Covid: what can be done about the poverty?

The economic consequences of the pandemic are increasingly dramatic: In India and Venezuela there is widespread hunger and across the globe people are losing their livelihoods due to lockdowns and falling demand for goods and services. The World Bank's prognosis reflects the dire situation. Europe's press examines the problems and discusses solutions.

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Jurnalul National (RO) /

Up to 150 million will become impoverished

Jurnalul National outlines the current forecasts:

“For the first time in over 20 years, extreme poverty in the world will grow in 2020. The disruption of economic and social life caused by the coronavirus has intensified the negative effects of global conflicts and climate change while at the same time slowing down the process of poverty reduction. The World Bank estimates that between 88 and 115 million people will fall into extreme poverty this year alone. By 2021, up to 150 million people will be affected, depending on the severity of the economic downturn. ... Progress is not guaranteed, but the disease is global, killing not just people, but also companies, businesses and the prosperity of nations.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Even more inequalities on the labour market

While some workers have either not been affected or have even benefitted from the coronavirus crisis others have lost their means to make a living, The Irish Times laments:

“The pandemic has brought home the starkness of our divisions. There is an economy in which people can work online and be reasonably safe and watch their bank balances grow because they are not spending their salaries. And there is one in which people have to get on the bus and do physical jobs that expose them to danger - or else, as 300,000 people have found, become unemployed. The virus is speeding up and amplifying the inequalities that were already a latent threat to the viability of a republic.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Learn from the post-war period

Economist Thomas Piketty proposes special taxes for the wealthy in Le Monde:

“How will states deal with the mountains of debt created by the Covid-19 crisis? For many the answer is clear: the central banks will add more and more debt to their balance sheets and everything will be settled. However in reality things are more complex. ... Sooner or later, the rich will have to pay. ... The whole history of public debt shows that money alone cannot offer a peaceful solution to a problem of this magnitude, because in one way or another it results in uncontrolled distribution. It was by resorting to special taxes for the wealthy that the huge national debts of the post-war period were repaid and the social and productive pact of the following decades emerged. You can be sure that the same will be true in the future.”

Contrepoints (FR) /

Piketty wants a return to disastrous socialism

Taxing the rich in this way would have disastrous consequences, blogger Nathalie MP criticises in Contrepoints:

“For Piketty, the Covid-19 debts are just another opportunity to present his ideas on combating inequalities in the world. This is a very 'social and united' concern that is particularly in tune with the French spirit, which nurtures a genuine passion for equality - not to say egalitarianism - even if it is achieved by means of deceptive and destructive downward adjustments. … According to Piketty we must get rid of capitalism and return to good old socialism, whose proverbial rosy future faded into economic misery and political repression each time it was put into practice.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Easier for the rich to survive Covid

In many countries the coronavirus crisis is exposing how unequal access to healthcare is, Rzeczpospolita observes:

“The contrast between the powerful and dizzyingly rich Trump and those who live in mobile homes without health insurance is drastic. In Poland, the growing number of deaths from Covid-19 and the lack of ventilators and remdesivir may also raise questions about equitable access to medicines and life-saving devices. And I don't think any members of parliament - including those from the right-wing Konfederacja party - will have any problems accessing these.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Recession hitting women harder

Women are being hit harder than men by the economic slump triggered by the pandemic, The Irish Times comments:

“While recessions traditionally tend to impact men more, because construction and manufacturing are early casualties, this recession has hit areas - retail, hospitality - where more women work. This gendered aspect of the recession was compounded by the closure of schools and childcare facilities.” (ES) /

Prosperity cannot just be measured in money terms

Once again the fight against the crisis is focusing exclusively on the GDP, journalist Marco Schwartz laments in

“When the financial crisis of 2008 broke out, then French president Nicolas Sarkozy summoned an expert commission headed by Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen with the noble goal of 're-establishing capitalism'. He gave the two economists the specific mission of proposing an instrument other than the GDP to measure the success of policies, based on the assumption that this indicator did not adequately reflect people's needs. ... I don't know how much money the French state paid for the work. But I am certain that the highly acclaimed report is now sleeping the sleep of the just.”