POLICY IMPLICATIONS OF COVID-19

Hoover Institution fellows are closely following the developments of the global COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak. This page hosts a digest of their latest analysis. For the full list of content, visit the COVID-19 page here.

[Last Updated: September 27, 2021]

 

September 27, 2021

  • John Yoo and Robert Delahunty write that the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates undermine the constitutional balance between the executive branch and Congress, and between national and state governments: “Congress has not vested the president with the power to govern every aspect of every office and factory in the nation, and even if it had, such a grant of sweeping power would violate the very division of authority between the national and state governments. [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

  • Miles Maochun Yu writes that the Chinese Communist Party’s lies that describe COVID-19 as a bioweapon designed at the US Army base in Fort Detrick, Maryland, are the latest displays of the party’s long-running history of Leninist disinformation: “They’re part of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s ‘people’s war’ against the U.S.-led international campaign calling for an independent investigation into the origins and coverup of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China. The Party’s main propaganda outlets such as Xinhua, the People’s Daily, and its top government spokespeople blame a little-known Maryland U.S. Army fort without evidence, without fear, and once again, without conscience.” [LINK]

AUGUST 25, 2021

  • In testimony before the House Transportation Committee, Michael Boskin explains that he supports policies that mitigate short-run economic pain caused by crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, if the long-run cost is reasonable: "As the economy has recovered considerably since those horrible days of March and April 2020, the potential short-run macroeconomic benefits of additional spending are much lower now than then and any additional spending is better focused on long-run societal benefits with spending levels, allocations among projects and financing methods designed to pass rigorous national cost-benefit tests." [LINK]
  • John Cochrane writes that warped incentives at the FDA led to unnecessary delays in approving COVID-19 tests and vaccines and ultimately the deaths of thousands of people: "And now to the most important point. Why does the FDA behave this way? They're not bad people and they're not dumb. They are stuck in an institutional setup that gives them horrible incentives. This is really key. You cannot reform the system without fixing the incentives. . . . Had the FDA done as I ask, recognize that we need fast, cheap, not so reliable tests and quickly certified the paper-strip tests for over-the counter sales, someone would have gotten a false result, died, and the FDA would have been hauled in to Congress and raked over the media coals." [LINK]
  • Jack Goldsmith explains how the Biden administration, in its public statements, misinterpreted a recent Supreme Court ruling and thus undermined its defense of the CDC's authority to impose a national eviction moratorium: "[The CDC] issued a new and narrower eviction moratorium order that applied to about 80 percent of US counties and about 90 percent of the US population. . . . But in the days before issuing the new CDC order, the administration in its public statements misinterpreted and misportrayed the Supreme Court’s June 29 order in ways that made its decision to issue a narrower eviction ban seem lawless." [LINK]
  • Raghuram Rajan argues that businesses' adaption to remote work during the pandemic demonstrates enormous economic and social potential: "Today, good jobs can be done from home in businesses far away. Thirty-seven percent of jobs . . . in rich countries can be done from home. You can be sitting in a remote place while doing a job in New York City. We need more of that to spread economic activity." [LINK]

July, 7, 2021

  • Niall Ferguson writes that he is concerned that even if the world succeeds in bringing mortality rates back down to normal, pandemic-induced restrictions on individual liberty may remain: “Such restrictions persist not because they have any foundation in scientific research. They are the products of one of history’s most powerful but often underestimated phenomena: bureaucratic inertia.” [LINK]

june 16, 2021

  • Niall Ferguson writes that there are three flawed assumptions in the positing by some in the news media that political leaders who are perceived as populists are singularly to blame for their respective countries’ high COVID-19 death tolls: “The first is that it is not clear that the countries run by populists did fare decidedly worse than other countries, at least in terms of excess mortality—the best measure of how a country has fared in the Plague Year. The second flaw is that, on close inspection, the mistakes that caused the bulk of premature deaths during the pandemic cannot easily be attributed to presidential or prime ministerial decisions. More often than not, the mistakes were made further down the chain of command, by public health officials and scientific advisers who profoundly misjudged the problem they were facing. Thirdly, and finally, the counterfactuals of better outcomes with different leaders do not stand up to close scrutiny.” [LINK]

May 28, 2021

  • Lanhee Chen writes that the Biden administration should launch a multilateral investigation, separately from the World Health Organization, into the origins of COVID-19: "We should share our intelligence with other countries that are seeking answers, pool our collective knowledge about the origins of the virus and, together, place pressure on China to allow for access to the facilities and data that would help answer the remaining questions about the origins of Covid-19. . . . An investigation into the true origins of the virus is essential not only for scientific reasons, but also because policymakers around the world need this knowledge to better prepare themselves for future pandemics.” [LINK]

MAy 27, 2021

  • Niall Ferguson writes that Taiwanese digital minister Audrey Tang's pioneering use of information technology was one of the key reasons her country was successful at preventing the spread of COVID-19 last year: "The most appealing feature of Tang’s approach is her emphasis on using software and smartphones to empower ordinary people, rather than the government. . . . Thanks to the work of Tang and her colleagues, Taiwan already has a contact-tracing app, officially called a 'social-distancing app.' It informs all of a person’s close contacts from the last 14 days in the event of a positive Covid test. It did not need to be used in 2020, but now it is being rolled out rapidly, with several million people already registered." [LINK]

MAY 24, 2021

  • Niall Ferguson writes that Taiwan, South Korea, and Israel fared better during the COVID-19 pandemic than what are considered advanced Western societies, because they share a general sense of paranoia about existential threats from hostile forces near their borders: “Instead of trying to predict one or two future emergencies and prepare for them with cumbersome contingency plans, these countries emphasize rapid reaction and the deployment of technology to maximize their ability to turn on a dime.” [LINK]
  • In a new Policy Stories episode, Niall Ferguson argues that large numbers of casualties inflicted by COVID-19 could have been avoided if the US government had acted early to ramp up testing, conduct contact tracing, and isolate patients suspected of being infected: "Taiwan did that despite being right next to China, where this disaster began. So did South Korea. Their death tolls have been trivial in comparison to ours: 1,800 in South Korea; just eleven in Taiwan. And neither country had to resort to lockdowns to contain the pandemic." [LINK]

May 10, 2021

  • Niall Ferguson writesthat individuals can’t understand the scale of a contagion like COVID-19 unless they consider the vulnerabilities of specific social networks: “Even an earthquake is only as catastrophic as the extent of urbanization along the fault line—or the shoreline, if it triggers a tsunami. A catastrophe lays bare the societies and states that it strikes. It is a moment of truth, of revelation, exposing some as fragile, others as resilient, and others as (to use Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s word) “antifragile”—able not just to withstand disaster but to be strengthened by it. In that sense, all disasters are man-made, in that our actions, including our political preparations and responses, determine the scale of the excess mortality.” [LINK]
  • James Timbie explores the global open-source networks that helped put the world on alert about the outbreak of COVID-19. He also explains that the collection and analysis of vast amounts of open-source data will become faster via advancements in technology, potentially enabling public health and national security leaders to make timely decisions based on high-quality information: "We can expect, with some confidence, that future early warning alerts will come from such open source networks, providing public health authorities opportunities to take early action to mitigate outbreaks before they become pandemics." [LINK]
  • Abraham Sofaer argues that the United States should take the lead in preparing for future pandemics by working constructively with the World Health Organization: "The United States needs to return to engaging constructively with international organizations. Committing to a more robust international effort to respond to transnational health threats does not mean surrendering sovereign authority or essential interests. Rather, it means recognizing that improving the performance of States, including the United States, and of relevant international agencies, requires genuine engagement with governments and NGOs to rectify weaknesses that are widely acknowledged." [LINK]

April 30, 2021

  • Niall Ferguson writes that unlike COVID-19, the H2N2 pandemic of 1957–58 had a severe health impact on American youths, who were disproportionately vulnerable to it: “Part of the explanation is that they had not been as exposed as older Americans to earlier strains of influenza. But the scale and incidence of any contagion are functions of both the properties of the pathogen itself and the structure of the social network that it attacks. The year 1957 was in many ways the dawn of the American teenager. The first baby boomers born after the end of World War II turned 13 the following year. Summer camps, school buses and unprecedented social mingling after school ensured that between September 1957 and March 1958 the proportion of teenagers infected with the virus rose from 5% to 75%.” [LINK] [Subscription required]

APRIL 2, 2021

  • James Timbie describes how the US military has maintained readiness despite the outbreak of COVID-19 last year and the uncertainty brought on by the virus: “[Department of Defense] early on adopted a strategy of public transparency in dissemination of guidance to services, openly posting materials online with periodic updates. Commanders are given force health protection guidance based on the measures recommended by civilian authorities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and have flexibility to implement and adapt these measures as they deem appropriate to continue their mission and protect the health of their people.” [LINK]

March 5, 2021

  • David Henderson argues that the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which includes bailouts for state and local governments, extensions of unemployment benefits, and grants to specific industries, would have adverse consequences for the economy: "The bill is, in essence, a huge instance of central planning with government officials’ preferences overriding ours....If the government gets out of the way, the economy will recover." [LINK]
  • Michael Petriili explores the challenges of personalized instruction for elementary school students as a strategy to make up for learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic: "American schools’ emphasis on collaborative learning makes it somewhat harder to “personalize” each child’s education. Teachers ask students to work on projects together, to discuss stories with their peers, to solve math problems with partners, to edit one another’s writing. Some of this group learning can certainly be overdone, but we do it because we care about developing important social skills like teamwork, and also because these methods can help children master the Three R’s and much more. Plus, especially in the shadow of a traumatic event like the pandemic, building relationships between students and their teachers, and students and one another, is essential to the learning process. Kids are social beings, not knowledge-acquisition machines." [LINK]

 

MARCH 1, 2021

  • Victor Davis Hanson compares the deadliness of the COVID-19 pandemic to that of past wars: "In moral terms of the preciousness of life, the virus was as bad as war, given the way thousands of unique people simply perished, many in silence and alone, many perhaps unnecessarily, as they were trapped in rest homes that admitted actively infected transfer patients, and others suffocated by a virus that for months no one knew much about." [LINK]

February 26, 2021

  • Eric Hanushek and Macke (Margaret) Raymond explain that COVID-19's impact on the economy is a classic example of "hysteresis," which economists define as "lasting changes caused by some large perturbation": "The first place to look is in classrooms [say Hanushek and Raymond]. . . . Lost study time for children during the pandemic has the potential to do lasting harm not just to their own long-term prospects but to American prosperity in general." [LINK]

February 22, 2021

  • Niall Ferguson predicts that the hypermobility of the pre-pandemic era is highly unlikely to resume anytime soon: “Many countries that have managed to suppress the disease (e.g. Australia and New Zealand) will maintain travel restrictions. Few large businesses will return to their previous volume of corporate travel: Many meetings that would previously have necessitated long-haul flights will continue to happen over Zoom. A significant proportion of relatively high-skilled people will continue to work from home at least part of the time.” [LINK]

February 17, 2021

  • Terry Anderson and Richard Sousa question whether an additional $1.9 trillion in stimulus funds will revive an American economy set back by COVID-19: "Not only do stimulus checks do little to slow the pandemic, they do little to stimulate the economy devastated by lockdowns. As documented in a National Bureau of Economic Research paper, less than one-half of money from the CARES stimulus checks was spent; the rest was used to pay down existing debt or saved. This consumption behavior is consistent with previous federal government direct stimulus programs." [LINK]

February 16, 2021

  • John Cochrane writes that state health officials should not hold up the distribution of inexpensive and fast-acting COVID-19 tests, despite concerns over accuracy, because they could significantly help curtail the spread of the disease: “The central problem remains conceptual, as I see it. You need a very accurate test to treat a sick patient. A much less accurate, but cheap and fast test is better to see who is contagious and stop the spread of the disease. This is a mental block that too many in the game can't seem to get over.” [LINK]

February 12, 2021

  • Russell Berman writes that COVID-19 has placed an enormous amount of questionable authority in the hands of public health experts, many of whom have made it their policy to stop the pandemic at all costs, even at the expense of citizens' personal freedoms: “Social policy should not be ceded exclusively to epidemiologists, who may know a lot about infections but not necessarily much about the consequences of school closures. Nor however should social policy be ceded to any group of experts, no matter how well rounded. Interdisciplinary experts should advise the government certainly, but ultimately it should be the democratically elected representatives of the people—not the scientific experts—who decide, knowing full well that they will have to face their constituents in the future.” [LINK]

February 9, 2021

  • Macke Raymond explains, using a survey of 19 states, how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated learning losses typically experienced by students over summer breaks: "Every summer, students forget some of what they learned during the prior school year. We call this 'learning decay' or 'summer slide.' We can see the same phenomenon with COVID. As schools sent their students home in mid-March, students were effectively on an extended summer break. Every day they were out of the classroom, they fell further behind. . . . The results are tragic. Of the 19 states we reviewed, the largest learning loss in reading was about 183 days of schooling. That's equal to a full school year. The smallest effect was about 57 school days. That's still approximately one-third of a school year. Losses in math achievement were even bigger. The average loss was 136 days of schooling, and the largest was 232 days." [LINK]
  • Lee Ohanian argues that California's chronically dysfunctional politics and self-serving teachers' unions are a roadblock to opening the state's schools: “[California governor] Newsom has offered a $2 billion package that would provide additional funding of between $450 to $700 per student for cooperating school districts in order to implement CDC-recommended safeguards. But this is not enough for unions, and reading between the lines of a recent California Teachers Association letter to Newsom, unions want more than reasonable safeguards for teachers." [LINK]

February 8, 2021

  • Raghuram Rajan writes that amid the pandemic, technology and trade have created new possibilities for potential economic revival: "After the pandemic ends, many firms will offer their employees the option of coming to the office only when necessary. . . . In that case, a worker’s home need not be in the same county, or even the same state, as their office. As skilled workers in cities search for cheaper, less congested places to raise a family, some may want to return to their roots—to places they left long ago. And with in-person business meetings becoming more dispensable, entire firms also may relocate. These trends will boost demand for local goods and services, creating more local jobs.” [LINK]
  • John Cochrane offers what he calls a "modest proposal" for rationing of the COVID-19 vaccine: "Why not let 'industry groups' decide when they want the vaccine based on . . . hold your breath . . . paying a market price to get it? I wouldn't dare whisper that maybe individual people could be allowed to decide when to get the vaccine—that is what we're talking about, when, not if—by deciding when they want to pay for it, as our political climate cannot say out loud that anything should be rationed by willingness to pay." [LINK]

February 4, 2021

  • Bill Whalen writes that California governor Gavin Newsom’s goal of reopening schools by mid-February is almost impossible: “Here’s why. School districts across California have complained that the governor’s plan is the policy equivalent of wet cement—some citing, for example, no guesstimate as to how much all the COVID testing required for reopening will cost. Moreover, Newsom was informed by the California Teachers Association last week that the Golden State’s 300,000-plus K–12 educators must all receive COVID vaccinations before they will return to the classroom. Translation: if, as estimated, it might take until June to cover immunizations for that teaching force, then in-classroom learning in California won’t happen this academic year.” [LINK]

February 3, 2021

  • Lanhee Chen argues that it would be politically advantageous for President Biden to accept the congressional Republicans' slimmed-down version of the recovery package, which intends to address the economic and health challenges created by COVID-19: "Politically, the benefits to working with Republicans—especially the group of 10 who stepped forward to advance this proposal—far outweigh the potential blowback that Biden may get from progressives who want him to 'go big' with this relief package. . . . There's also no guarantee that even if Biden wanted to use a strictly partisan approach to advance a larger package, he'd be able to maintain the unanimous support of Democrats in the Senate to do so." [LINK]
  • Bill Whalen describes the political backlash against California governor Gavin Newsom over his management of the COVID-19 pandemic: “[In California there has been] relentless bad news when it comes to COVID related information. . . . State government [has given] contradictory guidance on whether to open or close society [and] has made a complete hash out of the vaccine rollout . . . from making it job-based at first, now it's for senior citizens. . . . People are having a hard time trying to find a place to get [the vaccine]. . . . The first in charge of all of this is the governor.” [LINK]

February 2, 2021

  • Eric Hanushek estimates that as a result of the learning loss incurred by school closures this past year, students will see a reduction of 6 to 9 percent of their lifetime income. To make up for this deficit, he argues, schools will have to become better than they were prior to the pandemic: “Just returning to 2019 will not erase the losses that have been suffered and already accrued.” [LINK]
  • Niall Ferguson argues that in comparison to that of the United States, Taiwan and South Korea deployed successful COVID-19 strategies because these countries effectively integrated technology and partnered with the private sector in a comprehensive strategy that included widespread testing, contact tracing, and enforced quarantines: "[The United States] must respond much more rapidly to an incipient crisis." [LINK]

February 1, 2021

  • David Brady and Douglas Rivers poll Democrats' and Republicans' beliefs about COVID-19 shelter-in-place policies: "'Shelter in place' policies were also divisive with 90% of Democrats agreeing that they are the only way to stop the spread of COVID-19 while 55% of Republicans thought the policy was worse than the cure.'" [LINK]
  • Lanhee Chen argues that the Biden administration's policy response to COVID-19 represents a shift in tone from its predecessor. However, he explains, executing a pandemic strategy is much more complex than issuing executive orders: "The federal government is clearly taking a much more assertive role. . . . Most of the companies that are would be targets of the [Defense Production Act] have already been in close contact with the Biden administration. . . . I do think it will be a question of whether we try to get those pharmaceutical companies that are not producing a vaccine themselves to assist in production. It's not as simple as taking a factory and saying 'ok let's flip a switch and tomorrow we are going to make the Moderna vaccine.' It is quite complex." [LINK]

January 29, 2021

  • Scott Atlas laments that most states have not prioritized distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to the most vulnerable among their populations: “That’s the purpose of the vaccine, and yet there are a handful of states that have given the vaccine to people over 65.” [LINK]

JANUARY 28, 2021

  • Scott Atlas writes that Florida has outperformed other states in terms of COVID-19 cases during the pandemic's recent surge despite opening schools and businesses, ending mandates, and discarding mobility restrictions: “Florida has outperformed many states during the recent surge, including those with warm climates, like California, that implemented longstanding lockdowns. Florida’s deaths per capita has also beaten half the country as well as the national average. Even if Floridians on their own behaved similarly to people under mandates, why is that not a subject of open discussion and highlighted by the media?” [LINK]
  • Michael Petrilli adjusts his previously published plan to make up for learning losses incurred by COVID-19, by adding an extra grade between second and third for just a few years instead of permanently (as he previously wrote): "We will have a group of kids—about 8 million four- and five-year-olds—entering post-Covid schooling with an unusually wide range of readiness levels. If there was ever a case for allowing students to move at their own pace, this situation must be it. . . . This sort of experiment will cost a lot less money than adding an extra grade level till the end of time." [LINK]

JANUARY 27, 2021

  • John Cochrane ponders why public health officials have prohibited indoor dining and permitted outdoor dining during the current phase of the pandemic: “Is it really safe to dine 'outdoors' in a plastic tent, as has become the hilarious practice around where I live? If outdoors is safe, but indoors is warm, can we not make indoors as safe as outdoors with ventilation, HEPA filters, and UV light?” [LINK]
  • David Henderson questions whether the Biden administration's pandemic relief plan provides adequate incentives for people to rejoin the workforce: "Although unemployment benefits are subject to income taxation, they are not subject to payroll taxes. The employee’s share of payroll taxes is 7.65 percent. So to break even by taking a job, a worker getting $16.25 per hour for not working would have to get at least $16.25/(1 – 0.0765) = $17.60 for working. And if the worker wants to net at least, say, $3 an hour before tax (but after payroll tax) for working, he would have to be paid at least $20.84 for working. But that very fact means that a few million people, especially those making below $20 an hour, will take their time getting a job." [LINK]

January 26, 2021

  • Michael Spence writes that while President Biden has a comprehensive COVID-19 and economic recovery strategy, successful implementation depends on rapid vaccine distribution: “Rapid vaccine deployment (within 6–9 months) would bring economic benefits worth at least $1 trillion. In other words, an effective vaccination program that costs the federal government $500 billion would have an annual rate of return of 100% (not counting the lives saved and other benefits).” [LINK]
  • Lanhee Chen argues that the United States should not have joined the World Health Organization before demanding reform and accountability for the group’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic: “Early on, the group was far too deferential to China, even parroting Beijing’s early claim that the virus could not be transmitted between humans. Since then, an independent panel concluded that the WHO dithered in its response, waiting too long to declare an international emergency. All the while, the WHO has continued to block Taiwan’s participation because of political objections from the Chinese government, despite the fact that the world has much to learn from Taiwan’s exceptional response to the virus.” [LINK]

