By Ruchir Sharma


Even as Covid-19 continues to bubble up in hot spots all over the world, many people are asking which economies are poised to rise, and which to fail. The first principle is to understand the global environment at any point in time, which now means understanding which rules will be most critical in the post-pandemic world.


What this means for the post-pandemic world is that of my ‘10 Rules of Successful Nations’, those on geography and trade, state competence, debt and investment will have the greatest impact on national success.


The four key strengths: a strong domestic market (or unusual export prowess); a competent government, measured here by the indicators that matter most right now, cases and deaths per million from Covid-19; government debt and deficits; and digital sophistication, including heavy investment in research and development. Screening the major developed and emerging economies for these strengths yields a fascinating and rather surprising list.

疫情后促进国内经济发展的四大主要优势包括 : 强大的国内市场(或不寻常的出口能力); 一个称职的政府,这是当前最重要的指标,主要以新冠肺炎的感染率和死亡率来衡量; 政府债务和赤字; 数字化的复杂性,这包括在研发方面的巨额投资。通过对主要发达国家和新兴经济体的这些优势进行筛选,就可以得出一份疫情下各个经济体发展情况的名单。

Meanwhile, topping the list of potential post-pandemic winners are…


Germany was the rare country that went into the pandemic with relatively low levels of debt. It could afford the biggest domestic stimulus package of any major nation, and despite extending offers of stimulus to its fellow EU members, it will still come out with the lowest public debt, by far, of any major power. With Merkel leading the effort to create a European Recovery Fund, which could help bridge the continent’s north-south divide, her legacy may well be some sort of a European Renaissance .


Finland: Nokia may have gone the way of the dodo but its old nest is now home to Microsoft, and Finland keeps producing tech giants like Rovio, maker of ‘Angry Birds.’ A top ten tech power according to IMD. With a competent bureaucracy, little household debt and manageable public debt, Finland has no glaring vulnerability to the challenges of the post-pandemic period.

芬兰 : 诺基亚可能被人们所淡忘了,但它的老巢现在成了微软的总部。芬兰还在不断涌现科技巨头,比如《愤怒的小鸟》的制造商罗维奥。洛桑国际管理发展学院的十大科技巨头。芬兰有一个能力出众的官僚机构,在其管理之下,芬兰家庭债务很少,公共债务可控,在疫情后的各种挑战面前不存在明显的弱点。

Switzerland: Perhaps Europe’s most streamlined, least centralised government, it has brought the Covid-19 death rate down to near zero, and created an economic relief agency that surprises small business by delivering support loans in a matter of hours.

瑞士 : 瑞士可能是欧洲最精简、最分散的政府,但它已经将新冠肺炎的死亡率降至接近于零。瑞士还成立了一个经济救助机构,该机构在几个小时内就可以提供贷款帮助企业渡过危机,这令小企业大感意外。

Astonishingly competitive for such a small country, Switzerland has a smaller population than the Scandinavian countries, but has created twice as many top-100 European companies as the Scandinavian countries combined. The Swiss also generate among the most patents per person in the world and invest heavily in R&D, which is why Switzerland is a top five global tech power as well. (Its one weakness: household mortgage debt.)


Vietnam: Vietnam is realising its potential as “the next China”, a major export power. With an efficient post-communist government, Vietnam has had stunning success containing the pandemic, with only 34 deaths to date. As the rest of the world turns against immigration and trade, Vietnam continues to open up, signing 15 free trade agreements in the last decade.


One of precious few nations that was attracting investment in its export factories at an accelerating pace, rapidly moving up the manufacturing ladder, from stitching together sneakers to making smartphones and AirPods. The domestic economy is leapfrogging the landline age straight into the mobile internet age. Outside a few small outliers, Vietnam is on track to finish 2020 as the world’s fastest growing economy.


Taiwan: Along with South Korea, Taiwan is one of the two nations able to grow at a rapid pace for five decades in a row. Both rank among the top EM countries on all four post-pandemic factors. Taiwan gets the spotlight by a narrow margin. Like South Korea, it invests heavily in tech and is already one of the world’s most digitised countries.

台湾地区 : 和韩国一样,台湾地区是两个能够连续50年快速增长的地区之一。在疫情后的所有四个因素上,韩国和台湾都位居新兴市场国家和地区前列,不过台湾地区以微弱优势进入名单。和韩国一样,台湾地区在科技上投入大量资金,已经是世界上数字化程度最高的地区之一。

But Taiwan has a slightly lower government deficit and debt, and has capped its Covid-19 death rate at 0.3 per million — lowest among major emerging and developed economies. The Achilles Heel for both is a relatively small and debt-soaked consumer economy, but Taiwan’s consumer market is slightly larger (as a share of GDP) and less debt-ridden.


Russia: A dark horse, Russia does not in fact score in the top five on any single post-pandemic factor. It makes the list largely because it has turned itself into a financial fortress mostly impervious to global markets. In 2014, the debilitating impact of international sanction for the invasion of Ukraine, coupled with a drop in oil prices, persuaded Vladimir Putin’s government to focus on paying down foreign debts and saving oil profits to seal itself from foreign pressure. Russian finances are now so solid, the ruble — unlike other petro currencies — no longer whipsaws with the price of oil.

俄罗斯 : 一匹黑马。事实上,俄罗斯在任何一个疫情后因素上都没有进入前五名。它之所以能上榜,很大程度上是因为它已经把自己变成了基本上不受全球市场影响的金融堡垒。2014年,国际社会对俄罗斯入侵乌克兰的制裁产生了破坏性影响,再加上油价下跌,这促使弗拉基米尔·普京的政府将重点放在偿还外债和节省石油利润上,以避免受到外国媒体的冲击。如今,俄罗斯的财政状况非常稳定,与其它石油货币不同,卢布不再随油价波动。

Serendipitously, this insulation from global markets could prove even more valuable at a time when more than half the countries in the world have gone to the IMF for financial help to survive the pandemic.


Thanks in part to the legacy of Soviet science and applied technology, Russia also has a reasonably advanced digital economy, one of the few to produce domestic internet companies that have the potential to withstand challenges from the American and Chinese giants.


It is telling of the coming era that a case can be made to include countries as different as Russia and Germany on this list. To thrive, economies will need a strong defense against the pressures of deglobalisation, debt, and meddling governments, coupled with an offense capable of exploiting the opportunities in the booming digital economy.


Though to very different degrees all these nations, so often on opposite sides of history, share this mix of strengths for the future. They have a good shot at thriving in a difficult post-pandemic world.


DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.