Here’s a searching question: what is LUV?
Put them together and the three letters can of course be used as a short cut (for those in need of one) to express in writing one’s deep affection for someone, a word most of us usually spell out in full as LOVE. Split them up, however, and they are among a select band of letters that- because of their shape – are increasingly being deployed by pundits, journalists, economists, and anyone else with a crystal ball to hand, to express predictions of how fast the global economy will bounce back from the COVID-19 induced global downturn. For those not familiar with this particular alphabet soup, here is a brief guide to what the letters mean in terms of the economy, with a few lesser known or used alternatives thrown into the mix for good measure.
As an homage to the 2020 Olympics that sadly will never be and to the 2021 Olympics that hopefully will be, if all three letters made it to the 100m final and went on to occupy all three podium positions, then ‘V’ would have the gold medal draped around its V neck for being the fastest rebound the world economy can look forward to. The silver medal for second place would then have to go to U. Due to a protracted bottom, U cannot compete with V in terms of speed of recovery, but at least there is a recovery to speak of, unlike L where, after the initial fall, the economy goes on to flatline along the bottom with no recovery in sight. Bronze medal and third place to L.
As for lesser-spotted alternatives, there is W, where the global economy goes through something of a rollercoaster of a recovery. Output initially falls, stages a V shaped recovery only to decline just as quickly and then rise again, all in relatively short order. A liberal dusting of grammatic acrobatics and there is the back to front J, where a fall in global output is followed by a protracted bottom before a recovery sets in but fails to scale the heights of previous levels of economic activity. Flatten the top and bottom of an upper-case S and swivel the letter 90 degrees anti-clockwise and you have a time-delayed version of the W shaped recovery, but sadly minus the second recovery. Or one could always put multiple Ws together, WWWWW, otherwise known as the more familiar cycle of boom and bust, only one that is on steroids.
With so many, as yet, unanswered questions concerning the pandemic itself and the measures being taken around the world to suppress it, predicting the shape of the recovery is, needless to say, a challenging exercise. The bottom line is only time will tell what the final shape of a recovery in the time of coronavirus will look like…