New Year, Better Blessings

Analysis

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One of the curiosities of living through COVID is that measuring time, at least through our memory recall, seems to have become much harder. Events that happened a year ago feel like they were just last week, and vice versa.

This sort of made sense in lockdown, when a lack of holidays, or even the difference between home and office, limited our options for measuring when events actually took place.

Be that as it may, the dateline on the back issue of the newspaper I have on my desk tells me it is apparently a year since I wrote these words: “The pace at which researchers the world over have worked to find a viable vaccine has been remarkable, and we now have the hope of a more normal year ahead of us. Let us hope that in the rush to recover, we don’t forget what we learned anew this year.”

The arrival of the vaccines in the spring and the reopening of the economy from the summer on ensured that 2021 was “more normal” than 2020 (although perhaps “less abnormal” might be closer to the mark).

But my words from a year ago could equally well apply now. The Prime Minister has said we might be at the peak of the fourth wave (for more on this, see our regular Coronavirus Roundup on page four), and I guess most businesses (leaving aside hotels and hospitality at one end of the spectrum and e-commerce and logistics at the other) have had a better 12 months. Better, but not record-breaking.

After its initial explosion (17.8% GDP growth in Q2!), the recovery has been held back somewhat by supply chain bottlenecks and component shortages. We have a highly transmissible new variant of the virus, which is already dominant in South Africa, where it was first spotted barely a month ago, and well on its way to being so in the United Kingdom. The first two cases have been found here, in a married couple who have not traveled. That means they contracted Omicron in Hungary, and there are more cases about which we do not yet know.

So, we stand ready to step into 2022, hoping for a better year, but with some disquiet about what may lay ahead. Back in 2019, most of us only had anticipation, I guess. It was a different time, figuratively as much as actually.

Writing back in December 2020, I also added: “the hope that 2021 will prove more peaceful, healthy and prosperous for all of us.” I think that’s an equally good sentiment to take into the New Year this time around. However you celebrate it, let me wish you all the happiness the season can bring.

Robin Marshall

Editor-in-chief

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of December 17, 2021.

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