Re-starting the economy

Will the U.S. economy re-open prematurely?:

New NBER survey of U.S. small companies Here is the percent, by industry, saying their business will still exist if the crisis lasts 6 months: All retail (except grocers): 33% Hotels: 27% Personal services: 22% Restaurants and bars: 15%

That is from Derek Thompson.  Or when will the non-payment of mortgages render the banking system insolvent and beyond saving by the Fed?

At some point, irreversible, non-linear economic damage sets in, and we won’t let that happen, no matter how many times someone tells you “there is no trade-off between money and lives.”

For some time now I have thought that America will reopen prematurely, with a very partial and indeed hypocritical reopening, but a reopening nonetheless.  In May, in most states but at varying speeds, including across cities.

You can see from this Chicago poll of top economists that virtually all of them oppose an early reopening.  I don’t disagree with their analysis, but they are too far removed from the actual debate.

America is a democracy, and the median voter will not die of coronavirus (this sentence is not repeated enough times in most analyses).  And so we will reopen pretty soon, no matter what the full calculus of lives and longer-run gdp might suggest.

Lyman Stone favors ending the lockdown.  It does not matter whether you agree with him or not.  Matt Parlmer predicts revolution if we don’t reopen in time.  I don’t agree with that assessment, but he is thinking along the right lines by not regarding the reopening date as entirely a choice variable.

The key is to come up with a better reopening rather than a worse reopening.

Any model of optimal policy should be “what should we do now, knowing the lockdown can’t last very long?” rather than “what is the optimal length of lockdown?”

And our best hope is that the risk of an early reopening spurs America to become more innovative more quickly with masks, testing, and other methods of reducing viral and economic risk.


> The key is to come up with a better reopening rather than a worse reopening.

Every state will be different. There are some states that will be far too cautious. And some will be far too eager. But let the states decide and and let the voters see if the person they voted for gov decided correctly or not. According to IHME, Texas won't come close to hitting their ICU bed peak for two more weeks, and even then it will be about 25% of capacity. Plus, we have all these mobile hospitals that went largely unused.

Let the people of Michigan see the drywallers and plumbers working again in Texas and let them wonder why their gov has prevented them from even buying seeds.

I agree with this assessment. People don't even know what this thing is much less if, when it will ever be over nor how many lives it plans to take. They will remember the destruction of their livelihoods for the rest of their lives. A vaccine will happen. County on it. I favor sooner rather than later.

Well, let's see. Lockdowns might save an unknown number of lives, although that unknown number seems to be rapidlyshrinking.

Lockdowns are implementing an economic depression, from which an exit is not certain.

And the vast majority of American economists support the lockdowns.

When did American economists go from being of dubious value to being an active menace to prosperity?

Does anybody besides economists consider non-living a menace to their prosperity?

Just looked at Michigan. Of almost 1800 deaths, slightly more than 1400 were in Detroit metro. Tell me why large parts of Michigan can’t reopen?

Seems you ask a lot of questions Rich Berger, and you are either trolling, looking for education, or have some priors in your back pocket. As for me, I favor a long lockdown so I, as a member of the 1%, can buy assets cheap when companies go bankrupt. I feel the stock market is still too high and needs to be brought lower (so I can profit buying cheap). A longer lockdown is in my interests, and I think also the interests of the average scaredy-cat American who fears death and disease more than a non-American (IMO). Those are my priors. Don't fault me for being up-front about them.

And anyone who doesn't want that future should favor helicopter drops early and often.

Some of you may recall that I favored an Amazon credit. While not perfect, it sure would have put money burning a hole in on-line pockets.

They’re paying the unemployed over $1,000 / week, on top of $1200 in Trumpbux for those with low incomes.

How much more should we be helicopter dropping during a supply crash? How is this less effective than a giveaway to Bezos

What is the current percentage delivery?

Is it true that they're slowing down to put Trump's signature on?

The extra $600 / week is already being paid out to the unemployed.

Everyone who provided the IRS with a routing number either received their Trumpbux already, does not qualify due to income or received it through their social security check.

There’s a small group of weirdos who don’t provide the IRS with bank info, their checks will be mailed.

So about 95% are already received it



Unemployment pays less the 50% of wages. At $1000/wk that implies an income of $104,000/ year for the average Joe.

Total nonsense.

The little people are going to burn you down, metaphorically of course.

The economic impact of this shutdown to save the elite from uncertain death is being endured almost entirely by people at the bottom.

They will remember.

They'll remember....and then what will they do?

Its your state check plus a flat $600 per week (thanks, Nancy!) so yeah.

The average will be between $900 and $1000 per week.

A fair number of unemployed are actually better off now (in the short term)

Are you saying conservatives are lying?

That the conservative GOP Gov Walker and GOP controlled legislature did not set the minimum unemployment benefit to $1000 per week for life???

You are clearly a shill for the fake news!

WaPo fake news 2011:
"Michigan moved Thursday to significantly cut its unemployment program, becoming the first of what could be a flurry of debt-laden states to reduce aid even as high jobless rates persist.

"The Michigan measure reduces the maximum period a person can receive state unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks, the lowest in the nation, officials said. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) indicated Thursday that he would sign the bill.

"The state’s economic troubles, aggravated by the recession and its shrinking manufacturing base, have turned Michigan into a bellwether of bust. Its unemployment rate stands at 10.7 percent — one of the worst in the country.

"The move comes as other Republican-dominated legislatures, including Florida’s, are weighing similar efforts to restrict payments to the jobless, and states such as Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are implementing far-reaching, controversial plans to close budget gaps.

"Michigan moved Thursday to significantly cut its unemployment program, becoming the first of what could be a flurry of debt-laden states to reduce aid even as high jobless rates persist.

"The Michigan measure reduces the maximum period a person can receive state unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks, the lowest in the nation, officials said. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) indicated Thursday that he would sign the bill.

"The state’s economic troubles, aggravated by the recession and its shrinking manufacturing base, have turned Michigan into a bellwether of bust. Its unemployment rate stands at 10.7 percent — one of the worst in the country.

"The move comes as other Republican-dominated legislatures, including Florida’s, are weighing similar efforts to restrict payments to the jobless, and states such as Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are implementing far-reaching, controversial plans to close budget gaps."

It's amazing how employment benefits were cut by the GOP to cut consumer spending to force businesses to cut costs by firing workers or not hiring workers when UE was at 8% plus, but now with UE barely above 3%, the GOP is shoveling cash blindly to all workers, employed or not, to boost consumer spending to prop up businesses to get them to keep workers on the payroll and hire workers who don't do any work.

Ed - your claim of BS is wrong. You should spend a few minutes Googling this topic before you make comments about things you clearly haven't bothered to understand. (My response would be nicer, except that your answer was full of such certainty and anger.)

"In February 2020, average weekly benefits were about $387 nationwide" ( )

On top of that normal UI, the CARES Act added $600 per week through July 31.

That totals $987 per week.

Re: Everyone who provided the IRS with a routing number either received their Trumpbux already, does not qualify due to income or received it through their social security check.

From what I'm hearing that only applies t people who have filed their 2019 returns and had them processed by the IRS. Those of us who have put off the 2019 filing (since the IRS has allowed that) are left waiting, and we can't even get the status of our payment or enter our banking info on the website if we need to.
Additionally some payments were "lost" or directed to the wrong account.

