The government must not allow an even more divided society to emerge post-pandemic
It was John Maynard Keynes who developed the idea of “animal spirits” as a kind of spontaneous market optimism, or pessimism, which lent a crucial emotional dimension to economic outcomes. The unveiling of Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of social restrictions was accompanied by a glimpse of how they might play out in a Covid context.
As people rushed to bet on the possibility of taking a foreign holiday in July or August, easyJet was among the top risers on the FTSE 250 on Tuesday, reporting a 337% leap in bookings. Shares in the long-suffering hospitality and entertainment industries jumped too. Vaccine rollout and the prime minister’s roadmap have understandably persuaded the population that a definitive exit from lockdown purdah is at hand. For its part, the government, quite reasonably, believes that the release of pent-up consumer energy will fuel a significant post-pandemic recovery. Last week’s UK consumer confidence index was sufficiently buoyant to lead analysts to talk of a “return to normality” in the coming year.