grit, persistence, overcoming setbacks, abundance, believing in Providence are your tools through all thick and thin.
Grit, virtue, focus and drive
Resilience and persistence 
A thick skin! 

Found this through James Clear’s 3 2 1 Newsletter. An excerpt from the poem “Youth” by Samuel Ullman, a Jewish poet:

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigour of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust. Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living.”

Source: Youth

Why am I linking what I have just shared with this poem? The way I see it is that, to follow the path of your choosing, you must live in your youth as Samuel Ullman mentions it is a state of mind, a matter of the will, a quality of imagination and the freshness of the deep springs of life.

What to do? When there’s nothing to do!

Covid-19 has resulted in a dramatic and unprecedented fall in productivity globally. Many people have lost loved ones, there’s an ongoing healthcare crisis with growing pressure with every rising Covid-19 case.

This has further brought the economy to a sudden stop. Many people are worried about financial security, many people have lost their jobs.

In these times of crisis, we have to rise above solo concerns and do whatever we can to help alleviate suffering. This brings the question, what to do? When there is nothing to do!

Many charities require volunteers, healthcare facilities require volunteers. If you are fit & healthy with no underlying health concerns, then this is the time to show and be the best version of yourself.

This is the time when communities need leaders to rise. There are many other ways to help them too. If you are financially secure, then go out of your way to donate to charities and organisations that are helping and fighting on the frontline.

Our true characters emerge in times of adversity, how we respond, our actions, our contributions. We have seen the good side of the communities emerge, go out of their ways to provide free support of all sorts. Psychological, social, emotional, financial, healthcare, educational.

I attended one of the most enlightening webinars earlier in the morning. It was so informative and educational that I had to leave after 2 hours of attending it. My brain was literally overloaded with information that I needed to digest what I had heard, and couldn’t take in more.

This again brings the question, what to do, when there’s nothing to do!

Be proactive; exercise, learn more, read more, pray more, meditate more. Spread goodness not germs. Take extra precautions; sanitize, disinfect, strengthen your immune system, eat healthy. Prevention is better than cure. Stay Home, Save lives. The quicker this epidemic passes, if we all follow quarantine and social distancing measures, the quicker we can get back to our usual routines or perhaps a new normal.

I am not a medical expert but from the information that I have gathered, everyone knows that a vaccine is crucial to stop the spread. There is so much medical research being put out there which is beyond my understanding. So I leave that to the experts.

This once more brings the question, What to do ? When there’s nothing to do!

Leave the medical research and vaccine development in the hands of capable experts. Worry less, do more. In the UK, we are lucky to have government response and measures which include a stimulus package for many people. Employees, self-employed, companies & businesses. There are still many that the government can’t reach.

So, What to do ? When there’s nothing to do!

In this time of crisis, there’s a lot of stuff that we must stop doing too. Stop arguing, stop domestic abuse, stop talking to your parents harshly, stop raising your voices, stop spreading germs. Find some solace in silence and solitude. Meditate more, be less annoying, be less irritating. Instead, be more cooperative, be more humble, be more generous, be more considerate. Most of all be more self-aware.

Once more, ask yourself this question, “What to do? When there’s nothing to do!”

Assess and evaluate yourself. Cleanse yourself, cleanse yourself of hatred, envy and being a thorn for others. As Rumi said, “Stop being a thorn in the path of others. Be a flower, that releases it fragrance even when crushed.” Purify your soul and hearts, spread love not germs.

I ask myself this question once more, “What to do? When there’s nothing to do!”

Focus on each day, take small steps, even baby steps, crawl if you can’t walk because remember we are confined to our homes! That’s a little joke. I can’t help but be a little cheeky at times 😅🙏 But you get the idea, crawl before you learn to walk, walk before you can run, and run before you become a BIRD and can fly without wings! (Forgive my silly humour)

What I have really done by answering this question several times is, brought to my attention, and hopefully people who read this, what we ought to be paying attention towards. Remember the things where your attention and focus lie, grow. So be mindful of what you pay attention to!

One last message: fast from luxury, abstain from luxury, we should only be focussed on fulfilling necessities and essentials, especially in these times

Until next time,

And Stop Spreading Those Germs!