As the world grapples with COVID-19, governments face a daunting challenge: limiting the adverse impact of a pandemic that has ground economic activity to a halt, affecting people at a scale rarely seen before.
Vanessa Nakate of Uganda may have been cropped out of a photograph taken at the World Economic Forum, but she along with Swedish activist Greta Thunberg have made the climate crisis centre stage.
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.
In January of this year, Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, shocked much of the world when they announced they would be stepping down from their roles as senior royals.
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.
The coronavirus pandemic seems to have finally forced governments around the world to ditch their obsession (at least for the moment) with delivering budget surplus. As stock markets tumble, stimulus measures, worth billions of dollars, are announced to boost investor confidence and consumer spending to keep economies running.
‘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
Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of coffee, sugar, beef, soya, cotton, and ethanol but due to its environmental and water footprint it ranks low on sustainability. Brazilian agriculture’s contribution to the loss of rainforest is a case in point – the Amazon lost as much as 3,465 square miles of forest due to fires last year – triggering widespread international outrage over the lax environment policies that allowed all of this to happen. Its large commercial cattle herd is also a source of greenhouse gas emissions. Brazil’s challenge is to make its model of agricultural development more environment-friendly.
This year, the Paris Agreement’s effectiveness as a global response to the climate crisis is being tested as governments are preparing to submit more ambitious national targets for mitigation and adaptation.
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.
For any riverine country, the state of the water body around big cities and conditions of major rivers hold a leadership position in the overall climate effects and how the water body is protected and preserved impacts the entire economy and living standards of that country. Bangladesh is renowned for the geomorphic features that include massive rivers flowing throughout the country. Within the border of Bangladesh lie the bottom reaches of the Himalayan Range water sources that flow into the Bay of Bengal totaling the number of rivers by a count of 700. The length of river bodies is about 24,140 km. There are predominantly four major river systems: the Brahmaputra-Jamuna, the Ganges-Padma, the Surma-Meghna, and the Chittagong Region river system. The Brahmaputra is the 22nd longest (2,850 km) and the Ganges is the 30th longest (2,510 km) river in the world. (1) The river system works as a backbone for agriculture, communication, drinking water source, energy source, fishing and as the principal arteries of commercial transportation in Bangladesh. During the annual monsoon period between June and October, the rivers flow about 140,000 cubic meters per second and during the dry period, the numbers come down to 7000 cubic meters per second.
A premium chocolate maker in São Tomé and Príncipe is on a drive to promote the taste for "made in Africa" chocolate, and tap into a $100 billion global indulgence associated with Valentine’s Day.
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.
One year ago, the UN began implementing reforms meant to make it more effective in delivering on sustainable development. Now, with the start of 2020, the global body has declared this as the "decade of action" to turn the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into a living reality for all humanity. But what does this look like, on the ground?
One mercantilist view is that exchange rate undervaluation – e.g., via accumulation of foreign exchange reserves in China’s case – is ‘industrial policy’ to promote export-led growth, benefiting producers of exports while discouraging imports.
Increasingly, the ability of multilateralism to address contemporary global issues such as climate change and international trade is being questioned. In the case of international trade, WTO Members have thus far not been able to conclude the Doha Round, which was launched in November 2001. The Round was supposed to have been concluded on 1 January 2005, but it has been beset by persistent differences among the WTO Members. Whereas most developing countries believe that the Round is still active and have called for the fulfilment of all Doha mandates, several developed countries are of the view that the Round has run its full course and overtaken by developments in the global economy. They note that three out of the ten top economies in the world are developing countries – Brazil, China and India – and that several developing economies are also competitive in certain sectors of the global economy and that by granting significant flexibilities in the negotiations to these competitive developing economies, the Round's mandates are no longer valid and that differentiation among developing countries should be part of the broader on-going discussion on WTO reform.
The failure of large-scale bailout operations, historically low interest rates and rapid injection of liquidity to bring about a strong recovery from the 2008-2009 financial crisis and recession created a widespread concern that advanced economies suffered from a chronic demand gap and faced the spectre of stagnation.
With 95 per cent of the ocean still unexplored by humans, we are only just beginning to understand its profound influence on life on earth, including its effect on global climate and ecosystems.