As this pandemic hopefully winds down, its useful to think through the forecasts and analysis that economists got right, and what we got wrong. This is important because the U.S. has not ever been through such a deep, rapid, nor nearly simultaneous economic downturn. Never has our fiscal response been as rapid or comprehensive. Thus, economists have played an important and lingering role in this pandemic. I begin with what we got right.

The pandemic’s effect on the economy was fast and furious. Nearly all the jobs lost during the downturn occurred before any government action to close restaurants and bars, enforce mask standards or limit gatherings. State governments responded with wildly different limitations, making it relatively easy to isolate the effect of disease and government action on the economy. Over the past several months a number of high-quality studies have made clear that it was disease, not government, that delivered and sustained this recession.

Michael J. Hicks, PhD, is the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and the George and Frances Ball distinguished professor of economics in the Miller College of Business at Ball State University. Hicks earned doctoral and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Virginia Military Institute. He has authored two books and more than 60 scholarly works focusing on state and local public policy, including tax and expenditure policy and the impact of Wal-Mart on local economies.