Visionaries like Bill Gates or the Google guys live in the future, and occasionally they send us a message from beyond. In 2015, the founder of Microsoft gave a talk where he assured that “we are not ready” for the next world crisis, and assured that this was not going to be due to a war but to a virus. Here we have it.
In this present, we all wonder what the future will be like after the coronavirus. It is evident that with COVID-19 a new world order begins. Major catastrophes and the most traumatic scenarios often give rise to new social, economic and geopolitical models.
These are the ten main changes that the coronavirus will bring:
1- The free market as we know it is dead. Countries like the United States or the United Kingdom are beginning to change their policies in the face of a health crisis to which the current system is unable to respond. The usual mechanisms do not work because we are not facing a normal crisis.
Our system is based on private initiative and work-reward. The coronavirus crisis has not only damaged the roof of the system, but its own foundations have exploded. The change of economic system is, therefore, a necessity.
The capitalism will be forced to adapt to this crisis. The new economic model must take into account three essential factors:
2- The middle class is a thing of the past
In general lines we will go towards a more egalitarian society, with a small upper class that will live at levels that the rest can only dream of. It is possible that universal basic income is an alternative for some governments.
At first, the working classes and the most disadvantaged will suffer the impact of the coronavirus more economically. However, in the long term, the middle class (made up of a very varied group) is the most vulnerable because it represents a system of life that is already obsolete.
And beware investing in brick, because the price of the house will drop. Coronavirus in the world post speculating with housing will be more difficult and exorbitant rents as well.
3- The role of the States will be reinforced
Governments are aware that the economy in the hands of corporations and private companies is not capable of responding to health crises like that of COVID-19, which will make us return to more intervened and controlled economies. This scenario may make some countries tempted to mutate into more authoritarian systems.
4- Robotization and digitization will be accelerated
Robotization and digitization is an ongoing process that will accelerate after the coronavirus. The economy has to be prepared to face crises like this, and the use of machines and artificial intelligence systems is the best option today. This opens up a new space and new business opportunities for those who adapt to the new trend.
But as we head to that 4.0 scenario, precarious jobs will multiply, the so-called digital proletariat. It is up to governments that this flexibility and deregulation of employment be done under fair conditions so that the people who make it possible for us to buy online, order food at home from our phone or request a transport with a click are not digital slaves but workers with all rights.
5- Cash has numbered days
This is not new, but the process will be accelerated. Using cards is more hygienic and limits the underground economy. The counterpart is the loss of freedom. The electronic payments make it easier to monitor our expenses. Imagine that you are a smoker and your private health insurance penalizes smoking. Lying will be more difficult. Your habits will be recorded on your expense sheet.
At the same time, governments will need revenue to meet the debt incurred to overcome this health crisis. Tax increases await us, but also creative measures to increase the collection. Possibly we will see in the medium term the full legalization of marijuana. Only in Spain, it will mean more than 3,000 million euros per year for the state coffers.
6- Push to telework and electronic commerce
Telecommuting is already a growing trend in areas like northern Europe. It has already arrived and it will come to stay. So those cafeterias full of employees who take advantage of the coffee break to chat or the saturation of public transport in the early hours will gradually become a thing of the past.
Our habits will change and we will start to make more life at home and to interact much more through the digital universe. Regarding electronic commerce, it is evident that it is an unstoppable phenomenon that the coronavirus will accelerate. We will also see how telemedicine, virtual reality, electronic voting or online studies become part of our daily lives.
7- Emotions will dominate the political discourse
The emotional discourse in politics is typical of crises like the one we are going through now. In this case, since it is a situation that puts our health at risk, this discourse will be accentuated and maintained. Possibly set the trend in the coming decades. The politician who stands up will do so more and more by resorting to emotions and less to facts. This can also degenerate into more demagoguery and manipulation.
At the same time, the second line of politics, that in which decisions are made, will be dominated by technocrats, educated people who will really determine the future of governments. No more second-line politician without experience and knowledge in the area of his department. We are going to a more technical society and we cannot allow decisions to be made by people who are not prepared.
8- We enter the age of the dragon
China has managed to master the narrative of success in this fight against a virus that comes from China itself. Today the eyes of the whole world look towards the Asian giant, which is also allowing itself to offer its aid to other countries. China takes advantage of this crisis to whiten its image and confirm its hegemonic position. Let’s not forget that much of the world needs products made in China to deal with COVID-19.
China is no longer just the producer, China is for many the hope to overcome the coronavirus crisis, while the United States continues without reacting decisively and speaks of the “Chinese virus”. Just as the Suez Canal crisis of 1956 led to the loss of the United Kingdom’s prominence in the world, COVID-19 possibly signaled the end of US rule and the beginning of the dragon era. If China also manages to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, then it will have a red carpet to reign in the world.