Questions and answers about coronavirus and the UK economy

About us

Economics and the coronavirus crisis 

The Economics Observatory (ECO) is a cross-institutional initiative that seeks to answer questions from policy-makers and the public about the economics of the coronavirus crisis and the recovery. We are grateful for the swift support provided by the Economic and Social Research Council to fund the website.

The UK is currently at the start of what will probably be the deepest recession in living memory. The government faces the daunting task of navigating a route through uncharted territory. Sound and non-partisan advice is needed to inform decision-makers across all parts of society, from government to individuals, about the choices they face in dealing with the crisis and the recovery. 

Economic analysis will be crucial. It can be difficult for policy-makers and the public to interpret the key evidence. We will act as a hub to bring together research from across economics to answer policy questions in a way that is easy to understand.

We will explain where there is consensus, where there is intelligent debate and disagreement, and where we just don't have the answers (whether it is because of a lack of data or fundamental challenges of answering the question).

The articles are written for policy-makers, the media, the public, students and teachers who are interested in the economics of Covid-19 and the implications for households, organisations and public policy.

We have brought together economists from institutions all over the country to help to write the individual answers, and we have assembled a strong team of Lead Editors who will help to steer the direction of the initiative.

Editorial Team

Editor-in-Chief

Romesh Vaitilingam is an economics writer, communications consultant and Editor-in-Chief of the Economics Observatory (ECO). He is the author of several books and reports on economics, finance, business and public policy. His work also involves consultancy for the economic research and policy-making community, including the Centre for Economic Policy Research and VoxEU, the European Economic Association, the IGM Forum’s Economic Experts Panels and the Royal Economic Society.

Production Editor

Greg Opie is the Events and Membership Manager in the communications team at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, where he is responsible for the organisation and promotion of all IFS events, as well as for administering their individual and corporate membership schemes. Greg previously worked as Programme Director at the Economic Research Council and as a Research Assistant at Lombard Street Research.

Technical Delivery Lead

Dermot Watson is the Head of Digital at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, leading on digital communications and technology. Dermot previously worked at Asthma UK, where he led on digital transformation and on innovation programmes with partners including PHE, The Met Office and The University of Exeter. In previous experience, he has led on digital at the launch and delivery of The Big Bang Fair, the UK’s largest STEM based youth event, and on digital marketing and publishing at Penguin Books.

Lead Editors

Tim Besley is School Professor of Economics and Political Science, W. Arthur Lewis Professor of Development Economics at LSE. His main research interests are in development economics, public economics, and political economy, focusing on economic policy formation in developed and emerging market economies. He serves on the National Infrastructure Commission and on the panel of the IFS-led Deaton Review on Inequalities, and is President-elect of the Royal Economic Society.

Jagjit Chadha is Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).  Previously he was Professor of Economics at the University of Kent and also at Cambridge. He was Professor of Economics at the University of St Andrews and Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge. He has worked at the Bank of England on Monetary Policy and as Chief Quantitative Economist at BNP Paribas, and has served as Chair of the Money, Macro, Finance Study Group.

Diane Coyle is Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. She specialises in the economics of new technologies, markets and competition, and measurement of the digital economy. As co-director of the Bennett Institute at the University of Cambridge, she leads research programmes on comprehensive wealth and economic well-being. Diane is a Fellow of the Office for National Statistics and has held a number of public service roles. 

Rachel Griffith is Research Director of the IFS and Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester. She was President of the Royal Economic Society in 2019/2020. Her research considers the impacts of government policies on the behaviours of firms, workers, consumers and the functioning of markets. She is interested in improving the ways that economists communicate with the wider public, and increasing diversity of all kinds in the economics profession.

Michael McMahon is Professor of Economics at University of Oxford and Fellow at St Hugh’s College. He serves on the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council. He is a research fellow of the CEPR and Director of the Research Policy Network on Central Bank Communication. He is Deputy Director of Nuffield Centre for Applied Macro Policy (NuCamp). He is also affiliated with the Centre for Macroeconomics. 

Carol Propper is Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School, London. Her research seeks to increase understanding of the factors that affect the production of public services and outcomes for users of these services, with a particular focus on healthcare. She is the current President of the Royal Economic Society.

Imran Rasul is Professor of Economics at University College London, co-director of the Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and Research Programme Director in the Firms portfolio at the International Growth Centre. His research interests include labour, development and public economics.

Graeme Roy is Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute and head of Economics at the University of Strathclyde. Graeme’s interests are primarily in devolution, regional policy and the Scottish economy. Prior to returning to academia, he spent many years as a Senior Economic Adviser in government and is a former head of the First Minister of Scotland’s Policy Unit. 

Sarah Smith is Professor of Economics at the University of Bristol. Her research interests are in public policy, including gender and charitable giving/ pro-social behaviour. She is looking at the impact of COVID19 on the allocation of childcare and analysing expert economist views on COVID19. She set up a COVID-economics blog targeted at 6th formers wanting a taste of economics.

John Turner is a Professor of Finance and Financial History at Queen's University Belfast and director of the Queen's University Centre for Economic History. He has been a Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England and an Alfred D. Chandler Fellow at Harvard Business School. He is currently the editor of the Economic History Review. 

Editorial Board

Funded by

UKRI Economic and Social Research Council
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