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Pandemic playbook Dusan Stankovic/Getty Images

The Post-Pandemic Playbook

The COVID-19 crisis has not only highlighted many countries’ systemic weaknesses and inequities, but also provided policymakers with an opportunity to change their approach to tackling them. Choosing the right strategies and policies to foster a robust recovery and mitigate the risk of future crises will be essential.

In this Big Picture, Chatham House’s Jim O’Neill says the COVID-19 crisis has shown that governments can spend a lot more money without upsetting markets than most people thought, raising the prospect of more ambitious fiscal policies. This creates the scope needed to pursue what Mariana Mazzucato of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose calls bold “earthshot” missions in partnership with the private sector. And Diane Coyle of the University of Cambridge explains why building back better will require governments to increase long-term investment in natural and social capital.

But Raghuram G. Rajan of the University of Chicago cautions against centralized policies, stressing the importance of nurturing local leadership in reviving economically disadvantaged communities, many of which suffer from high levels of crime. On that note, Malaysian MP Nurul Izzah Anwar suggests how the pandemic is opening policymakers’ eyes to the importance of reducing prison overcrowding and preventing recidivism.

More broadly, former Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin, a member of the Global Commission for Post-Pandemic Policy, argues that COVID-19 has revealed the need for new norms – including to address shortcomings in democratic governance. Likewise, Princeton University’s Harold James, noting political leaders’ tendency to compare the fight against the coronavirus to a war, says that only a transformative vision of a generally healthier society can help the world overcome today’s dismal reality.

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