300,504FansLike
227FollowersFollow
6FollowersFollow
FollowersFollow
907FollowersFollow
138SubscribersSubscribe

Economy: The Great Lockdown through a Global Lens – Perspectives by Gita Gopinath

Although we are headquartered in Washington D.C. USA, our reporters and editors are working around the globe to cover what you care about. We invite you to donate to our fundraiser to help us keep our quality news free and available for all.

The Great Lockdown is expected to play out in three phases, first as countries enter the lockdown, then as they exit, and finally as they escape the lockdown when there is a medical solution to the pandemic. Many countries are now in the second phase, as they reopen, with early signs of recovery, but with risks of second waves of infections and re-imposition of lockdowns. Surveying the economic landscape, the sheer scale and severity of the Global Lockdown are striking. Most tragically, this pandemic has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide. The resulting economic crisis is unlike anything the world has seen before.

Aside from its unprecedented scale, the Global Lockdown is playing out in ways that are very different from past crises.

This is a truly global crisis. Past crises, as deep and severe as they were, remained confined to smaller segments of the world, from Latin America during the 1980s to Asia in the 1990s. Even the global financial crisis 10 years ago had more modest effects on global output.

[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]

For the first time since the Great Depression, both advanced and emerging market economies will be in recession in 2020. The forthcoming June World Economic Outlook Update is likely to show negative growth rates even worse than previously estimated. This crisis will have devastating consequences for the world’s poor.

Aside from its unprecedented scale, the Global Lockdown is playing out in ways that are very different from past crises. These unusual characteristics are emerging all over the world, irrespective of the size, geographic region, or production structure of economies.

First, this crisis has dealt a uniquely large blow to the services sector. In typical crises, the brunt is borne by manufacturing, reflecting a decline in investment, while the effect on services is generally muted as consumption demand is less affected. This time is different. In the peak months of the lockdown the contraction in services has been even larger than in manufacturing, and it is seen in advanced and emerging market economies alike. There are exceptions—like Sweden and Taiwan Province of China, which adopted a different approach to the health crisis, with limited government containment measures and a consequently proportionately smaller hit to services vis-à-vis manufacturing.

It is possible that with pent-up consumer demand there will be a quicker rebound, unlike after previous crises. However, this is not guaranteed in a health crisis as consumers may change spending behavior to minimize social interaction, and uncertainty can lead households to save more. In the case of China, one of the early exiters from lockdown, the recovery of the services sector lags manufacturing as such services as hospitality and travel struggle to regain demand. Of particular concern is the long-term impact on economies that rely significantly on such services—for example, tourism-dependent economies.

Second, despite the large supply shocks unique to this crisis, except for food inflation, we have thus far seen, if anything, a decline in inflation and inflation expectations pretty much across the board in both advanced and emerging market economies. Despite the considerable conventional and unconventional monetary and fiscal support across the globe, aggregate demand remains subdued and is weighing on inflation, alongside lower commodity prices. With high unemployment projected to stay for a while, countries with monetary policy credibility will likely see small risks of spiraling inflation.

Third, we see striking divergence of financial markets from the real economy, with financial indicators pointing to stronger prospects of a recovery than real activity suggests. Despite the recent correction, the S&P 500 has recouped most of its losses since the start of the crisis; the FTSE emerging market index and Africa index are substantially improved; the Bovespa rose significantly despite the recent surge in infection rates in Brazil; and portfolio flows to emerging and developing economies have stabilized.

With few exceptions, the rise in sovereign spreads and the depreciation of emerging market currencies are smaller than what we saw during the global financial crisis. This is notable considering the larger scale of the shock to emerging markets during the Great Lockdown.

This divergence may portend greater volatility in financial markets. Worse health and economic news can lead to sharp corrections. We will have more to say about this divergence in our forthcoming Global Financial Stability Report.

One likely factor behind this divergence is the stronger policy response during this crisis. Monetary policy has become accommodative across the board, with unprecedented support from major central banks, and monetary easing in emerging markets including through first time use of unconventional policies.

