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UW Madison economists explain how COVID-19 will continue to impact the economy

MADISON, Wis (WXOW) - University of Wisconsin-Madison economists discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on both the U.S. and Wisconsin economies

The discussion was part of a weekly live stream event, UW Now.

Hosted by Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association president and CEO Mike Knetter, it highlighted the depth of the current economic recession. UW-Madison economics professor Noah Williams pointed out the fact that despite focused efforts to keep businesses open, both the U.S. and Wisconsin economy are still down. “We are probably two-thirds of the way back, but still nowhere near where we were”, said Williams.

Ananth Seshadri, chair of the UW’s economics department agreed, noting the major concerns this raises for small businesses in particular, whose revenues have plateaued at a level that’s about 25 percent less than what it was pre-pandemic.

Both guests stressed the close relationship between health and the economy, as economic activity has largely followed swings in virus activity throughout the pandemic. Williams recognizes this relationship and encourages citizens not to view the situation as a choice between promoting economic recovery and preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Moving forward, Williams and Seshadri believe that if the correct health measures are put in place, the U.S. can control the pandemic while also saving the economy. Williams was particularly shocked by the country’s initial response to the pandemic, saying, “America is a country that spends about 17 percent of GDP on health. It’s just pretty stunning that we underspent and allocated far fewer funds than would have been optimal or efficient on testing or contact tracing or things of that nature.”

Those interested in learning more from Williams and Seshadri, watch the recording of the UW Now session. In addition, Williams and Seshadri will be sharing their thoughts on the 2020 election in the next live stream on November 17.

UW Now plans to continue these sessions on Youtube.

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Grace Gilles

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