Economy Apr 03

Global cost of coronavirus could top $4 trillion, ADB warns

Bank estimates economic impact at nearly 5% of worldwide output

by AFP
Global cost of coronavirus could top $4 trillion, ADB warns
The global economy will pay a heavy price for the Covid-19 pandemic, the Asian Development Bank has said. Image: iStock

MANILA: The coronavirus pandemic could cost the global economy $4.1 trillion as it ravages the United States, Europe and other major economies, the Asian Development Bank warned on Friday.

The estimated impact is equivalent to nearly 5% of worldwide output based on a range of scenarios, but the lender said losses from "the worst pandemic in a century" could be higher. 

"The estimated impact could be an underestimate, as additional channels such as ... possible social and financial crises, and long-term effects on healthcare and education are excluded from the analysis," the ADB said.

The Manila-based bank said a shorter containment period could pare the losses to $2 trillion.

The crisis has sent equity markets spinning as traders fret over the long-term impact on the world economy, though governments and central banks have stepped in to ease the pain, pledging more than $5 trillion in stimulus and easing monetary policy.

Officially reported Covid-19 cases worldwide topped the one million mark on Thursday, with tens of thousands dead, while there are warnings the numbers will continue to balloon as the disease rapidly spreads. 

With billions of people in lockdown and economies at a standstill, the ADB said Asia is forecast to grow 2.2% this year, its slowest pace since a 1.7% expansion during the Asian financial crisis in 1998. 

"No one can say how widely the Covid-19 pandemic may spread, and containment may take longer than currently projected," ADB chief economist Yasuyuki Sawada said.

'Severe turmoil cannot be discounted' 

"The possibility of severe financial turmoil and financial crises cannot be discounted," he added. 

The forecasts assume the coronavirus outbreak will be contained this year and a return to normality in 2021. 

However, there is still the potential for additional outbreaks and the severity of the pandemic remains uncertain. 

"Outcomes can be worse than forecast and growth may not recover as quickly," the bank said. 

Growth in China, the region's largest economy, could slow to 2.3% this year from 6.1% in 2019, before bouncing back in 2021. 

"The outbreak became a demand shock as people stayed home. It became a supply shock as companies suffered shortages of labor...and of materials as supply chains faltered," ADB said.

Close to 5%, or $628 billion, of China's GDP could be lost. 

AFP