Britain’s economy has had a rough old year, to put it lightly.
A series of stop-start Covid restrictions gave the UK its worst performance in more than 300 years, with GDP expected to fall by around 10pc, according to the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook.
Yet that is far from the worst performance in a pandemic-devastated globe.
Britain suffered merely the 33rd-biggest drop, with major economies including India, Spain and Italy doing even worse.
At the other end of the scale, China has attracted plenty of attention for turning its woes around. It might have been the first nation afflicted by Covid, but after major lockdowns early in the year, the world’s second-largest economy has managed to eke out growth of a predicted 1.9pc.
That makes it the 10th-strongest grower this year, on those IMF numbers.
So who did better?
Here are the most extreme performers: the top five risers and fallers of 2020.
Civil war, an oil price crash and Covid all conspired to give the Libyan economy the toughest year of all.
Its collapse of two-thirds far and away outstrips all others, in the IMF’s estimates.
Astonishingly, this is almost exactly the same fall as the nation suffered in 2011.
GDP more than doubled in 2012, plunged by more than one-third in 2013 and a further 53pc in 2014.
This hideous volatility is forecast to turn into a boom of more than 70pc next year and more than 50pc in 2022, from an extremely low base.
Any form of recovery is highly dependent on conflict and the pandemic.
The gambling-heavy Special Administrative Region has suffered particularly heavily from the lack of visitors from mainland China, and is set to contract by just over half this year.
Border restrictions are key to its troubles and so too the pace of the likely recovery of gaming and tourist companies, as well as the public authorities which rely on tax revenues generated by casinos.
As a result, the authorities are taking up the prospect of developing new industries in the former Portuguese colony, in an effort to diversify its economy.
Even before the devastating explosion which ripped through Beirut in August, Lebanon’s economy was in dire straits. Its government defaulted on debts denominated in foreign currencies back in March. Prices are set to almost double this year.
The IMF estimates GDP fell by 25pc in 2020, following an already steep decline of almost 7pc in 2019.
A more usual inhabitant of lists like this, Venezuela suffered the joint-third biggest drop, tying with Lebanon with a contraction of one-quarter.
Remarkably this is not as bad as the country’s 2019 drop of 35pc. Covid combined with a reliance on oil and a sustained political and humanitarian crisis kept GDP in freefall through 2020.
Pacific island paradise Fiji’s economy shrank by just over one-fifth in 2020.
Covid destroyed tourism, and that meant only a fraction of the usual visitor numbers to view its natural wonders.
It is not the only tourist haven to suffer this year. Its expected GDP drop of 21pc is closely followed by Aruba, St Kitts and Nevis, the Maldives, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Lucia.
At the other end of the scale, Guyana tops the growth charts with an extraordinary growth spurt of more than one quarter.
Even more remarkably, this is not a rebound from a crunch in 2019 – the South American state was growing steadily before 2020.
Instead, it is fuelled by a rapidly developing oil industry. Production began in December last year.
The big surprise is that this 26pc boom is actually a disappointment. A year ago the IMF expected Guyana’s economy to grow by almost 86pc.
But the pandemic and lower oil price meant that was not ultimately achievable.
The people of South Sudan have had precious little to celebrate in their country’s short existence, but in 2020 they are on track to defy the pandemic and lower oil prices to record very respectable GDP growth of 4.1pc.
Inflation has gradually slowed from almost 400pc in 2016 to 27pc in 2020.
But it remains an extremely poor nation. Depending on the way the figure is calculated, per capita GDP is between $303 and $836 per year.
Bangladesh’s economy slammed on the brakes in 2020, recording its slowest expansion since 1991 at 3.8pc.
This is still enough to keep it in the top tier for the year of Covid, however, and given India’s sharp slide this year it means Bangladesh’s per capita GDP could overtake that of its giant neighbour.
The country has remained attractive to investors, with investment set to keep growing at more than one quarter, despite the drop in exports caused by lockdowns around the world.
Strong investment growth, falling inflation and successful government support and stimulus packages have all helped Egypt to keep growth up. The IMF notes every industry except tourism has staged at least a modest recovery, as Covid containment measures were relatively successful.
As a result, GDP is growing by an estimated 3.5pc for the year.
Pipping Myanmar, Rwanda and Ethiopia to the post, Benin rounds off the top five with growth of 2pc.
It is far from rich, but remained relatively resilient this year in part thanks to successful development of its agricultural industries, electricity grid and financial networks in recent years. One result was that the IMF praised Benin’s efforts to roll out welfare via digital programmes through the pandemic.
– Telegraph Media Group
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