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Corona Time: Who Opened Pandora’s Box!

It is clear that all humans have become equal before the pandemic of Coronavirus without discrimination as to race, language or creed, and that the newly discovered infectious disease also known as COVID-19 has unexpectedly changed the world.

For the first time, one can unequivocally feel that the world has the same concerns, such as uncertainty about food availability, panic, a shortage of medical staff and equipment, and things we used to take for granted.

Tyler Cowen, an American economist and professor who writes the "Economic Scene" column for The New York Times, said that novel coronavirus could be "a totally formative event that shapes how people see the world."

 

It is no longer a theoretical situation or a fiction movie in which one can see supermarkets’ shelves stripped of necessities, millions of people around the world stockpiling food and a huge death toll daily due to the infection – it is reality.

Amid panic buying, memories of the 2008 global financial crisis seem to have returned, when the economy plunged into a painful recession after risky Wall Street investments related to real estate deteriorated.

In the same vein, the world is in serious trouble; unexpected big trouble at least economically, because the countdown to a global economic crisis has already started. Economists usually do not use the word crisis in terms of economy, but rather use more specific terms such as recession or depression – “The recession is six months of negative GDP growth, while the depression is a prolonged period of recession marked by a significant economic decline in income and employment.” So, the depression is a recession but for much longer and in much worse conditions.

Recession is a recurring phenomenon. Since 1845 and up till now, there have been 33 recessions and one depression known as “the Great Depression.”

But It must be asked: why were the coming economic crisis considered unpredictable, even though the world was preparing for a recession? The reason is that the world was waiting for the recession as a result of other factors, the most important of which was the trade war between China and the United States. Instead, if a solution is not found at the earliest opportunity, the coronavirus will be the main engine of the coming economic crisis.

Generally, recessions occur when there is a widespread decrease in spending (negative demand shock) which is not the case of this recession. Unlike the 33 previous recessions, this one is triggered by the unexpected novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Resolving this dilemma needs finding a cure, which is currently unavailable. This leads to restricting activities at all levels. Economically, this means paving the way for a recession followed by depression. On the other hand, if people return to their normal life, a global health catastrophe would happen. As a result, there is a confusion on the level of governments due to the inability of economists to find a solution.

Economic analysts raised two scenarios. The optimistic one that COVID-19 will be contained by the end of May, which will lead to a V-shaped recession (a strong recovery) and gradually reduce the extent of losses. In the pessimistic scenario, the pandemic continues a little longer, then the world heads into a severe recession, then to the worse.

Cowen also thinks that novel coronavirus could be this generation's World War II. In the war economy, governments start revealing bailouts such as massive expenditure plans and other forms of temporary support for certain sectors of the economy، unlike anything seen during peacetime. But it does not mean increasing welfare of the people. So, all the scenarios are linked to the world's ability to find a solution to this dreaded virus.

According to Greek myth, when the semi-god Prometheus stole fire from the heaven, Zeus, king of the gods, took revenge through Pandora who released into the world sickness, death and many unknown evils which were contained in a jar that was in her care. Though she hastened to close the jar, only one thing was left behind, usually translated as “Hope,” though it could also have the pessimistic meaning of "deceptive expectation".

The question is, is it appropriate to finger-point against each other simply to obtain political gain? So, who opened the jar in our time? Is it important to know anymore? Or It is time to show unity, solidarity, act responsibly and commit to our humanity.

Humanity is not just a word of simple meaning but carries many synonyms of significance such the humankind, people, brotherly love, compassion, kindness, understanding, and sympathy among others.

 

Emma Abbas

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