The Schwartz Center for Economic and Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research invites contributions by members of the New School economics community (faculty, students, graduates, and friends) that address the immediate and long-term challenges to economies and economic ideas posed by the rapidly escalating COVID-19 crisis.
This pandemic poses a series of unprecedented economic challenges.
It compromises our ability to engage in productive and commercial activities that require close contact between groups of people. Because fighting the disease requires non-essential workers to stay at home, it threatens to trigger a catastrophic recession, if not depression, as entire economic sectors shut down. In all these ways, it poses an existential risk to all modern economies.
At the same time, the pandemic’s severity and economic effects very much reflect serious weaknesses in pre-crisis economies and economic thinking in the West, including:
- Chronic neglect and devaluation of public goods that could have helped mitigate the pandemic—like epidemiological surveillance, universal health care, and liberal unemployment benefits;
- an obsession with fiscal deficits that has facilitated the erosion of our economic safety net, including in the provision of retirement benefits;
- continuing exploitation of vulnerable groups including non-college educated women, racial minorities, and immigrants.
The pandemic has also led to yet another round of strains and debilitating capital outflows from emerging and developing economies, leading to a strong devaluation of their currencies relative to the U.S. Dollar. The fact that this is taking place as the U.S. becomes the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic once again highlights the chronic imbalances in the current international monetary system. The difficulties many governments have faced in formulating and implementing effective responses to the crisis and the notable lack of coherent international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic also underline the challenges posed in mitigating and addressing the effects of climate change.
The Schwartz Center seeks to place equity at the center of public policy. As SCEPA Director Teresa Ghilarducci recently put it,
In facing this crisis, the most important policy responses are those that can quickly and sustainably boost the incomes of households, especially those most vulnerable and most likely to suffer from this recession.
In the context of the current COVID-19 crisis, the Schwartz Center also sees an opportunity – to explore new policies that can help in building public institutional capacity to deal, not only with the current pandemic but also with more basic economic problems, once the medical crisis subsides.
In the words of our colleague and collaborator Paulo L. dos Santos:
Economics needs to be reminded that states have capacity to achieve economic and social goals that are beyond the capacity of markets and profit-driven actors. This includes the provision of universal benefits that care for members of society and enables them to engage in productive activity; achieving the measures of coordination needed to deal with catastrophes like the current pandemic, and mitigating and reducing the impact of upcoming climate-related catastrophes; and working toward economies that are equitable because they reward all work in line with the social contribution that it makes.
Please join as we collectively try to meet the long-term challenges to economies and economic ideas posed by the current pandemic.
Paulo L. dos Santos
The Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis