National Institute Economic Review

World overview: Forecast summary

  • Increases in tariffs and uncertainty about both future tariff impositions and their potential implications for production activity have continued to have negative effects on global trade and industrial production.
  • Several central banks, facing below target inflation, have loosened monetary policy to mitigate the effects of slower economic growth and a deterioration in the prospects for trade. While we expect that further monetary loosening will occur, fiscal policy could be more effective in boosting demand.

Prospects for the UK economy: Forecast Summary

  • The economic outlook is clouded by significant economic and political uncertainty and depends critically on the United Kingdom’s trading relationships after Brexit. Domestic economic weakness is further amplified by slowing global demand.
  • We would not expect economic activity to be boosted by the approval of the government’s proposed Brexit deal. We estimate that, in the long run, the economy would be 3½ per cent smaller with the deal compared to continued EU membership.

Introduction: Economic contributions to infection control

The COVID-19 crisis has upended the lives of many, causing almost 200M global infections to date, over 4M deaths and untold damage to the livelihoods of millions. Although the recent vaccine rollout in some parts of the world offers some room for optimism, the epidemic is still far from defeated and many in the developing world are still at significant risk of infection.

The great COVID-19 vaccine rollout: Behavioural and policy responses

Using daily data on vaccinations, disease spread and measures of social interaction from Google Mobility reports aggregated at the country level for 112 countries, we present estimates of behavioural responses to the global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Group testing and social distancing

An often overlooked strategy for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is group testing. Its main advantage is that it can scale, enabling the regular testing of the whole population. We argue that another advantage is that it can induce social distancing. Using a simple model, we show that if a group tests positive and its members are in close social proximity, then they will rationally choose not to meet. The driving force is the uncertainty about who has the virus and the fact that the group cares about its collective welfare.

The statistical challenges of modelling COVID-19

In 2020–2021, the world has been gripped by a pandemic that no living person has ever known. The coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly the greatest challenge the world has faced in over a generation. The imperative of statistical modelling is not only to manage the short-run crisis for the health services, but also to explain the pandemic’s course and establish the effectiveness of different policies, both non-pharmaceutical and with vaccines.

Time series modelling of epidemics: Leading indicators, control groups and policy assessment

This article shows how new time series models can be used to track the progress of an epidemic, forecast key variables and evaluate the effects of policies. The univariate framework of Harvey and Kattuman (2020, Harvard Data Science Review, Special Issue 1—COVID-19, is extended to model the relationship between two or more series and the role of common trends is discussed.

Endogenous social distancing and containment policies in social networks

Can smart containment policies crowd out private efforts at social distancing? We analyse this question from the perspective of network formation theory. We focus in particular on the role of externalities in social distancing choices. We also look at how these choices are affected by factors such as the agents’ risk perception, the speed of the policy intervention, the structure of the underlying network and the presence of strategic complementarities.

Notes and Contributions: The new battle of ideas: How an intellectural revolution will reshape society

Britain, like many other societies within the OECD, has been facing cumulative and interdependent social, political, and economic crises which came to a head shortly before COVID. The shock of COVID has accentuated these crises, creating a state of policy flux in which all long-established intellectual frameworks have proved inadequate: across the OECD, public policy has largely abandoned them. Fortunately, across the social sciences, history and philosophy there have been important new advances by major scholars which cohere and provide a more sophisticated account of society.

Commentary: Quantitative tightening: Protecting monetary policy from fiscal encroachment

As we face up to the need to plan an eventual exit from quantitative easing (QE), in this Commentary we consider how to reform both sides of the central bank balance sheet in a manner that will prepare the ground for a contraction in the balance sheet that does not expose the central bank to excessive risk. Post-QE central bank balance sheets have a maturity mismatch, with long-term bonds as assets financed by liabilities in the form of commercial bank reserves bearing floating interest rates.