I can be wrong 11/21
Revisiting a blog post from early in the pandemic
I think that this makes it unlikely that President Trump will suffer a political setback because of the coronavirus. Closing the border is his signature issue, and the Democrats have staked out a position as the “resistance” to that. I know that they think they can benefit from this crisis, but I would be surprised if they do.
That turned out to be wrong. But in that same post I also wrote,
I would suggest that instead of monitoring the Fed, one should watch the transportation hubs–especially ports–and manufacturing centers. To the extent that the attempts to contain the virus cause those places to be shut down, patterns of specialization and trade will be broken, and there won’t be anything that the Fed can do about it.
That was not wrong.
The critical thing about the coronavirus is that it allowed Dem govs and pressure groups to use lawfare to change election rules. All the same, Trump fumbled the response in that he should have stuck with the just the flu line, closed our borders, and offered incentives for the vulnerable (mostly elderly and/or obese people) to quarantine, while pushing hard on the vaccine as he did (but then Pfizer arranged not to announce the good news until after the election).
I've still seen no good proof the virus is not a net benefit to society, mod our costly economic interventions. If we let it rip it would burn off the dry timber that costs a ton in healthcare, while claiming only modest quality life years lost relative to the counterfactual no virus world. Trump's initial "just the flu" instinct was thus dead on target, but he got bad advice from the moron advisers he hired as usual.
Everyone got Covid wrong, but some were more wrong than others. First and foremost, the claims of exponential spread proved to be disastrouly, albeit fortunately wrong. No prediction was more wrong or more ruinous to pandemic policy.
That Trump bought into these hyperbolic Covid models proved to be his Waterloo. Not only did Covid fear rationalize destroying election integrity, but it drove Trump to empower Fauci to crush the economy.
Personally, I was right that the Covid models were wrong and that Trump choosing to extend "2 weeks to flatten the curve" greatly jeopardized his reelection.
What I got wrong: I failed to appreciate how much existing law and the 2020 CARES act created adverse incentives that amplified the pandemic pain and distorted economic priorities.