What's new
What's new

OT - never waste a pandemic/recession?

PeteM

Diamond
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Location
West Coast, USA
Seems with all the angst about pandemic and recession, it might be useful to list long term positives that could come out of a few months of business-not-as-usual. Really looking for your ideas here.

When businesses face tough problems, the reexamination can sometimes make them stronger. "Never waste a crisis" is the attitude of leaders.

To start:

1) We've been talking about remote working for decades now. It could ease commutes, save energy, let people buy homes in affordable areas, rejuvenate rural areas, etc. But most companies aren't very good at it. With necessity the mother of invention, maybe this will be a chance for more companies to figure this out? Anyone's company doing something useful or clever in this respect?

2) There's this huge debate about the future of healthcare. My own thought is the cheap stuff where best practices are known should be available to all our citizens. Get 'em back to school or work. Keep the rest of us from catching whatever they've got. Could be this crisis will help us move towards a limited version of affordable care for citizens - testing, vaccines, maybe patch a broken arm or catch an easily treatable disease when it's easily treatable? It's just stupid, for example, that poor people can't afford testing or vaccines - that's a good deal for all of us. Could we sell universal healthcare, if the universal part were cheap and sensible and private insurance, Medicare, etc. took care of the heart transplants, cancer treatments, etc.

3) There's another debate about sealing our economy, borders, culture etc. off from other countries. Not sure how this ends up, given the present partisanship, but it does seem to me that past pandemics show that international cooperation to deal with problems at their source (maybe whether drugs, terrorism, tyrants, or viruses) works better?? Are we learning any lessons?

4) Along with the "financialization" of most everything, we've eagerly pushed our supply chains to the cheapest parts of the globe, with little concern for how that affects longer term issues like resilience, employment, supplier outages, etc. I can recall thinking how stupid companies (clients at the time) kept moving production from the US to Mexico to China. Quality always tanked for a while and the cost savings were minimal to non-existent. What really happened is that CEOs got a bonus for taking costs off the books (paying them to suppliers instead) and our tax laws gave them a bonus for doing it. Anyone have concrete examples of major companies bringing their supply chain back into the US?

5) In a similar vein, maybe more small manufacturing businesses get another shot at being suppliers to major companies?Given relatively affordable automation (CNC etc.) and rising wages for skilled labor everywhere, suppliers closer to markets really should have an advantage in responsiveness, shipping costs, and flexibility. Three smaller US based shops, splitting up the part numbers, might well beat a shitload of parts delivered by cargo container from China? Anyone see an opportunity to grab good new business, despite a likely downturn? Similarly, are smaller companies about to lay off skilled workers or invest in something longer term?

6) State, local, and Federal agencies might also streamline the various licenses, regulations, etc. required to start a business. I've long thought that each medium size city or larger should have one place where an entrepreneur could get every license needed, regardless of government level, and that the process should be designed to streamline both the time and costs involved. Those regulations are ostensibly to keep businesses from screwing customers, the environment, etc. -- and could surely be easier to understand and cheaper to comply if the three levels of government cooperated?? Bonus for the town and state would be keeping the revenues and jobs local. Anyone live in a town that's doing something like that?

7) I don't watch much TV, but will miss some sports over the next month or two -- March Madness, some EURO games, etc.. Might not be all that bad if I got my old bones up, put up a hoop, and my son and I got reacquainted with H-O-R-S-E? Main point being that being active > beats watching others play > beats betting on which others win > beats betting on which others composite fantasy teams win. Already do some sports each week, but those hours watching games could be better spent actively. Could we reverse being a nation of we and our kids as couch potatoes, gamers, and fantasy XXX players?

8) We're already throwing money into the financial system. How about high ROI infrastructure? What infrastructure investments will help get things back on keel and really pay off in the decades ahead?

9) What else? How can we as individuals, professionals, small shop owners, etc. make best use of the months ahead?
 

BoxcarPete

Stainless
Joined
Nov 30, 2018
Location
Michigan, USA
7) I don't watch much TV, but will miss some sports over the next month or two -- March Madness, some EURO games, etc.. Might not be all that bad if I got my old bones up, put up a hoop, and my son and I got reacquainted with H-O-R-S-E? Main point being that being active > beats watching others play > beats betting on which others win > beats betting on which others composite fantasy teams win. Already do some sports each week, but those hours watching games could be better spent actively. Could we reverse being a nation of we and our kids as couch potatoes, gamers, and fantasy XXX players?

9) What else? How can we as individuals, professionals, small shop owners, etc. make best use of the months ahead?

7) My rec hockey league cancelled all games for a month, and fitness classes that my wife go to are also being cancelled. Bummer. I agree that playing is better than watching, but this is going to throw a wrench into keeping active for me and my wife. More walks with the dog, I guess.

9) Markets crashing is actually not a bad thing for me. I procrastinated investing some cash I inherited from my grandfather's estate, and I'm not yet 30, so I refuse to sell. The market has been going up for long enough that I was getting nervous, and here we have a direct event causing a disturbance. Weather the storm and then buy long at a discount. Things will be good for me on that front.

