American economist Jason Schenker shares his unique vision and the results of his research as a leading futurist and market finance analyst. In The Future After Covid, the best-selling author explores the consequences the Covid-19 crisis.
The future. This is the topic of choice for Jason Schenker – economist, entrepreneur, and author of The Future After Covid: futurist expectations for changes, challenges, and opportunities after the Covid-19 pandemic. In his latest book, the American discusses some fifteen themes, ranging from the economic difficulties of certain sectors to the consequences of the crisis on the upcoming American presidential election. He gives us his vision of the world beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The crisis has forced society to adapt and some new habits will become permanent,” says Jason Schenker. How does he know this? He’s a futurist! “A futurist looks at past data and trends, and then applies the observed trends and patterns to current data in order to develop a vision or scenario of what the future might look like,” he explains before quoting Mark Twain: “‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes’.” He goes on to say, “Being futuristic is a logical extension of economics, because you look at long-term trends by taking into account the probabilities of outcomes and human behavior.” This graduate of history and applied economics is certain of one thing: “Our ways of working and consuming are the cornerstones of change.”
"Teleworking will become more widespread, especially in low-density urban areas. The size of the home will become more important than proximity to the office"
“For a lot of people, the days of working in an office are over” predicts Jason Schenker. “Teleworking will become more widespread, especially in low-density urban areas. The size of the home will become more important than proximity to the office.” A distant descendant of French immigrants in Quebec and a Europhile who studied German and French at university, Jason Schenker compares his country to the Old Continent. “In America, people will eventually leave cities where real estate is expensive, like New York or San Francisco.” The United States, with a territory three times larger than Europe, does not have the same public transport infrastructure. “People like convenience,” says the economist, “they are abandoning supermarkets in favor of e-commerce. Supply chains will change: warehouses are set to grow and department stores will disappear. On the other hand, shopping areas with European-style shops will remain, as they are still a full-fledged experience.” And what about the role of the environment in the world to come? Jason Schenker is betting on a decrease in automobile transport, which would have a double advantage: “The reduction of fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and the saving of time, which by its essence is a non-renewable resource.”
Feeding the economic recovery
“Companies need to get back to basics, generate cash and ensure a positive return on every expense.” He advises contractors to “tighten their belts,” spend only what they need, and consider what contracts they might feasibly terminate, including overheads such as office space. On a broader level, “there are three immutable ingredients of economic recovery,” the economist argues: “Fiscal policy, monetary policy – central banks have taken steps to encourage investment – and time. It will take time, because the recovery will be slow.”
Schenker is based in Texas, one of the first US states to lift the lockdown, and speaks of the growing number of Covid cases and the possibility of a further shutdown of activities. “We don’t know how long the pandemic will last. The longer it lasts, the more people will get used to the changes,” he says. And the longer-term impact of the changes will be more noticeable.
By Anne-Gabrielle Mangeret
The Future After Covid (Prestige Professional Publishing) is out now in paperback and e-book.