The US economy has certainly absorbed all sorts of “shocks to the system” in the 250 years since America’s founding but it has never experienced anything like the massive jolt of the past few weeks. Wildly high unemployment filings, huge government bailout plans for both individuals and businesses, and social changes that may have seemed temporary just last month now seem to be permanent. Couple that with a federal government whose branches cannot seem to effectively coordinate their responses and one knows we are in unexplored territory.
In fact, the worldwide coronavirus pandemic is likely to hit emerging markets and developing economies harder than economies in richer countries. Not only are their public health systems under-resourced to deal with the outbreak, making the containment and treatment of the disease more difficult, but their economies are already being battered by the way in which the pandemic is impacting global demand and financial markets. Where are we and the rest of the world headed in the coming months and years? That’s the sober and disturbing focus of this of-the-moment class.