Political economy is a discipline in which rigorous empirical testing is difficult.
Scholars are rarely presented with the kind of naturally occurring experiments which crop up in other fields of economic inquiry,
such as when one state increases its minimum wage while its neighbours do not. Covid-19 is different.
Though it is quite the cloud, for political economists the silver lining is that it provides an opportunity to look, in real time,
at how different models of governance react to a simultaneous shock.
Various taxonomies are used to categorise models of capitalism.
A prominent one was set out in 2001 in "Varieties of Capitalism", a book edited by Peter Hall, a political scientist, and David Soskice, an economist.
最突出的一种出现在2001年《资本主义的多样性》一书中，该书编辑为政治学家Peter Hall以及经济学家David Soskice。
It distinguished between liberal market economies (LMES) such as America, Britain and Canada,
and co-ordinated market economies (CMES) such as Germany, the Nordic countries, Austria and the Netherlands.
LMES' capitalism is redblooded, relying on market mechanisms to allocate resources and determine wages,
and on financial markets to allocate capital. CMES, though still capitalist, are fonder of social organisations such as trade unions, and of bank finance.
Western economies tend to sit on a continuum between these two models.
In recent years scholars have also tried to account for the authoritarian, state-driven capitalism found some other countries.
Branko Milanovic of the City University of New York calls this model "political capitalism".
These frameworks are surprisingly good at parsing countries' responses to the pandemic. Consider innovation.
Scholars distinguish between incremental innovation, the continuous process of making marginal improvements to products and processes,
and radical innovation, which may involve the launch of entirely new goods and services.
Whereas CMES, with their emphasis on specific skills and long-term thinking, should be better at incremental innovation,
they are at a disadvantage when it comes to radical innovation.
They are constrained by the structures they have erected to steer the economy, which are slow to adapt to wholesale change.