JANUARY 25, 2021

  • Niall Ferguson writes that COVID-19 is evolving in ways that threaten the United States’ vaccination strategy: “Biden’s public health team will be scanning anxiously the data from the U.K. and from Israel, where races are currently underway between high-speed vaccination programs and the rapidly spreading new strain of the virus. They will be watching even more nervously the news from South Africa, where another new strain has been re-infecting people who had previously had Covid.” [LINK]
  • Clint Bolick explains how COVID-19's impact on public schools may be the nation's "Katrina moment": "When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, it physically destroyed the school system. Education had to be completely reimagined and rebuilt from scratch, which is exactly what we’re calling for on a national scale in our book. New Orleans literally made every school in the district a charter school. The school system went from being one of the worst in the country to one of the best by virtue of changing the entire approach. I really hope that we’re able to find the silver lining in this crisis and are willing to find comprehensive solutions that most people would have rejected out of hand only a year ago." [LINK]

January 22, 2021

  • Lanhee Chen writes that the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of leveraging technology to ensure access to health care: "Millions of Americans—including many with conditions that place them at higher risk of adverse outcomes if they catch Covid-19—have used telemedicine and other technologies to safely get access to health care since the start of the pandemic." [LINK]
  • In the latest episode of GoodFellows, John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster discuss how the Biden administration may develop and execute public health and economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. [LINK]

JANUARY 21, 2021

  • Bill Whalen writes that among California's problems in its COVID-19 response is a lack of policy coordination: "As of last weekend, California had two million unused doses of vaccine (three million were delivered to the state). Yet when Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara County asked for 100,000 doses, state officials offered only 6,000. The result is finger-pointing: counties complain that they lack the vaccine supply to meet the demand; the state, which acts as a middleman between federal and local governments, claims it can’t navigate bureaucratic channels." [LINK]
  • Michael Petrilli hopes that to make up for the year lost due to COVID-19 schools will experiment with bold approaches to education, including the addition of a "second 2nd grade”: "The reason is that even our very best elementary schools fail to prepare all of their students for the rigors of middle school. To my knowledge, not a single high-poverty school in the country gets all of its students to grade-level standards by the end of the fifth grade. Few schools even come close. . . . If the extra year of instruction is maximized, then more students will enter middle school and then high school ready for the challenges therein and graduate ready to succeed in post-secondary education—and the extra investment will have been worth making." [LINK]

JANUARY 20, 2021

  • John Cochrane argues that government bureaucracy and the absence of market forces bungled America's response to the COVID-19 pandemic: "Tests are crucial to stopping the spread of the disease. . . . There are tests available that the [Food and Drug Administration] still won't let us use, which is remarkable since they're supposed to be protecting us. . . . We saw the greatest industrial economy the world has ever seen unable to produce 50 cent face masks for months on end. That was bureaucratic. . . . The vaccine took a long time, even the emergency use authorization by the FDA only came out in November. They actually deliberately slowed down releasing it because they wanted to make it look like they were thinking harder about it than they were." [LINK]

JANUARY 19, 2021

  • H. R. McMaster argues that the actions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) following the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan is an example of the regime's unprovoked aggression: "Consider China’s deliberate suppression of information about the coronavirus outbreak and its persecution of doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world. More recently, the CCP has tried to cast its response to the pandemic in a heroic light—even as Beijing inflicted economic punishment on Australia for having the temerity to propose an inquiry into the origins of the virus." [LINK]
  • In a new report, Steven Davis and colleagues explain that the outbreak of COVID-19 and policy responses to the pandemic have generated massive shifts in demand across sectors of the economy: "We present three pieces of evidence that COVID-19 is a persistent reallocation shock. First, rates of excess job and sales reallocation over 24-month periods have risen sharply since the pandemic struck, especially for sales. We compute these rates by aggregating over monthly firm-level observations that look back 12 months and ahead 12 months. Second, as of December 2020, firm-level forecasts of sales revenue growth over the next year imply a continuation of recent changes, not a reversal. Third, COVID-19 shifted relative employment growth trends in favor of industries with a high capacity of employees to work from home, and against those with a low capacity." [LINK]

JANUARY 15, 2021

  • John F. Cogan and John B. Taylor argue that a new round of stimulus checks won’t spur recovery of a US economy dampened by a year of pandemic: “Under current economic circumstances there is no reason to believe that $2,000 pandemic checks will help the economy, and they will be very costly. Personal income in November, the latest month for which data are available, was nearly 4% higher than a year earlier, when the economy was cruising along at full employment.” [LINK]
  • David Henderson relays a story from his wife's friend who called a California county health department official to discuss various options about keeping her business open amid rigid COVID-19 restrictions: "Friend: Is there anything we could do to stay open (additional safety measures, operating outside, etc.)? County health office: I’m sorry, no. Friend: We are on our last legs and don’t have the funds to stay afloat any longer. In fact, we will have to close down permanently if this goes into effect. What should we do? County health office: You’ll have to apply for food stamps. End of conversation." [LINK]

JANUARY 14, 2021

  • John Cochrane imagines if the government had not prohibited free-market activities during the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic: “Private companies would have developed tests quickly and would have worked to make them faster, better, and cheaper. Why? To make money! Lots of people, businesses, schools, and universities are willing to pay for good, fast testing. Medical companies, knowing they could make a lot of money so long as they beat the competition, would have raced to develop and sell tests. . . . Operation Warp Speed, in which the government paid to produce vaccines ahead of FDA approval, was the one huge success of government policy. But why was it needed? Investors seem to have billions of dollars to finance Elon Musk’s electric cars and rockets to Mars. Why would they not spend a few billions ramping up production on a risky but diversified portfolio of vaccines?” [LINK]
  • Michael Petrilli explains that summative state tests are a valuable metric for understanding which districts, schools, and students progressed and which experienced the worst learning losses during the pandemic: “[Such measures] would help us identify schools and practices worth emulating, and highlight institutions where students need the most help once the pandemic is behind us.” [LINK]

JANUARY 12, 2021

  • Paul Peterson argues that distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine can be achieved at maximum speed by prioritizing patients with older dates of birth: “One can prove one’s age simply by showing a driver’s license, Medicare or Medicaid card, or another form of identification. For most, that information is already embedded in the files of hospitals, pharmacies and doctors’ offices.” [LINK]

JANUARY 11, 2021

  • John Taylor writes that the unabated growth of e-commerce sales during the pandemic presents enormous opportunities for the American economy: “Regulatory policy, tax policy, monetary policy and even international policy must encourage this supply-side growth, not thwart it, if the economy is to continue to grow and create jobs.” [LINK]
  • John Cochrane argues that the FDA is demonstrating perverse logic in holding up authorization of AstraZenica's COVID-19 vaccine: "Can the FDA ever figure out that the point here is to stop a pandemic? The mentality is traditional: we must provide a perfect vaccine to protect individuals, taking the disease as given, and people who die while we do more studies are worth the cost. That is simply not what's going on right now. The point of the vaccine is to stop a pandemic. The disease is growing exponentially, and mutating and evolving. The externality is everything. I know, it's awfully hard for bureaucracies to innovate and change mindset. Well, sometimes you have to." [LINK]

JANUARY 8, 2021

  • Bill Whalen explains that although California governor Gavin Newsom has vowed to target businesses that violate COVID-19 public health orders, this policy has rarely been enforced: "California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, which oversees about 54,000 salons and barbershops, has levied just all of two citations and suspended two licenses—both held by the same shop in Vacaville. Meanwhile, no citations have been issued for COVID-19-related public health violations by California’s 280 state parks, nor by the California Highway Patrol." [LINK]

JANUARY 7, 2021

  • David Henderson argues that COVID-19 lockdown policies have not been based on careful analysis of data in various states: "A look at the evidence as of January 4 gives little basis for the view that lockdowns reduced deaths. It’s true that the COVID-19 death rate for locked-down California, at 675 per million residents, is well below the 988 and 1,029 for, respectively, Texas and Florida, which are relatively open. But the death rates for locked-down Michigan, New York, and New Jersey, at 1,341, 1,980, and 2,180 respectively, are well above the rates for Texas and Florida. To be sure, a more careful analysis that sifts through the data and accounts for factors other than lockdown—maybe climate matters—is needed. But on their face, the data give cold comfort." [LINK]
  • Michael Petrilli writes that educators need to help disadvantaged students make up for the year they lost during the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying opportunities for extended learning time and investing in "high-dosage" tutoring: "The answer is not to lower our standards, to declare that our expectations for young children are not 'developmentally appropriate.' After all, plenty of kids—especially affluent kids—are meeting grade-level standards. Nor would universal pre-k solve this problem. There are only so many academic skills kids can learn at ages three and four. Rather, we need to give kids who need it the gift of time. More time on task has lots of support in research. And yes, that can mean longer school days, or years, or Saturday school. These are all worth trying, especially if these strategies include high-dosage tutoring. But it could also mean an extra year of schooling." [LINK]

January 6, 2021

  • David Henderson counters assertions that COVID-19-inspired lockdowns save lives: "What if lockdowns are responsible for half of the bad unemployment consequences, and voluntary actions in response to the fear of getting the virus are responsible for the other half? Then, assuming a linear relationship between unemployment and fatalities, the lockdowns would be responsible for half of 0.89 million to 1.37 million deaths, which translates to between 450,000 deaths and 685,000 deaths. Can they really be confident that lockdowns saved at least 450,000 lives?" [LINK]
  • Raghuram Rajan questions aggressive actions taken by the Federal Reserve during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic: “We have met every crisis in the recent past with yet more aggressive central bank accommodation and yet more leverage, both public as well as private. . . . The real question is: Is this a doom loop? Does it keep going until it is forced to stop?” [LINK]

JANUARY 5, 2021

  • Lee Ohanian writes that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for the state of California to combat unemployment insurance fraud: “In the last eight months, the [unemployment] department sent out 38 million letters regarding unemployment benefits—in a state with a peak of about 3 million people unemployed—that included the recipient’s social security number. One Californian reported receiving 65 letters addressed to 15 different people who claim to live at her address. . . .And yet the employment department has doubled down on this hacker’s delight by sending out these letters at a far greater rate than ever before. The department predicted to have this problem solved by August 2021, but given the pandemic, it is likely that this resolution will be delayed.” [LINK]

January 4, 2021

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that the historical record will show that America ably withstood the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises that occurred in 2020: "Amid the death, destruction and dissension, history will show that America did not fall apart. In remarkable fashion, researchers created a viable and safe COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year—a feat earlier described as impossible by experts." [LINK]
  • David Henderson writes that the government is acting as a central planner in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine: "[The government is acting as a] monopoly buyer buying something valuable and then distributing this valuable item at a zero price. From what I can gather from reading about Pfizer, it has done its job admirably. But central planning, rather than markets and pricing, is being used to distribute the vaccine." [LINK]

December 31, 2020

  • John B. Taylor explains how the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work arrangements have influenced companies’ and workers’ decisions to leave California, where lawmakers have imposed burdensome taxes and regulations: “The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the impact of these tax and regulatory-cost differences by demonstrating that many people (especially those in the technology sector) do not need to live near their place of work. The stampede out of Silicon Valley therefore owes something to telecommunication innovations such as video conferencing services. Oracle stated in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing about its move that ‘many of our employees can choose their office location as well as continue to work from home part-time or all of the time.’” [LINK]
  • Niall Ferguson offers tips for staying sane during the COVID-19 pandemic: “As the year nears its end — and with the plot twist of a new and more contagious U.K. variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as if to reconcile the Europeans to Brexit — I feel duty bound to share some tips for maintaining mental health.” [LINK]

DECEMBER 30, 2020

  • John B. Taylor writes that the best part of the new COVID-19 relief bill is that it limits potential abuses by the Federal Reserve and supports a rules-based monetary policy for the central bank: “I hope this action is an important down payment on a return to a more strategic monetary policy going forward. As far as we can tell, the impetus for this change did not come from the Fed. But it is good news for the Fed that members of congress are supporting a more rules-based monetary policy, and they may even have some help next year from the Administration over at the Treasury.” [LINK]

DECEMBER 21, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson writes that because of COVID-19, the US household savings rate is the most volatile it has been since 1948: “In the second quarter, it jumped to an unprecedented 26%, compared to 7.3% a year before. As lockdowns and other restrictions were relaxed, the rate declined to 16% in the third quarter.” [LINK]
  • In the third and final session of Hoover’s Great Decisions 2020 video series, Lucy Shapiro explains that factors such as climate change and globalization have redistributed pathogens thereby creating the conditions for highly contagious and lethal diseases such as COVID-19. [LINK]

DECEMBER 11, 2020

  • Josef Joffe writes that whoever succeeds Angela Merkel as the next chancellor of Germany in September 2021, a continuation of the political status quo may prove to be the most favorable election result for a society and economy severely impacted by COVID-19: "This balance-of-power arrangement promises continuity, which is not particularly exciting. We in the media might soon look back wistfully at Trump, who, for all his grating flaws, was the most entertaining leader of the twenty-first century. But in these troubled times – with COVID-19 not yet vanquished, and the economy still sinking – sluggish centrism is not the worst outcome for Europe’s anchor power." [LINK]
  • Bill Whalen writes that even though California's politics is dominated by the Democratic Party, citizens are becoming increasingly resistant to restrictive COVID-19 policies imposed by the Golden State’s leadership: “In the case of the pandemic crackdown, residents are mounting resistance to lawmakers’ hypocrisy. One county plans to challenge Newsom’s COVID-19 policies in court. Cities are exploring forming their own public health departments to avoid county-level restrictions. Sheriffs are refusing to enforce state curfews. Business owners are planning open rebellion.” [LINK]

DECEMBER 10, 2020

  • In the final 2020 episode of GoodFellows, senior fellows Niall Ferguson, H. R. McMaster, and John Cochrane reflect on lessons learned from the pandemic. [LINK]
  • David Davenport argues that new COVID-19 restrictions in California are a consequence of the refusal by a large proportion of its citizens to voluntarily follow health guidelines: "On one hand, living in a free country means our first impulse should be to give people good information and guidelines but leave them free to make their own decisions. On the other hand, the government bears responsibility for making certain that the hospital and medical systems can handle the flood of cases coming their way. It is on this latter basis that the governor has taken stronger measures, mandating a stay-at-home order in regions where the available ICU bed capacity in hospitals has dropped below 15%. Preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed by sick patients is clearly within the state’s health and safety power." [LINK]

DECEMBER 9, 2020

  • Michael Spence explains how developing countries need to address the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic: "Of course, a framework that provides longer-term relief while also addressing fiscal gaps and unsustainable debt implies improved international financial mechanisms to put debt repayments on a sustainable path. In contrast to previous debt-reduction exercises (the Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative), current circumstances indicate that debt distress will fall largely on middle-income borrowers. As such, there needs to be a new debt-rescheduling architecture that actively involves commercial lenders." [LINK]
  • David Henderson explains that news about the rollout of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine, which in fact was sequenced last January, is useful for possible future pandemics: "Sunk costs are sunk, of course. But wouldn’t it be great if we took some learning from this so that we could be more prepared for the next pandemic and not shut down the economy and lose lives both from the pandemic and from the shutdown?" [LINK]

DEcember 8, 2020

  • John Cochrane argues that if the decision about who receives the COVID-19 vaccine first is determined by people willing to pay the most for it, then the pandemic and recession would go away faster: “If it goes to the highest bidder, then the highest value activities, that benefit most from reduction in social distancing, come back faster. I don't know what those are, but pretty much by definition, the economy recovers faster. That brings back jobs a lot faster than stimulus checks. Heck tax it and transfer the money to people who choose to stay home.” [LINK]

December 7, 2020

  • In a new study, Steven Davis and colleagues find that Americans reported higher productivity while working from home during the pandemic: "Many workers reported higher productivity while working from home during the pandemic than previously. Taking the survey responses at face value, accounting for employer plans about who gets to work from home, and aggregating, the authors estimate that worker productivity will be 2.4% higher post-pandemic due to working from home." [LINK]
  • Bruce Thornton argues that mayors and governors of America's most populous cities and states enacted COVID-19 policies that will have long-term negative consequences: "No enemy could have dreamed up a more insidious and devastating attack than those policies and their consequences, the ramifications of which will last for years––businesses lost, children harmed by isolation and their educations being interrupted, and the 'deaths of despair' from depression, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, and domestic violence that typically follow economic depressions and natural disasters." [LINK]

December 4, 2020

  • John B. Taylor writes that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve has abandoned its rule-based approach to monetary policy: "In March 2018, the Fed launched a new website on 'Monetary Policy Principles and Practice,' which included a section on 'Policy Rules and How Policymakers Use Them.' But the COVID-19 crisis has changed all this. After six consecutive Monetary Policy Reports that echoed the fundamental changes made in July 2017, the July 2020 Report had absolutely nothing to say about policy rules. While the Fed’s emergency actions in March and April were both necessary and effective in opening financial markets, that period has since passed, and there is now hope for rapid deployment of vaccines and a return to more normal economic conditions." [LINK]
  • David Henderson argues that policy makers' propensities toward central planning will slow the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine: "The unintentional slowing will happen because of central planning. According to an eighty-four-page document published in October by California’s Department of Public Health, central planners in the state government will allocate the vaccines. We know from almost a century of experience that central planning doesn’t work. It’s slow and wasteful. Is there good reason to think that in this case it will work? I hope there is, but hope should not triumph over logic and evidence." [LINK]

DECEMBER 3, 2020

  • Bill Whalen argues that San Francisco's reckless policies are accelerating the decline of a city severely set back by the COVID-19 pandemic: "Between the economic downturn and the option to work remotely, the city is starting to resemble a ghost town. There are twice as many homes for sale in San Francisco at present compared to a year ago. Asking prices for rental units have fallen 23 percent. In the past three months, San Francisco’s office building vacancy rate jumped from 9.9 percent to 14.1 percent. None of this has stopped the city from advancing social-engineering fantasies that may send progressives into fits of excitement but could send everyone else to — well, Texas." [LINK]

DECEMBER 2, 2020

  • In the most recent episode of GoodFellows, Niall Ferguson, H. R. McMaster, and John Cochrane discuss the consequences of both restrictive and relaxed COVID-19 policies. [LINK]
  • John Yoo predicts that more courts will start challenging the unprecedented power claimed by state governors during the COVID-19 pandemic: “The courts have a lot more information about this coronavirus and its effects and how to handle it. The courts are now going to start asking questions, and that’s how it’s starting to happen in places like New York City and soon to be in California. Courts are going to start to demand of governors, ‘You can’t just arbitrarily shut some things down and let other things open. We need to see at least some reasons, some evidence, for the distinctions these governors are making.'” [LINK]

December 1, 2020

  • Lee Ohanian argues that California's COVID-19 economic recovery report did not provide substantive policy recommendations: "After reading the report, you get the uneasy feeling that you were indeed snookered. It reads like a ‘what I did this summer’ back-to-school report. There was much listening to others. Hand-wringing about the impact of COVID, but not too much, lest there be any hint that the report is at all critical of state policies. There are roughly 30 references to diversity, equity, and racism in the report, but only one reference to efficiency. There is much admiration for the governor’s leadership, and considerable self-congratulation, including advocating for the use of electronic signatures on government documents and refurbishing used school computers." [LINK]
  • Michael Auslin explains how the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the risks of globalization: "We thought globalization allowed countries and firms to deal better with uncertainties, failures, unexpected shortfalls, and the like. However, we should have realized that by opening up to the world so much, we would make ourselves more vulnerable in ways that we haven’t been before. The pandemic started in Wuhan, a very interior city in China, a city that many Americans don't visit. Yet, because of the way China is integrated in the economies of nearly every country in the world, in the space of just a couple of months, the disease spread all over the world." [LINK]

