Christian Bayer, Moritz Kuhn, 20 March 2020

There are large differences in case fatality rates from the coronavirus outbreak across countries, from around 6% in Italy to close to zero in some northern European countries (as of 12 March). This column uses World Value Survey data on the share of people aged 30-49 who live with their parents to show that fatality rates are initially higher in countries with more intergenerational interactions. It provides a warning for how important it is for countries where the elderly and the young live close together in particular to try to contain the virus early on.

Robert Barro, Jose Ursua, Joanna Weng, 20 March 2020

What is a plausible worst-case scenario for outcomes under COVID-19? This column draws lessons from the 1918-1920 Great Influenza Pandemic. Data for 43 countries imply flu-related deaths back then of 39 million, 2% of the world population, implying 150 million deaths when applied to current population. Controlling for effects from WWI, GDP and consumption in the typical country declined by 6% and 8%, respectively, while real returns on stocks and short-term government bills fell meaningfully. Large potential losses in lives and economic activity justify current policy actions to limit the damage, but there is a difficult tradeoff between mortality and lost output, and this tradeoff warrants discussion that is absent so far.

Sebastian Horn, Carmen Reinhart, Christoph Trebesch, 20 March 2020

The world is coping with a global disaster, as the new Coronavirus takes a toll on many lost lives and a severe impact on economic activity. To provide a long-run perspective, this column documents the international response to a variety of disasters since 1790. Based on a new comprehensive database on loans extended by governments and central banks, official (sovereign-to-sovereign) international lending is much larger than generally known. Official lending spikes in times of global turmoil, such as wars, financial crises or natural disasters. Indeed, in these periods, official capital flows have repeatedly surpassed total private capital flows in the past two centuries. Wars, in particular, were accompanied by large surges in the volume of official cross-border lending.

Bartosz Maćkowiak, Mirko Wiederholt, 19 March 2020

Economists may not have been able to do much about the outbreak of the coronavirus, but this column argues that economics can help tackle the problem at its source by reducing the spread of the virus. Using a theory of decision-making by agents who have limited information-processing ability, it offers various recommendations for individuals and policymakers to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Simon Evenett, 19 March 2020

Given the centrality of China to many international supply chains, there is considerable interest in the impact of COVID-19 on global trade flows. And a troubling trade policy dimension is now coming to light. This column reports on and assesses a finding of the Global Trade Alert that 24 nations have recently imposed export restrictions on medical supplies.

Claudia Biancotti, Alessandro Borin, Federico Cingano, Pietro Tommasino, Giovanni Veronese, 18 March 2020

Governments around the world are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic from different angles. This column, by members of the Bank of Italy’s COVID-19 monitoring group, argues that in the absence of coordinated containment measures, the most likely outcome is the worst of both worlds: preventable loss of lives and of GDP. Predictability and consistency in policy responses across space and time is key, both in the public health and economic domains. Effective cooperation in avoiding a 'common bad' might be able to endow the world with the crucial common good of a more complete and effective governance. The European Union should be the first to set an example.

Jordi Galí, 17 March 2020

The measures many countries are taking to contain the spread of coronavirus, while necessary, are bound to have a direct impact on the economy. This column argues that rather than raising taxes and/or increasing government debt to finance the necessary fiscal programmes, the time has come for ‘helicopter money’ – direct, unrepayable funding by the central bank of the additional fiscal transfers deemed necessary.

Group of concerned economists, 16 March 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme event that threatens the health and economic wellbeing of populations across the globe. This manifesto from a group of Portuguese economists calls for urgent action from the EU to prevent the suffering of its people and to save itself and the democratic values it stands for. A large-scale emergency programme requires massive emergency funding, and in the face of extraordinary circumstances, the ECB must be allowed to finance such a programme.

Romesh Vaitilingam, 14 March 2020

As tumbling stock markets indicated growing fears about the potential economic impact of the coronavirus, the IGM Forum at Chicago Booth invited its panels of leading economists in the US and Europe to express their views on the likelihood of a major recession. This column reveals a broad consensus across the experts that there will be a sharp downturn in the economy, but less agreement on how prolonged the dip is likely to be. Asked about the relative importance of supply and demand shocks damaging the economy, reactions were more mixed. But over two-thirds of the European economists are highly doubtful of the readiness of the economic policy institutions of the euro area to respond effectively to the potential damage from COVID-19.

Henrik Müller, 14 March 2020

The coronavirus crisis is hitting economies hard. This column argues that policymakers risk doing too little too late – and creating plenty of confusion on the way. It also suggests some lessons that can be learnt from the response to the last crisis.

Richard Baldwin, 12 March 2020

The spread of COVID-19 is not going to follow an exponential curve – and grave errors will follow if analysts believe it will. The number of new cases rises rapidly, peaks, and then declines. It’s called the epidemiological curve. It’s not a theory or hypothesis; it plays out that way every flu season. It is how it has played out in China and Korea for COVID-19. Flattening the peak to avoid overloading the healthcare system is the main medical goal of the seemingly extreme containment policies we have seen to date.

Stefano Ramelli, Alexander Wagner, 12 March 2020

The novel coronavirus represents a fearsome risk which is stirring feverish behaviour by investors worldwide. This column shows that initially, economic expectations about international trade underlay movements in the stock prices of individual firms; later, concerns about corporate debt began to play a role. 

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Ramon Marimon, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Lucrezia Reichlin, Dirk Schoenmaker, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 11 March 2020

The unfolding coronavirus epidemic represents a severe economic stress test for Europe as well as a test of European unity. This column discusses how the crisis might unfold and the appropriate policy response. It advocates a comprehensive emergency package through which the EU would take responsibility for a meaningful share of the overall emergency effort.

Rabah Arezki, Rachel Yuting Fan, 10 March 2020

A combination of supply and demand shocks has sent oil prices plunging and financial markets tumbling. This column argues that if the decline in oil prices persists, it will erode the fragile macroeconomic and social stability of countries, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, that have been hit by the novel coronavirus. 

Richard Baldwin, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 10 March 2020

How big are Covid-19's economic consequences? That's the theme of a new VoxEU book with contributions from many of the world's most experienced policymakers with expertise in this area. Beatrice Weder di Mauro and Richard Baldwin, the book's editors, give Tim Phillips the (mostly) bad news.

Luca Fornaro, Martin Wolf, 10 March 2020

The consensus is that the coronavirus outbreak will cause a negative supply shock to the world economy, by forcing factories to shut down and disrupting global supply chains. This column develops a simple model to show that the spread of the virus might cause a demand-driven slump, give rise to a supply-demand doom loop, and open the door to stagnation traps induced by pessimistic animal spirits.

Richard Baldwin, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 06 March 2020

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary efforts

A video interview recorded with Richard Baldwin and Beatrice Weder di Mauro to mark the publication of the CEPR / VoxEU 'instant' eBook, Economics in the Time of Covid-19.  Tim Phillips discusses the themes of the book and the economic challenges ahead

Download the book FREE here 

Richard Baldwin, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 06 March 2020

The novel coronavirus is both something old and something new. As usual, the pandemic is both an aggregate demand and an aggregate supply shock, but the fact that it has hit China first and hardest, and the supply chain implications of this, make it something new. This column introduces a new Vox eBook containing 14 essays written by leading economists on a wide array of topics related to COVID-19 economics.

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