Historic Contraction in Rich Economies Presages Long Climb Back

A man passes a boarded-up store in the City of London in April. The U.K. experienced the largest decline in gross domestic product during the second quarter.

Photo: tolga akmen/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

LONDON—The world’s rich economies experienced the deepest contraction in at least six decades in the spring, according to fresh data published Wednesday, while continuing outbreaks of the novel coronavirus mean their path back to pre-pandemic levels of output is likely be fraught.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Wednesday said the combined economic output of its 37 members—most of which are rich—was 9.8% lower in the second quarter than it was in the first, the largest decline since records began in 1960. The previous largest fall in output during a single quarter was the 2.3% drop recorded in the first quarter of 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis.

Surveys and other data indicate that economic activity began to recover as early as May, when a number of countries lifted some of the restrictions designed to contain the virus.

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