PEP experts contribute to UNDP LAC Covid-19 Policy Documents Series

May 2020

A PEP Board Member and Research Director have contributed papers to the UNDP Latin America and the Caribbean Covid-19 Policy Documents Series.

Two of PEP’s experts in Latin America have contributed articles to the United Nations Development Programme in Latin America and the Caribbean Covid-19 Policy Documents Series (UNDP LAC C19 PDS).

Dr. Santiago Levy, a member of the PEP Board of Directors, and Dr. María Laura Alzúa, PEP’s Research Director for Experimental Research authored C19 PDS No. 2 and co-authored No. 6, respectively. 

 

In Suggestions for the Emergency (C19 PDS No. 2), Dr. Levy offers recommendations for how to tackle the economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Stating that “there will be a global recession, deeper than the one experienced in 2008-2009,” and highlighting that “unprecedented times require unprecedented responses,” Dr. Levy proposes that economic policy be immediately restructured around three objectives:

  1. Minimize the human cost of the pandemic
  2. Minimize the regressive effects of the crisis with measures to protect workers’ incomes, especially low-income ones
  3. Preserve macroeconomic stability and the capacity to resume growth once the economic crisis resulting from the pandemic concludes.

Dr. Levy underlines the importance of addressing both the sanitary and economic aspects of the emergency in policymaking. He states that public spending is essential for achieving the first two objectives (for boosting health systems, cash/income transfers for workers, and business subsidies) and that countries now also face the immense challenge of how to finance this spending.

 

In Social and Economic Impact of COVID-19 and Policy Options in Argentina (C19 PDS No.6), Dr. Alzúa and Paula Gosis, an affiliated researcher at CEDLAS, describe the current state of the crisis in Argentina, including summaries of the policy responses that the Argentinian government as already implemented. The authors provide recommendations for minimizing the negative impact of the health crisis – which has severely deepened Argentina’s ongoing economic crisis – on employment and poverty.

Alzúa and Gosis discuss policy options to prevent mass bankruptcy of (small and medium) businesses and to support vulnerable households, both identified as areas needing priority action, and ways to finance these options. They highlight some social programs that are easily scalable but warn that their purchasing power will erode if inflation accelerates, which is likely if the government turns to printing money.

 

The UNDP LAC Covid-19 Policy Document Series is “an attempt to promote a collective reflection on the response to the Covid-19 health crisis and its economic and social effects on our societies”. It aims to provide timely, evidence-based solutions to guide policy responses to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

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