I can confirm that a filed 2019 return was not required. That is based on personal experience. I have not filed for 2019, and I received the stimulus money in my bank account earlier this week.

It is my understanding, however, that the IRS doesn't have bank account information for many (or all?) people who filed and owed money to the IRS at the time of filing. That's because the IRS collects bank account information to pay refunds.

If the IRS doesn't have your bank account information, the IRS has a website where it's possible to provide that information -

I did not say "required"-- you're right it isn't. However people who have not filed 2019 yet (but who did file 2018, with payment of taxes due, not a refund) are at the back of the line, and we can't even get our payment status on the IRS website or enter our bank account info. This isn't just me-- I'm hearing this from multiple people in more than one online forum.
Does the IRS have a reasonably modern computer system, or are they still using punch cards? If I needed to enter banking info for any other concern I can't imagine it being so impossible to do.

Its direct deposit. All three of my employees have received their's now.

There are no signatures for direct deposits.

So, who would spread that rumor?

Not any kind of rumor at all. A quick google shows 80M checks processed, which sounds impressive, but there are 130M households in the US.

So as a rough measure the non-helicopter drop reached 60% of households so far. Not bad maybe, but not universal.

Bonus link:

Mea culpa anon

Looks like I drastically underestimated how many households don’t file a tax return at all.

It's also a problem for those of us who have taxes to pay on April 15, rather than having a refund due. The IRS does not have our banking info . Supposedly we should be able to enter that info on the website, but it isn't working. In my case after I enter the initial info (SSN, DOB and address) I'm told it can't process my request-- and I've been filing taxes from my current address since 2009, and certainly using my correct SSN.

pardon, payments processed, mostly of the electronic kind

The checks in the mail have been delayed while they change all the check printing to put Trump's name and signature, instead of Mnuchin's name and signature, on them, but then they will be stuck in mail bags while Trump wages war on the USPS which Trump claims loses so much money delivering packages for Amazon, Amazon is doing it's own last mile package delivery to save money.

If Trump does the work of the right wing in destroying the USPS, the takeover of all mail delivery will be almost certainly by Amazon.

Amazon will provide RFD to Amazon Prime members, offering low price Amazon Prime Welfare tied to SNAP EFT accounts, with Amazon vans first dispatched to their homes to pickup members and driving them to Amazon warehouse where they earn Amazon bucks to match the SNAP benefits.

Some Amazon HR manager will try to provide Amazon housing to cut the costs of picking up Anazon Prime Welfare workers and divert the excessive rents they pay to Trump backers (landlord hedge funds) through Amazon, but AOC will object in unison with Trump.

"America is a democracy, and the median voter will not die of coronavirus (this sentence is not repeated enough times in most analyses)."

No, but the median voter will be more often than not a carrier to an individual that might have an underlying condition that could result in some serious complications, if not death.

You yourself seem very "removed from the actual debate".

The vast majority of people who contract the disease do not die from it. Only a minority suffer serious symptoms. As financial ruin becomes a very real prospect most people will decide that small risk to strangers will be an acceptable trade-off. After all, we have accepted similar bargains in many other areas of life.
That said, this is not an all or nothing question. There is much we can do to limit the spread of the virus without a hard shut down. Masks will help (though we need to get a lot more of them out there), so will maintaining social distancing standards in businesses as they reopen. Ditto continuing work-from-home policies in workplaces where that's feasible. and some sorts of mass spectator events-- sports and concerts-- will remain off the table.

@JonF - only a 'minority of people' die from playing Russian roulette. With Covid-19, a chimeric disease Made In China (fact, not fiction), about 20% of people suffer enough to go to the hospital, 5% suffer seriously (possibly life long) and 2-3% die. Don't listen to Polly Annas like Cat In the Hat who think life is cheap. A longer, "Greek Style" lockdown is just what America needs.

assuming your priors above, It would seem your agenda is to keep as many people terrified as long as possible, destroy as much of the economy as possible, and then profit. You cite some of the highest reputable estimates that have been suggested since the pandemic began, and make no note of the fact that more people are beginning to consider the possibility that those were over-estimates, perhaps by a factor of ten. There is a sort of James-Bond style villainy to your thinking.

@mdl - you flatter me by comparing me to a James Bond villain--Goldfinger would be my favorite --and further by suggesting I can shape public opinion with my posts here. My C-19 analogy would be this: those penguins that are afraid to enter the water because leopard seals or killer whales will eat the first one in. Which one goes in first? They need to eat, but nobody wants to die. Same with C-19 and 'herd immunity'. While it's true that 80% of people with C-19 will have no symptoms, and if we infect 60% of the population there will be herd immunity that will allow C-19 to die out, do you feel lucky, punk? Well do you? How do you know, young person, you won't be in that 20% bucket and further you might be in the dead bucket? I'm athletic and healthy but twice I almost died from high-altitude sickness since I lack the gene needed for high-altitude. Same with C-19, those athletes that died come to mind.

Bonus trivia: I rewatched Casion Royale (2006 Bond film) last night, and had no idea that the ending actually was a 'story arc' that reappeared in the next Bond film, who's screenplay was written at the same time. It was a good film, and the 'weeping eye' villain was a chess player, which I could relate to. Muaaahahaha!

This is why Ray is the best commenter Cowen has.

The solution is to tie a bell around the cat's neck.

If a million people are financially ruined or put out of work long-term, how many will commit suicide, rob a bank, beat their wives to death, etc., etc.?

In San Diego county, pop. just over 3 million, there have been just over fifty deaths from the disease, roughly half of them in assisted care or elderly homes. Including even these deaths , that works out to roughly one death to 60,000 population. It just doesn't add up to destroy the economy on the FEAR, that the virus will return and return at a worse rate.

Hey Ray, you're in the Philippines, right?

You might have written elsewhere but what's going on there? Economically, policy wise, strictness of shelter in place?

Follow-up question, would you prefer the Philippines and the US to pursue different public health policies? If so, why?

(No ulterior motive here, just interested in perspectives)


@Veobaum - no, I was en route to the PH from Greece, my flight got grounded in GR due to C-19, and now I'm in a remote part of GR, completely self-sufficient, with some farmer friends. My girl is in PH (outside of Manila, at our farm house) and it's a complete lockdown, like in GR, you need permission from a gov't official to go shopping (we in GR are friends with the local police so it's not a big deal for me but with her it is).
As for PH 'healthcare' it's Third World, primitive, but cheap and for routine stuff good. In the USA health care is expensive due to grey market patent policies (Google this, the USA subsidizes the rest of the world in patented medications), and Baumol's cost disease. In GR I pay $100 a month for 'decent' middle-income country health care (I'd not want to be treated for cancer in GR, though they do send you to Germany for severe cases). PH health care is dirt cheap ($5 a visit) and for routine stuff like vaccines is great.

> about 20% of people suffer enough to go to the hospital

About 20% of a certain age group. An 85 year old is 42X more likely than a 30 year old to need the hospital if infected.

We should have kept kids at college and let them sweat it out in dorms. Strange that the most robust group and undistanced (and likely most infected group) was told to go home and bring all the germs they were carrying to mom and dad and the grandparents.

But our colleges could not be burdened with the trouble. They looked out only for themselves and not for society. But they told everyone "they were doing it for the kids"

Plus, as soon as you got the kids off campus, you didn't have to pay a dime if they got sick.

