The Swedish COVID Way: Interview with Niclas Berggren
We talked about “the Swedish way” with professor Niclas Berggren, whose expertise is (among other things) institutional economics and economics of trust. He shares his time between Stockholm and Prague, and also feels at home in both cities, so we talked about the current situation in both countries, what enabled Sweden to choose a more liberal path and why Czech people don’t trust each other.
March of 2020 will be forever written down in history books as the starting point of worldwide social distancing, closure of bars, restaurants and many public venues. Almost no one could say that his or her life wasn’t drastically changed one way or the other. There are some exceptions, though – countries that chose a different approach and began walking on a more liberal path (namely Great Britain, the Netherlands and some others) but almost all of them change their course and introduced strict regulations, in line with the majority of countries of Europe. The “last man standing” is Sweden – Swedish restaurants and bars are in business, borders are still open for EES citizens and schools for children up to the age of 16 are open. There are very few strict prohibitions, such as a maximum of 50 people at public gatherings, closed access to upper secondary schools and universities, and no visitors allowed in elderly homes. The Swedish government mostly recommends, not prohibits.
We talked about “the Swedish way” with professor Niclas Berggren, whose expertise is (among other things) institutional economics and economics of trust. He shares his time between Stockholm and Prague, and also feels at home in both cities, so we talked about the current situation in both countries, what enabled Sweden to choose a more liberal path and why Czech people don’t trust each other.
After the coronavirus will be gone, what do you think will be the biggest difference in normal everyday life between January 2021 and January 2020?
I think the assumption that the virus is no longer considered a widespread and active threat in Europe in January 2021 is overly optimistic, especially since it is very unlikely that there is a generally available vaccine by then. Nevertheless, the date is perhaps of less importance for this question. For the time when the virus is under relatively control, I think we can speculate about differences in at least three spheres of life: the economic, the political and the personal.
Let’s start with economic life, which can perhaps in turn be divided into three areas: the macroeconomy, the corporate economy and private finances. As for macroeconomy, it is evident that during the Corona crisis, extraordinary measures have been taken, and will be taken, in almost all countries. Before the crisis, economic policy had been quite stable for a number of years, with no acute distress on the continent, basically enabling decent economic growth, fairly high employment, low inflation and manageable debt levels. There were signs of more protectionism, not least due to actions by China and the United States, but so far, effects on Europe have not been major. Will we be able to go back to such a relatively benign macroeconomic situation after the Corona crisis? I fear it will be difficult, for at least four reasons.
First, there is the risk of a ratchet effect. The economic historian Robert Higgs, among others, have shown that economic-policy measures undertaken during crises, such as wars, tend to remain in place once the crises are gone. I definitely see such a risk with the support packages that are (rightly, in my view) being implemented at present. Recipients of grants and welfare payments may resist plans to remove them, implying a longer-term increase of the size of government (including higher taxes) and of the role of government in the economy.
Second, I also fear a mental shift in the population: that once more, the government is seen as “the rescuer of last resort”, as the pillar of safety and security, as the protection against the dangers of this world. This is not without truth, of course, but if this generalizes into a general demand for a larger and more involved government, the liberal idea of limited government may become less popular than it has been for decades and less likely to characterize policy. James Buchanan, the 1986 recipient of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, wrote a perceptive article in 2005 called “Afraid to be Free: Dependency as Desideratum”, in which he posits that people turn to government as a comforting parent – they in fact do want to be dependent due to a fear of freedom.
Third, I think there is a distinct risk, once again, for high inflation, given the inflow of cash through the response of the central banks to the crisis, higher structural unemployment and, for some countries, debt problems.
Fourth, the tendency towards protectionism will probably be reinforced, as countries want to secure production of many goods and services themselves. This will reduce the potential gains from trade, which have been substantial in the post-World War II era. Much more can be said about the macroeconomy, but these are four points I think are important, and all of them quite problematic.
