2020 ADBI Annual Conference: Experts Chart a Sustainable COVID-19 Recovery Path

ADBI News Release | 2 December 2020

Tokyo, Japan – Experts led by renowned economist and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan and Asian Development Bank President Masatsugu Asakawa assessed COVID-19’s impacts and policy implications in Asia and the Pacific during the opening of the virtual three-day 2020 Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) Annual Conference on 1 December.

Rajan, a finance professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, provided insights on dealing with corporate distress, repair, and reallocation, while President Asakawa described priorities to rebuild for a lasting recovery. ADBI’s Dean Tetsushi Sonobe and Deputy Dean Chul Ju Kim went on to guide discussions on COVID-19’s macroeconomic effects in developing Asia and implications for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises and digitalization within the sector.

Key Quotes:

Raghuram Rajan, Professor of Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business and former Governor, Reserve Bank of India

“It is really important, especially if you are a poor country, to ensure that repair and reallocation are done as effectively as possible, given the limited resources that these countries have, so that the recovery is stronger than it might otherwise be but also sustained over a longer period and is not affected by significant debt overhang and weakness in growth.”

“The real concern is not this year but next year, as we start seeing the longer term level of sustainable demand, but also as we see support to the economy come off, as support to credit comes off, who really is viable and who is not. It could be a very different story at that point which is why it is very important to prepare right now, especially when the markets are so buoyant.”

“We have buoyant markets. We should make use of them. In this process, let us prepare for the corporate repair and reallocation that are really necessary as we go forward, both for the issues of equity but also for the long-term sustainable growth we that desperately need once the pandemic is over.”

Masatsugu Asakawa, President, ADB

“While we do expect developing Asia to rebound strongly by 6.8% next year, we cannot anticipate a V-shaped recovery, as it will take some time for countries to recover to pre-pandemic levels of GDP growth.”

“COVID-19 has disproportionately struck poorer households and medium, small, and micro enterprises (MSMEs) with few resources to cushion the blow due to weak social safety nets, lower levels of financial access, and lack of health coverage. Strong investments in education, health, and social protection will be critical to this effort, while also focusing on gender equality.”

“I have no doubt that we will emerge from the current crisis as a more resilient region.”

Tetsushi Sonobe, Dean, ADBI

“As we approach the end of 2020, we wonder how long the COVID-19 threat to our lives and health will last? How the livelihoods of people will be in the next year in our countries and other parts of the world, especially vulnerable groups? What kind of economic recovery will take place? Whether we can really expect to build back better and whether the Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved? The answers to these questions depend much on what people, governments, and the international community do next.”