Author Archive

Public health business models

from Jamie Morgan

Part 4 of Pandemic aware economies, public health business models and (im)possible futures

One optimistic point of view hopes our economies bounce back (a deep sharp ‘v’ shape). But this seems increasingly unlikely and is now a minority position. This is partly because of a path-dependency governments are not well-equipped to quickly or easily shift. No  effective treatments are available yet for Covid-19 and even as some become available we will still be living in more or less fearful societies that require governments to impose or organizations to voluntarily adopt ‘public health business models’. A socially distanced economy affects the potential for work and consumption and this affects different sectors in different ways.

Distrust radically reduces willingness to use public transport and social distancing radically reduces the volume capacity of that public transport.  Read more…

Trust in the future, trust as the future

May 15, 2020 1 comment

from Jamie Morgan

Part 3 of six part Pandemic aware economies, public health business models and (im)possible futures

Whatever path is chosen it can still be pursued more or less effectively, and in an evolving world this matters for how things turn out. Governments need to project competence but they need also to translate this into actual competence; ‘demonstrated competence’ is an issue of logistics and practical procedures that follow from adequate planning at a national and local level. A government that was initially ill-prepared can become better if it manages the situation. It is no use simply suggesting ‘we are trying as hard as we can’. Trust relies on real consequences and incompetence has additional consequences. Governments have their public relations experts too, and are deeply aware of the pitfalls, but this does not prevent missteps, as the fractious relationship between the White House and the individual states of the USA or that between Downing Street and the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland illustrates. Read more…

First steps into the future

from Jamie Morgan

Part 2 of six part Pandemic aware economies, public health business models and (im)possible futures

As we are now finding out in the UK, what happens first depends on data, treatments and vaccines. Post-lockdown societies and economies require trust in social interactions and confidence that social spaces are safe. This has always been relative, rather than absolute, but in the wealthy world the need for trust and confidence has newly been impressed on our awareness. If we think that information on who has and who has had Covid-19 is comprehensive and contemporary then who we see and how we engage them become less about ‘maybes and worse cases’. Equally, if effective treatments become available and the mortality rate for those contracting Covid-19 falls and the possible suffering involved in having a severe case of Covid-19 reduces, then the fear factor of Covid-19 subsides. Fear is socially contagious and it is not just fear for oneself – it is fear for significant others (who we know and those who we are simply aware of in the abstract who we may affect through chains of contagion). Lockdown and ‘phased transitions’ will end sooner or later in different countries, but what matters is not just formal changes to government directives, it is the whole repertoire of socially-directed pandemic related infrastructures. Read more…

Pandemic aware economies, public health business models and (im)possible futures – Part 1

May 13, 2020 4 comments

from Jamie Morgan

So here we are, months into the Covid-19 pandemic and starting to feel our way through it. It is extraordinary to think that it took considerably less than a Walking Dead scenario to bring the world to a standstill. The future we now occupy has come as quite a shock. A ‘new world’ with its new language and habits of social distancing, lockdown, phased releases and perpetual background sense of dread and foreboding. A world in which friends and family are now fraternal enemies of good health and peace of mind. A world in which a handshake is now weaponized, sanitisation and sanity go hand in hand and obsessive hygiene is no longer the preserve of the compulsive.

How strange this new world looks, how unexpected it seems from a public point of view. It echoes an old world where pestilence stalked our societies and periodic plague literally scythed its way through our populations. We too have been forced to emulate our medieval counterparts and hide behind walls and ring bells. But we do not live in that old world where faith was mixed with fate and blame could be attributed to divine displeasure. Our world has scientific method and hundreds of years of cumulative scientific knowledge and practice, it has epidemiology, virology, vaccines, treatments, an infrastructure of sophisticated health services, behavioural science, massive databases, information networks, computers, government and governance resource mobilisation, crisis planning, and the capability to put aside some of each year’s surplus wealth creation to store needed resources against foreseeable possibilities in an uncertain world. In this context we can be confident that our civilization has the capacity to cope and recover, eventually.  Read more…

Is Malthus relevant post-Copenhagen?

December 23, 2009 17 comments

Is Malthus relevant post-Copenhagen?

Thomas Malthus died on December 23rd 1834. The work of Malthus raises two important questions. First, are there now too many of us? Second, are there now too many of us doing things we shouldn’t be doing? These are problems of fact and value. The problem for economics has always been how to conjoin the two. The positive-normative distinction has always been a curious one for a social science since its ultimate unit of analysis is an evaluating being that lives immersed in systems of values.

The positive-normative distinction derives much of its authority from Hume’s guillotine. The guillotine is: Read more…

Banking on Heaven

November 29, 2009 1 comment

Banking on Heaven: economics as confessional

 Jamie Morgan

‘I should like,’ said young Jolyon, ‘to lecture on it: “Properties and quality of a Forsyte. This little animal, disturbed by the ridicule of his own sort, is unaffected in his motions by the laughter of strange creatures (you or I). Hereditarily disposed to myopia, he recognises only the persons and habitats of his own species, amongst which he passes an existence of competitive tranquillity.”’ John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga.

The recent comment in the Sunday Times (8/11/09) by the Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, that banks serve a ‘social purpose’ and do ‘God’s work,’ was a controversial one. Reference to the Almighty in business and banking often leads to satirical exegesis. Many might respond that the liturgy of banks is public worship of quite another kind than might be ascribed to a divine being. Others might suggest that Read more…