Post-Covid Economics

This week a special edition from the Bristol Festival of Economics with Helen Thompson and Adam Tooze talking about what might follow the pandemic. From vaccines to changing patterns of employment, from action on climate to new tensions with China, we explore what the long-term effects of 2020 might be. Plus we discuss what options are open to a Biden administration: with the Georgia run-offs to come and the disease still spreading, how much wriggle room has he got?


Talking Points: 


Headlines about the COVID vaccines focus on effectiveness, but it’s also about supply chains, storage, and scale.

  • Things are moving so quickly right now in part because so many people, especially in the US, are getting sick.


After the initial financial meltdown in March, in aggregate terms there was a share market recovery—one which was at odds with what was going on with people’s lives.

  • Surging American unemployment numbers went alongside the S&P 500’s continued rise.
  • The biggest beneficiaries initially were big tech. Now big pharma seems to be gaining. 
  • Is there a structural conflict in the allocation of capital between big tech and big pharma? 
  • Big tech probably won’t be facing much of a challenge from the White House.


The Biden administration will be embroiled in crisis politics from Day 1.

  • The epidemic in the US right now looks terrifying, and Thanksgiving is on the horizon.
  • The logic of economic crisis management is about time. 
  • The Democrats are going to have a hard time getting things through Congress, and the fact that things are so hard will divide them further. 


The Biden Administration will make early moves on climate.

  • It will be hard for Biden to take climate seriously without some kind of detente with China, but getting there is hard to imagine. 


After the health crisis ends, some jobs might not come back.

  • The effectiveness of short-term working means that the unemployment crisis has not yet hit in Europe.
  • The US unemployment crisis is in full swing. So far, the bounce back has been relatively quick. But there will be a manifest social crisis. 


There are imaginably worse pandemics than this one, and yet we have responded in an almost unimaginable way.

  • This is a highly mediatized, diffuse threat that has acquired huge salience. 
  • This is the most extraordinary thing that has happened in modern economic history. 
  • A lot of this unprecedented response was voluntary.


Mentioned in this Episode: 


Further Learning:


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