global economy

Which World Economies Are Faring Best During the Pandemic?

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Sep. 22 2020, Updated 10:37 a.m. ET

Because of the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the phrase "doing well during the coronavirus" sounds like an impossibility. According to the June 2020 Global Economic Prospects report by The World Bank, the global economy could contract by upwards of 8 percent by the end of the year. Despite this, there are countries with economies that are faring better than projected—so who's on top?

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Which economies are recovering from the coronavirus?

The coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China before rapidly spreading to almost every country in the world. Now, the country's economy is on its way to recovery, making them not only the second-largest economy in the world, but also one of the top economies that's recovering from the pandemic.  

In fact, their August 2020 retail sales rose 0.5 percent from the same time in 2019. This is a huge jump from the previous months of 2020, which saw an 8.6 percent decline in retail sales compared to last year.

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According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), developing Asia's GDP may shrink by as much as 0.7 percent this year. However, they expect China to be the breakout star of this trend. 

Taiwan has managed to protect its economy during the pandemic. The GDP in Q2 2020 was just one point below last year's Q2 assessment. Meanwhile, South Korea and Lithuania saw GDP drops of 3 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Finland, Norway and Indonesia were in the 5 percent range.

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If you're wondering where the United States lands on this list, it's somewhere in the middle with a Q2 2020 GDP decline of 9.5 percent compared to last year.

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Countries with the lowest unemployment rates during the pandemic

 At the end of June 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ran an analysis of unemployment rates across a range of top nations. According to the IMF, Japan had an unemployment rate of 3 percent, a mild jump from the 2.4 percent unemployment rate prior to the pandemic.

In similar success, Germany reached an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, a rise from 3.2 percent before the COVID-19 outbreak began. However, their Q2 2020 GDP decline of 11.7 percent compared to last year proves that low unemployment isn't everything.

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Even the United Kingdom, a country where 54 percent of people in a Pew Research study said their country handled the pandemic badly, saw an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, up just one point.

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Comparatively, the United States was at a 10.4 percent unemployment rate during the time of the analysis, whereas the pre-pandemic rate was 3.7 percent.

Are health and the economy mutually exclusive?

According to research from Our World in Data, a country's rate of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 seems to correlate negatively with their Q2 2020 GDP growth compared to the previous year. The lower the deaths, it seems, the better the economy fares. Of course, correlation isn't causation, but when lives and livelihoods are at stake, it's a token of data worth looking into. 

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