Economics is not called the dark science for nothing. Smith and Marshal dealt with utility 200 years ago - "Interpersonal utility comparisons are not valid". The doctors 'wife gets her second Rolls Royce before the orphan gets pudding not because of justice, but only because her husband puts up the money. The scarce ventilator in Madrid gets moved to the younger female patient simply because she has more chance of survival, not because she enjoys life more than the old guy.
You and I work no differently. I will explain why Adam Smith's moving hand crosses my palm with silver and puts me on the side of the doctors.
Right now its investment bankers vs doctors. Actuaries and mathematical economists just follow the money - like me. The winner will be the one that puts in the most resources. Investment bankers of all people should understand this. For the first time in a while, the investment bankers are losing. It is not Coronavirus, but their own myopia that is doing it. Right now everyone is spooked and the politicians and doctors have the microphones. While they are making money and getting touted as "frontline heros", they are going nowhere. For the actuaries and economists to push them off the stage, they will have to present the case and run the gambit of "in-humanism".
Interpersonal utility comparisons is exactly what we have to do. Life expectancy is a core concept in actuarial Science. There is even a mathematical term for it - dx . Insurance companies deal with these concepts every day. Right now the kill rate of coronavirus - 10% in 70s plus and 20% in 80s plus is about the same as old white people sitting in the cancer-causing UV sunlight. Aged people will not sit in the sunlight getting sunburn, t4hy stay inside at noon. They should also not go out and sit next to potential virus carriers. I don't know the micro biology, but coronaviruses are not rare - they are all over the place, they could have been hitting us like this for the last Million years. Its only the 7 Bn urban density that makes the modern transmission so dangerous. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/coronaviruses
Acknowledging the danger of introducing the strawman argument, an analogy would be to be surprised that we may get hit by a massive meteorite. You have only to look up at the moon to see the pockmarks. The moon is smaller than earth and still pulls in so many meteorites, only our atmosphere cleans up out scars. We should be expecting a big one any day now. Short run certainties are death and taxes. Long run certainties are viruses and meteorites.
However, it takes a little bit more work than @Glasgow Tap and @Tim - who are just plain wrong on the FT comments. Death rates go up 4 times when Coronavirus breaks out!COVID-19 really kills people. Every 80-year-old man has every right to piss in his nappies when someone nearby coughs. Even Donald Trump, should start checking that his will is in order. The lock-down would be a very good time for him to do his tax returns.
The key to moving forward is not to try to diminish the health guys' argument, but proving that investors save more lives than doctors. Proving this will mean taking the life tables and mapping it to the SIR and SAGE models. So far I have not met anyone else doing this. I do it to build up the content on the Copeman Academy.
Right at the beginning of this outbreak, I approached every major insurance company in South Africa to build and motivate a coherent macroeconomic lobby. No-one understood what I was talking about. The cost to them has been Billions. Their heads are so busy, trying to protect their short term premium income, that they do not have the time to stop and think about the macroeconomics of the problem. That is why they have lost the initiative to the doctors. Notice you never see an actuary at any of the press briefings. After a while, I felt I was bothering them, so I gave up. I did try to warn them.
If I got $10 from every company that has $ 100M invested in recovery from the Depression, I would code and write the full paper that is required to motivate this. Otherwise what I have to do is follow the market. Some of us have actually started to benefit from the current world state of affairs!
While the employees of the big accounting companies are at home playing with their kids and filling out UIF forms, working in isolated rooms all over the world, we have been rolling out a remote version of TurboCASH with online banking and email. TurboCASH 5.2 is like an anti-cloud measure - make every isolated accountant a server, take him off central dependence. The "crazy side benefit" that sparks the revolutionary in me., is that this will allow users to leave the financial grid and use blockchain and non-fiat scalars to manage a distributed informal trade economy. 98% of the TurboCASH project already runs like this. We manage $ 4 Bn in turnover with little exchange of cash.
Old people still have assets and leverage to work for them. In the last month, 70-year-old accountants in aged communities all over the world find people asking them to manage logistics. At first, everyone was spooked, but now TurboCASH has a little boom going selling accounting packages to isolated accountants including septuagenarian accountants in aged care homes.
Investment bankers and other soon to be unemployed readers of the FT, should stay at home or make themselves useful delivering food parcels.
Right now I am on the side of the 80 years olds - if only because they are the ones paying me the $10.