Vaccine Nationalism, Minimum Wage, Rising Energy Prices

Weighing the costs of global vaccine access, minimum wage and the energy rally.

In this Issue:

  • Variation In Vaccination
  • More On The Minimum Wage
  • Mixed Messages For Oil Producers

Nationalism is an ideology that promotes the interests of a nation, often to the exclusion or detriment of other countries. Rising nationalism across several countries in recent years has been at the root of geopolitical tensions and trade disruptions around the world. Now that school of thought threatens public and economic health.

Vaccine nationalism, where nations prioritize their own access to vaccines, is on the rise amid the ongoing global pandemic. A similar pattern was seen during other health crises, including the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the outbreaks of HIV/AIDS, smallpox and polio. In all of those instances, vaccines became available to poor nations only after the high-income group had secured adequate supplies.

The ideology isn’t new, but the stakes are higher this time. COVID-19 has taken an enormous toll: about two-and-a-half million lives have been lost and hundreds of millions of people have lost income (from employment loss or business closures). Even $12 trillion worth of fiscal support and trillions in newly printed money from central banks have thus far failed to cement a full recovery.

A year of intense research into more than 230 vaccine candidates has led to seven vaccines showing promising results, giving hope that the worst humanitarian and economic costs are behind us. However, the world is facing a reality check. The economy is facing a tougher start to 2021 than expected as infections surge and vaccine rollouts face hurdles.

Weekly Economic Commentary - 02/19/21 - Chart 1