My mood has brightened since my last post, which was gloomy about the recent data on the spread of coronavirus in Britain. Nonetheless, I think the easing of the lockdown is premature, for reasons set out below. Let me reiterate: I’m an economist, not an epidemiologist. Furthermore, you should never believe a forecast, especially not one about the future. And my worries last time are not (yet) being borne out. So read on at your own risk. Here is what is worrying me. a. Less than 13% of community infections have tested positive The Office of National Statistics estimates that… Read More »Still not shopping
I think the relaxations in the lockdown are premature. Here is why: Hospital admissions in London are going up And in England as a whole, hospital admissions are rising slightly: UPDATE 8pm Here is the same graph with another day’s data – the admissions continue to rise: 2. The number of reported deaths is up, week on week: UPDATE 8pm – here is the same graph with another day’s numbers. This is not more reassuring. 3. R, the Reproduction Number, is at or close to 1. We know this because the infection rate is, according to the ONS, “relatively stable”.… Read More »Why I am not going shopping
I am worried that the UK Government is easing the lockdown too soon, and I am going to continue to be very careful in the coming weeks. Here’s why. I am not a doctor or an epidemiologist: I’m an economist. That means I don’t know about the biology (but I can read statistics pretty well.) Economists are famously bad at making forecasts, so you would be unwise to take any notice; but I predict that we will look back on this period as a major policy error by the UK government (sadly not the only such mistake). I hope I… Read More »Do you feel lucky, punk?
President Trump’s decision to cut funding to the World Health Organisation calls for a “Love Actually” moment. There is a precedent. One of George W. Bush’s first acts as president in 2006 was to reinstate the “global gag rule” which withdrew US aid from organisations that counsel women about abortions or to advocate for liberalized abortion laws in their countries. In response, the UK Government offered to make up the funding to any organisation that lost out from George Bush’s political grandstanding. As a Brit, I was so proud. The US provides about $500m a year to the WHO. It… Read More »Time for a “Love Actually” moment
I’m sorry to see The Economist make the lazy mistake of thinking that the phrase “mother of Parliaments” refers to the British Parliament. The phrase was coined by John Bright about England, not Westminster.