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Alexandra Fotiou and Andresa Lagerborg
Following the Great Lockdown in 2020, it is important to take stock of lessons learned. How effective have different containment measures been in slowing the spread of Covid-19? Have containment measures been costly in terms of economic growth, fiscal balances, and accumulated debt? This paper finds that countries with previous SARS experience acted fast and "smart", and were able to contain the virus by relying mainly on public health measures ─ testing, contact tracing, and public information campaigns ─ rather than stay-at-home requirements. Using past coronavirus outbreaks as an instrumental variable, we show that countries with past experience were able to contain the virus in a smart way, reducing transmission and deaths while also experiencing higher economic growth in 2020.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Successful containment of COVID-19 and strong policy support have helped contain the health and economic fallout, and a strong recovery is underway. Growth in 2020 reached 2.9 percent, among the highest in the world. However, labor market conditions remain weak. Corporate balance sheets have worsened, potentially hampering private investment and job prospects. Banks entered the crisis in a stronger position than in previous years, but weaknesses remain. Vietnam’s economy remains heavily reliant on external trade and is vulnerable to trade tensions.
Thilo Kroeger, Anh Thi Ngoc Nguyen, Yuanyan Sophia Zhang, Pham Dinh Thuy, Nguyen Huy Minh, and Duong Danh Tuan
The paper uses firm-level data to assess the financial health of the Vietnamese non-financial corporate sector on the eve of pandemic. Our analysis finds that smaller domestic firms were particularly vulnerable even by regional comparison. A sensitivity analysis suggests that the COVID-19 shock will have a substantial impact on firms’ profitability, liquidity and even solvency, particularly in the hardest hit sectors that are dominated by SMEs and account for a sizeable employment share, but large firms are not immune to the crisis. Risks of default can propagate more broadly through upstream and downstream linkages to industries not directly impacted, with stresses potentially translating into an increase in corporate bankruptcies and bank fragility. Policy measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the crisis have helped alleviate liquidity pressures, but the nature of policy support may have to pivot to support the recovery.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is still unfolding around the globe. In Asia, as elsewhere, the virus has ebbed in some countries but surged in others. The global economy is beginning to recover after a sharp contraction in the second quarter of 2020, as nationwide lockdowns are lifted and replaced with more targeted containment measures.

International Monetary Fund
The global economy is embarking on a lengthy path to recovery with modest growth expected for 2021, after a severe contraction this year. The global forecast is subject to unusually large risks. Emerging markets and developing economies face an uphill battle. Low-income developing countries are in an especially vulnerable position and risk a persistent and significant deterioration in development prospects. Controlling the pandemic and cushioning the impact on the economy are key. LIDCs should adopt targeted containment measures and strictly prioritize spending and refrain from policies that could create long term damage. Multilateral cooperation and extensive support from the international community are indispensable. The IMF has helped EMDEs through emergency lending and debt service relief. Targeted surveillance and capacity development will tackle new policy challenges and react nimbly to the needs of the membership including fragile and small states.