Saturday, April 4, 2020

Whack-a-mole: the long run virus

This virus will be with us a long time. Even if the massive national shutdown stops the spread of the virus in the US by summer, there will remain hotspots. Then someone travels, reinfects a city, and here we go again.

The virus is spreading around the world. Even if the US stops the virus throughout our country over the summer, it will spread in, say Argentina. Someone with it will get on a plane back to the US in the fall, a planeload of people with the virus will disembark, and here we go again.

Viruses  come in waves. The plague came in waves, cholera came in waves, smallpox and polio came in waves. If you beat it back in one place, it hides somewhere else and then sneaks in and starts again.

What could stop this curse? One, if a large fraction get it, and if immunity lasts a while, then it will peter out. This is the "herd immunity" case. But for herd immunity to work, the fraction who are immune has to be large. For example, if the coronavirus reproduction rate is 3 in a new population, more than 2/3 of the people must be immune to cut that reproduction rate down below 1 where the virus peters out. A person who has it infects 3 others, but two of those are immune. As an over-60 person who doesn't like feeling like I can't breathe, I'm not enthusiastic about that option.

Two, if a safe and effective vaccine is developed, and everyone gets that, we have herd immunity without a wave of deaths in the process.

Until it mutates, and starts up again. That's how the flu and common cold work. The coronavirus is already mutating. Good vaccines are an invitation to a virus to mutate faster around the vaccine.

The coronavirus is nicely evolved. It spreads by air and surfaces, avoiding for example the water pathway that viruses used in the past, but that good water and sanitation have stopped. It is, apparently, very highly contagious. The thing people are cheering -- that apparently so many people have gotten it without symptoms -- tells you that the transmission rate is much higher than it seems. That's also "smart" for a virus. If people get sick right away, you can isolate without needing tests.  It's nicely evolved to exploit our globalized world. If we invent a vaccine, that's an invitation to the virus to learn to mutate faster. The good news, is that  being lethal is not good for the virus. It wants to mutate just enough so that we don't bother shutting down the economy to stop it. Viruses tend to become less lethal over time until we learn to live with them. This can take many waves and centuries.

The optimistic scenario then is that the US stops the virus' exponential spread mid-summer, at a catastrophic cost to our economy and public finances. Then we start playing whack-a-mole with newly energized and battle-hardened bureaucracy so the economy can operate without spreading the virus too much. Perhaps everyone getting on a plane will have to be tested. Areas that are seeing a breakout will get lockdowns and travel restrictions. This will take a competent and coordinated worldwide public health system.

And then the next virus will break out. Evolution hasn't stopped, and the opportunities our globalized world offers to new viruses have not stopped.

The short version of these thoughts: many economic changes we are seeing now will be permanent. Social distancing, a move from restaurants to home, a dramatic reduction in travel, a move away from anything that brings lots of people together, may last a very long time.

Ask yourself, if you are lucky enough as I am to work from home and still have a paycheck, just when and under what conditions are you ready to go back to the office, to have people breathing the air in the seat next to you in the seminar room, to go touch the salad bar tongs, to go give a talk, shake a lot of hands and meet a lot of people, to get on a plane, to stand in a line? The virus may be contained, with aggressive testing and public health playing whack-a-mole, but authorities relenting and allowing business to open, in a highly regulated way. But will you just go back to normal? Likely not.

Yes, people forget, as our government forgot centuries of pandemics and paid no attention to its own many reports. But forgetting takes years. And if corona comes back slightly mutated every year, or every time one person gets on a plane from a part of the world where it's raging, if it remains considerably more frightening than the flu, we will be living like this for a long time.

So, from an economic point of view, the future may not be a V shaped recovery, all clear, go back to exactly what you were doing before.  It may not be a U shaped recovery, needing just "stimulus" and the "aggregate demand" of a big infrastructure project to get going.  (And furloughed flight attendants aren't very good at operating bulldozers anyway.)

A big shift in demand is under way, from the carefree economy to the  permanently social distanced economy. Battling viruses may become a way of life. And reallocating people and businesses to such a big shift in demand will take a lot of time. We will measure a depressed economy, though building new businesses, searching for new opportunities, moving to new places (out of crowded cities) is important economic activity too.

We will need less waiters, but more grocery store workers, and Amazon order fillers. We will need many more people employed in the routine parts of public health -- pointing temperature gauges at people, security guards enforcing social distancing, and lots and lots of cleaning and disinfecting crews.