@Ray. It's not 20% of the people who are infected who are hospitalized. It's 20% of those who were tested and registered as positive. Most of those who are tested have serious symptoms to begin with. A large cohort of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic are not tested.

Says you Cat. It's your conspiracy theory of C-19 users who are asymptotic. Actually this is true for many viral diseases, I think I saw once that there was 50? times the number of polio victims as actual recorded victims. Even it is said some people have survived rabies more than the reported 4? such people. But, like any speculative or 'metaphysical' hypothesis, it's difficult to prove. For example, I can show you strong circumstantial evidence that C-19 virus is a chimeric virus released in Wuhan (probably by accident) but I can't prove it. Same with your hypothesis. Maybe in the future, once they have widespread antibody testing for C-19, you can prove your hypothesis.

Polioviruses: 95% of people (with the virus) in USA were affected benignly (no obvious symptoms).
"Ratio of inapparent to clinical polio infections in New York City was more than a hundred to one in the 1940."
Salk vaccine 1955 (from killed viruses, injected).
Sabin vaccine 1960 (from attenuated live viruses, oral).

Russian roulette is a pretty bad analogy. There's nothing necessary about playing Russian roulette. The better analogy is driving: we know a certain number of traffic deaths (and severe injuries) will occur, and we have tacitly agreed to accept that because driving is a necessity. And yes, there are things a person can do to reduce their risk (use seatbelts) and also reduce the risk they will cause accidents (don't drink and drive; keep the cell phone put away) .

The issue with 'the median voter will not die of coronavirus' and that it's that simple, is a bit like guessing that education will be de-funded because the median voter is not a child - people have children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces.

Median voter is going to predict fairly well when you have some socially isolated who are socially separated, not very well liked and not strong in numbers. But when your small group who are affected is connected strongly into the majority, I am less sure.

It is notable that in countries like Denmark or Austria that are re-opening, the discussion is not framed in a way that suggests who cares about a few more dead parents or grandparents, the business of business is business.

My friend's daughter is married to a Dane. He sent me a news story about the schools opening today.

Tyler: I agree that we should end the lockdown. Also, I just posted an article saying social social distancing should go into 2022 and I called that article realistic thinking.
Also Tyler: We should reopen because the mob says we should.

Full disclosure, I agree with the mob.

When did Tyler said "I agree that we should end the lockdown"?
I missed that one.

damn it. typo. *not* end the lockdown.

You might want to listen to the Osterholm podcasts:

They will be putting out a report on how to open up the economy this week.

Yes. Too much of the opposition to re-opening comes from people who are relatively wealthy, and work in jobs that can be done from home, and/or believe their academic or government jobs and lifestyle are secure. This economic seppuku is catastrophic.

We are close to, perhaps already past, the point where the lesser evil is to open up and take the hit.

So would you have government do the opposite -- make people work? Or are you just saying that in addition to dropping lockdowns and work restrictions, government should also be encouraging people to get back to work?

I think there's some truth to this, but then I see news reports of Amazon warehouse workers protesting against working. Surely, they're not part of the relatively wealthy who can work from home. I think the desire to avoid getting and spreading this virus is stronger and more widespread than your comment suggests.

I believe they were protesting against lack of protection in the workplace. Sensible measures should be applied at work and some businesses are more problematic, restaurants come to mind.
Most of these protections are common sense and inexpensive to implement

With unemployemnt benefits being so high it would take a great deal to entice those on benefits to return, and those who aren't on them probably wouldn't mind being in on the deal.
Still, you start to ease restrictions (or really, let localities decide what is best for them) and then let people make up their mind. In time, incentives will change and people will react accordingly.

The really tough question will be when to open up international travel. People can imagine their unemployed neighbor and be willing to take some risk to get them back to work.

We need employment (and securing our supply chains) more than we need to see some piazza in Lombardy or see an exotic food market in Asia ... or see Sweden.

"Restarting the economy", a euphemism that follows two earlier gems coined by academic ecomomists: "pausing the economy", and "economic hiatus". It's as if they are viewing things through a 19th century lens: the ecomony being like some powerful locomotive, stuck on the tracks because of a washout, a broken piston or blown boiler. Or a band of Indians wating around the bend.

Maybe consider a more modern analogy, such as a jumbo jet in free fall. You debate when to restart the engines without considering that one of the wings has already come off.

You analogy is inapt, unless you feel America is past the point of no return: once a wing comes off a jumbo jet, you're doomed.

Bonus trivia: you can actually land a jumbo jet, even a B-747, with no engine power, just like a glider, a professional pilot once told me.

You can only land that jumbo jet if you have a readily available 2mile long runway. They are in short supply along the route of a jumbo jet.

John is just looking for words. He's not offering any specifics.

Maybe he is selling body bags and this is one way to make a living.

No Bill. I was doing my best to call bullshit on those who term the economy being "paused" or in a "hiatus", neither of which describe free fall.

Well, then your choice of the word "freefall"
is maybe something that may not describe the economy.

How about controlled descent.

But, then, John, tell me what
The other world would look like
If we did little or nothing, and
If we were like Italy.
Would you call that heaven?


Words without specifics just become flypaper for the lazy mind.

What is wrong with the analogy is Trump has killed the businesses he has favored and who have given him power, and is now struggling to figure out how to restart the rent seeker businesses, eg landlord revenues like golf fees, hotel rental, burning land, especially Federal land (fossil fuels).

Trump's enemies, the leftists like Bezos and those imitating Bezos, are making a killing in increasing their customer bases, making huge investments in their futures.

Trump is taking America back to the pre-WWII economy when consumers depended on stuff being delivered to them instead of going to the businesses. I grew up when the US economy was changing to favor distant businesses instead of being local, with distant businesses going to the customer where they lived. FDR and WWII was the end of the era of the peddler in the US. But, the Amazon of 1900 had already modernized peddling into big business by sending out catalogs and then using the Post Office to make deliveries direct to customers.

Walmart, Target, et al are going what Montgomery Wards, et al did in reaction to Sears and Roebuck growth.

Note, RFD Parcel Post from 1913 onward was their biggest asset, just as USPS has been Amazon's biggest asset. Remember, books get favored treatment in postal rates if you accept slow delivery. Netflix needed USPS "book rate", renamed Media Mail. And no business wants to store stuff, so the more of something any business gets, the faster it wants to get rid of it.

The other businesses gaining share are long lived energy capital which requires paying few workers once built, eg, hydro, wind, solar, storage. Fossil fuels are labor intensive, and thus suffer if in excess. Trump has been trying to create energy scarcity, but instead has only created excess.

Sorry Koch brothers.

i think most people knew there was a trade off: lives don’t have infinite value, but just like you don’t badmouth the deceased at the funeral, early on it wasn’t the right time to tally the costs.
Now it is. For most people ( 90% +) this virus is not threatening
There’s a lot of lives significantly upended by the quarantine. Places like NewYork, should reopen by May 3, at least partially. They will be likely close to 20% immune by then. Make masks mandatory and use precaution . They probably reduce Ro by 50% or more. I don’t want to mention tests. They seemed to have been mired in so many problems, I have given up on them. We don’t do tests well here. Just assume everyone with Covid—19 symptoms has it period.

In order for the nation to heal NYC probably needs to stay closed until October. You don’t get to close down the entire nations economy with terrible decision making and then bounce back right at the same time as everyone else. The US has NYC’s back when we didn’t quarantine the city. NYC can’t be allowed to kick off another wave of this. Long term lockdown for NYC.

