Helicopter, bazooka or drone? Economic policy for the coronavirus crisis

Countries need to get money to their small businesses quickly if they want to survive this epidemic.

Richard Simmons is a researcher at the University of Hertfordshire. Giuseppe Littera is co-founder and head of R&D at Sardex. Nigel Culkin is professor of enterprise and entrepreneurial development at the University of Hertfordshire. Paolo Dini is associate professorial research fellow in the department of media and communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Luca Fantacci is lecturer of economic history and co-director of research unit MINTS (Monetary Innovation, New Technologies and Society) at Bocconi University in Milan. Massimo Amato is associate professor of economic history and co-director of MINTS at Bocconi University.

The coronavirus crisis tearing through Europe is likely to have an economic impact that is unprecedented in our lifetimes. As such, it calls for economic interventions that have never been seen before.

Policymakers like to talk in military terms about monetary measures intended to bolster or boost the economy. When the European Central Bank announces a €750 billion bond buying program it’s firing a “bazooka.” If the U.S. government sends $2,000 to every American that’s “helicopter money,” after a thought experiment by the American economist Milton Friedman, in which he proposed stimulating the economy by dropping dollar bills from above.

We propose an update to Friedman’s idea, what we call “smart drone” money — a targeted invention in which consumers are provided with the equivalent of currency that they can spend on merchants that agree not to lay off permanent staff during a lockdown.

The economic impact of the crisis could not be more clear. Policymakers are faced with a difficult balancing act: to prevent new infections while mitigating the damage to the economy from the social isolation measures required to slow the spread of the virus.

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Πηγή: politico.eu

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