Spend More and Be Quick
By Amy Willis
If you’re like me, it seems surreal that we entered the pandemic over one year ago. One year ago, we were scared and uncertain. Today, many of us are starting to re-emerge. What did we learn from this experience? Are there any silver linings? What of the vagary of predictions put forth early in the pandemic? How many have been accurate? In this episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomes back Tyler Cowen, and the two revisit the topic of the pandemic almost exactly one year since their first COVID conversation. The two assess their predictions and revisit their concerns from that earlier episode, with some surprising results.
And now we want to hear what you think and what you’ve learned from your pandemic experience. Use the prompts below to answer in the comments, or start your own conversation offline. As always, thanks for listening; we love to hear from you.
1- Cowen says the most important lesson of last year: the “speed premium.” What does he mean by this? Where has the “speed premium” been more effective, and where less so?
2- Cowen and Roberts spend a fair amount of time discussing the Great Barrington Declaration. What are the points on which they disagree, and why? To what extent do you agree with Cowen’s statement, “when you look at the overall entire framing of Great Barrington, it’s been extremely harmful. It has led libertarian and conservative movements in the wrong direction”? (P.S. You may wish to revisit this episode with one of the original signatories, Jay Bhattacharya.)
3- How does Cowen compare the fiscal responses of the Trump and Biden administrations? How would you answer Roberts’s question regarding the story Keynesians have to tell in retrospect? (Hint: consider what happened to aggregate demand during lockdown.)
4- What lessons can we learn about European political economy post-COVID? What does Cowen mean when he says the most dangerous thing about lockdowns is that they encourage radicalism? To what extent do you agree?
5- Roberts asks Cowen about the unseen costs of the pandemic. How does Cowen answer? What do you think are the greatest unseen costs?