"Long term lockdown for NYC."

Safest course since 35% of the cases and deaths come from NY, mainly NYC.

If you take NY, NJ, New Orleans and Detroit out, this is a much smaller problem.

Probably needs to stay shut indefinitely.

I mean they just found 3700 dead cv2 victims yesterday.

By October 40 million NYC coronavirus deaths is certainly possible given how they count.

Safest course is to just never let these zombies out of their lairs.

Shouldn't we nuke NYC just to be safe?

If it will save just one life I’m willing to consider it. Life is just so so so so precious.

Only if it can be done from orbit- for purely aesthetic reasons.

I think this documentary covers the safest approach to handling the NYC crisis:

> They seemed to have been mired in so many problems, I have given up on them. We don’t do tests well here.

Nobody is doing tests well. The root problem is the rate of error is much greater than the rate of incidence.

In an election, if if 0.01% of your votes are invalid and a candidate wins by 0.0004% (Bush v Gore), then you have a big problem.

With Covid, roughly 0.1% of the total population is infected but 10% of your tests are invalid.

In both cases your margin of victory must far exceed your margin of error.

it's not just the sensitivity and the specificity and the problem of correct results when the population has low incidence. The whole process was lengthy and difficult. Often it takes days to get results
Numerous posts by Tyler and Alex on this topic.

It's not open the economy or keep it shut. How about gradual, careful re-opening where you can, with extra precautions like masks and distancing measures in stores? I don't see the harm. And yes, this virus isn't dangerous enough to wait for the last infected person to be cured before we re-open anything at all.

True, you can end "stay at home" orders without reopening businesses, and you can reopen most workplaces without reopening bars and restaurants.

You can perhaps re-open bars and restaurants soon with a rule saying that the maximal allowed occupancy is one third what it is in normal times (plus rules that parties must be 6 feet apart). Then progressively make one third be one half, two third and one.

You can reopen schools without reopening bars and restaurants, etc.

Has anybody solved the problem of how kids are little germ spreaders?

Anyone is a germ spreader. You need to separate the children from their grandparents. This is challenging in some families, but not most families.

You also have high-risk parents. High-risk in the sense that it is fatal to them. That is truly challenging in some families. In general, children are not going to abide by social distancing requirements. Viral load and child-to-adult transmission are fair questions to ask. I do not have those answers.

It's low hanging fruit to keep schools closed until September since we've pretty much already destroyed what was left of this school year. After that, you can try widespread daily testing in schools, mask-wearing, and hand hygiene enforced by teachers.

From what we've seen in my state, lockdown has decreased horizontal transfers between unrelated clusters to negligible levels. The remaining new cases we're seeing are intra-household transmissions from those already sick and unavoidable high risk activities (going to dialysis, nursing home, or chemotherapy).

Even something like driving a grandparent to/from dialysis and nursing home is enough to get you sick.

I am not sure it’s a big problem because nearly all of the ones under 10 will be asymptomatic, and probably not carrying a high viral load. In Wuhan, they noted it was hard to find a child testing positive for the virus. They weren’t many. This might suggest they’re not infectious for long and are not the main vectors.
This needs to be studied more.

That suggests that kids are immune. Which would mean it should be ok to reopen schools.

I think the evidence supports that. I'm still not aware of any cases of child-to-adult transmission.

Hazel, no, children transmit. Look up the Lancet article on this.

Well if they're immune, they're probably just moving virus from point A to point B. Strict Handwashing, supervised by the schools, might reduce that substantially. Again, we need data on whether they are immune or asymtomatic.

+1, that's news to me.

Schools are a moot point: We'll keep them closed until end of the session, and by August we'll have a lot more data about other partial reopenings.

Now would be a great time to revisit the concept of having a 3 month school vacation in summer. Kids got a vacation in April, let them continue the school year through june or july to make up for it.


What needs to happen is widespread distribution of personal protective equipment. At that point, we might revert to social distancing regulations in public places and a 'no-mask-no-gloves-no-service' rule in public transit. The bans could continue on mass gatherings and, especially, group singing in any gathering.

And that air-cheek-kissing thing should be verboten in polite society.

No cheek kissing, fewer handshakes, masks worn much more often all the time (like in parts of Asia), washing hands more frequently, etc.

Plenty of common sense things can be done to get some things open again.

But, by the same token, rescinding the orders does not necessarily get everyone out of the house and back to buying. It does not inherently get businesses to re-hire; a small firm might at first prefer to limp along with a low burn-rate rather than recommitt to pay furloughed employees to serve fewer customers. Most of what looked like a reasonable gamble before now looks like a sure loser.

And how much rent and thus the mortgages maybe still don't get paid, and the large non-linear harms may occur anyway. As it is illegal to evict non-payers, the least-paid are just not going to leave, and no one will take their place.

You're gayer than Liberace's hot tub.

Instead of using the term "Restarting the Economy" or Lockdown.

Let's look at specifics....Otherwise, you are just reacting to words.

I agree, it's not all or nothing. Let's do some sensible things to get moving again.

Yes, start a phase approach of relaxing the restrictions in areas that are doing pretty well. Maybe let things ride for a couple more weeks.

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another. Similarly, old businesses never die, they just have a different owner. In the case of Cowen's preferred big business, that's obvious: they are reorganized (via an acquisition or bankruptcy). In the case of Cowen's preferred small restaurants: they are resurrected (same principals, new entity, clean slate). Cowen likes "disruption". The pandemic is causing disruption in business on an unprecedented scale, eliminating the weak and invigorating the strong. Isn't this a good thing?

Invigorating the strong? Is Disney weak?

Survival of the fittest (or what's most important). How important is Disney World? America invests way too much in entertainment and (obviously) not nearly enough in the threat of a pandemic, or climate change, or, more immediate, infrastructure. Yesterday, Tabarrok alerted us to one-time real threats that would be catastrophic, but for which we invest, well, nothing. Yet, American investors have invested trillions in so-called tech, most of which is nothing more than glorified advertising. If anything good can come of this mess, it's a sober look at so-called tech.

Infrastructure? Perhaps America should have never allowed subways, most airports and interstates to be built. Were any of those things important when they were built are even necessary today? You could make the argument that we have spent too much on infrastructure. Less travel, less pandemic and less infrastructure is a way to not get there.

… says the guy debating strangers on a blog site....

'we won’t let that happen, no matter how many times someone tells you “there is no trade-off between money and lives.”'

I hope you're right.

Lyman Stone knows how to get attention. Say something outlandish in an opening tweet, and then explain a couple tweets later that you are not really ending as much as you are proposing:

Cancel school. Restrict large assemblies. Require masks in public. Have excessively generous UI. Test extensively. Trace aggressively. Quarantine centrally.

That's more a creation of policy than an end of one.

And I betcha that many of the people who are "with" Lyman on the first tweet don't read that far.

If economists are too far removed from the actual debate, then it must be child's play to dismiss epidemiologists or other public health figures.

Or even more amusingly, to ignore how various EU countries are reopening, after not having anywhere near the same employment/economic problems, as they have a wide variety of automatic stabilizers, many of them improved since the last crash - in 2008. Along with having developed better testing and tracing capabilities, so as to monitor and contain the clusters that will undoubtedly continue to occur into the foreseeable future.

