Skip to content

LPE on COVID-19 (vol. 4)


Dear Readers, 

As part of our ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 crisis from an LPE perspective, we bring you a round-up of recent work from our LPE community. We’re aiming to make these a (semi) regular feature of the blog throughout the crisis. Above all, we hope you are as well as can be expected. 

Take care,

LPE Blog

Last week, Amy Kapczynski and Gregg Gonsalves appeared on Democracy Now, where they talked about the ways market logic has created a woefully insufficient American healthcare system, and what kind of policies could build an alternative.

They also have another installment in their work on COVID-19 up at Boston Review- this one is called Markets vs. Lives – beating back the wave of hot takes suggesting that we ignore the epidemiologists in order to serve “the economy.”

“What is happening today has no analogue in mainstream economic analysis: a rapid retraction of our paid economy, and a vast expansion of the kind of unpaid work that has never been properly valued. We are doing it for deeply human reasons, with the best evidence we have at the moment: to save the lives of people we know, perhaps even our own, and to protect our health care system”

You can also follow the work they are doing to improve our response to COVID-19 as part of the Global Health Justice Partnership.

Up recently at The Guardian, Veena Dubal draws attention the choice facing Uber and Lyft drivers in the crisis: risk contracting the disease, or starve. She also appeared on NPR this week to discuss coronavirus and the gig economy.

Brishen Rogers is also writing about the future of labor, as in this Boston Review piece imagining work post-coronavirus:

“COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of our labor markets just as much as the fragility of our public health and welfare systems. As we take the economy out of its induced coma, we should ask what kinds of jobs we want and need.”

At Jacobin, Jedidiah Purdy-Britton writes that “the only treatment for coronavirus is solidarity.”

Mehrsa Baradaran explains how the CARES act fails to help those who need it most, and offered reflections on the crisis at The American Prospect. She recommends that LPE readers check out this symposium at Just Money, featuring many LPE Blog contributors.

Following the money and finance trail, on Wednesday, Saule Omarova posted on Just Money about Money in the time of Coronavirus,  calling for a contemporary analog to the New Deal-era Reconstruction Finance Corporation. She has also posted a memo on SSRN – “Why We Need a National Investment Authority.” 

In the absence of a permanent institution specializing in capital allocation and management, the American public is forced to rely on ad hoc crisis-containment measures that are notoriously politicized, messy, and prone to corrupt influence by private interests. The task of national economic mobilization falls mainly on the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve, whose modus operandi relies heavily on direct injections of public funds into—i.e., bailouts of—financial institutions and other private firms. As the 2008 experience shows, however, bailouts are difficult to execute without reinforcing the economically and politically damaging pattern of “privatizing gains and socializing losses.” Having a permanent federal agency with the authority and expertise to manage emergency bailouts would help to ensure that this process is handled in a transparent, democratically accountable, economically efficient, and distributionally just manner.

Robert Hockett has also been working to promote his Treasury Dollar plan, here on LPE Blog, and in a variety of other places. You can read the text of his proposed bill here, and further commentary in these two pieces at Forbes, and these two pieces on the democratic digital dollar at the Harvard Business Law Review and Stanford Journal of Blockchain Law and Policy.   Also this (paywalled) Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Finally, Lev Menand and Ganesh Sitaraman have a summary of lessons we should learn form the Great Recession in the face of another massive economic contraction.