The Covid-19 crisis, an invitation to rethink the economy 

Companies invited to reinvent themselves with the coronavirus crisis: Armor reorients its production to make 3D visors for healthcare workers' masks

Companies invited to reinvent themselves with the coronavirus crisis: Armor reorients its production to make 3D visors for healthcare workers' masks

By Hubert de Boisredon, director of the Armor company

The current health crisis is creating an unprecedented economic crisis. But beyond this tragedy, another deeper, ecological crisis threatens the inhabitants of our Earth. May this conoravirus crisis push us to reinvent the way we manage our lives, our relationships and the world. 

While the SARS-COV2 conoravirus is rampant, with its toll of death reminding us of our human frailty, the economy is also feeling the full impact of business closures and falling demand. The loss of global economic activity is currently 50%, with a sudden halt in entire sectors such as the automotive industry, air transport and tourism. One third of private sector employees in France are on short-time working. In the United States, 20 million Americans are already unemployed and some already predict that this figure could double. In India, confinement is leading to the exodus of millions of workers on the roads, on foot, hundreds of kilometres from home. How can we not also think of the impact of this global confinement for all the microentrepreneurs who, having no social protection, lose everything. Economists are predicting up to a 10% drop in global GDP in 2020. The world stock markets have collapsed by -40% and this is probably only the beginning of a long term down cycle. Contrary to the stock market crash of 1929 or the subprime crisis of 2008, this pandemic brings the productive apparatus to a standstill and thus destroys the heart of the real economy.

This unprecedented catastrophe on a global scale has another peculiarity. Sociologist Bruno Latour explains very well, it is a major economic disaster following a major health disaster, both of which are encapsulated in an even greater underlying disaster that has not so far been dealt with with adequate means. I am talking about the ecological disaster linked to climate chaos and the destruction of life, and with it the terrible consequences for hundreds of millions of poor people in the world. Yet the challenge is enormous: we must halve our CO2 emissions by 2030 (in just 10 years' time!) if we are to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 at the latest. 

Faced with this situation, two attitudes are possible: one that would consist in hoping for the end of the coronavirus pandemic to start again "from scratch" as before, with the added desire to make up for the slowdown observed, or one that would reflect on another possible future for the economy. Some have already taken a stand for the first path, such as Donald Trump, who, unlike the European Union, has just revised downwards the CO2 emission targets set by Barack Obama for the automotive sector. Its objective is to boost the production of large cars to stimulate oil production and the American economy after the current health crisis. But for us Christians or men and women of good will who want to listen to the signs of the times, is there not another way?

We can hope to find a solution to the health crisis sooner or later. Probably vaccines will be invented. But other viruses are to be feared in the years to come, as long as we have not dealt with the problem at its source and thus stopped destroying biodiversity. We are entering a new global cycle, for which we have to write new rules, devise new objectives, new imaginations. It is therefore a question of adapting ourselves in depth and carrying out a major reorientation of the economy. Are we going to continue to aim for ever stronger growth in order to increase profits and stock market prices ever more? Are we going to continue to send tons of flowers and fruit by air all over the world because they arrive cheaper on the markets than those of our local producers? Are we going to cover our farmland with photovoltaic panels imported from China, when more suitable alternatives exist? Are we going to continue manufacturing huge luxury yachts with fuel consumption of up to 80 tonnes a day? Are we going to find queues in supermarkets outside the cities after experiencing the benefits of small convenience stores?

The crisis that we are going through gives us the way to a more human, solidarity-based and fraternal economy. We are seeing the benefits of short circuits: the importance of the local farmer and market gardener who feed us, and the small businesses that bring life to neighbourhoods. We appreciate the calm of the cities, the better quality air and we value the more ecological means of transport: walking, cycling, electric buses. We realize that the supply of food, pharmaceuticals and basic necessities depends on local manufacturing. Sometimes devalued professions have shown that they are indispensable: caretakers, drivers, cashiers, craftsmen, production workers... Without them the economy does not work. Without them, the economy does not work. There is no doubt that there is an invitation to revalue these essential trades.

The "how to do" is not known. It has to be invented, drawing inspiration from the solutions that are emerging here and there: industrialists have been able to show how quickly they can adapt their factories to produce the masks, visors, gels, respirators, gowns or gloves that are sorely lacking. Let's continue this effort, so that containment is a chrysalis, the first phase of a metamorphosis. Let us believe that an exciting future is ahead of us. Perhaps this terrible health ordeal opens up a new path to be welcomed in us first of all, in a new relationship with the world, to invent new ways of acting in our individual and collective behaviour for the economy.



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