Economic growth is supposed to be the tide that lifts all boats. According to the conventional wisdom until recently, growth in China, India and East Asian countries took off thanks to opening up to international trade and investment.
Although Wuhan local authorities undoubtedly ostracized local medical whistle-blowers, notably Dr Li Wenliang
, who suspected a new virus was responsible for flu-like infections in Wuhan in late 2019, official responses
were apparently not delayed, and possibly even expedited, as the novel character of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, responsible for Covid-19 infections, was not immediately self-evident.
Like much of the West, Argentina did not take many early precautionary actions after the Covid-19 epidemic was confirmed in January, but became the first Latin American country to act decisively with a 12 March public health emergency declaration.
The presidential decree came a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic, just over a week after the first case was detected in the republic on 3 March.
The Covid-19 pandemic is now widely considered more threatening than any other recent viral epidemic. Most believe that many more have been infected or even died than officially confirmed.
Thandika Mkandawire (1940-2020) had a wicked sense of humour. But he was so considerate that he often made himself the butt of his jokes which typically had a moral. When others struggled to pronounce his surname, he would help them out, “Me kinda weary”.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro appointed medical entrepreneur Nelson Teich his new health minister on 17 April. The businessman quickly echoed
his boss’ desire to resume business as usual regardless of its potentially lethal consequences.
Vietnam, just south of coastal China, is the 15th most populous country in the world with 97 million people.According to its Ministry of Health (MoH), as of 13 April, there were 262 confirmed cases of COVID-19
, with 144 recovering or discharged from hospitals, and no deaths.
Within weeks, the Covid-19 epidemic was classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an epidemic of international significance, triggering a pre-agreed WHO response. By the end of the first week of April, more than 1.3 million people had been confirmed as infected, with over 65,000 deaths
across the world.
In 2006, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation jointly launched the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The African Green Revolution Forum claims AGRA is the “world’s most important and impactful forum for African agriculture”.
Martin Khor Kok Peng passed away just after the end of the first quarter of 2020. He leaves behind an unusually rich legacy. Atypically for people mainly working in the worldideas, he was also a very practical and pragmatic activist who successfully built and sustained several important initiatives which will live on after him.
As the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic shifts from China to the developed West, all too many rich countries are acting selfishly, invoking the ‘national interest’, by banning exports of vital medical supplies.
By the third week of March 2020, the number of Covid-19 deaths in Italy had overtaken the number of deaths in China. Authorities all over the world are restricting the movements of their populations as part of efforts to control the spread of Covid-19.
The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is hard to predict as events are still unfolding, and estimates vary dramatically. UNCTAD
estimates lost output in the order of US$1 trillion, just over a third of Bloomberg
’s expectation of US$2.7 trillion in losses. The OECD
expects global economic growth to halve from already anaemic levels.
It is now clear that most East Asian government responses to novel coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreaks have been effective. In Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, the number infected have remained relatively low despite their proximity and vulnerability, while containment in China and South Korea has been impressive.
‘Getting government out of the way’, the neoliberal ‘free market’ mantra, was supposed to boost private investment. Instead, business investment has declined as a consequence. Many economies now seem incapable of making much needed investments to sustain growth, apparently due to ‘capital allocation’ problems.
The US is currently still in a stock market bubble which, if history is any guide, is likely to end, as argued by Thomas Palley
. While President Trump would, of course, like to sustain it to strengthen his November re-election prospects, the Covid19 black swan is already showing signs of pricking the bubble
As the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 threatens a global pandemic, major stock markets around the world have suffered their worst performance since the 2008 financial crush.
Meeting the President of the Republic of Korea in September 2019, President Donald J Trump bragged
that the “US economy is the envy of the world”. Trump reiterated such claims in his State of the Union address
in early February, hailing his own policies with typical humility.
In an annual ritual early in the year, most major economic organizations have released forecasts for the global economy in 2020
. Incredibly, almost as a reminder of where financial power resides in this day and age, the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) released its forecasts at the World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting in Davos.
Many medicines and medical tests are unaffordable to most of humanity owing to the ability of typically transnational pharmaceutical giants to abuse their monopoly powers, enforced by intellectual property laws, to set prices to maximize profits over the long-term.
Financialization has worsened inequality through various channels, including macroeconomic policies. For example, quantitative easing and low, if not negative interest rates have fuelled credit and asset price bubbles, while fiscal spending cuts have adversely affected those depending on government assistance.