Feb. 28. A couple of days ago one of the stock-sellers on Bloomberg said that the sudden and big drop in stock prices was caused by something “exogenous” to the real economy. I had to look up the word. It means something “outside the body”, something foreign to it. On the one hand the coronavirus is certainly not the normal thing stock traders pay attention to. On the other hand their capitalism in its lust for ever cheaper resources and labor has gone global in a big way. It’s latest phase is called “globalization”.
Back in the 1950’s when I was a boy in New Jersey, I’d guess that the overwhelming majority of what we consumed (including electronics) was probably produced within a couple hundred miles from where I lived. Now we depend on people in China to make the chips for our digital devices and Vietnam to make our shirts and we import peaches from Chile.
And we travel, by plane, by cruise ship, by train and so on, for business and for pleasure. When I was a lad (yes, dinosaurs still walked on the streets) working people would vacation or honeymoon fairly close to home. Niagara Falls was a big deal. Nowadays it’s the Caribbean or Europe or even Asia. All this travel is making disease spread much much easier.
So let me pontificate again for a planned economy. If it replaced capitalism we need not rush to embrace the latest idea that seems to save a buck, but is considered in all its aspects, what it might do for public health and global climates, and the people who make products X who will be laid off if we switch to product Y or import it from Saudi Arabia.