The deepest economic crises are also crucibles for new economic thinking. The Depression led to Keynesian macroeconomics. The second world war cemented support for the welfare state and the mixed economy. The inflationary 1970s and the oil shocks propelled free-market ideas to power.
We should expect the coronavirus pandemic, which amounts to the greatest peacetime economic disruption in living memory, also to lead to big shifts in the consensus on what is good economic policy. To see the direction of change, look to that guardian of economic orthodoxy, the IMF.
Every year, in the lead-up to its annual meetings — the 2020 forum is about to start — it publishes the “analytical chapters” of its flagship publications. The growth forecasts issued at the meetings are what will hit the headlines. But the underlying analyses often provide deeper insight into changing economic conditions and the shifting realities of economic policymaking.