The United Nations is forecasting that the COVID-19 pandemic will diminish the global economy by 3.2 percent in 2020, according to a report it released Wednesday.
The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects report predicted the sharpest downturn for the global economy since the Great Depression in the 1930s. The mid-year report suggested that $8.5 trillion will be lost over the next two years, eliminating all gains in the last four years.
In January, the UN had estimated the global economy would experience 2.5 percent growth in 2020.
Now, the UN predicts a modest rebound next year, mostly making up for lost output. Developing countries are also likely to experience large fiscal deficits and high public debt.
The report suggested the pandemic is also causing an increase in poverty and inequality as 34.3 million people are expected to fall below the extreme poverty line this year, with 56 percent of them in Africa. Another 130 million are expected to join the list by 2030.
The UN report said without “quick breakthroughs” in COVID-19 vaccine and treatment developments, “the post COVID-19 world will likely be vastly different.”
“The possibility of a slow recovery and prolonged economic slump — with rising poverty and inequality — looms large,” the report said.
“Stronger development cooperation—supporting efforts to contain the pandemic and extending economic and financial assistance to countries hardest hit by the crisis—will remain critical for accelerating recovery and putting the world back on the trajectory of sustainable development,” it added.
The pandemic has thrown a wrench in economies around the world, as several countries had to shut down businesses to prevent further community spread. The coronavirus has infected more than 4.3 million people worldwide, causing at least 294,155 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.