How deep will downturns in rich countries be?

AS THE VIRUS upends productive activity across the world, the question now is how bad things will get. On April 14th the IMF warned that the global recession would be the deepest for the best part of a century. But the severity of the pandemic and the uncertainty around the duration of lockdowns are such that economists’ models, trained on business cycles in the post-war era, are of little use. Some companies, such as Starbucks and Dell, have pulled their guidance on annual earnings, declining even to hazard a guess about the future. Amid the fog, however, one thing seems certain: some economies will suffer much more than others.

Economic crises expose and exacerbate structural weaknesses. Analysis by The Economist of five decades of GDP data finds that growth rates in rich countries tend to converge during expansions, as even the weakest economies are pulled along. Yet during downturns performance diverges markedly. In the first half of the 2000s the average annual gap between the GDP growth rates of the best- and worst-performing rich countries was five percentage points. In 2008-12, in the recession that followed the global financial crisis, the gap widened to ten points.

This recession will be no different. Three factors should help separate the bad economic outcomes from the dire ones: a...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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