SINGAPORE (Apr 30):  There is no historical precedent for the current worldwide shutdown of most “non-essential” economic activities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nor do policymakers have any experience of trying to engineer a smooth recovery after a shock of this magnitude. Clearly, however, governments now need to take responsibility. With markets having vanished or sharply contracted, the public sector has become the lifeline for millions of people and companies in distress.

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