November 30, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson writes that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the cryptocurrency revolution: "Covid-19 has been good for Bitcoin and for cryptocurrency generally. First, the pandemic accelerated our advance into a more digital word: What might have taken 10 years has been achieved in 10 months. People who had never before risked an online transaction were forced to try, for the simple reason that banks were closed. Second, and as a result, the pandemic significantly increased our exposure to financial surveillance as well as financial fraud. Both these trends have been good for Bitcoin.” [LINK]
  • Chester E. Finn, Jr. argues that standardized testing would prove useful in measuring the effectiveness of virtual education; how much students learned or regressed during the pandemic; and which segments of the population were most adversely impacted by school closures: "But how will we know for sure if end-of-year tests are again suspended? How will parents and teachers know which students need the most catch-up in which subjects? Who has the greatest need for summer school or tutoring? And how will district and state leaders know which schools coped better and worse?" [LINK]

NOVEMBER 23, 2020

  • David Henderson calculates that 222,000 lives need to be saved from COVID-19 to justify what he estimates is a $1 trillion loss in future GDP because of school closures: “No one believes that we are going to save anywhere close to 200,000 lives.” [LINK]
  • Lanhee Chen says that he hopes governors will respond effectively to the COVID-19 crisis regardless of political circumstances: "There's no way for these guys to just sit and wait. The virus and the crisis is getting worse hour by hour, day by day." [LINK]

NOVEMBER 20, 2020

  • James Timbie explains how international cooperation is integral to managing the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating future public health crises: "Countries can mutually benefit by sharing information, learning from and supporting one another, jointly developing and producing therapeutics and vaccines, and preparing together to mitigate the next outbreak. Large international organizations like the World Health Organization are cumbersome and make mistakes. The WHO did not manage the COVID-19 crisis well and gave undue deference to China. However, we should remain a member of the WHO and provide financial and technical support for its mission to improve public health globally, particularly in low- and middle-income countries." [LINK]

NOVEMBER 19, 2020

  • John Yoo argues that governments don't have broad authority to impose restrictions on indoor religious services, while permitting greater freedoms for other activities: "We are many months after the outbreak first started and courts are now going to start questioning why is the government treating religious groups differently [than secular institutions). The court has said before, in other First Amendment cases, even when the government power is broad and rights are restricted, you still can't pick and choose amongst favorite groups here and dis-favorite groups there. For example, you couldn't say we're going to have a vaccine available and we are only going to give it to democrats firs. You still are bound by the requirement of the government to treat different views and different groups equally." [LINK]
  • David Henderson writes that the risk of COVID-19 on American youth remains extremely low: "Here are data from the Centers for Disease Control as of November 12, 2020. They are for the number of deaths between February 1, 2020 and November 7, 2020. (The CDC notes that there is a lag because death counts are somewhat delayed.) The number of Americans of age 15 to 24 who have died of COVID-19 is 410. The number of Americans of age 15 to 24 who have died of all causes is 26,662....If you’re young, watch out for deaths from other causes, not COVID-19." [LINK]

NOVEMBER 18, 2020

  • In a new episode of GoodFellows, John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster discuss the legal and economic implications of new COVID-19 restrictions. [LINK]

NOVEMBER 17, 2020

  • Steven Davis and colleagues find that patent applications related to advancements in remote work surged after COVID-19-inspired lockdowns were imposed in early 2020: “The average person was positively surprised by their ability to be productive at home. We can anticipate the technology, platforms, and products that support working from home will get better over time.” [LINK]
  • John Yoo explains how governments may try to enforce restrictions on family gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19: “The same way that states, cities, and counties enforce their other laws with a combination of the police, heavy fines, and . . . you may have neighbors calling in on each other. The police are going to have to use good judgment, because as you know with things like traffic and parking zones the police can’t prosecute every case [and] they can’t give tickets for every case. So, they are going to try to focus on the most high-profile [and] most dangerous gatherings. And I think in this area, this is not one where the courts are going to subject a lot of what the police are going to do to much scrutiny. [The courts] have been generally, throughout this lockdown, pretty deferential to the decisions of governors, county executives, and public health officials on what measures are necessary, especially as case counts are starting to rise again.” [LINK]

November 16, 2020

  • John Cochrane explains that for COVID-19 to be contained effectively, policy makers need to be more concerned with responding to disease's reproduction rate than with the number of cases: “The test positivity rate takes the people who happen to come in for any reason to get a test, and measures what fraction are positive. 10 in 100 is the same as 1000 in 100000. As in that example, you can have the same test positivity rate with vastly different fractions of people in the community infectious. . . . It is a mistake to crack down when that number is large, and to ease up when that number is small. . . . Measure, and respond to the reproduction rate.” [LINK]
  • Lanhee Chen argues that Operation Warp Speed has set a standard for how the United States should manage future public health crises: "Operation Warp Speed is very important. It was the first thing that allowed for regulatory barriers to be brought down so that this vaccine can come from development to market much more quickly, much more efficiently, and be made available to people much more easily.” [LINK]

NOVEMBER 13, 2020

  • In a new study, Steven Davis and colleagues write that in the United States, stock market price declines preceded COVID-19 lockdowns and subsequent declines in economic activity: "In our first set of results, we show that stock prices and workplace mobility (a proxy for economic activity) trace out striking clockwise paths in daily data from mid-February to late May 2020. Global stock prices fell 30 percent from 17 February to 12 March, before mobility declined. Over the next 11 days, stocks fell another 10 percentage points as mobility dropped 40 percent. From 23 March to 9 April, stocks recovered half their losses and mobility fell further. From 9 April to late May, both stocks and mobility rose modestly. . . . Common global dynamics are a pronounced feature of our data. Thus, we also ask whether national stock prices have predictive value for own-country economic activity, conditional on global developments. We find that they do." [LINK]
  • Michael Hartney explains that a study he co-conducted shows that there was no connection between COVID-19 case rates and decisions on whether to open schools. Rather, he argues, these decisions were based on political factors, including the level of support for Donald Trump and the strength of teachers' unions within school districts: "This study suggests that the polarizing politics of red and blue caused school boards to drift away from a dispassionate analysis of covid-19 numbers toward the political preferences of their constituents." [LINK]

NOVEMBER 12, 2020

  • John Cochrane writes that if the United States had widespread and rapid testing for COVID-19, it could determine whether or not the US population has reached herd immunity; that is, when the reproduction rate of the virus falls below one: “The vaccine will not be 100% effective. Many people who test positive now refuse to quarantine. Many people may say, I have the vaccine I'm good to go. Always think of the behavioral response! How long does vaccine granted immunity last? In all the money and data being spread around, I wish we knew how many people in a completely random sample are infectious right now, and how many show antibodies.” [LINK]

NOVEMBER 11, 2020

  • In the latest episode of GoodFellows, John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster, examine how a Biden administration might approach the COVID-19 pandemic. [LINK]

NOVEMBER 9, 2020

  • John Cochrane writes that it is rational for people to return to their normal lives when the spread of COVID-19 slows down and socially distance when more people become infected. However, Cochrane maintains that policy makers should better anticipate these cycles to eradicate the disease: "Public policy is supposed to get on top of these cycles, by stamping out disease when it is low, the same way you keep taking antibiotics even when you feel better. It is the policy that has failed rational expectations here, not people. (No, that does not mean lockdown business and print money so we all can stay home and order stuff that comes by magic from Amazon. Ambitious testing would have done the trick. Or at least containing the summer's wave of super spreading parties.)" [LINK]
  • Michael Petrilli explains how hybrid, remote, and independent learning might outlast the COVID-19 pandemic: "I do think there are going to be possibilities especially in my view for the older kids. . . . Maybe [high schoolers] could have a schedule that looked more like a college student's schedule. . . . It's going to take some state policy changes to allow that sort of thing to continue going forward. Even though a charter school could say 'We want to have a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule,' that's really not allowed right now. But maybe we should allow that thing going forward, now that we see kids can actually learn pretty well online if the design is right." [LINK]

NOVEMBER 5, 2020

  • Chester Finn writes that the COVID-19 school closures remain in Montgomery County, Maryland, in Washington, DC, and elsewhere because teachers' unions are obdurate: “This is insane and irresponsible. We know from a thousand sources that almost all kids are better off in school, both for purposes of academic learning and for all manner of social, socialization, and SEL benefits. We know that poor and minority students are harmed the most by not going to school. We know that millions of parents’ lives have been dealt extremely damaging blows by having to forego their jobs and other obligations in order to care for their out-of-school children.” [LINK]

NOVEMBER 2, 2020

  • David Henderson writes that the 33.1 percent increase in US GDP during the third quarter of 2020 demonstrates that the COVID-19 recession is over and the nation is now experiencing an economic recovery: “A 33.1 percent annual rate of increase means that that would be the rate if the rate of increase of the summer quarter continued for 3 more quarters. Of course, that won’t happen. To put it in perspective, a 33.1 percent annual increase implies that real GDP in the summer quarter increased by 7.4 percent. That’s a record increase for a quarter.” [LINK]
  • On the Education Exchange podcast hosted by Senior Fellow Paul Peterson, National Fellow Michael Hartney discusses his new study about how politics has surmounted all other factors in deciding whether to reopen schools following COVID-19-inspired closures: "There's frustration from parents, even politically liberal or Democratic parents." [LINK]

OCTOBER 30, 2020

  • In the latest edition of Hoover Policy Insights, fellows explain the consequences of COVID-19 relief packages for the long-term federal budget: “The consequences for the long-term budget from this spending are significant. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office projected federal debt held by the public to rise from 79 percent of GDP in 2019 to 144 percent in thirty years. Just over a year later, however, debt now exceeds 100 percent of GDP and is projected to grow to 195 percent by 2050.” [LINK]

OCTOBER 29, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson reviews sociologist and physician Nicolas Cristakis’s new book, Apollo’s Arrow, about the history of the COVID-19 pandemic and its possible impacts on the future of society: “He ultimately concludes that the belated imposition of lockdowns ‘was commensurate to the threat posed by the virus’, even if viewed ‘strictly from an economic perspective.’ I have my doubts about that conclusion. Research by economists as different in their approaches as Austen Goelsbee and John Cochrane suggests that Americans adapted spontaneously to the outbreak, with much social distancing preceding the official shelter-in-place orders. The debate on the costs and benefits of the lockdowns will not be over until we have a full accounting of their economic, social and health costs.” [LINK]
  • David Henderson cites proportionally low COVID-19 case and death rates in Manitoba, Canada, to illustrate the high cost of lockdowns on persons and businesses: "Look at the big picture and look at tradeoffs. The lockdowns might well be causing more deaths than they’re saving." [LINK]

OCTOBER 27, 2020

  • In a new study, Steven Davis and colleagues explain that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an aggregate decline in economic activity but the impacts vary across different sectors of the economy: “Our results point to a large variety of firm-level risk exposures that drive returns in both positive and negative directions in response to the arrival of pandemic news, which provides insights into how the market expects reallocation activity to take place across firms.” [LINK]

OCTOBER 26, 2020

  • Senior Fellow Paul Peterson interviews Naval Postgraduate School professor Ryan Sullivan about a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece he coauthored with Research Fellow David Henderson about the negative economic consequences of COVID-19-inspired school closures. [LINK]

OCTOBER 23, 2020

  • A study coauthored by Hoover Institution national fellow Michael Hartney finds that local politics—not the science of COVID-19—has predominantly shaped policy decisions regarding the reopening of schools: "The main takeaway here is that neither Republicans or Democrats have a monopoly on what form school reopenings have taken: Most school districts—53 percent—in our sample began the year with a hybrid plan, using both in-person and remote learning; among the rest, 24 percent were remote-only, and the remaining 23 percent fully in-person. Still, we feel it is revealing to see what was the first instinct schools followed in setting their policies, and the evidence strongly indicates politics, not COVID case rates, drove those early decisions." [LINK]

OCTOBER 22, 2020

  • Victor Davis Hanson explains that though the full social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are uncertain, the consequences of politicians' and institutions' failures to adapt to radical changes remain a historical constant: In the place of these institutions, "citizens will seek to ensure their own livelihoods, leisure and safety in ways that are more reliable and affordable—with their circumstances in their own hands rather than in those of distant others." [LINK]

OCTOBER 21, 2020

  • David Henderson writes that since in-person classes are not causing a spike in new COVID-19 cases and mortality rates, according to data, the cost of keeping students at home is far greater than the disease: “There are weighty costs of not opening. A report from McKinsey & Co. found that disrupting in-person classes through January 2021 would result in the loss of $61,000 to $82,000 in lifetime earnings for the average K–12 student in the U.S. Another study led by Georgetown University’s George Psacharopoulos found that shutting down all American schools for only four months would result in $2.5 trillion in lost future wages. . . . One reason economists care about lost earnings is that they increase the risk of death. Lower incomes mean people aren’t able to buy safer cars and afford healthier foods, which inevitably leads to shorter lifespans." [LINK]
  • A New York Post editorial cites a report by Kevin Hassett and colleagues about how Vice President Biden's announced economic plans would threaten the recovery of the US economy, which has already been set back by the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic: "The Hoover economists project that his program would shave 'employment per person by about 3 percent, the capital stock per person by about 15 percent, real GDP per capita by more than 8 percent and real consumption per household by about 7 percent.' That translates to 4.9 million fewer people employed by 2030, $2.6 trillion less in GDP and $1.5 trillion less consumption that year alone. And the authors say their figures are conservative estimates of 'the negative impact of the full Biden agenda'—his tax hikes, his anti-carbon agenda and the cost of his health-insurance plans." [LINK]

OCToBER 20, 2020

  • Michael Boskin believes that the economic fallout of COVID-19 will be felt for at least two years: "Most economies will not return to their previous performance peaks until late 2022." [LINK]

OCTOBER 19, 2020

  • Herbert S. Lin analyzes the mental health effects of prolonged lockdown policies meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and compares them to symptoms of troops who have experienced stress resulting from combat operations: "Soldiers in combat zones have usually deployed far from home, away from the social support that usually helps people to cope with mental and emotional stress. (So too is the case with public health guidelines calling for social distancing—hugs from friends and relatives not within my shelter-in-place pod are off-limits.)" [LINK]

OCTOBER 16, 2020

  • John Taylor writes that the Fed should pursue the same rules-based policy path it was on before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States: “The Fed’s Board of Governors explained that policy decisions would be based on 'assessments of the shortfalls of employment from its maximum level' rather than by ‘deviations from its maximum level,’ as had been previously stated. But whether the focus is on ‘deviations’ or ‘shortfalls,’ this new approach adds unnecessary uncertainty, because shortfalls are not defined. . . . In adopting this ‘flexible’ approach, the Fed seems to have shifted away from the more strategic, rules-based policy that it had been pursuing at least since 2017.” [LINK]
  • Michael Hartney writes that data proves that politics surmounted public health indicators in decisions by a majority of education policy makers about when and how much to reopen schools: "We examined the decisions of nearly 10,000 school districts about whether to bring students back for in-person classes and whether to allow them to participate in extracurriculars like athletic activities. We considered an array of demographic, socioeconomic, public health and geographic factors. But the data pointed in an all-too-familiar direction: politics drove most of the decision-making." [LINK]

OCTOBER 15, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson argues that high rates of COVID-19 infection in the United States and other Western countries are due to the failure of government officials to implement testing for the virus, deploy contact tracing technology, and adequately protect the elderly: "You had to very quickly, even before the Chinese confirmed that there was serious human-to-human spread, start testing people, and you had to do contact tracing when people were infected. Those things were done successfully in some countries, but they were not done successfully in the US or in the UK or in Italy. Indeed, a lot of things were done very wrong. One reason that there was very high excess mortality in New York, as in the UK, as in multiple European countries, was that no effort was made to prevent the virus from getting into elderly care homes." [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas explains that progress on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine is a significant reason to be optimistic about society's resilience against the pandemic: "Priority groups and people at high risk [will receive the vaccine] no later than January." [LINK]

OCTOBER 14, 2020

  • H. R. McMaster and colleagues have published a new essay about preparing, mobilizing, and integrating responses across the government and the private sector during future biomedical crises: “The medical response to COVID-19 was hampered in speed and effectiveness by obstacles to effective coordination across federal agencies, between local, state, and federal governments, and among public and private-sector organizations. Drawing on interviews with practitioners and open-source research, this report describes those obstacles and recommends policies and actions to help overcome them and improve our nation’s response to this pandemic as well as future biomedical crises.” [LINK]

OCTOBER 13, 2020

  • Steven Davis and colleagues analyze data from their recent survey that suggests business travel expenditures will be reduced by nearly 30 percent relative to 2019 even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over: "Such a large, broad-based reduction in travel spending not only suggests a sluggish and potentially drawn-out recovery for the travel, accommodation, and transportation industries, but it also indicates that companies expect to shift from face-to-face meetings to lower-cost virtual meetings. And that’s exactly what we found when we asked companies about the share of virtual meetings they held in 2019 versus the share they anticipate holding in a post-COVID-19 world." [LINK]
  • Victor Davis Hanson explains that if President Trump maintains a schedule of in-person (versus virtually) campaigning, it will be to his advantage with middle-class voters: “This lockdown was never symmetrical. There were arguments for it to flatten the so-called curve so we wouldn’t get overwhelmed. It was never a static situation. It was a bad choice versus the worst of a pandemic. But it changes. For nine months almost, the damage that we are doing economically, healthwise for the country, is overwhelming, and it's overwhelming the risk of the virus. More importantly, it was asymmetrical on who benefited and who didn’t. All these people that drive trucks, stock shelves, and in the drugstore waiting on you or growing fruit out where I am in rural California, they risk [the pandemic] every single day. They are not the Zoom or Skype class. They have trouble enough going to the doctor or working 40 hours a week. . . . Trump is making the argument that he is one with the middle, muscular classes. That he takes the same risks they do.” [LINK]

OCTOBER 12, 2020

  • In remarks at a session of the OECD's program on Confronting Planetary Emergencies—Solving Human Problems, John H. Cochrane advocates against future comprehensive lockdown policies to combat pandemics: “We must not enshrine economic lockdown as the default answer. There is no reason an auto body paint shop needs to be closed because of covid. There is no reason Italians can’t take their dogs for walks. We need to build the capacity to flexibly regulate dangerous behavior not just business per se, to achieve a reproduction rate below one without killing the economy. That too cannot be done on the fly. It is a institutional capacity that needs investment, and the OECD can help to spread best practices.” [LINK]
  • Raghuram Rajan argues that policy makers should focus on public health, financial relief for the poor and unemployed, and the solvency of firms instead of issuing additional stimulus checks as the solution for economic recovery: "One is making people more confident to go out, which is dealing with the medical issues. That would be helpful for demand and that would require more spending for medical assets. . . . The other is two forms of relief. One is for the poor people, the unemployed, just to help them consume. It's not about demand, it's just to keep them alive. The second is just to keep firms alive. . . . That is not Keynesian spending, that is just making sure that they survive." [LINK]

OCtober 9, 2020

  • Herbert S. Lin argues that disinformation on social media about COVID-19 and other major policy issues has led to increased social and political divisions that can be exploited by America’s adversaries: "The Russians never created fault lines in U.S. society. They merely widened the fault lines that already exist. . . . In this context, many Americans on both the left and the right are useful idiots to be used by those seeking to damage U.S. societal cohesion." [LINK]

OCTOBER 8, 2020

  • Josef Joffe reviews Fareed Zakaria’s new book, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World: “The book’s central message comes in the last paragraph: 'This ugly pandemic has . . . opened up a path to a new world.' Which one? The gist of Zakaria’s program is revealed by a recent editorial in The Financial Times, which he quotes approvingly. That newspaper was once a cheerleader of global capitalism. Now it argues that ‘many rich societies’ do not honor ‘a social contract that benefits everyone.’ So, the neoliberalism of decades past must yield to ‘radical reforms.’ Governments ‘will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public services as investments. . . . Redistribution will again be on the agenda; the privileges of the . . . wealthy in question.’ Now is the time for ‘basic income and wealth taxes.’” [LINK]

OCTOBER 7, 2020

  • John Cogan and John B. Taylor argue that the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic does not provide sufficient grounds to abandon policies that promote economic freedom: “The coronavirus and lockdowns have had a devastating impact on workers and businesses, and have made prosperity feel distant. But we shouldn’t forget the widespread gains that came from sound economic policies as recently as this spring. As good as the economy was, it could be even better. To reach full potential, Americans should elect a president and Congress that will restrain federal spending to keep debt at bay, reverse restrictive trade policies, and a return to a more-predictable, rules-based monetary policy.” [LINK]

