In brief

In brief

  • Governments are fighting the pandemic-induced downturn with unparalleled levels of fiscal support. US$19 trillion has already been announced globally.
  • Another US$7 to $9 trillion is both anticipated and needed to return global GDP growth to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Leaders have the opportunity to leverage fiscal support to rebuild business, accelerate digital transformation and transform society for the better.
  • To do so effectively, leaders need to be equipped with strategies to maximize the impact of funding for all.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the global economy will shrink by 4.2% in 2020. This would represent the deepest recession since the Second World War.

Governments responded robustly. Between January and December 2020, they announced fiscal support worth US$19.6 trillion, equal to 22% of global GDP. For comparison, only 2% of global GDP was deployed during the global financial crisis in 2008.

The fiscal support map

Between January and December 2020, governments announced fiscal support worth US$19.617.1 trillion. The size of countries’ support, relative to their economies, has varied widely.

Despite the promise of vaccine rollouts, the continued economic uncertainty driven by further lockdowns means the global economy is still estimated to be 5% smaller at the end of 2021 than if the economy continued to grow at pre-pandemic forecasts. This represents a gap larger than the size of the German economy.

Given this outlook, Accenture Strategy has calculated that US$7 to US$9 trillion in additional fiscal support would still be needed in 2021 to close projected shortfalls in aggregate demand and return global GDP growth to its pre-pandemic level. The level of required support could rise even further if repeated waves of the virus lead to additional economic headwinds, or if traditional recession fallouts such as unemployment or bankruptcies sustain.

Businesses may instinctively, and understandably, react to additional waves of the virus by focusing on immediate relief efforts. However, businesses should also keep the long game in sight, realizing the transformative power of Recovery Investment to drive longer-term, sustainable growth.

With trillions of support to come in 2021, leaders can maximize the benefits by identifying win-win situations for their companies and society.

Recovery Investment is next

This crisis has seen fiscal support come in three forms: Relief, Stimulus, and Recovery Investment. To date, just 16% of announced support has been earmarked for Recovery Investment. Most of the fiscal support has been directed to the Stimulus phase as many governments have introduced restrictions to suppress the virus.

For many countries, unlocking Recovery Investment depends on the success of vaccine rollouts as economies open and consumer confidence rebounds. Recovery Investment presents an opportunity for businesses to propel society into a more resilient and sustainable future. Leaders that understand the potential multiplier effects will be well positioned to capture the gains.

Three types of fiscal support

In the coming months, we expect support to be directed to Recovery Investment.

Seize the opportunity and fuel change

It has become clear that returning to business as usual is neither likely nor desirable. There is no going back.

If leveraged effectively, Recovery Investment could be the fuel not only to rebuild society, but also to accelerate reshaped value chains and new industry dynamics. This is a once-in-a-lifetime, multi-trillion-dollar opportunity for businesses to leverage recovery funding to fundamentally leapfrog the economy, society, and the environment for the betterment of all.

When deployed with intention, Recovery Investment can result in widespread impact across three key parameters: Economic, environmental and human

Critical areas for long-term growth are mapped against three dimensions: Economic improvement, environmental benefit, and the impact on people.


Positioning for long-term growth

Now is the time for business leaders to explore the art of the possible and to realize the full potential of activating Recovery Investment. Fiscal support is not a zero-sum game between governments and businesses. On the contrary, if business leaders lean into the process with a cooperative mindset, transformational value can be created for businesses and society alike.

Think big and target win-win opportunities

By identifying aspirational projects that support industry transformation objectives with respective government priorities, business leaders can drive large-scale progress and change for society and business alike.

Take a collaborative action mindset

The strongest projects will take a strategic partnership approach to drive broad, shared success. Embrace an ecosystem mindset and consider how a proposal and action plan could be strengthened through the advantages and capabilities of other players.

Execute with intention and value at the forefront

Successful large-scale transformations depend on well thought out planning and execution―from establishing the strategic vision, goals and expected value, to ensuring the plan is action ready and considering how analytics can track impact over time.

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A coming wave of Recovery Investment creates an unprecedented opportunity for leaders to accelerate transformations that will contribute to a more sustainable, prosperous future with technology at the core.

In doing so, it is essential that business leaders have the appropriate strategies in place to maximize the use of Recovery Investment. Those who lead with responsible business, underpinned by exponential technology change, will be well positioned to leverage this multi-trillion-dollar opportunity to rapidly advance goals for society and businesses alike.

About the Authors

Kathleen O’Reilly

Global Communications, Media and Technology Industry Practices Chair

Stephanie Jamison

Lead – Strategy & Consulting, Europe

Karen O’Regan

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Ireland Lead

Katherine Dunn

Senior Manager – Accenture Strategy​

Chris Tomsovic

Senior Manager – Accenture Strategy


Tomas Castagnino

Thought Leadership Principal Director – Accenture Research

Nicole Kozlak

Consultant – Accenture Strategy

William Snowden

Consultant – Accenture Strategy

James Gray

Consultant – Accenture Strategy


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