When the coronavirus that leads to Covid-19 emerged, SIPA responded. As the spread of this virulent disease continues to disrupt life around the world, our faculty, alumni, and students remain deeply engaged in the public dialogue about crucial events that will shape the future. Some are commenting for leading news outlets, providing insight, and trying to help policymakers plot a course in response to this ongoing challenge. Others are providing more direct support, working as professionals or volunteers to help friend and stranger alike, whether next door or on the opposite side of the globe.
On collective action and what lies ahead
"In responding to the pandemic, the global scientific community has shown a remarkable willingness to share knowledge of potential treatments, coordinate clinical trials, develop new models transparently, and publish findings immediately."
—Joseph Stiglitz calls for a new model of pharmaceutical innovation in an essay for Project Syndicate:
Patients vs. the Pandemic (April 23)
“We’ve now had four decades of disinvestment in public-sector everything. So the infrastructure’s crumbling in all the different kinds of systems we have.”
—Steven Cohen speaks to the Huffington Post:
Coronavirus Holds A Magnifying Glass To America’s Inequalities And The View Is Brutal (April 16)
Echoes of 1918? Covid-19 and the Spanish Influenza Pandemic
Dean Merit E. Janow, Professor Douglas Almond, and Professor Scott Barrett discuss (video, April 14)
"It looks like this will be one of the biggest global events of the last 50 to 100 years.... Covid-19 is going to have effects that will last more than a generation."
—Scott Barrett speaks with SIPA News:
On Coronavirus, International Cooperation, and What’s Ahead (April 3)
• See also: Confronting Covid-19 (audio | transcript); Scott Barrett visits Harvard's Environmental Insights podcast (March 27)
"The pandemic is a reminder of just how wicked a problem climate change is because it requires collective action, public understanding and buy-in, and decarbonizing the energy mix while supporting economic growth and energy use around the world."
—Jason Bordoff writes in Foreign Policy:
Sorry, but the Virus Shows Why There Won’t Be Global Action on Climate Change (March 27)
“The world has achieved great things in the past by working together—an example from the realm of infectious diseases being the eradication of smallpox. This effort succeeded because, when each country was assured that other countries would play their part, each had a strong incentive to play its part.”
—Scott Barrett comments to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory:
What Can We Learn from COVID-19 to Help with Climate Change? (March 26)
How will the global economy survive Covid-19?
"Two of the major issues in the economic management of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis are how to guarantee financing for emerging and developing countries, and how to manage their outstanding debts. The magnitude of the challenge is immense."
José Antonio Ocampo writes for the Brookings Institution:
Financing and debt management for emerging market economies (May 26)
• See also: Ocampo visits the ILAS podcast to discuss "The Economic Consequences of COVID19 in Latin America," which has become the new epicenter of the pandemic (June 2)
"Governing from the center can be harder, but it has never been so important."
Mauricio Cárdenas writes in Americas Quarterly:
Latin America Needs to Protect Itself From the Virus of Populism (May 21)
Joseph Stiglitz discusses lessons from past economic crises and how they apply to the economic fallout of COVID-19:
The Logic / 'Big Tech' podcast (audio, May 21)
• See also: The U.S. needs a vision for post-coronavirus economy (MSNBC video, May 19)
• See also: On COVID-19 and Tomorrow's Economy (KPFA radio, May 18)
"Unless people are confident about their safety in the midst of the pandemic, they will not resume normal life."
Jeff Sachs writes for CNN Opinion:
We're already in a Great Depression (May 18)
“The lesson from the Great Recession is that when crisis strikes, even the quickest legislative response tends to be too slow and that needs tend to linger, while the environment for putting together policy solutions gets more challenging.”
Jacob Lew comments to the New York Times:
Economists Want to Put Stimulus on Autopilot. Congress Has Other Ideas. (May 15)
How should we think about the tension between opening the economy back up and preserving public health? Jeff Sachs discusses in this online seminar from 'Big Think.'
Coronavirus: The economics of contagious disease (video, May 14)
U.S. Economic Fallout and Policy Responses to COVID-19
This SIPA webinar features SIPA professors Jacob Lew and Patricia Mosser and Columbia Business School professor (and former dean) Glenn Hubbard in conversation with Dean Merit E. Janow of SIPA. (video, May 1)
U.S.-China Economic Relations and COVID-19: What's Next?
