jump to navigation

Economic confidence and the pandemic? August 12, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
trackback

Another day, another crisis. And so the IT sends in its crack team of epidemiological experts to assess the problem. Here’s Eoin Burke Kennedy on the response in New Zealand to four new cases after months of none within the state:

If we take New Zealand’s example and meet these mini-outbreaks with the sledgehammer of lockdown, we will turn the incoming recession into a depression, one that involves a prolonged period of high unemployment and business closures, which will come with a health warning of its own.

And:

Living with the virus or managing it is likely to involve a prolonged period of social distancing, mask wearing and perhaps permanent changes to the way we interact in shops, at work, or in schools. To presume otherwise is foolhardy.

Even severe containment measures won’t eliminate the virus. New Zealand has just proved that. 

But does it? For a start he overstates the lockdown in NZ, which is both geographically and time limited. Secondly he ignores the reason why it went into lockdown, because cases occurred where they should not have. This is a novel coronavirus. It makes sense at this point given how little is known about it to act quickly and comprehensively and that is what is taking place. Indeed already there is a theory emerging:

Investigations were zeroing in on the potential the virus was imported by freight. Dr Bloomfield said surface testing was underway at an Auckland cool store where a man from the infected family worked.

“We know the virus can survive within refrigerated environments for quite some time,” he said during a televised media conference.

This may be the reason, perhaps another will be found. But the point is that given the nature of the pandemic the ‘nothing to see here, learn to live with it’ line is Panglossian, and the reality of matters will require considerable effort and energy and yes, inconvenience. Wishing that away is delusional.

Speaking of which…

The IT was trailing an article a week or two ago about how:

The Government’s chief scientific adviser privately warned a slow easing of coronavirus restrictions would cause “terrible” economic damage, and instead proposed a massive programme of random testing be introduced.

The country should test 7 per cent of the population for coronavirus every day, which would allow the entire economy to reopen quickly, chief scientific adviser Mark Ferguson told senior Ministers in emails sent in late April.

And:

Prof Ferguson, who is also the director of funding body Science Foundation Ireland, encouraged the Government to follow an approach set out by American Nobel prize winning economist Paul Romer.

This included a proposal to test the entire population every two weeks, amounting to 7 per cent a day, which would represent an unprecedented scaling up of testing.

Under the strategy people would be allowed to book into restaurants or other services only if they could show they had a recent negative Covid-19 test. This would allow people testing negative to return to normal life and, as a result, boost confidence in the economy.

It’s an interesting approach and yet I can’t help but feel as early April it was perhaps far too premature as a potential basis for reopening matters. There are other aspects as well. A Covid-19 test may come up negative if taken too early in the infection, so it’s not an absolute guarantee of safety (this for example is why testing at airports is not quite the forensic solution to the issue of air travel). That said continuous testing would likely mitigate that aspect if adhered to.

It’s also worth noting that Ferguson spoke of “potential economic damage of a slow return is terrible”. That ‘potential’ is quite an important caveat. Of course there was going to be serious economic damage, but in some respects the very nature of the problem was going to have that baked in from the off.

Naturally mitigation of that was and remains important but perhaps there’s a stronger argument that the sort of regimen he recommended might have been more effective a month or so later with a robust testing regime constructed on the back of a solid lock-down. That seems to me to make good solid sense.

And one thought about the virus. As noted last week, the WHO itself has noted that:

…discussions [about waves and surges and second waves] are not a helpful way to understand the spread of the disease.

“People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and this one is behaving differently,” Harris told a virtual briefing in Geneva, urging vigilance in applying measures to slow transmission that appears to be accelerated by mass gatherings.

It really does require great caution in regard to policy proscriptions here on out.

Comments»

1. NFB - August 12, 2020

I don’t know if I could get my head around the logistics that would be required to test 350’000 people a day, every day, for however long. You’d need testing centres on every street corner.

Like

WorldbyStorm - August 12, 2020

Yeah. How could that be sustained? It’s another seeming quick fix solution that seems anything but on closer inspection.

Like

2. gypsybhoy69 - August 14, 2020

A dedication to Eoin and his ilk:

It’s alright ’cause the historical pattern has shown
How the economical cycle tends to revolve
In a round of decades, three stages stand out in a loop
A slump and war, then peel back to square one and back for more

Bigger slump and bigger wars and a smaller recovery
Huger slump and greater wars and a shallower recovery

You see the recovery always comes ’round again
There’s nothing to worry for things will look after themselves
It’s alright, recovery always comes ’round again
There’s nothing to worry if things can only get better

There’s only millions that lose their jobs and homes and sometimes accents
There’s only millions that die in the bloody wars, it’s alright

It’s only their lives and the lives of their next of kin that they are losing
It’s only their lives and the lives of their next of kin that they are losing

It’s alright ’cause the historical pattern has shown
How the economical cycle tends to revolve
In a round of decades, three stages stand out in a loop
A slump and war, then peel back to square one and back for more

Bigger slump and bigger wars and a smaller recovery
Huger slump and greater wars and a shallower recovery

Don’t worry, be happy, things will get better naturally
Don’t worry, shut up, sit down, go with it and be happy

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - August 14, 2020

+1

Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: