Ask me anything — my answers

  1. How the agriculture industry will be like in post covid? Who will dominate the world? 
    Covid does not really affect the growth or trade in crops, but it has reduced access to cheap labor and cheap air transport. Cheap labor is falling because workers cannot cross borders due to restrictions or get sick because of their cramped living conditions. Cheap air transport is gone because passenger traffic is down, so there are fewer planes to airfreight cargo. Costs will rise as labor is domesticated, protected and replaced by machines. Trade in high-value crops will perhaps be replaced by growing the crops in local greenhouses, which often means a larger carbon footprint, since more energy is added for greenhouses than saved from reduced flights.
  2. School me on Universal Basic Income. I can’t see how it would benefit low income recipients because within a year, rents and grocery prices would spike higher to reap their excess dollars.
    UBI, as income, can be spent anywhere. Some people will spend it on food, but others on education, cars, paying off debt, etc. Since the income can go to any mix of goods, there’s no uniform rise in demand that would justify a rise in prices. Put differently, any landlord who raised rents would face competition from other landlords since there’s a competitive market in renting (in most places!). For more, read about lump sum transfers.
  3. Ed Barbier, an environmental economist, is pointing out how the pandemic is turning out to be bad for the environment (despite the downward blip in CO2 emissions). Here in rural Wyoming we’re seeing a wave of city slickers move in. In Teton County that means $3 million and up is the hottest part of the real estate market. That has profound consequences on our community character. What else are you seeing globally in terms of migrations from urban to suburban and rural? What data are you tracking? How profound is this change? Also, as a teacher who encourages your students to blog, you might find this seventeen-year old’s take on the pandemic interesting.
    Good post! Ariel is quite perceptive! I think people are moving from cities to suburbs and rural areas — reversing the “hipsters to city centers” trend that began in the 90s and which (itself) reversed “white flight” that began in the 1960s — for reasons of climate chaos (cities are vulnerable to bad weather and supply-chain disruptions) and contagion (it’s hard to socially distance on a subway car). At some point, this trend will slow, probably due to job concerns (but see UBI above ;). I’m not tracking data, but Amsterdam hit a record population this year. I think the move to/from cities will be uneven, since some cities are more competent than others in dealing with C19 and CC. 
  4. Is there any scientific evidence that someone has contracted Covid-19 from contact rather than airborne? 
    I’m no scientist, but I’ve read that contact-spreading is much less common than airborne spread, which might be 15-20x more common.
  5. Boxers or briefs?
    Boxers when I am sleeping at someone’s house but briefs for daily wear. I grew up with briefs and do not worry about “overheated gonads” affecting my fertility because I got a vasectomy in 2001 😉

My one-handed conclusion is that people are interested in many more topics than Alfred Marshall 😉

Author: David Zetland

I'm a political-economist from California who now lives in Amsterdam.

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