Shang-Jin Wei speaks with Neil Irwin of the New York Times in this program from Columbia Business School's Chazen Institute (video, April 28)
"The crisis highlights [North Korea’s] financial weakness, which stems from its decades-long self-imposed isolation and more recent international sanctions."
—Thomas Byrne writes at Foreign Policy:
The Coronavirus Has Pushed North Korea’s Economy to the Edge (April 27)
The weakness of multilateral cooperation was remarkably evident in the meetings of the G-20 and the Bretton Woods institutions last week in Washington, D.C. In fact, weak international cooperation is in sharp contrast with the ambitious domestic policies that some developed countries—notably the United States—has put in place. The great losers will be emerging and developing countries, for which cooperation is minimal.
—José Antonio Ocampo comments on The Weakness of Economic Multilateralism (April 24)
“Whether you call it a technical recession in the sense of two quarters, we are in a deep, deep downturn.”
—Joseph Stiglitz comments for CNBC:
U.S. economy is in a ‘medically induced coma,’ but that doesn’t mean we’re heading into a depression just yet (April 22)
“If you leave it to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell we will have a Great Depression. If we had the right policy structure in place we could avoid it easily.”
—Joseph Stiglitz criticizes the inadequacy of America's safety net in remarks to the Guardian:
U.S. coronavirus response is like 'third world' country (April 22)
"The current crisis will only last till a vaccine becomes available. We must think beyond that."
Arvind Panagariya comments to Press Trust of India (PTI):
Time for India to think long-term during COVID-19 crisis (April 21)
“Personally, what I would do is, obviously spend what you need for food, for shelter, but you save as much as one can for a rainy day,”
—Joseph Stiglitz speaks to WCBS NewsRadio 880:
How Should Americans Spend Their Stimulus Checks? (April 20)
“We built an economy with no shock absorbers,” said Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-winning economist. “We made a system that looked like it was maximizing profits but had higher risks and lower resiliency.”
—Joseph Stiglitz comments to the New York Times:
Straggling in a Good Economy, and Now Struggling in a Crisis (April 16)
Jeffrey Sachs joins a roundtable (convened by Sen. Bernie Sanders) on how the economy can better serve working families in the United States once the pandemic has passed.
The Future of Our Economy (video, April 15)
"The crisis requires prompt and decisive action, but policy responses in our region [Latin America] have been uneven."
—Americas Quarterly features commentary by Mauricio Cárdenas, joining a group of former Latin American presidents, former officials, and distinguished scholars:
A Roadmap for Confronting COVID-19 in Latin America (April 15)
"The economic system we construct after this pandemic will have to be less shortsighted, more resilient, and more sensitive to the fact that economic globalization has far outpaced political globalization."
—Joseph Stiglitz writes in Foreign Policy:
How the Economy Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic (April 15)
"We call on the governors of the IMF and World Bank to mount a bold emergency response to stem the crisis in the developing world in order steer their economies toward the SDGs."
—José Antonio Ocampo et al. write at the UN:
Calibrating the COVID-19 Crisis Response to the SDGs (April 14)
Arvind Panagariya and Pravin Krishna discuss "Economic Policy in the Age of Coronavirus":
Transforming India podcast, Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies (audio, April 13)
"Both developed and developing countries urgently need large-scale counter-cyclical funding to help maintain economic activity, and especially jobs. And one of the key instruments that most governments and the international community have to help achieve this are development banks."
—José Antonio Ocampo et al. write for Project Syndicate:
Mobilizing Development Banks to Fight COVID-19 (April 8)
"In the world’s advanced economies, compassion should be sufficient motivation to support a multilateral response. But global action is also a matter of self-interest. As long as the pandemic is still raging anywhere, it will pose a threat – both epidemiological and economic – everywhere."
—Joseph Stiglitz writes at Project Syndicate:
Internationalizing the Crisis (April 6)
"It's urgent for every nation, indeed every community, to step up the rapid isolation of symptomatic individuals to save millions of lives and to make it possible to restart the economy as quickly as possible without setting off a new explosion of disease."