And is someone walking back their casual assurance of America's get up and go gumption? The contrast between "spurs America to become more innovative more quickly with masks, testing, and other methods of reducing viral and economic risk" and the March 9 post titled 'America is historically slow to mobilize, but eventually quite effective' quite illuminating. Seems a bit late to be more effective in the New York region, and with the virus starting its spread in the DC region (particularly in Maryland and DC), probably a bit late to spur the sort of innovation that the fix it now crowd was hoping for on March 14.

Prior_approval probably thought he had a point in mind when he first started typing his comment.

But like the homeless man on the street corner ranting about aliens, in the end it was always really only about the speaker’s mental illness

+1, yes that comment is just a rambling mess

New York region, and with the virus starting its spread in the DC region (particularly in Maryland and DC),

Thanks for the wishcast.

Emergency room visits in Northern Virginia peaked on 28 March.

Which just might be due to the fact that Virginia's governor is a MD, who was one of the first to shut things down on the East Coast, which I was told by someone in Va Beach this weekend. Virginia was not mentioned - it was DC and Maryland. Whose governor is saying his state is expecting a challenging few weeks.

Well said, Tyler. We will start going back to work and normal life, with or without the government, even in places like Michigan. Smart politicians will help, dumb ones will dig in, just like they are doing with face masks, hydroxychloroquine, and most other things. The spontaneous order will be Swedish. Those wanting 18 months of lockdown will howl at the moon. The press will do their 'Trump has blood on his hands' routine. The dogs will bark, the caravan will move on. Thus sayeth the model.

We have a framework for making resource vs. lives trade-offs: Statistical Value of Life (VSL). Note that VSL, in the US, is very generous in that it is x10 greater than our capacity to pay off. But this is the framework that we have.

A 1st order calculation with this value and a projection for the number of deaths, the age profile of those who will die shows that our policy is off by one to two orders of magnitude.

Add in to the model the expected years of life of those that would die due to their comorbidities and we may be off by another order of magnitude.

Add in the to the model that the total number of deaths does not go from N to 0 with a lockdown and the model shows another half of an order of magnitude.

This is insanity of the highest order. Without exaggeration this is the greatest policy mistake in history.

'Without exaggeration this is the greatest policy mistake in history.'
The leaders that started WWI are shaking their heads in wonder at that sentence. Particularly as the 1918 pandemic was just one part of their policy mistake.

Some people are even old enough to remember the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It was a powder keg, many historians think it would have happened within the decade regardless of what you think set it off.

This is not "without exaggeration...the greatest policy mistake in history."

The policy his government followed was the main source of that powder keg, whether looking over the longer, middle, or short term (mobilization plans back in the 1880s, naval build up, or responding to an assassination in the Balkans).

Greatest policy mistakes in history were made by groups who have been genocided from the earth. Like if you thought it would be a good idea for your little town to oppose Khan or the Sumerians.

But this ranks up there :)

It is time when all politicians on the campaign trail shake hands with hundreds of voters every day.

That's definitely a norm that's gonna change.

Congrats, it only took you 4+ weeks to stop with the navel gazing arguments over near useless models and recognize that lockdowns are not a real mid to long term strategy.

From Lyman Stone:
"Cancel school. Restrict large assemblies. Require masks in public. Have excessively generous UI. Test extensively. Trace aggressively. Quarantine centrally."

"But maybe don’t fine people for reading a book on the park like DC is doing."

"The whole paradigm of “lockdowns are extremely costly but they are a surefire way to reduce spread!”"

"Countries without lockdowns like Sweden have also had sharp downturns, and none the most successful control cases (Korea, Taiwan, HK) used lockdowns!"

I agree with all of this, but my sense is that we're still missing the key to these other countries' successes -- lots of masks, lots of tests, systems for identifying and isolating likely carriers.

I think we're getting there and some states are trying to do this on their own, but if you want to know why I rail against Trump's and the federal government's response, it's because they've wasted time to put these things in place.

For those who think we don't need these things to lift the lockdown, you should consider the fact that the economy was already starting to crater *before* states' started shutting down things. People were responding to concerns about the virus, and I suspect they will continue to have concerns about getting sick and spreading the virus. Having a rigorous testing system to identify and isolate the infected will likely go a long way to get people to also be willing to go back out once governments lift bans.

" sense is that we're still missing the key to these other countries' successes -- lots of masks, lots of tests, systems for identifying and isolating likely carriers."

Japan has tested the least and not much in the way for identifying and isolating carriers yet after two months with coronavirus has had 130 deaths. People did begin to wear masks in Tokyo much more from mid January when the outbreak in Wuhan was known and of course Japanese almost never touch strangers by shaking hands or kissing and instead bow or nod - the "eshaku".

Maybe the U.S. could start to get past that apex Cuomo has been talking about being at for more than a week first.

Along with the U.S. strengthening its public health resources, so as to effectively test, trace, and quarantine those who are spreading the virus. Like Denmark or Austria, who are already reopening.

At some point, irreversible, non-linear economic damage sets in, and we won’t let that happen, no matter how many times someone tells you “there is no trade-off between money and lives.”

Weren't you just saying a couple of weeks ago that there was no tradeoff between money and lives?

I'll assume this is not a rhetorical question, so... Yes, Tyler did:

Right ... plus a series of posts talking about how countries that had more aggressive interventions during the Spanish Influenza fared better economically. So is Tyler reversing himself?

Tyler was briefly so terrified that he forgot he works at George Mason and not Harvard.

I think it's that they were all worried that David Henderson was going to get it and die, but then Henderson came out as adamantly *against* the lockdowns.

"You can see from this Chicago poll of top economists that virtually all of them oppose an early reopening."
A group of people almost completely insulated from the economic hardship of the shutdown don't want an early opening. Shocking.

"The key is to come up with a better reopening rather than a worse reopening."
Yeah, good suggestion...

Yeah, wait until colleges start closing and laying off professors because there are no more Chinese grad students.

Colleges and their professors would be bailed out before they even had to touch their endowments. No way the left is losing their primary subversion tool.

Here's a novel idea, why don't we let the people decide when they're ready to get back to work instead of a political and academic class who has been wrong about every facet of this manufactured crisis?

Hi Tyler,

Thank you for all your insightful blogs!

I think we need to consider how the population could be segmented to as to implement a gradual and rapid re-start.

Anyone who has already had the virus and is over it should get back to work ASAP!!!

Young, healthy, low-risk people need to get back to work ASAP.

We need these people to get back to work and hold up the economy until everyone else can be brought back on board.

I'm inspired about the QR code system I'm hearing about from China to distinguish ppl who are good to go vs. those who need to be self isolating.

Below is a message my (awesome) grandmother forwarded me from a colleague of her's in China.

April 10 2020

Hi ABC, I am glad you ask.

In short, yes, I believe the worst is over. At least for us in China. Looking at the numbers, I think the US is reaching the peak also.. Europe has already peaked . It will become easier from here onwards.

I live in Wuxi, some 130 km West of Shanghai. It is a city of 6.5 million including suburbs.

China can not be viewed as one entity with regards to the corona virus. Hubei province had tens of thousands of cases. The rest of the country much fewer. Wuxi is in Jiangsu province (80 mill people). Jiangsu hade 631 confirmed cases, 55 deaths. Wuxi had zero deaths. In the last 5 week we have had 1 confirmed case in Wuxi. For now it is OVER but it might flare up again of course.

