Weekly Selection 3 April 2020

Peter Goodman, Why the Global Recession Could Last a Long Time

(The New York Times, April 1, 2020)

This is an article for those who still doubt that the global economic recession triggered by the pandemic will be long and painful. Ken Rogoff, the Harvard economist who is one of the world’s foremost authorities on financial crises has it absolutely right: “This is already shaping up as the deepest dive on record for the global economy for over 100 years. Everything depends on how long it lasts, but if this goes on for a long time, it’s certainly going to be the mother of all financial crises.” Every country will suffer, but the situation will be most dire in emerging markets (reads in 6-7 min).

Derek Thompson, The Four Rules of Pandemic Economics

(The Atlantic, April 2, 2020)

This is a 4-5 min read based on extensive interviews with prominent US economists offers simple rules for a better understanding of the new playbook of pandemic economics. (1) “Save the economy or save lives” is a false choice; (2) Pay people a living wage to stop working; (3) Build companies a time machine, i.e. anything - including grants, cheap loans, and debt relief - that would allow them to shift their expenses to the future; (4) The business of America (and all other countries of course!) is now science.

Isaac Arnsdorf, A Major Medical Staffing Company Just Slashed Benefits for Doctors and Nurses Fighting Coronavirus

(ProPublica, March 31, 2020)

This beggars belief! Alteon Health, a US healthcare staffing company backed by two private-equity firms just decided to cut salaries, time off and retirement benefits for providers, because of lost revenues. Several US hospital operators have announced similar cuts. We decided to include this short anecdotal article because it begs the question of which economic and societal changes will occur in the post-pandemic era. Will society revolt against such behavior? Will there be some permanent changes in our social contract? (Reads in 4-5 min).

Adam Grant, In Negotiations, Givers Are Smarter Than Takers

(The New York Times, March 27, 2020)

At a time when the pandemic crisis reveals the best (often) and the worst (sometimes) about people, this is a great reminder that generosity is a sign of intelligence, and that givers are the rising tide that lifts all boats. The famous organizational psychologist explains that when we expect the worst in others, we bring out the worst in others. By contrast, when we recognize that everyone feels the impulse to help (unless they’re a sociopath) we have a chance to bring out the “better angels” of their nature. This is all based on research and reads in just 5 min!

Alan Lightman, The Virus Is a Reminder of Something Lost Long Ago

(The Atlantic, April 1, 2020)

The physicist and author of “In Praise of Wasting Time” ponders whether in rebuilding a broken world, we will have the chance to choose a less hurried life. He argues that we’ve become slaves to our “urgent” appointments, to-do lists and addiction to nonstop stimulation by the external world. But now, he says, we (those who are not on the front-line in hospitals and shops) have a chance to notice: We have been living too fast, having sold our inner selves to the devil of speed, efficiency, money, hyper-connectivity, and “progress”. When the pandemic and its economic devastation are a thing of the past, can we perhaps adopt a more contemplative, deliberate way of living? (reads in 7-9 min).