So much that was delicately held in place by business has been shattered. It cannot ever be rebuilt in the configuration that existed until a few short months ago. It is as though a team of pro-jugglers had myriad fragile balls in the air and then the jugglers suddenly became frozen in place. When businesses are allowed to re-open it will be like randomly throwing the myriad balls up and expecting the jugglers to smoothly pick up where they left off. Many thousands of balls have already smashed to the ground. Many more will follow.
The economy is the aggregate of business activities and consumer preferences built up over generations. It is fluid, but there is a pattern, and successful entrepreneurs read that symmetry of motion. They understand it and can think with it and work with it. That is why they are able to predict, act and prosper.
No one can understand the market anymore because both supply and demand have had profound change forced upon them.
The change to supply can be seen in such things as oil. Who can say for certain at this point what the future of oil will be? Will Green policies be abandoned because the world can no longer afford uneconomic side-shows? Or because oil is so cheap? Or will we have the worst of both worlds where Green policies can no longer be afforded and where oil goes back to over $100 a barrel because supply has been reduced? How can a trucking company now plan? Is commuting by car from the far suburbs to a city job soon to become unaffordable?
Suppliers are also now unable to predict what Demand will be. Consumers have changed. Will it be that cinemas and restaurants have topped out and will never be as full again? Will consumers shun anywhere that is crowded (music and sports events), restaurants, gyms, planes, ships, trains, buses, trams and even hospitals? Will overseas trips become a rarity as people worry about being stranded or catching a disease? Is mass tourism over?
It can be known that disposable income will be reduced for years. Where will what there is be spent? Never mind what the government considers essential, what will consumers consider essential?
And where will the demand be? In the cities, or will cities be depopulated as people who can afford it move to safer areas? Will city property prices fall while rural prices rise? Who knows anything with certainty? No one.
Governments are bemused to find out that it was not their economy, to shut down and start up as they pleased. The economy is wholly the product of the intelligence and capital of entrepreneurs and the preferences of consumers. It exists to serve and satisfy people, not governments.
History’s clearest and most important lesson is that people build civilizations and governments destroy them. Their preferred tool of destruction (though by no means only) is their monopoly on what is used as the medium of exchange.