OCTOBER 6, 2020

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that government-imposed lockdowns that were intended to prevent COVID-19 may result in significantly more casualties above those caused by the virus and its comorbidities: “It could be terrifying when we eventually learn of the hundreds of thousands who were sickened or who died from missed medical treatments and surgeries, or from the stress of the quarantines or the spikes in alcohol and drug use, or spousal and child abuse.”  [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas explains that President's Trump's ongoing recovery from COVID-19 is a testament to the administration's success in supporting the development of treatments for the disease: “We know the medical care itself has advanced since the beginning of the pandemic. This is not March–April, this is October. We have learned a tremendous amount, as the president said, and you can see the benefits of that. Hospital stays all over the country are one-third of what they were in early March–April. Hospital mortality is down to one-half of what it was at the peak in March–April.” [LINK]

OCTOBER 5, 2020 

  • Lee Ohanian writes that President Trump’s positive diagnosis of COVID-19 will create substantial turbulence in financial markets: “We should expect much higher than normal volatility in equity prices and possibly interest rates while the president and the first lady quarantine, because their COVID test results create new economic and political uncertainty, and uncertainty almost always roils financial markets.” [LINK]
  • Niall Ferguson explains how the spread of COVID-19 is presenting tough hurdles for President Trump's reelection: "The hospitals in Wisconsin are filling up with new Covid-19 cases. And Covid-19 is the main reason Trump is struggling with older voters, a key demographic for him four years ago. Trump clearly wanted to announce a successful vaccine before the election. That seems less and less likely. Jared Kushner wanted the economy to be 'rocking; by now. But the refusal of the pandemic to 'go away, like a miracle' is clearly having some adverse effects on the economy, preventing mobility from returning to normal in the most affected states, and slowing the recovery of the labor market.” [LINK]

OCTOBER 2, 2020

  • Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), directed by Hoover distinguished research fellow Macke Raymond, has released a new report about learning losses for students in 19 states as a result of school shutdowns amid the COVID-19 crisis: "The learning loss estimates were translated into lost days of learning, based on a typical 180-day school year. Across the 19 states, the average estimates of how much students lost in the Spring of 2020 ranged from 57 to 183 days of learning in Reading and from 136 to 232 days of learning in Math." [LINK]
  • John Cochrane writes that the further spread of COVID-19 can be prevented with inexpensive rapid testing: "The tests don't have to be perfect and what we do with them doesn't have to be perfect. We don't need intrusive contact tracing, government imposed isolation, and so on. So long as a bit more than half of the people who are infected stay home and don't infect one other person (on average—it's really about super spreaders) the pandemic ends." [LINK]

OCTOBER 1, 2020

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that White House coronavirus task force advisor Scott Atlas has not downplayed the disease but has rightly warned about the enormous societal and economic costs of severe lockdown measures: "Atlas has warned that government must be careful not to endanger Americans with draconian lockdowns that curtail needed medical examinations, procedures, and treatments. Just as dangerous as the disease may be quarantine-related spikes in mental illness, substance abuse, child and spousal abuse, and depression from lost livelihoods. Children may be suffering irreparable harm from being locked down and kept out of school.” [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 30, 2020

  • Lanhee Chen argues that US policymakers should focus on providing targeted relief to people who are unemployed due to the economic impacts of COVID-19,  instead of passing a large scale stimulus package: ”Do we need to be giving state and local governments hundreds of billions of dollars of additional assistance at this point in time? Is that going to really create an additional environment, where we are going to see more job creation, economic growth, and more prosperity?" [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 28, 2020

  • Michael Spence explains how Asian societies have demonstrably managed the co-evolution of the COVID-19 virus and the economy better than Western countries: "They had prior experience and they had built-in systems. They weren’t inventing it on the fly—tracing and testing. Second, some of them made better use of digital technology to support that effort. Third, culturally—because of experience, I think—they probably had a higher level of compliance with the recommendations that the WHO has made in this particular instance." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

  • Scott Atlas explains that the phenomenon of T-cell immunity may explain why some people are less vulnerable to COVID-19 than others: "[T-cells] are an immunity that lasts longer [than antibodies]. . . . Antibodies are transient. We make an assessment of how many people have been exposed by doing this test for antibodies, but it turns out, the literature has shown, that there is a lot more than that population that is actually resistant because of either T-cell response from this infection or a T-cell immunity from a similar virus." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 24, 2020

  • Scott Atlas says that the development of a COVID-19 vaccine is taking place at unprecedented rate without cutting any safety corners: "It's unprecedented what's happened here. A typical vaccine takes roughly four years or so and now we're going to have a vaccine highly likely in far less than one year." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 23, 2020

  • H. R. McMaster argues that Beijing's active efforts to conceal information about COVID-19 in January 2020 caused the virus to spread from China and become a global pandemic: "This is a virus that was inflicted on the world by the Chinese Communist Party’s repression of the truth, repression of the doctors who were trying to warn about it, [repression of ] the news about human-to-human transmission, [and] shutting down domestic travel before they shut down international travel. The Chinese Communist Party revealed its irresponsibility and the danger associated with its closed authoritarian system." [LINK]
  • Elizabeth Economy writes that China's success in its domestic containment of COVID-19 while the United States and the rest of the world continue to fight the virus has encouraged President Xi Jinping to pursue aggressive actions against Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and India: "These measures, according to several China watchers, are mainly aimed at bolstering Xi’s image, deflect attention from his early mishandling of the pandemic and achieve spectacular gains before the party congress in 2022 to get his third term without any difficulty. The antipathy that Xi has generated is persuading many countries to augment their defence capabilities and come together to push back China." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 22, 2020

  • John Cochrane shares an email he received from Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Romer that makes the case for expanded COVID-19 testing. Romer argues, “A combined policy of (i) more "test and isolate" which reduces R [reproduction number] and (ii) more social interaction and more economic activity which increases R can be designed so that the net effect on R is zero.” [LINK]
  • John Cochrane argues that opening the economy, achieving herd immunity, and protecting the most vulnerable is not a sufficient policy response to the coronavirus: "Most people think herd immunity happens when everyone has gotten it, which is false. A virus stops spreading when the reproduction rate is below one. The reproduction rate combines frequency of contact and fraction of immune in the population. Only that combination matters. . . . So we need to work on both parts of the equation—reduce the contact rate and minimum economic and social cost, as well as wait for greater numbers to become immune." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 21, 2020

  • In a new research brief, Steven Davis and colleagues examine evidence on how societal efforts to contain COVID-19 have caused a major reallocation shock in the US economy: "[We use] the Survey of Business Uncertainty (SBU), a monthly panel survey, to quantify the near‐​term reallocative impact on business staffing outcomes. . . . One question asks (as of mid‐​April) about the novel coronavirus impact on company staffing since March 1, and another asks about the anticipated impact over the ensuing four weeks. . . . The data say that pandemic‐​related developments caused near‐​term layoffs equal to 12.8 percent of March 1 employment and new hires equal to 3.8 percent. In other words, the COVID-19 shock caused 3 new hires in the near term for every 10 layoffs." [LINK]
  • In an interview with Paul Peterson, Eric Hanushek explains that educators need to focus on teaching, not just the logistics of reopening safely, in order to mitigate the long-term economic impacts of school closures and learning losses due to COVID-19: "However schools are restarted, they have to be emphasizing student learning. It's not a matter of just how much distance there is between desks or whether everybody has an iPad, we have to really focus on the learning of students." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 18, 2020

  • Eric Hanushek explains the long term consequences of school closures due to the pandemic: "What this school closure period in the whole pandemic means is that the current cohort of students is going to be harmed lifetime in the labor market, and more than that, the country is going to be harmed because future economic growth is highly dependent upon the quality of education." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

  • Scott Atlas explains the consequences of censorship in certain areas of scientific inquiry, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic: "It is a disaster. We have already seen the near destruction of objective journalism. When you start censoring science, you are removing fact. You are removing the basic way we decide what is truth and what is not. This has been done historically in various countries, but we are teetering on the edge of what is done in third world countries. [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 16, 2020

  • Scott Atlas writes that colleges and universities should reopen with protective measures in place, because young adults are at extremely low risk for serious illness or death from COVID-19: “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that only 0.2 percent of deaths have been in those under age 25. . . . For those 18 to 29, the risk is 10 times less than for people 40 to 49, 30 times less than for those 50 to 64, 90 times less than for those 65 to 74, 220 times less than for those 75 to 84 and 630 times less than for those 85 and older.” [LINK]
  • John Cochrane writes that a collection of Stanford University faculty have waged an ad hominem attack on Scott Atlas for his views on COVID-19 instead of debating him on the facts: "I have plenty of disagreements with Scott as well. In my conversations with Scott, he was a bit more enthusiastic about herd immunity than I was around mid-March. So was Boris Johnson, all of his scientific advisers, and so was the government of Sweden. But Scott does weigh logic and evidence carefully, knows a lot of it, and if you actually communicate with him he's pretty darn responsive. . . . But if you as scientists disagree with Scott, document what he says, document the contrary evidence, and acknowledge the places in this fast-moving area where science is just a little bit uncertain. Persuade us the facts are wrong, don't just slime a colleague for 'fostering' 'opinions.'" [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

  • David Davenport writes that COVID-19 not only attacks immune systems and the economy, but also America’s culture of rugged individualism: “If the pandemic is spreading here, many argue, rugged individualism is at fault. It keeps people from wearing masks, prevents them from helping each other, and is downright dangerous….The term 'rugged individualism’ was coined by Herbert Hoover during his 1928 presidential campaign — not, as many have suggested, in response to the Great Depression the following year….Importantly, rugged individualism is not a synonym for selfishness. The individual is the starting point from which one is free to join churches, community groups, and all kinds of associations that collaborate. Individuals form governments, not vice versa.” [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas says that masks should be worn to prevent the spread of COVID-19 only when social distancing is not possible: "To say that [individuals] should be wearing masks when [they] are in the desert all alone or when [they] run through the park all alone or when they are inside [their cars] all alone, I can't sign on to that kind of policy because it is irrational and it is not a science based plan." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 14, 2020

  • Jonathan Tobin writes that YouTube’s decision to remove a recent episode of Uncommon Knowledge, in which Dr. Scott Atlas criticized COVID-19 inspired lockdown policies, should make reining in the power of big tech monopolies a national priority: “Such actions might be deemed defensible when applied to videos that promoted actions that would patently endanger the health of viewers, denied the existence of the disease, or promoted conspiracy theories that included traditional memes associated with racial bias or antisemitism. Yet, a video from a widely respected think tank in which Atlas discussed a data-driven analysis of the catastrophic impact of the lockdowns does not fit into any of those easily identified categories that might deserve to be flagged.” [LINK]
  • In a new report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Eric Hanushek and colleague Ludger Woessman write that nationwide school shutdowns last spring will result in an approximate 3 percent decrease in the future wages of most students: "[The learning losses] will follow students into the labor market, and both students and their nations are likely to feel the adverse economic outcomes." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

  • Herbert Lin and colleague Harold Trinkunas write that the COVID-19 outbreak has been accompanied by widespread proliferation of misinformation and disinformation about the biological origin and nature of the virus, diagnoses and treatments, and public health measures: "The combination of the psychology of pandemic—which causes societies to grasp at (mis)information in the midst of panic—and political polarization—which leads people to attribute partisan motivations to public health measures—have made the spread of false information about COVID-19 particularly problematic....it challenges the capacity of states and public health authorities to develop, implement, and communicate scientific evidence-based responses to the COVID-19 pandemic." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 10, 2020

  • Eric Hanushek, and colleague Ludger Woessman, discuss a recent report they authored for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that describes how spring school closures due to COVID-19 have resulted in harm to students as well as a 3 percent or more loss of lifetime income: "Our recently released OECD study paints a depressing overall picture for the nation. These learning losses lower the skills of the future workforce. Even with the optimistic estimate of learning losses, GDP will be 1.5 percent less for the remainder of the century than would have been expected pre-COVID. The sum of lost GDP over the century would be an astounding $14 trillion in current dollar (present value) terms." [LINK]
  • Lanhee Chen argues that there are major educational, public health, and economic costs to society as a result of COVID-19 inspired school closures: "We have seen an increase in mental and behavioral health concerns, an increase in concerns in a failure to make proper academic progress, we've seen major disparities grow between educational outcomes for those who are better off and those who are poor. All of those things are a product of what happens when you keep schools shuttered... There are are implications for shuttering of schools beyond just the kids. Our ability to have a fully functioning economy is based on the ability of kids to have a place to go during the day so parents can work. It'sgoing to be very difficult for labor markets to recover fully, for employers to have a fully functioning enterprises if there is no childcare available. [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 9, 2020

  • Scott Atlas discusses AstraZeneca's recent decision to pause a trial for the COVID-19 vaccine because of an adverse reaction: "This is an indication that trials are being done safely...That's exactly why we are doing the trial. People should be assured by this....We have the safest drug production in the world. This is something that is done with so many different organizations inside the government...There is a separate independent board of experts that is nongovernmental, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board. [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

  • Scott Atlas explains that the center of the Trump administration's pandemic policy is protecting the most vulnerable and argues against reports that he is advocating a national "herd immunity" strategy. Atlas maintains, however, that the latter concept is the scientific basis for vaccinations: “It’s a known immunological phenomenon whereby enough people in a population have immunity to an infection, and so, by virtue of that, you break the chain of contagiousness toward the vulnerable. . . . If you don’t believe in herd immunity, you don’t believe in why immunizations are given.” [LINK]
  • Kevin Warsh explains that the COVID-19 pandemic has emboldened the US Federal Reserve to assume unprecedented authority: "The economy collapsed and financial market prices followed. The Fed was on the precipice of losing its hard-earned credibility and vaunted status. With few good options, it was compelled to double down. It made low interest rates lower and its big balance sheet bigger. . . . If the economy does well in coming quarters, I expect the Fed will expand significantly the scale, scope and duration of its asset purchases. If the economy weakens or financial markets fall, the Fed will do even more. This is what political scientists call path dependency. When an institution sticks to a path for so long, it finds its options limited, detours difficult and exits infeasible." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 3, 2020

  • Scott Atlas writes that the Trump administration has implemented a three-pronged strategy to safely reopen the American economy and society from COVID-19 restrictions that includes protecting high-risk individuals, careful monitoring of hospitals to prevent overcrowding, and leveraging federal resources in order to guide businesses and schools on commonsense disease mitigation measures: “While the lockdown may have been justified at the start, when little data was known, we know far more about the virus today. It’s time we use all we have learned and all we have done to reopen our schools and our economy safely and get back to restoring America." [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 2, 2020

  • On Fox News's Tucker Carlson Tonight, Scott Atlas responds to reports that he is advocating for the Trump administration to adopt a national strategy of herd immunity from the coronavirus: “No one’s ever said that to the president. . . . I’ve never heard the president say that, and that is not a strategy here in any way, shape, or form.” [LINK]

SEPTEMBER 1, 2020

  • David Henderson writes optimistically that COVID-inspired school closures have prompted parents to better prepare for home schooling, have revealed the mediocrity of the public school system, and have laid the groundwork for greater accountability in education: "What if, as I predict, home-schooling works, on average, better than the public schools before the pandemic? Once the pandemic ends, many parents will want to continue with home-schooling. . . . Even many who don’t home-school will push for an expansion of charter schools, which tend to be responsive to parents and can more easily fire poor teachers. . . . Teachers unions won’t be in a strong position to object to a shift to lower-cost charters if they continue to object to the idea of teaching in person five days a week." [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas met with Florida governor Ron DeSantis to discuss the public health strategy of reopening the Sunshine State's schools: "[Atlas] said the priorities have to be on protecting high-risk individuals, making sure to prevent hospital overcrowding and opening society." [LINK]

AUGUST 31, 2020

  • Michael Spence writes that the “pandemic economy” has favored firms with intangible assets, fewer employees, and a large digital footprint: “We can expect this trend to continue, albeit not at the heightened pandemic-induced pace. Traditional businesses will recover, but the disconnect between value creation across firms depending on intangibles per employee will persist and remain a major economic and social challenge.” [LINK]
  • Bill Whalen explains that the likelihood of high proportions of mail-in voting due to the COVID-19 outbreak may undermine the integrity of the upcoming presidential election: "In a national election and based on 2016’s turnout, that translates to about 45.5 million mail-in votes. A problem: in 13 states (including pivotal Michigan and Pennsylvania), election officials can’t start processing mail ballots until the day of the election. . . . Depending on who’s doing the doom-and-gloom soothsaying, there’s no way we can count the votes due to a postal deluge of mailed ballots; and no way we can certify the results in a timely fashion. " [LINK]

AUGUST 28, 2020

  • Bill Whalen explains why President Trump, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, hasn't presented himself like a wartime incumbent too busy for politics: "For Trump to present himself as a wartime president would be to make his administration’s handling of COVID-19 the centerpiece of the culminating moment of the GOP convention (though, 30 minutes into his speech, Trump did reference a World War II–like 'mobilization' in detailing the U.S. government’s response to the pandemic)." [LINK]
  • Markos Kounalakis argues that the polarized nature of American politics and the contentious debate over mail-in ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic raise the need for international observers to ensure the integrity of the upcoming presidential election: “This year, the global democratic community needs to gear up and step in to oversee, monitor and judge the fairness of November’s U.S. presidential election. Germany, Sweden, Japan, India, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Israel, and other nations all need to up their game. They should immediately train and send new volunteers to conduct sweeping election monitoring across America, mostly in tough battleground states." [LINK]

AUGUST 27, 2020

  • Michael Petrilli writes that educators and policy makers should study how charter school networks transitioned to remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, because they have demonstrated consistent success in teaching minority and low-income students: "[Charter schools] are highly effective, well-run 'learning organizations,' with gobs of talent, enviable autonomy from the many rules and strictures that can make life difficult for educators in the district sector, and the mission, resources, and incentives to keep innovating." [LINK]

AUGUST 26, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson predicts the long-term of effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on governments throughout the world: ”I see a future for a slimmed-down, smarter government, capable of dealing with problems.” [LINK]

AUGUST 25, 2020

  • Michael Boskin writes that the pace of economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult to predict because it is too closely tied to the trajectory of the virus: “The decline in output and employment was much larger, and happened much faster, than in the Great Recession, and the early V-shaped recovery appears to be slowing—and is likely to continue at a more modest pace. The likely long-run effects include a huge loss of small businesses and human capital (due to unemployment and online-only instruction); more permanent telecommuting; acceleration of the digital transformation; and increased concentration and decreased competition in some sectors.” [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas argues that COVID-19 lockdown policies are leading to disproportionately negative outcomes for America's youth: "We have the latest data from the CDC that showed that there is a massive increase in people with psychiatric illness and depressive and anxiety disorders. . . . There is a shocking figure here: 25 percent of our young adults, 18 to 25, have contemplated suicide in the past 30 days. This really has to end." [LINK]

AUGUST 24, 2020

  • Dr. Marc Siegel writes that Dr. Scott Atlas will bring fresh perspective to the White House in approaching the COVID-19 pandemic: “He has appeared with me on 'Doctor Radio Reports' on SiriusXM, where he presented himself as an anti-fear-monger, a non-alarmist who bases his views on logic and data. Nevertheless, his background as a non-virologist who is no longer seeing patients has left him subject to some media attacks. This seems completely unfair. There already are several respected virologists on the task force, but not enough health policy or public health experts.” [LINK]
  • Casey Mulligan argues that policymakers should provide back-to-work incentives in order to reverse the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic: “Unemployment numbers are not something that I have looked at in my career because it is a combination of not having a job and being in a state of mind. . . . The government is always changing how it rewards that state of mind, and there are two versions of being unemployed: not working and out of the labor force. So, we need incentives that encourage people to go back to work rather than stay at home and do nothing." [LINK]

AUGUST 21, 2020

  • In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Scott Atlas, President Trump’s new special adviser on the coronavirus, makes the case for school reopenings: “There's nothing more important than educating our children. In fact, we are the only nation of the Western European and our peer nations . . . that are somehow sacrificing our children out of our own fear.” [LINK]
  • Davis Henderson opines on the irony of FDA policy in establishing new regulatory hurdles for virus testing during a time of emergency: "If there’s not an emergency, commercial and hospital labs are allowed to use their own tests. But if there is an emergency, these labs must seek and get FDA authorization. I do not think that word 'emergency' means what the FDA thinks it means." [LINK]

