Insights from top economists to help you navigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Hosts Tess Vigeland and Eduardo Porter talk to University of Chicago economists about their research, revealing important new ways to make sense of this moment. Economics is at the heart of crucial decisions about how we confront the COVID-19 crisis. Topics range from global trade to the changing meaning of work. Pandemic Economics is produced by the Becker Friedman Institute and Stitcher and is part of the University of Chicago podcast network. Production and original music in this series is by Story Mechanics.


Latest Episodes

Podcast episode Jul 2, 2020

Episode 12: The Virus is the Boss

Is government policy driving consumer behavior or fear of infection? Austan Goolsbee and Chad Syverson share new research exploring this question, and why it matters for economic policy design....
Podcast episode Jun 25, 2020

Episode 11: The Lopsided Recession

The current recession is not only unprecedented in its nature and scope, but also in its effects on industries, workers, and households. Veronica Guerrieri and Erik Hurst describe the...
Podcast episode Jun 18, 2020

Episode 10: Meet the COVID-19 Consumer

Consumer spending is one of the most important indicators of economic health. In this episode, Michael Weber and Constantine Yannelis share research insights on the effect of pandemic and...
Podcast episode Jun 11, 2020

Episode 9: Could the Fed’s Rescue Go Awry?

Central banks are playing a critical, yet little discussed, role in limiting the economic damage of COVID-19. In this episode, Chicago Booth professor and former Governor of the Reserve...
Podcast episode Jun 9, 2020

Episode 8: Rethinking the Jobless Benefits Boost

Under the CARES Act, two-thirds of eligible unemployed Americans can access unemployment insurance exceeding their prior earnings. Peter Ganong and Joseph Vavra discuss what this fact means for the...
Podcast episode May 28, 2020

Episode 7: Learning from South Korea’s Success

South Korea detected its first case of COVID-19 one day before the US, but rather than initiate lockdowns, it launched a program that shares location information on COVID-19 patients. Chang-Tai Hsieh discusses how South Korea limited COVID-19 deaths to 5.2 per million while the US rate climbed to 289 per million, and what it may reveal about the cost of privacy.
Podcast episode May 21, 2020

Episode 6: Superspreaders

Does visiting a bookstore put you at greater risk for infection than a fast-food restaurant? As states loosen lockdown restrictions on businesses, Katherine Baicker and Oeindrila Dube have developed a measure of which businesses pose the greatest risk for spreading disease based on factors like crowding, length of stay, and potential for touch contact.
Podcast episode May 14, 2020

Episode 5: Jobs Lost and the Child Care Conundrum

Since March, 22% of American workers lost their jobs. How can we begin to think about such unprecedented labor market deterioration? Erik Hurst studied who has stopped receiving a paycheck, and provides context to the staggering unemployment numbers. Then, Joseph Vavra shares his work on one of the most critical hurdles for parents to get back to work – childcare.
Podcast episode May 7, 2020

Episode 4: Policy Gambles?

Steve Levitt believes in the power of incentives and he has a new proposal for how to make widespread testing successful: set up a testers' lottery and give gigantic cash prizes. And, Eric Zwick takes a closer look at PPP lending to small businesses under the CARES Act and how many of these loans missed the target.
Podcast episode May 5, 2020

Episode 3: The Case for Optimism

Is there any room for optimism amid an economic shock of this magnitude? Austan Goolsbee offers insights from past economic crises and a path forward for balancing trade-offs between public health and the economy. His colleague Steve Davis explores the reallocation of jobs as a result of the current shock, and the potential long-term economic consequences.
Podcast episode Apr 30, 2020

Episode 2: Who Can Work From Home?

Many workers are able to continue working without leaving home and risking exposure. Looking at which workers have this option reveals other insights. In this episode, Brent Neiman and Simon Mongey discuss their research quantifying who can work from home and who bears the costs of social distancing policies.
Podcast episode Apr 23, 2020

Episode 1: The Value of A Life

Life is not priceless. But it’s also not cheap. Michael Greenstone describes how economics puts a value on life, and why it is so important to save as many lives as possible.
Podcast episode Apr 19, 2020

Trailer: Introducing Pandemic Economics

A new podcast helping you navigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.