Live Online Policy Forum

The Economics of Lockdowns

April 9, 2020 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM EDT

Live Online

Featuring John Cochrane, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, and blogger at The Grumpy Economist; Anna Scherbina, Associate professor of finance, Brandeis University; visiting scholar, American Enterprise Institute; and author, “Determining the Optimal Duration of the COVID-19 Suppression Policy: A Cost‐​Benefit Analysis”; Emil Verner, Assistant professor of finance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author, “Pandemics Depress the Economy, Public Health Interventions Do Not: Evidence from the 1918 Flu”; moderated by Ryan Bourne, R. Evan Scharf Chair for the Public Understanding of Economics, Cato Institute.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had dire effects on both public health and the economy. In reaction to the virus’s spread, many states have implemented stay‐​at‐​home orders and closures of all “nonessential businesses.” And national lockdowns have been mandated all over Europe.

These lockdowns raise all sorts of important economic questions:

  • How much of the coming downturn will be driven by government shutdowns as opposed to the changing consumer and producer behavior we’d expect because of the virus?
  • What will be the net consequences of lockdowns for economic welfare?
  • What factors determine the optimal length and scope of these more suppressive measures?
  • Are there alternatives to lockdowns that could achieve equivalent or higher benefits at lower total cost?