Better Not Have A 6 Month Shutdown Then

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There are costs to everything, there are benefits to everything, the trick being to aim for the sweet spot of the optimal outcome. Where the costs of doing more to avoid meet the benefits of not doing so. This being true of climate change for example, we’re looking to have the right amount of climate change, not none. Or, with coronavirus, we’re aiming for the right amount of protection of those who might die as against the costs of that prevention.

Recovering from an economic crash caused by a long coronavirus lockdown could take up to five years, an economic thinktank has said.

In a report on the impact of the virus published on Thursday, the Resolution Foundation said a lockdown of six to 12 months could permanently wipe between five and seven per cent off the UK’s gross domestic product.

Better not have a 6 month lockdown then, eh?

5% of GDP is around £100 billion. Given market interest rates – we’ll not get into that Stern Review stuff about using lower discount rates to measure long term effects – the effect more than 20 years out is around spit. And we’ll be wrong but not far wrong to say that it’s 20x 5% is the cost over time.

Ermm, that’s 100% of GDP we’ve just given up over time. To save the lives of what, 20,000 people? 100,000? 1 million?

OK, change the numbers how you’d like. It’s still fairly obvious that a 6 month lockdown isn’t that optimal point, isn’t it? Therefore we shouldn’t do it.

And yep, you can portray this as killing pensioners. Because it is. And?

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Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

The opportunity costs of any policy are impossible to measure, but just as we can’t count the grains of sand on a beach we, or rather our kids once the lock down is over, can build sand castles. It could be that the future discoverer of a cure for cancer will, due to the unavoidable lock down induced reduced spending on education, not study medicine and will not find the cure, leading to the premature death of 100s of millions. Conversely the same individual might have instead studied physics and gone on to invent a planet destroying death ray, had… Read more »

Spike
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Spike

Yes, good and evil were both to emerge in the future, and some amount of both has been inhibited by the shutdowns. Recently, good has outpaced evil, as in Tim’s oft-noted ending of global poverty if measured accurately, and innovation has become more rapid.

On guidance to policy makers, it won’t matter. My “conservative” President and my “conservative” state Governor are both rather enjoying being the center of attention for two hours every afternoon as they order this business shut and these guys to go over there.

Spike
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Spike

Zeke Emanuel (he would be the Euthanizer General for President Biden) wants 18 months, as we simply can’t reopen business until a vaccine is administered to everyone so no one is “at risk” to catch this chest cold. See what’s possible when you have the courage to pretend?

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Imperial’s model said that without a lockdown, the UK would have perhaps 500,000 deaths and hospitals would be massively overwhelmed. That presumably included places like Birmingham with a population of 1 million or so, which would therefore get around 7,500 deaths. Stockholm has a similar population as Birmingham. It has no lockdown. It has 700 deaths and hospitals are fine. If we go for Imperial’s 200,000 that implies 3,000 deaths in Stockholm. Even allowing for 70% accuracy of the test, Stockholm is three times lower than the forecast and possibly ten times lower. Maybe half Birmingham’s deaths with the lockdown.… Read more »

TD
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TD

For the last two weeks the lack of traffic around here was somewhat eerie. This week it seems to have exploded even though the lockdown requirements have become a bit more stringent. Perhaps the shutdown will end more unofficially than officially, though certainly when it is finally lifted it will be to great fanfare with politicians gleefully taking credit for what has already happened.

Foo
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Foo

The think of the pensioners thing is hot air. The people who least need to be shut away (schoolchildren and uni students) have been shut away, while for people in care homes who could actually do with some targeted help, it’s business as usual. Since hospitals are hotspots for the virus, anybody who comes back from hospital to a care home would need to go via quarantine for a couple of weeks, and care home staff would need to be sufficiently incentivised to live on the premises. It would cost money, but far less money than trashing the economy, and… Read more »

Martin Sewell
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