September 21, 2020: COVID-19 response, new research on human capital, and looking ahead to our Annual Meetings

I would like to provide another update on some of the work underway at the World Bank Group wbhq_2 to address the COVID-19 pandemic and other significant development challenges.

The pandemic is hitting developing countries hard, and the inequality of that impact is clear. From declining remittances to the collapse of the formal and informal markets, the pandemic has disproportionately impacted the world’s poorest, especially women and children.  It threatens to push over 100 million people into extreme poverty and is exacerbating inequality throughout the world. The negative impact on health and education may last decades—80 million children are missing out on essential vaccinations and over a billion are out of school.

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Who’s afraid of big bad firms?

Superstar firms have been in the minds of world’s leading bankers and economists 40160366-1533524372111365_originlately. Policymakers are concerned that America’s leading firms such as the FAANG stocks — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google — are having adverse results on the rest of us and making economic policy less predictable. Why is this? Many of the companies have improved the lives of people across the world with highly desirable and useful products. These superstar firms have also done very well for many of their stakeholders and investors. The numbers are staggering. These five tech companies together account for roughly half of the gains achieved by the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index in 2018. And in recent weeks, Apple became the world’s first trillion-dollar corporation, with Amazon not far behind. While the superstar firms have made life easier for many consumers, it’s hard for economists not to wonder whether the effects of their stratospheric success are entirely benign.

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