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Swine Flu and the Economy

Feeling a little feverish? Throat a little scratchy? You may be relieved to know that the last time a great swine flu epidemic was predicted it didn’t materialize. In 1976, the U.S. government predicted that 1 million Americans would die from a swine flu epidemic — but only one did. Meanwhile, this post at Foreign Policy points out that while the world is much better equipped to handle a flu epidemic than it was in 1918 (when 50 million people died), “the integrated nature of the global economy means that international finance offers little resistance to the economic shocks that accompany pandemics.” The authors estimate that a mild flu epidemic would reduce global G.D.P. by 1 percent and a severe epidemic could reduce output by up to 12.6 percent. Fortunately, at least one company is benefiting from the outbreak. [%comments]