An MIT Alumni Association Publication

The Economics of Covid-19: A Nobel Laureate Shares His Research

  • Nicole Estvanik Taylor
  • Slice of MIT

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In August, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz PhD ’66 met online with MIT alumni to share his research on the economics of Covid-19.

In this recording of an Alumni Association Faculty Forum Online webinar, Stiglitz observes that what began as a health crisis has become an economic crisis rife with uncertainties, “both about the disease and about the economic aftermath of the disease. And much of that economic aftermath will depend on the policies that we pursue.” After outlining factors that have exacerbated the current crisis in the United States, Stiglitz turns to the question of whats next—“a vision of a post-pandemic economy and society.”

The 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, Stiglitz was also a lead author of the 1995 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. A University Professor at Columbia, he is the author of People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent (2019). In one response during the audience Q&A, Stiglitz notes wryly that were he writing that book now, Covid-19 would supply him with “examples I would use in almost every chapter.” Moderated by MIT Economics faculty member Glenn Ellison PhD ’92, the Q&A also surfaced alumni questions including how to understand the current strength of the stock market and what shape an economic recovery is likely to take.

We have learned a lot about the importance of social cohesion, trust, the role of science….the weaknesses associated with inequality, lack of resilience,” Stiglitz says in closing. “I think if we take on board the lessons that the pandemic has provided, we will emerge with a stronger economy.” He adds that Covid-19’s lessons about global interdependence are also critical in facing the risks of future viruses and the challenges of climate change: “Whatever our disagreements, we have to work together to make sure we manage these risks.”

Watch the recording above, then revisit more archived Faculty Forum Online webinars and register for upcoming MIT Alumni Association virtual programming.

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