Discretionary fiscal policy has been sizable in advanced economies. Emerging markets have deployed smaller fiscal support, constrained to some extent by limited fiscal space. Furthermore, a unique challenge confronting emerging markets this time around is that the informal sector, typically a shock absorber, has not been able to play that role under containment policies and has instead required support. We are now in the early stages of the second phase as many countries begin to ease containment policies and gradually permit the resumption of economic activity. But there remains profound uncertainty about the path of the recovery.

A key challenge in escaping the Great Lockdown will be to ensure adequate production and distribution of vaccines and treatments when they become available—and this will require a global effort. For individual countries, minimizing the health uncertainty by using the least economically disruptive approaches such as testing, tracing, and isolation, tailored to country-specific circumstances with clear communication about the path of policies, should remain a priority to strengthen confidence in the recovery. As the recovery progresses, policies should support the reallocation of workers from shrinking sectors to sectors with stronger prospects.

The IMF, in coordination with other international organizations, will continue to do all it can to ensure adequate international liquidity, provide emergency financing, support the G20 debt service suspension initiative, and help countries maintain a manageable debt burden. The IMF will also provide advice and support through surveillance and capacity development, to help disseminate best practices, as countries learn from each other during this unprecedented crisis.

This article was first published on the IMF website with the permission to republish.

IMFBlog is a forum for the views of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff and officials on pressing economic and policy issues of the day. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF and its Executive Board.

[/read_more]

Opinion contributor
Opinion contributor
This opinion was received by Today News Africa in Washington, District of Columbia. The views expressed here are those of the writer(s) and not ours. You can send your own article to todaynewsafrica@gmail.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Trending Now

300,504FansLike
227FollowersFollow
6FollowersFollow
1FollowersFollow
907FollowersFollow
138SubscribersSubscribe

JUST IN

WHO says only $35 billion needed to end acute phase of COVID-19 in the world

The World Health Organization (WHO) says $35 billion is still needed to end the acute phase of COVID-19 pandemic through the...

After first recognizing only the richest Nigerian on Time list of 100 most influential people in 2020, Buhari finally congratulates polio eradication champion Dr. Tunji Funsho

After first recognizing only the richest Nigerian on Time list of 100 most influential people in 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari on...

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says he’s okay with money politics and vote buying

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday he is okay with money politics and vote buying but against election violence.

Rights group calls for “urgent changes” ahead of October presidential vote in Guinea

A human rights organization on Friday called for "urgent changes" ahead of October presidential vote in Guinea, citing legislative elections and...

WHO says social and environmental factors behind Africa’s low COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 transmission in Africa has been marked by relatively fewer infections, which have been on the decline over the past two...

MOST POPULAR

Damning report finds detainees in Iran were sexually abused and given electric shocks in gruesome post-protest crackdown

Iran’s police, intelligence and security forces, and prison officials have committed, with the complicity of judges and prosecutors, a catalogue of...

Ethiopia charges prominent opposition figure Jawar Mohammed with terrorism

As human rights organizations continue to warn that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is turning Ethiopia into a dictatorship, his administration on...

WHO and UNICEF sign 10-year partnership to promote mental health of children and adolescents

 A new partnership between WHO and UNICEF is calling for key actions in universal health coverage, mental health, emergencies and nutrition

Bill Gates praises Africa’s response to COVID-19 but warns against collateral damage

Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Sunday praised Africa's response to the novel coronavirus but warned against collateral damage, including a drastic...

In moving film, UN calls for collective action to tackle global challenges, including COVID-19, racism, climate change and poverty

The United Nations, Project Everyone and 72 Films are launching “Nations United - Urgent Solutions for Urgent Times,” a first of...

WHO says only $35 billion needed to end acute phase of COVID-19 in the world

The World Health Organization (WHO) says $35 billion is still needed to end the acute phase of COVID-19 pandemic through the ACT-Accelerator initiative.The ACT-Accelerator's goal is to develop new tools, produce and delivere 2 billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million diagnostic tests over the next year.It is the only global initiative...

Stay connected

[/read_more]

[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]

Share
Tweet
WhatsApp
Reddit
Share