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The Number of People Living in Extreme Poverty Declined in 2019

More than 15 million people escaped extreme poverty across the world this year. The number of those living on less than $1.90 a day dropped from 604,790,159 to 589,425,192, according to the World Poverty Clock, a project of the World Data Lab.

This drop shows global progress toward the U.N.’s first Sustainable Development Goal to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty. Efforts to empower those living in such vulnerable conditions include social safety net and protection programs in the form of unemployment, disability, and maternity cash benefits, along with social protection programs for children. 

Protection against natural disasters can also be a significant help to vulnerable regions and their economies. “As of 31 March 2019, 67 countries had reported progress in such alignment [with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction], and 24 countries reported that their respective local governments had developed local strategies consistent with national strategies and plans.” according to the U.N.

COVID-19 Threatens a Decade of Progress Against Poverty for Low-Income Countries

Source: International Monetary Fund

As the percentage of those living in poverty grows, household consumption declines, prompting concern over “the permanent loss of productive capacity,” in low-income developing countries (LIDC) says the IMF. Rising levels of poverty also threaten progress in health, education and gender equality, with implications for lifetime earnings and savings.

LIDCs experienced 5% growth just last year, and they even contributed a larger portion of COVID-19 financial support toward health compared to advanced or emerging economies. But they aren’t able to provide the same level of fiscal support as a public safety net or to stimulate economic activity.   

More vulnerable countries may look to their international community for support, for example, in the provision of health supplies, supply chain protection and financial assistance, including debt payment deferrals. The virus is only the first challenge to overcome, says the IMF, as “the COVID-19 pandemic will be defeated only when it and its socioeconomic consequences are overcome everywhere.” 

Northern Europe Maintains a Positive View of Its Economy, Even Amid the Pandemic

Source: Pew Research Center

Nearly 75% of those in Denmark believe their country’s economic situation is good — a surprising outlook considering the restrictions COVID-19 has placed on economic activity across the world. These views were reported between June and August, 2020, and collected in a survey from the Pew Research Center.

A similar percentage of respondents from Sweden and the Netherlands share positive views about their countries’ economies. But these northern European countries are outliers, as most adults surveyed across 14 countries report a negative economic situation in their country.

Denmark and Sweden — the two countries with the highest percentage of positive assessments of their respective economies — have had relatively low COVID-19 infection and death rates. They were also two of the first countries in Europe to lift lockdown restrictions. There is a correlation between how respondents perceive their country’s response to COVID-19 and how they view the economic status of their country, according to the research: “Those who view their country’s coronavirus response negatively are more likely to describe their country’s current economic situation as bad.” 

GDP Growth Depends on Far More Than Investment

Source: World Economic Outlook Database, IMF

Average gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Latin America has not grown consistently since 1990. However, in the last 30 years, GDP in Asian countries has grown fourfold — in part due to investor activity, according to a paper from the International Monetary Fund. 

Over the past two decades, Latin America has received far less investment compared to Asian countries — but more than European countries, and Europe saw growth in GDP during the same period. Europe’s growth resulted from institutional reforms, meaning the relatively low GDP growth in Latin America is due to factors beyond investment.

The combination and quality of human capital, business climate and governance is what makes a difference: “In countries where property rights are not secure and governance is poor, firms will remain small and productivity low,” the paper notes. IMF analysis found that Latin American countries score low on both human capital and strong governance, making low investment in Latin America the result of low growth — not the cause. “Governments solely focused on boosting investment might want to look at the problem from a different perspective,” says the IMF.

50% of Jobs Lost in US Performing Arts Due to COVID-19

Source: Brookings Institution

The creative industry will lose an estimated 31% of jobs and 9% of its sales in the United States due to the impact from coronavirus. Fine and performing arts will see the heaviest loss at 1.4 million jobs and $42.5 billion in sales, according to estimates from the Brookings Institution, due to the pause in live performances.  

The southern region of the U.S. will suffer the most losses, followed by the western region, as creative industries in these areas are larger, with California, New York and Texas being most economically affected.

The creative industry is “one of the sectors most at risk from COVID-19,” says Brookings. The sector heavily supports other regional economies as well, and without the right financial support, “the damage will have reverberating effects” beyond the economy, on culture and quality of life.

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