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Coronavirus and finance: Living through history

Banks are better prepared than in 2008, because lessons were learned from the last crisis.


"History never looks like history when you’re living through it.”

So claimed John Gardner, who was secretary of health, education and welfare during the administration of US president Lyndon B Johnson. It is hard to imagine any health secretary agreeing with him today.

Not since the financial crisis has it been so clear that we are living through a key moment of history, one that will be analyzed, discussed and written about for years to come. 

The coronavirus has now infected more than one million people: it has spread to almost every country in the world, leading to mass quarantines and alarming projections about the global economy.

The facts make for depressing reading, but there is reason to be optimistic.

The virus has spread much more rapidly – and more widely – than the Sars epidemic did in 2003, in large part because of the way that globalization has transformed supply chains and personal travel over the last two decades. 

"History never looks like history when you’re living through it.”