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COVID-Induced Economic Uncertainty

Author

Listed:
  • Scott R. Baker
  • Nicholas Bloom
  • Steven J. Davis
  • Stephen J. Terry

Abstract

Assessing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for policymakers, but challenging because the crisis has unfolded with extreme speed. We identify three indicators – stock market volatility, newspaper-based economic uncertainty, and subjective uncertainty in business expectation surveys – that provide real-time forward-looking uncertainty measures. We use these indicators to document and quantify the enormous increase in economic uncertainty in the past several weeks. We also illustrate how these forward-looking measures can be used to assess the macroeconomic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, we feed COVID-induced first-moment and uncertainty shocks into an estimated model of disaster effects developed by Baker, Bloom and Terry (2020). Our illustrative exercise implies a year-on-year contraction in U.S. real GDP of nearly 11 percent as of 2020 Q4, with a 90 percent confidence interval extending to a nearly 20 percent contraction. The exercise says that about half of the forecasted output contraction reflects a negative effect of COVID-induced uncertainty.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom & Steven J. Davis & Stephen J. Terry, 2020. "COVID-Induced Economic Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 26983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26983
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. N. Bloom., 2016. "Fluctuations in uncertainty," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
    2. Nicholas Bloom & Philip Bunn & Scarlet Chen & Paul Mizen & Pawel Smietanka & Gregory Thwaites, 2019. "The Impact of Brexit on UK Firms," NBER Working Papers 26218, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Oscar Jorda & Sanjay R. Singh & Alan M. Taylor, 2022. "Longer-Run Economic Consequences of Pandemics," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 104(1), pages 166-175, March.
    4. James H. Stock, 2020. "Data Gaps and the Policy Response to the Novel Coronavirus," NBER Working Papers 26902, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Veronica Guerrieri & Guido Lorenzoni & Ludwig Straub & Iván Werning, 2022. "Macroeconomic Implications of COVID-19: Can Negative Supply Shocks Cause Demand Shortages?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(5), pages 1437-1474, May.
    6. Nicholas Bloom & Ian Wright & Jose Maria Barrero, 2016. "Short- and Long-run Uncertainty," 2016 Meeting Papers 1576, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Robert J. Barro & José F. Ursúa & Joanna Weng, 2020. "The Coronavirus and the Great Influenza Pandemic: Lessons from the “Spanish Flu” for the Coronavirus’s Potential Effects on Mortality and Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 26866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Andrew Atkeson, 2020. "What Will be the Economic Impact of COVID-19 in the US? Rough Estimates of Disease Scenarios," Staff Report 595, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    9. Andrew Atkeson, 2020. "How Deadly is COVID-19? Understanding the Difficulties with Estimation of its Fatality Rate," Staff Report 598, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    10. Altig, David & Barrero, Jose Maria & Bloom, Nicholas & Davis, Steven J. & Meyer, Brent & Parker, Nicholas, 2022. "Surveying business uncertainty," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 231(1), pages 282-303.
    11. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 2019. "Fifty Years of the Survey of Professional Forecasters," Economic Insights, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, vol. 4(4), pages 1-11, October.
    12. Alexis Akira Toda, 2020. "Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) Dynamics of COVID-19 and Economic Impact," Papers 2003.11221, arXiv.org, revised Mar 2020.
    13. repec:aei:rpaper:1008560098 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:fip:a00002:87872 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom & Stephen J. Terry, 2020. "Using Disasters to Estimate the Impact of Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 27167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Laura Alfaro & Anusha Chari & Andrew N. Greenland & Peter K. Schott, 2020. "Aggregate and Firm-Level Stock Returns During Pandemics, in Real Time," NBER Working Papers 26950, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • E17 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E66 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General Outlook and Conditions
    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General

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