Solve for the reporting equilibrium?

The district governments of the metropolis that comprises Wuhan — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China — have announced plans to give cash rewards to local residential areas that have successfully curbed the spread of COVID-19.

The incentive rules stipulate that regions and large facilities, such as rural villages and apartment complexes, will receive up to 500,000 yuan ($72,000) for reporting no new cases of infection. Per the Beijing News (in Chinese), the policies were in line with a high-level initiative launched by the Wuhan municipal government on March 1 that mandates every resident to be thoroughly examined.

Here is more, via Slow Thinker.


Something is wrong here. Either the link is wrong or the excerpt is wrong. Plz fix.

Oh, Christ! An incentive NOT to report?

My lips are sealed.

Depends on who is doing the thorough examination, wouldn't it?

To use a n older Soviet example, if the KGB was in charge of the examining and determining kulaks, it would not matter what the incentives exist for not reporting kulaks. From a certain perspective, this actually sounds like an incentive to ensure that examinations are accepted, not an incentive to avoid reporting cases.

If the examiners can't be corrupted, and they have perfect information on building occupancy to guarantee 100% test coverage, and the test itself cannot be gamed, then yes, this will be fine.

In other words, I think the old adage "once something becomes a metric, it ceases to be useful as a measure" applies as usual.

Obviously, nothing human is perfect, but what you makes you think that the people checking for disease carriers are easily corruptible, at least in the center of the pandemic? As for the building occupancy, what makes you think that after weeks of lockdown that the authorities in the world's premier totalitarian state do not have excellent information? As for gaming the test, that seems more than a bit open to other variables. It is possible to game drug testing, but much harder to do so when the testing regime closes as many ways as possible.

And though not quite comparable in important respects, there was a real reason to corrupt, avoid, and game the system during the extermination of the kulaks. Yet the Soviets seem to have been able to do that fairly well.

As noted below, the Chinese government has shown itself to be able to implement draconian measures on a population of millions. One can easily imagine, without knowing of course, that such a government is just as capable as the Soviets to ensure compliance at a basic level - such as searching every building to ensure no one was inside, apartment by apartment.

You give an example of not corruption; I can give a thousand examples of corruption. The USSR, the setting for your example, was notoriously corrupt. Their ability to oppress and kill perceived enemies didn't translate into an ability to effectively administer programs.

Most impressive displays of authoritarianism are riddled with corruption on closer inspection.

Might actually work, by flushing out any holdouts reluctant to report cases for whatever reason.

Any village not reporting any cases but also not requesting the reward would look very suspicious. So they will all seek to collect the cash relatively soon, which means they've either solved the problem or they're hiding something.

Covering up a raging epidemic on a city-wide or province-wide scale don't work, which is how we got into this mess. But in a small setting where everyone knows everyone, covering up the existence of a lingering epidemic is the same problem as containing it from spreading, except with the disadvantage of having to forego external assistance.

So either you get the villagers to snitch on their neighbor who's coughing but terrified of entering government confinement, or you delegate to them the task of running their own effective quarantine until the problem goes away one way or the other in a matter of weeks. And the villagers will do their very best because the Chinese government can credibly threaten draconian consequences if a problem erupts after they've taken the money.

Either way the government gets the desired result of stemming the spread of the disease.

Maybe the best way of looking at it is that this is really an economic stimulus program, to counter the inevitable recession shock. It's the Chinese government's version of "how to get money to people fast" in the hardest-hit area, with a possible side effect of helping with the epidemic.

Yes, this is the sort of thinking that one expects at an economics blog aware of a bigger picture.

The hardest hit areas by definition won't receive the money. It's only for those who have no new cases.

The district governments of the metropolis that comprises Wuhan are by definition the hardest hit areas, and these are areas covered by this program.

The Chinese government is more than able to carry out draconian consequences if a problem erupts. As everyone in Wuhan and environs is fully aware.

Trump will announce today cash rewards for those suspected of having coronavirus not to self-report and for those with information about someone suspected of having the virus not to snitch. The purpose of the rewards is to slow the news of the spread of the virus to avoid further shocks to the stock market. Trump was quoted as saying that "my stock market is perfect and I won't let cry babies with a cold sink it". VP Spence was quoted as saying that "this will make my job of avoiding responsibility for Trump much easier" and praised Trump for employing free market principles to remedy a situation caused by the African socialist Obama. The new program was part of the continuing effort by Trump to stop the flow of fake news. Trump singled out Fox and Friends as playing an essential role in this important initiative. Trump, being philosophical, said "when a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, it doesn't make a sound". VP Spence praised Trump for his knowledge of philosophy as well as science, economics, and medicine, and predicted that Trump's quote will be taught in all elite for profit schools in America.

