Economic Fear Factor : Planet Money The global economy is being hammered this week - markets have tanked, businesses are closing down. The spreading virus is part of it, but most of the effect is coming from fear.
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Economic Fear Factor

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Economic Fear Factor

Economic Fear Factor

Economic Fear Factor

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Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 13: General view of empty shelves in a supermarket, as people have been bulk buying due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, on March 13, 2020 in Paris, France.
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Markets have had a tough week. Stock markets, bond markets and commodities markets have tanked. Businesses are shutting their doors all over the world. And shoppers have been panic-buying everything they can get their hands on, from toilet paper to frozen peas.

People are afraid. No one knows much about coronavirus, and that lack of knowledge is making people super conservative. They're canceling concerts and plays, steering clear of restaurants and staying home from school and work. That retreat from daily life, called 'aversion behavior', has a massive effect on the economy, far greater than the actual cost of the pandemic itself. Olga Jonas is a senior fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute. She has been studying the effects of pandemics for years. We talk to her about the outsize effects of fear and aversion behavior on economic life.

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