At school, we returned G9 and G12 students to school 2 weeks ago. We added G7, G8 and G10 this week. On Monday we add G4-6. Jiangsu is one of the first provinces in China to open schools. Effectively we are acting as guinea pigs to try the systems. If we can open safely, without a spike in infections, the rest of the country will follow. Beijing and Shanghai being the most conservative since they are transport hubs and are most vounerable. In 7-14 days we will know if we have managed to open schools without a spike in infections. We have very rigorous systems in place.

A different perspective. When infections in Hubei province kicked off Jiangsu Province closed all access roads. Wuxi became a fortress. Imagine a city of 6.5 million people and only ONE access road open. All people in Wuxi started wearing masks, we still do. All non essential business closed.

It took 2 weeks to stop the exponential increase of infections. Wuxi maxed out at 60 infections. At that point businesses began opening slowly. People were issued a QR code; green, orange or red. Green meaning you had been in Wuxi 2 weeks without symptoms. Red meaning you had either just arrived or you had symptoms. ALL workplaces n shops and housing complexes ask to scan your code every time you enter. Green = enter. Red = go home and stay at home for 14 days. We still use these codes today. I am scanned minimum 2 times/day, at school and at home.

After an additional 4 weeks the number of new infections had zeroed and all infected cases had recovered. At that point pretty much all businesses opened except for schools. We still had measures such as extra spacing between tables in restaurants. Starbucks only allowing 20 customers at the time inside the restaurant, etc.

We worked online for 8 weeks. Teachers put in about 130% of normal time to make the system work .. but it did work ... we did everything from assemblies, morning registration, live lessons, assessments, personal tutoring, PSHE, counselling ... every thing online ... our students are achieving better test scores than before. Learning online has been effective, differentiated and well assessed. It took ALOT of individual coaching the first couple of weeks to get teachers into the right frame ... adapting their approaches, their material, their communication strstegies and their assessment strategies. I worked 80 hours / week for 2 weeks to motivate and coach staff who at that time were located all over the globe.

And additional 4 weeks passes, all teachers have arrived back to China and we begin opening schools. In our case we allowed back 46 students in G9 to test the systems. Our total school population is 1300. A total of 10 weeks have now passed.

Cleaning ALL spaces 3 times / day. Cleaning classroom desks between each lesson. Face masks. Handgels. Desks arranged in individual rows. Students eating at individual tables. Libraries and auditoriums out of bounds. Limited PE activities. 1 meter spacing between students as they line up in the corridor. Temperature checks at the gate in the morning. Temperature checks at lunch. Temperature checks at 4 pm and 9 pm for boarding students. Etc etc ... Really very strict.

That is where we are today. Life is pretty much normal again in the sense that I no longer worry, I do all activities I normally do. But I do wear a mask, I do scan my code every day, I do make teachers and students comply with rigorous rules for at least 2 more weeks.

Draconian some people will say. Yes, I agree ... but then no child lost their grandmother in Wuxi, health services were not overwhelmed in Wuxi and we all feel safe to live in Wuxi and go about our business. At the moment we look at other countries and we ask "why are their governments not doing enough to protect the people?".

Warm regards,

These are exactly the sort of steps we should be taking, and the sort of conversation we should be having. I'm very dispirited by the lack of planning for how we should open back up. So much energy is being used debating open vs. shut in absolute terms. It's maddening.

Like I said above, it's not binary and yet most of the 'debate' is just shouting 'end the lockdown' vs shouting 'no we cannot end the lockdown'


James Franco on the gallows:

“First time?”

> So much energy is being used debating open vs. shut in absolute terms.
> It's maddening.

Agree wholeheartedly. It seems to be entirely a partisan thing. Whenever I suggest that there certainly must be some reasonable middle ground that we can find, people look at me like I have two heads.

More evidence for my "poisoned the well" theory of why compromise in American politics is no longer possible. Everyone now sees everything through partisan lenses. People like Robin Hanson who avoid position taking are vanishingly rare.

The parts of the economy dependent on people being in close quarters with each other aren’t coming back anyway until there is a vaccine or effective treatment. So I am not sure how much shelter in place orders change the number of cases, nor how much they change employment levels. Maybe retail jobs lie in the sweet spot of businesses that are closed because of government orders but that people would still visit in sufficient numbers if there weren’t the orders. But I am not sure that there are all too many businesses like that.

This is a lie under forty people will immediately return. Are boomers gonna get to have less fun- maybe but I think I speak for everyone when I laugh joyously in their faces.

Boomers should start hoarding puzzles and sudoko. We might check in on skype but then again with drastically reduced ticket prices I imagine a lot of us are going to be super busy.

What percentage of people under 40 work somewhere where they will be sent home from work if they have a cough? How many people under 40 live with someone with a job like that?

Are restaurants even profitable with only half of their usual volume of business?

Also, what percentage of Americans under 40 are obese, have diabetes, or are immunocompromised? Not an immaterial number.

A virus
Is neither red nor blue
It just does
What it wants to do.

Reopen with science.
If you have a proposal,
Be prepared to show it
With the evidence.

Words like reopen and lock down
Mean nothing
Without context and evidence.

Won’t the government simply force nonessential businesses to “stop time”? No mortgage payments, no insurance payments, no commercial loan payments? The government can bail out the lenders and insurers from the top. Should cost “only” a few trillion per month I reckon.

IMO your take is entirely too pessimistic when it comes to the market. Trust that the market is pricing things correctly for a big pause. This is a war, a legitimate crisis, and unprecedented measures should be taken, it seems to me!

The hammer and the dance remains the way forward, and we must use the great pause to get close to zero new cases if we want to emerge from this as quickly and cheaply as possible, so it seems to me at least!

The way to make these shutdowns more palatable to people is to place all of something like $40 Trillion in federal government assets into a public corporation and pay dividends to American citizens during these shutdowns and/or during recessions and the like. Zoltan Istvan has proposed doing this to finance a UBI independent of tax base.

“Will the economy open up prematurely?”

Being as it should have already been opened back up . . .


For my part, when I was arguing early on that we shouldn't even close it in the first place, .... I'm kinda getting used to this working from home thing.

I have to say, this has been the most enjoyable springtime for me in many years. Being at home each day, I can walk around the back yard every morning and observe each new flower as it blooms. It seems to go by so slowly. The yellow blossoming bushes and daffodils seem to have lasted forever. The cherry trees blossoming a bit more day by day. The tulips are just starting to emerge. Normally, I would get a few minutes each day driving by these things and then by the time I got home I would have no time to enjoy them before day, since I would have to cook dinner. On the nice days I go out back on the deck and eat lunch and observe the wildlife. My husband just informed me that the neighbors shed has a family of foxes living under it with six babies.

I didn't want this shutdown to start, but damn .... I never want it to end!

I'm working from home, right next to a window with a view of green grass, trees and the sound of children playing. Way, way better than the office.

Yes, same for me. I was also against the shut-down from the beginning,
and I am still against it, but personally I enjoy it -- maybe it is because it is not strict in MA. You are allowed to walk and enjoy the spring (just beginning here) as much as you want. If I were in NYC or Paris, where you are only allowed to go out for buying food, and not further than one kilometer to your home, I would become crazy.

