THE post-Covid-19 world may seem to distance and dither amidst fear and panic. But there are also signs of comity in healing.
Picture this. China, which is fighting its own Covid-19 battle, sends a planeload of equipment and nine medical staff to Italy to help fight the disease. Italy is Europe’s worst-hit nation, yet the European Union isn’t helping.
The middle kingdom is doing the same for Malaysia: masks, face shields and medical equipment. Interestingly, the boxes came bearing a Malay idiom, according to a Channel News Asia report: Berat sama di pikul, ringan sama dijinjing (roughly translated as “together in sadness and joy” or more appropriately in the context of Covid-19, “together in sickness and health”).
The Chinese have a way of touching Malaysian hearts.
Comity is important in a divided world. If not for anything, the Covid-19 virus recognises neither borders nor geopolitics. Global crisis such as this requires an international response. Take the World Health Organisation (WHO).
From the time the virus reared its ugly head in Wuhan, China, in December, the WHO has been all systems go. All this with little money in the kitty.
Just for its first iteration of the Covid-19 preparedness plan, WHO needs US$675 million. As of Up to March 19, WHO has received US$162.5 million. A war against a global virus such as Covid-19 requires, not millions but billions. The rich — people and nations — need to do more.
Comity is needed not only as a response to a medical problem that Covid-19 is first of all is. The virus is also unleashing an economic problem on a global scale, the ferocity of which has not been witnessed before.
No one country can fight this war. This fight is too much for a national central bank to wage. Neither can a region and its financial institutions do the battle.
A global response never seen before is needed. Global leaders must leave behind their divisive politics and national interests to marshal a fund to run businesses, big and small. Global leaders must remember, when some businesses grind to a halt in a few countries, others will fumble and fall.
Covid-19 is teaching us new economics: demand and supply needs simultaneous tending. If the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is right, Covid-19 is expected to slow the the growth of world economy to 2.4 per cent, a 0.5 per cent drop from its pre-virus forecast of 2.9 per cent.
Other analysts predict a more stormy weather: if the pandemic isn’t managed properly, the world economy may stall. Thus far, the world has responded in a country-specific way. This may be not be enough.
Coordination and collaboration will bring in better results for all.
The world did make a global response when the financial crisis hit the rich and poor hard. But it was a medicine for all and sundry.
The International Monetary Fund’s and the World Bank’s economic theorists were so far removed from reality that they came selling their one-size-fits-all solution.
One pill for all economic ailments causes more damage than it solves.
Here is why. The global supply chain is fissured and, in certain places, severed. People are no longer going to factories to produce things.
Because Covid-19 virus won’t allow them to be all in one place. It is business unusual. So is life. Healing needs help.