Sneezes & Neurosis

March 13, 2020

The WHO declared some days ago the pandemic status for the well-known Coronavirus.

And the traditional media followed the neurotic waves of the social networks. Fake news, Stupid news, Shallow news, Bullshit news… All kind of produced news in a mass way and broken up by millions of voices spread all over the world, not all badly-intentioned, but almost all without the minimum technical qualification to issue opinions.

Maybe Coronavirus will be known as the first great champion of the INFODEMIA phenomenon. Quite recent phenomenon referring to the capacity of the social networks in creating panic from a parallel context to the sanitary real facts: according to WHO, this virus has low lethality, notwithstanding its easiness of propagation, as other flu viruses (for example, influenza).

The impact of the speed up propagation of coronavirus in the world is worrisome, mainly for the potential collapse of the health systems in attending masses of infected patients at the same time. But, again, its low lethality maybe immortalizes not for the records of deaths, but for the undeniable economic impact in all planet. And the great villain is not the Chinese snake in the street markets of Wuhan, but the digital social network.

Its viral impact seems to be much more concentrated in currencies and goods. The panic let the streets and hospitals to the trading floor and to the executive halls of the companies. The protagonism was extended from the Emergency rooms to the governmental authorities.

It is too early to affirm, but coronavirus may perhaps be the less lethal but the most brutal virus in the recent history of the humanity. The expectation reversions in the stock markets all over the world follow the news of closing borders, companies, schools and communities. The level of economic activity has already suffered an irretrievable impact, with serious ramifications in chains rupture of goods all over the planet.

Less consumption and less investment produce a self-consistent prophecy: the real economy will really suffer a negative impact with the mood change of the stock market and the alarmist’s sense of the popular masses directed by the social networks and the media. But it is also true that the current volatility takes prices of real equities to below of its true intrinsic prices, destroying trillions of dollars in wealth all over the world.

From the point of view of social behavior, we have a really interesting aspect: the reverse impact of the social digital world on the real social world. Social network has been the great modelling behavior force of the governmental authorities and also of the enterprise leaderships, and of even the traditional media itself, once that the journalistic guideline follows even more the trending topics of the Twitter and the Instagram.

The most conservative and weighed common-sense in following the routine with certain hygiene cares gradually became example of irresponsible omission in face of the pressure for some incisive action! Close the borders, empty the grandstands, cancel the flights, close the doors of the theme parks, cease the lessons, and increase the food supplies!

Flu sneezes has been turbocharged by urban neurosis. The impact? Millions of people to be affected all over the world, not for coronavirus, but for the imminent increase of unemployment.


Daniel Motta is the Founder and CEO of BMI Blue Management Institute, a leading niche consulting firm. He is a global thought leader focused on culture, strategy and leadership. He has a PhD in Economics, MSc in Financial Economics and BA in Economics. He is also an OPMer from Harvard Business School. He is the Managing Director of USA-based VC company White Fox Capital and the Senior Tupinambá Maverick of bossa&etc. He was a co-founder of Brazilian Society of Finance. He currently serves NGO UNIBES as Strategic Planning Principal. He is the author of the best selling books Essential Leadership and book Anthesis. He also has three articles published by Harvard Business Review. He is a Board Member of MASP.