Is the economy doomed to a long recession?
Forecasting during a strong shock is burdened with exceptionally high uncertainty. This gives rise to the temptation to formulate alarmist forecasts. Experiences from earlier pandemics, particularly those from the 20th century, for which we have the most data, don’t provide a basis for this. The mildest of them weakened growth by less than 1 percentage point, and the worst, the Spanish Flu, by 6 percentage points. Still, even the Spanish Flu never caused losses on the order of 20% of GDP – not even where it turned out to be a humanitarian disaster, costing the lives of 3-5% of the population. History suggests that if pandemics lead to such deep losses at all, it’s only in particular quarters and not over a whole year, as economic activity rebounds. The strength of that rebound is largely determined by economic policy. The purpose of this work is to describe possible scenarios for a rebound in Polish economic growth after the epidemic.
A separate issue, no less important, is what world will emerge from the current crisis. In the face of the 2008 financial crisis, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” Such changes can make the economy and society function better than before the crisis. Unfortunately, the opportunities created by the global financial crisis were squandered. Today’s task is more difficult; the scale of various problems has expanded even more. Without deep structural and institutional changes, the world will be facing enduring social and economic problems, accompanied by long-term stagnation.