Two years after the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world, countries are still figuring out how to manage the continuing health crisis and fix the economic losses caused by shutdowns. The top five countries by GDP – the United States, China, Japan, Germany, and India have all struggled to implement new measures to help speed up recovery. For some countries this has meant passing bills to create more government jobs, while other politicians have turned their attention to tourism and tax revenues.
The United States Post-Covid Economic Battle
Officially, the recession in the U.S. caused by the virus only lasted two months. President Biden passed a stimulus bill in March to distribute checks to the public, extended unemployment checks until September and sent vaccine aid to states, which did a lot in the short term to boost spending and stock growth. The AP reports that the stimulus also sent nearly $30 billion to restaurants to keep them running. Schools and children were another priority, with more than $120 billion sent to schools K-12 throughout the country.
Most recently, in November 2021 Biden was able to get another bill through the often gridlocked American government. The $1 trillion bill aims to restructure the economy and provide long-term jobs through infrastructure improvements.
China’s Coronavirus Economic Response
Also recovering exceptionally well, BBC reports that China’s response to the pandemic has been successful in the short term. China was the only major economy to have positive growth in 2020, despite a shortage of stimulus bills for the public. While the United States, Japan, and Europe passed bills that gave money directly to people and extended unemployment benefits, They were one of the only countries not to embark on a significant stimulus, which economists predicted would slow down growth – but the opposite happened.
With continued quarterly success, China’s central bank has put the brakes on any stimulus packages that would give checks directly to the public. Part of their success is the world’s reliance on Chinese products.
Japan’s Coronavirus Relief Packages and Plans
Japan’s economy has experienced some setbacks in its most significant car manufacturing industries but is making a comeback, though still falling short of economists’ predictions. Japan’s government passed some of the most extensive Covid relief packages globally. Last April, Japan approved a ¥25.7 trillion ($240 billion) spending package aimed at improving vaccination rates, hospital equipment, and other health-related issues. It also gave a cash payment to citizens to offset economic spending losses due to shutdowns. In the summer, the government approved another ¥31.9 trillion ($298 billion) stimulus for private businesses.
Germany’s Post-Covid Focus
Though Germany usually resists large spending packages, the Coronavirus outbreak changed when they became the country to pass the biggest stimulus packages quickly. The IMF estimates that overall, Germany has approved $316 billion in additional spending to offset lost revenue and $1.2 trillion in liquidity support for loans, equity, and guarantees. They’ve upgraded their medical response, increased hospital staff and equipment expenditures, and given stimulus checks to the people. They’ve also increased welfare programs, expanded the wage subsidy program, and given thousands of small-business loans.
India Looks at Changing Outdated Laws and Investing in Technology
India has enjoyed the last decade of economic growth in a country with a vast population, largely thanks to its manufacturing, textile, and telecommunications sectors. However, they were struck by shutdowns, with India’s rural population suffering from job loss. In the spring of 2020, India passed a $35 billion spending package aimed at attracting investors and focused on manufacturing in 10 sectors, including automobiles, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and food products. Last summer, India’s aim to rediscover itself included creating new groups in the government to examine outdated laws to improve their tax laws and thus take in more money in the future. They’re looking at enhancing their response to specific new industries like online gaming, rideshares, and food delivery services.