Pandemic plunges global economy into worst recession since World War 2

The swift and massive shock of the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown measures to contain it have plunged the global economy into a severe contraction. According to World Bank forecasts, the global economy will shrink by 5.2% this year. That would represent the deepest recession since the Second World War, with the largest fraction of economies experiencing declines in per capita output since 1870.

According to the World Bank in its June 2020 Global Economic Prospects, economic activity among advanced economies is anticipated to shrink 7% in 2020 as domestic demand and supply, trade, and finance have been severely disrupted. 

Emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) are expected to shrink by 2.5% this year, their first contraction as a group in at least sixty years. Per capita incomes are expected to decline by 3.6%, which will tip millions of people into extreme poverty this year.

The blow is hitting hardest in countries where the pandemic has been the most severe and where there is heavy reliance on global trade, tourism, commodity exports, and external financing. 

While the magnitude of disruption will vary from region to region, all EMDEs have vulnerabilities that are magnified by external shocks. Moreover, interruptions in schooling and primary healthcare access are likely to have lasting impacts on human capital development.

Under the baseline forecast, which assumes that the pandemic recedes sufficiently to allow the lifting of domestic mitigation measures by mid-year in advanced economies and a bit later in EMDEs, that adverse global spillovers ease during the second half of the year, and that dislocations in financial markets are not long-lasting, global growth is forecast to rebound to 4.2% in 2021, as advanced economies grow 3.9% and EMDEs bounce back by 4.6%. 

However, the outlook is highly uncertain and downside risks are predominant, including the possibility of a more protracted pandemic, financial upheaval, and retreat from global trade and supply linkages. A downside scenario could lead the global economy to shrink by as much as 8% this year, followed by a sluggish recovery in 2021 of just over 1%, with output in EMDEs contracting by almost 5% this year.

The U.S. economy is forecast to contract 6.1% this year, reflecting the disruptions associated with pandemic-control measures. Euro Area output is expected to shrink 9.1% in 2020 as widespread outbreaks took a heavy toll on activity. Japan’s economy is anticipated to shrink 6.1% as preventive measures have slowed economic activity.

Regional Outlooks

East Asia and Pacific: Growth in the region is projected to fall to 0.5% in 2020, the lowest rate since 1967.

Europe and Central Asia: The regional economy is forecast to contract by 4.7%, with recessions in nearly all countries. 

Latin America and the Caribbean: The shocks stemming from the pandemic will cause regional economic activity to plunge by 7.2% in 2020. 

Middle East and North Africa: Economic activity is forecast to contract by 4.2% as a result of the pandemic and oil market developments. 

South Asia: Economic activity in the region is projected to contract by 2.7% in 2020 as pandemic mitigation measures hinder consumption and services activity and as uncertainty about the course of the pandemic, chills private investment.

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