All the predictions in the market are about how steep the recession in Q2 will be (we think people should also be considering the Q1 numbers!), but a new paper has been published looking back at the economic effects of the 1918 pandemic. The surprising finding is that strong shutdowns did not actually hurt the economy as much as thought. In fact, the areas that undertook the strongest and swiftest shutdowns, had the weakest drops in output and the quickest recoveries. The average US location suffered an 18% downturn from the pandemic. However, the researchers (two from the Fed, one from MIT) summed up their findings this way, saying “Cities that implemented more rapid and forceful non-pharmaceutical health interventions do not experience worse downturns … In contrast, evidence on manufacturing activity and bank assets suggests that the economy performed better in areas with more aggressive NPIs after the pandemic”.
FINSUM: While this is not the most compelling evidence (given it is 100 years old), it is encouraging to consider that those taking swift action might not see the worst consequences.