EconPol Policy Briefs

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If the Objective is Herd Immunity, on Whom Should it be Built?

Christian Gollier, (EconPol Europe, Toulouse School of Economics, University of Toulouse-Capitole)

In the absence of a treatment or vaccine, there are two options available for managing Covid-19: long confinement of a large proportion of the population and the associated economic costs (Plan A), or to progressively build herd immunity by exposing the population to the virus (Plan B). But attaining herd immunity requires governments to expose a fraction of the population to the virus, and to recognize that some people in this targeted population will die. Christian Gollier (EconPol Europe, Toulouse School of Economics, University of Toulouse-Capitole) uses standardized guidelines to identify ‘optimal’ herd immunity policies but warns that the moral concerns related to such a policy would go against several decades of policy evaluation practice.

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Covid-19: Has the Time Come for Mainstream Macroeconomics to Rehabilitate Money Printing?

Axelle Arquié (EconPol Europe, CEPII), Jérôme Héricourt (EconPol Europe, Université de Lille & CEPII) and Fabien Tripier (EconPol Europe, Université Paris-Saclay (Evry) & CEPII)

The expenditure necessary to avoid the Covid-19 health crisis turning into a long-lasting deep recession is enormous and raises the issue of how it should be financed: through new debt, or monetization? Monetization - defined as the financing of public expenditure through money creation by the central bank without being reimbursed by the government - has long been rejected by mainstream macroeconomics. This policy brief analyzes in detail some recent theoretical arguments of mainstream macroeconomics to rehabilitate monetization. The authors suggest policy makers consider monetization to finance Covid-19 related spending in the current macroeconomics context, combining secular stagnation features and a very high stock of public debt. In the specific context of the Euro area, monetization raises important political issues.

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COVID-19: The World Economy Needs a Lifeline – But Which One?

Dorine Boumans, Sebastian Link and Stefan Sauer (EconPol Europe, ifo Institute)

This paper from Dorine Boumans, Sebastian Link and Stefan Sauer (EconPol Europe, ifo Institute) presents the results of a survey of 1000 economic experts in 110 countries on the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effectiveness of different policy measures to combat the crisis for different countries. The results indicate that economies all around the globe are severely hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The experts perceive the reductions in investment to have the strongest impact on their domestic economies. In consequence, the experts expect a severe recession in almost all countries in 2020, followed by a long period of economic recovery. The experts rate emergency liquidity assistance to firms as well as temporary tax deferrals for businesses as the most effective policy measures, but do not regard other responses such as helicopter money or lenient bank supervision as being well suited to combat the crisis. 

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The Search for the Right European Financing Instruments in the Corona Pandemic: ESM Liquidity Assistance Versus Corona Bonds

Friedrich Heinemann (EconPol Europe, ZEW)

The purported advantages of corona bonds over the ESM are meagre to non-existent, says Friedrich Heinemann (EconPol Europe, ZEW). The challenge we face is to contain the spread of COVID-19 while stabilising the economy and ensuring eurozone states have sufficient liquidity and the ESM is a suitable tool for pursuing these ends. However, we should wait until the acute phase of the crisis has passed before engaging in discussion of how to handle high debt levels and possible cases of insolvencies among eurozone nations, and the difficult question of who finally bears the burden of unsustainable debts.

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The Economic Costs of the Coronavirus Shutdown for Selected European Countries: A Scenario Calculation

Florian Dorn, Clemens Fuest, Marcell Göttert, Carla Krolage, Stefan Lautenbacher, Robert Lehmann, Sebastian Link, Sascha Möhrle, Andreas Peichl, Magnus Reif, Stefan Sauer, Marc Stöckli, Klaus Wohlrabe, Timo Wollmershäuser

This paper presents scenarios of the shutdown costs in terms of lost value added for Austria, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and UK. The shutdown phase will lead to considerable production losses and large declines in GDP this year. Lasting longer than a month, the losses within the EU quickly reach dimensions well beyond the growth slump of previous recessions or natural disasters. Shutdown costs justify almost every conceivable investment in health policy measures which allow to combine a resumption of production with further fight against the epidemic.

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