As the US economy returns, life in many poor countries gets worse

Driven by the United States and China, the global economy is expected to make an impressive return this year from its deepest contraction since the Great Depression, economists say.

For many developing countries, however, 2021 is looking a lot like 2020, with the pandemic still growing and poverty increasing.

“Here in Washington, DC, people are literally talking about the crazy 1920s and, you know, letting the doors fly out of the US economy,” said Geoffrey Okamoto, the first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund. “But the harsh reality is for the poorest countries, they don’t expect vaccines to be delivered to them until the middle of next year,” which means slower economic recoveries and more pain for the poor.

José Luís Rosas, a guide to the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, survived 2020 by withdrawing his pension and transferring his two daughters from private to public school. Now, with the likelihood that foreign tourists will not return this year, a slow vaccination and Covid-19 infections, Rosas said he may have no choice but to move his family to his parents’ remote village to grow avocados, mangoes and lemon.

“I work just to eat, to buy cooking gas, some meat,” he said. “There is nothing to save – the only thing I am working on is to survive.”