The political economy of Covid 19 in the early 21st century

The covid pandemic has had already a very significant impact beginning with the tragic death of over 100,000 people in North America alone. 6545 in Canada, 7633 in Mexico and a staggering 99,459 in the United States. World wide the total number of deaths is 347,873.As the New York Times Sunday edition made clear with its entire front page devoted to the names and short biography of a thousand of the American victims these are more than numbers but fellow human beings who loved and were loved, each of them much more than a number.

These shocking statistics have caused a number of politicians and analysts to a major rethinking of the public policy consensus on the role of the state and the degree of state intervention. Much of it is based on the growing renaissance in Keynes style analysis of what has been transpiring. Markets have been overwhelmed, unemployment has soared and aggregate demand and supply disrupted due to the virus and the threat it poses and the fear that it spreads.

Ideas that have been discussed in depth like basic income or the guaranteed annual income around since the 1960s are being discussed in the quality press and in the media. The leading market capitalist countries are mulling over these issues and already a number of states have spent billions on income replacement and job protection programs that would have been rejected by Neo-con voices a bare five months ago. Canada is spending 4.5 % of its GDP on these programs . The US even more 10.7 % of its GDP, The Euro zone 3.2 %, Japan 20 % the UK 2.9% (The Globe and Mail,May 23, 2020.p.A15) Fiscal conservatives and some orthodox monetarists have sounded the alarm about inflation but these arguments ring hollow in the face of falling inflation rates and low global oil prices. Furthermore , there is growing discussion of income inequalities and the way in which the virus has hit hardest on vulnerable low income persons. There is the possibility of a new emerging consensus on social and economic policy that tilts in a progressive direction.The key democratic aspiration for a more just and ecologically balanced outcome is within reach as the rational alternative to a more authoritarian and unequal world.

About haroldchorneyeconomist

I am Professor of political economy at Concordia university in Montréal, Québec, Canada. I received my B.A.Hons (econ.&poli sci) from the University of Manitoba. I also completed my M.A. degree in economics there. Went on to spend two years at the London School of Economics as a Ph.D. student in economics and then completed my Ph.D. in political economy at the University of Toronto. Was named a John W.Dafoe fellow, a CMHC fellow and a Canada Council fellow. I also was named a Woodrow Wilson fellow in 1968 after completing my first class honours undergraduate degree. Worked as an economist in the area of education, labour economics and as the senior economist with the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation for the Government of Manitoba from 1972 to 1978. I also have worked as an economic consultant for MDT socio-economic consultants and have been consulted on urban planning, health policy, linguistic duality and public sector finance questions by the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan,the cities of Regina and Saskatoon, Ontario and the Federal government of Canada. I have also been consulted by senior leaders of the British Labour party, MPs from the Progressive Conservative party, the Liberal party and the New Democrats on economic policy questions. Members of the Government of France under the Presidency of Francois Mitterand discussed my work on public sector deficits. I have also run for elected office at the municipal level. I first began to write about quantitative easing as a useful policy option during the early 1980s.
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