This issue of Finance & Development focuses on the road ahead for emerging markets, a label frequently applied to economies in the middle—neither advanced nor low-income. Because of their growing systemic relevance, this group of countries helps anchor global stability. Yet, as we drill down and define their characteristics, we find a widely diverse set of economies of varying sizes and growth rates that face different prospects, priorities, and challenges.
In a newly released Staff Discussion Note, Ruchir Agarwal and Gita Gopinath outline a $50 billion proposal to end the pandemic faster, with benefits of about $9 trillion for the global economy. The proposal requires upfront financing, upfront vaccine donations, at-risk investment in vaccine production, and international coordination. Read the paper here.
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.