Virus crisis tidbits -- get out of the way and demand shift - Barokong - Teknoiot

22 May 2020

Virus crisis tidbits -- get out of the way and demand shift - Barokong

The first rule of medicine is "do no harm," and not a bad first rule for economic and public policy too. The second  rule of economic and public policy should be "get out of the way." With that thought in mind,

From Marginal Revolution, FDA Stops at-home tests. Imagine what they would think of the DIY ventilator

From, Allow US entities to import and use non-FDA PPE, diagnostic tests and ventilators.

There is a massive inefficiency in the global supply chain which could supply us as currently the US only allows FDA certified PPE and diagnostic tests to be imported and used. .. One example with one supplier in China I found:
500k surgical masks
100k N95 masks
500k COVID-19 rapid test kits
These products are currently available today in inventory... but no one in the US can import them as they only have the EU certification (CE)!!
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is running a survey to find more such regulations. Contribute!

Chris Edwards at Cato on a long list of how private companies are rushing to bring products to market. No we don't need the National Defense Act. Now how much more would they do if we paid them double? Oh and

Fun fact: facemasks are regulated by four separate federal bureaucracies: FDA, CDC, NIOSH, and OSHA
The central story of the virus crisis is that our public heath systems were and still are woefully unprepared with masks, gowns, test kits, ventilators, and procedures. (A nice sort summary.) You handle this sort of thing without shutting down the economy by intensive contact tracing, massive frequent testing (remember AIDS?), isolation, and tamping down hot spots. The fact that the US was and remains unprepared for this is now going to cost us trillions of dollars -- and much suffering, lost jobs, shuttered businesses and associated woe, in addition to lost lives. At least get out of the way.

Some of what we are seeing is a shift in demand, which offers many opportunities.

Hospitals are hiring (duh), and not just doctors.

Coronavirus Sparks Hiring Spree for Nearly 500,000 Jobs at Biggest Retailers

Walmart to Pay $550 Million in Staff Bonuses, Hire 150,000 Temporary Workers

There are jobs for janitors, cleaning crew, people to staff lines, and so on, Not great jobs, but it's something for totally unemployed lower income Americans. I don't think we're close to there yet, but it would not be ideal public policy for the government to make sure that nobody lost any jobs and just sat at home.

Some of this shift in demand may be permanent. I suspect we are exiting the age of worry about terrorism, and entering -- or reentering -- the age of worrying (justly) about pandemics. That ought not to mean waves of people dead as in centuries past, but a restructuring of our economic system to control public health, maybe in analogy with the late 19th century. Air travel may be down forever. RVs up.  Restaurants too may decline, and live music, or any other event that brings lots of people together breathing the same air. We may move to a life of quite permanent "social distancing."

We might even leave behind the economy based on close personal contacts in crowded hot spots like New York and San Francisco, to an economy based on much more virtual contact centered in small towns and suburbs. That has been long forecast. When millennials come to think of an apartment and a bar in San Francisco like a cruise ship, it may happen. It will be a second boom for tech, as online delivery of everything grows. We will not be an isolated society, but we may revert to the British Pub,  the private dinner, not the jam packed Manhattan bar, club, or other mass event.

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