Date of Award

Spring 2021


MS - Economics


Jan Kregel, Ph.D.


The Great Recession lasted from December 2007 until June 2009 and was one of the most severe recessions since the post-war period. It took about two years from the time of the unraveling of the U.S. housing market and mortgages, until the collapse of Lehman Brothers—as the crisis spread to the rest of the financial sector of the economy.

The Covid-19 Pandemic erupted from a public health crisis at the end of January 2020 and unlike the Great Recession, employment collapsed sharply in a matter of weeks, leaving millions without work by April 2020. The Covid-19 Pandemic has demonstrated an extraordinary example of how the response to the crisis produced a negative impact on the economy, regardless of social class. However, the negative impact has been disproportionately spread in the economy, with some communities devoid of any assistance from the government. This thesis seeks to answer the question of how to reorient public policy in the face of a recession. Namely, the question about how to generate the relief that households need to undertake the virus and flatten the curve, while also combatting the employment problem at the same time. Due to the tangible feeling of insecurity across households at all levels of income, Covid-19 has created a rare policy window to execute an unconventional policy to mitigate the record employment losses, especially in sectors of the economy that were affected the most, such as leisure and hospitality. It also opens a policy window to rethink the ways in which to go about Pandemics and Recessions in the future. This thesis concludes with the policy solution that to address the mass employment losses in all sectors, it is viable to combine counter-cyclical, short-term targeted cash transfers to households. This policy should be followed by job creation, with the goal of a sustainable and “green recovery” as another national priority.

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