The Economic Impact of COVID-19 around the World
This article provides an account of the worldwide economic impact of the COVID-19 shock. In 2020, it severely impacted output growth and employment, particularly in middle-income countries. Governments responded primarily by increasing expenditure, supported by an expansion of the supply of money and debt. These policies did not put upward pressure on prices until 2021. International trade was severely disrupted across all regions in 2020 but subsequently recovered. For 2021, we find that the adverse effects of the COVID-19 shock on output and prices were significant and persistent, especially in emerging and developing countries.
For over two years, the world has been battling the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the writing of this article, deaths attributed to COVID-19 have surpassed six-and-a-half million people. Global economic growth was severely impacted: World output by the end of 2021 was more than 4 percentage points below its pre-pandemic trend. International trade was also significantly disrupted at the onset of the pandemic. The pandemic also prompted a strong policy response, resulting in a rise of government deficits and debt as well as widespread increases in the money supply. Finally, after an initial decline, prices have soared, resulting in elevated inflation rates.
This article provides an account of the worldwide economic impact of the COVID-19 shock. This shock was not felt simultaneously around the world, and mitigation policies, both health related and economic, varied substantially across countries. Yet there are some significant similarities in outcomes, especially when considering the pandemic period as a whole. Our analysis focuses on the shock's effects on specific groups of countries, related by their level of development and geographical location.
We find that the COVID-19 shock severely impacted output growth and employment in 2020, particularly in middle-income countries. The government response, mainly consisting of increased expenditure, implied a rise in debt levels. Advanced countries, having easier access to credit markets, experienced the highest increase in indebtedness. All regions also relied on monetary policy to support the fiscal expansion, and hence the money supply increased everywhere. The specific circumstances surrounding the shock implied that the expansionary fiscal and monetary policies did not put upward pressure on prices until 2021. International trade was severely disrupted across all regions in 2020 but subsequently recovered. When extending the analysis to 2021, we find that the adverse effects of the shock on output and prices have been significant and persistent, especially in emerging and developing countries.
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