The world economy

The 90% economy, revisited

A recovery is taking shape—but it is extraordinarily uneven across both industries and countries

THE WORST day of the covid-19 pandemic, at least from an economic perspective, was Good Friday. On April 10th lockdowns in many countries were at their most severe, confining people to their homes and crushing activity. Global GDP that day was 20% lower than it would otherwise have been (see chart 1). Since then governments have lifted lockdowns. Economies have begun to recover. Analysts are pencilling in global GDP growth of 7% or more in the third quarter of this year, compared with the second.

That may all sound remarkably V-shaped, but the world is still a long way from normal. Governments continue to enforce social-distancing measures to keep the virus at bay. These reduce output—by allowing fewer diners in restaurants at a time, say, or banning spectators from sports arenas. People remain nervous about being infected. Economic uncertainty among both consumers and firms is near record highs—and this very probably explains companies’ reluctance to invest (see chart 2).

Calculations by Goldman Sachs, a bank, suggest that social-distancing measures continue to reduce global GDP by 7-8%—roughly in line with what The Economist argued in…