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The Four Rules of Pandemic Economics

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/new-laws-pandemic-economics/609265/

theatlantic.com

The Four Rules of Pandemic Economics
A playbook that should govern America's short-term reaction to the health crisis. Editor's Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF." With this tweet, President Donald Trump summarized a disturbingly common reaction to social-distancing measures.

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A new playbook

Growth evangelists are right when they state that severe lockdowns produce a parallel human misery of unemployment, looming bankruptcies, and extreme financial anguish. Yet, opening the economy too soon may produce mass death.

We need a new playbook for pandemic economics to govern our short-term reaction to the health crises.

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The false choice

“Save the economy or save lives” is a false choice.
A group of economists published a paper on the 1918 flu outbreak. Their findings revealed:

  • Early and aggressive interventions saved lives and triggered a faster rebound, such as job growth and banking assets.
  • Without a healthy population, there can be no healthy economy.

The hope is for a deep, short recession, to show that people have shut the economy down to limit the spread of disease.

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A living wage

Asking millions of able-bodied workers to stop working creates a crisis of unemployment.

During this time, the U.S. is expanding unemployment benefits and are also delaying tax filing. In northern-European countries, the government is directly paying businesses to maintain their payrolls to avoid mass layoffs and furloughs.

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A time machine

Many small-and-medium-sized companies face extinction during the pandemic shutdown. While their income is gone, they still owe wages and rent to landlords. 

This could lead to cascading bankruptcies. A time machine is needed, where grants, cheap loans, and debt relief would allow companies to shift their expenses to the future.

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Science

A three-or four-month freeze is one thing, a full year of isolation and economic inactivity is disastrous.

Our lack of knowledge about the virus is our greatest weakness. More tests can reveal more information that should lead to defeating the disease as fast as possible. There is no such thing as a normal economy until we contain the virus.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Restarting the economy

Restarting the economy

The economy shut down almost overnight. But reopening it will not happen the same way. It may take months and possibly years to fully open, even under the most optimistic estimates.

Implementation is complicated

The proposed three-phase plan will allow many businesses to open in the first phase.

Schools and daycare centers can open in the next phase. But that means millions of working parents could be asked to return to their jobs before they have someone to take care of their children.

Partial reopening

In the early phases of reopening, businesses could be required to operate at a reduced capacity.

Offices might operate in rotating shifts, but other businesses could have a harder time. Restaurants may have tight profit margins even in better times. Operating at half capacity may mean working at a loss.

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Economic Free Fall

Economic Free Fall

The current pandemic has led to an economic free fall which is unparalleled in history. In the US alone, the unemployment rate plummeted at such a speed that more than 10 million have claimed unemp...

The Lockdown: U.S.

The Pandemic Lockdown in the U.S. directly affects the livelihood of a shocking 80% of American workers who work in retail, real estate, education, entertainment and restaurants.
Many of these offices and stores are not going to open after that.

The Lockdown: Europe And Asia

  • In Europe, The north of Italy, which is the main tourist hub, is seeing a collapse in economic activity, along with Germany, which is falling at a steeper rate than the United States. Even countries like Japan, which are not hit that hard, are about to witness an apocalyptic fall.
  • In India, with the abrupt 21 days shutdown, which was recently extended by another 19 days, only a small percentage of the 1.3 billion population is covered by any social security, and millions of daily wage or migrant workers, have no hope, future or place to stay.

Getting the economy back on track

While fighting the new virus economy worldwide has seen a huge growth in unemployment. Therefore, measures are to be taken and this as soon as possible. Maybe the most significant factor into getti...

Immunity vs. privacy

Getting the worldwide economy back on track requires workforce. Providing this workforce requires healthy individuals able to work hard enough to help things get better. Governments are now trying out ways to officially have people's health checked: by providing different types of certificates, for instance. The major concern, however, is in regards to everybody's privacy: while these certificates do prove our immunity, research institutions are working on developing tools that can also protect our data.

Certifying immunity and its advantages

It might be that only by certifying workers' immunity, states can help their economy know growth again. However, in order to make the people who get certified take up positions that require direct contact with customers, there will be a need for encouragement from employers' side, such as pay raises. As this is maybe the only real option, countries worldwide are going to have to apply the method.