There Is No Panacea for the Coronavirus Economy

John Cassidy in The New Yorker:

Despite a month of shutdowns and distancing measures, the virus hasn’t stopped spreading, but the rate of new infections has gone down. At a national level, based on figures from the Covid Tracking Project, the number of cases is rising by about 4.7 per cent, which is down from about 7.5 per cent a week ago. Ian Shepherdson, the founder of Pantheon Macroeconomics, has been looking at what’s happening in other countries, too. In the past week or so, Germany, Spain, and Italy have announced limited steps to reopen stores and other businesses. These countries waited until the daily new infection rate had fallen to a bit below the current U.S. level, Shepherdson said. By this time next week, the U.S. rate may well have closed that gap.

In absolute terms, however, the number of new infections is still much higher in the United States, because the over-all number of cases is so large. So far, most governors, Republican and Democrat, have resisted the idea of lifting stay-at-home orders. But the economic cost of the shutdown is rising—in the past four weeks, more than twenty-two million Americans have lost their jobs or been furloughed, figures released on Thursday showed. And in some Democrat-run states, conservative protesters have staged demonstrations against the restrictions, with Trump openly egging them on.

The big question is what will happen if some businesses do start to reopen.

More here.