The sheer scale of the economic fallout from COVID-19 justifies extraordinary measures, and nowhere more so than in Europe. Rather than questioning one another's motives, EU member states urgently need to unite behind a joint plan to avert economic disaster.
Unlike a hurricane or earthquake, the coronavirus pandemic has caused no damage to physical capital stock. But firm-specific skills have no value when the firm that uses them goes out of business, which is one reason why US productivity, wages, and economic growth are likely to be affected for years to come.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been treated as though it were an unprecedented global catastrophe, we have been here before – many times. As two recent works of history show, pandemics are a recurring and ineradicable feature of human civilization.
The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented threat to both public health and the global economy. Only by ditching nationalist rhetoric and policies, and embracing stronger international cooperation, can governments protect the people they claim to represent.