As for the corporate economy, I think the present crisis is quite unique in its effects. Basically sound companies face extreme hardships in many sectors, not because they cannot offer products or services that people demand “in normal times” but because of an unwillingness or inability to consume (either because of legal regulations or because of voluntary adaptations). The economic landscape will look different after the crisis is over: in spite of many types of support, a great number of companies will go bankrupt, and among those that survive, many will have incurred significant losses. Government ownership will increase, partly as a condition for support. Even though corporate support from the government is justified at the moment, there is a great risk of the dangers identified by research in political economy – e.g., that interest groups will secure favors that they might not need and which may be very hard to remove when the crisis is over. To take one example: the airline industry. Many airlines will not survive without massive government support, and perhaps even (more) government ownership. Will governments provide the support needed? Will it be spent fairly between airlines within and between countries? Will this be a long-term commitment? Similar questions can be asked for many sectors. When it comes to the service industry, which is perhaps the hardest hit, since people do not travel or go to restaurants during the crisis, the crisis has shown how vulnerable it is. Few service companies have any retained funds that can be used to handle liquidity shocks or sudden losses. On the other hand, if they manage to survive, they retain their physical capital and should be able to restart again once the crisis is over. There should be surplus labor available to fill positions.
As for personal finances, lastly, we will undoubtedly see greater inequality after the crisis between those who have retained their jobs and those who have not been able to do so (or work under furlough with reduced pay), with the latter group being exceptionally large. Still, I expect most unemployed people to be able to return to some form of employment after the crisis. On the asset side, there may be greater equality after the crisis, with lower values for stock and property.
Lastly, note that the economic effects are severe in Sweden as well: not because of a formal lockdown but because people have adapted coluntarily to a great extent. For example, mobile-phone data indicate that movements in central Stockholm have gone down by about 70% during the crisis; and similar data showed that travel out of Stockholm during Easter was 90% lower than last year.
Let’s turn to political life. This is where I am the least optimistic. I think these outcomes are quite likely: more nationalism (not only in the economic sphere); a weakening of democracy and the rule of law (since many leaders and governments will argue that they need more discretionary power to counter future threats); more conflicts between nations (not least involving China) and a weaker support for international cooperation (both the UN and the EU might experience lower support; as might free-trade organizations and agreements)
Lastly, what about personal life? I think it will be most affected for the “cosmopolitan elites”, which form a fairly large share of the population across Europe: those that tend to live in the big cities, with good finances, academic education, an openness to other countries and culture, a lot of professional and private traveling, a strong participation on global cultural life, etc. Freedom of movement will most probably be curtailed for a long time, and moving around the world will be more cumbersome and more expensive. For people who are happy in their own “small”, personal world, this is not a major change. The latter group may be worse of if international trade and supply chains limited in the future, leaving them with more local and more expensive products. But their mode of life will not be much be affected.
I think we can safely consider Sweden as European leader in “relaxed approach” towards coronavirus – Sweden government did not close bars, restaurants, etc., just events above 50 participants. What do you think are the main factors that enable this approach?
In the beginning of the crisis, it is my understanding that Sweden and the UK took a very similar approach, and perhaps also the Netherlands. As the crisis has progressed, the UK has abandoned their more relaxed approach and have gone for rather harsh regulations. I think it is fair to say that Sweden remains the most liberally regulated country at this point. Still, before turning to why this might be, let me point out some of the regulations that are in place: public gatherings must not exceed 50 people; upper secondary schools and universities have been closed; people are not allowed to visit care homes for elderly people; in restaurants and bars, which are allowed to stay open, patrons cannot stand at a bar but must be seated when drinking or eating; and people from outside the EES and Switzerland are not allowed to enter the country. I think this summarizes the formal regulations in place. In addition, the Swedish Public Health Agency offers recommendations, both regarding hygiene (but face masks are not recommended) and mobility (Swedes are urged to stay home if they experience the mildest symptoms and always if they belong to a risk group, to only to travel if it is really necessary, to work from home if possible and to only use public transport if involved in work important for society). Otherwise, people are free to do what they want within the “normal” rule of law, as are companies.