All this is labor-intensive. If you were worried about AI taking away all the low skilled jobs, your worries are over. This will in the end be a boon to low skill employment. But just in different places than now. There are lots of opportunities in the virus-protected economy too. Sit down (close to other customers) restaurants will decline. Topnotch takeout will rise.

The overall cost of doing things will rise however. This is a negative permanent technology shock.

As important as the government's efforts to keep people and existing businesses afloat are, they also reduce the incentives to get going with this new economy.

And that is really the optimistic scenario. A long war, culminating decades from now in a global economy attuned and adjusted to its invitation to microbial evolution.

There will be a race between biology and memory loss. If the corona virus does not come back in waves, if another virus does not follow it within a few years, memory loss will win,  and the economy goes back to its previous state. Then the next, much more lethal virus, really destroys our economy and society. This is war, but let it not be WWI.


  1. "The optimistic scenario then is that the US stops the virus' exponential spread mid-summer,"

    I think of mid summer as mid July. If the United States does not stop the exponential growth by about April 15 your hospitals will be overwhelmed and your death rate will soar. It sounds like the hospital system in New York is on the verge of collapse today and Florida is maybe five days behind them. No one has until mid summer.

  2. I think that the most likely outcome is that herd immunity is achieved in the next 8 to 10 weeks in most countries. That's because the virus is spreading very quickly through people who are not socially distancing, it's infection fatality rate looks like to be around 0.2 to 0.6%, so millions of people will die (and excess mortality rates implicate that hundreds of thousands already died) over the next 2-3 months.

    In a few countries containment will be obtained (like Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China), so travel from infected countries to those countries will probably be restricted for a long time. But in most countries the majority of the population will be immune.

    Big plagues tend to happen once every century, humanity has survive many plagues and it will survive the future ones as well. This one with fatality rates around 0.2 to 0.6% looks like it is less deadly than previous big ones (like Black Death or the Spanish Flu).

    1. "it's infection fatality rate looks like to be around 0.2 to 0.6%,"

      There is uncertainty in what deaths to attribute to Covid so the fatality rate is tricky. But in British Columbia the deaths attributed to Covid are 3% of the confirmed cases. Given the lag between confirmation and death, the ultimate death rate among confirmed cases may be higher than 3% (and become significantly higher if the hospitals are overwhelmed). There is a huge difference between a death rate of, say, 0.4% and 4.0%.

    2. Academic studies by epidemiologists estimates that Covid-19 fatality rate is between 0.19% and 0.66%. Since 50-80% of Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic and 90% of symptomatic cases are mild the vast majority of cases are not even suspected and are not detected, only the more extreme cases tend to be detected with much higher fatality rates.

      In Italy right now I saw estimates that only 1% to 4% of cases have been detected by tests and only 40-50% of the fatalities.

    3. Well I'm italian and I can ensure you're dead wrong. There was a document from Imperial College with some estimates but magazines went wild publishing only one extreme of the 95% confidence interval and forgetting to mention that the lower extreme is 10 times lower and the distribution highly skewed vs. the lower. There are many other and I think more reliable estimates by italian scientists who have better data. There are no evidences that undetected cases are more than five times the ufficially reported cases. Furthermore, deaths are vastly under reported because a lot of old people died alone in their houses or in nurses. Despite the fact that public health in Lombardia and Emilia Romagna are top notch and were able to add a lot of ICU beds in a very short time, the number of sick people was overwhelming. We had more than 100 health care workers dead from corona virus. Still, there are people underestimating this virus. Don't do it. A recent (still not peer reviewed) paper estimates an R0 between 5,4 and 6,2. Let it run wild and it will destroy even the stongest nation in a few months. The real number of victims will remain unknown, but the toll will be huge. Furthermore we have no informations about how long immunization will last. If we look at flu or cold, it's discouraging.

    4. There is overwhelming evidence that cases are vastly underreported in Italy. It is the only reasonable explanation for Italy having 10x (or so) the case fatality than eg Germany. Germany tested much more and even though I (German) know much more people with symthoms who wanted to get tested and could not, because they were considered 2nd prio (young and without known exposure to infected ppl), than people who were actually tested. In addition I know personally of several cases of people living in the same household with positively tested people, who never had serious symthoms and were not tested. If the virus is as contangious as stated (R of 3 or even 5 as stated above), it seems unlikely that infection can be contaigned within a small space and between jointly quarantained people (see eg also the cruise ship experience). Prof Drosten (a worldwide reknown and leading authority on SARS Corona viruses, and the creator of the currently widely used PCR tests) even said he d consider people living in the same household as positively tested people as infected as well.

