Economics of the Covid-19 Pandemic
This course will examine the economics of resilience, recovery and reorganization in the face of the world crisis unleashed by the emergence of the novel coronavirus in late 2019 and the pandemic of Covid-19 in 2020. The class will build on a background analysis of relevant historical phenomena, in particular financial crashes and economic depressions, such as in 1929-33, and the US experience of economic and social mobilizations to meet severe challenges, such as during the New Deal (1933-1939) and the mobilization for the Second World War (1940-45). It will examine how core lessons of those experiences were diluted in the post-war years, and the specific context of the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2009 and its aftermath, with the rise of precarity as a core feature of many Western societies. The class will then examine the social conditions in different countries that faced the pandemic, including the United States, Italy, China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Germany and New Zealand, and how these conditions affected the capacity to make an effective response. It will examine in some critical detail the emergency responses taken by China and by the United States, as a study in contrasting forms of government and social organisation. Key questions include the stability and effectiveness of the health care system, the safety of the supply chain for medical products, food and other essentials, the problem of providing financial support to the unemployed, and the problem of supporting state and local governments and business firms. Finally, the class will explore the problem of post-pandemic reorganization, in the view of the experience of the pandemic, the changes in financial conditions and in social behavior it will have wrought, and the necessity of building a more robust environment for public health and economic security going forward.