Economist Ryan A Bourne’s Well Written Book Explains Simple Economic Concepts Through The U.S. Government’s Response To The Pandemic, The Lessons Of Which Are Important To All

As people around the world crouched down over SARS-CoV-2 and businesses were forced to shut down, the pandemic has had “differential impacts” on the economic fortunes of millions of people.

The pandemic has offered unprecedented insights into economic thinking and reasoning. There is a wide range of international bestsellers on the costs of Covid-19, but economist Ryan A Bourne has released a well-written book, The economy in a virus; An introduction to economic reasoning through COVID-19 which explains simple economic concepts through the US government’s response to the pandemic, the lessons of which are meaningful for all.

Why were N-95 masks and hand sanitizers scarce as Covid-19 ripped apart across the world? How have the lockdowns impacted the demand for and supply of goods? Why have the wages of some jobs gone up when many have lost their livelihoods? Why did some employees get the chance to work from home and the only difference for them was “less restaurant meals and travel and more sourdough baking and Zoom happy hours”? Why have CEO salaries quadrupled even as heart-wrenching stories of small businesses going bankrupt have become ubiquitous?

Zia Haq (Raj K Raj / HT PHOTO)

Bourne is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and the R Evan Scharf Chair in Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute. He is a libertarian and a champion of the right-wing free market economy. But even for someone like me who thinks the state has a legitimate role in managing economies, this book has served well to lay bare important economic lessons learned from the pandemic.

The book dazzles with its insights drawn from the most recent data. Here is an example. As economic indicators turned negative for millions of people, a lucky few were better off as a result of the pandemic as they could work from home, received a ‘risk allowance’ allowance and saw their discretionary spending drop by more than 70% .

At the macro level, the book helps explain everything from reasons nations were under-prepared for the pandemic to the trade-offs government economists faced, including between saving lives and livelihoods. In short, a fascinating read for anyone interested in the economy.


    Zia Haq reports on public policy, economy and agriculture. Particularly interested in development economics and growth theories.
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