Marron Senior Fellow Paul Romer has been actively contributing to the COVID-19 dialogue, proposing solutions that consider both public health and the health of the economy. In a recent Opinion for The New York Times, “Will Our Economy Die from Coronavirus?,” Romer and economist Alan M. Garber discussed the economic repercussions of current social-distancing strategies. In addition, Romer elaborates on “the economic and social cost of two policies that are equally effective at containing the virus” on his blog, and examines the current economic strategy in an interview with Bloomberg.
Romer and Garber propose a two-pronged approach:
This approach uses two complementary strategies. The first relies on tests to target social distancing more precisely. The second relies on protective equipment that prevents the transmission of the virus. Adopting these strategies will require a massive increase in our capacity for coronavirus testing and a surge in the production of personal protective equipment.
In a discussion for City Journal, “How to Avoid an Economic Catastrophe,” with former Marron alumnus Brandon Fuller, Fuller probed Romer for his thoughts on the benefits of urban agglomeration in the time of COVID-19.
The fact is that the intense interaction that cities allow is immensely productive. I think what we’re going to learn from this is that there are a variety of ways to continue to interact frequently while minimizing the risks of transmitting viruses. I doubt that this is going to slow down the growth of cities. I think the underlying economic reality is that there is tremendous economic value in interacting with people and sharing ideas. There’s still a lot to be gained from interaction in close physical proximity because such interaction is a large part of how we establish trust. So I think that, for the rest of my life, cities are going to continue to be where the action is.