      Number of (confirmed) case is at least as much a function of testing as of actual infections. And case fatality is probably mostly a function of testing. If you only test the deceased it will be 100%.

      Nobody seems to have reliable data on the true infection rates (rather than reported cases).
      However, it is clear, there is a significant population of unreported infections, even in Germany, not to speak of Italy, with its leading case fatality.

    5. Today released results of a big empirical study in Germany suggest an infection fatality of 0.37%, well in line with the above range 0.19%-0.66%.

      The 0.37% resulted from a situation with a sufficient number of ICUs. An overwhelmed health care system will likely produce a higher figure.

  3. In the past I've responded to Cochrane essays with irritation and even anger, but this is not one of those occasions.

    One of Cochrane's best essays, I believe.

    It is possible, if we are very lucky, that the virus will mutate quickly into a less lethal form--and stay that way. If I understand correctly, that is what happened with the SARS and MERS viruses--why we dodged a bullet then.

    But Cochrane's broader points stand, I think. On those I can just ponder in silence now.

  4. So if this is the scenario, what are the implications for aid packages? Does it then not follow that it's better to "save people" and not "save jobs" or "save businesses"? Because currently the thinking seems to be that as the virus is eradicated, we will hopefully get to where we used to be - hence the need to preserve the economic structure intact. But if what you are suggesting is true, then this will not happen, and perhaps it doesn't make much sense to for instance subsidise employers who retain workers?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. On the other end of the spectrum, I think this pandemic will not have much long run effect at all. One thing I bet on staying is a prevalence of working from home, but not in the way described. Jobs on start ups might use it as a way to reduce office costs and big business will adopt it for sick leave. Instead of making your employees jump through hoops to prove they are sick, just tell them they can, at the first sign of disease, stay at home and continue working. Protect your workers with no fall in productivity. Other than that, I predict a social change regarding PPEs, with increased use on our day to day and increased production overall. We have many diseases around that never turned us into hypochondriacs, in the end the status quo will come back with only slight changes.

  8. But it seems that Taiwan and Hong Kong have whacked the mole. Perhaps we don't need the lockdown strategy. We need to learn from countries that have handled it better

  9. Good analysis. However I want to highlight two underestimated facts:
    1) There are several vaccines being developed, based on different mechanisms. Possibly several will be successful and it is unlikely that the virus will mutate and become invincible by all of them
    2) Several therapies may make the virus much much less dangerous. Timing is of course critical, may not be ready by next fall to prevent second wave,but there is hope to achieve total normality sometime in the next 2-3 years

  10. This is certainly one scenario. However, it seems biotechnologically and medically pessimistic. It presumes that we will fail to develop rapid, accurate diagnostics and effective treatments. Both of these types of technologies are demanded by our society in the face of the virus, as well as the adaptations you suggest.

    We now have annual flu vaccines. I'm no biologist, but it seems we might develop annual corona vaccines as well.

    One can imagine technological developments in contact tracing, too, which could assist in managing future outbreaks.

    1. If you look into the average efficacy rates for flu vaccines most year, then you might be a little more worried.

  11. On travel, especially international. Once tests that give results in a few hours or less become widely available it seems easiest option would be: You need to have a negative coronavirus test 24hrs before flight, and then do a test again on arrival (if it is positive then find that person and quarantine them). This could be done at travelers expense (how much do tests cost? adding <$100 to international flight would be pretty minor). If tests were down to 15min this could just be done as part of customs & baggage scanning at departure and arrival airports. Again, travelers could pay all of this themselves with minor fees/surcharges.

    This would likely still leave major issue of people avoiding travel to countries that currently have outbreaks. With a vaccine this would become much less of an issue, vaccinations for Hepatitus and many other diseases are already a standard part of international travel to many locations. But even without a vaccine, the testing described above is all based on existing techniques (as I understand it a few companies have already developed 2hr or less and are now in process of ramping up production/approval).

  12. John Cochrane's most depressing post, which is saying something.

    By the way I am 65. I disagree with John Cochrane. I think we have to sequester old people who are vulnerable, and the rest of us run the gauntlet, and gain herd immunity.

    Economic suicide is not a policy option.

