The pandemic is spreading around the world as outlined in my previous post.
Given that the majority of the world’s population is either in shutdown or in the process of getting locked down, what will be the likely social consequences?
Clearly the risk of social unrest and civil disorder in our major cities is high.
Three data points I have come across this week highlight how civil unrest could emerge in the coming weeks and months.
Reuters have reported, from France, that the price of cannabis has soared since President Macron ordered the closure of the borders. The writer notes that “some police sources have privately expressed concerns that a prolonged scarcity of cannabis could fan trouble in France’s restless city suburbs and prisons.” The article ends with a warning that France could be on the cusp of real problems.
This is not just an issue for France. It is going to be an issue across our developed world.
A bigger concern and a likely flash point for major social unrest, isn’t drugs but the huge numbers of people who are losing jobs. Mass unemployment looms as blue-collar workers sign up for the dole.
The head of the Red Cross has warned that“’We have a lot of people who are living very marginalised, in the so-called black hole of society… In the most difficult neighbourhoods of the biggest cities I am afraid that in a few weeks we will have social problems.” Reports are coming through of poor families struggling to get enough money to feed their kids in places like Liverpool and Manchester.
It is therefore likely that in the coming weeks, driven by the above factors, we could easily see significant civil unrest across the West.
If developed nations like Great Britain, France and America struggle to maintain social order with their welfare provisions, how will developing countries like India cope? This article notes the growing terror among India’s vast poor that their incomes are drying up now that the country has been locked down.
The social unrest in the rougher parts of Paris, London and Berlin would be nothing compared to the spectre of starvation which is now the reality for millions of impoverished Africans and Indians.
Social unrest as a consequence of the lockdown measures imposed by governments across the world to prevent the spread of covid-19 is the likely next step in this grim saga. This will likely be a major trigger for a further massive fall in stock markets, along with Depression era economic data coming through on jobless figures and economic activity in the month of April.
Stay safe folks.