I am not a prophet, nor do I play one on TV. Nevertheless, I will hazard some conjectures here about certain likely legacies of the current crisis. I focus on fiscal and monetary matters. In a future post, I will deal with regulatory and ideological matters. I will try to avoid mere guesses or hunches about what the future will bring. Instead, I will try to proceed in the spirit that Joseph Schumpeter expressed seventy years ago:
What counts in any attempt at social prognosis is not the Yes or No that sums up the facts and arguments which lead up to it but those facts and arguments themselves. . . . Analysis, whether economic or other, never yields more than a statement about the tendencies present in an observable pattern. And these never tell us what will happen to the pattern but only what would happen if they continued to act as they have been acting in the time interval covered by our observation and if no other factors intruded. (Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, p. 61)
My speculations rest in part on my past analyses of national-emergency crises and the ratchet effects they produced in various dimensions of economic, social, political, legal, institutional, and ideological life in the United States. We have no assurance that past patterns will continue to prevail in the aftermath of the current crisis, but several broad similarities to this point suggest that we may not be entirely misled if we look to the past as a rough guide to the future.
Certainly one of the most important features of the present crisis is the large increase in federal...