When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the global economy plunged into the deepest recession since World War II. Governments reacted quickly to the economic shock with massive aid and relief packages — at the expense of record-high debt levels (see Chart 1). It was absolutely the right thing to do — to protect productive capacities, provide liquidity to businesses and households and ensure that the economy can recover quickly once the worst of the pandemic is behind us. In effect, governments all over the world are socialising private-sector debt. We explained this in our column last week. But were the stimulus measures of unprecedented scale excessive?

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that they are, especially in the developed world. The number of corporate bankruptcies fell in 2020, companies are flush with cheap cash and households are piling up excess savings, estimated at US$5.4 trillion ($7.27 trillion) as at end-March 2021, according to Moody’s Analytics. Giving the people free money is popular, and popularity wins elections under the democratic system of governance.

To continue reading,

Sign in to access this Premium article.

Subscription entitlements:

Less than $9 per month
3 Simultaneous logins across all devices
Unlimited access to latest and premium articles
Bonus unlimited access to online articles and virtual newspaper on The Edge Malaysia (single login)

Stay updated with Singapore corporate news stories for FREE

Follow our Telegram | Facebook