• Here’s How We Extricate Ourselves from This Lockdown

    No politician or public-health expert can say when the novel coronavirus pandemic, and attendant lockdowns and social distancing, will end. But there is a roadmap—actually, a competing array of them—for extricating the United States from social isolation. Olivia Messer writes for the Daily Beastthat public-health experts surveyed by the Daily Beast said there were three main things authorities need to be able to provide—effectively, affordably, and with quick results—to the American public before it’s safe to send at least some people back to work and into public life. 

  • Ministers Told to Plan Gentle Path to Recovery With Ban on Alarming Talk of Coronavirus “Exit Strategy”

    British government ministers have been told to abandon talk of a coronavirus “exit strategy” as they try to ease public fears about an eventual end to the lockdown by moving towards a gradual “unwinding” of social distancing rules. Gordon Rayner and Harry Yorke write in The Telegraph that the government has been so successful in convincing people of the need to stay at home that there are concerns it could prove difficult to persuade them it is safe to return to work once the decision is taken to ease the current restrictions. Dominic Raab, the acting Prime Minister, made clear on Monday that the lockdown will stay in place beyond a legally required review of it this Thursday, but said there were “positive signs” that Britain was “starting to win this struggle.” He is being urged by some members of the Cabinet to announce that the lockdown will be reviewed again next week – rather than next month – to signal that the lifting of some restrictions is under consideration.

  • The Coronavirus Crisis: A Catalyst for Entrepreneurship

    Throughout human history, crises have been pivotal in developing our societies. Pandemics have helped advance health-care systems, wars have fueled technological innovations and the global financial crisis helped advance tech companies like Uber and Airbnb. The present coronavirus pandemic will arguably not be an exception; entrepreneurs can be expected to rise to the challenge. Businesses play a key role both in helping society get through an economic crisis and in creating innovations that shape society after a crisis. So one key question is: how will the ongoing crisis influence future society? While it’s hard to predict the future, we can develop an understanding of what is ahead by analyzing current trends. It’s clear the post-pandemic future will be different. What’s happening during the crisis will have a lasting impact on society. Current signs of entrepreneurial initiative and goodwill give us some cause for optimism. In the words of Stanford economist Paul Romer: “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

  • Lockdown Shock Could Trigger “Unexploded Debt Bomb”

    An “unexploded bomb” of debt is being destabilised by the coronavirus shock, the global banking body has warned, as it predicted an “unprecedented surge” in borrowing ahead. Tom Rees writes in The Telegraph that more than $20 trillion (£16 trillion) of global bonds and loans due before the end of the year pose a “refinancing risk” with vulnerable emerging markets heavily exposed to the latest crunch, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF). The global economy is starting a new crisis with corporate, household and government debt at levels never seen before after a decade of ultra-low borrowing costs and risky investor behavior. Signs of strains have already emerged in corporate credit, particularly the junk bond and leveraged loan markets, while government borrowing is set to enter uncharted territory. Rees notes that the world economy is entering a recession with $87 trillion more debt than at the onset of the financial crisis. The global debt to GDP ratio has risen by 40 percentage points over that period to an eye-watering 322pc and will hit 342pc this year, the IIF said. Unprecedented government support for economies and interest rates being slashed to new record lows are expected to drive debt even higher in the coming years.

  • Aberdeen-Based NovaBiotics to Test Life-Saving Cystic Fibrosis Drug on COVID-19 Patients

    Aberdeen life sciences firm NovaBiotics plans to test one of its drugs on Covid-19 patients with secondary lung infections. Hamish Burns writes in Insider that Nylexa ‘supercharges’ antibiotics to help them tackle difficult to treat and drug-resistant bacteria. Many of the lung infections in Covid-19 patients do not respond to antibiotics and more than half of the patients who died in Hubei province, the epicenter of the pandemic in China, succumbed to a secondary bacterial infection or sepsis.
    NovaBiotics could begin making Nylexa for trials in May and in partnership with the NHS and subject to regulatory approvals, clinical studies could get under way soon after on patients hospitalized with Covid-19.
    The active ingredient of Nylexa has proven to be safe and effective in clinical studies carried out across the UK, Italy and the US for bacterial lung infections associated with cystic fibrosis (CF). Nylexa could be repositioned as a Covid-19 therapy and tested on patients in the second half of 2020, ahead of any vaccine being available.

  • Wary Spain Starts to Ease Restrictions

    Spain is taking its first steps towards ending its lockdown today with some businesses reopening despite the latest figures showing a rise in coronavirus deaths after three days of decline. Pablo Sharrock writes in The Times that Spain has suffered more deaths than any country except the United States and Italy and has the highest mortality rate at 35.5 deaths per 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University
    Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister, insisted that the state of emergency and the lockdown were still in force. “We are not entering a phase of de-escalation,” he said yesterday. “The state of emergency is still in force and so is the lockdown. The only thing that has come to an end is the two-week extreme economic hibernation period.”

  • The Normal Economy Is Never Coming Back

    The latest U.S. data proves the world is in its steepest freefall ever—and the old economic and political playbooks don’t apply.
    Adam Tooze writes in Foreign Policy that this collapse is not the result of a financial crisis. It is not even the direct result of the pandemic. The collapse is the result of a deliberate policy choice, which is itself a radical novelty. It is easier, it turns out, to stop an economy than it is to stimulate it. But the efforts that are being made to cushion the effects are themselves historically unprecedented. In the United States, the congressional stimulus package agreed within days of the shutdown is by far the largest in U.S. peacetime history. Across the world, there has been a move to open the purse strings. Fiscally conservative Germany has declared an emergency and removed its limits on public debt. Altogether, we are witnessing the largest combined fiscal effort launched since World War II. Its effects will make themselves felt in weeks and months to come. It is already clear that the first round may not be enough.

