Omicron Fears Spook Consumers, Slow Economic Recovery
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 27, 2020: A woman wearing a face mask as a precaution against the spread of Coronavirus seen shopping after the Tokyo Local Government have asked citizen to stay home and do not go out unless necessary this coming weekend. Concerns are growing about the increasing cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Japan. Many countries have closed borders to Japan and the growing pandemic has caught public attention on the true number of coronavirus cases in Japan that could be much higher.
Viola Kam / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Early signs indicate that the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus could be slowing economic growth in the United States.

Key metrics, such as consumer spending and restaurant seating, saw declines in the past few weeks. The Wall Street Journal summarized:

The number of diners seated at restaurants nationwide was down 15% in the week ended Dec. 22 from the same period in 2019, a steeper decline than in late November, data from reservations site OpenTable show. U.S. hotel occupancy was at 53.8% for the week ended Dec. 18, slightly below the previous week’s level, according to STR, a global hospitality data and analytics company.

Rising case numbers are leading many businesses to close for a short period, entertainment venues to cancel shows, universities to shift classes online and offices to delay or reverse reopening plans…

Consumers boosted their spending by 0.6% last month, a slowdown from 1.4% growth in October, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Economists attributed part of the November slowdown to consumers shifting their holiday purchases a month earlier, amid warnings of potential shortages due to supply-chain problems.

As Western consumers, businesses, and policymakers adjust their behavior in response to Omicron — which experts believe causes milder illness than the Delta variant — economists are calling for an end to panic and government overreach.

John Tamny — the director of FreedomWorks’ Center for Economic Freedom, editor of RealClearMarket, and economic author — told The Daily Wire that politicians are worried about their political future if Omicron is indeed no cause for concern.

“This is surely evidence of politicians panicking, both about a virus that thinks so little of all that they do to mitigate its spread, but also panic that if and when the virus becomes endemic, politicians will suddenly lack a podium from which to grandstand,” Tamny said.

“If war is the health of the State, then ‘crises’ are the State’s oxygen,” he continued. “The political classes need what they’ve manufactured to lack an endpoint.”

“Except that the joke’s on them,” Tamny added. “If the virus is really so threatening as to require responses as dramatic as ‘papers’ and child mandates, then that’s the surest sign that political force is wholly superfluous.”

Meanwhile, Bill Ackman — who leads the firm Pershing Square Capital Management — said that people should stop living in “fear of COVID.”

“We have reached the stage in the Covid crisis where our attention needs to focus on severity and protecting those who are vulnerable rather than case counts,” Ackman said on social media. “While unvaccinated Americans are still at risk, the vax decision is a personal one. We need to give the healthcare system the resources it needs, and we need to start living again.”

“It appears that Omicron will ‘vaccinate’ everyone who isn’t already vaccinated. Let’s protect the vulnerable and continue to live our lives. The beginning of the end of living in fear of Covid is near,” Ackman added in another post.

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