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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. The coronavirus crisis is a dress rehearsal for the climate crisis: It will help show us not only what is possible, but also, crucially, whether or not those actions work.

Why it matters: There has never been a better time for big financial ideas to become reality.

  • The natural conservatism of rich governments has evaporated in the face of the global pandemic. They've already implemented more than $8 trillion in fiscal action, and many more policies are being proposed.
  • The biggest fiscal idea of them all, the Green New Deal, will have to wait at least until after the pandemic has been brought under control. But the main opposition to the GND is centered on its cost, and the potential negative consequences of enormous government borrowing and spending.
  • We're about to find out, in countries around the world, whether massive government deficits prove to be inflationary. If they do, that's bad news for the GND. But if they don't, many of the arguments against it are effectively defanged.

The big picture: "For everything except the financial markets, time has stopped," Nobel economics laureate Joe Stiglitz tells Axios. But capitalism is based on the flow of money. Now that many of those flows have stopped, governments are attempting to magic replacement flows out of thin air.

  • In a normally functioning economy, Stiglitz says, "I’m supposed to be able to pay you because I’ve earned money, not because I've received a gift from the government. We’re suspending the system of accountability, which is money."

The bottom line: Addressing the current economic crisis means finding innovative ways to create new flows of money, fast. The good news is that there are almost no technical obstacles to doing that. Money is invisible and electronic; it can be created at the press of a button.

  • There's still one taboo: Central banks have shied away from simply printing money, as opposed to lending it to banks, governments and others and expecting repayment in the future. They'll do most anything else, however.

Go deeper

Police officers' immunity from lawsuits is getting a fresh look

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, advocates of changes in police practices are launching new moves to limit or eliminate legal liability protections for officers accused of excessive force.

Why it matters: Revising or eliminating qualified immunity — the shield police officers have now — could force officers accused of excessive force to personally face civil penalties in addition to their departments. But such a change could intensify a nationwide police officer shortage, critics say. 

The U.S. coronavirus vaccines aren't all the same

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. now has three COVID-19 vaccines, and public health officials are quick — and careful — to say there’s no bad option. But their effectiveness, manufacturing and distribution vary.

Why it matters: Any of the authorized vaccines are much better than no vaccine, especially for people at high risk of severe coronavirus infections. But their differences may fuel perceptions of inequity, and raise legitimate questions about the best way to use each one.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The future of workplace benefits

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pandemic exposed how workplaces across America are inhospitable to parents. But it could also spur companies to make changes.

The big picture: Well over a million parents have left their jobs due to child care responsibilities during the pandemic. Now, companies — large and small — are attempting to reimagine workplace benefits and add flexibility to help those parents come back.