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    Covid-19 and the international trade downturn: lessons from 2008

Covid-19 and the international trade downturn: lessons from 2008

The current Covid-19 outbreak is raising a number of growing concerns about the UK economy and its capacity to cope with the current situation and recover in the near future. One particular area of concern, in the UK and elsewhere, is related to international trade, i.e., trade of goods and services across countries. More specifically, the World Trade Organisation […]

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    The Covid-19 pandemic shines a spotlight on the systemic risk to global business

The Covid-19 pandemic shines a spotlight on the systemic risk to global business

Commentators have suggested that the global economy and just about everything else will be irreversibly changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. There will be a before-coronavirus and an after-coronavirus world. Ironically, with a few exceptions (for example, Goldin and Muggah, 2020), virtually no person or agency making such claims predicted the coronavirus pandemic itself. Nor is it […]

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    Labour market regulation and tax reform complement each other

Labour market regulation and tax reform complement each other

In the last decade, several EU countries have suffered from low economic growth, weak productivity, and declining competitiveness. Structural reforms that deregulate the labour market are thought to promote economic and employment growth. Cross-country analyses indicate that a lower labour tax wedge reduces unemployment in the long-run (see Lehmann et al 2015; OECD Taxation and Employment 2011). A close […]

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    Covid-19: the controversial role of big tech in digital surveillance

Covid-19: the controversial role of big tech in digital surveillance

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought new big data-driven practices of infectious disease surveillance to the forefront of efforts to track cases in real-time. As infections have continued to spread across the globe, governments have increasingly sought to capitalise on the volume, variety and velocity of the big data era, and to partner with big tech corporations in order to […]

How long can firms survive in the Covid-19 crisis?

In the Covid-19 crisis, many businesses are rapidly running out of cash. In our earlier blog we reported that in the United States half of small firms – those with less than 500 employees – have cash reserves for less than a month. Restaurants, for example, have only 16 days of cash on hand.

Firms in rich countries are not […]

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    Long read: Cultural evolution, Covid-19, and preparing for what’s next

Long read: Cultural evolution, Covid-19, and preparing for what’s next

In 2015, in the wake of the West African Ebola epidemic, Bill Gates issued a warning (summarised in a TED Talk): Of the killers that could claim 10 million or more lives, the most likely was an epidemic. After any event, it is easy to point to those who predicted it, ignoring all those who predicted other possible futures or […]

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    Covid-19 is increasing the divide in life chances between rich and poor

Covid-19 is increasing the divide in life chances between rich and poor

Social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic has given a new meaning to the problem of low social mobility. But make no mistake: the long term reverberations of the crisis will likely exacerbate the divide in life chances between the poor and privileged. Covid-19 has the scope to increase the toxic mix of rising economic and education inequality that […]

The Covid-19 recession is creating a crisis of inequality

The Covid-19 pandemic is turning into a global recession – probably the biggest drop in economic activity since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The latest forecasts put UK and US GDP both down by about 10% in the second quarter of 2020 (40% on an annualised basis). GDP is an important measure of economic wellbeing, but the key […]

It’s time for a recovery plan

Firms in every country are reeling from the inability to do business as usual. To make things worse, many sectors see collapsed demand and economic uncertainty stretching months, if not years. Governments rightly focus on dealing with the health crisis first, and only then on the recovery of the economy once the immediate danger of the pandemic is over.

In […]

The Covid-19 crisis reveals how much we value old age

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the older population more than other age cohorts, as their weaker immune system makes it harder to fight diseases and infection. Although all age groups are at risk of contracting the virus, older people face significant risk of developing a severe illness. Of all coronavirus-related deaths so far, 95% occurred in those older than 60 […]

How to restart the economy after Covid-19

The Covid-19 crisis has brought many sectors of the global economy to a halt. Firms in these sectors have no revenues while the lockdown is in place, yet they still pay salaries, rents, and debt interest. These expenditures are often deferred – including through government-sponsored programs – but rarely waived. The hiatus increases financial pressure on the firms, as […]

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    Hofstede’s legacy and separate national responses to the Covid-19 crisis

Hofstede’s legacy and separate national responses to the Covid-19 crisis

Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede’s theory of cultural dimensions, captured and revised in three volumes (here, here, and here), has informed research in cross-cultural management and international business for decades. It has also been under criticism by management scholars for its excessive determinism, perpetuation of cultural uniformity, and cultural categorisation into binaries. Others have iterated the risk of ecological […]

When will the coronavirus pandemic peak?

The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We have carried out some analysis of the daily data on the number of new cases of Covid-19 and the number of new deaths attributed to it for 191 countries as reported to the European Centre for Disease […]

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    Will remote working digital infrastructures become the norm?

Will remote working digital infrastructures become the norm?

Working at one of the world’s leading social sciences universities, we are now taking part ourselves as subjects. A global experiment of communicating almost entirely through the use of digital infrastructures is unfolding. I study the innovation dynamics and impact of digital infrastructures, so the current situation offers an opportunity for reflection.

The late Susan Leigh Star was the founder […]

Remote working: here to stay?

Before the pandemic, the evidence on remote working was that as long as the job is suitable for performing from home, most people are more productive when homeworking, but productivity is strongly subject to the employer policies and practices. At the same time, homeworking can save a business thousands of pounds a month per employee in office and other […]

The economics of coronavirus

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is first and foremost one of the gravest health crises of the past hundred years, threatening to generate millions of premature deaths worldwide. But it also represents a major – and unusual – challenge for economic policymakers.

In most economic downturns, the appropriate policy response is qualitatively straightforward, if sometimes difficult to calibrate or implement. For […]

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    Comparing the coronavirus crisis to 2008 is inevitable, but they’re quite different

Comparing the coronavirus crisis to 2008 is inevitable, but they’re quite different

Coronavirus is having a strong impact on the world economy. What about the financial system? Is a systemic financial crisis likely, perhaps along the lines of the crisis 12 years ago in 2008, or even the Great Depression of the 1930s?

There are certainly similarities: widespread bankruptcies, liquidity shortages, large losses and some financial institutions may fail. Still, that in itself does […]

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    Covid-19: We shouldn’t give priority to sustaining the GDP over the wellbeing of the people

Covid-19: We shouldn’t give priority to sustaining the GDP over the wellbeing of the people

We are in a very difficult situation. But I do believe that if we handle it right we can come out of this better than we went into it. We can come out of it with a society in which people are caring more for each other and in which they are taking better care of themselves.

So, let me […]

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    How the unions helped transform employment relations at France Télécom

How the unions helped transform employment relations at France Télécom

On December 20, 2019, the French courts found the former CEO of France Télécom and two executives guilty of ‘moral harassment’ of their employees. During what has been called ‘a social crisis’, more than 40 employees in two years committed suicide, directly blaming the company in their notes, taking their lives on the workplace; a technician stabbed himself in […]

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    We only changed our behaviour when we saw Covid-19 at our doorstep

We only changed our behaviour when we saw Covid-19 at our doorstep

The new COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus (having about three times the transmission rate of the flu), and its spread depends on social contact. For an individual living a normal life, the probability of infection is extremely high (as individuals exhibiting no symptoms tend to go untested). If a sizeable share of the population becomes infected, not only can it […]