• Before COVID-19, the global economy stood at $88 trillion.
  • But the pandemic has seen growth forecasts revised downwards and economies go into recession.
  • In 2019, the United States had the biggest slice of the global economy pie – and the top 10 economies accounted for two-thirds of global GDP.

This year has seen global growth disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of the world’s biggest economies in recession.

And the recovery will take longer than economists first thought. In June, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook projected global growth at -4.9% in 2020, 1.9 percentage points below the April forecast.

Next year, the IMF projects global growth at 5.4% – 6.5 percentage points lower than the pre-COVID-19 projections of January 2020.

coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

The impact would be felt hardest on low-income households, said the IMF, and threatens to undo three decades of progress to reduce extreme poverty.

While the economic impact of COVID-19 varies across the globe – depending on factors from economies’ efforts to contain it, level of development and types of industry, to the stimulus packages available – it’s useful to understand the global economic picture before the pandemic.

GDP by country, in 2019.
Image: howmuch

This chart from Howmuch.net is based on World Bank data for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2019.

Only 16 economies had a GDP higher than $1 trillion, with the US by far the biggest economy at more than $21 trillion – making up just under a quarter of the global total of almost $88 trillion.

China was the second largest at more than $14 trillion and Japan was in third place with just over $5 trillion.

The top 10 economies combined made up two-thirds of GDP, while the 42 represented on the chart made up just over 90% of the world’s GDP, and the rest of the world accounted for the remaining 9.8%.

Africa is the smallest region represented, with three economies - Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt - together making up $1.1 trillion of global GDP.

The chart doesn’t take population size into account and it remains to be seen how the chart will look based on data from 2020.