IPPSR State of the State podcast focuses on coronavirus impact on politics and the economy

Mar 28, 2020

The novel Coronavirus pandemic that’s scarred the country with death and disease has sparked economic recession, says Michigan State University's Charles Ballard in the latest edition of the State of the State Podcast.


At last report, the virus and associated illness COVID-19 raised the nation’s unemployment ranks to 3.3 million people as manufacturing, retailers and offices sent employees home to layoff or to work remotely. Ballard calls the report “stunning.”

As of mid-afternoon Friday, Michigan had reported 3,650 cases of Covid19 and 92 deaths due to the virus that has no proven cure and in the U.S. has caused some 100,000 cases of illness and 1,554 deaths. Health authorities are predicting a continued global increase for the foreseeable future, while seeking a preventative vaccine.

MSU initiated online instruction for the remainder of the semester and postponed commencement as did schools and universities across the state. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued executive orders to keep the state’s population in their homes and at a safe distance to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

The podcast features political scientist Matt Grossmann, director of MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and podcast home, Ballard and Arnold Weinfeld, IPPSR associate director.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the country is in a recession,” Ballard says. The coronavirus is a “nasty, nasty opponent,” he adds.

One potential positive sign, Ballard says, the economy’s relative strength before the coronavirus began its spread. The stock market had climbed to its highest levels ever in February and unemployment nationally was at one of its lowest points in decades.

In the podcast, Ballard and Weinfeld cover the 2020 presidential election, increased confidence in President Donald Trump, state and federal disease controls, likely results of a $2 trillion economic stimulus, the Defense Production Act, civil liberties during a pandemic, and the virus’ impact on online shopping and placemaking.

“The race in the primary for the Democratic nomination to run for president is basically over,” says Grossmann. “The race is in a suspended animation pattern because we aren’t having any primaries while we deal with the virus. The presidential race has receded from the news dramatically while the virus takes center stage.” 

IPPSR is a unit of MSU’s College of Social Science. Its focus is on public policy education, political leadership education, and survey research.

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870. Follow and subscribe through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, You Tube, or wherever you get your podcasts.