The basis for this relatively liberal regulatory approach is, I think, multifaceted. Let me mention some of what I take to be the key factors:
– Social trust: Sweden has among the highest levels of social trust in the world – about 2/3 of Swedes think that people in general can be trusted. It has been shown in research by Philippe Aghion and others that social distrust seems to lead to more regulation of economic life. The same logic may apply here: people do not demand or support regulation if they expect others to behave well towards others. The problem with this explanation is that Denmark, Finland and Norway also hive high levels of social trust, but they still chose a much harsher regulatory regime.
– Trust in government: It is not only the case that Swedes trust people in general to a high degree, they also tend to trust government and public authorities of different kinds. A recent survey indicated a relatively strong confidence both in the healthcare sector and in the Public Health Agency (in the latter case, 48% said their confidence in the authority was 4 or 5 on a five-point scale, while 24% chose a 1 or 2). There is a tradition of deferring to experts in Swedish political culture, and interestingly, the Swedish government has explicitly mentioned this as a basis for their approach: To let the Public Health Agency decide the overall character of the strategy. It has also been claimed that the Public Health Agency in Denmark had a similar view as the Swedish equivalent, but that the politicians overruled it and implemented harsher regulations. Swedish politicians have so far refrained from doing this.
– The views of the experts: The experts in charge have a particular view of COVID-19, which seems to explain their view of what strategy to pursue. It is a matter of public debate in Sweden what this view is, exactly, since the experts have not been very transparent about the details. The clearest statement I have seen is given by the former State Epidemiologist Professor Johan Giesecke in a recent YouTube interview. Some features of this view seems to be: the idea that many are or will become infected no matter what policy is pursued – the chosen policy mostly (perhaps even exclusively) affects the timing of infections; that the death rate is relatively low; that the key task is to protect the risk groups (the old and those with certain medical conditions) but to not interfere otherwise, beyond some basic regulations and recommendations, in people’s lives (it may, in fact, be a welcome thing if many who are not part of a risk group get infected and thereby immune); a constraint is hospital capacity, which must be taken into account. If this is the view of the government experts, and if the government and people in general defer to the experts, then the Swedish policy approach makes sense. However, there is a vocal minority in Sweden who oppose the Swedish approach, and they claim that the Swedish government experts do not understand the pandemic and what to do to combat it correctly and that other experts – certain Swedish researchers and doctors, as well as foreign experts – take a different view. So far, the government has resisted this critique and have let the government experts rule.
– One factor that is sometimes mentioned is that Sweden has not been at war since the early 1800s, and that we therefore have a hard to understanding important threats to national security and safety. There may be some truth to this, but I doubt it is a major factor.
– Yet another factor, stressed by a retired judge, is that Sweden offers weak legislative options for harsh regulations. For example, there is no legal way, according to Swedish law, to declare a national emergency unless the country is at war. I think there is something to this argument, but on the other hand, the factors above may also explain why the law looks this way.
I always considered Scandinavian countries somewhat similar regarding socioeconomic factors and behavior (people “keeping their distance”) etc. Why do you think the Finnish or Danish government has not implemented the similar policies as Sweden or vice versa?
I must admit this is puzzling to me as well. As I mentioned in my answer to question 2, about social trust, it is about as high in Denmark, Finland and Norway; and generally, the cultures are similar, as are the welfare-state arrangements. One might compare Czechia and Slovakia in a similar way. As I also mentioned above, there are rumors that the Danish politicians took an active decision to override the Public Health Agency and go for harsher measures, which implies that the explanation may be differences in political culture. Might Danish (and perhaps Finnish and Norwegian) politicians feel that in order to retain popularity, they need to be seen as doing something? Perhaps Swedish voters do not require that of its government: Here, “respecting the experts” might be a popular policy. (Indeed, the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has become much more popular, and his Social Democratic Party much larger, during the crises, in line with a common pattern in many countries). I admit this is mere speculation: I hope there will be future research in the social sciences on how these intra-Nordic policy differences can be explained.
