Economic impact of "let 'er rip" vs shutting down

The impact of the current move toward more and more restrictions is relatively easy to see:

  • Immediate lost jobs
  • Drain on unemployment funds
  • Decrease in all sort of retail spending
  • Cascading impacts such as landlords not getting rent, banks not getting mortgage payments
  • Increased household debt
  • Loss of wealth due to the stock market and use of emergency funds to keep afloat
  • Less income = less tax revenue for the government
    etc etc etc.

I have not seen any estimates of the costs here, but it seems like the consensus is the damage is roughly somewhere between “Oh shit” and “We’re screwed for the next 50 years” (not sure what that is in decimal notation).

What I have NOT seen any real discussion of is the impact if we just said “Screw it, go out to the nearest COVID party and get it over with”.

  • Lost time from work when you do get sick
  • Lost income if you don’t have paid sick leave
  • Lost productivity from work while you’re sick - and possibly longer if you are disabled as a result
  • Drain on disablity funds
  • Larger medical bills overall (assumption: the same number of people will get sick overall, but they will get sicker and require more care)
  • Larger disaability figures overall (same assumption, so more people will have long-term issues)
  • Larger medical infrastructure spending: temporary hospitals, more ventilators (let’s assume sufficient numbers can be acquired)
  • Some loss in retail / rent / mortgage though hopefully less than in the shutdown.

I have no idea why anyone is assuming option 2 will cause less economic damage. I think it’s pretty clear that if millions get seriously ill at once, tens of thousands at a minimum die, and who knows how many are crippled – that this will devastate our economy.

Well yeah, that’s my point.

There are innumerable articles from the right-wing side bemoaning the economic devastation caused by the shutdown. And they’re not wrong - but it’s half the picture. NOBODY seems to be discussing the impact of the “kill Granny to save the economy” approach.

The Federalist, the tighty-righty magazine that fancies itself the voice for the intellectual conservative movement, has come out in favor of proactive infections. A twitter under its name…

Dumb da dumb dumb. Dumb da dumb dumb dumb!

You don’t have “death” on the 2nd list, which is also an economic downer.

All of these theories seem to revolve around the certainty that it will be SOMEONE ELSE’S granny that will die, or maybe just a bunch of poor people I don’t know.

You are assuming that those articles are written by people with the country’s best interests at heart.

Well I know it sounds strange but lets say a healthy person under age 40 could go to some “center”. There they would be first screened for issues and if given the green light, be exposed to the virus.

I’m thinking some type of dorm style place with rows of beds where they would be closely monitored and as they get sick, they get treated. Most, about 80%, it wouldnt be no worse than an ordinary flu. Ones who are the most severe would get sent to a different wing for treatment.

Once they recover and are through with symptoms and certified clear, they then can go home and back to work. Probably immune now. Sort of a new version of chicken pox or measles parties they used to do.

I mean when you think about it many of us already have had it but didnt know it. This way we would know for sure and probably be safe for use in high risk areas like hospitals.

All these ‘let’s just get it over with and everyone get sick at once’ arguments leave out crucial elements, such as the effect on the economy of millions of deaths.

A lot of those deaths would be of health-care workers: doctors, nurses, and all the others in the medical field. Losing a generation of doctors and nurses would not be so easy for the economy to shrug off, as some are assuming.

The arguments all contain some assumptions of Magic Occurring, as in the first quote (below) about ventilators, and in the second quote about acquired immunity. A sufficient quantity of ventilators is NOT going to miraculously appear. And we have NO IDEA if a majority of those who get COVID-19 have any sort of immunity at all.

What we would need to make the (cold-hearted) estimation would be a comparison of death rates among young productive folks who get the more serious version of the illness either a) with or b) without medical care.

I mean, we currently have a with-medical-care expectation that only .04% of 40-49-year-olds (for instance) die from the virus. What’s that number with **no **medical care? Since the ‘let-her-rip’ school pretty much guarantees that only a small proportion of serious cases get actual medical care.

Also I feel the economic calculations aren’t adding in any factor for the probability of mobs of grieving survivors with pitchforks marching on Washington after you’ve all been thrown to the wolves…

To be fair, I did think about “death = bad for the economy”, simply forgot to list it - and the “let’s assume we can get the ventilators” I should have caveatted with “let’s assume that somehow some magic happens and they are available”.