"At some point, irreversible, non-linear economic damage sets in, and we won’t let that happen." I'm sure we don't want to let that happen but I'm don't see any indication that people are thinking enough moves ahead to have any idea when it will happen or if it already has. When your favorite local restaurant on Main Street or in the strip mall goes out of business before The Olive Garden does, it's not only because The Olive Garden is in better position to withstand a shutdown. It's also because the The Olive Garden is larger and much less nimble. It will take it longer to see the writing on the wall and then will have levels of management with their jobs riding on making the outlook look better than it is. But the truth is that this hits The Olive Garden exactly the same way that it hits the local restaurant. And before long, these large chains are going to start shutting down as well. And when they're shut down, there goes their advertising dollars and then there go the media outlets. Absolutely nobody is forecasting the shockwaves that are coming. There seems to be this basic assumptions that there are sectors/jobs that are impacted and others that aren't. Just because you think you're fine doing your job from home doesn't mean there's going to be someone willing to pay you to do it 6 months.

The government announces the lockdown is over and people come running out of their houses? You have chicken farms destroying young chicks because of high absentee rates. No government is keeping those workers from working. How will that change in the short run? Until people feel safe, many will prefer unemployment to the risk of disease.

Fear and uncertainty have entered the marketplace so how many people are just dying for the chance to buy a new pair of shoes at the mall. Instead, people are, it appears. limiting spending to essentials. Fear of employers going under is constraining spending and until people feel some optimism about the future how do you get them to get their money out from under the bed?

Until people are certain the Wicked Witch is dead, they will, to a large degree, remain in what they consider a safe place.

Have you hard people say, I just spent four weeks locked down, I'm going to Disneyland!

If the models are right, a big if, then the beginning of June looks like a time when new cases will have dropped to very low levels. Perhaps some therapeutics might be found effective. Perhaps we will have a better idea of what is going on and testing will be working. Perhaps protective gear will be available. Perhaps a miracle will occur.

I live in an area where the outbreak has been mild, so far, but the fear is still very real. There remains a certain randomness to many deaths. No treatments are really effective for those who fall ill.

I am a bit shocked that Tyler seems to be supporting YoYo policies that he once said was the worse option.

And age of iron and steel is coming and despite being an old fatty himself cowen knows better than to throw his lot in with boomers. Boomers are gonna be longing for the days when the national guard was the biggest of their problems.

You are so amazingly brave in the face of the pandemic. You must be a first responder working in health care every day helping people. Or just getting high in mommy's basement.

talk about a forecast that needs critiquing!

[phone rings]

Pollster: hi are you a bar owner?

Bar owner: I was.

Pollster: what happens if the shut down lasts six months?

Bar owner: i’ll be totally screwed.

Pollster: I’ll mark that as ‘out of business’.

If the government gives everyone $40,000 and waives mortgage payments, we can all laugh at how stoopid this survey was

Pollster: hey boomer how fat are you?

Boomer: I haven’t seen my dick in twelve years.

Pollster: sucks for you shutdowns over.

Are really proud of you, and can hardly wait to die so you get your F-U money.

Lol my parents are fit (Mom played college basketball dad is a big runner) and understand that life ends eventually. They are good decent people who appreciate that they lived lives of extreme abundance in a basically idyllic period of American history. They are willing to assume a tiny risk to their health in order for the economy not to be destroyed.

I get that you are clearly extremely envious of me- but the suggestion that I want my parents to die is laughable.

I want fat angry boomers like you to die but not of Chinaflu I hope you waste away slowly consuming whatever meager assets as your family grows more and more resentful and puts more and more pressure on you to just die already.

Thiago or Ray Lopez?

Or maybe the CMG

We are all CMG!

"If the government gives everyone $40,000 and waives mortgage payments, we can all laugh at how stoopid this survey was"

Because it would trigger a collapse of the dollar?

Whatever else, it'll bend the curve

1. Is Tyler suggesting that people be forced to use these small business products and services? Regardless of what the government does, I’m not walking into a movie theater, museum, restaurant or hotel for quite a while, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Also, if you have a white collar job, or a good chance of returning to one, odds are that remote work will become rapidly more feasible, if it isn’t already. As for part time and contract workers, why would they return to risky employment environments when they can collect enhanced unemployment for several months (assuming the enhancements are processed)? In light of the many obvious downsides, the fact that Washington has enormous spending capacity, and the reality that there isn’t a clear connection between a near term reopening, and a near term rebound, the premature re-openers don’t have much of a case (Lyman Stone makes a number of sensible points, but he also makes optimistic assumptions about individual and organizational behavior in the absence of lockdown, plus present government capacity for things like test/trace/quarantine).

2. Additionally, today’s constrained economic environment is tailor made to encourage much higher levels of investment in AI, automation, robots etc. - precisely the technologies that are supposed to break the world out of its low productivity slump (a big boost to public R&D spending would be appropriate). Equally, it’s an opportunity to develop and launch ideas for how government and social structures can respond to the plausible threat of large scale employment displacement driven by technological change. These long term benefits need to be weighed against the, admittedly gargantuan, short term costs.

3. Moreover, in light of the frequently abysmal public sector responses to C-19 - notably, but not exclusively, in America - we are very lucky to be in our current situation. Things could, plausibly, be so much worse, and the baseline for upcoming decisions should be preserving and improving the status quo, rather than seeking dramatic economic progress.

4. Furthermore, unless motivated by truly deranged partisanship, financially secure and reasonably intelligent people will be doing strict social distancing for quite a while. Consequently, the human cost of re-opening with inadequate preparation will be borne by the less informed, less wise, and more economically vulnerable parts of the population.

5. Also, one way to reduce fiscal re-opening pressures is to loosen physical-distancing requirements on wealthy households, in a highly controlled manner. For example, I imagine there are plenty of very rich people who would pay millions of dollars to see private concerts in attractive public venues. And this idea could be carried down to the level of movie theaters, with patrons paying enough to make it worthwhile for the business or non-profit to re-open for small groups in a healthy manner. Ironclad legal waivers could ease operational burdens, and governments could charge exorbitant fees for the right to access restricted venues. Events could be live-streamed with free public access, truly private occasions could be purchased at much higher rates, and complaints about inequality could be ameliorated by publicizing the weekly tax revenue.

6. Finally, a socially responsible response to C-19, plus smart investments along the way, will cost many trillions of dollars. I think we should just accept that the national debt may surge to 150% of GDP over the next twelve months, and focus on spending and investing the money as effectively as possible (ie: Chief Justice Roberts should quietly let Trump know that he will never again vote in the administration’s favor if the president keeps sacking inspector generals).

Your suggestion re wealthy individuals is already here:

I commented on this paper on twitter a couple days ago. As a small business owner myself, part of the problem is the "help" that we're getting. As I said in my tweets:

"Most businesses in the survey are applying for help from the CARES Act, but there are 30 million small businesses in the US. The average PPP loan so far is about $65k. At that amount, the government will only be able to give 1 in 6 businesses the loan."

"And even the current $350 billion allocated for #PPPLoans only gives small businesses two months of covering mostly payroll costs, the least helpful costs to cover for their survival while they're shut down."

I'm starting to believe the best choice might be a buy-out of struggling small businesses in certain sectors, such as hospitality, so that we move on and our employees move on and stop wasting effort in a dead future.

