World Economy to Return to Pre-Pandemic Output in 2021

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The OECD released its latest interim Economic Outlook report, providing us with an updated look at the pandemic’s impact on the world economy. Striking a cautiously optimistic tone, the report finds that “global economic prospects have improved markedly in recent months,” revising its GDP growth forecast for 2021 upward by more than 1 percentage point compared to the December issue of the OECD Economic Outlook.

Boosted by the global vaccine rollout, gradual reopenings and government stimulus, the OECD expects global GDP to grow by 5.6 percent this year, and continue the recovery with 4.0 percent growth in 2022. A high degree of uncertainty remains, however, as new virus mutations could spark another wave of infections during the vaccination campaign or even prove resistant to the vaccines currently deployed.

As the following chart shows, the OECD expects global economic output to return to pre-pandemic, i.e. Q4 2019 levels in the first half of this year, with the further growth trajectory depending on the speed of the vaccine rollout among other factors. “The top policy priority is to ensure that all resources necessary are used to produce and fully deploy vaccinations as quickly as possible throughout the world,” the OECD notes, adding that the “resources required to provide vaccines to lower-income countries are small compared with the gains from a stronger and faster global economic recovery.”

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