Someone would also have to factor in the effect of all these deaths on the Social Security fund. Since older people are likelier to die, all of a sudden that frees up their income - though the tradeoff of younger people who survive but are permanently disabled would likely wipe that out.

I really haven’t heard much about permanent disabilities among younger people. What have you read?

Before Jenner did the smallpox vaccine, this was how it was done. People, like American Revolutionary soldiers, were infected with smallpox. Lots died (I think it might have been 5%) but the rest were immune. But they were pretty sure to get it, because of conditions in camp, and Washington (who pushed for this) thought it was better for them to be sick in camp than during a battle.
So if were were in a war where a lot of soldiers had to be crammed in together, maybe. Maybe the Federalist people think we are, given Trump’s spouting about being a war-time president.

Yet another problem with letting it rip is the assumption by those who think this would improve the economy that everyone is stupid. If you know that going to a restaurant means you might be infected, you don’t go. Restaurants were losing customers before the shutdown.

My daughter’s asshat company was forcing people to go in until the governor shut it down and pretty much forced everyone to work from home. Most of the people spent their time worrying and finding out how many in their building had been affected. She is twice as productive at home. That doesn’t work for manufacturing, but a line can’t run if a lot of people are out.

The most likely outcome is a mix of the two.

  • Stuff like concerts, conventions, sports events, cinema, etc are closed indefinitely. Bad news for the industry, but manageable in for the economy as a whole.

  • School year gets canceled till September.

  • Businesses open with heavy restriction and regulation. Masks and gloves for all. Sanitation staff clean offices surfaces, especially handles, fixtures and fitting with disinfectant regularly.

  • Parks closed or restricted. Coffee shops only take away.Resturamts banned from seating more than 2/3 per table.

  • Regular temperature checks by police of people.

I don’t think “normal” will be back for years.

No way are restrictions lasting years.

There are insufficient inputs to be able to answer the op but there are those in the academic community who have the skill sets to give results across a variety of hypothetical assumptions of those inputs. They routinely do a bit of it just for seasonal influenza.

That article actually drills down and is able to conclude:

The other tactic for high ROI with influenza is prioritizing the immunization of children, not because they are a large direct source of influenza morbidity and mortality but because they both spread it the most and respond better to immunization (stronger immune response) than the more high risk population.

Once they have filled in the inputs to the models estimating the cost of disease itself is something this group of academics have good experience with. The costs of the different social distancing interventions, not just economic but in adverse health outcomes inclusive of deaths both directly and indirectly, is something I think they have less of a sold footing with.

Anecdotally I’ve already heard of a child who has been waiting for an organ transplant (I don’t know the name but still feel I should not even state which organ other than that life depends on it) who had one come available but who could not get the transplant because there is not enough matched blood available in the bank right now to do the operation.

The number of deaths and morbidities eventually caused by the food/housing insecurities to outright homelessness, even just from the impacts of social isolation itself, produced by the interventions are harder, I think, to calculate. They will however be very large.

It should be an extremely high priority item to fill in the blanks of needed inputs into the models, and to work out the other side of the equation as best as is possible by those wit the best training and information to do so. Actually answering the question of the OP, not just in a binary manner but with various levels and types of interventions less disruptive to the entire world economy is of critical importance. Anyone who at this point states they know the answer is frankly full of shit.

It is pretty annoying that it seems the real purpose of this thread seems to be “lets all just talk about how wrong they are” and everyone throwing around conjecture. I don’t see a single “$” in the thread before DSeid’s post.

The indisputable fact is, we ain’t shutting everything down. We aren’t quarantining everybody. The level of shutdown we have right now is not acceptable to the public for more than a month or so. This disease will continue to spread at some level for a while. We will have to find a middle ground.

I don’t understand people who think this just kills old or sick people. The first person in St. Louis to die, this week or last, was 31 and had no health problems. She had a slight cough and the next week she was dead. In New York, people are already dying while waiting for a bed. That sort of thing doesn’t inspire people to go out and buy Levi’s jeans, Big Macs and Chevy trucks. The economy is fucked whether the government ever shut anything down or not. The question is, do we have a another Great Depression and millions dead, or another Great Recession and tens of thousands dead? Anybody who thinks we can avoid a recession if we just let people die in hospital parking lots isn’t thinking with their head on straight.

This ignores reality, I’m afraid. Yes, people are scared and will buy less (in person) but they are shutting stuff down for a reason. People are still going shopping/tanning/drinking/eating until they’ve made it against the law.