The Disaster of Covid Shutdowns

Governments’ responses to the covid epidemic represent the worst public policy disaster of our time. They were an economic, social, health and educational fiasco. It may have been possible to devise worse policies than the shutdowns that upended America, but it wouldn’t have been easy.

Now, researchers at USC have tried to put a price tag on covid shutdowns:

U.S. GDP fell during the pandemic due to COVID-19 lockdowns and resulted in trillions of dollars in losses in these past years, a consequence mainly driven by mandatory business closure policies, according to a study by researchers from the University of Southern California (USC).

By the end of 2022, the pandemic had cut $12.2 trillion from U.S. GDP, the study published in Economic Modelling journal estimates. Researchers expect total losses to hit $14 trillion by the end of 2023. The study blamed involuntary business closures as the “leading cause” for the massive decline in America’s GDP during this period.

“I’m still amazed at how powerful a negative impact COVID is projected to have on the U.S. economy compared to previous man-made and natural disasters,” said study co-author Adam Rose, a research professor at the USC Price School and senior research fellow at the USC Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Threats and Emergencies (CREATE)…

“COVID’s impact on GDP is estimated to be nearly 100 times more than the previous largest disaster of the 21st century—the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks.”

That sounds about right. What we did to ourselves, mostly at the behest of the Democratic Party, was vastly worse than what any terrorists could do. This is key:

The study blamed three factors for America’s economic decline during the pandemic: deaths and illnesses, mandatory business closures, and voluntary avoidance of activities that stimulate the economy but prevent infection.

Of these three, the study found mandatory business closures had the “greatest impact” on the U.S. economy.

There is much more at the link. My organization produced two papers on the impact of covid shutdowns in Minnesota. This one documented an economic cost in the form of lost GDP from government shutdowns that averaged around $7,500 per family of four through the first quarter of 2021, for a total of approximately $12 billion through that date.

This one shows how government-ordered school closures devastated young people’s academic progress. In my opinion, as terrible as the economic costs of irrational government policies have been, the long-term consequences of the social and educational devastation of our children will prove to be even worse. Let’s hope some lessons have been learned.

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