News and uncertainty about COVID-19: Short-run economic impact | Keith Kuester et al.

News and uncertainty about COVID-19: Survey evidence and short-run economic impact

by Alexander M. Dietrich (University of Tübingen,,

Keith Kuester (University of Bonn, ECONtribute,,

Gernot J. Müller (University of Tübingen,,

and Raphael S. Schoenle (Brandeis University,

We solicit household expectations about the economic costs of the COVID-19 pan- demic. Households expect output to decrease by about 6 percent and inflation to increase by 5 percentage points in the 12 months following March 2020. We also document that the uncertainty about the overall effect is large, both at the level of individual respondents and in terms of the dispersion across respondents. To the extent that the economic fallout of COVID-19 has not fully materialized yet, but is still a) anticipated and b) uncertain it depresses private expenditure and pushes the natural rate of interest downward. In the second part of the paper we quantify this effect as we feed our the survey data in a standard business cycle model. We find that the natural rate drops by several percentage points and illustrate to what extent the short-run impact of COVID-19 depends on the response of monetary policy.


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