AUGUST 20, 2020

  • John Cochrane argues that the FDA should lift restrictions on affordable COVID-19 testing that could rapidly yield results: "The financial cost is trivial compared to the $5 trillion the government is spending on covid relief." [LINK]
  • Citing Scott Atlas's April 22 op-ed for The Hill, "The Data Is In—Stop the Panic and End the Total Isolation," former congressman Ron Paul argues that the Hoover senior fellow's credentials as a top physician, hospital administrator, and health policy expert make him well suited for a White House advisory role: "In the article [Atlas] made five main points that are as true today as when he wrote them: an overwhelming majority of people are at no risk of dying from COVID-19; protecting older people prevents hospital overcrowding; locking down a population actually prevents the herd immunity necessary to defeat the virus; people are dying because they are not being treated for non-COVID-19 illnesses; we know what part of the population is at risk and we can protect them." [LINK]

AUGUST 19, 2020

  • Russell Berman writes that the German government and media's negative response to protests against Chancellor Angela Merkel's COVID-19 ordinances sheds light on the process by which the pandemic response can act as a vehicle to enhance state power: "The conclusion to draw might be that in the face of an emergency in any country, objectivity and neutrality are not viable options, no matter how great the threat to civil liberty. That is a troubling prospect. Alternatively, we can read this one controversy as a snapshot of political culture in Germany, where liberal democracy may be more fragile than many had expected and hoped." [LINK]
  • In a meeting with President Trump about the reopening of schools last Wednesday, Paul Peterson explained the drawbacks of virtual learning: “I thought digital learning was the future, but we have learned through this COVID crisis that we haven’t got digital learning to the point where you can really engage young people.” [LINK]

AUGUST 18, 2020

  • Richard Epstein argues that a recent study suggesting "excess deaths" in New York City from COVID-19 surpass those from the 1918 Spanish Flu is greatly exaggerated, because it doesn't account for acute comorbidities among the deceased, the state government's mishandling of the current crisis, and the data indicating those over 65 suffer the severest effects: "Serious social consequences flow from the misattribution of deaths to COVID-19. In New York and other states, a common response to the artificially high death tolls has been to reimpose heavy sanctions in order to stem a second wave." [LINK]
  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that President Trump's election-day fate will depend not on the past status of COVID-19 but on its trajectory between October 1 and November 3: "If the second spike deflates, the virus seems to decline, and people instinctually regain confidence, with news of impending vaccines and far better treatments, then Trump will benefit from that reality. If we see a third spike at this time—say, one that falls heavily on teachers who returned to work in some states—then Biden will claim 'I told you so.'" [LINK]

AUGUST 17, 2020

  • John H. Cochrane argues that though the spread of COVID-19 can be stopped through affordable and frequent testing, such options are running up against obstacles set by the US Food and Drug Administration: "The FDA says: 'Yes, you can use a thermometer to screen people out and send them home. Yes, you can use a questionnaire to screen people out and send them home. No, you may not use a far more accurate $1 paper test for exactly the same purpose. And if you try, we'll ruin your company and send you to jail.'" [LINK]
  • In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Scott Atlas discusses his new appointment as special adviser to President Trump on the coronavirus crisis: "Because of my combined medical science background as well as health policy background, and I think the way I can communicate in a logical way and translate that into something people can understand, I was asked to help out. The job of somebody in health care policy is to have an impact on health care policy, not just to write papers."[LINK]

AUGUST 14, 2020

  • The Wall Street Journal reports on President Trump’s selection of Senior Fellow Scott Atlas as White House coronavirus advisor: “Scott Atlas, who spoke at Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing at the White House, is a radiologist, a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution of Stanford University and a frequent Fox News commentator. He previously served as chief of neuroradiology at the Stanford University Medical Center and has previously advised Republican presidential candidates on health care, including Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.” [LINK]
  • David Henderson argues that the US Food and Drug Administration should be stripped of its powers to disallow drugs and limited to being an information resource, specifically as it pertains to the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine: “Under my proposal, the FDA could insist on information about safety and efficacy before approving, but it would not be able to prevent drugs that it hasn’t approved.” [LINK]

AUGUST 13, 2020

  • Chester E. Finn writes that the COVID-19 crisis has empowered teachers’ unions to exert pressure on local politicians and vigorously pursue its entrenched interests: “More money, less work, less competition, less testing, less accountability, and while they’re at it, help elect candidates in November (national, state, and local) who will adhere to that agenda long after the hoped-for vaccine is in widespread use. The draft Democratic platform, for example, would clamp down on charter schools and end ‘high-stakes testing.’” [LINK]
  • Michael Petrilli opines that, as opposed to White parents, a large proportion of minority parents don't trust public schools to keep their children safe from the spread of COVID-19: “Their children have had the misfortune to attend schools that are (in too many cases) dysfunctional across the board. They can’t teach their pupils to read or write. They can’t keep their classrooms safe and orderly. Why would they succeed in helping students maintain social distance, or respond to an outbreak with care and competence?” [LINK]

AUGUST 12, 2020

  • John B. Taylor and Jack Mallery write that virtual learning must complement traditional education methods regardless of whether schools reopen this fall or later: "The United States can no longer ignore the digital divide for low-income students and minorities in America: COVID-19 has clearly revealed the gulf and ensured that it is a front-line issue. The recent surge in online schooling shows that students who do not have broadband capabilities have had several drawbacks in education quality." [LINK]
  • In his new role advising the Trump administration on COVID-19, Scott Atlas participated in a White House event about returning students to school: “We know that the risk of the disease is extremely low for children, even less than that of seasonal flu. We know that the harms of locking out the children from school are enormous, and we also know, as we all would agree, that educating America’s children is right at the top of the list of our nation’s priorities.” [LINK]

AUGUST 11, 2020
  • Scott Atlas, in agreement with Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence, argues that COVID-19 is less likely to spread as a result of college football games than by student athletes staying off campus in their own communities: “They have health care. They are very controlled. There is accountability. They couldn’t get a better and safer environment. . . . We are talking about people who are physical specimens who are super young people. Young people that age without a comorbidity have virtually zero risk from this.” [LINK]
  • John Yoo and Arthur Herman write that Beijing’s effort to conceal COVID-19 confirms President Trump’s political instincts about protecting American sovereignty and withdrawing the United States from multilateral agreements: "The president believes the primary actors in world affairs aren’t international organizations like the United Nations but nation-states. Sovereign states are able to set the agenda because they control territory, population and borders. They pursue their interests by mobilizing their economic, political and military power. That applies to America as much to anyone else. . . . Even more crucially, the Trump Doctrine has identified China as the greatest threat not just to America but to the autonomy and sovereignty of countries around the world.” [LINK]

August 10, 2020

  • John Cochrane explains that public health authorities should place greater emphasis on COVID-19 tests that are inexpensive and yield faster results than more accurate ones that are slower to provide answers: “The purpose of stopping contagion is different from the purpose of diagnosing and treating a given sick patient. The FDA seems only to understand the latter, not the former. When did 'how fast can you get test results back?' enter its calculus for certification?” [LINK]
  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that the Democratic Party’s campaign strategy rests on the assumption that the coronavirus pandemic will continue to depress President Trump’s poll numbers through the fall: “Right now, the Democrats have a virtual campaign and a virtual candidate and a strategy of running against the Trump news cycle. . . . It also assumes that the Trump-owned news cycle will remain as dismal over the next three months as it has the last five or six weeks, and that the virus will spike in late October again, rather than slowly burn out as it seems to be doing in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe.” [LINK]

AUGUST 7, 2020

  • Chester E. Finn explains how some charter schools successfully adapted and implemented nontraditional learning methods in the face of unusual circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic: “The networks that did this best were able to redeploy their staffs in teams that specialized so that those who were best at delivering online instruction did it, while others did tutoring for individual kids, others reached out to parents, and others did back office stuff. They were really able to flexibly move people around so that they did what they were good at.” [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas maintains that policy makers should focus on protecting at-risk teachers against COVID-19 rather than mandating that all students stay at home: "I think the teachers unions—I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they’re afraid—and if they’re afraid, we can accommodate the high-risk teachers. The majority of teachers are not high risk: 92% are under 60, and half are under 41. Do you know how young that is? This is a young profession. They have extremely low risk, and those at high risk can be accommodated.” [LINK]

AUGUST 6, 2020

  • Stephen Haber and Alexander Galetovic write that a recent letter signed by 97 American millionaires asking the US government to tax the wealthy in order to raise funds and heal a world stricken by COVID-19 reeks of hypocrisy: “A simple fact suggests that these statements should not be taken at face value. There is nothing to stop the letter’s signatories from imposing a tax on themselves by sending checks to the U.S. Treasury’s 'Gifts to the United States' account—a fund that’s existed since 1843, and whose postal address is listed on the Treasury’s website. Indeed, what better way to spur other millionaires to help heal the world, or to forge a broad-based movement to raise taxes on the wealthy, than to lead by example?” [LINK]
  • Raghuram Rajan argues that the United States should take a more targeted approach in implementing pandemic aid in order to abate a future economic slowdown: “We should provide the relief that is needed, but not act as if we have infinite fiscal space. . . . The unemployment insurance benefits top-up should probably not be at $600 per week, but should taper down over time. . . . Relief is better targeted at medium-sized businesses that have difficulty accessing finance and that employ a fair number of people." [LINK]

AUGUST 5, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson provides analysis of COVID-19's severity compared to the H1N1 influenza of 1918–19, otherwise known as the Spanish Flu: “When the other Neil Ferguson, the epidemiologist, published that paper implying that [COVID-19] was [similar to the Spanish Flu], my immediate reaction was it can’t be that deadly. It would be obvious right now if it were that deadly. . . . We have medical capabilities that they didn’t have then. They really had very few ways of treating people that became ill with that influenza. The other thing to note about 1918–1919 that is worth mentioning is that like all the influenza pandemics in history, [the Spanish Flu] killed the very young as much as it did the very old, and it killed a really significant portion of people of prime age.” [LINK]
  • Steven Davis and colleagues provide data-driven analysis on how firms are reducing their post-pandemic travel budgets: “The pandemic has led many firms to halt or severely curtail travel, but the important question is whether business travel recovers fully following the pandemic. Unfortunately, for the transportation and travel industries, our results cast doubt on the prospect for a quick and complete rebound in business travel. Firms anticipate slashing their annual travel expenditures by nearly 30 percent when concerns over the virus subside. The expected decline in travel expenditures is particularly severe for information, finance, insurance, and professional and business services.” [LINK]

AUGUST 4, 2020

  • Scott Atlas argues that stopping COVID-19 cases should not be the principal goal of policy makers: “The goal is simply twofold, to protect the people who are going to have a serious problem or die, that’s the high-risk population, and to stop hospital overcrowding. There should never be and there is no goal to stop college students from getting an infection they have no problem with.” [LINK]
  • Michael Spence and David Brady write that President Trump’s reelection prospects are diminishing because of political moderates’ negative views about the administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis: “As disapproval of Trump and his COVID-19 response has grown, so has the number of Americans who plan to vote for Biden in November.
    . . . The COVID-19 crisis is not the only factor influencing support for Biden. But it is a highly significant one. If one runs a regression with conventional factors to account for the varying issues and dynamics at play, the COVID-19 crisis—including presumably its health and economic dimensions—accounts for about 20% of the change from March to July.” [LINK]

August 3, 2020

  • Referencing Thomas Sowell’s new book, Charter Schools and Their Enemies, John B. Taylor writes that the COVID-19 crisis has increased the demand for alternatives to traditional public schools: “Most telling, perhaps, is the fact that many families and individuals are coming up with their own solutions. Consider the sudden blossoming of pandemic learning ‘pods,’ wherein parents get together, find teachers, and form a class for kids in the neighborhood. Learning pods are a natural civil-society response to school closing in many districts in California and elsewhere. When schools suspend services, parents immediately will seek out alternative solutions, especially when they have concerns about their children’s ability to learn remotely.” [LINK]
  • In a conversation with Paul Peterson, Chester E. Finn explains that the decision of some colleges and universities to abandon standardized testing in their admissions process because of the COVID-19 pandemic is destroying accountability in the public school system and equality of opportunity: “COVID created this kind of practical moment when testing for a while became more or less impossible. . . . What is more worrying looking forward is the abandonment of testing on a more permanent scale. . . . Favoritism, rich parents getting new kinds of advantages for their kids, the lacrosse coach and the speech coach and the trip to Bhutan will end up counting for more rather than less, because there won't be an SAT score. Grade inflation in the high schools will be encouraged by kids whose GPAs suddenly matter more.” [LINK]

July 31, 2020

  • Condoleezza Rice predicts that the COVID-19 crisis will exacerbate global trends toward populism: “You’ve gotten a response where the sovereign state is king in response to the pandemic. It‘s my citizens, my borders, my PPE [Personal Protective Equipment]. The international organizations seem to have almost been sidelined during this period of time. The underlying trend toward nativism, take care of my own, seems to be stronger than at any other time in my memory.” [LINK]
  • Raghuram Rajan explains that at some point during the current recession caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the Federal Reserve will have to withdraw financial support from unviable firms: “[Such a policy] will create space for the remaining firms and make them healthier.” [LINK]

July 30, 2020

  • Paul Peterson and Scott Atlas argue that where schools are allowed to reopen, unnecessary restrictions and requirements intended to stop the spread of COVID-19 will degrade students' educational experience: “Worst of all, social distancing rules will disrupt regular, full-schedule attendance. If implemented as proposed by many districts, students will attend classes either on Monday and Tuesday or on Thursday and Friday, leaving Wednesday to the sanitation engineer. Districts are about to impose upon students a level of chronic absenteeism that has been identified as a major cause of student drop-outs.” [LINK]
  • Michael Petrilli advises that US Congress should not steer federal funds to schools that reopen for in-person instruction after COVID-19-inspired shutdowns but should instead provide targeted assistance for disadvantaged and low-achieving students: “Rather than just letting schools dump their federal funds into a general pot that can be used for almost anything, make them steer Washington’s dollars into customized help for the kids who need it most. In other words, roll back the clock to 1965, when Congress birthed Title I with the goal of providing extra help for disadvantaged students, not schools.” [LINK]

July 29, 2020

  • David Henderson writes that despite school closures due to COVID-19, there are reasons to be optimistic about greater accountability in the public education system: "Once the pandemic ends, many parents, perhaps millions, will have a new appreciation of how mediocre a job the public schools were doing. They will continue home-schooling, switch to a private school, or push hard to end restrictions on the growth of charter schools." [LINK] (Subscription required)
  • John Taylor and Scott Minerd advocate for a voluntary payroll tax holiday to boost disposal income, create work incentives, and encourage more hiring in an American economy ailing from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. [LINK] (Subscription required)

July 28, 2020

  • Scott Atlas argues that the development of a COVID-19 vaccine should not be a predicate for full reopening of American society: “Protect the high-risk [individuals], get rid of the lockdown in a safe way, and make sure that hospitals aren’t overcrowded. The virus is not eradicated by having people work from home.” [LINK]
  • Lanhee Chen doesn’t believe that US Congress will reach a broad consensus on the next stimulus bill intended to relieve an economy dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic: “I think we are going to end up with a very narrow package that addresses really some matters of immediate concern. You are starting to see a little bit more of that ideological retrenchment. You are seeing a little more of Democrats saying. ‘We want a bigger package, we want more spending, more from government.’ And you’re seeing Republicans saying. ‘Look, there are fiscal consequences. and we don’t want unemployment insurance to extend in a way that is going to inhibit people from actually going back into the labor force.” [LINK]

July 27, 2020

  • John Yoo and James Phillips write that whatever the merits of a federal mask mandate, it does not pass constitutional muster: "Under the original meaning of the Commerce Clause, Congress might be able to require people crossing state lines, or within the streams of interstate commerce, to wear masks. It could even buy all Americans masks. But it cannot compel the large percentage of Americans who are not traveling to wear them." [LINK]
  • David Henderson and Charles Hooper argue that government policies that encourage herd immunity will save American lives and lead to an economic recovery: "Lockdowns and social distancing save few, if any, lives on net. It was never a question of economic activity or lives. It was economic activity and lives. Yet by shutting down large swathes of economic activity, we have prevented the immunity that we must have as long as we don’t have a vaccine." [LINK]

July 24, 2020

  • In testimony to the US House Committee on Financial Services regarding the HEROES Act, Steven Davis argues that government policies need to respond to permanent changes in the labor market that were caused by the pandemic shock: “Policies should encourage the unemployed to take advantage of the job opportunities that we have and the ones we can create in the months ahead. In this regard, it would be a major mistake for the federal government to continue supplementing unemployment benefit levels by $600 per week. Doing so would mean, according to the Congressional Budget Office, that roughly five out of every six recipients would receive benefits greater than they expect to earn from work.” [LINK]
  • Bill Whalen argues that for California to be effectively managed, it needs Governor Gavin Newsom to possess qualities of consistent leadership and a political instinct of knowing when to step on the accelerator and when to ease off the throttle. Whalen maintains that this advice especially applies to COVID-19 policy: "For openers, he could offer clarity and guidance on COVID-19 policy, rather than deferring to the counties and their scattershot approach. Last week’s guideline on school reopenings, controversial as it is, is a good start for Newsom being more of a stand-up leader." [LINK]

July 23, 2020

  • Victor Davis Hanson argues that the United States’ trade standoff with the People’s Republic of China had prepared the world for Beijing's behavior during the coronavirus outbreak: “After America’s pushback to Beijing in 2017—leveling tariffs on key Chinese industries and warning China to cease copyright and patent infringement—exposed Chinese mercantilism to the world, few were surprised in 2020 by China’s chronic lying, subversion of transnational organizations, and laxity in allowing its Wuhan virus to infect the world.” [LINK]
  • Bill Whalen evaluates whether California governor Gavin Newsom can regain political footing and revert to pre-pandemic social spending given the Golden State's current budget constraints and reduced revenues: "This is not to suggest that Newsom’s destiny is a recall ouster or historically awful poll numbers. But there is a question of how California will come to view him if, as current social and economic conditions would suggest, his governorship has been redefined from a good-time leader (speaking boldly amid a hothouse economy and revenue galore) to the bearer of bad tidings." [LINK]

July 22, 2020

  • Lee Ohanian writes that every stakeholder in California’s public education system should be alarmed by the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) demands in exchange for the reopening of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic: “In addition to defunding of the police, they are demanding single-payer, government-provided health care; full funding for housing California’s homeless; a shutdown to publicly funded, privately operated charter schools; and a new set of programs to address systemic racism. To pay for all this, they want a 1 percent wealth tax, a 3 percent income surtax on millionaires, and increased property taxes on businesses. They also want $250 million from the federal government.” [LINK]
  • David Davenport writes that the contentious debate over mandates on wearing face masks stems from a deficit of public trust in authority: "Studies by the Pew Research Center show that trust, especially among young adults, is extremely low in elected leaders and business leaders, both in the 30th percentile range. Although trust in scientists rates more highly, most people do not trust the government to do what is right most of the time." [LINK]

July 21, 2020

  • Terry Moe writes that if the COVID-19 pandemic offers a pathway for educational reform, it will be toward the adoption of virtual teaching methods: "Some will continue to hate it, but growing numbers will see its advantages. Districts will also see that—if used wisely and selectively—it can enhance student learning, cut labor costs and play key roles on campus even when all students are able to return full time." [LINK]
  • In a new white paper published by the Hoover Institution and Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Glenn Tiffert and colleagues report on how the People's Republic of China's state media has gradually reshaped the narrative about the origins and spread of COVID-19: “First, the uncertainty focused on what unknown animal had transmitted the virus. Then, the uncertainty broadened to where the virus had originated in the first place. Finally, the media, and prominent influencer accounts including government officials, began to promote a conspiracy theory alleging that the virus could have in fact been carried to Wuhan by humans—specifically, by U.S. military personnel who had taken part in the Military World Games in Wuhan in November 2019.” [LINK]

