Prominent Economists Discuss the Ongoing Impact of COVID-19 in Live Webinar

M.S. in Applied Economics Program Director (MSAE), Aleksandar Tomic, reconvened a panel of four leading economists from a previous Webinar in May on July 15, 2020, to revisit their earlier predictions on consumer habits, innovation and the impact of COVID 19 on our healthcare system.

The live panel discussion was once again moderated by Aleksandar (Sasha) Tomic, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Strategy, Innovation, & Technology and Director of the MSAE program. Joining Dr. Tomic were four faculty members from the program: Lawrence Fulton, Associate Professor, and Undergraduate Programs Director at Texas State University, Diana Bowser, Associate Professor, Brandeis University, Heller School for Social Policy and Management and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director, Economics and Global Research Chair at The Conference Board, and Can Erbil, Professor of the Practice of Economics at Boston College.

In addition to revisiting their earlier predictions, the panelists addressed many pressing issues that continue to evolve as the United States and countries around the world continue to reopen. Specific topics covered included health economics, the modeling of COVID-19 cases and hospital demand, and forecasting for the global economy.

Here are a few takeaways these experts shared during the event:

Not only are we not recording a constant case rate, but we also are not reporting a common death rate. We are relying on bad data. An example is today, 300 labs in Florida have been recording all positive cases with no negative cases. When you start to change the variables that you want to forecast, there is no way you can do it accurately. Did loosening up on restrictions affect the cases? I am sure it did. Did it affect the death rate? I do not see it in the data yet.” – Lawrence (Larry) Fulton, Ph.D., M.H.A., M.M.A.S., M.S.

I think that we have learned a lot, we have learned a lot from our states and other countries. What I have learned is that responding to this pandemic, in theory, is not that hard. There are three things that countries need to do in an organized fashion. The first is communication has to be clear. Secondly, testing and numbers are extremely important. The final piece is context.” – Diana Bowser, Sc.D., M.P.H.

The problem with the recession is that this is unique, and we have never seen it before. It is not based on business-cycle factors. It is not driven by those cyclical movements by the economy, shortfalls in demand, or over-investment cycles. None of that was a problem as we entered the year of 2020, but what we had to do during the pandemic was shut down the economy. That created a major supply shock. Now looking at the second half of the year, there is likely to be a demand shock because consumers’ sentiment and psychology are being affected. This starts a downward spiral, which in the end will dampen the recovery path.” – Ataman Ozyildirim, Ph.D., M.A.

Big banks are going to see impacts. They are worried that people are going to fail to pay their mortgages and other loans. The Paycheck Protection Program is running out by the end of this month, people receiving six-hundred dollars per week, which is scaring a lot of people.” – Can Erbil, Ph.D., M.A.

Learn more about the many pressing issues that continue to evolve as the United States and countries around the world continue to reopen by viewing the full panel discussion above. If the video doesn’t play in the player below, please click here.