I like the thoughts, but I can really only see myself growing cash out of the ashes of this forest fire with a market ripe for refinance and cheap stocks.
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
The Chinese will be back in full production in a few months....no one can build a factory for that small period of benefit...The whole thrust of the 21 st century will be the equalization of wages for workers .....to Asian levels......and even then ,the Asians will still be ahead due to lower overheads and lack of official interference.
 

Bill D

Diamond
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Location
Modesto, CA USA
It has been mentioned that the government is providing free corona testing and no republicans are complaining about socialized healthcare and trying to remove funding.
How is the Chineese health care system. Are all those sick folks in the hospital covered by a government program like in Europe.
i do wonder how paid sick leave for self quaretine will affect the concept of paid maternity leave for new mothers and fathers.
Bil lD
 

coffeetek

Aluminum
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Location
Redmond, WA
It has been mentioned that the government is providing free corona testing and no republicans are complaining about socialized healthcare and trying to remove funding.
How is the Chineese health care system. Are all those sick folks in the hospital covered by a government program like in Europe.
i do wonder how paid sick leave for self quaretine will affect the concept of paid maternity leave for new mothers and fathers.
Bil lD

There is not much benefit to free testing. Actual benefit to society is in free treatment and paid time off. What if someone gets tested but can't get treatment and keeps on working and spreading virus to anyone he/she gets in contact with? You can have best insurance if you catch this virus it just might kill you. This virus outbreak just shows that we are protected as much as the least protected member of society.
 

Ziggy2

Stainless
Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Location
Northern Il
The Chinese will be back in full production in a few months....no one can build a factory for that small period of benefit...The whole thrust of the 21 st century will be the equalization of wages for workers .....to Asian levels......and even then ,the Asians will still be ahead due to lower overheads and lack of official interference.

I think we are missing a huge component in manufacturing costs and that is taxes.

I had this discussion over a meal with major corporate guy I was working with on a new project out of the USA. He stated that the actual labor cost per unit was actually a rather insignificant percentage of the total unit cost.

In the discussion, the corp driving factor for determining where to relocate the business manufacturing facility was a function of total corporation taxes. Turns out that the corporate tax rate was driving factor. The new facility location was going to be at a 10% tax rate vs. the USA 21%.

I think it is very important, especially being an election year, that we understand the real financial driving forces corporations and bean counters are using in their decision making processes.

The labor cost is a factor but is being used as a wiping boy. It does help to keep wages down but this is actually a canard. You could literally have a negative labor cost per unit and still not be the least cost producer if the corporate tax structure is not favorable.

Not sure what a fair tax structure should be but we as a nation need to understand that the tax structure has a greater influence on business decisions and competitiveness than just wages.
 

Scottl

Diamond
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Eastern Massachusetts, USA
Many good points Pete.

Some other benefits...

People (and maybe companies) give a little more thought to possible supply disruptions and try to create buffers against them. Around here most houses used to have pantries and kept extra supplies on hand in case of storm or whatever.

Rediscovering self-reliance and resiliency. Someone I talked to this morning said his wife went to several stores and couldn't find any bread. He stopped by a market and bought flour, yeast, etc. and told her he would make bread when he got home. There are improvisations for almost everything. My ancestors used to use vinegar to make "lemon" flavor deserts because real lemons were too rare and expensive where they lived. The old timers understood how to "make do" with what they had or could obtain.

Perhaps better appreciating what you've got, and realizing that external things aren't that important.

More time for home projects and improvements.

More time with family, although for some that's not a benefit.

Now for the down sides. People stuck at home for lengthy periods are more prone to depression and a family cooped up together can fray on each other's nerves. One friend mentioned this morning that for some families doing both work and school online for a family can strain the bandwidth of internet connections, as some areas don't have high speed internet.

Panic and ugly behavior. A market in the area had to call in police twice in one day due to fights among panicked shoppers. As one friend said, if society breaks down this quickly what would happen during long term disruption?
 

standardparts

Diamond
Joined
Mar 26, 2019
I expect that there will be some elements in business that will be changed forever in same cases for the better and in others for worse depending if it eliminates your source of employment, which for some it most certainly will.

Big one I think will be the airline industry. It's reported Delta is parking something like 300 aircraft and if that is the case other majors will be adding to the number of aircraft out of service.
Big bucks as even parked aircraft eat lots of money, but even bigger bucks if you make your living by supplying consumables, or are in involved in overhaul or phase checks. The disruption will be staggering.

Goes without saying we are early into this situation and in so many ways, I expect many things in society and industry will change forever.
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
My view is that in the future there will be one virus epidemic after another ,and COVID 19 is a fairly benign disease ....what when a high fatality virus hits,the equivalent of the African swine flu now killing 3/4 of the worlds pigs ,and of 100% mortality in pigs.......Now the hard part.....air travel will be banned permanently to stop the rapid spread of disease....Go by sea ,and have an inbuilt quarantine period.
 

