Covid-19 is turning into a global pandemic in which few, if any, countries will be spared. With swathes of China’s economy having ground to a halt, disrupting supply chains throughout the world, and the rapid escalation of the epidemic in parts of Europe and the Middle East, fears are growing that the economic impact could be as bad as that of the 2008 global financial crisis.

This has led to panicked selling on global markets, which have experienced their worst losses since 2008. Over the past two weeks, the JSE all share index has crashed 9.7% — wiping billions off the pension savings of millions of South Africans. For this year, the JSE is down a mammoth 13.3%. While the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 50 basis points (bp) last week as an emergency measure, it failed to stem the rout on global markets — which, notably, is the opposite of what happened in 2008...

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