Swedish Minister for Health mentioned that one of the main arguments for the relaxed approach was not herd immunity – the main reason (according to epidemiologist Anders Tegnell) was danger of rapid increase of coronavirus cases after the restrictions would be lifted. Why do you think more countries did not follow this argument?
Yes, this is in line with how I understand the view of the Swedish government experts (see my reply to question 2 about the views of the experts). The government defers to these experts at the Public Health Agency. They do not want to say that herd immunity is a goal or that this is a conscious part of the strategy – rather, they say it is a byproduct of the strategy. My understanding is that they think that even though Sweden may experience more deaths than countries with harsher regulations now, these latter countries will experience more deaths later, when the virus returns in new waves and when these countries have liberalized their regulations. The virus cannot be avoided other than through immunity from having been infected or from a vaccine. The former State Epidemiologist Johan Giesecke likened the virus to a tsunami. One cannot hide from it except temporarily. Why is this argument not accepted elsewhere? I think the famous reports from Imperial College London have been important, certainly for the shift in UK policy, as it predicted a very much larger number of deaths in an unregulated setting, and fewer deaths the stronger the regulations. Not least, their figures showed that lack of hospital capacity would be a key explanation of this outcome. (So far, hospital capacity has not been fully utilized in Sweden, due to a very quick expansion of intensive-care units.) The Swedish experts think there are problems with certain key assumptions in the modeling of the English scientists; but others seem to accept their calculations more readily.
As I made some brief research for this interview, I saw pretty polarizing messages in Czech media – on one hand I read articles about “impending disaster”, on the other hand I read about “smart liberal Swedish way”. Where is your position in this?
My own position is quite atypical. The same polarization that you describe in Czech media exists within Sweden: most people seem to either support the Swedish “liberal” strategy wholeheartedly (many of them express pride that we can handle the crisis through voluntary behavioral changes) or to oppose it aggressively. I saw a poll, indicating that 60% of the population support the present strategy and 40% oppose it. A number of scientists also oppose it, and they are quite vocal. But I am puzzled by the strong feelings in the ongoing debate about which approach to pursue. Many appear to think they know with absolute certainty (or something close to it) that the one or the other approach is better (at achieving the same goal: minimizing the amount of human suffering) and aggressively criticize those who take another or less convinced position. My view at present is that we do not know with any great certainty which approach is better; that it is therefore in the long-term interest of mankind to „experiment“ by applying both approaches in order to be able to evaluate, at some point, which works best; and that it would be wise to display less aggression towards those who advocate a different approach. This aggression makes me think of this Bertrand Russell quote:
“When there are rational grounds for an opinion, people are content to set them forth and wait for them to operate. In such cases, people do not hold their opinions with passion; they hold them calmly, and set forth their reasons quietly. The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.”
Thus, I am glad that there is variation in the strategies pursued. It so happens that Sweden is an outlier in the present situation, but even so, I am glad that we have Sweden to compare to when the crisis is over and we can evaluate what has been done.
