Sweden shows us whether lockdown was worth the economic cost

Did Sweden get it right in its response to Covid? There is increasing interest in this question. Contrary to widespread belief, the Swedes did introduce a few legally enforceable restrictions on behaviour. For example, public gatherings of more than 50 people were forbidden in March. Private ones were exempt from the ban. But, overall, compared […]

The costs of lockdown can no longer be justified

In an otherwise depressing week, two pieces of very good news emerged from India. In Mumbai, blood tests conducted by the city authorities on 6,936 randomly selected people found that some 40 per cent had coronavirus antibodies. Just 6,000 deaths have been reported so far in a city of 20 million. A similar exercise in […]

The costs of lockdown could far outweigh the benefits

Radical leaders such as Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand and Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland have gained plaudits through their relentless focus on eliminating Covid-19. But this comes at an obvious economic cost. Tourism is some 15 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP, and major destinations such as Queenstown in the Southern Alps have been devastated. […]

Get the Bank of England focused on the real economy

Economic policy is returning to its usual position of prominence. Fears of a major rise in unemployment are starting to worry the government more than fears around Covid-19. The chancellor’s imaginative schemes concerning furlough and other measures to protect jobs create potential problems elsewhere. So much money is being borrowed that the ratio of public […]

Covid crisis has exposed the Scottish nationalists once again

In London, the Covid virus is disappearing rapidly. Hospital trusts are increasingly reporting days with no new cases at all. During the crisis, there has been a proliferation of home-made signs in rural locations telling city dwellers, with varying degrees of politeness, to turn back and go home. Will we now see messages at junctions […]

The unions stand on the precipice

Len McCluskey, the leader of the trade union Unite, probably did as much as anybody to ensure Boris Johnson’s massive electoral victory last December. A fervent supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, his grip on the Labour Party machine compelled Labour to fight the election with its most unpopular and inept leader in history. McCluskey is up […]

Coronavirus: Economists have a role to play in recovery

Lockdowns are starting to be eased in Europe. Austria, Denmark, Italy and Spain are all moving back towards normality. At some point during May, the UK will follow. We can reflect on what the government has got right and wrong so far in the opening phase of the pandemic. This is emphatically not to apportion […]

Coronavirus: A traffic light loosening gives the economy hope

The strategy of exiting from the lockdown is far too important to be left in the hands of health professionals. The government’s advisors have played very valuable roles in helping to avert the sort of crisis which overwhelmed the health services in Northern Italy. Many who were seriously ill with the virus died unnecessarily because […]