The economic repercussions of the pandemic, on top of existing vulnerabilities, will make it hard for emerging countries to bounce back quickly

The pandemic has been bad for the U.S., but truly catastrophic for the worlds poorest. Last year, the number of people in extreme poverty went up for the first time in two decadesby 90 millionwiping out four years of progress, according to the World Bank.
The long-term effect may be just as profound. This year, most emerging economies will grow, but few will recoup what they lost last year. Poverty, the World Bank projects, will remain flat or rise.
This isnt because of Covid itself. Mortality rates have been much lower in developing countries, other than Latin America, than advanced. One reason is that emerging countries are younger and thus less susceptible: Just 2% of Ethiopias population and 6% of Perus is over 70, compared with 17.5% in Italy, according to Penny Goldberg of Yale University and Tristan Reed of the World Bank. Obesity, another pre-existing condition, is also less common, affecting just 2% of Vietnams and 11% of Ghanas population, but 36% of Americas, they note.
Rather, the real damage has come from the economic repercussions of the pandemic, and how they exploited existing vulnerabilities: Emerging-economy governments have less freedom to aggressively deploy monetary and fiscal stimuli; are more exposed to rising barriers to trade, immigration and tourism; and often suffer from weak governance, high crime and corruption. The interaction of the pandemic-related recession and those vulnerabilities will hobble their ability to bounce back, perhaps for years.
In the short run, things look better than expected, but in the long run, there are reasons to be very pessimistic, says Ms. Goldberg, a former chief economist at the World Bank.