—Jeffrey Sachs writes for CNN Opinion:
This is how we conquer Covid-19 (April 6)
"Across the country, service workers in retail and delivery jobs are staging protests, organizing sickouts and even walking off their jobs. At any other moment, this kind of risky collective action among precariously employed, nonunion and low-wage workers would be surprising. But it is even more astounding in the middle of a pandemic with a skyrocketing unemployment rate."
—Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Suresh Naidu, et al. write in the Washington Post:
Facing covid-19, low-wage service workers are striking across the country. Here’s why — and why it matters. (April 6)
"I’m optimistic about the impacts in the longer term. We just need to make sure that the necessary recession is as short as possible through public health response and that the unnecessary recession in the aftermath won’t happen, by freezing and preserving as much of the economic fabric as we can right now."
—Wojciech Kopczuk writes at Pro-Market (University of Chicago/Stigler Center blog):
Why We Can Be Optimistic About the Long-Term Impact of the “Covid Economy” (April 3)
India, too, is in the middle of this calamity. An extraordinary challenge requires an extraordinary response.
—Arvind Panagariya writes for India's Economic Times:
How India can rise to the Covid challenge (March 31)
Joseph Stiglitz joins Glenn Hubbard to discuss the Impact of Covid-19 on the Economy
Columbia Business School (video, March 26)
Jeffrey Sachs shares ideas on How To Avert Economic Catastrophe
NPR (March 24)
"Always hidden behind the scenes is a statement about prioritization. It’s very clear if we were attacked in a war, we would find the money. This is a kind of war."
—Joseph Stiglitz gives an interview to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
What a Nobel Prize-winning economist advises to ease the economic fallout of the coronavirus (March 23)
"The crisis also offers governments a rare chance to undertake policy changes that not only address the short-term public-health challenge, but also boost the global economy’s long-term growth potential."
—Shang-Jin Wei writes for Project Syndicate:
Beating Covid-19 and the Economic Pandemic (March 23)
“A lot of people really are anxious…. We need to give them the assurance that as long as this lasts, there'll be a check coming.”
—Joseph Stiglitz is featured on CBS Sunday Morning
The economic fallout of coronavirus (video, March 22)
"In our libertarian times, the first thought of politicians is to send money to individuals, instead of sending money to the city and state governments on the front line of the epidemic."
Congress should immediately give $100 billion to cities and states to fight coronavirus (March 19)
—Jeffrey Sachs writes for CNN Opinion (March 19)
"In the wake of a major global crisis—whether a financial crisis or a pandemic—the United States must join with other major countries and international organizations to implement coordinated actions to revive the world economy."
—Jong-Wha Lee speaks with SIPA News:
Q&A: On Coronavirus and Markets, Responding to Financial Crises, and More (March 12)
Geopolitical implications of Covid-19
In an essay for the Social Science Research Council, Victoria Murillo considers the immediate consequences for democratic governance in Latin America:
Elections and Protests in Latin America: Covid-19’s Impact (May 28)
"The global pandemic of COVID-19 has shown itself to pose a simultaneous, existential threat to all nations. It is whimsical to argue that states should not use their intelligence services to mitigate its dangers."
Jason Healey and Virpratap Vikram Singh MIA '20 write for the Council on Foreign Relations:
Using COVID-19 to Double Down on Cyber Norms (May 21)
U.S. and China Relations in the Era of COVID-19
This SIPA webinar features SIPA professors Thomas Christensen and Shang-Jin Wei, joined by Benjamin L. Liebman of Columbia Law School and Roberta Lipson of New Frontier Health, in conversation with Dean Merit E. Janow of SIPA (video, May 18)
"The finger pointing and politically driven accusations between the worlds’ two leading powers... might have catastrophic results, particularly when the virus spreads to the world’s most impoverished nations."
SIPA's Thomas Christensen examines U.S.-China relations against the backdrop of COVID-19 in a paper for the Brookings Institution.
A Modern Tragedy? Covid-19 and U.S.-China Relations (May 2020)
• See also: W.H.O. Members Reject Trump’s Demands but Agree to Study Its Virus Response (Christensen comments to New York Times, May 19)
COVID-19 is a harbinger of a security landscape marked by nontraditional threats that will exacerbate existing security dilemmas.
