China’s economy zooms back to its pre-covid growth rate | The Economist

China's economy zooms back to its pre-covid growth rate

Its success offers some useful lessons about how to confront a pandemic

IN THE EARLY months of the covid-19 outbreak, researchers at the Federal Reserve and Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a paper entitled “Pandemics Depress the Economy, Public Health Interventions Do Not”. Examining America's response to the influenza pandemic that broke out in 1918, they concluded that cities that acted early and forcefully had the best economic outcomes. Those that delayed such measures could not escape the pandemic's shadow: people still curbed their consumption and businesses capped their investment. Cities that imposed strict controls, by contrast, limited the damage to public health and were able to bounce back sooner.

Economists will pore over data from the covid-19 shock for years to come. But China's GDP figures for 2020, published on January 18th, suggest that the researchers' findings from the influenza of 1918 were spot on. After its early fumbles in managing the novel coronavirus outbreak, China imposed stricter lockdowns than just about any other country. The new data confirm that it was one of a handful of countries to register any economic growth at all last year.

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