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The Post-Pandemic Transition: What the Experts Say

We have five major takeaways to share from today’s post-pandemic transition webinar, which was moderated by Rich Greene, half of the Barrett and Greene team.

The webinar was a joint production of the Government Finance Research Center (GFRC) at University of Illinois Chicago, where we are senior advisors, and the American Society for Public Administration, with which which we have often worked on webinars in the past. Mike Pagano, director of the GFRC, led a moderated conversation with panelists Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics; Amy Liu, Vice President and Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, and Don Kettl, Sid Richardson Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas and Senior Fellow with the Volcker Alliance and with Brookings.

Here are our top takeaways.

· Don’t hold your breath waiting for a return to normalcy. The pandemic has spurred transformational change and a full economic recovery will take several years. “I suspect we’re looking at the end of 2023,” said Zandi. “This is going to be a slog,”

· Major governance stresses – including the fraught relationship between governments -- will need massive attention to successfully deal with a host of post-pandemic issues. Front and center are growing worries about geographic and racial inequality and the fact that the pandemic and related disruption will create a host of winners and losers with the losers often coming from those who were worst off prior to 2020. “We need to do much better at creating basic governance strategies,” said Kettl.

· The transformation of the way people work will continue, hitting downtowns hard, changing transportation patterns, decreasing business travel and shifting residential needs. (Think houses with more office space). Pressures on downtown areas will also build opportunities for regional development outside of big cities. “Consumer preferences are changing; the way people are buying food is changing; the way people shop is changing,” said Liu.

· Success will come quicker to cities that have strong philanthropic and business sectors and solid public-private partnerships to facilitate working together to deal with inequality issues and the highly needed task of increasing more inclusive opportunities.

· On a pessimistic note, citizen trust in government, which is needed to deal with countless developing problems, is at a low ebb. On an optimistic note, there is a genuine effort to recognize longstanding racial issues, the importance of inclusive entrepreneurship and the need for a focus on working together to address structural inequality.


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