Labour isn't working

Covid-19 is threatening livelihoods as well as lives. Our cover this week examines the disaster the disease is unleashing in the business world. Countries accounting for more than half of global GDP are in lockdown. The International Labour Organisation estimates that industries in which the risk of lay-offs or furloughs is high employ 1.25bn people. The exit from lockdowns will be halting and precarious. And the calamity will have lasting effects, accelerating existing trends: the adoption of new technology; a rethinking of global supply chains; and the rise of well-connected oligopolies. Big companies are better placed not only to survive the crisis but to tap governments for support. At least banks are entering this crisis in far better shape than the last one. Some may struggle nonetheless.