—Anca Agachi MIA '19 writes in Defense One:
The Miner’s Canary: COVID-19 and the Rise of Non-Traditional Security Threats (May 16)
"Chinese government attempts to evade accountability for aggravating the worldwide pandemic have placed new challenges on the international system, both to treat disease and deal with deliberate disinformation from Beijing."
—JD Work writes for the Council of Foreign Relations:
Questioning China’s Politicization of Cyber Intelligence During Pandemic (April 20)
Victoria Murillo and Dr. Silvia S. Martens of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health discuss Covid-19 and Latin America:
Unpacking Latin America podcast (audio, April 2)
"There is a growing element of great-power competition mixed into the crisis."
—Wonny Kim MIA ’20 writes for Modern War Institute:
Covid-19, Communications, and Competition: We’re Doing It Wrong (March 26)
"The Defense Department has a role to play in defending the healthcare system against cyber attacks."
—JD Work writes in War on the Rocks:
Paging a Joint Task Force: Cyber Defense of Pandemic Medical Infrastructure (March 24)
"Experts are concerned that [Mexico’s] health system could quickly be overwhelmed if the virus spreads as expected."
—Nathaniel Parish Flannery MIA ’13 writes in Americas Quarterly:
Is Mexico Prepared to Confront Coronavirus? (March 17)
"I am sure that well-functioning governments will end up doing better because this epidemic requires strong and effective governments and implementation."
—Jeffrey Sachs comments to CNN:
During a pandemic, what does being the world's happiest country mean? (March 20)
Consequences for energy
SIPA's Center on Global Energy Policy continues to collect its work on the energy consequences of Covid-19—on issues ranging from markets to geopolitics to addressing climate change—as policy makers, companies, academics, and the public struggle to navigate this unprecedented crisis. See the full suite of comments here.
"As cities across the world are shifting from emergency response to recovery and policy planning, people are understandably focused on reviving macroeconomic activity and putting people back to work in a safe way. But we cannot afford to ignore the lessons over the past few months."
Hollie Russon Gilman and Daria Schitrit MIA '21 write for Next City:
There Will Be No Real Pandemic Recovery Without Paid Sick Leave (May 15)
"Our state and local government leaders are starting to understand that by working together they can resist potentially haphazard federal efforts to force the country to reopen, while safely steering us out of this crisis in a measured way."
—Michael Nutter writes in Newsweek:
Trump Isn't Coming to the Rescue. Governors and Mayors Must Work Together to Save Lives (April 21)
"The only way to have a viable economy and society is to control this epidemic. So it’s not really a trade-off.... The real issue is to be effective in the response, and unfortunately the United States has not been effective so far."
—Jeffrey Sachs speaks with the New Yorker's Isaac Chotiner:
On the Catastrophic American Response to the Coronavirus (April 21)
President Trump’s decision to withhold W.H.O. funding is like defunding a fire department in the middle of a fire.
—Joseph Stiglitz speaks to Bloomberg Surveillance (audio, April 15)
"The urgent and practical goal should be to fix the federal response before possibly hundreds of thousands of lives are lost."
—Jeffrey Sachs writes at CNN Opinion:
Trump's disastrous response to Covid-19 demands investigation (April 15)
"We need to learn how to work together again as an American community."
—Steven Cohen writes for the Earth Institute's State of the Planet blog:
Mass Testing for the Coronavirus and the Crisis of Public Management (April 13)
"The disparity between East Asian and Western countries’ public-health and economic outcomes reflects three key differences between the regions."
—Jeffrey Sachs writes at Project Syndicate:
The East-West Divide in COVID-19 Control (April 8)
“I do think that the federal government's ability to respond is going to be taxed by this disease. If you add to the normal catastrophes that are already taking place… the federal government is having difficulty.”
—Steven Cohen comments to the Indianapolis Star:
The one-two punch of coronavirus and climate change could be a disaster waiting to happen (April 5)
William B. Eimicke discusses Public Management in Times of Severe Stress: Lessons to date from the COVID-19 response
Columbia Global Centers | Rio (video, April 2)
"The crisis that confronts us now requires technical, organizational, logistical, financial and scientific competence. American society has the resources it needs if it can find the political will and leadership to deploy it."
