In World’s Most Vulnerable Countries, the Pandemic Rivals the 2008 Crisis

In New Delhi, a fruit vendor whose sales have dropped by half now dilutes the milk she serves to her five children. In central Turkey, a company that runs hot air balloon rides for tourists has banished its 49 employees to indefinite leave while cutting their wages by half.

In Manila, a bartender for an international cruise line finds himself marooned at home, wondering if his savings will last until his ship returns to sea. In Johannesburg, a mother who makes her living braiding hair goes home empty-handed.

And in Buenos Aires, a cabdriver prowls deserted streets for fares, fearful that he will contract the coronavirus, yet more afraid of losing his taxi to repossession.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “This situation is larger than me.”

As the coronavirus pandemic brings the global economy to an astonishing halt, the world’s most vulnerable countries are suffering intensifying harm. Businesses faced with the disappearance of sales are laying off workers. Households short of income are skimping on food. International investment is fleeing so-called emerging markets at a pace not seen since the global financial crisis of 2008, diminishing the value of currencies and forcing people to pay more for imported goods like food and fuel.

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