Summary of COVID-19 Risks Outlook

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COVID-19 Risks Outlook summary
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Global efforts to contain and mitigate the damage caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic have revealed a number of weaknesses in political, economic and societal systems in many nations. While the long-term effects of the crisis remain uncertain, it’s no surprise that, according to the World Economic Forum’s survey of nearly 350 senior-level executives, the world’s top risk managers see a deep recession as the biggest threat. The report offers a nuanced look at how COVID-19 might skew tax policy, sabotage sustainability efforts and create destabilizing levels of unemployment.  

About the Authors

The World Economic Forum is an NGO committed to improving the state of the world via public-private cooperation. The organization is headquartered in Switzerland.



The coronavirus pandemic could result in a prolonged recession.

For its COVID-19 Risks Perception Survey, the World Economic Forum sought feedback from more than 300 senior-level professionals. These risk managers expressed the most anxiety about economic damage from the pandemic. Fully two-thirds of respondents said their primary worry was that the coronavirus would plunge the world into a protracted recession. Other concerns included the possibility of a wave of business failures, industry consolidation, interruption of supply chains and a potential spate of cyberattacks. What’s more, the public sector’s robust – and costly – response to the crisis could weigh down government budgets for years.

Even before the pandemic spread across the globe, the world’s governments struggled with debt. In the G20 economies, 2019 debt levels as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) hit a record high. Then COVID-19 arrived. The huge stimulus packages issued by advanced economies mean that public debt as a share of GDP will...

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