The Economist Magazine 6th August 2021 At the start of the century, developing economies were a source of unbounded optimism and fierce ambition. Today South Africa is reeling from an insurrection, Colombia has suffered violent protests and Tunisia fac es a constitutional crisis (see Le ader). Illiberal government is in fashion. P eru has just sworn in a Marxist as its president and independent institutions are under attack in Brazil, India and Mexico. This w ave of unrest and authoritarianism partly reflects covid19, which has exposed and exploited vulnerabilities, from rotten bureaucracies to frayed social safety nets. And as we explain this week (see Briefing), The Economist Magazine 6th August 2021 the despair and chaos threaten to exacerbate a profound economic problem: man y poor and middle income countries are losing the knack of catching up with the richest ones. Our excess mortality model suggests that 8m16m people have died in the pandemic. The central estimate is 14m. The developing world is vulner able to the virus , especially lower middle income countries where remote working is r are and plenty of people are fat and old. If you strip out China, non rich countries ha ve 68% of the world’ s population but 87% of its deaths. Only 5% of those aged over 12 are fully vaccinated. Alongside the human cost is an economic bill, sinc e emerging markets have less room to spend their w ay out of trouble . Mediumterm gdp forecasts for all emerging economies are in aggregate 5% lower than before the virus struck. People are angry and, even though protesting during a pandemic is risk y, violent demonstr ations around the world are more common than at any time since 2008.
Rich places, such as America and Britain, are no strangers to incompetence and turmoil. But disappointment has hit emerging economies especially hard. In the early 2000s they buzzed with talk of “catchup”: the idea that poorer countries could prosper by absorbing foreign technology , in vesting in manufacturing and opening up their economies to trade, as a handful of East Asian tiger economies had done a generation earlier. W all Street coined the term brics to celebrate Brazil, Russia, India and China— the world economy’s new superstars. The Economist Magazine 6th August 2021