Two noted economists weighed in on the prospects for recovery in the world economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 13, Professor Lawrence H. Summers, former Director of the National Economic Council, U.S. Treasury Secretary and Chief Economist of the World Bank joined in conversation with Richard Levin, President Emeritus of Yale University and Frederick William Beinecke Professor of Economics. The discussion was part of the Jackson Institute’s Virtual Discussion Forum series on COVID-19 and Global Affairs.
Ted Wittenstein, Jackson’s deputy director for leadership programs, and Jim Levinsohn, Jackson’s director, offered brief opening remarks and introductions.
“We’re in uncharted territory,” Summers remarked, likening the current situation to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but on a national scale.
“If you’re scared to leave your house, it doesn’t matter what the interest rate is,” Summers said.
When asked about the potential impact of the CARES Act, Summers observed, “Health investment is the most important stimulus measure.”
Summers predicted long-lasting societal changes due to the pandemic, including less business travel (“Zoom meetings work well,” he said), more emphasis on self-reliance and nationalism, and less comfort with the idea of living in dense urban environments.
Summer underscored the idea that part of the solution lies in global cooperation in the fight against common threats, including climate change, disease, refugees, and terrorism.
More than 500 attendees tuned in and submitted questions for the speakers.