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Ruchir Agarwal and Ms. Gita Gopinath
Pandemics and epidemics pose risks to lives, societies, and economies, and their frequency is expected to increase as rising trade and increased human interaction with animals leads to the emergence of new diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic teaches us that we can and must be better prepared, with scope for much greater global coordination to address the financing, supply-chain, and trade barriers that amplified the pandemic’s economic costs and contributed to the emergence of new variants. This paper draws seven early lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic that could inform future policy priorities and help shape a better global response to future crises.
Ruchir Agarwal, Ms. Gita Gopinath, Jeremy Farrar, Richard Hatchett, and Peter Sands
The pandemic is not over, and the health and economic losses continue to grow. It is now evident that COVID-19 will be with us for the long term, and there are very different scenarios for how it could evolve, from a mild endemic scenario to a dangerous variant scenario. This realization calls for a new strategy that manages both the uncertainty and the long-term risks of COVID-19. There are four key policy implications of such as strategy. First, we need to achieve equitable access beyond vaccines to encompass a comprehensive toolkit. Second, we must monitor the evolving virus and dynamically upgrade the toolkit. Third, we must transition from the acute response to a sustainable strategy toward COVID-19, balanced and integrated with other health and social priorities. Fourth, we need a unified risk-mitigation approach to future infectious disease threats beyond COVID-19. Infectious diseases with pandemic potential are a threat to global economic and health security. The international community should recognize that its pandemic financing addresses a systemic risk to the global economy, not just the development need of a particular country. Accordingly, it should allocate additional funding to fight pandemics and strengthen health systems both domestically and overseas. This will require about $15 billion in grants this year and $10 billion annually after that.
Mr. Pragyan Deb and Ms. TengTeng Xu
The health and economic impacts of COVID-19 on India have been substantial, with wide variation across states and union territories. This paper quantifies the impact of containment measures and voluntary social distancing on both the spread of the virus and the economy at the state level during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We construct a de-facto measure of state-level social distancing, combining containment strigency and observed mobility trends. State-level empirical analysis suggests that social distancing and containment measures effectively reduced case numbers, but came with high economic costs. State characteristics, such as health care infrastructure and the share of services in the economy, played an important role in shaping the health and economic outcomes, highlighting the importance of adequate social spending, health care infrastructure, and social safety nets.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the August 2020 coup d’état have disrupted more than half a decade of strong economic performance, during which growth averaged 5 percent.1 Growth is projected to decline from 5 percent to -2 percent in 2020 both on account of the pandemic (reflecting a slowdown in external demand, travel, and FDI, as well as the impact of uncertainty and reduced mobility on domestic demand) and of post-coup disruptions in trade, transport, economic and financial flows following the sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Inflation accelerated slightly in recent months but is expected to remain below 2 percent, while the current account deficit is projected to narrow due to higher gold prices (main export) and lower oil prices (main import). Risks around the outlook are exceptionally high in light of the uncertainty surrounding the political transition, the impact of the sanctions on trade and overall activity, and continued deterioration in the security situation. Weak social safety nets amid high informality, food insecurity and a fragile healthcare system exacerbate challenges.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the August 2020 coup d’état have disrupted more than half a decade of strong economic performance, during which growth averaged 5 percent.1 Growth is projected to decline from 5 percent to -2 percent in 2020 both on account of the pandemic (reflecting a slowdown in external demand, travel, and FDI, as well as the impact of uncertainty and reduced mobility on domestic demand) and of post-coup disruptions in trade, transport, economic and financial flows following the sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Inflation accelerated slightly in recent months but is expected to remain below 2 percent, while the current account deficit is projected to narrow due to higher gold prices (main export) and lower oil prices (main import). Risks around the outlook are exceptionally high in light of the uncertainty surrounding the political transition, the impact of the sanctions on trade and overall activity, and continued deterioration in the security situation. Weak social safety nets amid high informality, food insecurity and a fragile healthcare system exacerbate challenges.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia region have been hit by two large and reinforcing shocks, resulting in significantly weaker growth projections in 2020. In addition to the devastating toll on human health, the COVID-19 pandemic and the plunge in oil prices are causing economic turmoil in the region, with fragile and conflict affected states particularlyhard-hit given already large humanitarian and refugee challenges and weak health infrastructures. The immediate priority for policies is to save lives with needed health spending, regardless of fiscal space, while preserving engines of growth with targeted support to households and hard-hit sectors. In this context, the IMF has been providing emergency assistance to help countries in the region during these challenging times. Further ahead, economic recoveries should be supported with broad fiscal and monetary measures where policy space is available, and by seeking external assistance where space is limited.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia region have been hit by two large and reinforcing shocks, resulting in significantly weaker growth projections in 2020. In addition to the devastating toll on human health, the COVID-19 pandemic and the plunge in oil prices are causing economic turmoil in the region, with fragile and conflict affected states particularlyhard-hit given already large humanitarian and refugee challenges and weak health infrastructures. The immediate priority for policies is to save lives with needed health spending, regardless of fiscal space, while preserving engines of growth with targeted support to households and hard-hit sectors. In this context, the IMF has been providing emergency assistance to help countries in the region during these challenging times. Further ahead, economic recoveries should be supported with broad fiscal and monetary measures where policy space is available, and by seeking external assistance where space is limited.

Irene Yackovlev, Ms. Zuzana Murgasova, Fei Liu, Gohar Minasyan, and Ke Wang
How to Operationalize IMF Engagement on Social Spending during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 Crisis
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia region have been hit by two large and reinforcing shocks, resulting in significantly weaker growth projections in 2020. In addition to the devastating toll on human health, the COVID-19 pandemic and the plunge in oil prices are causing economic turmoil in the region, with fragile and conflict affected states particularlyhard-hit given already large humanitarian and refugee challenges and weak health infrastructures. The immediate priority for policies is to save lives with needed health spending, regardless of fiscal space, while preserving engines of growth with targeted support to households and hard-hit sectors. In this context, the IMF has been providing emergency assistance to help countries in the region during these challenging times. Further ahead, economic recoveries should be supported with broad fiscal and monetary measures where policy space is available, and by seeking external assistance where space is limited.