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Updates on COVID-19

Learn how our economists are helping with the pandemic response
April 23, 2020

As the novel coronavirus has evolved into a worldwide pandemic, the toll on economies has increased dramatically. Along with epidemiologists and public health experts, economists are using their expertise to offer insightful analysis and policy recommendations for mitigating the impact (in both health and financial terms) now and into the future. Below we've compiled our COVID-related news, research in progress, and other updates.

Watch: Recording of May 20 Webinar
The Economics of COVID-19

Hear from U of M economics faculty
and alumni researching the COVID-19
pandemic from different angles.
Presenters include V.V. Chari,Dirk
Krueger, Christopher Phelan, and
Aldo Rustichini.

Media Coverage

August 21, Twin Cities Business: The New College Normal?
Professor Joel Waldfogel is interviewed on how schools are delivering high-quality online courses and the long-term potential of hybrid teaching.

July 17, Dialogue Minnesota: The COVID-19 Pandemic's Economic Impact
Professor Tim Kehoe is interviewed about continued economic uncertainty and the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the national economy.

July 9, KARE 11: KARE 11 Investigates: Big businesses, exclusive clubs get federal small business loans
Professor VV Chari is interviewed about the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, which distributed nearly 14,000 loans worth at least $14 billion to Minnesota businesses.

June 23, WCCO: Closings & Layoffs Continue As Twin Cities Businesses Feel COVID-19 Impact
Professor VV Chari comments on the industries most affected by the pandemic thus far, in particular service businesses such as restaurants and salons.

June 2, HCEO Research Spotlight: An SEIR Infectious Disease Model with Testing and Conditional Quarantine
Assistant Professor Kyle Herkenhoff is interviewed about his working paper with coauthors David Berger and Simon Mongey. The authors propose a framework to understand the effectiveness of testing and how to alter the trade off between economic output and mortality. “We show that you can have the same number of deaths, much higher output if you test a lot and you release negatives and you also release those who are recovered."

May 28, Boulder Weekly: Whistling past a graveyard
Assistant Professor Hannes Malmberg, a native of Sweden, comments on the country's approach using minimal interventions such as stay-at-home orders or business closures.

May 23, Star Tribune: College seniors entering job market had a feast, now confront a famine
Professor VV Chari and graduating senior Cameron Lulic are interviewed as part of this story on the challenges of entering the job market during this economic downturn.

May 7, KSTP: 'We're at the breaking point': Salon owner urges governor to reopen, says he has plan to open his business safely
Professor VV Chari is quoted in this article focused on small business owners.

May 2, Twin Cities Business: After Coronavirus, Which Industries Are Still Hiring?
Art Rolnick, HHEI board member and Humphrey School senior fellow, is interviewed in this column by Burl Gilyard.

May 1, U of M Alumni Magazine: Keeping the Stock Slide in Perspective
Professor VV Chari spoke with the U of M Alumni Association about how the stock market's performance in the era of COVID-19 compares to past market drops.

April 30, Forbes: How The Pandemic Is Making The Retirement Crisis Worse — And What To Do About It
HHEI Senior Fellow Kurt Winkelmann is quoted in this column by reporter Chris Farrell.

April 27, U of M Retirees Association Newsletter: Forced to Make Cruel Choices
Professor VV Chari was invited to pen this column to put the pandemic into perspective, while articulating some difficult trade-offs.

April 25, Bloomberg Quint: A Glimpse of Italy’s Grim Trade-Off Between Death and Growth
Research by Professor Aldo Rustichini and co-authors propose a strategy that differentiates economic sectors and age groups to minimize additional fatalities and further GDP loss.

April 24, Star Tribune: A month into mass quarantine -- what now?
In this op-ed, Professor and Chair Christopher Phelan advocates for loosening restrictions.

April 20, Star Tribune: Early-ed programs are feeling the impact of COVID-19
HHEI board member, Humphrey Fellow, and economics alumnus Art Rolnick is quoted in this column by the Star Tribune Editorial Board.

