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The Cost of a “Non-Trivial” Flu Epidemic

The Daily Telegraph has compiled some rather sobering data on what the economic cost of the flu pandemic could ultimately be. This is a little less rosy than Steve Liesman’s prediction that everything will blow over in a day or two. As a reminder the WHO is raising the epidemic to level 5, its second highest threat level: presumably they have not gotten the memo.

From the Daily Telegraph:

The World Bank estimated in 2008 that a flu pandemic could cost $3 trillion (£2 trillion) and result in a nearly 5% drop in world gross domestic product. The World Bank has estimated that more than 70m people could die worldwide in a severe pandemic.Australian independent think-tank Lowy Institute for International Policy estimated in 2006 that in the worst-case scenario, a flu pandemic could wipe $4.4 trillion off global economic output.

Two reports in the United States in 2005 estimated that a flu pandemic could cause a serious recession of the US economy, with immediate costs of $500bn-$675bn.ARS in 2003 disrupted travel, trade and the workplace and cost the Asia Pacific region $40bn. It lasted for six months, killing 775 of the 8,000 people it infected in 25 countries.

At last count there were 148 officially reported cases of the epidemic worldwide, and at least seven deaths.


Originally published at the Zero Hedge blog and reproduced here with the author’s permission.

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Emre Deliveli is a freelance consultant, part-time lecturer in economics and columnist. Previously, Emre worked as economist for Citi Istanbul, covering Turkey and the Balkans. He was previously Director of Economic Studies at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey in Ankara and has has also worked at the World Bank, OECD, McKinsey and the Central Bank of Turkey. Emre holds a B.A., summa cum laude, from Yale University and undertook his PhD studies at Harvard University, in Economics.

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