This economic interdependence necessitates all parts working in harmony. Unfortunately, the pandemic is asynchronous – it hits countries at different times with different rates of growth and severity. While China is reopening, India and the US are shuttering. If portions of Chinese production require unavailable intermediate goods from India or the US, such production won’t be possible. Even if China can produce items for export, if their normal buyers in the US are closed, who will they sell to? And what happens when China – still lacking herd immunity – needs to close its economy again right when India or the US are looking to reopen and use Chinese inputs?
The staggered nature of the virus outbreak coupled with worldwide production presents a remarkable – and quite possibly insurmountable – global coordination problem.
If only we had a science that discussed coordination problems. Ones that weren’t solvable by planning, the human mind directed? Perhaps one where this specific nugget of difficulty had been discussed, solved even?
Wouldn’t that be useful?
Dr Nick Obradovich is a PhD political and data scientist who trained at UCSD, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the MIT Media Lab. He is currently senior research scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Human Development in the center for humans & machines. Dr Renee C Wurth is a PhD population health scientist who trained at Northeastern and the H Chan school of public health at Harvard University
Even might we not hope that people who would tell us how to run the world were aware that the problem had been solved?