    A perspective. 600,000 people die every year in the US from cancer, often triggered by artififial carcinogens in the environment. That's every year, not a one-time wave of deaths. We do not shut down the economy until we have removed all artificial carcinogens.

    Sometimes policy-making is taking the least-bad option.

    I am mildly disappointed that, though certainly I understand why, America's leading right-wing or libertarian economists have not been much more forthcoming, at least in explaining relative benefits to costs.

    1. An even better example: per CDC 480,000 people die every year from cigarette smoking. You would think that would be easy to eliminate and yet we don't. People's preferences often play out differently that you might imagine. I would be very surprised if we did not see *some* changes in response to this pandemic, but I would bet against radical change for two reasons: (i) humans a social creatures and they value in person interactions *very* highly, and (ii) humans adapt emotionally surprisingly well and quickly to changed circumstances and will learn to live with the COVID risk-- the flip side of the fact that being orders of magnitude richer than our forbears doesn't make us many orders of magnitude happier.

  13. Non-PC observation: John Cochrane mentions international travel bans as a virus-fighter, and they are in effect.

    There were about 1 million people apprehended in 2019 trying to illegally cross the US border from Mexico. No one knows how many succeeded in crossing the border and were not apprehended. My guess is people do run the gauntlet unless the batting average is .500 or better.

    So, about 3,000 people a day enter the US on land, while the airports are closed to international travel.

    Many people are chiding the US government for being unprepared for a pandemic, and clumsy in response. Fair enough. Is having a de facto open border part of that woeful lack of preparedness?


  15. This is a pretty grim prediction of the future. I am lucky enough to work from home, largely maintain my productivity, and collect a paycheck. And it still stinks(yes, first world problems).

    I recoil at the thought that life will be permanently affected. I like going to restaurants. I like following big sporting events. I enjoy working in an office relative to being at home.

  16. "Viruses come in waves. The plague came in waves, cholera came in waves, smallpox and polio came in waves."

    Plague (bubonic) is caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis which is vectored by rat fleas. It is still out there, but we have learned to keep ourselves and our houses free of rats and fleas.

    Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, which is spread by contaminated water supplies. It is no longer a problem in industrial civilizations because we treat potable water with chlorine to kill bacteria, separate potable water from sewerage, treat sewage, and separate the acquisition of potable water and the emission of treated effluent.

    Smallpox was declared extinct in the wild 50 years ago and small pox vaccination was terminated. This was the result of a 170 year vaccination campaign. Smallpox has not returned, and will not return unless the Russians use it as a bio-weapon.

    Polio was recurrent as recently as the early 1950s. I am old enough to remember it. and to remember the first vaccinations against it. It has not returned and is believed to be contained by current vaccination practice. Public health authorities thought they could extinct polio as they had smallpox. But they ran into problems with the priests of a certain religion that may not be criticized.

    None of these precedents causes me to worry about SARS-CoV-2. They are all successes.

    "Two, if a safe and effective vaccine is developed, and everyone gets that, we have herd immunity without a wave of deaths in the process. Until it mutates, and starts up again. That's how the flu and common cold work."

    We will see. It is certainly not a reason not to create vaccines. We create new flu vaccines every year. If we have to do that for coronaviruses, we will.

    Of course none of this means that we will never see a new infectious disease again. It is just that we need to get better at dealing with them.

    One thing we need to do is start ignoring the pro-China trade lobby. We need to make sure that we do not have supply chains running through hostile countries like China. Trump needs to go back to the trade war. The financial losses from cutting off trade with that evil regime are trivial compared with the damage their inability to run a sanitary food supply has caused.

    1. Your last paragraph has been on my mind for some time. Would a cold war with China work? Would other countries follow the US' lead. How would we stop trade that goes from China to some middle country and then flowing back to the US?

      And finally, would this lead to the dissolution of China? What destroyed the Soviet Union was time and an arms build up that accelerated their demise. Should we embark on such a strategy again?

  17. We sold out most of our equity investments in early March. We have been looking at the scene for new investments and trying to sort the winners and losers.

    The impact of the pandemic on the economy will be uneven. Some sectors that were in trouble before the pandemic will be candidates for liquidation in the coming months. For instance drygoods retail was suffering from way to many square feet of space chasing an aging customer base. They will not come back. Collateral damage will include the Mall owners and operators. OTOH, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Costco, and Kroger all look good.

