Gene Ambrocio, 09 May 2020

Across Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to sharp declines in household sentiment and increases in the dispersion of household views about the state of the economy as well as their own individual finances. In contrast, household uncertainty has been left relatively unchanged. This column finds that the drop in household sentiment is larger in countries where the containment measures put in place to address the pandemic are more stringent, suggesting notable additional costs to the lockdown measures.

Ramanand Jeeneea, Kaviraj Sharma Sukon, 09 May 2020

The government of Mauritius responded early to the COVID-19 pandemic with stringent lockdown measures and saw a drastic reduction in new cases. This column examines the Mauritian response and estimates that the measures led to an 80% reduction in the coronavirus transmission rate. A well-implemented and early ‘hard lockdown’ can be effective in managing the spread of COVID-19.

Davide Furceri, Prakash Loungani, Jonathan D. Ostry, Pietro Pizzuto, 08 May 2020

Major epidemics in this century have raised income inequality and hurt the employment prospects of people with low educational attainment, while scarcely affecting those with advanced degrees. This column argues that the COVID-19 pandemic could have similar distributional consequences unless this time is different and government policies end up being effective in raising boats more than yachts.

Richard Baldwin, 07 May 2020

Thanks to the contributions of literally hundreds of policy-relevant economists from around the world, VoxEU.org has become a key global hub of research-based analysis of COVID-19 economic issues since early March 2020. This column presents some of the statistics and early milestones. For instance, it shows that in April 2020, VoxEU.org had 1.6 million page views from 767,000 users. 

Annie Tubadji, Don Webber, Frederic Boy, 08 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is a deadly threat to human life on our planet. This column uses a spatial analytical approach to show that the pandemic has disproportionately affected the economically and socially vulnerable places across the UK along the lines of existing economic and cultural divides. The pandemic is likely to exacerbate existing real and perceived deprivation on the brink of an expected economic shock at the end of the Brexit implementation period. If health deprivation is compounded by Brexit-related economic blows, greater protests are likely to be the result.

Alexander Bick, Adam Blandin, 06 May 2020

As this column is published, the most recent government labour market statistics for the US refer to the week of 8-14 March, and so do not yet reflect the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. This column uses a series of real-time labour market surveys of US households to document labour market outcomes more rapidly and more often than traditional government surveys. The estimates point to unprecedented devastation in the US labour market. New surveys will be run throughout the summer.

Erica Bosio, Simeon Djankov, 06 May 2020

With lockdown measures in place almost worldwide now, cash-flow represents a significant concern for firms across multiple sectors. It remains to be seen exactly which types of business will be able to weather the coming storm. This column estimates the survival time of nearly 7,000 firms in a dozen Southern European and emerging market economies. Under the assumptions that firms have no incoming revenues, the median survival time across industries ranges from 8 to 19 weeks. Once collapsed export demand is taken into account, the median survival time falls to between 8 and 14 weeks.

Matthew Cleevely, Daniel Susskind, David Vines, Louis Vines, Samuel Wills, 06 May 2020

Relaxing the lockdowns imposed to control the Covid-19 pandemic requires a workable testing strategy for the population. This column argues that ‘stratified periodic testing’ can help economies return to work while keeping Covid-19 cases falling. This strategy would involve testing individuals within specified at-risk groups for infection at regular intervals, upwards of once every five days. This would be a better use of scarce testing resources than daily ‘universal random testing’ of the entire population.

Dimitris K. Chronopoulos, Marcel Lukas, John O.S. Wilson, 06 May 2020

Since the first COVID-19 cases were reported in January 2020, the UK government has introduced successive public health measures, culminating in late March 2020 with enforced closures of non-essential businesses and social distancing. These measures are significantly affecting UK household incomes and expenditures. This column exploits a large anonymised transaction-level dataset covering Great Britain to examine real-time consumer spending responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and related public policy measures. While there are differences by age, gender, and income level, overall consumer spending declined as the government lockdown becames imminent and has continued to decline since.

Douglas Irwin, 05 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has led policymakers and business leaders to question whether global supply chains have been stretched too far. This column argues that the pandemic simply adds further momentum to the deglobalisation trend. The fourth era of globalisation appears to have peaked in 2008, and since then we have been in an era of ‘slowbalisation’.

