The ugly side of lockdowns…the balance between health and financial ruin

- March 27, 2020 2 MIN READ

Who would want to be a Prime Minister/President today in this pandemic? Not me. 

You’re bombarded with opinions (everyone seems to have a very loud and aggressive opinion these days) and, as a leader, the challenge is to cut out the white noise and take on board expert advice you can trust.

This week saw a critical leadership dilemma. Very vocal calls for a complete lockdown of the nation. Every business, every industry except essential services. No-one works, everyone stays at home for between 2-4 weeks.

The very valid basis of the argument being that a shutdown would be a circuit breaker for the virus to reduce infection, allow our hospital system to cope and cut the death rate. From a health perspective an absolutely imperative decision, particularly when we see the horrifying statistics and vision coming out of Italy and Spain.

But the financial consequences of that health decision are just as critical.

Those lines outside Centrelink this week of people queuing up for social security support are absolutely heart wrenching. That’s just from locking down the hospitality, entertainment and a number of other selected service industries.

Lockdown every sector and those unemployment lines will grow dramatically.

We got a sneak peak of what they look like last night with the release of the US jobless figures.

In just one week and extra 3.3 million Americans stood down and looking for work. This graph from Alex Joiner the chief economist at IFM Investors shows the stark reality of this figure.

Last nights figure is the greatest weekly jump in lost jobs in US history. Everyone of those 3.3 million is a real person with family and responsibilities… and in the US your health cover comes through your employer so all these people now don’t have health insurance. Makes you appreciate Medicare doesn’t it?

The economic and financial impact of this pandemic could tear apart lives and businesses for years to come.

As a result our leaders are between a rock and a hard place. Getting the timing and balance right between fighting this cruel pandemic and trying to save people’s businesses, jobs and livelihoods.

Everyone will have an opinion on this. Frankly I reckon our leaders have done a pretty good job with this balance so far… I respect your opinion if you disagree.