Covid-19 Pandemic and Homo economicus

Recent discussions about pandemic and post-pandemic strategies show that impatience due to limited mobility and semi-isolation spreads as quickly as a viral infection. In particular, managers and political leaders are increasingly panicking because of the economic consequences of the current ban. However, it appears that most of them still have not fully understood that economic strategies that worked before this crisis will not work after the lock-down is loosened in the next weeks or months. It is also illusory to expect that this situation would allow a slow response or a simple adjustment to existing strategies that were used after the 2008 economic crisis.

When we talk about present economic collapse, to understand its scale, we also have to consider the distribution of wealth, because this crisis has different effects on wealth classes. In 2019, global wealth was estimated at USD 360.6 trillion (1). 40% of these were in 2000 in the hands of the richest 1% and 85% in the hands of the richest 10% (2). If this fact is not taken into account, the strategy for post-pandemic recovery will have appalling consequences for 90% of the the world's population ( > 93% in Switzerland (3)).

Another aspect to consider, when developing a recovery strategy, is the nature of the risks posed by this crisis. Namely, the risks caused by viruses differ in type and impact from those caused by fraudulent activities or incorrect risk models. For this reason, current risks cannot be solved only with intellectually sophisticated models or technological solutions, and certainly not with ego-driven strategies that are widespread in the modern world.

Under normal circumstances, intentionally or not intentionally, wrong models or inadequate processes are not always recognised. However, when challenged by deadlines, natural disasters, or other events that have a significant impact on the company, the economy, and society, their lack of functionality cannot be ignored. Yet, if financial losses, caused by their inadequacy, are manageable, it is often decided to carry on without making any relevant corrections. As a result, uncontrolled deviations accumulate, leading to the final crash at a later point in time. If we maintain the same attitude to overcome this crisis too, the consequences will be larger than spending money on the new model, replacing a CEO, or closing the company. But, if we do not properly assess the current pandemic risk, we cannot acquire enough knowledge to overcome neither a complete social breakdown on a global level nor the effects of future outbreaks.

The risk assessment and management must go beyond the perspective of financial loss. It has to take into account also all other often neglected aspects such as human behaviour, social structure, wealth distribution, a viral “life cycle”, their choice of host, pollution, changing ecological environment, but above all, the level of human consciousness. It is clear that not all of it can be measured, but the risk effect does not disappear only because we don’t know how to measure it. An open-minded and innovative approach is needed more than ever. The old ways are of no value now and the mindset that was previously the basis for business strategies can even prevents development of the right solutions.

People who exert pressure to "return to old way of working as quickly as possible" show not only a poor understanding of virus and human biology, but also an inadequate sense of the right strategies in times of crisis. It is true that the current situation requires rapid change management, but this must go beyond simple, short-lived profit orientation. It must be based on a deeper understanding of the situation what can be achieved only when perceived from different angles. It requires a broad expertise, and the dissolution of egoic power games that lead to pointless discussions. However, this is hard to implement because the experts still speak different languages ​​and have difficulty understanding each other, which limits the use of interdisciplinary expertise to develop practical solutions.

This goes so far that even the pandemic and related measures are questioned by those who still believe that the current Covid-19 crisis is no worse than the flu, what they illustrate by a large number of infected people during the flu seasons. But, in doing so, they ignore many aspects, including the fact that even the influenza virus continues to mutate, and gives no guarantee that one of the next mutations will lead to the magnitude of a pandemic.

Our senses prevent us from recognising existence of viruses and understanding that we coexist with them. However, as soon as the infections make us aware of their existence, we start considering viruses as a threat. But, we have to stop seeing viruses as our enemy because they are not. Viruses just look for the most suitable hosts. Through our behavior, our social structures and our high mobility rate, as well as through intrusion into the ecological nisha of their natural hosts, we offer ourseves to viruses as the ideal host.

In reality, most viruses can be "controlled" by our immune system and will never even approach our “window of perception", but, some will cause major difficulties that will change society, as HIV, or coronaviruses are presently doing. And yet, virus does not care about the size of the Ego, corporate profit, or government policies. It moves easily, quickly and without discrimination. In a single day, generations of viruses develop and mutate at high speed, creating risks that are difficult to track with old methods. And frankly, all the methods used so far are already old! The speed of the change is dictated by the virus and not by some detailed project planning. Yesterday's news, which were the basis for tomorrow’s decisions and strategies, are no longer valid after a few days or a week.