However, evaluation should not be too hasty – and this is one problem with the present polarization, in my view. When the Great Recession was underway, I (and others) tried to make the point that an evaluation of different policy regimes should take a long-term perspective. It is not all the informative, for evaluating regimes, to look at short-term developments. Business-cycle patterns will vary, and what should matter is long-term growth. I have had a similar thought about the Corona crisis. When comparing strategies, most commentators look at short-term developments. What should primarily matter for an evaluation of alternative strategies is, I propose, the longer-term effects. For example, it may be that one strategy entails higher death rates in the first three months but lower death rates in the ensuing fifteen months. Who knows a priori? How about an evaluation of the benefits and costs of the various policy approaches at the end of 2021? ,
Although recently, I have begun to wonder if people put too much emphasis on policy. What if the patterns are mostly determined by other factors? We all want to think, along the lines of what Hayek calls “constructivist rationalism”, that we can steer the natural world. To some extent, we can, of course, but do we overestimate it? What if factors like age structure, population density, travel patterns, smoking prevalence, family culture, healthcare quality, how the spread of the virus started, etc. explain more than policy? It is an open question at this point, but I think it is worth raising it.
You know both the Sweden and the Czech Republic very well – could in your opinion Czech government adapt this approach and successfully introduce it here?
One could argue that if the preconditions are different, policies will be or should be different. In that sense, what works reasonably well in one country may not work as well in another country. Therefore, I think it is important to avoid simplistic advice, especially at this early point in time, for another country. However, let me mention two reflections.
First, what I would like to say is interesting from a Swedish point of view is how the Czech government will proceed when they are now beginning to ease some of the regulations, according to a gradual plan. According to my interpretation of the thinking of the Swedish government experts, this entails a clear risk of new rises in transmissions and deaths – especially if many Czechs interpret the liberalizations as “the danger is over”. What will happen epidemiologically is thus very interesting – and, if the prediction following from the Swedish government experts is correct, what the political reactions will be. Will there be harsher restrictions again?
Second, one thing I think Sweden could learn from Czechia is to recommend people to use face masks. To me, this seems like a minor thing with potentially beneficial consequences. I actually use one myself, but I am almost the only one I have seen in Stockholm with one.
Besides institutional economics one of your fields of research is the economics of culture, trust and tolerance. Do you think that trust is important regarding coronavirus epidemic? Trusting your neighbor, trusting the institutions, trusting the government…
Yes. I wrote about that in my answer to question above. I think it is important in at least two ways. First, by influencing how people behave. Trusting people can be expected to behave with greater consideration for others, whom they tend to expect to behave well towards them; and they can be expected to follow recommendations from authorities voluntarily to a greater degree. Second, they can be expected to demand less regulation, so there is less pressure on politicians to interfere with human behavior. However, as mentioned, it is puzzling why the Nordic countries have chosen different approaches in spite of having highly trusting citizens. Thus, trust cannot be the only factor of importance, but all else equal, I think it is a factor that matters a great deal.
Are Swedes and Czechs really different when asked to trust other people? Do you think this makes the difference?
Yes, they are different in this regard: While 2/3 of Swedes trust people in general, only about ¼ of Czechs do. There are probably many historical factors that explain this difference, but one important factor that may play a role in the present crisis also more directly is the experience of communism. There is interesting new research showing that spying during communism in East Germany substantially reduced both social trust and trust in government. In such a situation, it may be that people are unwilling to adapt their behavior unless mandated to do so through harsh regulations (and they may be more used to that approach from the past).
Another piece of new research is also interesting with regard to the pandemic. It seems as if the Spanish Flu reduced trust. If we believe in that result, it could very well be that yet another bad consequence of the Corona crisis is reduced trust in many places. This in turn has many implications, since trust has been shown to generate a number of desirable outcomes. With less trust may follow, e.g., slower economic growth and more regulation.
Or maybe we can account for the religion – more than three quarter of Czech people are undeclared/non-religious compared to more than 60 % of Swedes belonging to Church of Sweden. Do you think that religion has the potential to help people make it through?
