Los Angeles skylineAs statesbegin the process of re-opening businesses, people are startingcontemplate how the pandemic will change public life—andpredictions of a new normal are rampant. This new normal includeseverything from protective legislation to new cultural norms;shaking hands, for example, will be a thing of the past. However,that new normal might just be a quarantine dream, according toChristopher Thornberg of BeaconEconomics.


"There are people saying that this is going to create apermanent change in consumer behavior. Why? There is not a newnormal," Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, tellsGlobeSt.com.


Thornberg is tossing out the predictions of a new normal basedon past pandemics and following behaviors. "Pandemics have beenwith humanity for as long as we can remember," he says. "We havebeen fortunate over for the last 40 years that for a brief periodof time public health got in front of it and all of the diseasesthat used to periodically rip through human populations had largelybeen subdued." During periods of disease outbreak, socialdistancing is common, but people have always continued living theirlives normally. "We have a long history of dealing with thesecircumstances, and history shows over and over again that peoplesocial distance when times are bad and then when things are good,they lived their lives again," he adds.


It isn't only predictions of a new normal that Thornberg isrejecting, but also the idea of a draconian future and severeeconomic collapse. These predictions, he says, are not based onreliable data because there is no historical precedent. "As aforecaster, I am using the past as a metaphor for the future," saysThornberg. "The problem is that we don't have a recent metaphor forthis. The last time that there was a public health-incused downturnwas maybe in the 1950s. I don't know for sure, but I do know thatthe data from that time isn't very good and it was a very differentkind of economy.


Using data from past recession or even past pandemics isn'tnecessarily applicable to the economy today. "It is not an aptmetaphor," says Thornberg. "From a statistical standpoint, it isdifficult to do what many forecasters are trying to do, and theyaren't acknowledging that."

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.