The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread with over 1 million lives tragically lost so far. Living with the novel coronavirus has been a challenge like no other, but the world is adapting. As a result of eased lockdowns and the rapid deployment of policy support at an unprecedented scale by central banks and governments around the world, the global economy is coming back from the depths of its collapse in the first half of this year… This crisis is however far from over.
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The COVID-19 crisis is now widely seen as the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression. In January, the IMF expected global income to grow 3 percent; it is now forecast to fall 3 percent, much worse than during the Great Recession of 2008-09. Behind this dire statistic is an even grimmer possibility: if past pandemics are any guide, the toll on poorer and vulnerable segments of society will be several times worse.
You may know the name Thomas Piketty. His work launched him to prime time as the “rock star economist”; his sultry French accent and general attractiveness, of course, helped. You may not know the name of his intellectual counterpart: Branko Milanović. Balding and bespectacled, the 63-year-old looks much more like a dismal scientist than a revolutionary.
The World Bank’s International Development Association programme supports equitable growth in poor countries by providing low-interest, long-term loans and grants to national governments. The program supports 77 of the poorest countries in the world – half of which are in Africa. It also provides assistance to one country that no longer deserves it: India.
The first decade of this century witnessed an historic reduction in global poverty and a near doubling of the number of people who could be considered middle income. But the emergence of a truly global middle class is still more promise than reality.
The modern loosening of ties between the citizen and the state, apart from a number of beneficial consequences, also altered the nature of citizenship, depriving it of some of its psychological value without diminishing its practical worth.
We are seeing a tremendous rise in living standards across Asia, with poverty disappearing everywhere you look. In China, for example, since initiating market reforms, more than 600 million people have been rescued from absolute poverty. We’ll see a far greater improvement in living standards within the region than we have seen in centuries. And, through all this, there will be many benefits.