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The Covid-19 Crisis Shows Why We Need A National Resilience Council

The Progressive Policy Institute, where I serve as chief economic strategist, just put out a report entitled “Building American Resilience: A Roadmap for Recovery After COVID-19.” The report covers a wide range of topics, ranging from manufacturing (discussed below), to education, to health care, to small business, to metro area fiscal policy to the gig economy.

The report makes the argument that resilience—the ability to respond well to disruptive shocks such as pandemics, wars, and climate changes—is a public good that benefits everyone. Left to their own devices, private sector businesses will underinvest in resilience because they can’t capture all the benefits. Just to give an obvious example, no rational company would build an extra production line for N95 mask or mask material that isn’t needed in normal times, just on the off chance of a pandemic. Nor would a rational company invest in developing a process for making N95 masks faster and more cheaply.

Resilience rightly needs to be an explicit goal of public policy. That’s why the report advocates setting up a high-level National Resilience Council, tasked with identifying those industries and capabilities that are strategic, in the sense of improving the ability of the U.S. economy to deal with disruptive shocks. The National Resilience Council would certainly not be anti-trade, because globalization is often a good way to distribute risk. But it would follow a rigorous process of scrutinizing the reliance of the U.S. on foreign suppliers who might not be available in a crisis.

Read more here.

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