Monday , April 6 2020
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Tag Archives: Commentary

Whack-a-mole: the long run virus

This virus will be with us a long time. Even if the massive national shutdown stops the spread of the virus in the US by summer, there will remain hotspots. Then someone travels, reinfects a city, and here we go again.The virus is spreading around the world. Even if the US stops the virus throughout our country over the summer, it will spread in, say Argentina. Someone with it will get on a plane back to the US in the fall, a planeload of people with the virus will disembark, and here we go...

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A podcast and three amigos video

A new Grumpy Economist podcast, summarizing a lot of the last week and some newer thoughts.A video discussion with Niall Ferguson and H.R. McMaster on the Covid-19  situation, focusing on longer-run implications.I ran out of time on one important point. The US is now playing the 2008 playbook on a grand scale -- bailout, stimulus, Fed printing trillions of cash and lending it to avoid bankruptcy. Apparently "infrastructure stimulus" is next. We're sort of like a 2 year old with a hammer,...

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Links

From Torsten Slok's excellent email links:Jonathan Dingel and Brent Neiman: The places hardest hit by the virus are also the places where most jobs can be done at home.Also the highest wage occupations are easiest to do at home. Good for GDP, bad for people with low wages.New York Fed Weekly Economic IndexBut it's not just a fall, it's also a radical shift in demand. A list of lots and lots of job openings, in all the places you'd guess. The instinct to just pay people to sit at home has...

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Beyond testing — The central question for pandemic policy.

Two weeks of California lockdown have gone by and I do not see signs of plans being made for virus-safe reopening. The fight seems to be between lockdown and reopen -- with little thought to the only possible answer: reopen smart.Today, my latest thoughts about how to reopen smart.There is one goal to public health policy right now: Reducing the transmission rate, aka  reproduction number.If one person gets it, how many does he or she pass it on to? If the transmission rate is...

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Defense production vs. markets

Take your bets which produces more ventilators faster.From Marginal Revolution. First quoting New York Times,The White House had been preparing to reveal on Wednesday a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems that would allow for the production of as many as 80,000 desperately needed ventilators to respond to an escalating pandemic when word suddenly came down that the announcement was off.The decision to cancel the announcement, government officials say, came after the...

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Bailouts v Bankruptcy

Bailouts are back. It's all 2008 all over again.Bankruptcy of a large corporation does not leave a crater behind. Bankruptcy is reorganization and protection, not liquidation. The point of bankruptcy is precisely to keep the business going. When a corporation files for bankruptcy, the stockholders are wiped out, bondholders lose a lot and become the new stockholders. The company rewrites a lot of contracts -- union contracts requiring a plane to fly even with empty seats, contracts to buy...

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Daily testing

What's the perfect answer? Larry Kotklikoff has a good candidate: Daily testing.Imagine everybody gets a test every day. Positive? Stay home and isolate. Negative? Off to work you go. It's over in a month. Nobody who is sick gets anyone else sick.Testing includestemperature scans, a quick chest exam by stethoscope, a quick questionnaire about Coronavirus (CV) related symptoms, multiple PCR (swab) tests, antibody tests (as soon as they are available), and saliva and urine tests if such become...

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Reopen the economy — but carefully!

I did a WSJ oped today on reopening the economy.  As usual it's gated so I can't post the whole thing for 30 days. Their lead editorial expresses many of the same sentimentsClosing down the economy is a panic response. It is not how we should be fighting the virus. We should be following the Korea, Taiwan, Singapore models: Test everybody. Trace all their contacts. Isolate those who test positive or with symptoms. Isolate people who are most likely to get really sick and use scarce...

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Hoover “Virtual Policy Briefing”

Yesterday I did a "virtual policy briefing" with our Director, Tom Gilligan, discussing the virus crisis, with a lot of question and answer. Hoover too is innovating on how to connect virtually, and this sort of effort may extend past the crisis. This is the first in a series. Kevin Warsh talked about the Fed today, = Scott Atlas will talk about medical and health policy on Thursday. More such projects are in the works!

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