Global share prices have so far been relatively immune to the spread of coronavirus and have affected the financial markets as well. But assets most exposed to China have suffered. Currencies of economies integrated with its supply chains have weakened.
Prices of commodities, of which China is usually a big buyer, have slid. Share prices of both manufacturing and consumer-facing companies operating in China have fallen, as factories stay shut and people stay home.
Thankfully, we can learn from our history. It’s true, as Mark Twain supposedly said, “History does not repeat itself, but it does often rhyme.” In some ways, as the International Monetary Fund recently noted, the 2020s have an eerie similarity to the 1920s: A time when inequality, protectionism, and isolationism ultimately led to financial disaster and conflict.
The Allies’ post-war economic response is a model for what we need now, but this time on an even broader global scale. We need a sweeping, whole-of-government, private-sector, and international coordinated effort to reshape the contours of the economy. This is not only to fix the immediate challenges — loss of jobs, homes, and savings — but the long-term shared challenges of climate change, extreme poverty, and automation.
Imagine a revitalized World Trade Organization focused on creating new rules of the road for trade in services and e-commerce. Or a shared guide to the gig economy which employs so many young people and will become even more vital in the aftermath of this pandemic.
These are the types of actions that can start to rebuild trust with the world’s youth. This is the spirit we need for the days ahead.
The coronavirus crisis is a public health and global economic emergency. The lessons of 2009, and 1929, should be front and center in our minds as we confront it. Stopping the fallout is not enough. We have to use the moment to fully heal the fractures in our global economy.
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