Coronavirus crisis: health or economy?

The pandemic is facing politicians with some difficult decisions: how many restrictions can be imposed without destroying the economy, and how much can they be loosened without endangering too many lives? With the prospect of effective vaccines on the horizon, these questions are gaining new relevance. Commentators argue that the economy and public health are not mutually exclusive.

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Falter (AT) /

Manipulation based on people's supposed needs

News magazine Der Falter questions whether people really want what governments claim they want:

“The pattern seems to be the same everywhere: the people pushing on the one side. The leaders applying the brakes, blocking and banning on the other. ... But is it really that clear-cut? Aren't the leaders ascribing an urge to the people, a national push, so to speak, in order to legitimise an economic decision? ... For example the desire to go skiing in the middle of a pandemic. A desire that the government affirms and encourages. ... This presupposed urge serves as legitimation. It presupposes our irrationality and promotes it in the name of economic interests (the beds must be occupied, the lifts must be filled with passengers, the food must be sold). ... If there is one thing you learn in a pandemic, it's how manipulation works.”

O Jornal Económico (PT) /

Two sides of the same coin

Economy and health can only be thought of together, writes Jornal Económico:

“It is not possible to solve the health problem without the economy, just as a healthy economy requires a healthy population. The economy today is still driven by health spending, a trend that will become more pronounced as the population ages. It is important to maintain and even strengthen the national healthcare system - the mainstay of the response to the pandemic - of one of the world's most resilient economies. However, the more economic activity collapses, the more difficult this task becomes.”

Jurnalul National (RO) /

Sliding into the next Covid year

Even if the health situation improves the pandemic will continue to have an impact in 2021, journalist Daniel Apostol suspects in Jurnalul National:

“It is already clear that the severity and duration of the economic crisis depends more on the success of the health plan than on the willingness of states to pump money into the real economy. Nevertheless, the second and third waves of the pandemic - and who knows how many more will come - remain an extreme threat to already fragile economies, even if a widely available vaccine does prove effective. ... We won't be able to emerge from the global economy's deepest slump in the past century that quickly. 2020 comes to an end in a few weeks' time, but we don't know for sure that we won't be starting a second 'Covid year' on 1 January.”

Delo (SI) /

Vaccination also saves jobs

Delo is optimistic about the Slovenian economy:

“From the beginning of July to the end of September the Slovenian economy reacted better than average to the relaxation of Covid measures, and according to the Statistical Office it grew quickly after its second-quarter slump. ... In addition to the recovery in industry, which is still in comparatively good shape, the easing in the service sector in the summer was clearly very beneficial, especially for tourism, restaurants and trade. ... With appropriate pandemic control measures, a vaccine would not only have an invaluable health benefit, but also a positive impact on the economy, society and public finances. One more reason for the government to work out as quickly as possible a functioning, effective vaccination strategy that will protect not only lives, but also jobs.”

24 Chasa (BG) /

Capitalism protecting Bulgarians from bankruptcy

It's not government measures but free market mechanisms that are preventing Bulgaria's economy from collapsing in the coronavirus crisis, 24 Chasa writes:

“Thanks to the flexibility of the banks that are offering cheap mortgages, the housing market remained stable in 2020 and even increased somewhat. This, in turn, feeds the construction industry and everyone who is directly or indirectly employed in it. People are realising that it's better to invest in real estate than to hoard money under the mattress or in the bank - not for any speculative purposes but simply to buy an apartment or a house now that loans are cheap. Smart capitalism works. Anyone who doesn't believe in it should keep this in mind.”