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Failures of COVID-19 Policy Explored in New Book by QED Economists


May 2021 – A book proposal by faculty members from Queen’s Economics Department (QED) about the systemic failures in Canada relating to COVID-19, how these failures relate to failures during the 2008 Financial Crisis, and how governments can better prepare in the future, has been accepted for publication.

The book, to be entitled “The Covid Pandemic and the Global Financial Crisis: Learning from the failures to prepare for a future pandemic”, is written by Dr. David Longworth and Dr. Frank Milne. The book builds on several research papers Dr. Longworth and Dr. Milne wrote about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their research covers several interconnected topics. It will discuss how in far too many cases forensic report recommendations of previous pandemics were ignored. They find that substantial weaknesses in the preparation by public health authorities and governments increased the health and economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic relative to what they would have been if pre-existing recommendations had been followed and a wider set of plans had been put into place [1].

They also produced a working paper discussing 10 parallels between the lack of preparation of financial system regulators prior to the Global Financial Crisis and the lack of preparation by public health authorities and governments prior to COVID-19. The paper considered the steps that were taken to deal with each of the deficiencies in financial system regulation following the Global Financial Crisis as well as the parallel steps that now need to be taken to deal with the deficiencies in pandemic planning [2].

According to Dr. Longworth and Dr. Milne, apart from the direct economic consequences due to illness and death from the virus, the main economic and financial costs during the COVID-19 crisis have been due to the varying degrees of preventative measures taken by the public, firms, and governments that directly impacted economic and financial activity. Thus, there is an important interdependence between economic, financial, and health policy actions, and a working paper produced by Dr. Milne and Dr. Longworth that proposes the use of regular, combined medical, economic and financial stress tests and wargames in preparing for future pandemics and other major environmental shocks [3] provided key insights for policymakers preparing for the next pandemic.

The book will also touch on Dr. Milne and Dr. Longworth’s other forward-looking paper which set forth recommendations for carrying out post-mortems on the COVID-19 experience, planning for future pandemics, and establishing transparent and accountable governance systems for ongoing implementations of pre-pandemic plans [4].

               Combined, this research in part provided the basis for Dr. Longworth and Dr. Milne’s new book. Focusing on learning from past failures to better prepare Canada for future pandemics, the book will provide instructive analysis for researchers and policy makers and offer insights into what can be learned from systemic failures during the Great Financial Crisis to prepare for future pandemics. The book is being published by World Scientific Publishing.

References

[1] Milne, F., and Longworth, D. (2020). Covid-19 and the Lack of Public Health and Government Preparation. QED Working Paper Number 1436.

[2] Milne, F., and Longworth, D. (2021). Parallels Between Financial Regulation Prior to the Global Financial Crisis and Lack of Public Health Preparation Prior to Covid-19. QED Working Paper Number 1455.

[3] Milne, F., and Longworth, D. (2020). Preparing for Future Pandemics: Stress Tests and Wargames. QED Working Paper Number 1437.

[4] Milne, F., and Longworth, D. (2021). Public Health and Government Preparations For Future Pandemics. QED Working Paper Number 1451.

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