by Joshua Gans. Published by MIT Press, April 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a firehose of information (much of it wrong) and an avalanche of opinions (many of them ill-founded). Most of us are so distracted by the everyday awfulness that we don’t see the broader issues in play. In this book, economist Joshua Gans steps back from the short-term chaos to take a clear and systematic look at how economic choices are being made in response to COVID-19. He shows that containing the virus and pausing the economy—without letting businesses fail and people lose their jobs—are the necessary first steps.
Gans outlines the phases of the pandemic economy, from containment to reset to recovery and enhancement. Warning against thinking in terms of a “tradeoff” between public health and economic health, Gans explains that containment gives us the opportunity to develop effective testing that will make it safe for people to interact. Once the virus is contained, we will need to pivot toward innovating, and, finally, we will come together to plan how to protect ourselves from future pandemics. He looks at policy tools that might aid an economic recovery, distinguishing between economic losses during a pandemic and a recession.
Gans lays out the economic choices accessibly but with urgency, leaving politics out of it. Economics in the Age of COVID-19 is essential reading for anyone interested in the long-term implications of our current crisis.
An open access version of Economics in the Age of COVID-19 for community commentary is available at economics-in-the-age-of-covid-19.pubpub.org.