    Travel and entertainment will be uneven. Airlines will be resuscitated. Transcontinental transportation has been a national policy objective since the first leg of the National Road was begun more than 200 years ago. The federal government subsidized the construction of the railroad system in the 19th Century. the Interstate highways system in the 20th century, and will continue with the airlines. Streaming services up, movie theaters down. Ocean cruises? I think the are dead, besides, they are not incorporated in the US, do not employ Americans, and their ships are not built here.

    I think restaurants will come back. Everyone will be pretty bored with their own cooking in a couple of months. Casinos? I think they were overbuilt and some of them may not be able to resume operations.

    Health care will be up. If Pharma can pull some rabbits out their hats, the political criticism will go away for a while. Medical equipment will have to be bought and stockpiled. Foreign production will be anathema.

    Tech wins in several dimensions, except that hardware supply chains need to be rethought. I am looking at you Tim Cook.

    If we need to spend more time at home, we will need to fix up our houses. Rules where I live have permitted hardware stores to stay open. They have been pretty busy.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. John: You say "Until it mutates, and starts up again. That's how the flu and common cold work. The coronavirus is already mutating. Good vaccines are an invitation to a virus to mutate faster around the vaccine." Since when does the mutation rate depend on vaccines?

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. An indulgently pessimistic post. JC seems to ignore that pandemics happen with quite regular frequency and haven't yet brought about the doomsday scenario he predicts. For instance, who remembers the 1957 flu pandemic that killed 116k in the US alone (1.1 MM worldwide)? Anyone? Did it take a decade to convince people to go back to work or eat at restaurants? Nope. The reality is that humankind has been dealing with disease for eons and will continue to do so. Better medical technologies and the indomitable human spirit will win the day despite the short-run costs.

  22. Predicting the future of a complex adaptive system (both society's response and the pandemic itself) is very difficult. So maybe...

  23. John, your optimism has taken a dark turn to grim reality. The silver lining in that dark cloud is/are enormous social and economic incentives to address this pandemic and pandemics in general. A good friend is an epidemiologist. CDC scientists are testing vaccines that shift with changing microbes. In effect, a universal vaccine. It took years to reduce the deaths of HIV and full blown AIDS. My optimism is grounded in the ability of humans to adapt, innovate and create. Men learned to fly and land planes on carrier decks. The cost in many cases was loss of life but the innovators prevailed.

  24. Almost everything being said about COVID-19 is pure speculation at this point. We have virtually no reliable data and a lot of hype and hysteria. So far, estimates show >300,000 cases and >9,000 deaths in the US (mostly speculation because we have done such limited testing, "cases" include "presumptive" cases, and nobody really knows how many of those deaths would have occurred absent COVID-19).

    One thing we can discuss without speculating is the damaging effects of our RESPONSE to COVID-19. Millions of people are out of work because of the RESPONSE. Thousands of businesses are being destroyed by the RESPONSE. Liberties are being destroyed by the RESPONSE. Our national and state governments have imposed an economic calamity on the entire country...based on almost nothing more than speculation. The response to the disease is almost certainly worse than the disease.

  25. This article makes the point that this virus doesn't mutate quickly, suggesting a vaccine will provide lasting protection.

  26. “Whack-a-mole”? Shame. I once encountered a mole which, encountering a large tree root, began to surface to go over it. I stroked it gently from the neck backwards – a wonderful coat, designed to glide through soil etc with nothing adhering to it. The mole reversed. As it happens, this was at a property named Oaken Holt, near Oxford, which later became a nursing and residential home for old people, and was used for the BBC tv programme “Waiting for God.” (I hope that this satisfies your “relevance” criterion.)

  27. 'The virus has already mutated' is sort of a trivial observation. Viruses mutate a lot, they have very unstable genomes (though even many of our much more stable human cells have novel mutations, it's pretty normal). It was mutating as soon as it started infecting people (and before that when it was infecting bats).

    An interesting thing about coronaviruses though: they are the only genus of RNA virus that has a mutation repair mechanism. This means they tend to have lower mutation rates than other common types of RNA viruses like lentiviruses (which include HIV) or the influenza viruses. A priori, I would expect this to mean that coronavirus vaccines (and natural immunity) will probably at least last longer than flu viruses do. Though this is still somewhat speculative as there doesn't seem to be much empirical info yet on what this particular coronavirus's mutation rate is. It has a large genome for an RNA virus though, and that usually means a lower mutation rate (because the more stable your genome is, the larger a genome you can 'afford' to have). A larger genome also might mean that the virus has more proteins for us to target in our vaccines, another advantage for vaccine-makers. Just some possible reasons for cautious optimism.

