Coronavirus and capitalism: How will the virus change the way the world works?
- Economist Mariana Mazzucato believes that the COVID-19 pandemic will shine light onto societal and economic systems all across the world, exposing some of the flaws of a capitalist society.
- She says it is also likely to change the way we view work, especially in regard to the gig economy and workers' rights.
This triple crisis has revealed several problems with how we do capitalism, all of which must be solved at the same time that we address the immediate health emergency. Otherwise, we will simply be solving problems in one place while creating new ones elsewhere. That is what happened with the 2008 financial crisis. Policymakers flooded the world with liquidity without directing it toward good investment opportunities. As a result, the money ended up back in a financial sector that was (and remains) unfit for purpose.
Capitalism is facing at least three major crises. A pandemic-induced health crisis has rapidly ignited an economic crisiswith yet unknown consequences for financial stability, and all of this is playing out against the backdrop of a climate crisis that cannot be addressed by “business as usual.” Until just two months ago, the news media were full of frightening images of overwhelmed firefighters, not overwhelmed health-care providers.
The COVID-19 crisis is exposing still more flaws in our economic structures, not least the increasing precarity of work, owing to the rise of the gig economy and a decades-long deterioration of workers’ bargaining power. Telecommuting simply is not an option for most workers, and although governments are extending some assistance to workers with regular contracts, the self-employed may find themselves left high and dry.