Sunday, 22 March 2020

Covid-19 Pandemic and Global Economic Crisis: Official Accounts and Sources of Information

I will be regularly updating this post. Original Post 23-3-2020, Update: 23-3-2020.
There is a great deal of disinformation circulating on social media. It is important to base our thinking about the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated global economic crisis on reliable sources of information. 

Mainstream sources are not entirely reliable for a variety of reasons that include: questionable methodology, acknowledged limitations in the availability of reliable data, the adoption of a fundamentally neoliberal perspective, downplaying the role of neoliberalism in promoting the under-funding of public health systems since the late 1970s, and so forth. But information from these sources is generally more reliable than a great deal of that which circulates via social media- especially when it originates from the far right.

John Hopkins Medicine Tracking Map
This is the most reliable source of statistical data on the pandemic (confirmed cases, recovered cases, deaths).

The same source provides sound medical information on the nature of the illness. 

World Health Organization (WHO)
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but the WHO is producing a great deal of information that should be a starting point for, among other things, considering the empirical dimension of the pandemic. 

For the WHO tracking map see:

Responses by Mainstream International Economic Agencies

From the IMF:

• 'Coronavirus Economic Planning: Hoping for the Best, Prepared for the Worst" 

• Monetary and Financial Stability During the Coronavirus Outbreak

 "The global spread of the coronavirus is a human tragedy unfolding across the world. Quantifying the economic impact is complex, giving rise to significant uncertainty about the economic outlook and the associated downside risks. Such an abrupt rise in uncertainty can put both economic growth and financial stability at risk. In addition to targeted economic policies and fiscal measures, the right monetary and financial stability policies will be vital to help buttress the global economy."

• 'Limiting the Economic Fallout of the Coronavirus with Large Targeted Policies' 

From the OECD:

• 'The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on economic prospects is severe.'

 "Growth was weak but stabilising until the coronavirus Covid-19 hit. Restrictions on movement of people, goods and services, and containment measures such as factory closures have cut manufacturing and domestic demand sharply in China. The impact on the rest of the world through business travel and tourism, supply chains, commodities and lower confidence is growing." 

OECD Interim Economic Assessment Coronavirus: The world economy at risk 2 March 2020

"The adverse impact on confidence, financial markets, the travel sector and disruption to supply chains contributes to the downward revisions in all G20 economies in 2020, particularly ones strongly interconnected to China, such as Japan, Korea and Australia."
PDF can be downloaded from: 

From the World Bank:

• 'Swift action can help developing countries limit economic harm of coronavirus'

"We know from history that when the global economy faces a common threat, quick, coordinated, and decisive action makes all the difference. That is beginning to happen. Several countries have announced stimulus programs, many have cut interest rates, and both the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund have unveiled massive financial-support packages to help countries overcome the health crisis and limit the economic damage."
"No one can reliably predict the full economic impact of the outbreak. Too much depends on what is unknowable—how long the outbreak lasts, how many countries it afflicts, and the extent to which a coordinated, concerted, fast-track policy response is mobilized and sustained. But what we do know is that the outbreak arrived at a weak point for the world economy, when global growth was beginning to pick up from its lowest rate since the 2009 financial crisis." 

• 'Coronavirus highlights the need to strengthen health systems'

For years the IMF, OECD and World Bank have promoted neoliberal policies that have involved the under-funding of public health systems. No self-critical reflection on this in this article. Nonetheless, it is important to argue for more funding for public health. 

"But addressing emergency health and economic impacts from this outbreak must be followed by longer-term investments to build stronger and more resilient health systems. 
This makes sense both from a health and an economic perspective. Putting more resources on the front lines to detect and treat conditions early, before they become more serious, saves lives, improves health outcomes, reduces healthcare costs and strengthens preparedness for when outbreaks occur."

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