Opinion

Miami Trumps Biden

December 3, 2020

Ricardo Hausmann and José Morales-Arilla for Project Syndicate

Joe Biden achieved a decisive victory in the US presidential election, beating Donald Trump by over six million votes nationwide. Powered by suburban voters, especially women, the Democratic candidate took back Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, which Trump won in 2016, flipped Arizona and Georgia, and garnered 306 of the 538 Electoral College votes.

But one key swing state where Trump performed better than he did four years ago was Florida – especially in its most heavily Hispanic sections...

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The Coming Equity Shortage

October 9, 2020

Ricardo Hausmann for Project Syndicate

Let’s be optimistic and assume that one or more of the 11 COVID-19 vaccines currently undergoing Phase 3 clinical trials are found to be safe and effective by early 2021. Let us also assume that production can be ramped up quickly, so that countries can vaccinate a significant part of their populations by late next year.

In this rosy scenario, the current “special period,” when social distancing severely restricts economic activities – from schools to universities, restaurants to airlines, concerts to sports events,...

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Do We Look Down on the Less Educated?

September 12, 2020

Eric Protzer - New York Times/Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Michael Sandel’s suspicion of meritocracy is misplaced. The working class in fact prizes success, wealth, status and fame. They want it for themselves and, more important, for their children and their children’s children.

What many members of the working class and increasingly also the middle class are furious about, and what politicians like Donald Trump have tapped into, is the broken promise of the American dream. Forty years of deeply unfair economic policy...

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After the Default: Argentina’s Unsustainable “20/80” Economy

September 10, 2020

Eduardo Levy Yeyati for Americas Quarterly

Argentina this week formally exited the ninth sovereign debt default in its history. The agreement with creditors took longer than expected, but was settled at reasonable levels, close to original projections, and just in time to avert another blow to the country’s suffering economy. Having reached a deal in the current, uncertain context and with no financial program in hand could be regarded as a success for the government.

The deal reduced Argentina’s debt payments by approximately 27% and — even more crucially...

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Planning for Crisis Resilience

September 10, 2020

Ricardo Hausmann for Project Syndicate

When you throw a tennis ball to the ground, it bounces back up. But if you throw a wine glass, it shatters. Many countries’ economies are in free fall. Will they bounce back or shatter? What can be done to assure a strong recovery?

The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be obvious, as ongoing research with Sebastián Bustos on previous crises suggests. In the 2008 global financial crisis, among the least affected countries...

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Horrible trade-offs in a pandemic: Analysis and policy implications

August 29, 2020

Ricardo Hausmann and Ulrich Schetter for Vox EU

Countries all over the world are fighting COVID-19 by reducing social and economic interactions, measures that have proven effective in parts of the world but are extremely costly. We are in the midst of the deepest recession since the great depression, and World GDP is expected to fall by 4.9% in 2020, with two-digit declines in many countries (IMF 2020). A series of excellent papers suggest that the huge costs in terms of livelihoods are justified by the gains in terms of lives saved from the pandemic (e.g. Acemoglu et...

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Why Zoom Can’t Save the World

August 10, 2020

Ricardo Hausmann for Project Syndicate

Before COVID-19, spending on business travel totaled $1.5 trillion a year (about 1.7% of world GDP). Now it is down to a trickle, as countries have closed their borders and social distancing has taken hold. Planes have been grounded, hotels are closed, and executives are not earning frequent flier miles. Many travel and hospitality jobs are feeling the consequences. But if this were all there was to it, the impact, however large, would probably be much smaller than the decline in general international tourism, and easily...

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The Road to COVID-19 Enlightenment

June 30, 2020

Ricardo Hausmann for Project Syndicate

 Certainty is like a rainbow: wonderful but relatively rare. More often than not, we know that we don’t know. We may seek to remedy this by talking to people who may know what we want to know. But how do we know that they know? If we cannot ascertain whether they actually do know, we must trust them.

Historically, we have bestowed our trust on the basis of science, experience, or divine inspiration. But what if the knowledge we seek does not yet exist, and even science knows that it does not know what is being...

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Opponents of more IMF lending may have blood on their hands

June 18, 2020

Ricardo Hausmann for the Financial Times

Time is at a premium in a pandemic. China’s slow response to the coronavirus in December and January cost the world dearly. So did the slow response in Europe and the US in February and March. But the world may not have learnt the lesson: the mistake appears to be happening once again, this time at the IMF.  By historical standards, the IMF has responded quickly and massively. In early April, it announced during its spring meetings that a major economic downturn was coming. It hurriedly revamped its rapid financing...

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What Should We Be Preparing For?

May 27, 2020

Ricardo Hausmann for Project Syndicate

Suppose you knew that a hurricane was coming, but meteorologists were uncertain if it would make landfall as a Category 2 or a Category 5 storm. Which scenario should you prepare for?

The problem you face reflects the costs of assuming that it is a Category 5 when it is only a Category 2 and vice versa. The latter scenario implies deaths and destruction that could have been avoided through evacuations, well-supplied shelters, and precautionary shutdowns. The first scenario implies unnecessary preventive costs. In the...

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