When the news first began to trickle out of China about a new virus in December 2019, risk-averse financial markets were alert to its potential for disruption. Yet they could never have predicted the total economic collapse that would follow in Covid-19’s wake, as stock markets fell faster and harder than at any time since 1929, currencies across the world plunged, investors panicked, and even gold was sold.
In a matter of weeks, the world’s economy was brought to an abrupt halt. Flights were grounded; supply chains broken; industries from tourism to oil to hospitality collapsed overnight. Central banks responded with unprecedented interventions, just to keep their economies on life-support. The pandemic struck the three great global economic hubs – China, Europe and the United States. It posed a profound challenge to the emerging markets. It hung over the final months of the Trump administration, convulsed by a national crisis. The world found itself clinging to the promise of a miracle weapon in the form of an untried vaccine technology.
This book tells the story of that shutdown. We do not yet know how this story ends, or what new world we will find on the other side. We do know that it has thrown our assumptions about the era of western neoliberalism into disarray. In this fast-paced, compelling and at times shocking analysis, Adam Tooze surveys the wreckage, and looks at where we might be headed next.