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Nobel Laureate, Economist Paul Krugman, “Unemployment Benefits Should Come First in Efforts to Overcome COVID-19” [Kyunghyang Forum]

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[경향신문]
“Now Is a Time of a Great Transition,” World Intellectuals Join the 2020 Kyunghyang Forum via Videoconference: The 2020 Kyunghyang Forum was held at the Lotte Hotel in Sogong-dong, Seoul on August 25 under the theme, “COVID-19 and Its Aftermath: Roadmap for Navigating the Post-Pandemic World Order.” Chang Ha-joon, a professor at the University of Cambridge (second screen from left) and Paul Krugman, distinguished professor at the City University of New York (fourth) take part in an online discussion moderated by Lee Woo-jin (on stage, center), a professor at Korea University. The discussion proceeded with participants logging onto a video conferencing platform from Seoul, New York and Cambridge, U.K. The online participants who filled the screens located at both ends of the stage watched the discussions on their cell phones and laptops. Kwon Do-hyun



National and international experts including Dr. Paul Krugman, a distinguished professor at the City University of New York and a winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, claimed that it would be difficult for the global economy to recover from the shock triggered by COVID-19 in a short period of time and advised governments to actively support the vulnerable, who suffered a direct blow from the pandemic.

In his keynote address at the 2020 Kyunghyang Forum, “COVID-19 and Its Aftermath: Roadmap for Navigating the Post-Pandemic World Order” at the Lotte Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul on August 25, Dr. Krugman said that the U.S. administration had minimized the damage and successfully responded by providing coronavirus stimulus checks in the early stages of the pandemic. However, according to Krugman, the U.S. administration suspended the payment of such checks at a time when the risk of a second massive outbreak still existed, and pushed the economy into a very unstable situation. He argued that government funding was desperately needed to overcome COVID-19 and stressed that unemployment benefits should have top priority since the government had limited financial resources.

Dr. Chang Ha-joon, a professor at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom argued that if the development and distribution of vaccines and treatments were delayed, the novel coronavirus could continue for years and the world would likely face a great transition. Even if the virus is contained in a year, Dr. Chang expected it to take 2-3 years for the world to return to the pre-COVID state. He argued that the people suffering from unemployment and a reduction of income would continue to experience challenges even after the COVID-19 crisis is resolved, pouring cold water on economic vigor. He advised South Korea not to fear government debt and actively provide funding, since the nation was in a sound financial state.

Renowned American futurist Thomas Frey, executive director of the DaVinci Institute, who visited South Korea in the midst of the latest spread of COVID-19, mentioned in a special presentation that the sharing economy like Uber was facing serious challenges and that all the rules of society was changing because of COVID-19, with no knowing how the next set of rules would change. Frey expected the demand for cultured meat to soar throughout the world in the next five years and argued that people would continue working remotely, changing the design of homes. He also argued that the unmanned vehicle technology would have the greatest impact allowing such vehicles to be used as offices, private education institutes, hair salons and doctors’ offices. He claimed the unmanned business to be a game changer.

Nathan Wolfe, chair of Metabiota and a world-renowned virologist called for the need to discover pathogens that could be transmitted from wild animals early on to minimize human contagion. Wolfe explained that the danger could be assessed according to various scenarios depending on the origin of the virus, the speed of transmission, and the deadly nature of the pathogen.

In a congratulatory message for the Kyunghyang Forum, Speaker of the National Assembly Park Byeong-seug and Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said, “The fundamental cause of the COVID-19 pandemic is the climate crisis,” and stressed, “A mature democracy is the strongest weapon against the disease. We need solidarity and co-prosperity for a new life community.”

This day, the Kyunghyang Forum was held after enforcing strict preventive measures according to level-3 physical distancing, with less than fifty people attending the indoor event. More than 220 participants who could not enter the venue took part via videoconference.

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