How To Handle The Coronacrisis Some Economic Policy Suggestions

I doubt anyone from the British government will want my opinion on how to handle the crisis but I am happy to pencil my thoughts!

1) Do not close down the whole economy we have to balance the costs and benefits. Yes, keep the elderly at home (70 plus) that is sensible. They are most at risk and will be the biggest drain on the NHS. Temporary closures of restaurants, concerts, theatres, cinema pubs, etc is OK but we cannot close down excessively the amount of economic activity. The virus is not going to disappear just like that, so we need to learn to cope with it over the next 6 - 12 months when the worst will be over.

2) We need a massive one-off bond issuance equivalent to 20% of GDP called the CornaVirus bond which have a duration of 20 years. This will be used to lend to UK firms large and small in my points 3 and 4 below. Investors in this bond will have seniority in UK debt repayments.

3) We need an emergency loan facility from the government to big corporates with loans made in exchange for equity stakes which will be reduced once the loans have been fully repaid at reasonably low rates of interest. Interest payable at 3%

4) We need to help small/medium size companies with an additional government fund with loans to be made in return for an equity stake or security against assets that will again be reduced once the loan is repaid. Interest payable at 3%.

5) People made redundant must be given the basics to live off through the crisis and longer-term. We have to be in this together this can be funded by a one-off rise in the top rate of personal tax to 60% for the next two years.

6) All bank bonuses to be stopped and all dividends suspended by law so as to conserve bank and corporate cash for the next 12 months with immediate effect. We need to do all we can to conserve corporate cash and the banking sector.

7) We may need to also help corporates survive by allowing a one-off cut in wages by 5-10% for 12 months. Better to take a pay cut than lose your job.

8) We may need to convert and restructure corporate debt for example from 5 to 10 years with an obligatory one year free of repayment period whilst maintaining the same rate of interest so that bondholders take some share of the burden.

We have to understand that the coronavirus is a transitory shock but with medium to long term impacts as well as somewhat dire short term impact. This is why we need to fund it with 20-year bonds so we can repay the costs through higher corporate and personal taxes down the road, once the crisis has abated and a recovery has begun.

This is the time for radical action "no ifs no buts"!

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