Archive for April 21st, 2020

Coronavirus from the perspective of 17th century London plague

April 21, 2020

Neil Cummins, Morgan Kelly, Cormac Ó Gráda in this voxeu piece:

Disunited States of America!

April 21, 2020

The virus is upsetting all situations which were once seen as impossible. Only to tell you that Impossible actually  can be broken as I (a)m Possible.

Ana Palacio, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, this Proj Synd piece says US is headed the European way:

There is no United States of Europe, but rather united blocs of states within Europe. We often hear about the “frugals,” the Visegrád Group, the Nordics, and the Southerners, for example. A similar dynamic was evident during and after the 2008 financial crisis, in the EU’s weak response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, and, devastatingly, during the 2015 migration crisis. And Europe lacks the leadership needed to align these blocs and push everyone in the same direction.

Worse, the US under President Donald Trump is taking a similarly troubling turn. In the absence of strong and effective national leadership, US states – and, more tellingly, groups of states – are going it alone.

On April 13, California, Washington State, and Oregon announced the formation of a “Western States Pact” to coordinate their coronavirus response, while seven northeastern states have established a similar grouping. With the federal government failing to coordinate procurement of medical supplies to combat COVID-19, state and local governments have reportedly been competing to purchase scarce personal protective equipment and ventilators, thus driving up prices. California Governor Gavin Newsom has even taken to referring to his jurisdiction as a “nation-state.”

My intention is not to opine about US federalism or the extent of Trump’s authority (although his recent claim that he wields “total” authority under the US Constitution was so roundly rejected by all sides that he backed down the following day). My point is to express real concern.

After all, it is precisely the dynamism resulting from America’s unique marriage of diversity and cohesiveness that has made the country a model for many Europeans. US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once famously remarked that any state could serve as a “laboratory” for innovative policy experiments which could later be adopted nationally. And the US has been far more successful than Europe in achieving the delicate balance between empowering individual states and maintaining a sense of national unity.

Today, however, America, too, is falling victim to balkanization, internal competition, out-of-touch and short-sighted leadership, and narrow turf battles. Such warning signs suggest that the US is becoming more like Europe, rather than vice versa.

A tale of hubris, luck and ignorance

April 21, 2020

My new piece in Business Standard.

One cannot help notice (these) three similarities in Covid-19 and the Global Financial Crisis (for that matter all economic crises): Hubris, luck and ignorance.

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