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China Covid Lockdown 2020 - empty street


The great dictators and what we can learn from their handling of the pandemic

IbyIMD+ Published 16 March 2021 in Magazine • 5 min read

It will be a few years before we will be able to assess which countries’ strategies have worked best to fight the health, social and economic consequences of the COVID- 19 pandemic. The current crisis has been unique because the impact on people’s lives has not been related to the economic development of the country, its geographical position or whether the country had specific economic ties to another. Instead, this has been a global pandemic, made worse by international mobility, the lack of leadership or the wrong policies in some countries, and the quality and health of the public finances.

International assessments of countries that have done well in coping with the virus have generally included New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore and China. By contrast, observers have noted high numbers of infections in the United States, Brazil, Spain and Italy, among others. With third and possibly fourth waves looming, it is still difficult to conclusively say which countries have been hit the most by the virus: Sweden and Portugal were models, to some, of good pandemic management by the summer of 2020, only to be recast as leaders on lists of most-infected countries half a year later. 

It is more straightforward to analyze the economic, not health, impact of the pandemic. The IMF World Economic Outlook 2020, in its January 2021 update, reported an estimated GDP growth of +2.3% in China (the growth champion in 2020), and mild recessions in Russia (-3.7%), Saudi Arabia (-3.9%) and Nigeria (-2.6%). In contrast, several European countries (with Spain, Italy, and UK as…

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