Reconstruction is only just beginning for humans

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Reconstruction is only just beginning for humans

It was finally allowed again, and so the five men of a certain age found themselves in the rehearsal center in Amsterdam this week to go wild with their mixture of jazz and fusion. Which by the way sounded a lot better on paper than in reality – there had been much less rehearsals in the past two years, with long intervals due to the lockdowns.

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But where were all the other bands in the building that usually bulges and is a cheerful cacophony of snatches of salsa, metal and bebop? People may still be cautious, despite the boosters and pre-tests. But perhaps the fits and starts of the past two years have been too much for many groups. Members who have gone on to do something else, inspiration lost or enthusiasm stifled by too many disappointments in a row. Was this an example of what economists scarring call it, the formation of scars after a crisis?

The above is a scratch compared to other scars. Great educational disadvantages have arisen – infinitely more important and far-reaching. At least 60,000 swimming diplomas have not been obtained – life-threatening. And in the professional art and culture sector, the damage is hard to foresee. There are performances that will never go on, overtaken by time and the planning of the theaters where they would be held. Not only in the catering industry, but also in the cultural sector, many people have now started doing something different. Not just those on stage, but also lighting technicians, musicians, choreographers and sound engineers.

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Museum exhibitions have been canceled and, perhaps less so, students at art, drama and music academies have often been able to show their work to each other for two years. Schoolchildren and students have suffered mental damage at a crucial stage in their lives. In the catering industry, an incredible amount of entrepreneurial energy has been lost in the cold of two years of pandemic. And, more generally, friendships and family will still be intact, but we may have lost sight of those outer circles of acquaintances.

That is all ‘immaterial’ and cannot be summed up in numbers. Yes, the Netherlands is back to the level of prosperity it was before the pandemic – if gross domestic product can be used as an approximation. But two years of lost wealth growth, say three or four percent, will probably never come back.

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Six months after the start of the pandemic, the European Central Bank calculated a large number of previous crises. The bottom line: wars are the worst, followed by financial crises. At the time, the pandemic still fell into the relatively mild ‘oil crisis’ category.

Now that the Covid crisis has lasted for two years, the effect will be more profound than previously thought. Failing production chains, shortages, inflation, tensions in the labor market: they all come to pass. Still, the confidence of the industry, with a value of more than plus 10, is high. The consumer confidence index has not: it has fallen to -28 this month. The mood among the people is back to the bottom where it reached shortly after the outbreak of Covid, in the spring of 2020.

In short, the immaterial impact of the pandemic on the individual should not be neglected. Prosperity is not the same as well-being. For the artist, the hotelier, the schoolchild, the student and the parents of the shivering toddler on the edge of the swimming pool. For everyone whose life has been made difficult or impossible, reconstruction is only just beginning.

Maarten Schinkel writes about economics and financial markets.

A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of January 27, 2022

Reconstruction is only just beginning for humans
Source link Reconstruction is only just beginning for humans

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