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Mr. Philip Barrett, Mr. Sonali Das, Giacomo Magistretti, Evgenia Pugacheva, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a severe global recession with differential impacts within and across countries. This paper examines the possible persistent effects (scarring) of the pandemic on the economy and the channels through which they may occur. History suggests that deep recessions often leave long-lived scars, particularly to productivity. Importantly, financial instabilities—typically associated with worse scarring—have been largely avoided in the current crisis so far. While medium-term output losses are anticipated to be lower than after the global financial crisis, they are still expected to be substantial. The degree of expected scarring varies across countries, depending on the structure of economies and the size of the policy response. Emerging market and developing economies are expected to suffer more scarring than advanced economies.
Ms. Christina Kolerus
This paper studies the dynamics of external accounts during 278 economic recession events in the past 60 years and sheds light on key factors that shape these patterns. Economic recessions trigger highly-persistent increases in the current account, driven by an initial, sharp decline in investment and fueled by medium term deleveraging, more so in advanced economies than in emerging markets. The strengthening of the current account is more pronounced when internal and external imbalances are present, and less when recessions are synchronized across countries. During severe natural disasters or epidemics, however, current accounts tend to weaken in the short term. Consistent with these findings, the COVID-19 shock, with comparatively moderate pre-existing imbalances yet high synchronization, had a muted effect on current account balances. The compositional changes, however, were unique and driven by unprecedented policy intervention, with record public dissaving more than offsetting exceptional private saving.
Francesca G Caselli, Mr. Francesco Grigoli, Weicheng Lian, and Mr. Damiano Sandri
Using high-frequency proxies for economic activity over a large sample of countries, we show that the economic crisis during the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic was only partly due to government lockdowns. Economic activity also contracted because of voluntary social distancing in response to higher infections. We also show that lockdowns can substantially reduce COVID-19 infections, especially if they are introduced early in a country's epidemic. Despite involving short-term economic costs, lockdowns may thus pave the way to a faster recovery by containing the spread of the virus and reducing voluntary social distancing. Finally, we document that lockdowns entail decreasing marginal economic costs but increasing marginal benefits in reducing infections. This suggests that tight short-lived lockdowns are preferable to mild prolonged measures.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

Sub-Saharan Africa is struggling to navigate an unprecedented health and economic crisis—one that, in just a few months, has jeopardized decades of hard-won development gains and upended the lives and livelihoods of millions.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

Sub-Saharan Africa is struggling to navigate an unprecedented health and economic crisis—one that, in just a few months, has jeopardized decades of hard-won development gains and upended the lives and livelihoods of millions.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

Sub-Saharan Africa is struggling to navigate an unprecedented health and economic crisis—one that, in just a few months, has jeopardized decades of hard-won development gains and upended the lives and livelihoods of millions.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

Sub-Saharan Africa is struggling to navigate an unprecedented health and economic crisis—one that, in just a few months, has jeopardized decades of hard-won development gains and upended the lives and livelihoods of millions.

Majdi Debbich
This paper uses an untapped source of satellite-recorded nightlights and gas flaring data to characterize the contraction of economic activity in Yemen throughout the ongoing conflict that erupted in 2015. Using estimated nightlights elasticities on a sample of 72 countries for real GDP and 28 countries for oil GDP over 6 years, I derive oil and non-oil GDP growth for Yemen. I show that real GDP contracted by a cumulative 24 percent over 2015-17 against 50 percent according to official figures. I also find that the impact of the conflict has been geographically uneven with economic activity contracting more in some governorates than in others.