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Ebola's cost could hit $32b, no fix until 'second half of 2015'

From CSIS.org

The deadly and economically crushing Ebola epidemic in west Africa won’t be brought under control until July at the earliest, and the worldwide financial hit could reach $32 billion, two world aid groups warned on Wednesday.

A top International Monetary Fund official said that the crisis shows no sign of ending and will continue to crush not just Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, but countries and industries that do business with those three nations.

Worse, said Adebe Aemro Selassi, deputy director of the IMF, the “epidemic will not be brought under control until the second half of next year.”

And World Bank Africa economist David Evans said that if left unchecked, the crisis could sap $32 billion of world gross domestic product. But if stopped now, he said, the economic slap could be reeled back to just $3.8 billion.

“It depends on both action and the shift of the disease,” he said at a conference hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Selassi urged world financial institutions and governments to cough up grants for the three impacted African nations because their economies are getting whacked, and it is unlikely that tax receipts will roll in even next year from the sick population. He said that the need is greater than even the IMF can afford to spend.

Evans spelled out the economic disaster in a powerpoint provided below. He said that tourism, construction and general business has crashed in the three nations.

But he said that the economic turnaround in Dallas, Texas, which saw three Ebola patients pass through, suggests that once contained and eradicated, the economy should pop back. Evans said that when the crisis was news in Dallas, restaurant and bar business dropped by 5 percent. But once the cases over, business returned.

“There can be a relatively quick return” of economic activity, he said.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.