Not only is the global recovery moving at various speeds, with China and rich countries escaping the hole at a much more agile pace than emerging and low-income ones. In the eurozone, divergence is also the general trend: 12 of the 19 countries that share the single currency will have to wait until well into 2022 to return to the GDP they looked like just before the pandemic outbreak checked the global economy, according to the figures published this Tuesday by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As after the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, these severe differences complicate the task of the European Central Bank (ECB), which in the coming months will face the difficult challenge of swimming and putting away clothes: to normalize its monetary policy and to fold sails in the very large purchases of public debt that have avoided the financial collapse, but taking great care not to hit the furthest behind. Among them, Spain.
None of the five largest countries in the bloc (Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands) appear on the list of countries that have already returned to their jurisdiction, and neither does any of the South, by far the hardest hit. But yes the three Baltics (Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, who will not even have to wait until the end of the year to recover all the lost ground), a Nordic (Finland, who will achieve the milestone in the final stretch of the year), Luxembourg (which already exceeded the level of pre-pandemic activity at the beginning of the year) and Ireland. This last case is by far the most striking: it is the only euro country and one of the 31 IMF states – less than 20% of the total – that did not even see their GDP decline in 2020. While its partners were living a nightmare , the island stood out with a growth of 5.9%. The numbers are equally illustrative in the 2020-2021 biennium: compared to the contraction of almost two percentage points in the euro zone compared to the starting point at the end of 2019, Ireland will close the same period growing by 20%.
The downside is in three southern European countries highly dependent on tourism and services: Spain, Italy and Portugal, which will hopefully return to pre-school activity levels in the final stretch of 2022. Hopefully, for two reasons: because They barely have a margin of error and a minimal downward revision would take them away from that trajectory and because, as shown by the several slips suffered in recent times, all economic forecasts – also those of the sacrosanct IMF – are subject to a high dose of uncertainty.
The US and China leave the crisis behind, and Latin America lags behind
The number of economies that have already overcome the recession or will make it through this year is much higher as the magnifying glass is raised. On a global scale, just over 40% of the countries included in the IMF database (82 out of 190) will be able to recover this year the level of activity prior to the pandemic shock. In GDP per inhabitant, the most certain variable, the world will also manage – by the minimum – to cross the Rubicon, shelving the toughest and most widespread crisis in peacetime since there are records. Among them, the two greatest powers on the planet: the United States and China. The first already reached Ecuador in 2021 above the pre-crisis GDP level and the second – despite being the origin of the virus and the spectacular confinements with which it fell when the rest of the world still did not even know how to place Wuhan on the map – It does not even have the word recession in its dictionary: if last year ended it with an expansion of 2.3%, this is on the way to ending it with growth of 8%.
The other side is Latin America, a bloc that, despite the recent boom in raw materials, which relies heavily on its growth, will not be able to recover its level of per capita income in 2022. Only eight countries in the area that most suffered the rigors of the coronavirus on its economy in 2020, they will be able to recover next year everything that has been set back: Brazil, Colombia, Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Paraguay. On the opposite side, apart from the perennial Venezuelan drama, Ecuador will be the one that will accumulate the most lag then. The rise in oil is great news for the Andean country, but it is not enough to escape from the hole.