Business Maverick

Business Maverick

World Bank’s Reinhart Sees ‘Pandemic Depression’ in Many Nations

Carmen Reinhart

Covid-19 has created an economic downturn that will cause a “pandemic depression” in many countries, according to World Bank chief economist Carmen Reinhart.

The world will follow a path similar to the 2008 global financial crisis, only worse, Reinhart and her husband, Vincent Reinhart, the chief economist at Standish Mellon Asset Management, write in the forthcoming issue of Foreign Affairs magazine. The article was written before Reinhart was named to her World Bank post.

The World Bank in June warned that the Covid-19 recession threatens to drag 70 million to 100 million people into extreme poverty, with emerging and developing economies shrinking the most in data going back to 1960. The United Nations also said that nations face the worst food crisis in at least 50 years.

Read more about the pandemic and global inequality

“This situation is so dire that it deserves to be called a ‘depression’ — a pandemic depression,” the couple said. “The shared nature of this shock — the novel coronavirus does not respect national borders — has put a larger proportion of the global community in recession than at any other time since the Great Depression. As a result, the recovery will not be as robust or rapid as the downturn.”

The Reinharts warn that an economic rebound shouldn’t be confused with a recovery. In all of the worst financial crises since the mid-19th century, per capita gross domestic product took an average of eight years to return to pre-crisis levels, they say. The Reinharts encourage countries to press on with fiscal and monetary stimulus.


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