What interest does a narcissistic resort owner have to do otherwise? Name the instances where he has ever acted against his own interests or even told the truth on something that would harm him. If he told the truth, that would be bad for MarALago or the Bedminster or his other properties.

I am really proud that we had civil servants stand up to him and tell the truth in the House hearings, and that people today, at great risk, tell the truth.

Someday they should get a Medal of Honor, and not Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military decoration. Rush Limbaugh did not serve in the military after becoming eligible to be drafted, apparently due to a pilonidal cyst.

Thanks. Get my medals and deferments mixed up.

Not so long ago Alex was praising China's totalitarian impulses

To the surprise of no one, the stats may be useless.

There is a convincing argument that Iran is where stats are being drastically under-reported:

The Iranians are definitely not getting any handle on what is happening there at this time. And they are definitely second tier compared to the other afflicted areas.

Sadly, the Iranians are providing a foretaste of just how bad covid19 is likely to be in countries that are not at the OECD level.

Turkey still has zero cases, has it?

Nothing confirmed yet, possibly because as anauthoritarian state, Turkey was able to do the following (which won't help anywhere else at this point, of course). "During the initial phase of the outbreak, when just a handful of countries started reporting their first confirmed cases of the COVID-19, Turkey was among the few countries to implement thermal screenings at its borders.

In January, the health ministry installed the first three thermal cameras at the Istanbul Airport, the nation's gateway to the world, where millions of travelers are welcomed or transit through to their destinations.

The precautions did not rely on thermal screenings alone. The ministry then decided to subject any passengers coming in from China to additional screenings and quarantine anyone showing the symptoms of the coronavirus infection. The screenings were later expanded to include countries that reported a high number of confirmed cases."

There is basically no way that Turkey can keep the disease out at this point, in light of the fact that covid19 has spread to all of Iran's provinces, and smugglers, for example, tend not to pass thermal cameras in orderly fashion.

Something lost in translation but the gist is "fake Covid-19 numbers from China". And the total cases in China continues to increase, including new cases. Hopefully this will create a panic on Wall Street and a stock buying opportunity...

Ray - didn't you predict a market bounce for yesterday?

Active cases are going down in China. It would be very difficult for the total case number to go down without violating causality.

Well, I think that people here are overthinking: the incentive is to NOT denounce cases so that's what people are going to do (even if they know about cases).

A better incentive, though not a good one, would be to give money to people to denounce cases.

But even better, would be to scrap the entire financial rewards things and do a proper job at fighting the stupid virus. Badly designed incentives are a Pandora's box.

Or it can be an incentive to denounce ASAP and get all the hideaways into today's statistics so that the reward can be claimed tomorrow.

Details, details, always with the details.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the fact that New York is using prison labor to make hand sanitizers due to a massive shortage. Decisive action a la China or socialism a la China?

The US needs to have a real plan for all important medical supplies since we can't always depend on globalization and our policy of using Wall Street to strip mine all excess productive capacity actually leads to a more brittle and fragile economy for everybody.

Prison labor obviously means two different things in the countries. With Alabama as an outlier of course.

Good sense like charity begins at home. There is nothing we can do about China, but we can help America by electing the right person to lead America in this crisis. We know Joe!

We want the excellent Kevin Lewis! We want the excellent Kevin Lewis!

Mr. Lewis, despite his undeniable merits, lacks the relevant experience, I think, to be president at this point. We can not afford making a mistake when the stakes are that height.

The excellent, self-recommending Kevin Lewis.

The is like a more crass version of the worldwide “solve for the reporting equilibrium”: In this outbreak, countries have been punished when they report cases through travel restrictions and discrimination against their citizens and even non-citizens of a similar racial or ethnic background. What will countries’ incentives to report be in outbreaks going forward?

The Trump Administration Is Stalling an Intel Report That Warns the U.S. Isn’t Ready for a Global Pandemic

As regards Tyler's earlier piece about the US mobilizing rapidly, I would imagine congressional Republicans in quarantine (and their contact with the president himself) will speed that.

From the standpoint of Washington, the problem is now very close to home.

And it proves that even a representative such as Matt Gaetz needed better instruction in how to wear a respirator properly, since it did not protect him from requiring self-quarantining after potential exposure to covid19.

Hopefully, those around him will not need to be wearing such respirators in the near future, though he has coyly indicated that he does have more than a few available, thus lessening the burden on our health care system.

So, Rep. Gaetz was using a respectable Republican respirator then? And did his wife say "I always tell him that he'd look good in anything"?

Actually, it’s... to know Donald is to love Joe.

This is so traditionally Chinese it is part of the Dynastic Cycle.

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