July 20, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson assesses whether a proposed European Recovery Fund to help member countries climb out of the financial ruin caused by COVID-19 is comparable to the 1790 agreement between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson that required the federal government to assume states’ Revolutionary War debts: “There is not even the glimmer of a chance that the debts of the 27 member states will be consolidated or even slightly 'mutualized.' The highest of these (that of Greece) stood at 177% of GDP on the eve of the Covid-19 pandemic, with Italy at 135% and Portugal at 118%. Put differently, Italy accounted for 22.2% of all EU-27 debt, more than France (22%) and Germany (19%). And the European Recovery Fund does very little to solve the problem of Italian debt sustainability." [LINK]
  • Bjorn Lomborg argues that policy makers' exclusive focus on climate change neglects other major issues in a society, including health interventions: “While we obviously need to continue to address the coronavirus pandemic, let’s remember that the world’s leading infectious-disease killer is still tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is often overlooked, but it mostly kills adults in their prime and leaves children without parents. Yet, for only US$6-billion a year, the world could save nearly 1.6 million people from dying annually.” [LINK]

July 17, 2020

  • Lanhee Chen, Preston Cooper, Bob Kocher, Dan Lips, and Avik Roy argue that permanent school and childcare closures are unsustainable. They maintain that policy makers must make difficult decisions about when to reopen schools while containing the spread of COVID-19: "The good news is that children are at very low risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. Indeed, children aged 5–14 are seven times more likely to die of influenza than of COVID-19. Children aged 1–4 are 20 times more likely to die of influenza. Overall, Americans under the age of 25 represent 0.15 percent of all COVID-19 fatalities in the U.S." [LINK]
  • Steven Davis and Nicholas Bloom offer advice on how policy makers can boost an American economy from a slump caused by COVID-19, which includes restoring incentive-driven unemployment benefits, financing remedies for the coronavirus, selectively relaxing lockdowns, and promulgating best practices in contagion detection and control: "National and local authorities have a vital role to play in telling businesses, employees, and customers what it takes to operate safely in the new world, so we can all get back to work—in old jobs or new." [LINK]

July 16, 2020

  • Michael Petrilli argues that local officials should emphasize educational choice amidst the national coronavirus crisis by offering propitious remote learning options and by guaranteeing adequate classroom safety standards should parents decide that they want their children to attend school: "If there’s a way to square this circle, it’s to prioritize in-person school every day for elementary school students. They are the ones who struggle the most with remote learning, and their parents can’t go to work as long as they are at home. Districts could use middle or high schools to spread out the grade-school kids, and keep in-person school to once a week for the older students." [LINK]

July 15, 2020

  • Bill Whalen explains that California governor Gavin Newsom will have to grapple with finding a middle ground between parents who would like their children to eventually return to school and teachers' unions who are resisting reopening and leveraging the issue for a new set of demands:  "The Los Angeles–based teachers’ union has more than education on its mind. UTLA reportedly wants the following in exchange for reopening LA’s classrooms: shutting down privately operated and publicly funded charter schools, defunding police, Medicare for All health care, a new statewide wealth tax, plus a federal bailout of state and local governments." [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas says that the United States remains the world's outlier for its restrictive COVID-19 lockdown policies that keep many schools closed: "The science says that 99.97 percent of deaths in the US are in people over 15, 99.9 percent are in people over 24. The hospitalization rate for influenza according to the CDC is much greater than COVID-19 for children. . . . There is virtually zero risk for children getting something serious or dying from this disease." [LINK]

July 14, 2020

  • Steven Davis, Jose Maria Barrero, and Nicholas Bloom argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a reallocation of labor within the US economy and now demands a thoughtful policy response based on work incentives: "A speedy recovery from the current crisis hinges (at least partially) on policies that enable the economy to reallocate resources effectively, rather than policies that discourage or impede reallocation. . . . Policies that subsidize employee retention irrespective of the employer’s long-term outlook will prevent (or delay) the reallocation of jobs, workers, and capital to more productive uses." [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas argues that if children were to be allowed to return to school, they would not pose a significant risk of catching COVID-19 and spreading the disease to more vulnerable Americans: “This has been proven by contact tracing all over the world. . . . Teaching is a young profession. In the United States, half the teachers are 40 or less and a quarter of them are under 30. Ninety percent are under 60 in public schools. They have almost zero risk from this." [LINK]

July 13, 2020

  • Bjorn Lomborg writes that though COVID-19-inspired lockdowns are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 8% (2.6 billion tons) in 2020, these short-term declines will have no discernible impact on the rate of climate change: “Glen Peters, the research director at the Center for International Climate Research in Norway, estimates that by 2100, this year’s enormous reduction will bring down global temperatures by less than one five-hundredth of a degree Fahrenheit. . . . This is because, of course, the reduction will only last for this year and has come at immense economic and human costs.” [LINK]
  • Michael Bordo offers lessons from history that should guide the Fed as it grapples with reviving an economy set back by the COVID-19 pandemic: “The key lesson from the 1918 pandemic is that absent a mandatory government lockdown, the COVID-19 recession would have been much less severe but likely deadlier. The key lesson from the Great Contraction of the 1930s is the importance of the Fed acting as a Lender of Last Resort (LOLR) and stabilizer of the macro economy. The key lesson from World War II is that once the present emergency ends, the Fed must unwind its status as LOLR and its expansionary monetary policies to prevent undesired high inflation. The GFC teaches the Fed that it must plan the exit strategy to unwind its emergency facilities and not allow them to become part of its normal set of policies." [LINK]

July 10, 2020

  • Lanhee Chen explains lessons the United States can learn about Taiwan’s management of the COVID-19 public health crisis: “Despite Taiwan's absence from WHO, its COVID-19 strategy can be replicated here in the United States. Its efforts to identify each case quickly, coupled with contact tracing and isolation of those potentially exposed to the virus, are keys to our ongoing efforts to reopen communities across America.” [LINK]
  • Paul Peterson explains what the long-term economic consequences would be if restrictive COVID-19 lockdown policies keep schools closed through the fall term: "That means these kids will lose a year's worth of education. Every year of education you lose is nine percent of your salary when you become an adult." [LINK]

July 9, 2020

  • Scott Atlas argues that data about the pandemic overwhelmingly proves that schools should reopen: "There is virtually zero risk to children for any serious complication. . . . 99.97 percent of deaths occur in people who are over 15, 99.9 percent occur in people who are over 24." [LINK]

July 8, 2020

  • Michael Auslin writes that the COVID-19 pandemic has swept away the possibility of a return to US policy toward China that prioritizes stability in the bilateral relationship over radical reform: "As the pandemic swept from China across the globe, shuttering economies and locking down societies, charges and countercharges traded between Washington and Beijing over responsibility for the COVID-19 catastrophe led to a precipitous downward spiral in relations, revealing the dearth of trust and cooperative relations between the two nations." [LINK]
  • Bjorn Lomborg makes a case against arguments by policy makers that "Green New Deals" present a viable option for economic recovery from a global recession brought about by the coronavirus: "Nations will borrow trillions to help alleviate the current suffering. . . . As we begin our global climb out of the coronavirus depression, we shouldn’t start by letting bad green deals make us poorer, help climate little and ignore the many other urgent needs of the world." [LINK]

July 7, 2020

  • Casey Mulligan and Stephen Moore write that suspending the payroll tax through the end of the year would provide an incentive-driven stimulus to an economy dampened by the COVID-19 outbreak: "The payroll tax suspension would reward employees for returning to their jobs and working more hours by providing a 7.5% rise in take home-pay immediately on income up to $137,700. (Income over this amount would still be taxed at the usual rate, which is lower.) The suspension of the additional 7.5% tax on employers’ wage and salary costs would encourage small businesses to hire more employees by reducing the cost." [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas says the new surge of coronavirus cases is not a cause for concern: "It doesn't really matter how many cases, it only matters who gets the cases, because we know the infection fatality rate for people under 70 is 0.04 percent in the latest analysis. That is less than or equal to the seasonal flu." [LINK]

July 6, 2020 

  • Niall Ferguson argues that COVID-19 has both intensified "Cold War II" and revealed its existence to doubters: "Now China wants to claim the credit for saving the world from the crisis it caused. Liberally exporting cheap and not wholly reliable ventilators, testing kits and face masks, the Chinese government has sought to snatch victory from the jaws of a defeat it inflicted." [LINK]
  • Markos Kounalakis writes that China is currently in a less advantageous position to exploit the global coronavirus crisis for its financial and political gain: “COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising, but states are not now wildly scrambling to find protective gear or build hospital capacity. Remdesivir offers hope, vaccines are being developed and masks control community spread.” [LINK]

July 2, 2020

  • Michael Spence and Chen Long provide data driven analyses about how a third-wave of COVID-19 that appears to be hitting some developing countries and US states: "The explanation for the deepening crisis in developing countries is obvious: many lack the economic, medical, and fiscal resources with which to contain the virus and support their populations through an extended lockdown"..."The most plausible reason for these [US] states’ relapse is that their leaders reopened prematurely, too rapidly, or both. It may be that some state governments simply decided that the tradeoff between virus control and economic recovery should be tipped in favor of the latter." [LINK]
  • Citing data from Chile, Alexander Galetovich and Susana Mondschein argue that a general strategy for dealing with COVID-19 must include frequent testing of nursing home caregivers: "According to Chilean data, more than 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths and half of beds in intensive care units in hospitals are occupied by people over the age of 60. Protecting those living in nursing homes from contagion would lessen the pressure on the health system and save lives." [LINK]

July 1, 2020

  • Michael Boskin says that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the current recession distinct from previous ones: "Maybe 70 percent of the unemployed will go back to the jobs that they had before. . . . Firms] may have to move. Their current physical set up, their factory, or their office configuration may not allow for enough distancing, so they will have to reorganize. . . . It's a combination of both, re-opening with adaptation. Without the adaptation the reopening will go slower." [LINK]
  • In an interview with Intelligence Squared, Niall Ferguson tackles pressing questions about COVID-19, including the policies of governments throughout world to combat the pandemic, the prospects of a strong economic recovery, the state of US-China tensions, and whether the world will be dealing with the virus for years to come. [LINK] (subscription required)

June 30, 2020 

  • John Taylor writes that while telecommuting offers many advantages, including increased employee productivity, the COVID-19 outbreak has revealed unequal access to the existing internet infrastructure: "The pandemic shows us that ensuring digital connectivity for those who lack it is essential, and may even be more important than subsidizing roads and bridges. Fortunately, there are clear opportunities to improve our Internet hardware and software systems, some of which build on the popular desire to increase infrastructure spending." [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas argues that while the rise in coronavirus cases are due to social mingling and increased testing, a large portion of the population infected are not at risk of serious medical complications: "There’s no reason for a lockdown when we have something happening we actually have no problem with..."These do not translate into people going into respirators. The hospitalization phase is half the length that they were before. We are doing very well with this, but the point about the schools is really critical because this is the most irrational public policy probably in modern history." [LINK]

June 29, 2020

  • Lanhee Chen and David Crane argue that federal coronavirus aid should go directly to the people who need it instead of being allocated by state governments: “These recommendations are not partisan—one of us is a Republican, while the other is a Democrat. But we both believe that states are inefficient intermediaries in the distribution of economic assistance.” [LINK]

June 26, 2020

  • Eric Hanushek writes that current discussions regarding K–12 students’ return to the classroom have focused on logistics rather than how to close the achievement gap, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic: “If we are going to ameliorate the unfortunate learning losses, we actually have to make schools better than they were. The only way we know how to do that is relying more on the best teachers and less on the ineffective teachers.’ [LINK]
  • Michael Boskin writes that while the COVID-19 outbreak has elicited rapid government responses, policy makers must control costs and restore private incentives in order to spur a full economic recovery: "It is extremely difficult to predict the speed and strength of the US economic recovery with any certainty. What is clear, however, is that we must boost incentives to work in normal times when jobs are plentiful, while strengthening the safety net for when they are not and for those who are unable to work." [LINK]

June 25, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson says that without smart tracing capacities, Colombia will have to rely on cruder policies to contain the spread of COVID-19: ”It is clear that Colombia could get into an even worse position four weeks from now. . . . There isn't any real reason why Colombia should not be able to do testing and contacting tracing if it does it early enough. . . . Most people in Colombia have mobile phones, a significant percentage are smart phones. And so in theory, you could in fact do what they did in Taiwan." [LINK]
  • John Yoo writes that President Trump could turbocharge the economy by enacting broad tax cuts that specifically target areas most impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns: "He could also target certain geographic areas, such as the inner cities, for full tax breaks regardless of bracket. State COVID lockdowns have impacted the poor the most by shutting down restaurants, travel and hospitality, retail stores, and other businesses dependent on face-to-face interaction." [LINK]

June 24, 2020

  • Steven Davis argues that the economic fallout from COVID-19 and the government's response to the pandemic are having an unprecedented impact on US stock markets: "The frequency of the jumps since late February is as high or higher than at any other time in history." [LINK]
  • David Henderson argues that COVID-19 lockdowns are based on a fundamentally flawed model that claimed that such policies would save 1.67 million lives over six months in the United States: "As economists have gotten better and better data, the estimates have all gone in one direction—lower. In other words, the number of deaths we would have had was lower without doing anything, was lower than these huge estimates, and therefore the number of lives saved by doing things was lower than the estimates." [LINK]

June 23, 2020

  • On Uncommon Knowledge, with host Peter Robinson, Scott Atlas argues for an alternative to blanket lockdown policies that includes protection for people in nursing homes, strict isolation of individuals with mild symptoms, and the opening of all K–12 schools. [LINK]
  • Bibek Debroy and Bjorn Lomborg write that lockdown policies cannot be sustained for the next 6 to 12 months in developing countries such as India: "When comparing the costs and benefits across India, a moderate lockdown is a poor idea as social costs will outweigh benefits 7 to 1. . . . Every time corona policy saves one person, other policies could for the same amount save a thousand lives." [LINK]

June 22, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson writes that the United States should brace for a second wave of COVID-19 cases because of its limited ability to conduct contact tracing: “So what’s going to happen next? One possibility is that Americans will recoil from reopening when they see worse data on cases, hospitalizations and mortality in their states—or, more likely, if they see worse cable news reports or Internet clickbait about those things. . . . The alternative, and I suspect more likely, scenario is that Americans carry on getting back to normal and tacitly accept further excess mortality as just a cost of doing business until a vaccine is available.” [LINK]
  • Elizabeth Economy explains how China deflects responsibility regarding fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus: "When outbreaks have occurred in other parts of the country, Beijing has claimed that they are ‘imported’ cases brought in by foreigners or overseas Chinese returning from infected areas, thereby signaling that the Chinese government is not to blame." [LINK]

June 19, 2020

  • Lanhee Chen explains that public health officials across the United States have undermined their own credibility as a result of contradictory stay-at-home orders: "On the one hand, they’ve urged caution and a slow return to work, school, and faith gatherings. They’ve criticized those who opposed the stay-at-home orders. But, at the same time, these officials have been broadly supportive of the large protests on America’s streets in the last few weeks." [LINK]
  • Niall Ferguson provides historical perspective on pandemics and compares COVID-19 to the H1N1 virus of more than a century ago: "What is interesting about this is that people jumped to the wrong conclusion in March in thinking that we were facing a serious threat to public health as people had faced in 1918–1919. . . . This is not going to be a top-20 pandemic historically. It's actually going to come in a lot closer to the 1957–1958 pandemic, which most people have forgotten even though it killed probably more than a million people around the world." [LINK]

June 18, 2020

  • Russell Berman writes that Washington’s delayed response to the COVID-19 pandemic needs to be put into proper political context: “East Asian countries like South Korea and Japan acted more nimbly than did the United States, driven in part by their own memories of other pandemics that came from China, but also by relying on restrictions on civil liberties that would not be easily tolerated here.” [LINK]
  • Kevin Warsh comments that while the Federal Reserve has acted swiftly to push up risk assets, it has been ineffective in repairing main-street markets damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic: "It is easy to see how they are moving around financial assets. . . . It doesn't appear to me that much of this is trickling down to the real economy." [LINK]

June 17, 2020

  • On the eleventh episode of GoodFellows, Francis Fukuyama joins John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster for a discussion on a slew of issues concerning the post-COVID-19 world, including the pandemic’s geopolitical consequences, its impact on the global economy, and how it may alter the future of free-market capitalism. [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas explains that the United States needs to reopen its primary and secondary schools without strict social-distancing measures, because science proves that the coronavirus poses little risk to youths: “All over the world we know that data shows that children only rarely transmit the infection even to their own parents. This is validated in North America, in Europe, and in Asia.” [LINK]

June 16, 2020

  • Richard Epstein explains the substantial risks of imposing tort liability for cases of COVID-19: “Immunity from liability is the preferred course of action for businesses whose dangerous practices can be subject to powerful reputational losses—and that immunity should be supported, where necessary, by a system of fines and regulations. Imposing huge and uncertain liabilities through the tort system will only compound the already massive economic dislocations stemming from the COVID-19 lockdowns.” [LINK]
  • David Henderson comments on a recent report by economists at UC Berkeley about the effectiveness of social distancing measures: “That finding casts major doubt on the value of lockdowns and even social distancing as a method of reducing the spread of Covid-19. While we can’t yet estimate a specific figure, the economic cost of social distancing and lockdowns will likely be more than $1 trillion. And that’s an understatement of the costs when you consider increased suicides and other social losses not captured in gross domestic product." [LINK]

June 15, 2020

  • Larry Diamond writes that authoritarian and would-be authoritarian regimes have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to expand their political power: “More danger could lie on the horizon as democratic governments weigh the dilemmas of using new surveillance technologies to fight the virus and holding regular elections in the midst of a pandemic. The downward democratic spiral can still be reversed, but it will require mobilized civil societies, effective democratic management of the health crisis, and a renewal of American leadership on the global stage.” [LINK]
  • Niall Ferguson joined Paul Peterson on the Education Exchange podcast for a discussion on how America's response to the COVID-19 outbreak compares with that during the H2N2 pandemic of 1957–58: "In 1957–58, there were no economic lockdowns. There weren't even school closures. There was a consensus that the right thing to do was to keep the show on the road." [LINK]

June 12, 2020

  • Paul Gregory writes that the decline in COVID-19 infections is complicating the testing of effective drugs, therapeutic approaches, and vaccine clinical trials: "These complications suggest that the clinical trials of therapies and vaccines will have to move off shore to poor countries that are in earlier phases of the coronavirus." [LINK]
  • Richard Epstein comments on the World Health Organization's decision to retract an official's statement that COVID-19 rarely spreads from asymptomatic carriers. The WHO's lack of consistency and specificity when communicating about the virus, he says, has influenced US policy makers' blanket lockdown policies: "We need to change this policy [of stay-at-home orders and business closures] very fast and people have to have some degree of sophistication, and that does not include the governors who basically decided these things by arbitrary decree." [LINK]

June 11, 2020

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that COVID-19 lockdown policies are being politically weaponized during this election year: “Blue states thought the sinking economy would hurt President Trump’s reelection bid. Red states wanted to open up as quickly as possible to get the economy back and running before November.” [LINK]

June 10, 2020

  • Scott Atlas says that a WHO official’s recent statement that COVID-19 is unlikely to spread via asymptomatic people should not be deemed controversial: “We know that from contact tracing in Europe . . . when you’re sick, if you are coughing up the contagious material, you are more likely to transmit the disease." [LINK]
  • Lanhee Chen questions public health officials' arbitrary rule making regarding containment of COVID-19: "Contra Costa County has a rule where you can get 12 people together in your backyard for a social gathering. As long it's the same 12 people—what they call a stable group. Or you can have a protest of up to 100." [LINK]

June 8, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson writes that the spread of COVID-19 and inept responses from public authorities have combined to create conditions of urban unrest: "The disease has disproportionately hurt minority communities, especially African-Americans. In the U.S., as in the U.K., people of color are more likely than whites to work in contagion-exposed, low-skilled, “essential” occupations; to live in crowded conditions; and to have co-morbidities such as obesity and diabetes. The economic consequences of lockdowns have also hit African-Americans harder than white Americans." [LINK]
  • Paul Gregory comments on a white paper written by the Communist Party of China which praises its own actions over the course of the COVID-19 outbreak: "The CCP under Xi Jinping legitimizes its dictatorship with claims of flawless 'scientific' management. China has no elections, only meticulously orchestrated party and state extravaganzas. Beijing cannot allow reports of mistakes, mismanagement, or deceptions to stand." [LINK]

June 5, 2020

  • Terry Anderson writes that state policies concerning the spread of COVID-19 have sparked debate about the sovereignty of Native American reservations: “Tribal responses to the coronavirus show that they need no guardian. They can protect the health of tribal citizens and the health of their economies.” [LINK]
  • On Area 45, David Henderson talks to host Bill Whalen about the dangers of Washington bailing out states that are facing budget shortfalls due to the economic impact of COVID-19. [LINK]

