While we, in Guyana’s dark and narrow political world, wait on electoral closure, other realities, just as worrying intrude. A few news articles convey the grimness of what lies ahead for the rest of this year. The first such caption was “Almost 90% of the world will be worst off by year end – IMF Managing Director” (KN June 10). And less than two weeks later, that prediction was made to look still bleaker with “Wreckage of global economy now looks even worse to IMF: Eco Week” Bloomberg June 20). Last, because of the extremely grim outlook, the IMF was forced to revise its prior bleak projection on Wednesday, “IMF predicts deeper global downturn, even as economies reopen” when it settled for the new figure of “4.9 percent contraction this year instead of its previously forecast 3% drop” (New York Times, June 24).
The roughest hardships are ahead, which are made tougher by our own political stalemate. According to the KN coverage, “Early in January, and prior to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had predicted that 160 countries would finish the year with larger economies and positive per capita income growth. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic…those positive predictions have been shattered.” At this midyear point, the IMF has been prompted by global conditions to reverse course and conclude starkly that “almost 90 percent of the world—will be worse off with lower per capita income by the end of 2020.” It is an unparalleled place, never experienced before, and which casts a wide net that traps 170 countries. In the meantime, Guyana drifts along in crisis mode, and leaders indifferent to the plight of its peoples. For this we point a finger at all, who are consumed with party interests and personal power, and in both areas, the blame rests most heavily on those piloting the coalition.
On the heels of this unnerving picture near the beginning of June, the Bloomberg coverage from late last week weighed in with still more bad news when it said that, “after its dire prediction of the steepest recession in almost a century, the International Monetary Fund will release new global economic forecasts…that will probably look worse.” It did with that downward revision to “4.9 percent contraction” from the earlier 3%. As Bloomberg’s economists opined, “despite green shoots of recovery in May and June – the outlook continues to deteriorate.” Those “green shoots of recovery” are in the more resilient economies, like China and Germany. On the other hand, “most countries still face a long path back to normality” according to Gita Gopinath, the Chief Economist of the IMF.
This was what the Wall Street Journal indicated in an article dated June 23rd, and titled, “Global economy shows signs of pulling out of its slump” added this qualifying subtitle, “Countries that imposed some of the strictest lockdowns are seeing an economic rebound, but path to recovery likely long and bumpy.” And still further, it was noted by the World Trade Organization that exports and imports have all but collapsed. This is what most of the world at large is forced to consider and confront, but here we are fixated on elections and partisan victory and nothing else. It is as if the real world, and what is happening there, with the promise of much impacts here, has no application to Guyana.
As the Journal reported, there are some glimmer amidst the heavy gloom. A survey of purchasing managers “pointed to a return to growth in France and Australia, and less severe contractions in Germany and Japan.” At the individual level, the New York Times caption of June 18, conveyed the circumstances with which many workers struggle, “Continued layoffs signal an ‘economic scarring’”. In New York, where many Guyanese make their living, the number of unemployed stood at over 1.3 million, which is in the lower double-digit range. As the Times stated, though the continuing layoffs are lower than the peaks of March and April, they are “more worrying because…the crisis was reaching deeper…even as lockdowns eased.”
It is against these disturbing global backdrops in advanced countries, that this country goes about its business unheedingly. Our leaders swear that they are concerned about the welfare of citizens, yet they remain immovably focused on things that are exclusively about elections and their own success. We are in the middle of battering storms, and a harder road ahead is now almost certain.
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