2021: Bound to be better | Daily News

2021: Bound to be better

A contrast is being drawn between 2020 and 2021, particularly because it is psychologically beneficial for people to do so. They simply draw comfort from the fact that this year is poised to be better than the last that seemed to have been jinxed almost from the start.

Beside those who draw mental comfort from transitions, there are those who are required to make tangible assessments, including economists, businessmen, investors and risk assessment specialists. For them there are real life outcomes and financial losses and benefits dependent on whether the year 2021 is in fact going to be substantially better than 2020, which saw global economic chaos.

Economies are likely to improve and things are bound to get better because several vaccines are on the market. There are others who fear that the damage has already been done and the general health of the global economy will get much worse before it gets better.

The key issue is that many countries are in debt and have not shown any significant jobs growth. This is contributing to a general anxiety over economic performance. Market watchers are still not 100 percent certain that vaccines will offer herd immunity. A short supply of inoculations is contributing to doubts about the eventual outcome of vaccination programmes.

The markets however, are generally bullish. There are surges in markets globally and locally, driven by the expectation that economies will improve once the vaccines are in use widely – and societies begin to develop herd immunity.

Others are fearful about the lack of clarity about new virus variants. They fear some industries have suffered irreparable damage in 2020 and unless there are bailouts for these sectors, they will never be able to come out of the abyss.

Sadly, there is no global plan that takes into account any of these factors. Economies that have been badly hit have been left to fend for themselves. There has been talk of ‘a great reset’ of the world economy, but that idea hatched at the World Economic Forum, does not seem to take into account the fact that much needed assistance for faltering, and sometimes even collapsing, economies does not seem to be forthcoming.

That is an outlook of what may portend for 2021 globally. Locally, the prognosis is that there is a distinct contrast to be made between 2020 and 2021 given that the global economy is improving and the local authorities are controlling Covid, though the modus operandi is by necessity more a case of disease management than disease control per se.

But the overall economic assessment is that the country is managing the crisis and not letting it overwhelm Human Resources and other capabilities for keeping the economy ticking under considerable stress. This attitude is primarily what is different in 2021, in contrast to 2020 – when the policy planners and the State apparatus were in entirely uncharted territory.

Perhaps the truest test of how the economy will cope, will be how far into normal the people will be willing to charter their paths as the country hopefully comes out from a crisis that was at its peak in 2020. One of the key litmus tests in this regard will be the cinema industry.

At the best of times, this was an enterprise in decline. Most in the film world saw the events of 2020 as a final nail in the coffin of an industry that was seen to be in its death throes. Yet, there had been several predictions of the death of movies at least as we knew them, in the face of television and new web-based media.

However, better technology has always resurrected the movie industry. New developments in visual technology and sound such as 3D had audiences seeking greater thrills in movie theatres that they could not find in the canned entertainment on offer on television and the fare on the internet that promoted instant gratification.

If in 2021, the cinemas can reopen and if there is a market for the technologically more advanced movie-fare that was coming into its own before the pandemic, that would go a long way in normalizing mindsets that is an essential component for the return to normality of both economy and lifestyle, which are interdependent.

If the entertainment industry and the hospitality sector are able to rally early in 2021, it could probably be said that half our problems for the year are over. In many ways these two areas in the economy will be the litmus test for the key question broached at the beginning of this comment, which is whether 2021 will be substantially different from 2020.

These two industries will, provided they are fully opened up and given the proper impetus, predict how far people are willing to adjust in transitioning back to normal, and whether they have the confidence to spend money that they will be earning in an economic climate that generally has no way to go but up, considering every metric that counts in making such an assessment.