April 19, The Conversation: Open letter from 265 Australian economists: don’t sacrifice health for ‘the economy’
Assistant Professor Joseph Mullins joined with colleagues from his home nation to advocate for caution in relaxing measures such as social distancing too quickly.

April 16, Star Tribune: Job losses hitting nearly 20% of Minnesota workers
Professor VV Chari is interviewed by reporter Adam Belz, providing a historical perspective as well as commenting on how the economic impact of the pandemic may play out.

April 10, Fox 9: Economists and epidemiologists work to find a balance amid pandemic
Professor Christopher Phelan comments on how tactics such as social distancing and shutdowns can be eased over time to allow the beginnings of an economic rebound. Note: scroll to the bottom to see the full-length video interview with Phelan.

April 2, MPR News: Ad says economic hit is worse than the threat of COVID-19. Is that true?
Professor VV Chari spoke with reporter Catharine Richert of Minnesota Public Radio.

April 3, Star Tribune: Test the healthy and gather data we don't already have
In this op-ed, Professors VV Chari and Christopher Phelan advocate for steps to create a sustainable quarantine plan.

March 31, Top 1000 Funds: Coronavirus, climate change parallels
HHEI board member and economics alumnus Bob Litterman is interviewed about two grand challenges of our time and the corresponding failures in risk manangement.

March 24, KSTP: Minnesota economist: There is only one way to return to normal quickly
Reporter Ryan Raiche interviewed Professor VV Chari, shortly before Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a statewide stay-at-home order.

Research

Measuring Movement and Social Contact with Smartphone Data: A Real-Time Application to COVID-19
Minneapolis Fed Working Paper, July 2020
Alumnus Kevin Williams (PhD 2014) and coauthors examine how real-time smartphone data can be used during the COVID-19 pandemic to inform economic and policy decisions. The paper discusses how smartphone data are used to create a location exposure index and device exposure index, published each weekday in a public repository.

The Hammer and the Scalpel: On the Economics of Indiscriminate versus Targeted Isolation Policies during Pandemics
Working Paper, May 2020
Professors V.V. Chari and Christopher Phelan, along with UMN Economics alumnus Rishabh Kirpalani, develop a model to show projected welfare gains using differing tools from indiscriminate isolation to contact tracing and targeted testing.

Restarting the Economy While Saving Lives Under COVID-19
SSRN, April 22, 2020
Professor Aldo Rustichini, with co-authors Carlo A. Favero and Andrea Ichino, look at four scenarios and propose a gradual reopening of less risky sectors in Lombardy, with only younger workers allowed to return.

HELP! (HEalLth and Pandemics) Econ Working Group
Professor Mariacristina De Nardi, along with a group of colleagues across the country, quickly worked to creat a virtual group to connect researchers working to answer important questions during this challenging time.

Health versus Wealth: On the Distributional Effects of Controlling a Pandemic
Minneapolis Fed Staff Report, April 20, 2020
In this working paper, UMN Economics alumni Andrew Glover, Dirk Krueger, and José-Víctor Ríos-Rull - with coauthor Jonathan Heathcote - build a model to examine economic activity and disease progression, in order to identify optimal shutdown levels.

An SEIR Infectious Disease Model with Testing and Conditional Quarantine
Working Paper, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group, March 2020
In this working paper, Assistant Professor Kyle Herkenhoff and coauthors David Berger and Simon Mongey use the Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovered (SEIR) infectious disease epidemiology model to compare outcomes with varied testing and quarantine scenarios. Their model incorporates conditional quarantine and asymptomatic testing into the framework, in an effort to understand the effectiveness of testing and how to alter the trade off between economic output and mortality.

Previous Events

May 20 Webinar, The Economics of COVID-19
Hosted by HHEI
Featuring V.V. Chari, Dirk Krueger, Christopher Phelan, and Aldo Rustichini

May 1 Webinar, Impact of Corona Virus on The Global Economy
Hosted by Shiv Nadar University, India
Featuring Professor V.V. Chari

Other Resources

Visit the University of Minnesota COVID-19 site for stories, insights, and expertise from across the U of M system.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis maintains a site for COVID-19 impact, updates, and resources.