January 17
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The recession in the global economy in 2020 will amount to 5.2%, the worst recession expected since World War II, the World Bank (WB) noted in its new 'Global Economic Prospects' report.

"COVID-19 has delivered an enormous global shock, leading to steep recessions in many countries. The baseline forecast envisions a 5.2 percent contraction in global GDP in 2020—the deepest global recession in decades. Per capita incomes in most emerging and developing economies will shrink this year. The pandemic highlights the urgent need for policy action to cushion its consequences, protect vulnerable populations, and improve countries’ capacity to cope with similar future events. It is also critical to address the challenges posed by informality and limited safety nets and undertake reforms that enable strong and sustainable growth," the report noted.

"The rapid rise of COVID-19 cases, together with the wide range of measures to slow the spread of the virus, has slowed economic activity precipitously in many EMDEs. Economic disruptions are likely to be more severe and protracted in those countries with larger domestic outbreaks, greater exposure to international spillovers (particularly through exposure to global commodity and financial markets, global value chains, and tourism), and larger pre-existing challenges such as informality. Growth forecasts for all regions have been severely downgraded; Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and Europe and Central Asia (ECA) in particular have large downgrades partly because of the size of their domestic outbreaks and exposure to global spillovers, while South Asia’s substantial downgrade is primarily the result of stringent lockdown measures. Many countries have avoided more adverse outcomes through sizable fiscal and monetary policy support measures. Despite these measures, per capita incomes in all EMDE regions are expected to contract in 2020, likely causing many millions to fall back into poverty."

"The COVID-19 pandemic has struck a devastating blow to an already-fragile global economy. Lockdowns and other restrictions needed to address the public health crisis, together with spontaneous reductions in economic activity by many consumers and producers, constitute an unprecedented combination of adverse shocks that is causing deep recessions in many advanced economies and EMDEs. Those EMDEs that have weak health systems; those that rely heavily on global trade, tourism, or remittances from abroad; and those that depend on commodity exports will be particularly hard-hit. 

Beyond its short-term impact, deep recessions triggered by the pandemic are likely to leave lasting scars through multiple channels, including lower investment; erosion of the human capital of the unemployed; and a retreat from global trade and supply linkages. 

These effects may well lower potential growth and labor productivity in the longer term. Immediate policy measures should support health care systems and moderate the short-term impact of the pandemic on activity and employment. In addition, a comprehensive reform drive is needed to reduce the adverse impact of the pandemic on long-term growth prospects by improving governance and business environments, and expanding investment in education and public health."

"The outbreak of COVID-19 and the wide-ranging measures needed to slow its advance have precipitated an unprecedented collapse in oil demand, a surge in oil inventories, and, in March, the steepest one-month decline in oil prices on record. In the context of the current restrictions on a broad swath of economic activity, low oil prices are unlikely to do much to buffer the effects of the pandemic, but they may provide some initial support for a recovery once these restrictions begin to be lifted. Like other countries, energy-exporting EMDEs face an unprecedented public health crisis, but their fiscal positions were already strained even before the recent collapse in oil revenues. To help retain access to market-based financing for fiscal support programs, these EMDEs will need to make credible commitments to a sustainable medium-term fiscal position. For some of them, current low oil prices provide an opportunity to implement energy-pricing policies that yield efficiency and fiscal gains over the medium term"

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