Governments have responded to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the social and economic disruption it has wrought with a range of ad hoc schemes, including paid furloughs, cash transfers, and family support. While commendable, these responses share two major limitations.
First, many are temporary, short-term fixes, covering lockdowns or a notional period until economic recovery kicks in. They do nothing to change the underlying circumstances that left many millions of people vulnerable, or put them in better standing to face future crises.
Secondly, the measures simply do not address the existential threats that face many of the world’s worst-hit communities. Although worldwide government spending on the COVID-19 response is more than US$11 trillion, by far the largest responses have come from rich countries. For example, the European Union recently adopted a Euro 750billion recovery plan (equivalent to six per cent of its gross domestic product [GDP]). While Japan’s economic recovery plan equates to 22 per cent of its GDP (or US$1.1 trillion). But among low-income developing