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Podcast: The COVID-damaged global economy surprised Adam Tooze

Listen: The pandemic hit the global economy hard, and many economies are still hurting. But it could have been even worse. In May 2020 as a guest on the GZERO World podcast, economic historian Adam Tooze told Ian Bremmer that the world was facing a second Great Depression. In a new interview, Tooze is back to take stock and explains why the US economy rebounded so surprisingly fast, while much of the rest of the world lags behind.

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What saved the global economy from another Great Depression?

In May 2020, economic historian Adam Tooze told GZERO World he feared 1 in 5 American workers could still be out of job now due to COVID. It didn't happen. Why? Tooze says he failed to anticipate how quickly we'd get highly effective vaccines, and the scale of the economic stimulus the government was willing to put up. During the 2008 financial crisis, he explains, "we were still beginning to flex our muscles with regards to economic policy, and the scale of fiscal and monetary stimulus that we've seen is as unprecedented as the shock of the spring of last year."

Watch Tooze's interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television starting Friday 9/23/21. Check local listings.

Is the world really building back better? Watch our live discussion today at 11am ET

"Pandemic" was the most used word of 2020. "Delta" looks set to inherit this year's title.

Vaccination rates are ticking up slowly. Governments aren't talking to each other enough. Parts of the world are back to normal, while others are still locked down.

Have we actually made any progress since the COVID-19 outbreak?

Unfinished Business: Is the World Really Building Back Better?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 11am ET/ 8am PT

Watch the event here.

Our speakers:

Special appearance by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

Visit gzeromedia.com/globalstage to watch on the day of the event.

The history of disasters

It's easy to judge the Pompeiians for building a city on the foothills of a volcano, but are we really any smarter today? If you live along the San Andreas fault in San Francisco or Los Angeles, geologists are pretty confident you're going to experience a magnitude 8 (or larger) earthquake in the next 25 years—that's about the same size as the 1906 San Francisco quake that killed an estimated 3,000 people and destroyed nearly 30,000 buildings. Or if you're one of the 9.6 million residents of Jakarta, Indonesia, you might have noticed that parts of the ground are sinking by as much as ten inches a year, with about 40 percent of the city now below sea level.

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The 2020 pandemic was hardly “unprecedented,” says historian Niall Ferguson

"We've been dealing with pandemics from the earliest recorded history. Thucydides writes about a pandemic in the history of the Peloponnesian War. So the last thing 2020 was, was unprecedented," Stanford historian Niall Ferguson told Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. Ferguson, whose new book, "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe," believes that the world should have been better prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic based on the numerous health crises of the 20th century, from the 1918 Spanish flu to influenza and HIV/AIDS. He provides perspective on how the COVID crisis stacks up compared to other pandemics throughout history.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

Merkel's White House visit will have symbolism and substance

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

Why is the United Kingdom opening up and what's happening in the rest of Europe?

Well, I mean, my personal view is that there's an element of complacency in Europe and elsewhere. The Delta variant is spreading rather fast. We'll see an increase in infections in a number of countries. Remains to be seen how this will be handled.

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What does “build back better” even mean (and can we do it)?

What does President Biden's "build back better" slogan really mean? Well, it implies the world before the pandemic already needed some fixing. In fact, it's kind of like "Make America Great Again." And there's a reason why those phrases hit home. A lot of people DO think the system is broken. But beyond catchy slogans, how do we actually fix it?

Watch the episode: Is modern society broken?

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