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Just over one century ago the world was suffering through the Spanish Flu, one of the deadliest pandemics in history. When the outbreak subsided in the spring of 1920, a decade of social and economic opulence - now known as the Roaring Twenties - ensued.

While the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over, many credible epidemiologists predict we will soon be coming down the caseload curve.

Now feels like as good a time as any to peek ahead to a post-pandemic reality.

Urban Renaissance?
One of the more dramatic phenomena during the pandemic has been the flight from urban density to suburban sprawl. More space, outdoor recreation, and a yard for the pandemic puppy were all popular amenities in 2020.

The numbers tell the story: In New York City, the U.S. Postal Service processed 333,588 change of address requests between March and November.

But some analysts say demand for suburban life has peaked and urban housing markets are showing signs of life:

  • In May, residential transaction volume in Manhattan was just 20% of its typical level.
  • By November, transaction volume had fully recovered, even eclipsing 2019 levels.

Commuter Conundrum: And when city offices ultimately re-open, many of the so-called "bedroom communities" could be facing challenging (and crowded) commutes. The MTA (which operates the Metro-North commuter rail line in New York and Connecticut, as well as the Long Island Railroad) has warned that without $10-plus billion in federal aid, commuter services could be cut in half.

Roaring Twenties Reboot?
Public health restrictions have forced many to cut back on the hedonistic aspects of life. Some believe that reality has created huge pent-up demand for dining, drinking, vacations and general entertainment.

When Zoom happy hours become a relic of a bygone nightmare, many sociologists are predicting the world will enter a Great Gatsby-esque era.

And the economics support it:

  • Every month since the pandemic’s onset has seen a vastly higher personal savings rate than 2019’s average of 7.6%. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the rate hit a record high of 33.7% in April.
  • Policy support for strong demand growth — government deficits and ultra-loose monetary policy — is likely to stay in place for some time.

The Takeaway: A lot of social and economic upside to be hopeful about.

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