A Box of Chocolates
It’s true, as Yogi Berra once remarked, that “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” While we may not have a crystal ball, now is a pretty good time to consider the possibility that college may not resume in the fall. On Tuesday night, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield said on record that “there’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through.” Mind you, the one that we just went through still has an increasing death toll that, as of Wednesday night, sits at over 45,000 Americans.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of prices as a regulation of consumption in times when goods are in short supply. Back then, I was simply making the case that for markets, in which prices are allowed to rise naturally, individuals are much less likely to hoard scarce resources. Now, we’re actually seeing this type of hoarding in action — of everything from hand sanitizer to toilet paper to face masks, in places ranging from Georgia to France to Hong Kong. Even in our own backyard, the problem persists. When I visited CVS in Harvard Square Wednesday morning, they were out of both hand sanitizer and masks. Indeed, the seemingly irrational unwillingness of many sellers to raise prices of face masks has led to concerns that the doctors who need masks most may not be able to secure enough of them.
A store closes in Harvard Square. Tributes flood in, recalling fond memories of afternoons spent in a coffee shop, or a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter night. Inevitably, the topic of rising rents in Harvard Square comes up, and many conclude that some greedy landlord was responsible for pushing out yet another historic establishment. It seems that they do this stuff for fun. The story becomes even juicier when we remember that, lately, a few of these landlords have been investment firms. Yes, now the narrative is shaping up well: wealthy investors are destroying local businesses.