When (and if) this episode of the Covid-19 virus passes, will the Hawaii economy be left in hopeless tatters?
That’s a fair question in light of nearly 20% of our state GDP coming from tourism, and the likelihood that many mainland and overseas people will be too financially shocked to consider a Hawaii vacation.
There’s also the fear that as cooler weather comes in fall and winter, the virus could resurrect itself. In that aspect, it is much like other flu organisms.
The U.S. government is much more capable of a quick economic recovery because the Treasury can print money to buy bonds. We cannot.
But we can start up an ambitious, funded-by-wealthy-investors construction program, including doing what we should have done many years ago — build truly affordable high-rise housing for low income residents and give units out on either a buy-in basis or a rent-to-own basis. It’s often called the Singapore Model.
And housing projects should be geared toward putting people closer to where they work. It’s exciting that the Navy is doing planning on a residential and retail community adjacent to Pearl Harbor and the shipyard.
It’s silly for us to have housing in Kapolei for people who work in downtown Honolulu. But we do that because most cannot afford downtown housing. It’s priced for money-parking by foreigners. We blew it with Kakaako!
The transit train will also be a major recovery project. Yes, some of the hard-core naysayers will continue to badmouth it, but I suspect the general public will see it as both the worthy public works project and necessary transportation asset that it is or at least will be.
There are some good signs already on the national level. Even as the spread of COVID-19 accelerates in many regions, institutional investors are becoming ever more bullish about the prospects for the stock market. That’s according to a survey by RBC Capital Markets.
“Our respondents are highly bullish on stocks, the most optimistic they’ve been since we started our survey in the first quarter of 2018,” wrote Lori Calvasina, head of U.S. equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.
So don’t just cry “woe is me.”
Look for some opportunities.