  • Boris Is Worried Lockdown Has Gone Too Far, but Only He Can End It

    The British government had asked Britons to stay at home, but Fraser Nelson writes in The Telegraph that government modelers did not expect such obedience: they expected workers to carry on and at least a million pupils to be left in school by parents. The deaths caused by COVID-19 are shocking, he writes, but so, too, are the effects of the lockdown. “Work is being done to add it all up and produce a figure for ‘avoidable deaths’ that could, in the long-term, be caused by lockdown. I’m told the early attempts have produced a figure of 150,000, far greater than those expected to die of COVID.” The decision about when and how to reopen the economy is a tough call to make, but “it’s a decision that will be better made sooner rather than later,” Nelson writes.

  • Can Migration, Workforce Participation, and Education Balance the Cost of Aging in Europe?

    New research shows that higher levels of education and increasing workforce participation in both migrant and local populations are needed to compensate for the negative economic impacts of aging populations in EU countries.

  • Acute & Chronic Economic Considerations of COVID-19

    Just as the high probability of a pandemic was foreseen so, too, were the economic effects of such an event. COVID-19 is no black swan, nor is it an event for which we were not given warning shots. In the last three years, the U.S. intelligence community, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Department of Homeland Security, among other government agencies, specifically and in disturbing detail warned of the grave risk a pandemic would pose to U.S. health and economic wellbeing – with the U.S. intelligence community specifically warning of a “novel strain of a virulent microbe that is easily transmissible between humans continues to be a major threat,” and listed pathogens H5N1 and H7N9 influenza and MERS-CoV as potential culprits. Even as we weather COVID-19, the questions remain as to when, not if, the next infectious disease will emerge. We were unprepared for COVID-19, but, hopefully, we will learn a few lessons from it. Specifically, to better prepare for the next pandemic, we need a plan to sustain our economy at the individual, household, and firm levels so that we are not forced to shut down, accrue more debt, and, perhaps, never recover from the economic losses the outbreak causes.

  • Sandia Stimulates Marketplace Recovery with Free Technology Licenses

    Sandia National Laboratories has announced a new, fast-track licensing program to rapidly deploy technology to a marketplace reeling from the effects of COVID-19. The move is designed to support businesses facing widespread, often technical challenges resulting from the pandemic.

  • The $90 Trillion Question Is How to Get People Back to Work

    Officials from Rome to Washington are urgently mapping out plans to loosen lockdowns and begin rebooting their economies even as the coronavirus pandemic still rages across swaths of the globe.
    Enda Curran, Frank Connelly, and Suzi Ring write in Bloomberg that, trouble is, there’s no master plan.
    The juggling act for policy makers will be to reopen without triggering a second wave of infections that leads to a fresh round of lockdowns and yet more economic damage. History serves as a warning: the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the world’s worst health crisis until this one, hit in three waves before finally being contained.

  • Why It Is So Hard to Produce What’s Needed to Tackle Coronavirus

    Manufacturers are stepping up to meet the severe shortage of ventilators prompted by the current coronavirus pandemic – and not just companies in the medical industry. Numerous firms from the aerospace and defense sectors, and even Formula One, have offered their services. Peter Ogrodnik writes in The Conversation that in the UK, domestic appliance maker Dyson, defense contractor Babcock and the Ventilator Challenge U.K. consortium (including leading firms such as Airbus and Ford) have all received orders to make thousands of new ventilators to meet the government’s target of an extra 30,000. Rather than simply helping scale up production of existing products, these firms are working with designs that have never before been used or tested in real settings. While all efforts are welcome, there are likely to be some major challenges for manufacturers trying to enter the medical devices sector for the first time. Journalists reported with amazement that the first batch of devices from the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium would include just 30 units. But there are some good reasons why novel ventilators can’t simply be turned out in large amounts with just days’ notice.

  • How Economists Are Trying to Answer Coronavirus Questions

    Epidemiologists, virologists and other health experts are throwing everything they have at understanding the new coronavirus, hoping to develop treatments, vaccines and strategies to slow its spread and limit its toll. Eduardo Porter writes in the New York Times that economists, too, have broken from other work to explore what they can add to understanding a world upended by disease.
    Every Monday, the National Bureau of Economic Research puts out a batch of “working papers,” offering an early view of research from the world’s top economists. The most recent list included a paper on how more intensive testing for the coronavirus would allow for less strict quarantines, a piece about how mobility restrictions reduced the spread of the disease in China, one on how to assess the costs and benefits of different policies to reduce the coronavirus transmission rate and another about strategies to ensure compliance with stay-at-home orders in Italy.
    One study just published looked at pandemics back to the 14th century, concluding that they inhibit investment and increase savings for decades, depressing an economy’s central interest rate. Another evaluated the short-term macroeconomic shock from the virus and assessed ways to respond.

  • Scott Morrison Indicates “Eliminating” COVID-19 Would Come at Too High a Cost

    Scott Morrison has made clear his view that any attempt to eliminate COVID-19 entirely in Australia would carry too high an economic cost, while Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says such an aim would require “very aggressive” long-term border control.
    Michelle Grattan writes in The Conversation that the national cabinet will soon receive advice from its medical experts on various scenarios for the way ahead, but the Prime Minister, speaking at a joint news conference with Murphy on Tuesday, effectively ruled out the most ambitious.
    New Zealand is trying for elimination, but has had to go into a stringent lockdown to pursue it. Elimination was the policy adopted in the source of the virus – Wuhan in China.