Using online data for prices and real-time debit card transaction data on changes in expenditures for Switzerland allows us to track inflation on a daily basis. While the daily price index fluctuates around the official price index in normal times, it drops immediately after the lockdown related to the COVID19 pandemic. Official statistics reflect this drop only with a lag, specifically because data collection takes time and is impeded by lockdown conditions. Such daily real-time information can be useful to gauge the relative importance of demand and supply shocks and thus inform policy makers who need to determine appropriate policy measures.
Alvarez, S and S Lein (2020), ‘Tracking Inflation on a Daily Basis‘, COVID Economics 42, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-42#392514_392918_390586
The COVID-19 outbreak has cut Chinaâ€™s supply of and raised the worldâ€™s demand for face masks, disinfectants, ventilators, and other critical medical goods. This article studies the economic and political factors that are associated with Chinaâ€™s exports of medical equipment during the first two months of the global pandemic. Regression results show thatâ€”controlled for demand factorsâ€”countries with stronger past economic ties with China import more critical medical goods from China at both the national level and the level of Chinese provinces. Friendly political relations, such as the twinning of provinces, appear to work as a substitute for pre-existing economic ties at the provincial level. These findings imply that, to secure access to medical equipment in crises, countries are well advised to either diversify their sources or to develop closer relations with Beijing and Chinaâ€™s provinces.
Fuchs, A, L Kaplan, K Kis-Katos, S Schmidt, F Turbanisch and F Wang (2020), ‘Mask Wars: China's Exports of Medical Goods in Times of COVID-19‘, COVID Economics 42, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-42#392514_392918_390587
Using a simple economic model in which social-distancing reduces contagion, we study the implications of waning immunity for the epidemiological dynamics and social activity. If immunity wanes, we find that COVID-19 likely becomes endemic and that social-distancing is here to stay until the discovery of a vaccine or cure. But waning immunity does not necessarily change optimal actions on the onset of the pandemic. Decentralized equilibria are virtually independent of waning immunity until close to peak infections. For centralized equilibria, the relevance of waning immunity decreases in the probability of finding a vaccine or cure, the costs of infection (e.g., infection-fatality rate), and the presence of other NPIs that lower contagion (e.g., quarantining and mask use). In simulations calibrated to July 2020, our model suggests that waning immunity is virtually unimportant for centralized equilibria until at least 2021. This provides vital time for individuals and policymakers to learn about immunity against SARS-CoV-2 before it becomes critical.
Çenesiz, A and L Guimaraes (2020), ‘COVID-19: What If Immunity Wanes?‘, COVID Economics 42, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-42#392514_392918_390588
This paper establishes a methodology that can be used to measure the behavior of International Monetary Fund (IMF) program design and eventually the outcomes of IMF programs in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We create an IMF COVID RECOVERY INDEX by coding IMF programs based on the extent to which they recommend or condition that borrowing countries increase efforts to combat the virus, protect the vulnerable, and stage a green recovery in accordance with direction from IMF leadership and fiscal guidance notes generated by the IMF Fiscal Affairs Department. Relative to earlier research that suggests the IMF falls short in making such policies part of recovery efforts during times past, our preliminary research indicates that the IMF is indeed prioritizing health and social spending during this crisisâ€”albeit more so in programs where it has little leverage over the implementation of such recommendations. However, IMF support for greening the recovery does not match the rhetoric from IMF leadership or from fiscal guidance notes issued by the IMF Fiscal Affairs department at this time. The IMF COVID RECOVERY INDEX will be updated in real time on the internet, and eventually be used in econometric exercises that examine the extent to which IMF support for confronting the virus, protecting the vulnerable, and mounting a green recovery is associated with those desired outcomes.
Carlin, M and K Gallagher (2020), ‘The Role of IMF in the Fight Against COVID-19: The IMF COVID RESPONSE INDEX‘, COVID Economics 42, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-42#392514_392918_390589
This paper studies the labor market effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We focus on the Nordic countries which showed one of the highest variations in NPIs despite having similar community spread of COVID-19 at the onset of the pandemic: While Denmark, Finland and Norway imposed strict measures (`lockdowns'), Sweden decided for much lighter restrictions. Empirically, we use novel administrative data on weekly new unemployment and furlough spells from all 56 regions of the Nordic countries to compare the labor market outcomes of Sweden with the ones of its neighbors. Our evidence suggests that the labor markets of all countries were severely hit by the pandemic, although Sweden performed slightly better than its neighbors. Specifically, we find the worsening of the Swedish labor market to occur around 2 to 3 weeks later than in the other Nordic countries, and that its cumulative sum of new unemployment and furlough spells remained significantly lower during the time period of our study (up to week 21 of 2020).
Juranek, S, J Paetzold, H Winner and F Zoutman (2020), ‘Labor Market Effects of COVID-19 in Sweden and its Neighbors: Evidence from Novel Administrative Data‘, COVID Economics 42, CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/covid-economics-issue-42#392514_392918_390590