Global prospects remain highly uncertain one year into the pandemic. New virus mutations and the accumulating human toll raise concerns, even as growing vaccine coverage lifts sentiment. Economic recoveries are diverging across countries and sectors, reflecting variation in pandemic-induced disruptions and the extent of policy support. The outlook depends not just on the outcome of the battle between the virus and vaccines—it also hinges on how effectively economic policies deployed under high uncertainty can limit lasting damage from this unprecedented crisis.
Extraordinary policy measures have eased financial conditions and supported the economy, helping to contain financial stability risks. Chapter 1 warns that there is a pressing need to act to avoid a legacy of vulnerabilities while avoiding a broad tightening of financial conditions. Actions taken during the pandemic may have unintended consequences such as stretched valuations and rising financial vulnerabilities. The recovery is also expected to be asynchronous and divergent between advanced and emerging market economies.
This report overviews countries' fiscal actions in response to COVID-19 and discusses how governments' policies should adapt to get ahead of the pandemic and set the stage for a greener, fairer, and more durable recovery. Global vaccination should be scaled up as it can save lives and will eventually pay for itself with stronger employment and economic activity. Until the pandemic is brought under control globally, fiscal policies must remain flexible and supportive, while keeping debt at a manageable level over the long term.
An unprecedented policy response and rapid progress in vaccine development have helped pull the global economy from a deep recession. But the outlook is marked by high uncertainty and great divergence. Carefully calibrated policies and stronger international cooperation are vital to safely exit the crisis. Transformative policies should aim for fast convergence toward a green, digital, and inclusive future.
Policymakers’ choices during this disruption could shape their economies for decades to come.The pandemic struck a global economy that already was profoundly unsustainable—socially, environmentally, even intellectually. Over the past four decades almost all advanced economies have become more polarized, with increasingly unequal income distributions. Developing economies lifted billions of people out of poverty, but in the process they, too, created their own rising inequalities and social tensions.