A new policy toolkit is needed as countries exit COVID-19 lockdowns

Olivier Blanchard (PIIE), Thomas Philippon (Stern School of Business, New York University) and Jean Pisani-Ferry (PIIE)

Policy Brief
20-8
June 2020
Photo Credit: 
REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The measures that most governments took in response to the sudden collapse in economic activity during the COVID-19 lockdowns nearly exclusively focused on protecting vulnerable workers and firms. These measures included unemployment benefits, grants, transfers, loans at low rates, and tax deferrals. As lockdowns are lifted, governments must shift policies toward supporting the recovery and design measures that will limit the pain of adjustment while preserving productive jobs and firms. This Policy Brief explores how such measures can be designed, with particular emphasis on Europe and the United States. The authors propose a combination of unemployment benefits to help workers, wage subsidies and partially guaranteed loans to help firms, and debt restructuring procedures for small and medium-sized companies handicapped by excessive legacy debt from the crisis.