During an interview aired on Friday’s edition of Bloomberg’s “Wall Street Week,” Harvard Professor, economist, Director of the National Economic Council under President Barack Obama, and Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton Larry Summers stated that “we need to resist any strong tendency” towards “feeling highly superior” over how we handled the coronavirus compared to China.
Summers said, “It’s extraordinary the way mandatory lockdowns are now giving way to voluntary lockdowns with people staying home more than they were a few weeks ago in China. I think it’s going to be a very challenging six weeks ahead of us in China. And it will be fascinating to see what that means for social stability, what kind of political ramifications that has. And it’s likely to be a very painful period for China. Two things for us to remember in the United States: First, even if this works out very badly in China, at the end of the day, the Chinese fatality rate from COVID will have been half of what it was in the United States. And so, we need to resist any strong tendency to be — to feeling highly superior here. Second, precisely because this is burning so out of control, my guess is that it’s likely, like the fastest burning fires, to burn out more quickly rather than more slowly. And so, I think, ironically, a consequence of this is probably to lead to some upwards revision on Chinese economic forecasts beginning next spring. And that’s a factor tilting a little bit towards higher commodity prices and a little bit more inflationary pressure globally. But that’s a highly uncertain judgment, and of course, how all this plays in a broader social sense in China will be very, very important.”
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