he American economy is going to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic better than any other large economy bar China. To people critical of the country’s response to the crisis and the delays in rolling out vaccines, this might seem strange, but actually it looks – in relative terms at least – in pretty good shape.
First, the numbers. We only have preliminary ones and they are always revised, but the IMF reckons that the US economy declined by about 3.5 per cent last year. That is the worst since the 1940s, but compares with the 9.9 per cent decline shown by the UK, a 5 per cent fall in Germany and a 7 per cent one for the eurozone as a whole. Figures for China, by contrast, suggest it rose by 2.3 per cent over the year.
All those numbers will be radically revised and my own guess is that in a couple of years’ time the UK’s performance will be shown to be not nearly so catastrophic. But it is already clear the US will have escaped relatively lightly compared with other developed economies.