We Might Have to Restart Economy with Virus Still a Threat -- UM Economist

April 06, 2020, 7:44 AM

Betsey Stevenson

President Donald Trump has been itching to reopen the economy as soon as possible. But with cases and deaths mounting, it's unclear just when that might happen.

A number of economists weigh in on the issue in a New York Times story, including Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economist who worked on the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama.

“Our ability to reopen the economy ultimately depends on our ability to better understand the spread and risk of the virus,” Stevenson tells the paper. “It’s also quite likely that we will need to figure out how to reopen the economy with the virus remaining a threat.”

Public health experts are beginning to make predictions about when coronavirus infection rates will peak. Economists are calculating when the cost of continuing to shutter restaurants, shopping malls and other businesses — a move that has already pushed some 10 million Americans into unemployment, with millions more on the way — will outweigh the savings from further efforts to slow the virus once the infection curve has flattened out.

Lisa D. Cook, a Michigan State University economist who worked in the Obama White House, is cited in the article, commenting on a better way to distribute government money to those in need.

She says lawmakers should consider funneling $1,500 a month to individuals through mobile apps like Zelle to better  reach more people, particularly low-income and nonwhite Americans who disproportionately lack traditional bank accounts. Mobile payments, She says it would make it “easier and faster to make onward payments to family members and friends in need.”

Read more:  The New York Times

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