The Coronavirus Is the Biggest Emerging Markets Crisis Ever

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We used to think that the 2007-2008 financial crisis set the standard for a savage global shock. But that crisis took more than 12 months to spread from the overbuilt suburbs of California and southern Spain to the financial centers of the world. The coronavirus pandemic has taken just three months to engulf first China and now Europe and North America. As it has swept west it has triggered an economic crisis whose violence is set to exceed anything we have previously witnessed.

The global shock has an uneven chronology. In the West it was the virus that triggered the financial crisis. In the large emerging markets of the world economy—the likes of Brazil, Argentina, sub-Saharan Africa, India, Thailand, and Malaysia—the virus has yet to arrive at full strength. For them, the financial shock wave is running ahead of the disease. Back to back, the two crises threaten to create an overwhelming maelstrom for emerging markets whose impact on the world economy will be far greater than any rogue U.S. president or trade war.

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