Angus Armstrong's picture
Affiliation: 
National Institute of Economic and Social Research
Credentials: 
Director of Macroeconomic Research
Visiting Professor, Imperial College London

Voting history

Lockdowns and UK Economic Performance

Question 3: Using not only the policy tools that have been part of the UK policy mix thus far but also policy tools implemented in other countries, to what extent does the government face a tradeoff between saving lives and preserving livelihoods? 

Answer:
No tradeoff at all
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
Citizens have to feel safe to interact for the economy to recover. This means keeping R at or below 1 on an ongoing basis. Lockdowns are necessary because other measures to limit interaction have failed (like test track and isolate). So I see health and economic activity as complements not substitutes. All this said, many of the policies could have been much more imaginative e.g. tailored for those and places most likely to suffer.

Question 2: How much will the new lockdown measures introduced on Thursday November 5 hurt UK economic activity this year relative to a counterfactual with the milder measures adopted over the summer?

Answer:
The economy will benefit from lockdown
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
The economy will contract in Q4 by 4 to 6% but, IF well managed thereafter, the R rate can be kept 1 or below while the vaccination programme is deployed. If there was no lockdown and R at 1.5 or above this would greatly complicated delivering the vaccination programme. it is only when citizens FEEL safe will the economy really recover.

Question 1: How much of the decline in GDP experienced to date would have been avoided in the absence of any lockdown measures or other policy interventions (such as fiscal support)?

Answer:
GDP would have been lower absent lockdowns
Confidence level:
Very confident
Comment:
While there would have been voluntary lockdowns (a lot of activities had already closed) without the official lockdown, the reproduction and infection rate would be higher and hence later voluntary interruption to economic activity even greater. Without policy interventions (especially the CJRS) unemployment would have been much higher judging by the 9.6 million furloughed jobs since the crisis, meaning much weaker income and spending possibly leading to a secondary financial problem. The Treasury deserve real credit for acting fast and on scale once the emergency was recognised.

The Economic Cost of School Closures

Question 3: To what extent will school closures increase gender inequality due to unequal gender distribution of the burden of school closures?

Answer:
No opinion
Confidence level:
Not confident

Question 2: To what extent will school closures increase inequality in human capital development?

Answer:
By a large amount and persistently
Confidence level:
Confident
Comment:
Inequalities at an early age cast the longest shadow because of cumulative consequences ('we learn to read then read to learn'). This will interact with the additional burden being on those in low skilled work and the lack of resources at home. The effects are likely to be most severe for those just starting school.

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