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We Will Recover

May 12, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to render the foreseeable future uncertain, states are beginning to take steps to cautiously reopen their economies. Here in Alabama and elsewhere, businesses are slowly beginning to reopen, and people are taking steps to begin anew. The havoc wreaked upon a vast number of industries has been significant, much still unknown.

It goes without saying that the travel, hospitality, food & beverage, and entertainment industries have been devastated by country-wide shutdowns and the widespread reluctance of people to venture out for anything other than necessities. And healthcare, an industry that one might think could hold its own during this public health crisis, is facing steep operating losses fueled primarily by the postponement of elective procedures as hospitals geared up for an anticipated influx of COVID-19 patients (that has largely not materialized). As examples, the largest healthcare/hospital system in Alabama anticipates a $230 million budget shortfall by September 30th and the largest hospital operator in Louisiana lost $130 million in the months of February and March alone.

But take heart—over the history of our country, we have forged a path to recovery over and over again. And at the depths of those crises one thing has always been a constant—it felt as though we were facing insurmountable odds. In my lifetime alone, I can think of two examples:

The horrible recession in the 1970s, primarily caused by the oil embargo. In reading Dealings: A Political and Financial Life written by Felix Rohatyn, one of the greatest investment bankers in the storied history of Wall Street, he outlines the devastating effects on consumers and the transportation industry and how heavy losses rippled across the entire economy due to this crisis. And yet, we recovered.

In the recession of 2007-2009, poor decisions by banks, insurance companies and related financial institutions resulted in a near-collapse of the financial system, requiring intervention by the government on a scale not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. And yet, in a span of 10 years, we had recovered into what was being hailed in early 2020 as one of the strongest economies our country (and the world) has ever seen. 

That was less than 3 months ago. Today, a great many industries world-wide are suffering steep losses, and they will likely get worse before they begin what will be a long road to recovery. These business losses are already being felt by millions of American workers at all levels—executive, professional, blue collar, and service workers. However, while recovery may not feel possible, Americans are resilient. And like we have many times before, we will work together, and we will move forward. We will recover.

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