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financial analysts and others have been trying to estimate — or “model,” in Wall Street parlance — the potential effect on the global economy. The math is not pretty. The most authoritative model, at the moment, suggests a potential economic drain of as much as $32.6 billion by the end of 2015 if “the epidemic spreads into neighboring countries” beyond Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to a recent study by the World Bank. That estimate is considered a worst-case scenario, but it does not account for any costs beyond the next 18 months, nor does it assume a global pandemic.
Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the I.M.F., was seen wearing a button that read: “Isolate Ebola, Not Countries.” She implored the audience: “We should be very careful not to terrify the planet in respect of the whole of Africa.” That’s because the economic cost of fear, far more than medical costs, may be the most expensive outcome.
“Economic consequences also result when fear and concern change behavior,” David R. Kotok, the chairman and chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors, wrote in a report late last week, addressing the potential fallout on gross domestic products. “If consumers and businesses retrench by reducing flights on airplanes, changing vacation plans or altering business connections in a globally interdependent world, G.D.P. growth rates will fall farther. We do not know how much, at what speed, or for how long.”
Mali, which was just coming to the end of 21-day quarantines for 108 people linked to its first Ebola case, now has a second, the government announced Tuesday. The new case, in the capital, Bamako, was not linked to the first case, a 2-year-old girl from Guinea who died in the northwestern town of Kayes on Oct. 24, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization said.