June 4, 2020

  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that the COVID-19 pandemic has peeled off Beijing's facade of friendliness, revealing an authentically belligerent actor on the world stage: "While America tears itself apart with endless internal quarreling and media psychodramas, while Europe appeases its enemies, and while the rest of Asia stays mute, waiting to see who wins, China is now on the move—without apologies." [LINK]
  • David Henderson argues that federal proposals to bail out state governments in order to ensure balanced budgets will only lead to further fiscal irresponsibility: "Moreover, the balanced budget requirement that state governments face limits their fiscal irresponsibility. Bail those governments out and the result will be the reverse. And if there’s something wrong with residents of a state paying more than they’re getting from the feds, and that’s a big 'if,' then the underlying problem should be corrected. " [LINK]

June 3, 2020

  • John Yoo and Robert Delahunty write that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that Taipei, not Beijing, is a better model for a unified China: "Taiwanese officials closely monitored the outbreak on the mainland, quickly shut off travel, and instituted a strict testing and contact tracing regime. In a country of 23 million, the Taipei government has limited the coronavirus to only 440 cases and seven deaths. Taiwan, not the CCP, has proven itself as a reliable, transparent partner for international cooperation in facing the world’s deadliest problems." [LINK]
  • Raghuram G. Rajan predicts that the COVID-19 pandemic will spur greater global cooperation for future crises: "There is an impetus for global cooperation, to make sure that poor countries have a way of confronting the problem even as the rich countries confront it themselves. I believe that as the immediacy of the pandemic is behind us, we will see some movement toward stronger global institutions, to deal with this kind of problem." [LINK]

June 2, 2020

  • Charles Hill writes that China’s actions during the COVID-19 crisis may be a historic flash point that leads to its inevitable ruin or its ascendance as a putative leader of a new world order: “Whether the leaders of sovereign states will recognize this as the time of a 'Great China Discreditation' or, to the contrary, be tempted to adopt 'The Chinese Model(s)' will make a major difference in the conduct of world affairs ahead.” [LINK]
  • Herb Lin argues that an effective cybersecurity policy would have enabled the United States to be more prepared for the COVID-19 outbreak: "More deliberate cyber preparation would have left the United States with the interagency capabilities and international partnerships to have mitigated the impact of the pandemic. . . . Trusted liaisons with key private-sector institutions would also have been in place to disseminate reliable and science-based information to facilitate an effective whole-of-society response as well as to enable private-public coordination of responses." [LINK]

June 1, 2020

  • Michael Spence and Chen Long graph the pandemic's effect on world economies using data about the mobility of persons, which was aggregated from leading technology companies: "To be sure, mobility is only one indicator of economic contraction. Risk avoidance by individuals, companies, and other institutions also could play a role in depressing economic activity, even in the absence of mandated lockdowns. But as a variable that captures the state of economic activity, mobility has several major advantages." [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas and Paul Peterson argue that continued school closures will greatly endanger students' intellectual development, as well as their physical and mental well-being: “Never have schools subjected children to such an unhealthy, uncomfortable and anti-educational environment, so science cannot precisely define the total harm it will cause. But science does tell us that risks from COVID-19 are too minimal to sacrifice the educational, social, emotional and physical well-being – to say nothing of the very health – of our young people." [LINK]

MAY 29, 2020

  • John B. Taylor writes that policy makers should encourage creative ways to open markets while containing the spread of COVID-19. He maintains that a premium should be placed on supporting the growth of the digital economy: "Ensuring digital connectivity for those who lack it has become more important than subsidizing roads and bridges, and there are clear opportunities for the US to improve its hardware and software systems." [LINK]
  • John Cochrane lists ways policy makers can wind down unemployment benefits that pay some people in the labor force more than their previous jobs did: "People in the real world (not economics bloggers!) don't work because it's fulfilling or enjoyable. They work because they need the money and the health insurance." [LINK]

MAY 28, 2020

  • John Cochrane wonders why the federal government, for the billions of dollars it has spent to keep the airlines afloat, hasn't allocated funding to research whether passenger planes incubate the spread of disease: "Spend 1 week and $10 million. Find out if air travel is safe or not. Tell us the answer. If as I suspect the answer is that you're about as likely to catch corona virus on an airplane as you are to die in an airline crash, then let us know. Recovery without second wave depends on up-to-date accurate information on how the virus spreads—and how it does not spread." [LINK]
  • Paul Gregory writes that Germany, rated for having Europe's best policies in dealing with COVID-19, has also incurred high costs of deferring other medical care: "A study by NDR finds that up to 30% of oncological appointments, 50% of cardiology, and 80% of dental appointments are being cancelled. Mental health hotlines are being flooded with calls associated with Coronavirus, including many from youths." [LINK]

MAY 27, 2020

  • On the ninth episode of The GoodFellows, John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H.R. McMaster discuss divisions within the 27-nation European Union over COVID-19 relief policies. [LINK]
  • John Cochrane writes that despite a lack of public health infrastructure to deal with the COVID-19 contagion, the economic repercussions of continued lockdowns are too painful to sustain: "The most important thing government can give us is accurate and timely information on how widespread the virus is in each community—how dangerous it really is to go out—something we don’t have now. If people don’t know the danger, there will be second and third waves, and crashes." [LINK]
  • Kevin Warsh argues that policy makers should should chart a course for economic recovery that includes a supply-side push: "New government programs should provide the right incentives for new capital providers to invest and workers to find new opportunities. The only way out is forward." [LINK]

MAY 26, 2020

  • Scott Atlas, John Birge, Ralph Keeney, and Alexander Lipton write that COVID-19 lockdowns have already resulted in significantly more loss of life than the disease itself: "Based on the expected remaining lifetimes of these COVID-19 patients, and given that 40 percent of deaths are in nursing homes, the disease has been responsible for 800,000 lost years of life so far. Considering only the losses of life from missed health care and unemployment due solely to the lockdown policy, we conservatively estimate that the national lockdown is responsible for at least 700,000 lost years of life every month, or about 1.5 million so far — already far surpassing the COVID-19 total." [LINK]

MAY 22, 2020

  • Raghuram Rajan writes that leaders need to resist polar extremes of centralized and de-centralized political decision making in their management of the current public health crisis:  "The federal government might establish minimal standards for closing down and opening up, while leaving the actual decision to states and municipalities. That said, if there is to be a bias, it should be toward decentralization, following the principle of subsidiarity, whereby powers are delegated to the lowest-possible administrative level that will be effective." [LINK]
  • David Henderson citicizes the CARES Act as an example of reckless federal spending, and for punishing certain types of businesses and discouraging Americans from finding work: "One upsetting fact is that a number of well-known economists seem to casually favor such huge spending without considering the details or effects." [LINK]

MAY 21, 2020

  • Michael McFaul writes that the high rate of COVID-19 infections in Russia is attributed to President Putin’s failure to build a government that can work efficiently: “He has put tremendous resources into modernizing Russia’s nuclear weapons, intelligence capabilities, conventional and police forces, and Olympic facilities, but invested far less into roads, schools or hospitals, especially outside of Moscow. Covid-19 is now exposing these lapses in state-building.” [LINK]
  • Bill Whalen explains the controversy behind Governor Gavin Newsom's COVID-19-related executive order mandating mail-in ballots to citizens of all 58 California counties for November's elections: "Newsom bypassed the legislative process. . . . This why the Capitol Annex exists . . . to hold legislative hearings, invite experts, offer both partisan factions a fair say, and hopefully leave the impression that serious thought was given to California’s election process." [LINK]

MAY 20, 2020

  • In the eighth episode of The Good Fellows, John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster discuss the coronavirus-related steps they’d take if entrusted with deciding the nation’s health, economic, and geostrategic choices. [LINK]
  • Michael Auslin calls for the world's democracies to exercise leverage against Beijing for its intimidation of critics who protest the Communist regime's actions during the COVID-19 crisis: “The point is not to punish China but instead achieve what liberal nations have avowed as their goal since Deng Xiaoping began modernization by bringing China into the international community so it adopts norms and practices.” [LINK]

MAY 19, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson laments the disturbing impact of COVID-19 on the world's biggest cities: "The bigger the city in relative terms, the more pronounced the effect. Paris is six-and-a-half times larger than France’s second city, Lyon; London four times larger than Manchester; Moscow three times larger than St. Petersburg." [LINK]
  • David Henderson objects to arguments that compliance with national lockdowns is largely voluntary: "The fact that you observe lots of people breaking the law doesn’t mean there aren’t an even greater number of people who are afraid of breaking the law or who don’t want to see themselves as lawbreakers." [LINK]

MAY 18, 2020

  • Scott Atlas argues that the US government needs to design a public policy that is broader than the single-minded focus of stopping COVID-19 at all costs: “Restricting other medical care and instilling fear in the public is creating a massive health disaster, in addition to severe economic harms that could generate a world poverty crisis.” [LINK]
  • Lanhee Chen writes that during the upcoming World Health Assembly, the United States should press for reforms of the World Health Organization, as well as an account of its leaders' decision making during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic: 'We should be particularly concerned about how the cozy relationship between WHO leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chinese President Xi Jinping may compromise the organization’s ongoing response to the pandemic." [LINK]

MAY 15, 2020

  • John Cochrane writes that the Federal Reserve’s policy of buying trillions of dollars' worth of treasury bonds will turn from lending to spending if the recession lasts more than months: “When we are in a sluggish recovery, and businesses are saying, ‘Well, I would hire more people, but we have all this extra debt because we took Fed loans to keep our employees fed while we were shut down,’ let’s see just how tough the government is going to be on repayment. “ [LINK]

MAY 14, 2020

  • Edward Lazear writes that the impact of shutdown policies due to COVID-19 has disproportionately affected America’s youth, minorities, and least educated: "We cannot ignore that most of the costs are being borne by our children and grandchildren, particularly the poorest among them." [LINK]
  • John Yoo and Robert Delahunty argue that the World Health Organization's turn from public health toward crass politics renders it unsalvageable: "China's desire to overturn the rules of the U.S.-led global order will require the United States and its allies to construct new international institutions for a different strategic environment." [LINK]

MAY 13, 2020

  • Paul Gregory writes that US policymakers should consider Germany's COVID-19 solution, which delegates responsibility to states and districts for containing the disease's spread: "The plan is based on the principles of decentralization and federalism. It is a clear rejection of the one-size-fits-all favored by the Berlin establishment." [LINK]
  • David Davenport argues that conservatives should not be resigned to a potential "new normal" of expanded government power as result of the COVID-19 crisis. Instead they should advocate for the return to normalcy: "A return to normalcy is not just about whether you can dine out again. It is about whether government will use this crisis to grow government regulation, control, and spending to unprecedented heights. This will be conservatism’s most important test of our lifetimes." [LINK]

MAY 12, 2020

  • Michael Auslin writes that fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak has fueled the president's support of Taiwan, which previously was predominantly the domain of Congress: "Now the Trump administration is fighting to get Taiwan readmitted as an observer at the WHO, particularly for meetings occurring this month, placing the White House in direct diplomatic conflict with Beijing." [LINK]
  • Stanford professor of medicine Dr. Jay Bhattacharaya makes his third appearance on Uncommon Knowledge to discuss a recent COVID-19 antibody test he conducted for Major League Baseball employees. [LINK]

MAY 11, 2020

  • Niall Ferguson wonders if social mores may permanently change because of the COVID-19 pandemic: “Imagine a world in which we routinely wear face masks on public transport and in offices; a world in which we greet each other with a wave, not a hug or a handshake; a world in which grandparents see their grandchildren only on FaceTime.” [LINK]
  • Clint Bolick argues that the constitutions of the United States and of individual states do not provide exceptions for expansive government power during emergencies: "Not only does the U.S. Constitution protect individual rights against abuses by state and local governments, but state constitutions provide greater protections of individual rights and stricter constraints on government power than do their national counterpart." [LINK]

MAY 8, 2020

  • In a new working paper, historian Niall Ferguson takes a look back at World War I in light of the current COVID-19 global outbreak: "We think of a pandemic as a natural disaster, whereas a war as man-made. In a pandemic it is a pathogen that kills people, whereas in a war people kill people. Nevertheless, the two kinds of disaster have much in common—and not just the stark fact of excess mortality."  [LINK]
  • Paul Gregory writes that the World Health Organization's reporting about China's conduct during the COVID-19 crisis was not only incomplete but unabashedly effusive: "The WHO representatives marveled at China’s 'roll out of perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history.' As China gained experience, 'a science and risk-based approach was taken to tailor implementation.'" [LINK]

MAY 7, 2020

  • Russell Berman argues that the global COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the re-emergence of the nation-state as a dominant actor in international politics: "As international organizations have failed, national governments have frequently acted with great vigor and alacrity. What this shows, in my opinion, is that the state, the nation-state, the sovereign state, retains a credibility and a sense of responsibility for the protection of its citizenry." [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas testified before the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Full Committee yesterday, recommending that governments  adopt "specific, science-based, logical steps to strategically end the lockdown and safely restore the pathway to normal life.” [LINK]

MAY 6, 2020

  • Alexander Galetovic and Stephen Haber argue that US governors should adopt Sweden's approach to combating COVID-19: "There is a middle ground approach to COVID-19 that does not create the lose-lose outcome now on offer from some governors. That approach, currently being applied in Sweden, boils down to protecting the elderly and those with co-morbidities, while allowing everyone else to go back to work and school." [LINK]
  • On the sixth episode of The Goodfellows, John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster debate whether the term “war” applies to fighting pandemics, if Donald Trump’s “wartime presidency” is more akin to LBJ’s than FDR’s, and why Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is talking a lot about the late Hoover economist Milton Friedman. [LINK]

MAY 5, 2020

  • John Cochrane argues that earlier models projecting a massive spread of COVID-19 were largely wrong because they rested on faulty assumptions: "The plateau came far sooner than expected, it is lasting far longer than expected, and the shape seems quite similar across many regimes." [LINK]
  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that there has been a collective lapse among scientific experts in understanding COVID-19's origins and the factors that led to its global spread: "The asymmetrical result is that we all have paid a terrible price in misjudging the perfidy of China; the rot within the World Health Organization . . . and the most effective, cost-to-benefit response to the epidemic in terms of saving lives lost to the infection versus the likely even more lives lost through the response." [LINK]

MAY 4, 2020

  • Scott Altas outlines a plan for America's return to normalcy, focusing on protecting society’s most vulnerable and re-opening businesses, transportation, and public spaces with safeguards in place: "Total isolation must now end to limit the enormous harms accumulating from sacrificing vital health care and imposing economic lockdown. Smart re-entry cannot be delayed by fear or hypothetical projections, because we have direct data on risk and experience with managing it." [LINK]
  • Russ Roberts writes that there is a simple way to end the shortage of masks: "I don’t want the federal government in charge of all the masks in the nation. Instead, let prices go up today for masks and create the incentive for more masks tomorrow." [LINK] 

MAY 1, 2020

  • John Cochrane says that while testing for COVID-19 has become increasingly available, the country still lacks a public health infrastructure that can contain its spread when the economy fully opens: "About 40% of the economy is still open as 'essential.' Well, as we get ready to reopen safely the rest of the economy, one would think that the 'essential' parts would be rapidly implementing the open with distance protocols that the rest will follow. No. It's pretty much business as usual." [LINK]
  • Markos Kounalakis writes that many governments around the world that imposed stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of COVID-19 are building up a pressure cooker of protests for failing to properly serve its citizens: "In country after country, concerns over public health are trumping the urge to amass in their outrage over social inequity, curtailed human rights, government corruption, resource scarcity, healthcare inadequacy, supply-chain failures, leader ineptitude, worker exploitation and citizen disempowerment.” [LINK]

APRIL 30, 2020

  • David Henderson argues that the trillions of dollars of federal stimulus spending has only resulted in more jobless claims: “More particularly, because of one element of the spending: namely the added $600 per week in unemployment benefits on top of the regular state government unemployment benefits. . . . For that reason alone, I’m confident that the economic recovery won’t begin until August.” [LINK]
  • Michael Petrilli writes that the nation's Title I elementary schools should resist the temptation of socially promoting students to the next grade level after an academic year cut short by COVID-19: "When schools reopen in the fall, these students should remain in their current grade and, ideally, return to the familiarity of their current teacher. . . . Then teachers should develop individualized plans to fill in the gaps in kids’ knowledge and skills and accelerate their progress to grade level." [LINK]

APRIL 29, 2020

  • On the fifth episode of The GoodFellows, John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster discuss options for restarting a battered economy while containing the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic’s impact on America’s military readiness, and the scenario of a second wave of contagion striking before the November presidential election. [LINK]
  • Scott Atlas and H. R. McMaster list ways the United States can reduce its dependency on foreign drugs and diversify its pharmaceutical supply chain: “Preventing an interruption of the supply of vital medications that save lives and treat diseases, whether during pandemics or in routine care, is a matter of national security.” [LINK]
  • Michael Auslin argues that the Chinese Communist Party's history of mendacious behavior, most lately surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, has led to deepening scrutiny of Beijing among global leaders: "Take economic growth, the most powerful claim Beijing has to being a great power. . . . A 2019 study by four Chinese economists found that the government consistently overstated growth rates between 2008 and 2016." [LINK]

APRIL 28, 2020

  • Joshua Rauh and Andrew Biggs argue that instead of issuing blanket coronavirus relief checks to households, regardless of need, the government should have offered loans advanced against borrowers' social security benefits: “In contrast to massive federal granting of deficit financed checks, taxpayers only take the funds if they need them, and the taxpayers who receive the funds are to a very great extent the ones who pay them back.” [LINK]
  • Lee Ohanian predicts that higher taxes are coming soon to California given the state's anticipated plummeting revenues: "California’s rainy-day fund is already implicitly allocated. And this calculation does not consider the possibility of the state needing to backstop major municipalities, all of which are experiencing sharply declining revenue." [LINK]

APRIL 27, 2020

  • John Cochrane discusses the economics of a complete lockdown: “The longer the lockdown lasts, the more [the economic cost] will be permanent. If you stop everything for one or two weeks we could call that the ‘great vacation.' . . . The problem is that the debt clock does not turn off. And as weeks and months go by, jobs are permanently lost, businesses are permanently shuttered . . . and what could be a V-shaped recovery turns into an L-shaped recovery.” [LINK]
  • John Yoo and Robert Delahunty argue that the world must make China pay for its willful neglect in allowing COVID-19 to escape Wuhan Province: "Legal remedies will only succeed if the United States and its allies consider aggressive measures that do not rely upon international courts and organizations or Chinese compliance. . . . They must deploy their sovereign powers to secure compensation and deter future wrongdoing.” [LINK]

APRIL 24, 2020
  • John Cochrane argues that governments should retain social distancing measures but relax prohibitions on economic activity: “Stopping the negligible possibility that a hiker passes it to another hiker out on a (now closed) trail in the Santa Cruz mountains is beyond pointless. Stopping the tiny probability that a worker passes it to another worker in a thoughtfully structured high value business is equally pointless, and vastly more costly.” [LINK]
  • David Henderson writes that the CARES Act can’t properly be called an economic stimulus bill, because the government has imposed massive reductions on supply: “This is not an aggregate demand problem. The idea of using fiscal policy to stimulate the economy makes zero sense.” [LINK]

APRIL 23, 2020
  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that while the world is preoccupied with COVID-19, the United States still faces major threats to its national security, especially from the People’s Republic of China: "China, however, will not meekly accept its new reduced post-viral status. Instead, it will act even more provocatively and desperately than ever. Rumors have spread that China may be conducting nuclear tests in violation of zero-yield global agreements. If true, it reminds us that our adversaries are most dangerous when cornered and wounded." [LINK]
  • Michael Auslin analyzes a new poll by the Pew Research Center, which shows that Americans have increasingly negative perceptions about the People's Republic of China as a result of its actions during the global pandemic crisis: "As the Pew poll indicates, it is also a turning point for the world’s relations with China. Despite its best efforts, Beijing has failed to convince Americans and much of the world of its competence and goodwill. Instead, the CCP party-state is seen as an untrustworthy partner, and even more severely, as a threat." [LINK]