—Steven Cohen writes in State of the Planet: Covid-19 Requires A Competent, Professional Federal Government (March 30)
"The focus should be seriously on stopping the spread of the disease, keeping people protected, helping the health workers, and especially helping the mayors and the governors around this country who are on the frontline.... But Congress went off on some kind of a mind-boggling economic excursion of $2 trillion rather than focusing on the epidemic."
—Jeffrey Sachs, interview with Democracy Now!: Trump “Understands Nothing, Listens to Nothing” as Pandemic Surges in U.S. (March 26)
"Critics will say [suspending sanctions] would only reward Iranian bad behavior and bail out a regime that bears responsibility for the tragedy affecting its country. The alternative, however, could be a far greater tragedy that affects us all."
—Ariane M. Tabatabai writes in the Washington Post: Trump must ease sanctions against Iran or face a humanitarian catastrophe (March 25)
"It’s been so many years that we have lost this basic idea of the public good and the idea of government for the public good, which is an absolutely fundamental and correct idea."
—Jeffrey Sachs, interview with the Intercept:
Capitalism Versus the Coronavirus (March 12)
Leading the way, lending a hand
Samantha Casolari MIA '05 is among the organizers of Pictures For Elmhurst, an effort to raise money for NYC's Elmhurst Hospital through the sale of photographic prints.
Visit picturesforelmhurst.com (through April 20 only)
Founded by Anita Koul MPA '16, the startup Kufukaa supports artisans in isolated and war-torn regions. You can now donate one protective face mask to someone in need when purchasing another. Visit kufukaa.com for more info. (April 14)
Professor Ester Fuchs and USP students helped launch CovidWatcher, a project led by CUIMC to collect information that will aid NYC communities in addressing health concerns now and support recovery efforts after the current pandemic subsides.
SIPA News (April 12)
• See also: Q&A: Andrea Greenstein MPA ’20 is one of the students in SIPA’s Urban and Social Policy concentration who contributed to this effort.
Cristina Shapiro MIA '04, incoming president of Unicef USA's Impact Fund for Children and Bridge Fund, explains why social impact investing is more important than ever:
Unicef USA (March 30)
Shruti Kedia MPA ’21 and a group of volunteers have helped feed 3,300:
SIPA Student Assists Migrant Workers Affected By India's Lockdown (SIPA News, March 3)
Alan Ching-Tsung Wei MPA-DP ’19 and Chingyu Yao MIA ’03 are part of New Taipei City’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19:
SIPA Alumni In Taiwan Staff Front Line In Coronavirus Fight (SIPA News, March 23)
A far-reaching challenge with varied facets
"Some issues in today's global health crisis are all too familiar. Here are eight takeaways from our 25 years of reporting."
Jessica Alexander MIA '05, Sarah Alshawish MIA '21, and Hannah Stoddard MPA-DP '21 find lessons in New Humanitarian's coverage of pandemics and epidemics:
Look back and learn: How past pandemics and epidemics inform COVID-19 response (June 3)
Gender, Politics and Work: The Pandemic and Inequalities?
SIPA's Yasmine Ergas joined a webinar hosted by Columbia Global Centers | Rio de Janeiro (May 27)
Gendered Dimensions of the Pandemic: Implications of COVID-19
Led by Yasmine Ergas, director of SIPA’s specialization in Gender and Public Policy, participants in this online seminar focused on two issues: governance, civil liberties, and gender rights; and the socioeconomic impacts of both the pandemic and the policies implemented in response to its development. (May 26)
"Every day we awaken and the challenges and work that existed before this pandemic have not magically disappeared."
Steven Cohen writes at State of the Planet:
Moving Forward Is the Only Option (May 26, 2020)
From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, many countries in Africa pursued public-health measures more aggressively than the U.S. and Europe did.
Jina Moore MIA '08 writes in the New Yorker:
What African Nations Are Teaching the West about Fighting the Coronavirus (May 15)
"With the important exception of NO2, China's air quality improvements in 2020 are smaller than we should expect near the pandemic's epicenter: Hubei province."