Rejecting the existence of the threat or denying that the next viral mutation could occur before we even solve the consequences of this one, is a naivety caused by fear and ignorance. The question is not whether the virus is spreading, but how long it will do so and when the next virus will come. So, regardless of how much we resist the warmings, the SARS Cov-2 virus is here, and its effects are obvious - positive on the natural environment, and apparently negative on the humans. With nature thriving around us, freed from our constant influence, the crisis harbours a remarkable force that can also have a positive impact on humanity, which depends heavily on how we deal with the crisis now.

While researchers are working on the medical and biological side of the pandemic, financial leaders are more concerned about the economic pressures that preventive measures are currently exerting. For fear of the collapse of the economy, they often request a solution with questionable ethical value - deliberate herd immunisation through “back to normal” strategy - even though they lack the medical or biological expertise to make or enforce such a proposal. This is accompanied by increasing competition over who will be the first to lift the lock down measures, using a comparison for this purpose that does not take into account the situation specific to the respective socio-political environment. What might be the right measure for some countries may not be for others.

The proposal for a premature "back to normal" strategy is not only ethically questionable, but also shows the inability to recognise that such a solution is nothing more than an uninspired attempt to return to a pre-pandemic state that no longer exists. In fact, this cannot even be described as an economic strategy suitable for a crisis. Therefore, economists and politicians should now act with a higher level of consciousness - instead of rejecting the situation and criticising health measures that have been introduced, they should accept the current situation and focus primarily on developing innovative strategies that enable the economy and society to function under stressful conditions, without endangering human life. In addition, it is the right time to honestly assess stress scenarios, which are an important part of regulatory capital calculations - the worst-case scenarios that cannot withstand stressful times and only work on paper or when the corporate balance sheet is not stressed, are only a farce and useless exercise.

In this very moment, every company, and every government is going through a test run, which shows how accurate their accounts, processes, and strategies are. How well they use modern technology and cross-field knowledge: Do the technological means work smoothly or are they only useful for marketing and sales? Could the work be transferred to the home offices ad hoc? Is pandemic data collection automated or are manual entries still required? Are the electronic fingertips well protected now that many are trying to take advantage of the situation? Are other experts brought to the discussion table?

The test run clearly shows that many things are not working properly. Not because we lack experts, technology or resources, but because we observe the crisis through the lenses of our own limited knowledge, whereby problem solving often becomes a power game dictated by the ego. But, if the ego is not silenced and awareness is not raised, offered solutions are always short-lived. Namely, in times of crisis, the ego always first develops strategies that can ensure immediate self-preservation.

However, crises are also the best catalyst for higher consciousness, which sheds more light on all the games the ego plays. If we allow higher consciousness to manifest, we will experience a change of perspective, which is accompanied by newborn wisdom, and which leads us to new ways of doing things. From the way we function in today's societies, and which aims at profit, regardless of collateral losses, to the way which aims to achieve greater value for humanity, the environment and our entire existence.

As long as we walk the path dictated by the ego, we will be repeatedly reminded that we need to change direction. The more resilient we are to these alerts, the louder the wake-up calls will be. The future of the human species depends on our ability to hear those calls and realise that the next evolutionary step of the human species is not Homo economicus. If we decide to continue along this path, we will find neither peace nor relief from suffering, regardless of its cause. Therefore, it is extremely important that we take this moment and wisely choose the path and direction we want to follow. This is an invitation to grow up and mature as individuals, communities and humanity. This is a time for compassion, kindness and love. A time to cultivate altruism also there where the ego rules - at the level of economy, business conduct, politics, society and the world.

(1) The Global Wealth Report 2019 - Credit Suisse

(2) The World Development Research Institute,

(3) The wealth in Switzerland (USD 3.9 trillion ) is in the hands of 6.72% of the people (5.72% of the people living in Switzerland had assets of over CHF 1 million and almost 1% of the population over CHF 10 million) .

#mindfulness #mindfuleconomy #mindfulstrategies #pandemics #crisis #stresstest #evolution #altruism #ignorance #Coronavirus





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