April 22, 2020
  • On fourth episode of The GoodFellows, John H. Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster discuss whether a new Cold War is emerging between the United States and the People's Republic of China. [LINK]
  • David Brady and Michael Spence write that general mistrust among Americans and Europeans of their respective government, media, education and economic institutions has paralyzed their societies' ability to deal with major crises: “In the EU, cross-country solidarity was already in decline, and COVID-19 has accentuated this trend. And yet, with so many other institutions having lost the public’s trust, it inevitably falls to government to take the lead, both in mustering a response to the crisis and in restoring trust more generally.” [LINK]
  • On the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, Terry Anderson writes that reduced carbon emissions due to COVID-19 lock down policies don't prove the feasibility of stronger environmental regulations as many climate activists have claimed: "Imagine the additional impact on airlines had the reduced greenhouse gas proposal been included in the CARES Act...If nothing else, the pandemic will make us all think twice before embracing environmental regulations that cost more than they are worth." [LINK]

April 21, 2020
  • John Cochrane asks if American companies have loaded up on debt because they expect to be bailed out after an economic shock: "Will we do anything when this is over to stop companies from once again loading up with debt—especially short term debt—and forcing the Fed's hand again?. . . . Will lots of debt, private gain, taxpayers take the losses, be the perpetual character of our financial system." [LINK]
  • Niall Ferguson argues that many people, both in politics and the media, have presented a false choice between "herd immunity" and mass economic lockdown: "The choice was, and remains, between excessively costly and affordable containment of the contagion until we understand it well enough to control it with vaccination and effective therapy. The East Asian democracies, along with Israel and the smarter Northern European countries, are showing that there is a way to avoid economic lockdowns by mass testing and tech-enabled contact-tracing." [LINK]

APRIL 20, 2020

  • Stanford professor of medicine Dr. Jay Bhattacharya returns to Uncommon Knowledge with an update on the results of his study of COVID-19 antibodies in Santa Clara County, California. [LINK]
  • H. R. McMaster reflects on his 2017 visit to Beijing as national security advisor and offers suggestions for US foreign policy toward the People's Republic of China: "The party’s leaders believe they have a narrow window of strategic opportunity to strengthen their rule and revise the international order in their favor. . . . Without effective pushback from the United States and like-minded nations, China will become even more aggressive in promoting its statist economy and authoritarian political model." [LINK]
  • Stephen Haber and Alexander Galetovic evaluate various strategies to reopen the world's economies, contending that Sweden's "protect the vulnerable" approach may be the best alternative: "This strategy exploits the large differential in the mortality rate from COVID-19 between the general population and the elderly, as well as those with medical conditions that are co-morbid with COVID-19. The young and the healthy can go about their business, while building herd immunity, so long as they work together to keep the vulnerable from becoming infected." [LINK]

APRIL 17, 2020
  • Niall Ferguson writes that small, economically advanced countries have nimbly managed the COVID-19 crisis, whereas the major powers have repeatedly fumbled: "The winners are the city-states. Of course, Israel, Singapore and Taiwan cannot punch that much above their weights; great power status is beyond their grasp. The question is who gains from this stunning demonstration that in a pandemic, small is beautiful." [LINK]
  • John Cochrane doubts that the US economy will reopen as soon as widespread testing is available: ''Testing' is one of many inputs to that response. But 'testing' is not the response itself. An effective public health response needs a detailed, competent bureaucracy, temporary relief from thousands of privacy regulations—and swift assurance that those privacies are reinstated when it's over—and enforcement in order to something useful with the tests.” [LINK]

April 16, 2020
  • Victor Davis Hanson says that though the coming months will present new opportunities for understanding and handling the COVID-19 outbreak, the administration still faces a crucial test: “The president will have to make a lose-lose decision to either inaugurate a graduated return to work or keep the country locked down for weeks longer. Economists will likely urge him to restart the economy as fast as possible. Epidemiologists will warn of a second viral spike if millions go back to work. Trump will either be praised for saving the American economy or damned for dooming thousands.” [LINK]
  • Chester Finn writes that the erudition displayed by Dr. Anthony Fauci amid the COVID-19 crisis suggests that America should shape its education system to also support its most gifted students: “What’s the connection? Look at the population of adults we’re counting on to get us out of this mess: scientists, doctors, bio-statisticians, microbiologists, demographers, inventors, industrial leaders and economists, not to mention government leaders with the intellect and training (and discipline) to see beyond their immediate political interests.” [LINK]

April 15, 2020
  • On the third episode of The GoodFellows, John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster reflect on whether society can return to its pre-coronavirus existence. [LINK]
  • Russell Berman writes that the United States must maintain a soft-power edge by supporting allies with medical relief, saying our adversaries, "China and Russia, are using the COVID-19 crisis to try to undermine the American presence in Europe. They are promoting themselves, claiming to ride to the rescue with scarce supplies, and they boast of these shipments as gifts when in fact many turn out to be hard-nosed sales.” [LINK]
  • Lanhee Chen applauds the US government's decision to pause funding for the World Health Organization (WHO): “Defenders of the organization often argue that the WHO can only do what it is empowered to do; and that limits its ability to question the claims made by member states like China. If so, that’s all the more reason for the U.S. to demand accountability for the hundreds of millions of dollars we send to the WHO.” [LINK]


April 14, 2020
  • Scott Atlas argues that America's medical system is making an enormously costly trade-off to contain the COVID-19 outbreak: "Over two-dozen states and many hospitals stopped 'non-essential' procedures and surgery. That included delayed or missed diagnoses—cancer screening, biopsies of now undiscovered tumors and potentially deadly brain disorders like aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations." [LINK]
  • Lee Ohanian explains that, despite a surge in revenues over the past decade, the California state government has allowed stockpiles of durable medical equipment to become depleted and hospital capacity to diminish: “Without the emergency medical investments, Governor Gavin Newsom warned, 25 million Californians could become infected, overwhelming state hospital capacity. This led Newsom to lobby Trump for federal assistance.” [LINK]

 
April 13, 2020
  • Niall Ferguson disagrees with banks that are predicting a "V-shaped"  economic recovery: "Certainly, the speed of recovery will be more like a tortoise’s than a hare’s. The key is that in the protracted 'post-lockdown, pre-vaccine' period, there will inevitably be a reduction of capacity in all sectors of the economy that depend on some level of social proximity, such as retail, air travel, education, live entertainment, hotels, and restaurants." [LINK]
  • Josh Rauh argues against bailout money to states with a history of fiscal mismanagement: "If the federal government is unable to resist aid, then strings must be attached. If states are too big (or too political) to fail then the federal government must condition this and all future support on reforms to pensions, unemployment insurance, rainy day funds, and Medicaid." [LINK]

April 10, 2020
  • Russell Berman turns to literature to explain what the COVID-19 crisis reveals about the human condition: “With the Wuhan virus upon us, no work is better suited than Henrik Ibsen’s drama An Enemy of the People of 1882, with its laser-sharp focus on the core questions of power and corruption, science and mass deception." [LINK]
  • David Davenport explains how the spirit of rugged individualism has helped rescue the United States from hardships and dislocations caused by the COVID-19 crisis: "Where would we be without creative types who turned their perfume companies and distilleries into manufacturers of hand sanitizer? Automobile companies have been retooled to produce ventilators, and architects are busily running their 3D printers to create face masks. Restaurants quickly reinvented themselves for takeout and more recently have provided needed produce and other grocery items to their neighborhoods." [LINK]

April 9, 2020
  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that by dramatically recalibrating its values, economy, and foreign policy, the United States can prevail over the COVID-19 crisis: "We can wake up as we did on Dec. 8, 1941, to ensure that Americans control their own fundamentals of life—food, fuel, medicine and strategic industries—without dependency on illiberal regimes. The military can refocus our defenses against nuclear missiles, cyberwarfare and biological weapons. . . . In a national crisis as serious as this one, the unity that arises from confidence in shared American citizenship saves lives." [LINK]
  • Nicolas Sousa, writing with Richard Petit, argues that Big Tech firms are proving to be a pivotal backstop for the nation's economic and public health woes amid the COVID-19 crisis: "The world is learning that far from being inefficient, predatory and privacy-invasive monopolies, Big Tech firms are responsive, consumer-centric, dynamic organizations. They are hiring like no other firms in the economy; and researchers, pharmaceutical firms and government agencies are using big data and artificial intelligence to track the pandemic and to assist in clinical trials." [LINK]

April 8, 2020
  • On the second episode Hoover's new podcast and video series The GoodFellows, John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster share their thoughts on why the government was caught flat-footed by the COVID-19 outbreak, on the leadership crisis in the UK and Europe, and on strategies for dealing with the People's Republic of China. [LINK]
  • George Shultz, Michael Boskin, and John Taylor write that shutting down markets to prevent the virus from spreading does more harm than good: "Even in times of crisis, markets solve problems well, because they provide the right incentives to use resources effectively." [LINK]
  • Lanhee Chen says the US should use its economic leverage over the World Health Organization to induce change: "Congress should condition all future funding on the WHO’s explaining in detail how it reaches its public-health decisions and rigorously and independently investigating the extent of disease outbreaks." [LINK]

April 7, 2020
  • Niall Ferguson writes that he would like to pose a series of questions to Xi Jinping about the origins of COVID-19, how it spread, and why it was covered up:  "I do think we need to keep asking them, if only to vaccinate ourselves against the other kind of virus currently emanating from China—the viral disinformation that Xi Jinping has learned from his Russian pal Vladimir Putin how to spread through the Internet." [LINK]
  • Michael Auslin writes that the COVID-19 outbreak has not sidetracked military competition between Beijing and Washington: "Not shrinking from the goal of trying to nurture the conditions that ensure stability in Asia remains the irreducible element underpinning America’s role in the world’s most vital region." [LINK]

April 6, 2020
  • Russell Berman contends that the COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity for the United States and Europe to forge closer ties and achieve long-term economic strength while reducing dependency on China: “Achieving this greatness requires coordination among the Western nations, within Europe and across the Atlantic. It is time for programs that boldly promote the well-being of the middle class, through both expansionary monetary and fiscal policy” [LINK
  • Michael McFaul argues that it would benefit the world if the United States and China began a phase of cooperation during the COVID-19 crisis: "Trump and Xi should establish a high-level working group to engage in direct talks, air their differences, agree to new norms for public discourse, and—most importantly—develop a joint plan for combating the virus, our common enemy." [LINK]
  • Bjorn Lomborg explains the trade-off of successful reductions in infection over the short term for lower rates of population immunity and global economic devastation: "So, if we want to keep deaths low, we may have to maintain social restrictions for most of what could be a two-year wait before vaccinations are hopefully available." [LINK]

April 3, 2020
  • Russell Berman writes that the COVID-19 crisis marks the beginning of the end of globalization and the reassertion of the nation-state in the international arena: “The state is the vehicle with which a political community can respond to ever-present existential threats.” [LINK]
  • Michael Auslin offers a short list of ways the United States can immediately reduce dependency on China: “The United States should have a national strategic reserve of medicine and medical equipment. We also need to make sure that we take back some degree of the supply chain for our military from Chinese suppliers, who provide everything from transistors to chemicals. Finally, we have to protect the crown jewel of our industries, the semiconductor industry.” [LINK]

April 2, 2020
  • Scott Atlas writes that there are good reasons to be optimistic about the trajectory of the COVID-19 outbreak, because the United States has a history of being the world leader in health-care innovation and curing life-threatening illnesses: “Fear about worst-case scenarios has at times obscured certain facts that should lend some optimism to what’s ahead.” [LINK]
  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that in face of the COVID-19 crisis, the US economic and scientific juggernaut is kicking into action: “Already the U.S. is transitioning from a long, disastrous reliance on Chinese medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. In ad hoc fashion, companies are gearing up massive production of masks, ventilators, and key anti-viral supplies.” [LINK]

April 1, 2020
  • David Davenport writes that deliberation within and between governing bodies is critical even as the COVID-19 outbreak warrants immediate responses: “The latest bill, deemed urgent by everyone, was nevertheless delayed a few days to reach an actual compromise. Even within the administration, you see some back and forth in pursuit of the truth, with leaders openly discussing how to balance the needs of the economy with public health. All this is a 'healthy' development.” [LINK]
  • Michael Spence writes that the paradox of government-imposed lockdowns to slow the rate of COVID-19 infection is that societies will reach a critical point where they can no longer afford for all of their citizens to remain isolated: "We absolutely must drive down the risks of interpersonal contact so that those who feel they must return to work can do so, and so that those inclined to self-isolate voluntarily can return to schools and full economic activity, feeling relatively safe." [LINK]

MARCH 31, 2020
  • Amit Seru argues that the CARES Act doesn't do enough to help preserve and protect the production capacity of America's economy in crisis: "The last thing we need at this moment is a Keynesian stimulus. Since the lockdowns constrain supply, stimulating demand would lead only to a rise in prices.” [LINK]
  • Victor Davis Hanson writes that California's relatively low fatality rate may reflect that the state has developed a herd immunity to the coronavirus: "Given the state’s unprecedented direct air access to China, and given its large expatriate and tourist Chinese communities, especially in its huge denser metropolitan corridors in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, it could be that what thousands of Californians experienced as an unusually 'early' and 'bad' flu season might have also reflected an early coronavirus epidemic'" [LINK]
  • Michael Auslin says the world must hold China to account for the spread of COVID-19: "If Beijing escapes blame for its failure to curb the coronavirus pandemic, its lies, and its attempts to cover up the pathogen's seriousness -- or, worse yet, if it actually earns global plaudits for its actions -- then no country will feel the need to be honest with the world when another pandemic breaks out, and the same deadly fiasco will repeat itself." [LINK]

March 30, 2020
  • John Cochrane argues that prevention and containment of COVID-19 would be more effective and less costly if policymakers allowed commercial activity that had very low transmission rates of the virus: "Don't separate to 'essential' and 'non-essential.' Separate into 'high likelihood of transmission' and 'low likelihood of transmission.' [LINK]
  • Bill Whalen writes that shelter-in-place orders, and closures of beaches and parks, may fray the relationship between California's leaders and its citizens, who overpay in taxes and housing in exchange for pleasant weather, outdoor recreation, and the Golden State's lucrative tech economy: "COVID-19 has disrupted that arrangement...What will happen if Californians decide to flout the state’s edict and assemble outdoors?" [LINK]

March 27, 2020
  • Josh Rauh writes that US Congress should jettison proposals for a $50 billion airline bailout and instead allow carriers to file for bankruptcy: “That's a lot of taxpayer money. ... Investors should take losses in such a scenario. After all, they took the risk of investing in the hopes of earning a higher return.” [LINK]
  • Michael Auslin argues that China's repressive and deceptive response to the global COVID-19 outbreak has poisoned relations with the United States and could fuel a new cold war: "Beijing has long touted its techno-authoritarian model as superior to liberal forms of government. Ceding victory in the coronavirus battle would help cement the belief that the CCP’s repressive and opaque systems are the wave of the future." [LINK]

March 26, 2020
  • John Taylor argues that the United States needs to develop a coherent COVID-19 economic strategy that fosters the opening of markets, including tax cuts, regulatory reforms, and the repeal of unnecessary occupational licensing: “The US must take steps to limit job-destroying regulations and avert growth-sapping tax increases—before it’s too late.” [LINK]
  • Dr. Scott Atlas writes that targeted protections of the elderly and chronically ill against COVID-19 "would accomplish the goals of saving lives, avoiding the overwhelming of the medical system, allowing the essential immunity to develop among the population with virtually no risk of serious illnesses, and avoiding the massive economic calamity and all that would entail." [LINK]

March 25, 2020
  • Abe Sofaer agrees that Dr. Anthony Fauci's calls for individuals to limit social interaction is a credible policy to slow the infection rate of COVID-19, but he but argues for a clear indication of when the national shut down will end: "Economic disasters can cause as much if not more illness, deaths, crime and other harm, over a far longer period, than even a highly infectious virus." [LINK]
  • John Cochrane writes that applying the Defense Production Act, nationalizing industry, and forcing companies to produce durable medical equipment is unnecessary and inefficient: "Just pay a premium for the needed medical supply. So what if companies profit? Profit makes a great incentive."  [LINK]

March 24, 2020
  • Edward Lazear writes that, counter to current efforts to stimulate the economy, less consumer demand and business activity are needed to combat the spread of COVID-19: "Instead of stimulus, the government should provide what economists call liquidity—a financial cushion to allow businesses and individuals adversely affected by an inevitable decline in economic activity to have enough money to survive the shock." [LINK]
  • Richard Epstein argues that while the government should act with urgency to protect the elderly and those most vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak, America needs to also consider the long-term costs of government-imposed quarantines and shelter-in-place orders: "The public commands have led to a crash in the stock market, and may only save a small fraction of the lives that are at risk." [LINK]

March 23, 2020
  • In National Review, Victor Davis Hanson writes that the political climate surrounding the COVID-19 crisis favors advocates who call for severe precautions: "In contrast, those who advise caution out of fears of an economic meltdown will never be able to quantify the greater number of fatalities from a depression than from an infection." [LINK]
  • In his Boston Globe column, Niall Ferguson argues that the reason for the comparatively low death toll in East Asian countries like South Korea as opposed to Italy is that the former drew the right conclusions following "the searing experiences of SARS in 2003,  while most Western countries drew the wrong conclusions from their relatively mild encounter with H1N1 in 2009." [LINK]
  • In National Review, John Yoo says that under the US Constitution, state governments are in a more suitable position to combat pandemics like COVID-19: "Under their police power, only the states can impose quarantines throughout an entire population, close institutions and businesses, and limit movement and travel." [LINK]

March 20, 2020
  • Hoover fellow Kevin Hassett, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2017 to 2019, will return to the White House in an advisory role as the United States manages the economic impact of COVID-19. [LINK]
  • In an interview on the Hold These Truths podcast, hosted by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Edward Lazear says that the economic fall out of COVID-19 does not resemble the financial crisis of 2007–2008: “There is an obvious proximate cause and immediate factor that is reducing economic activity. When that goes away, economic activity should pick up again.” [LINK]

March 19, 2020
  • In an interview for National Review, Research Fellow Russ Roberts warns that the COVID-19 outbreak, in a worst-case scenario, may have significant financial implications: “I think there’s a chance we’ll have another round of bailouts.” [LINK]
  • In an interview with Fox News’s Martha MacCallum, Michael Auslin explains why the Chinese government’s claims that it has contained the COVID-19 outbreak are best met with skepticism: the regime cares most “about their own survival and not the people, either in China or around the world.” [LINK]
  • On the Grumpy Economist, John Cochrane writes that while debt relief during a crisis is an age-old tradition, bills and contracts will eventually be paid: “It usually means a transfer from whoever entered the crisis not immensely leveraged to those that did.” [LINK]
  • On The Classicist podcast, Senior Fellow Victor Davis Hanson argues that COVID-19 may exact an enormous human toll if self-isolation continues for much longer, with consequences including increased anxiety and idleness, and lost income, jobs, and businesses. [LINK]

March 18, 2020
  • In an interview on Fox News @ Night, Visiting Fellow John Yoo said that while city “lockdowns” might be going too far, he doesn’t believe they are a violation of constitutional rights. [LINK]
  • In an op-ed for RealClearPolitics, Michael Auslin, in Contemporary Asia, writes that, in its desperation to evade blame from the world community, Beijing’s propaganda machine has effectively reshaped the narrative about the origins of COVID-19. [LINK]

March 17, 2020
  • In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Senior Fellow John Cochrane writes that what the US economy needs during this crisis is more lending and not just a “cash dump” from the federal government: “Since loans must be paid back, larger amounts can go where needed.” [LINK]
  • In the American Interest, Distinguished Visiting Fellow Josef Joffe writes that there is no need for the world’s democracies to adopt China’s model of repression to contain the spread of COVID-19: “If governments communicate truthfully with the people, the ruled do what needs to be done voluntarily.” [LINK]
  • In National Review, Senior Fellow Victor Davis Hanson says the global toll of the coronavirus can be attributed back to the Communist Party of China. [LINK]

March 16, 2020
  • In his Boston Globe column, Niall Ferguson argues that America’s “panic phase” of the COVID-19 epidemic is paradoxically a good one. He says that the United States was at greater risk of infection than Italy but was able to mitigate the pandemic’s effects early enough through policies of social distancing. [LINK]

 

For complete coverage of the analysis and commentary by Hoover Institution fellow on the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.