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 daily digest of their latest analysis. 

[Last Updated: April 3, 2020]
 
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.