Morgan Stanley Chief US Economist weighs four post-pandemic scenarios

This week, AlphaSense sat down with Ellen Zentner, Chief US Economist at Morgan Stanley, to discuss life after Covid, focusing on the US Economy and macro trends.

With an uncertain future ahead, Zentner provided four scenarios for life after Covid based on the evolution of the virus, vaccine timing, and consumer risk aversion.


The above four quadrants reflect four different scenarios, which depend on how Covid spreads and for how long.

In each scenario, the importance of a timely vaccine, low consumer risk aversion, and policymaking is clear.

Another huge factor in recovery is the evolution of remote work. A recent Morgan Stanley study estimated that 15% of the labor force had a “Work from Home” policy pre-Covid. Now, that number has skyrocketed to around 50%. Morgan Stanley analysts anticipate that an estimated 30% of the labor force will remain working from home past 2020.


As the country changes, consumer spending patterns will change as well. Remote workers’ spending patterns will reflect those of retirees–impacting apparel, dining, and transportation. Consumers will also change their saving habits to reflect a risk aversion model until the country stabilizes.

In a Robust Recovery (Bull Case), potential GDP increases, partially due to more based on distortions to the labor market, such as elevated work from home participation, which is a much more productive way to participate in the labor market.

As we continue through a long Covid recovery, staying up-to-date on the latest expert research is essential. If you are interested in reading more Morgan Stanley research, login to AlphaSense, or start a free trial. To access Ellen Zentner’s full presentation, along with more AlphaSense webcasts, please explore our Expert Briefing Series.


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