Bethany McLean’s Weekend Reading List: the Pandemic’s Long-Term Consequences

Bethany McLean
Bethany McLean is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, a columnist for Yahoo Finance, and a contributor to CNBC. Her 2001 Fortune piece, “Is Enron Overpriced?,” was one of the first skeptical articles about the company. After Enron collapsed into bankruptcy, she co-authored (with Peter Elkind) The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron. A documentary based on the book was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006. She is also the author of All the Devils Are Here (with Joe Nocera), Shaky Ground, and Saudi America. Along with Luigi Zingales, she co-hosts the Podcast Capitalisn't.

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Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 map

 

Of course, this weekend’s list is mostly COVID-19 focused. It’s clear that this pandemic is going to define not just our now, but our future. This piece highlights the ways in which overall statistics can obscure the human reality and rapidly become meaningless. 

 

 

The tragedy in this piece has far less immediacyand some won’t find it tragic at all. But if the long term consequence of the pandemic is a society where human interaction dwindles, where a sign of privilege is increasing isolation and contact becomes something only service workers have to endure, I think that will be tragic indeed. 

 

 

Regardless of the path of the virus, it’s already clear that the economic consequences, both short term and long term, of containment efforts, are also going to be terribly difficult for many, many people.

 

But will COVID-19 be the spark that also ignites underlying problems in the market? If so, this piece from last summer may start to look eerily prescient: 

 

The ProMarket blog is dedicated to discussing how competition tends to be subverted by special interests. The posts represent the opinions of their writers, not necessarily those of the University of Chicago, the Booth School of Business, or its faculty. For more information, please visit ProMarket Blog Policy.

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