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COVID-19 Chapter 9: Economics

COVID-19 Chapter 9: Economics

Episode 9 of our Anatomy of a Pandemic is here, and this week we’re stepping outside our public health sphere to examine COVID-19 from an entirely different perspective, that of an economist. Pandemics don’t happen in a vacuum, and the ripples of their impact extend far beyond those of public health, as nearly every person can attest to today. We’ve seen headlines about a global recession and high rates of unemployment, but what do those things actually mean? Have we seen something like this before or is this uncharted territory? And most importantly, what can we expect? We were curious to know the answers to these questions but we lack the expertise to take them on ourselves, so we asked economist Martha Gimbel, Manager of Economic Research at Schmidt Futures to join us on this episode about the economic impacts of COVID-19 (interview recorded April 14, 2020). A caveat: this episode focuses mostly on the economic impact of the pandemic in the US. As per usual, we wrap up the episode by discussing the top five things we learned from our expert. To help you get a better idea of the topics covered in this episode, we’ve listed the questions below: What are some of the indicators that we use to know how the economy is performing, and what were the trends we were seeing in the months before this pandemic hit? Could you take us through a timeline of the economic impact, starting with the first signs that the pandemic was having an impact on the global economy? What industries felt the pandemic first, and where do we stand now? Could you break down the impact that we’re seeing on the global economy, the US economy, large corporations, small businesses, and the average consumer? Was there a global recession after the 1918 influenza pandemic? If not, what makes these current circumstances unique? Which countries or industries are the most vulnerable and why? Are certain countries or industries proving to be more resilient in the face of this global recession? Can you talk about the gig economy here and how our reliance on low-paid workers with no protection from their employers has impacted our own economic resilience? Can you talk about the implications of the numbers of unemployment insurance filings that we’re seeing and just how staggering they are? Are the current benefits offered through the unemployment system going to be enough to keep people at home and not seeking work in situations that put them at higher risks of exposure? Are there any general trends or predictions in terms of how long this recession will continue and what it will take to recover? How will we know when we have “recovered”? Are you seeing any innovative solutions that people are proposing or starting to implement in terms of a social safety net? What positive changes do you hope this pandemic will bring about? Where is the money for the stimulus checks coming from? Is that $1200 check going to be enough to keep people going for the next few months?

Duration: 1 hr 10 min

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