Queen's Management School academics involved in a new Economics Observatory (ECO) initiative
Academics from QMS are involved in a new initiative called the Economics Observatory (ECO), a new website that seeks to answer questions from policy-makers and the public about the economics of the Covid-19 crisis and the recovery.
The initiative, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), draws on the expertise of economists from a wide range of universities and research institutions. It will gather and evaluate the best possible data and evidence and use these as the basis for Q&A briefings on the ECO website:
Economic research is essential to understand and respond to this massive public health challenge and the global economic crisis. But it can be difficult for policy-makers and the public to interpret the key evidence and to understand where there is – and is not – consensus in the economic research community.
We will explain where there is consensus, where there is intelligent debate and disagreement, and where we just don't have the answers (whether it is because of a lack of data or fundamental challenges of answering the question).
The briefings are written for policy-makers, the media, the public, students and teachers who are interested in the economics of Covid-19 and the implications for households, organisations and public policy.
At launch, the website features 40 briefings, including:
- The epidemic and the economy: what are the trade-offs? The Covid-19 health emergency has caused economic havoc on a scale not seen in living memory. It is important to understand the interactions between the epidemic and the economy to be able to deal with the difficult trade-offs facing policy-makers and the public.
- When should schools re-open? Countries in Europe and elsewhere have taken very different strategies to getting children back to school after closures. What are the difficulties in making decisions about re-opening? And why is there so much variation among national approaches?
- How will the Covid-19 crisis affect the NHS? The lockdown was implemented largely to ‘save lives and protect the NHS’ amid fears of capacity being overwhelmed. What are likely to be the effects of the crisis on the supply of NHS healthcare, and on demand for healthcare, now and in the future?
- Why is uncertainty so damaging for the economy? The Covid-19 pandemic and policy responses have made life much more uncertain for everyone – individuals, organisations and governments. What impact does all this uncertainty have on the economy and how can policy-makers respond?
- What should we do about price gouging? The prices of a number of products in short supply during the Covid-19 crisis have risen sharply. Why do we see this practice of ‘price gouging’ in an emergency? Should we care? And what could be done about it?
- Which firms and industries have been most affected by lockdown? Almost all UK businesses have been badly affected by the crisis, but some industries have been hit harder than others. Financial market data and surveys of firms themselves provide insights into the scale of the impact on sales, employment, supply chains and business uncertainty.
- What is the likely future role of the state in the UK economy? Economic distress caused by the pandemic, the lockdown and the recession have required a big increase in public spending. How has the crisis affected the size of the state and the effectiveness of government policy.
- How is the crisis affecting inequalities across ethnic groups? There are growing concerns that the UK’s ethnic minorities are suffering disproportionately as a result of the pandemic – in terms of both their higher mortality risks and the worse economic outcomes for some groups.
- What are the lessons for today from running a wartime economy? The world continues to experience episodes that remind us of the profound disruptions of twentieth-century wartime. But how far does the war analogy stretch? Covid-19 has been able to disrupt our economy at a speed that no foreign enemy has ever matched.
This website and subsequent briefings are genuinely collaborative projects: at launch, we have over 25 partner institutions involved in researching, writing and editing briefings and we intend to add to this list over time. We will act as a hub to bring together research from across economics to answer policy questions in a way that is easy to understand.
We have launched with 40 briefings. But it is our aspiration to publish as many as 200 in the coming months, responding to need and debate.
Romesh Vaitilingam is Editor-in-Chief of ECO – and the lead editors are:
- Tim Besley (LSE)
- Jagjit Chadha(National Institute of Economic and Social Research, NIESR)
- Diane Coyle(University of Cambridge)
- Rachel Griffith (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Manchester)
- Michael McMahon (University of Oxford)
- Carol Propper (Imperial College Business School)
- Imran Rasul(University College London)
- Graeme Roy(Fraser of Allander Institute, University of Strathclyde)
- Sarah Smith (University of Bristol)
- John Turner (Queen's University Belfast).
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