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Don’t bet on a quick global resurrection amid COVID-19 pandemic

Niall Ferguson

By Niall Ferguson (original source The Globe and Mail)

“Easter never felt more Eastery. The world economy looks dead. Can it be resurrected?

Just over a century ago, amid the worst influenza pandemic in history, the greatest economist of his generation fell ill. John Maynard Keynes was in Paris, attending the peace conference that would ultimately produce the Treaty of Versailles.

He remained prostrate for close to a week. Did Keynes have the dreaded Spanish flu? If so, he was lucky to survive it. According to the latest estimate, that pandemic killed 39 million people – 2 per cent of the world’s population – dwarfing the battlefield fatalities of the First World War.

Shortly after his recovery and return to Britain, Keynes wrote the inflammatory tract that made him famous, the Economic Consequences of the Peace. In it, he deplored the punitive terms of the Versailles treaty – which imposed on Germany an unspecified but potentially vast war reparations debt – and prophesied an inflationary economic disaster, followed by a political backlash.”

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