The title of this article would seem at first glance to be ridiculous. Really, how much of an economic impact can Ebola have on a small Northern California town? Consider this: I am a rough diamond gemologist living in Grass Valley and I earn my living working mostly in the DRC, Guinea and Sierra Leone. My normal business has been severely diminished because my clients are afraid to go into the bush in the DRC, Guinea and Sierra Leone because of Ebola. This means that I am delaying building my dream house on a gorgeous mountain property my wife and I bought recently. In addition, because I need a four wheel drive car for mountain driving, I wanted to buy a new Toyota 4 Runner, but have opted to buy a Toyota Rav 4 because I need to be financially prudent.
You may laugh because my small contribution to our economy is not of any great significance except to the sales people, vendors and contractors I would have done business with. Of course, there is a small ripple effect from these people. Still, I know it is not going to affect most of the people of Grass Valley. That being said; there are thousands of people in the world just like me. All of us together make up a pretty big group of people with a substantial impact on the overall world economy.
Already, Ebola is destroying the economies of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. These countries in turn are affecting the economies of their surrounding countries and all businesses and countries where there is trade. In addition, people are now afraid to go to other African countries even though those countries are free of Ebola. A case in point is Angola. I have an opportunity in Angola to purchase large quantities of rough diamonds. Normally, my clients would jump at the chance. Now all of my clients are afraid to go to Angola because they consider Angola to be part of West Africa.
I know what you are thinking. What do the far away problems of West Africa have to do with Grass Valley? The answer is simple. The world is a very small place where disease can travel without restriction and fear can spread faster than a California forest fire. What happens on the other side of the world today can cause disastrous consequences here tomorrow. With each collapsing economy, our economies become weaker and we may find ourselves suddenly in the middle of a world economic collapse with all the social-political problems inherent in such a collapse.
The sad part is that Ebola could have been stopped months ago. I was in Sierra Leone at the end of July and the government of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea were begging the world to send help. Anyone who has ever worked in developing nations can tell you that these countries cannot cope with major diseases or calamities. They do not have the money, infrastructure and expertise to deal with it.
Yet, knowing this, our government and the rest of the governments have done little. Even this week, the Presidents of these countries made a desperate appeal for help. Without serious intervention and assistance, Ebola will spread to the West and perhaps the whole world, if that happens you will be worried about more than you’re your pocket book.
One of my clients has asked me to go to Sierra Leone next week. I wonder how my trip will impact the economy of Grass Valley.