I do not think this is a factor of great importance. First of all, even though a majority of Swedes are members of the Church of Sweden (which was the Lutheran State Church until 2000), this does not mean that they are very religious. In fact, when Gallup asked representative samples in many countries whether religion is an important part of daily life, both Sweden and Czechia had among the lowest shares replying yes: (17 and 21%, respectively). As for the more general question of whether religion can affect people in a crisis, perhaps offering support, I suppose it might; but on the other hand, others may see tensions and start thinking about the problem of evil and how an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent god can allow this kind of suffering. In fact, I mentioned James Buchanan in my reply to question 1 above and his idea that people are afraid to be free and look to government for a feeling of safety of support. He also writes that the government in this regard has come to replace God. Hence, I think more people in both our countries will seek comfort in the government than in a god.
On 8th of April you tweeted about how big data used for coronavirus tracking are challenging privacy. Do you think that governments will give up those powers given to them during the coronavirus pandemic?
I think this is a general problem: that many actions pursued by governments during the crisis will remain in place after the crisis. It is thus a challenge for those who support various actions now but strongly oppose them in “normal times” to think about “exit strategies” of an economic (not just of an epidemiological) kind. How can we roll back support programs? How can we roll back surveillance systems? I think it will be especially difficult this time, because of people changing their preferences. When people are scared, again along the lines of James Buchanan, they do not desire freedom but safety. And even after the crisis, many will feel that there are distinct risks in the future, perhaps for a renewed force in the Corona virus, or for other threatening events, and for that reason it may be desirable to leave government extra powers “just in case”. Admittedly, I think the surveillance issue will be different in different countries: less of a problem in Western-type democracies; already a problem in many dictatorships; but a serious new problem in the “quasi-democratic” regimes of Eastern Europe. Not Czechia, I think, but in Hungary, for instance, and in countries further east.
Lastly, regarding the technological solutions here: I am not altogether negative. There is the Czech “smart quarantine” project; there is the joint project of Apple and Google; and other application-based attempts to control the pandemic. It is desirable to secure anonymization to the greatest extent possible; but one must also consider alternatives. As I understand it, an argument in South Korea and Taiwan is that the applications, with a focus on identifying and surveilling those who are sick, can allow for greater freedom for people in general. There are complex trade-offs (!) involved here that need to be recognized.
There are also many voices hoping that this is great opportunity to finally make the great leap towards universal basic income and/or so called Green New Deal. Do you think that post-corona world is in some way a parallel to the post-World-War-2 Europe?
There are many differences between the 1950s and the 2020s – I hesitate to draw any clear parallels. But there can be “structural” similarities in developments, I think, that have to do with having experienced something traumatic. For example, you mention welfare-state arrangements, that developed further in many parts of Europe after World War II. In times of war and pandemics, I think fear and worries are dominant sentiments, and people strive to feel safe and secure again. The welfare state does (purport to) offer that. Hence, I certainly think the welfare state, in the broad sense of the term, will remain strong, and that it will also expand further in many countries, in the coming years. I think the idea of a basic income is appealing to many in principle, but the idea tends to run into severe practical problems, one being incentive problems, another being that it requires a lot of resources if the basic income is to be sufficiently high for people to live on (which in turn worsens the incentive problems).
Actually, the idea was raised here since Swedish unemployment insurance is not universal but tied to membership in a labor union or in a special organization handling unemployment payments. Many are not members, and when the crisis hits their sectors, they are not eligible, making the idea of a basic income appealing. But still, I think there are many obstacles for such a system to be implemented on a grand scale. Other welfare-state programs will, however, probably be introduced or, if they are already in place, expanded. As for a Green New Deal, which you also mention, I wonder what the consequences of the crisis will be for the environmentalist movement and the policies they are rooting for. I am not sure the movement as such will gain from it: If people have more direct fears, they will focus more on avoiding them than more distant ones, as those following from a warmer climate. At present, we don’t hear much about or from Greta Thunberg or her activist friends. However, in terms of policy, I think some aspects of the crisis may be “green” in character, most notably reduced traveling by airplane.
Or maybe, just maybe, is there any chance that on the contrary, governments will in the after-corona world adapt more austere approach?
