Coronavirus News Asia

Great Depression stalks virus-ravaged economies

It is an iconic image of the Great Depression, a glimpse of a bankrupt world.

Photographed by Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother depicts the plight of 32-year-old Florence Owens Thompson in 1936 America. The portrait was part of a series on “destitute pea pickers in California.” 

With a furrowed brow and a child resting on each shoulder, the mother of seven looks to have aged prematurely by back-breaking work and worry. Hope has gone out of her eyes.

Yet 84 years later, the specter of the Great Depression has been evoked by economists as the Covid-19 disease devastates vast parts of the globe, suffocating economic activity.

Hope again is in short supply, just like the crucial medical equipment needed to fight a silent enemy that is turning hospitals into battlegrounds.

“The first quarter of 2020 may be seen later as the start of a new worldwide economic recession caused by the rampant Covid-19 pandemic,” He Weiwen, of the influential Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University, said.

“Governments across the globe have announced severe measures to check its spread, from social distancing practices to lockdowns and quarantines,” he continued. 

“[But] with factories, shops, restaurants and theme parks closed and most airline flights suspended, the [global] economy has been falling off a cliff,” He wrote in a commentary for China-US Focus, an academic website.

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