It is still too early in an American attempt to sniff out a deadly epidemic by shutting down much of the economy. But there is a growing question – from workers, the White House, corporate boardrooms and small businesses on the verge – that inevitably hangs over the war effort against the virus that killed more than 9,000 Americans.
There is no good answer yet in part, because we do not even have the data necessary to prepare one.
Essentially, economists say there will not be a fully functioning economy until people are confident that they can go about their business without the high risk of catching the virus.
“Our ability to reopen the economy ultimately depends on our ability to better understand the spread and risk of the virus,” said Michigan economist Betsy Stevenson, who was on the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama used to work. “It is also quite likely that we will need to figure out how to reopen the economy with the threat virus.”
Public health experts are beginning to predict when coronovirus infection rates will increase. Economists are calculating when the cost of continuing to shutter restaurants, shopping malls and other businesses – a move that has already pushed some 10 million Americans into unemployment, with millions more on the way – to slow the virus further Efforts will outstrip savings The transition curve is flattened out.
Government officials are setting competition targets. President Trump has pushed his expected date of reopening the economy to the end of April. “We have to get back to work,” he said in a briefing on Saturday. “We have to reopen our country. We want to do this for months and months and months. We are going to open our country again. This country was not for this. “
Some governors have set much more conservative targets, such as Ralph Northam of Virginia, who canceled the remainder of the school year and implemented a shelter-home arrangement through June 10. Other states, such as Florida, recently I agreed to stop the activity but in the case of the Sunshine State – to resume it, by April 30 have set more aggressive targets.
Those goals are on the most lightly informed estimate based on models that contain variables – including how many people carry the virus and how effective suppression measures will prove. Models can yet give us nothing close to an accurate answer to the larger question related to the lives and livelihoods of Americans.
To determine whether to resume activity, R. Glenn Hubbard, a former top economist under President George W. Bush, said, “We need more information.”
Interviews with more than a dozen economists, many of whom have been stalwarts of previous presidential administrations, reveal a broad consensus on the building’s economy – but not yet – to begin the slow process of restoring normalcy in the economy is.
It includes the broad agreement that the United States needs more testing for viruses to give policymakers, the first key piece of evidence they need to determine is how fast the virus is spreading and when it is at work. It may be safe for people to return.
Without more testing, “there’s no way you can open up the economy when you can set a deadline”, said Simon Mange, a Chicago economist who is one of the authors of a new study Gone is that testing for randomly rapid deployment viruses can reduce its health and economic damage.
“It’s going to be able to identify people who have coronovirus, by understanding how easily those people can pass the disease on to others and then isolate people who are isolated, “Mr. Mange said.
Policy determinants will also need better data on how transitional hospitals are likely to lead to stressful hospitals and entire regional health care systems if they occur. Ideally, they would control the rate sufficiently to establish so-called contact tracing to track and avoid the spread of the virus across the country.
Once such a level is detected, it is possible that some workers may start returning to the job – for example, in areas where the probability of infection is low. Some experts have talked about quickly returning workers contracting the virus, but recover with little effect. Testing is the best way to identify workers who had few or no symptoms of the virus and likely did not realize they were ever infected.
While they wait for the infection rate to fall, policymakers will need to provide more support to workers who have lost jobs or hours and are on the verge of failure. This could mean trillions of small business loans, unemployment benefits and direct payments to individuals could be overused, and it could force the government to be creative in deploying funds to avoid hiccups.
Obama D. Michigan State University economist Lisa D. worked in the White House. Cook said lawmakers should consider funneling $ 1,500 a month to individuals through mobile apps such as Zelle to reach more people, especially for low-income and nonprofits, including those disproportionately There is a shortage of traditional bank accounts. Mobile payments, Ms. Cook said, will make it easier and quicker to pay family members and friends as needed.
The government’s efforts to maintain public support for long-term economic droughts may prove to be important. Adam Ojime, chief economist at Adamworks, said the additional funding for small business would be important during the full extent of the crisis – both to prevent a crush of business failures and to thwart the national effort to reduce the transition to owners and customers To prevent from.
“I don’t think you can force hundreds of small business owners to voluntarily shut down and have failure with them,” Mr. Ojaime said. “They don’t do it, the public doesn’t support it, and frankly I don’t think local authorities will stop them.”
Like doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks, and package delivery drivers, Americans who are risking their own health to drive the economy will need to give policymakers better support and protection.
Heather Baushey, president of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a think tank that focuses on inequality, said those workers needed sick leave, adequate health coverage, access to coronavirus tests and affordable care for their children, while he worked. Stay healthy and protect consumers from the spread of the virus.
“The economy is at this point, those workers,” Ms. Boushey said. “And their health and safety are essential to my safety.”
Policy makers will need patience: resuming activity can also put a second spike in infections at risk that may cause more harm than before because it limits people’s faith in a limited amount of shopping, food, or other Will shake the ability to engage in commerce.
“It’s important not to get up too early,” said Emil Werner, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-author of a new study that found more aggressive steps were taken to stop the 1918 flu pandemic in the United States . Which did less with stronger economies than cities. “Because if we pick up too early, the epidemic may catch up again. And it is very bad for the economy. “
Finally, policymakers will need to level up with Americans – and themselves – and accept the possibility that the closure and its effects could drag on well by the end of the month.
Several experts said that aggressive repression measures may result in a gradual resumption of activity beginning in May at some locations. But as usual the business cannot return until a vaccine is developed, which may take more than a year.
Jason Furman of Harvard University, a top economist under Obama, said, “We must certainly be prepared for meaningful levels of deliberate suppression of economic activity for the rest of the year.”
The Congressional Budget Office wrote on Thursday that it expected at least a quarter of the current repression measures by the end of the year, and that the unemployment rate could still be 9 percent at the end of 2021. MPs need to be prepared to fill. Zero with the support of businesses and workers, said Carl Smith, vice president of federal policy at the Tax Foundation in Washington.
“The possibility of informal quarantine for weeks or months after being officially removed is real,” Mr Smith said. “After that, my guess is that the economy is in a major crisis.”