Fireside Chat #2-"The Good, The Bad, and The Bad of "Panic Buying"

Join us for an indepth discussion with Prof. Jose Holguin-Veras

When: Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Time: 5-6pm

Where:  https://rensselaer.webex.com/meet/powelt2

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Session Description:

As part of our research its disaster response, Professor José Holguín-Veras and his team have conducted fieldwork research in the aftermath, frequently days after, of the majority of disasters that have taken place in the world during the last two decades. This team has investigated dozens of disasters (9/11, Katrina, Japan, Haiti, Nepal, etc etc). The main intent of these efforts is to identify lessons that should be learned, and help improve disaster response procedures.

One of the key findings this fieldwork, which nowadays is the focus of media articles, are the problems created by "precautionary / opportunistic buying". Although often referred to as “panic buying,” this is a misnomer. Some of these purchases are a natural human reaction to concerns about potential shortages that may occur when disasters are expected, or have occurred. In the case of the Tohoku disasters in Japan, the manager of one of the largest distribution centers in the Tohoku area indicated that the demand “doubled” after the tsunami.  The same happened and is happening during the COVID-19 crisis. The net effect of these purchases is the removal of the market of critical supplies that, for reasons of proximity, are ideally located to be part of the first wave of resources reaching the impacted area, delaying the response.

Soon after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team started to collaborate with more than 15 foreign universities to conduct an international research effort on the behaviors underlying precautionary / opportunistic buying. As of now, the team manage to collect about 7,000 observations from more than 20 countries. As part of this presentation Professor Holguín-Veras will provide a summary of the factors that influence this disaster phenomenon, and ways to mitgate it.