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As it stands, the United States Chamber of Commerce said that 25 per cent of small businesses have already shut down. Another survey by Ipsos concluded that two-thirds of people are still nervous about leaving their homes; 59 per cent say they intend to remain locked down on their own until signs emerge that the virus is “fully contained.” A YouGov/CBS poll concluded that 85 per cent of American households say they wouldn’t get on an airplane even if they could — that’s why the industry needs a bailout.
A Washington Post/University of Maryland poll shows that only 56 per cent of consumers across the U.S. intend to shop at the supermarket, which I suppose is a continuous bullish data point for delivery services, but that’s about it. Just 33 per cent say they are comfortable entering a retail store. And a mere 22 per cent say they are willing to dine in a sit-in restaurant.
All these polls say basically the same thing: it will not be “business as usual,” as the bulls will try and convince you, and the best we can hope for is a partial recovery — at best.
What we had on our hands was a vertical economic decline with job losses on an order of magnitude higher than anything witnessed since the Great Depression. Even as the stock market tells you that it has it all figured out, I can assure you that what we face at this very moment is a very uncertain economic future. And, unfortunately, most of the longer-term risks are to the downside.
We are in a depression — not a recession, but a depression. The dynamics of a depression are different than they are in a recession because depressions invoke a secular change in behavior. Classic business cycle recessions are forgotten about within a year after they end. The scars from this one will take years to heal.