—Douglas Almond, Xinming Du, and Shuang Zhang have prepared a new working paper for SIPA's Center for Environmental Economics and Policy:
"Did COVID-19 Improve Air Quality Near Hubei?" (April 2020)
The Covid-19 pandemic serves as a backdrop and a common thread to help illustrate the points made by Joanna D. Massey in her new book about communicating and influencing others during a crisis:
Communicating During a Crisis:Influencing Others When the Stakes Are High (April 23)
"In order to facilitate the density needed for dynamic cities built with renewable, circular economies, people must feel free from the threat of pandemics."
—Steven Cohen writes for the Earth Institute's State of the Planet:
Social Distance, Sustainable Cities and Building Public Health Capacity (April 20)
“The truth is that the only thing in charge of the census right now is the virus.”
—Kenneth Prewitt comments to the New York Times on challenges facing the 2020 U.S. Census:
After Virus Delays, Census Must Scramble to Avoid Undercount (April 18)
“In parts of the world that are used to higher degrees of uncertainty and higher degrees of suffering, they've already figured out that they don’t have control over most things,”
—Dipali Mukhopadhyay speaks to the New York Times Interpreter:
Enduring Our Unendurable New Normal (April 16)
• See also: What Will Our New Normal Feel Like? Hints Are Beginning to Emerge (April 21)
The loss of health insurance "isn't something workers should have to worry about during a public health crisis, and it highlights a more fundamental weakness in our system."
—Sandra Black comments to Al-Jazeera:
Coronavirus is gutting US car sales, and autoworkers are worried (April 7)
"Over-dependence on tourism will lengthen the time that [Antigua and Barbuda's] economy will take to recover."
—George-Ann Ryan MPA '20 writes in the Daily Observer:
Coronavirus and our economy’s pre-existing conditions (April 6)
Eat Offbeat founder & CEO Manal Kahi MPA '15, in conversation w/ Management specialization director Sarah Holloway MPA '03:
Managing in Crisis: How One Entrepreneur Pivoted to Save Her Young Company During Covid-19 (video, April 3)
"The World War II analogy... highlights often-overlooked challenges of organization and politics that can radically slow mobilization and create long-term problems from short-term fixes."
—Stephen Biddle (with Tami Davis Biddle) writes for War on the Rocks:
Wartime Lessons for Industrial Mobilization in a Time of Pandemic (April 3)
"There are sure to be many studies about this pandemic. Some will be accurate, some will be partisan, and the average reader will have a difficult time distinguishing."
—John Mutter speaks with the Atlantic:
The Interminable Body Count (April 1)
• See also: What if a natural disaster strikes during a pandemic? John Mutter writes at Temblor.net (April 1)
Jeffrey Sachs tells Greece's Ekathimerini:
“The key right now is to fight the epidemic.” (March 27)
"The black swan, only visible in hindsight, is a convenient narrative. [But] it is just as false today as it was" in 2008.
—Michele Wucker MIA '93 writes in the Washington Post online:
No, the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t an ‘unforeseen problem’ (March 17)
Now is not the time to shift the ground beneath organizations that disseminate accurate health information and connect affected communities with public resources.
—Peter Micek comments to Reuters:
Coronavirus pandemic sparks calls to delay sale of .org domain (March 17)
On the brighter side
"A month or so before graduating... I am leaving Columbia University with a very enlarged family. I leave knowing that I experienced this emergency with amazing humans that have shown the best of their hearts and minds and from whom I learned not only of global politics and policy but of kindness, warmth, and human values."
—Alejandro Bonil Vaca MPA ’20 writes for SIPA's admissions blog:
A Day in the Life of a Humanitarian Policy student
PANDEMONIUM U offers free, live, online classes for kids (and grown-ups) taught by world-class but housebound experts in their fields.
—launched by journalist and author Pamela Druckerman MIA ’98:
Stuck Inside? Why Not Learn to Make Pain Au Lait? (April 6)
"In a difficult and scary time, I keep seeing people stepping up and showing the best of themselves. Students seem eager to learn and teachers want to teach."
Steven Cohen writes at State of the Planet:
Education During a Global Pandemic (April 6)