Projections of the potential impact of the Covid-19 shock on economies around the world for the year 2020 vary widely. However, there is broad agreement that the global economy will contract given the sudden stop to large swathes of activity and the resulting income loss in the manufacturing and services sectors across most advanced countries and China, combined with the adverse effects on financial markets, consumption (through both income and wealth effects), investment confidence, international trade and commodity prices.
For advanced country governments, now scrambling to contain the economic impact of the Covid -19 pandemic, the challenge — as discussed in our first Trade and Development Report Update1 – – is compounded by persistent fragilities surrounding highly speculative financial positions, in particular, the already unsustainable debt burdens associated with highly leveraged corporate loans. These have been built up over the last decade of easy money and against a backdrop of heavily underregulated ‘high-tech-cum-gig economies’ and deeply ingrained income inequalities. In addition, the avalanche of cheap credit since 2008 has also spilled over to developing countries, creating new financial vulnerabilities and undermining their debt sustainability.
In the past days a series of stimulus packages — unprecedented in both scale and scope — have been announced by the major developed economies and China to extenuate the mounting economic damage and respond to the health crisis. Aside from financial injections to keep the banking and corporate balance sheets on relatively stable footing, the critical measures to avert contractions of economic activity include government spending (particularly on health care), extended unemployment benefits and cash transfers.gds_tdr2019_covid2_en
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