What speaks in favor in such a scenario are the increased debt ratios of many countries after the crisis. These were already high in many countries before the crisis (not so in Sweden or Czechia, though). The debt will have to be serviced, and this will strain public finances, not least in southern Europe. This furthermore creates problems within the EU and, most strongly, the Eurozone. Another reason for a more austere approach is the possibility of high inflation, leading central banks for the first time in many years to possibly tighten monetary policy. It is still uncertain what will happen “on net”, but I think there are mechanisms of this kind that speak in favor of moderation, perhaps even austerity, for fiscal policy and for a more restrictive monetary policy ahead.
Now for something completely different. I have to ask you as an economic researcher – aren’t you at least a bit excited about unique economic data that will come out of this crisis? I think especially behavioral economists can really look forward to data about human behavior in face of sudden changes, being stuck at home for so long etc.
I agree: special events do offer new possibilities to study human behavior. Certainly, similar crises have been used before in trying to identify various effects, like the effect of the Spanish Flu on trust, that I mentioned above. I have some ideas myself, but I will not reveal them at this point. I am sure a majority of social scientists are trying to come up with research ideas of this kind.
One of the popular vague mantras these days is that corona epidemic is a great opportunity to [something]. Where do you see the opportunity?
I hope that people are able to adopt this kind of creative and optimistic perspective. A possible cost of the pandemic, aside from physical illness and death, is mental-health problems – which makes people unable to see new opportunities. I must admit I have struggled a bit myself with accepting the present situation and the risk for reduced options to travel between interesting cities like Stockholm and Prague in the future. But as in all downturns, there are opportunities for entrepreneurs – and I don’t only refer to entrepreneurs in the strict economic sense of the term. When the world is changing a lot, when much of the old disappears, something new emerges. What that “new” is is not set in stone – it is shaped by human ingenuity. I am hoping for “a brave new world”, and I will try my best to contribute to it myself, but I as I think this interview has made clear, this hope is clouded by expectations of the world becoming less free and dynamic in the years to come.
Niclas Berggren (1968) is Associate Professor at the Department of Economics at the University of Economics in Prague. He is also Program Director at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) in Stockholm. He has published numerous articles and other writings in institutional economics, the economics of trust and the economics of religion. He also explores the role of beauty in politics.
Autor: Jakub Žofčák
Jakub Žofčák je absolventem oboru Ekonomická analýza na Národohospodářské fakultě VŠE. Dlouhodobě spolupracuje s CETA – Centrem ekonomických a tržních analýz a je redaktorem časopisu Trade-off.
Všem z nás změnil koronavirus život. O tom není žádných pochyb. Ekonomové si ale zatím nechávají čas na to, aby vyčíslili celkové ekonomické škody. Není se čemu divit, když ještě zdaleka není po všem a zákeřná nemoc nám hrozí druhou vlnou. Ale i kdyby už po všem bylo, vyčíslit tak komplexní náklady by nebylo vůbec jednoduché. Co tedy o ekonomických dopadech koronaviru víme po první polovině roku?
Senta Čermáková je jedna z nejúspěšnějších českých manažerek. Proslavila se v mnoha rolích, například jako ředitelka globálních zákaznických programů ve firmě Hewlett-Packard, a v současnosti působí jako ředitelka pro inovace ve firmě Deloitte. „Virová pandemie a následná krize je víc nespravedlivá než cyklicky se opakující ekonomické krize,“ říká v rozhovoru pro časopis Trade-off. Společně jsme se podívali zejména na inovace a technologie v kontextu současné pandemie.
