It’s now about 11 days since I visited the supermarket and saw that it was almost completely out of toilet paper rolls.
Last night, there was no meat, and no bread. And there is very little pasta or pasta sauce left.
I think it is safe to say, as Dorothy did to Toto, that we are not in Kansas anymore.
This is the weirdest thing I have seen in my life, a shortage of so many things (albeit because the supply chains have not been set up to handle such demand). The closest to this that I would compare it to was the Longford gas explosion in 1998, where we were short of our gas supply for many weeks (I was in a flat then, and had electric hot water, so no cold showers for me thankfully).
This scarcity is all to do with public confidence. People are queuing up like they do in Communist countries and in wartime, because they are worried that they might not be able to get more later. It is a self perpetuating cycle, because when you see empty or near empty shelves, you feel the need to stock up more when you can, in case it is not there later, and that then leads to more empty shelves.
And there has been another series of falls on the sharemarket, although my ASX watch list yesterday did indicate major fluctuations in the shares I am monitoring – 10% fluctuations in the share prices across the trading day. This volatility is not normal. If I had decided to try to ride it out, instead of getting out of shares on the second dead cat bounce, I would be $67000 worse off right now.
Obviously, with an elderly mother, I have other things to worry about than share market matters in this pandemic. But the impact and disruption, on an economic scale, is going to be virtually unprecedented in the post 1945 world. The shutdowns, and the money printing by government and central banks to prevent people going to the wall, is likely to have a very serious medium term effect.