This past 12 months marked an improvement but only because 2020 was such a deplorable year. The global economy recovered, but the extent and quality of that rebound has been disappointing. On the geopolitical front, it was a similar story — nothing went spectacularly wrong, but the improvements that many of us had hoped for did not materialise. This series of let-downs have made observers wary of being too cheery. Indeed, there is a tendency in some quarters to focus greatly on what can go wrong and not enough on what can go right.

Our view is that, actually, a lot could go right in the coming year. Not only is there a good chance that the global economy will snap back smartly, but the foundations are likely to be laid for a period of sustained and productive transformation. Of course, some things will go wrong but, based on what we know, these setbacks are unlikely to throw the world economy so badly off-track to the point that Southeast Asia’s prospects are blighted. We see the pandemic imposing less economic damage, allowing strong drivers of growth to emerge. There will be other perils that the global economy will have to navigate but in each case, these are not so formidable that they cannot be mitigated.

Pandemic unlikely to be big drag on economic growth

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