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Global Policy Tracker

By: Alberto Cavallo and 25 MBA/Harvard students

[Note: the Global Policy Tracker is no longer active. We collected data of the initial policy response in over 50 countries from March to May 2020. The database will remain online and we hope it is useful to anyone who wishes to understand how the initial policy responses compared across countries.]

The HBS Global Policy Tracker is an initiative to collect and standarize economic policies implemented as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic around the world. We focus on fiscal policy, monetary policy, and lockdowns. The data is updated in real-time with the efforts of several dozens of students and staff at HBS and other Harvard Schools.

A key characteristic of this tracker is that we try to quantify government responses in common variables, units and currencies to facilitate cross-country comparisons and outcome evaluation over the course of the spread of the pandemic. Download the working paper with more details about the data collection and data processing methodologies.

If you are interested in submitting ongoing policy changes in your country to add to our database, you can fill out the form here.

Please read the COVID-19 Business Impact Center Terms of Use

Policy Database

Download the policy database in Excel format. This file is automatically processed and cleaned several times during the day.

Summary Statistics by County

This cross-country summary table facilitates cross-country comparisons  We include aggregate totals and binary indicators by policy types and subtypes. 

Type of Policies Tracked

The HBS Global Policy Tracker uses publicly available media and government sources to identify new and changing government policies.  We divide policies into fiscal, monetary, and lockdown types. Each policy is also categorized into subtypes, as listed below.

 

TypeSubtypesDescription & Examples
Fiscal

General

Total amount of the announcement.  Used only when the policy is not divided into other subtypes.
 Direct SpendingInfrastructure, hospitals, public transit, etc.  The government is buying the goods or services.
 Direct TransfersTransfers for poor families, UE insurance payments, grants for businesses (no repayment), aid to states (not loans).  Not that the government is not doing the actual spending in these cases.
 Tax Benefits and CutsTax cuts for people or business, extending deadlines or adding exceptions.
 LoansWhen repayment is expected (not a grant).  To people, businesses, provinces, any other.
 Regulation

More flexible/simpler regulations, reducing firms' costs that are not taxes.

 OtherUsed when we are splitting the policy amounts in subtypes and we cannot classify part of the policy into the other subtypes.  Only the partial amount that could be not classified is included here.
LockdownPartialPartial if it does not cover the whole country or lockdown not complete or loosely enforced.
 FullCases with exceptions for "essential businesses", or such should be considered Full.  Use your judgement here to decide.
MonetaryRate cutsTraditional policy rate cuts (fed funds rate, discount rate, etc.)
 Lending to GovernmentCB directly buys government bonds (or other form of lending) from the central government.
 Change in Reserve RequirementChange in bank's required reserve ratios.
 Credit Facilities to Financial InstitutionsCB is lending to commercial and non-commercial banking institutions (eg. investment banks, money market funds).
 Credit Facilities to CorporationsCB is lending to non-financial institutions (ie. buying corporate bonds directly from firms).
 QE (large scale asset purchases)CB is buying large/unlimited quantities of non-traditional assets (long-term gov bonds, corporate, etc.).
 Exchange Rate or Capital ControlsGovernment limits access to the foreign exchange market or restricts money otherwise coming in and out of the country.
 OtherUndefined.
Other To be classified/standardized later.

 

Collected Variables

The variables collected by our team are shown in Table 1. We include the date of the announcement, the type and subtype of the policy, and the start and end dates of the policy. The nominal amount of the policy is entered in the original currency and units announced.

 

VariableExplanation
Date of AnnouncementThe date of the policy announcement.  We use an approximate date if the details are not available.
ReferenceThe url to the information source.  Can be a primary source (government announcement) or a newspaper article from a reputable media outlet.
Type of PolicyDrop-down list of from the previous table.
SubtypeDrop-down list of from the previous table.
Policy DescriptionOpen text field.  Add a brief description of the policy.  Anything considered relevant/useful to know.
AmountOnly numbers (no $ signs).
CurrencyLCU (local currency unit) or USD, as reported in the reference source.
UnitTrillions, Billions, Millions, or thousands, as reported in the reference source.
Start DateWhen the policy is supposed to start.
End DateWhen the policy is expected to end (if announced).  Blank if unknown.

 

Calculated Variables

To facilitate international comparisons of the policies announced, we re-express all nominal values in millions of LCU, millions of USD, and as a percentage of GDP in 2018 (the last available year for most countries). 

 

VariableExplanation
Amount_Millions_LCUWe use the Unit variable to re-express the amount in millions.  If the announcement was made in USD, we divide it by the Nominal Exchange Rate (defined as USD per unit of LCU).
Amount_Mllions_USDWe use the Unit variable to re-express the amount in millions.  If the announcement was made in LCU, we multiply it by the Nominal Exchange Rate (defined as USD per unit of LCU).
Percent_GDP_2028We divide Amount_Millions_USD / Milion of USD GDP 2018.

 

The GDP in current USD for 2018 is sourced from the World Bank. Exchange rates are obtained from the Alpha Vantage Stock API, a company created by Steve Zheng (HBS '18) and Olivier Porte (HBS' 18). For spreadsheet access to the stock API domain, you may refer to the Google Sheet Add-on and Microsoft Excel Add-on of Alpha Vantage. 

 

Team

Team Lead: Alberto Cavallo (Associate Professor HBS - BGIE group)

HBS Students: Tannya Cai (project manager), Alex DeVille, Angel Rodriguez, Anna Sakellariadis, Bhumika Agarwalla, Camille Gregory, Dvij Bajpai, Enrique Elias, Eufern Pan, Joaquin de la Maza, John Guo, Joyce Zhang, Lau Skovgaard, Marcia Ambrosi, Margherita Pignatelli, Ratnika Prasad, Rei Morimoto, Rohan Vora, Roni Luo, Ruth van Montfort, Ryan Yu, Soichiro Chiba, Sophia Lien, Ukasha Iqbal, Umang Sota.

 

                                                                
 Tannya Cai (PM)
 HBS MBA ‘21
 Bhumika Agarwalla
 HBS MBA ‘20
Ratnika Prasad
HBS MBA '20-MPA/ID
Roni Luo
HBS MBA '20
Ruth van Montfort
HBS MBA ‘21
       Margherita Pignatelli      Soichiro Chiba       Joaquin de la Maza      
Umang Sota
HBS MBA ‘21
Margherita Pignatelli
HBS MBA '20
Soichiro Chiba
HBS MBA ‘21
Joaquin de la Maza
HBS MBA ‘20
Sophia Lien
HBS MBA ‘21
      Eufern Pan        Alex Deville   Harvard Shield   Harvard Shield   Harvard Shield
Eufern Pan
HBS MBA ‘21
Alex DeVille
HKS MPA-ID '21
Anna Sakellariadis
HBS MBA ‘20
Angel Rodriguez
HSPH PhD
Dvij Bajpai
HBS MBA ‘21
  Harvard Shield   Harvard Shield   Harvard Shield   Harvard Shield   Harvard Shield
Camille Gregory
HKS/HBS MBA ‘21
Enrique Elias
HBS MBA ‘20
Joyce Zhang
HBS MBA ‘21
John Guo
HBS MBA ‘20
Lau Skovgaard
HBS MBA ‘21
  Harvard Shield   Harvard Shield   Harvard Shield    Harvard Shield    Harvard Shield
Marcia Ambrosi
HBS MBA ‘21
Ryan Yu
HBS MBA ‘21
Rei Morimoto
HBS MBA ‘21
Rohan Vora
HBS MBA ‘20
Ukasha Iqbal
HBS MBA ‘21
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