"covering mostly payroll costs, the least helpful costs to cover for their survival while they're shut down"

You want all workers to be homeless and hungry is they had been working for small businesses because you instantly hire the homeless and hungry?

Why do you want only landlords to remain well housed and well fed?

Will landlords alone as customers be enough to restore your business revenues, and thus operations?

And why in such a great economy aren't you the landlord owning 100% of the capital free and clear? With the economy the best EVER, why can't businesses simply focus on putting money in consumer pockets by paying them to work and simply zero out the return on invested capital?

The greatest economy EVER was an illusion with 99% of the businesses no longer capitalist, but pure rent payers on capital owned by others who pay very little to businesses to drive business production.

Idiotic decisions by our political elite will continue from closures to openings. They didn't understand exponentials when they screwed around on decisions like using masks or closing down before you waste 3 doubling times discussing the issue with stakeholders and other BS'ers and have a problem 10 times larger like NY.

In the next round of stimulus
I have it on good authority
Congress will demand
Leader Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer
Cosign any check going out under the program.

Negotiations failed over an attempt to require
The Signature of the
Previous Vice-President
Also appear as a co-signer.

To get the deal
All checks going to Kentucky residents
Will be cosigned by Mitch McConnell.

Based on prior experience,
If you get the check
With Trump's signature,
It might bounce.

Is this claim hyperbolic

Is this capable of scaling as they claim?

I cannot judge these on their merits but I would believe the innovation is already here. It is simply very difficult to find.

The people who are most incentivized to find these studies are market participants and it appears they believe them. But the high volatility makes that a weak signal.

Lyman Stone writes "none the most successful control cases (Korea, Taiwan, HK) used lockdowns!"

This is factually incorrect.

Vietnam has been more successful than all of the above. 267 confirmed cases. 0 deaths. China is, by far, its largest trading partner (22%) and it shares a massive land border with China (larger than Korea's, Hong Kong's, and Taiwan's combined).

I assure you, using lockdowns has been part of the policy. An entire district of 10,000 people was locked down in February after just 10 cases nationwide.

TBH, all the 'top economists' in that list are not health economists and are just repeating what they've read. And they probably have 'brand value' to protect or whatever. I'm yet to see a credible cost-benefit analysis. The 2 million deaths avoided at $10million each does not qualify as anything.

We cannot stay in lockdowns until there's vaccine, so all we're doing is lowering 'overloaded healthcare' IFR to regular IFR (most likely 1%ish to 0.5%ish). And the 'overloaded' healthcare is largely at the peak. So, we're saving 0.3 on IFR tops.

We have no clue how many people that is, cause SI*R models suck. Still, let's pencil in 50% infected. So, we're saving 500k people, largely over 65.

We cannot possibly value lives of people of all ages the same. Standard health economic measure is dollars per quality-adjusted life years. In that metric even closing schools is borderline not worth doing. It costs $50k/QALY, and it's 'worth' doing anything at costs around $30k-$100k/QALY.

Full on lockdown is insanity. Sure, it's compassionate to say "all lives matter," and politicians will come off unpopular for saying things like this, but they should still be basing policy on those numbers. And we're feeling compassionate, let's also count millions that will die of hunger/famine in the lower-developed world as a result of a global economic depression.

"Or when will the non-payment of mortgages render the banking system insolvent and beyond saving by the Fed?"

Unless the Fed runs out of electrons needed to deposit funds into the accounts that bank have with it, never.

Who else but the MSM keeps framing this as a national issue instead of a state and local issue? And as a "when" issue rather than a "how" issue?

I wonder what the median voter's support for social distancing policy is? I think that's more important than whether they are likely to die of COVID-19

The median voter didn't die on 9/11. The median voter is not at personal risk from terrorism. The median voter didn't die in world war 2. Yet we spent trillions on all these things. People care about other people's lives

This opening the economy argument is stupid...

Open all you want... but bottom line, people aren't going to eat in restaurants in large enough numbers to justify opening. People will avoid stores, movies, concerts. Who is going to risk a remodel. Face it... the economy is fucked.

People who were laid off aren't going to want to give up 1K a week sitting at home safe anyway.

I heard several ads today for companies seeking stockers (including Amazon)... $17 an hour working like a slave equals 680 a week. My formerly part time wife and daughter are making 900 a week on UI in a state with a low benefit.

And even if we do a half ass attempt to satisfy the dumb-assess... as soon as cases peak again... lock down happens.

And to all those its low risk people... I will give you a 250 round revolver... with 1 bullet loaded... go ahead and pull the trigger.

I always assume the real reason people want the economy to open again is that its the only shot Trump has at getting re-elected (this is probably true). It won't work... it will backfire.

Everyone should just chill... take the free money... live a simpler life. It's summer. Enjoy. Mow the lawn. Spend time with your family. Make love with your wife.

Bet me.

"America is a democracy, and the median voter will not die of coronavirus (this sentence is not repeated enough times in most analyses)."

Perhaps the reason it's not repeated is because it's an idiotic statement?

You could say this about literally anything that doesn't kill 50% of the population, and thereby conclude that nothing affects electoral outcomes. Maybe, just maybe, revisit the assumptions of Downs's model?

"America is a democracy, and the median voter will not die of coronavirus (this sentence is not repeated enough times in most analyses). And so we will reopen pretty soon, no matter what the full calculus of lives and longer-run gdp might suggest."

Argued Fact A: America is a democracy
Argued Fact B: the median voter will not die of coronavirus
Argued then statement C: "we will reopen pretty soon, no matter what the full calculus of lives"

Logic: If A and B then C

* Argued Fact 1 is clearly false. It is plain that the United States is a Republic not a democracy.
* Argued Fact 2: By median, is this meant to mean that <50% of Americans will die. That is a lot of people and a wide margin. Anyway, I assume by 'B' that the author means that a bad outcome (150 million deaths) will not occur.

While the bad event B may not occur, another bad event B2 could occur, which would be less severe but still bad.

Given these facts, I do not agree with the logic of If A and B then C. A is clearly false. While B may be true, it is not clear why B and not B2 is included in the logic.

In fact there are many examples from our nations history where the following has shown to be true:
A': America is a republic
B': Bad events with < 150,000,000 deaths
C: America takes some drastic action

And by nature, the virtue of a republic is that it protects the rights of the minority better than a democracy. So it would be more logically consistent in my view to argue:
A': America is a republic; popular opinion does not drive all policy
B': Republics by nature show more consideration towards minority utility than a corresponding democracy or autocracy would
C': One important minority is doctors and nurses and other medical professionals who wish to be protected; these people also help keep the rest of the population safe
D': doctors and nurses seem overwhelmingly in favor of lockdowns at present
E': While the 'median voter' may not die, the median voter does not know its individual outcome a priori. Assuming an assumed 1-10% probability of death, it is very possible the median voter prefers some form of protective policy that lasts longer than "sooner." Do not confuse priors with posteriors.
F': we will reopen later rather than sooner

If A' and B' and C' and D' and E' then F'

If the US is a republic and republics value minority opinions and an important minority of doctors/nurses exists and if that minority feels that a lockdown is possible and if the public at large is afraid they may die THEN it is possible the lockdowns last 'a while'

Would welcome thoughts

The median voter has elderly relatives whom they don't want to lose.
Also, I think there are many cases where voters vote not only in their sole very narrow interest. This seems more like a case of the virus being intangible, uncertain and in the future, than about interests.

Comments for this post are closed