Events •

Economics in One Virus: What Have We Learned?

This time last year, the Cato Institute hosted the event “The Economics of Lockdowns.” The spring 2020 shutdown regulations were unusual in the sheer scale of their impacts on economic and social welfare. Yet one year on, public policy decisions pertaining to the pandemic have continued to be unusually consequential, including the ordering and distribution of vaccines and the passing of major “stimulus” packages.

To mark the publication of Economics in One Virus: An Introduction to Economic Reasoning through COVID-19 by the Cato Institute’s Ryan Bourne, this book forum will discuss what we’ve learned about public policy and the economic reasoning that has informed it over the past year. In particular, the forum will assess the extent to which the tragic death toll and economic damage we’ve seen during the pandemic can be laid at the door of important decisions being underpinned by faulty economic reasoning.

As retrospectives on the pandemic are written, past decisions will be analyzed in the hope of “learning lessons” for future crises. This event will therefore tackle a host of questions that relate to our experience with COVID-19:

  • In what areas did bad economic reasoning by policymakers or regulators make this crisis worse than it needed to be?
  • Have economists had a “good” pandemic? What can public health officials and epidemiologists learn from economists, and vice versa?
  • In what areas will the legacy of the pandemic improve economic policymaking, and where will it worsen it?

Economic debates have been pervasive this past year, including in discussions about lockdowns, mask mandates, Operation Warp Speed, and stimulus check mania in Congress. Please join us for this informative conversation to assess what we can learn from it all.

John H. Cochrane

Rose‐​Marie and Jack Anderson Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Adjunct Scholar, Cato Institute; blogger, The Grumpy Economist

Megan McArdle

Columnist, Washington Post

Alexander Tabarrok

Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics, Mercatus Center; professor of economics, George Mason University; blogger, Marginal Revolution

Ryan Bourne

R. Evan Scharf Chair for the Public Understanding of Economics