Jordan Schoenfeld, 05 May 2020

Are pandemics systemically important to modern-day financial markets? It is not obvious how a financial market’s myriad interconnected parts would react to a pandemic-induced supply and demand shock. This column shows that the COVID-19 pandemic triggered unprecedented changes in employment levels and the values of stocks, bonds, commodities, and currencies. Corporate managers also systematically underestimated their business-model exposure to pandemics in their annual report risk factors.

Nicholas Bloom, Fatih Guvenen, Sergio Salgado, 05 May 2020

During recessions, some firms and industries get hit far harder than others. This column argues that the current COVID-19 crisis is no exception. While most firms have experienced a negative demand shock, firms in the entertainment, services, and manufacturing sector have experienced a dramatic decline in sales that is likely to persist over several months. The increase in the probability of firm-level disasters or, more precisely, the decrease in the skewness of the distribution of firms’ shocks, will play a significant role in the response of aggregate output and employment. 

Alexia Delfino, Raffaella Sadun, 04 May 2020

As businesses emerge from lockdown, they will face the challenge of adopting new health and safety standards while maintaining profitability and productivity. Effective management will be crucial in aligning these private and social interests. This column explores how structured management training programmes – modelled after support given to European firms under the Marshall Plan – can help firms operate safely and productively in the Covid-19 era. It outlines several principles policymakers should follow in the design and implementation of these training programmes.

Simon Evenett, L Alan Winters, 04 May 2020

The world trading system has faced policy disruptions as nations have scrambled to find the necessary medical supplies to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. This column suggests that in return for importing governments agreeing to keep their import restrictions at their current low levels, exporting governments agree to qualify the extent to which they can restrict shipments abroad. It presents a straightforward, WTO-consistent, time-limited proposal that countries can publicly commit to at any time.

Miltos Makris, 04 May 2020

Social distancing fits well in the economist’s analytical framework. This column discusses how epidemiological models can be enriched with individual social distancing decisions. Preliminary simulations show how an epidemic could be influenced by the interaction of private decisions and government measures on social distancing. The simulations highlight the importance of including economic insights in epidemiological simulations, rather than serving as forecasts.

Zachary Bethune, Anton Korinek, 03 May 2020

At the centre of the debate on how to deal with the novel coronavirus is whether to aim for containment or herd immunity. A crucial factor in this decision is whether we are guided by individually optimising behaviour or by overall societal welfare, since COVID-19 gives rise to substantial externalities. This column calculates that while individuals perceive the cost of becoming infected to be $80,000 the true social cost is more than three times higher, and argues that public health authorities should use mandatory measures to account for these externalities. To ameliorate the costs of the trade-off, it is crucial to develop sufficient testing and tracing capacity so that untargeted lockdowns and the economic cost involved can be ended. 

Alexander Chudik, M. Hashem Pesaran, Alessandro Rebucci, 02 May 2020

China responded to the Covid-19 outbreak with draconian mandatory social distancing policies. Other countries have reacted more timidly, either by deliberate choice, as in the United States, or due to implementation constraints, as in some European countries, leaving individuals to choose for themselves an appropriate degree of self-isolation. This column, we argue that differences in mandated social distancing policies across countries have contributed to astonishingly different outcomes.

Gabriella Conti, 01 May 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic has global reach, it is not affecting everyone equally. This column focuses on the first years of life and notes how the pandemic is likely to have more adverse effects for vulnerable parents and children. Given that early experiences can have an enduring impact on long-term health and socioeconomic outcomes, it argues that sustaining early childhood interventions is critical to avoid the worsening of inequalities in human development.

Nicolas Ajzenman, Tiago Cavalcanti, Daniel Da Mata, 02 May 2020

Regardless of their scientific soundness, COVID-19 recommendations from political leaders such as President Trump are taken seriously by followers. In Brazil, President Bolsonaro has publicly flaunted social distancing measures and downplayed the seriousness of the disease in at least two well-publicised instances. This column analyses the effects of Bolsonaro’s actions and speeches in the month of March on Brazilians’ social-distancing behaviours, using electoral data and geo-localised mobile phone data from 60 million devices. The findings suggest that social distancing behaviour decreased in municipalities with stronger support for Bolsonaro.

Anna Stellinger, Henrik Isakson, Ingrid Berglund, 01 May 2020

The world is in the midst of a dual crisis, threatening both the health of millions of people and the world economy. The crisis also touches upon various aspects of trade policy. Once the immediate crisis has abated it is not unlikely that the major trade debate will be about reshoring production. The argument goes that it is dangerous – both from an economic point of view and from a public health perspective – to be so dependent on imports. This column argues that the opposite is in fact true.

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