Let’s hope Europe’s economic policies are better than its approach to lockdown

So just how effective were the different lockdown policies implemented by Europe’s diverse states?

Bloomberg has tried to make a comparison using an index complied by the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. Continue reading “Let’s hope Europe’s economic policies are better than its approach to lockdown”

Britain and Sweden are helping test how far we should go with prescriptive rules

Britain’s government is hard at work on plans for moving out of the UK’s version of what we call lockdown.  According to the Financial Times:

“Hot desking will be curtailed, staff canteens will stay closed and lifts kept half-empty in workplaces across the country under Boris Johnson’s plan to ease the lockdown in the coming weeks … Companies will be expected to ensure staggered shifts and keep employees apart — while at work and during breaks — with 2-metre distancing enforced by floor tape. Staff will be told to avoid sharing pens under the draft proposals, and steer clear of face-to-face meetings.” Continue reading “Britain and Sweden are helping test how far we should go with prescriptive rules”

How Covid is working through markets: British Airways edition

Because markets clear supply and demand, abrupt shocks often lead to surprising outcomes.  Covid is a big market shock.  

An early example of the ‘I didn’t think of that’ genre comes from world aviation. British Airways is taking advantage of the collapse of air traffic to restructure its workforce. Continue reading “How Covid is working through markets: British Airways edition”

Covid: still plenty of known unknowns

As folk step out to enjoy their new-found freedom (and not just in NZ), it’s worth bearing in mind that we are still mired in uncertainty.  Indeed, the sense that the data is not good enough and governments are feeling their way as they go along, is perhaps even stronger now than it was a few weeks ago.

So a few high-level principles might help in thinking about the future. Continue reading “Covid: still plenty of known unknowns”

Covid, the US and the politics of economic recovery

Horrible news that more than 15% of the US workforce has filed jobless claims since mid-March is apt to be misinterpreted.  

Covid-19 is also an economic shock – and we are working through an economic adjustment.  This process works fastest and is seen most clearly where market forces – generating signals and guiding the adjustment process – are strong.  The recovery is also likely to be stronger. Continue reading “Covid, the US and the politics of economic recovery”

Brexit and Covid-19 – the connection is tenuous, really

Perhaps the only benefit of Covid-19 is that it seems to have scrubbed Brexit almost entirely from the media lexicon.  A generation of pundits must retool or face redundancy.

However, the issue of what new trading (and political) relationship can be negotiated between the UK and EU before the end of the year has not gone away. 

Some have been saying that a process delay is necessary.  But such arguments tend to issue from inveterate remainers and lose credibility as a result.

Now we have commentator James Forsyth saying in The Spectator that he believes the British government has decided not to request an extension to the current Brexit transition period. Continue reading “Brexit and Covid-19 – the connection is tenuous, really”

Boris will need even more luck in the next stages of the Covid-19 response

As we said last year, Boris Johnson seems to be a lucky man. Certainly in recovering from Covid-19 – and perhaps even in catching it, or so it may appear in time. His personal experience seems to have given him greater understanding and empathy; it may as a consequence give him more authority.

He’ll need it too, because of the looming challenge of breakout from the frozen-but-functioning state of lockdown, before any possible breakdown.

Politics is always about hard questions but this is a particularly difficult set to juggle. Continue reading “Boris will need even more luck in the next stages of the Covid-19 response”