Přesně před 15 lety, v květnu roku 2005, postihla svět smrtelně nebezpečná pandemie, která zasáhla přes čtyři miliony lidí. Šlo o nekontrolovatelný virus přenášený zvířaty a osobním kontaktem, který se šířil především masovým cestováním a leteckou dopravou. Mezi neúspěšně zaváděná opatření patřila karanténa, sociální distancování a izolace mimo osídlené oblasti. Přesto o této zničující katastrofické události čtenáři Trade-offu dost možná nikdy neslyšeli; odehrála se totiž ve World of Warcraft – v online hrané počítačové hře na hrdiny. Šlo tedy pouze o fiktivní svět, a o život tak přišli trpaslíci, skřeti a trollové, avšak hráči a zejména jejich chování a rozhodování bylo skutečné. Záznamy o této události proto nezůstaly pouze na fanouškovských fórech, ale dostaly se také na stránky prestižních epidemiologických a akademických časopisů a odborných statí. Dokáže tato 15 let stará programátorská chyba pomoci i v roce 2020 v boji s koronavirem?
Negative oil prices, and an unprecedented situation driving down the economy; the first five months of 2020 have been marked by two deltas that have yet to show a clear road ahead. Mathematical principles tell us that two negatives have a positive result when multiplying or dividing, the purpose of this note is to make light that two negatives can make for a positive outcome.
Koronavirus zdůraznil a přenesl doslova na televizní obrazovky trade-offy, o kterých se normálně nemluví. Je trochu znouzectnost hledat na současné situaci něco pozitivního, ale tohle jednou z těch pozitivních věcí bude.
Prof. RNDr. Pavel Cejnar, Dr., DSc., jeden z předních českých odborníků na kvantovou fyziku, v současné době vyučuje na Univerzitě Karlově, kde svou kariéru původně započal. Má za sebou ale i řadu pracovních pobytů v zahraničí, například ve Švýcarsku, Spojených státech, Německu či v Jihoafrické republice. I všude tam se kvantovou teorií zabýval. „Kvantové počítače by mohl k upevňování moci a šikanování obyvatelstva využívat nějaký totalitní stát,” říká v rozhovoru pro časopis Trade-off.
Vojtěch Sucharda je advokát a popularizátor práva. Působil jako samostatný advokát, ale naskytla se mu podle jeho vlastních slov unikátní příležitost spoluzaložit právní kancelář Arrows. Ta je nyní několik let po sobě jednou z nejrychleji rostoucích kanceláří u nás. Ve volném čase se věnuje problematice právní negramotnosti, a to hned na několika frontách. Usiluje o novou národní strategii po vzoru té, která má zvýšit finanční gramotnost. A zlepšit situaci se snaží také online aplikací mylaw.cz, která poskytuje lidem zdarma základní právní informace a propojuje zájemce o právní služby s advokáty.
Interview with Thomas Bata: „My grandad always taught me that happiness and positivity is a choice in life“
Thomas Archer Bata is a great-grandson of Tomáš Baťa, the famous founder of the Bata company and currently is a member of the world board of the company. Previously, he handled company operations in various managerial positions. Together we discussed his studies and the original Bata values and even hockey.
Více než 600 tisíc nástrojů. Tolik jich prodala do celého světa česká firma PETROF. O klavírech, které si koupili třeba i Paul McCartney nebo Bill Gates, jsme si povídali s nositelkou jednoho z našich světově nejproslulejších příjmení, se Zuzanou Ceralovou Petrofovou, která firmu vede již od roku 2004.
Třebíčská společnost Moravian Industrial Company (MICo) patří mezi nenápadné, ale o to více důležité tahouny v oboru strojírenství. Byla založena v roce 1993 jako servisní firma pro Jadernou elektrárnu Dukovany, ale během více než dvacetileté existence se z ní stalo mnohem víc. Je leaderem na trhu v konstrukcích a výrobě tepelných výměníků a přes 90 % své produkce exportuje do celého světa – její produkty najdeme v jaderných elektrárnách ve Francii, ve Velké Británii, v Rusku nebo na Ukrajině. Holding čítající nyní již deset firem působí nejen v energetice, ale MICo robotic se zabývá i automatizací a robotizací. Firma má obrat přes miliardu korun a zaměstnává celkově 450 zaměstnanců.