  28. This much pessimism from someone so savvy? Looks like a buy signal...

    1. The buy signal was when the VIX was at 80.

    2. "The buy signal was when the VIX was at 80."

      I bought little slices all the way down. On March 23 I bought 20 BRK.B at $160.50 each. I expect that we will set new lows in a few months and if we don't, I have no regrets holding back cash equaling 3-4% of the portfolio.

  29. It is not a war.

    It is a health crisis.

    The response driven by fear is turning it into an economic crisis.

  30. It is not possible to predict the outcome of a complex adaptive system. us

  31. As several prior posters have observed, history strongly suggests that once we get through a cycle or two of this people will go about their lives much as they did before and just accept the increased death rate. This has indeed all happened before.

    I'd predict only two permanent changes: (1) the number of people you see wearing masks in public places will increase substantially, and (2) "full cleanse" sanitation of public places, schools, offices, etc. will become more frequent. Other than that, it will be business as usual.

    I'm not saying that's the right approach or the wrong approach, just my best guess as to how all this will shake out.

  32. I do not believe we will deny what makes us human for long - people will once again go to dances, play and watch sports, and enjoy concerts.

    We are social creatures and the incredible, wonderful trajectory of the human race is born out of our social interaction. Liberty is precious. It brings us material wealth, it brings us happiness, and it brings us a hopeful future. Death doesn’t just come from viruses; low prosperity, the lack of opportunity, and the permanent reduction of liberty cause a lot of death too.

    Up until the the last half of the 20th century, infectious disease was the number one killer on the planet, even in the US. We did not live like hermits before vaccines and antibiotics, we went out into the world and built an amazing society.

    We have become used to ever increasing life expectancy, but maybe we lose a fraction of a fraction here to keep our liberty and prosperity. Even in the worst case scenario of Covid-19, leaving it completely unchecked (which I’m not suggesting we should), what would be the largest effect be on global life expectancy or even life expectancy in the US? My guess, it would be measured in weeks, if that. Compared to smoking, which takes years off life expectancy, Covid-19 is tiny effect. And lots of people smoke.

    Do we really believe that people will permanently give up liberty and prosperity for barely a measurable blip in life expectancy? There is a limit to how much people will leave in fear. We will venture out again. The 1957 flu pandemic passed and so will this one. Restaurants will be full again.

    As a Canadian, I have boundless faith in America. The resolve of the American people is limitless. Think about what your history. You withstood: a civil war that nearly destroyed you as a nation, WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, Korea and Vietnam, the turbulent extension of civil rights, stagflation, the Cold War with the threat of nuclear annihilation, HIV/AIDS, 9/11 with the War on Terror, and the Great Recession. At every turn, at every difficult point in your history, you have always built a better country. More prosperous and more free. Every time. I am never pessimistic about the US.

    Covid-19 is nothing compared to the will of the American people to live free.

    1. I am similarly optimistic and see the main question as being how long it takes us to get there: Widespread vaccine in a couple years? More effective treatments within several months? Herd immunity within a few months because the infection rate is vastly higher than implied by confirmed cases?

      One point that I'll make about the "re-opening": some but not all "higher-risk" places for interaction - bars and nightclubs, concerts - generate a disproportionate share of their business from people under 40 years old. That's also the demographic with lower risk from this disease. I therefore think there's a good chance that the rebound for those sectors could begin even before the virus is fully defeated, if governments allow it to happen. Bars and music festivals don't, on the whole, depend on whether people over 65 feel like going there.

  33. When I read: "Ask yourself, if you are lucky enough as I am to work from home and still have a paycheck, just when and under what conditions are you ready […] to go give a talk, shake a lot of hands and meet a lot of people, to get on a plane, to stand in a line?" the first thing that came to my mind is the academic job market in finance and economics.

    This year, the academic job market is in jeopardy. Not only many schools have officially announced hiring freezes, but also our traditional process to find an academic job is just unsuited to deal with the virus outbreak. I am wondering if our profession is thinking about alternatives to the business model to place job candidates in the market this following fall.

    What do you see as options to adapt to this new situation in this case?


Comments are welcome. Keep it short, polite, and on topic.

Thanks to a few abusers I am now moderating comments. I welcome thoughtful disagreement. I will block comments with insulting or abusive language. I'm also blocking totally inane comments. Try to make some sense. I am much more likely to allow critical comments if you have the honesty and courage to use your real name.