So the Covid-19 pathogen has now invaded at least 47 nations but it’s not a pandemic per se, just a pandemic of fear. There’s extreme reluctance, so far, to label the coronavirus outbreak a “pandemic”, which would, of course, prompt the World Health Organisation to press its big red button.
Even so, with cases emerging thousands of miles apart and betraying no particular link, the contagion of fear is spreading quickly around the globe.
Goldman Sachs has warned against expecting any growth in companies’ profits this year and financial markets are continuing their weeklong declines. Meanwhile, what’s abundantly clear is that coronavirus is accelerating the process of economic decoupling around the globe.
It starts with China, where factories are shuttered and consumption has stalled. Unsurprisingly, multinational companies have been forced to shift production elsewhere or at least consider alternatives.
Rana Faroohar of the Financial Times (paywall), has looked into her crystal ball and tried to imagine the world – economically and politically – in five to 10 years, “as globalisation dissolves and divides deepen”.
She foresees “an increased risk of violence in Taiwan, the inability of Europe to defend its own liberal democratic values, and a world in which smart devices can no longer speak to each other across borders…As with coronavirus, the effects of decoupling will be both unpredictable and exponential”.