Ziggy2

Stainless
Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Location
Northern Il
My view is that in the future there will be one virus epidemic after another ,and COVID 19 is a fairly benign disease ....what when a high fatality virus hits,the equivalent of the African swine flu now killing 3/4 of the worlds pigs ,and of 100% mortality in pigs.......Now the hard part.....air travel will be banned permanently to stop the rapid spread of disease....Go by sea ,and have an inbuilt quarantine period.

Do you African Swine Fever or did you mean the swine flu?

African Swine Fever is a disease that swine can get. The Swine Flu is a strain of influenza that humans can contract from swine which is a secondary reservoir.
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2018
Location
Airstrip One, Oceania
Negatori on the widespead remote-working thing, for many reasons. Short version would be to look into why Marissa Meyer canned it at Amazon. She's a pretty smart lady. The Establishment squealed because she bucked the trend, but the same people squealed every time Jobs did anything, too.

'They' knew better about OS X, about the iPad, about the iPhone, about ....

hey, maybe otrit should be interviewed on talk shows, with a column in the Times and stuff ! A star is born ! :D
 

hobbyman

Hot Rolled
Joined
Oct 30, 2011
Location
Canada, BC
Something I read about Italy was they ran out of respirators which are not really super high tech but they came to the point of not enough and having to make tough decisions on who gets one....So if someone could tool up and make a few respirators in the next month or so......
There are I am sure some people right now tooling up or significantly increasing production for shortages that will show up in a month from now.
 

PeteM

Diamond
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Location
West Coast, USA
Negatori on the widespead remote-working thing, for many reasons. Short version would be to look into why Marissa Meyer canned it at Amazon. She's a pretty smart lady. The Establishment squealed because she bucked the trend, but the same people squealed every time Jobs did anything, too.

'They' knew better about OS X, about the iPad, about the iPhone, about ....

hey, maybe otrit should be interviewed on talk shows, with a column in the Times and stuff ! A star is born ! :D

Marissa Mayer was at Yahoo (not Amazon) and the whole company has been gradually canning itself.

I know at least a couple mid to high level folks at Google very well. One has been working remotely for years, the mid-level guy. The other (former Amazon tech boss and still in Seattle) won't be flying anywhere for a while. Be interesting to hear his impressions on how the remote thing works.

On Oracle exec ran a high performance computing team with people around the globe.

Back when I was still involved in this stuff, the rule of thumb was the people had to bond as teams - that meant face to face. But after that, 3 or 4 days out of 5 remote could work.

Polycom was a client ages ago. They got pretty good at remote conferencing.

I'd agree we're not good at it yet. And face to face offers a whole lot more opportunities for either trust or knowing when you're about to get stabbed in the back. But it's not a done deal, IMO, that we can't get better at. Necessity - meet invention. Machine designer in another thread says he's more productive doing CAD at home; but that's an individual contributor. Motion Guru says his company will soon have more experience.
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2018
Location
Airstrip One, Oceania
I know at least a couple mid to high level folks at Google very well.

Back, Satan ! Get thee hence !

I need to wash my hands, quick, with triple-strength hand sanitizer. Maybe cut the things off.

Those people are SHIT !! You actually talk to that scum ?

Put them in weighted gunnysacks and throw them off the bridge, now before it is too late !

oh wait :(

(Yes, brain fart on Amazon / Yahoo. But you do know who made google what they are, don't you ? Yes, Marissa. Without her they'd be nothing but another Lycos. She is the one who forced them to wait until all opposition was dead before springing the trap. She's no fool.)
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2018
Location
Airstrip One, Oceania
btw, Marissa's reasons for stopping the work from home thing were exactly Steve Jobs' reasons for designing the Pixar and Apple buildings the way he did.

In case you missed, both Pixar and Apple have done quite well. That and both companies actually create products, instead of sucking our blood like a river of leeches.

Marissa is not a fool. The "let's all work from home !" schtick is another foolish rush to embrace some cool new feature that in real life does not work.

PeteM said:
Meanwhile there's some angry guy from China . . .
Angry guys, hmmm .... Martin Luther, Spartacus, Wat Tyler, Thomas Paine, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Simon Bolivar ... thank you for the compliment :)
 

Trboatworks

Diamond
Joined
Oct 23, 2010
Location
Maryland- USA
Something I read about Italy was they ran out of respirators which are not really super high tech but they came to the point of not enough and having to make tough decisions on who gets one....So if someone could tool up and make a few respirators in the next month or so......
There are I am sure some people right now tooling up or significantly increasing production for shortages that will show up in a month from now.

Have you been following the 3D printing angle.
It appears the whole sector has sprung into action with amateurs and pros alike drafting the and printing critical components for ventilators and other gear which is in shortage.

Coronavirus: 3D printers save hospital with valves - BBC News
 








 
Top