Coronavirus business update
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Tim Harford writes the Undercover Economist column, and was previously an economics leader writer for the FT. He first joined the newspaper as Peter Martin Fellow in 2003.
Tim is the author of seven books, including the million-selling The Undercover Economist and most recently Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy. He is also a regular presenter for BBC radio.
He was made an OBE in the 2019 new year honours list “for services to improving economic understanding”.
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Vivid stories swamp probabilities of Covid-19 infection — and young and old have different views
We do learn from bitter experience, of course. But we also have a great talent for forgetting
Randomised trials can be a danger but even when innocuous they can make us uneasy. Why?
The lack of co-ordination on the response to Covid-19 has cost lives
Reversing lockdown is perilous, but we cannot sacrifice our children’s education indefinitely
The history of innovation has plenty of lessons on how to fight the corona crisis and transform our future
Activities that were already marginal are likely to struggle to return
Laws cannot cover every situation but common sense is not always enough
The virus picks us off un-evenly, and an effective response must recognise that
A bloody if minor accident in the middle of the pandemic provides valuable lessons
We need more and better surveys from across the globe to help us take the right course
We could crush livelihoods to prevent ecosystem collapse — but that would be a last resort
Economic distress is contagious too and we need a plan to stop its uncontrolled spread
In truth, most people act in the public interest during difficult times
Catastrophes such as coronavirus are all too predictable. What makes us do nothing in the face of danger?
The blessed release of forgetting comes when you know a task is complete
It is clear that we should be willing to pay huge costs to save lives from Covid-19
Alongside the Covid-19 death total, there are other clues to the truth
It is hard not to cheer when distillers turn to the task of producing hand sanitiser
Delay has its own gratifications, even in a world turned upside down by a virus
Can we contain all this misinformation any more than we are containing Covid-19?
We often try to alter behaviour, especially that of other people, by pushing harder on the accelerator
Weather forecasters make hypotheses and test them daily
Margaret Heffernan’s secular sermon calls on us to respond differently to predictions about the future
Major innovations tend to result from investment that is high-risk, high-pay-off