My long-standing blog on Australian economics is apparently a news site. It has been around for 15 years but I didn’t know that until the other day. It provides a link to share posts on Facebook. But at the moment, Facebook won’t permit that. If you copy the link into a Facebook post, Facebook won’t permit you to post. As a site that reports opinions and often linked to news articles, this is confusing to me. As a site whose last post was in June 2020, I don’t think it even covers the ‘new’ part of ‘news.’ But no posts…

Public health officials face an important trade-off in messaging. Do you provide a simple but clear guideline or do you provide one that is more complex but allows people more options and choices? Or you could be the UK.

When I first heard about the UK’s Covid Christmas guidelines that would allow people to create a bubble with up to three families/households joining together, I figured it would be on the more complex with more choices variety. You know, you can have a gathering but not one that is too large and one that seems contained. …


Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Countries are releasing their vaccine distribution priority lists. With some wrinkles, those who are in healthcare, key essential jobs and are older will receive the vaccine first in most places. The sole criteria are the prevention of fatalities and more serious complications although only coarsely. For instance, it isn’t quite clear how having a greater non-age related potential for harm plays out. Anyhow, what we will see over the course of a year or more is that regions will be ordered by birthdate and that will form the queue.

Today, I am going to do the thing economists are very…

The lessons I’ve learned in 2020 as a university professor

Photo: Sam Wasson/Stringer/Getty Images

Zoom has taken over our lives and will continue to rule for the foreseeable future. But if those meetings drag on, what games can you play to keep yourself amused? After nine months of this, I have some suggestions.

Where will they end up?

You are in a meeting and suddenly someone gets up and starts walking. They are holding their laptop and so you can see right up their nose at the ceiling going by. A fun little game is to predict 1) where they are going and 2) how long they will take to get there. …

Looking for Covid-19 in unusual places

Photo: John Greim/LightRocket/Getty Images

Early on in the pandemic, I looked at Google Trends and found that you could see signs of the pandemic from Google searches such as “loss of smell.” Here is the most recent trend for the United States, where anosmia is the general topic for these types of searches.

Here, I discuss a new book by Debora MacKenzie, COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never should have Happened and How to Stop the Next One that was just published. How should we evaluate the decisions that were made?

Who is to blame for our current predicament? Yes, I know, it is not really the time to play the blame game when we are still well in the midst of a crisis. After all, does it really matter right now how we got here? And if there is someone to blame, then what? How does that help us right now?

But we…

DisneyWorld reopened recently in Florida despite infections from COVID-19 growing in that state. They posted this video that was made fun of:

But here is the thing: why did they go in that direction? Disney had the perfect opportunity to make mask-wearing fun and didn’t take it.

Let’s be clear. Here is the main thing people do when they go to a Disney park:

And not just kids …


At the moment, the world’s COVID-19 strategy are various forms of “waiting for the vaccine.” Of course, we are not really doing enough towards that end, a vaccine may not be even possible and, even if we get a vaccine, we face an immediate issue of who will get it first. Nonetheless, “waiting for vaccine” is what we are doing.

The appearance of a vaccine is heralded as the way out of this mess. After all, if people can be given immunity, once enough of them have it, the virus will naturally die out (i.e., ‘herd’ immunity works regardless of…

This week, a new email service,, had their app halted (and maybe potentially removed as it had been previously listed by what Apple has called ‘an error’) because they do not offer the ability to purchase the service through the app. Without paying for the app, the Hey service is useless. Thus, Hey offers a subscription fee of $99 per year on their own site. Hey don’t want to use Apple’s payment service as Apple takes a 30 percent cut of the subscription in the first year and 15 percent thereafter.

There are several issues going on here. The…

Polio had ravaged the world for over five decades. A terrible disease that caused paralysis and death, primarily in children, was feared by all. In 1955, after decades of research, a safe vaccine produced in Jonas Salk’s laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh had arrived. The US government sped it into production, but that rush was to prove costly. Manufacture the vaccine imperfectly, and it can turn from a suppressor into a spreader. For polio, one bad process let to 200 cases and 11 deaths.[i] With those tragic lessons learned, production was slowed. The result of this was that the…

Joshua Gans

Skoll Chair in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. and

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