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In the annals of 21st century capitalism, COVID-19 will go down as a pressure cooker. The pandemic has put enormous strains on livelihoods, individual well-being, health care systems, the viability of firms and the stability of public finances. But a byproduct of this stress is that when it’s finally behind us, we might decompress a little — and choose to be less devoted to the notion of peak efficiency.

We aren’t there yet, but a greater tolerance of intentional slack is being built into everything from how Toyota Motor manages its inventory and Amazon.com organizes its deliveries to how Singapore puts a price on nursing talent.

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