Macroeconomic Modelling of Pandemics at Warp Speed

A pressing research issue with deep policy relevance concerns how econometric models should be adapted, changed, or modified in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  A new Webinar series–Macroeconomic Modelling and Pandemics–has been created to examine this issue, to exchange views among researchers, and to bring more attention to the policy questions.

Here is a list of topics in the series on the Hoover website, including previews of coming attractions with more to come. You are welcome to click on a topic, watch the video, or inquire about future events. Videos of presentations and question/answer sessions will be posted, as have been recent ones including by Harald Uhlig on “Macroeconomic Dynamics and Reallocation in an Epidemic,” Mathias Trabandt on “The Macroeconomics of Epidemics,” and Daniel Gros on “Strategies for Controlling the Medical and Socio-economic Costs of the Corona Pandemic.”  Volker Wieland or I do the hosting.

Yesterday, Warwick McKibbin of Australian National University spoke on “The Global Macroeconomic Impacts of COVID-19.” He showed how an econometric model of 20 countries and 4 regions with thousands of equations is used to investigate global contagion scenarios and alternative economic policies. The webinar series is sponsored by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the Institute of Monetary and Financial Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt and the Center for Economic Policy Research in London with the help of a grant from the Sloan Foundation.

Aside from the global reach of this webinar series, what is most striking is how rapidly models are changing. There is not only a great deal of interest and enthusiasm, but people are genuinely interested in contributing to solutions to this terrible problem. There was similar excitement around the time of an earlier revolution in econometric modeling to deal with the inflation and unemployment problems in the 1970s by applying rational expectations and monetary strategies, but the amazing internet technology now allows everything to move at warp speed.

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