The Pandemic Information Gap
The Brutal Economics of COVID-19
Why solving the information problem should be at the core of our pandemic response: essential reading about the long-term implications of our current crisis.
COVID-19 is caused by a virus. The COVID-19 pandemic is caused by a lack of good information. A pandemic is essentially an information problem: this is the enlightening and provocative idea at the heart of this book. If we solve the information problem, argues economist Joshua Gans, we can defeat the virus. For example, when we don't know who is infected, we have to act as if everyone is infected. If we actively manage the information problem—if we know who is infected and with whom they had contact—we can suppress the virus or buy time for vaccine development.
Emphasizing that pandemic-induced economic crises are different from past recessions, Gans maps the phases of the pandemic economy and the information needed at each stage to enable recovery. He argues that we should insulate businesses from failure and workers from job loss, and describes economic policy approaches that would help achieve this. He discusses pandemic communication strategies, privacy and public health information, and methods for handling potential vaccine shortages. To innovate our way out of this crisis, Gans argues, we must think creatively and take the long view. Pandemics may be unpredictable, but they can be planned for, and this book provides a roadmap to do so.
This is an expanded version of an eBook originally published as Economics in the Age of COVID-19.
It's a shame that policymakers did not have books such as Joshua Gans's Economics in the Age of COVID-19 to lay out the issues for them in January.