WHEN SHOCKS hit the global economy, Wall Street looks to history to see what will happen next. The outbreak in China of covid-19, a respiratory disease, invites a comparison to the last one, SARS. In that outbreak in 2003 China suffered a sharp hit to its growth, followed by a strong rebound. Although covid-19 has now claimed more lives than SARS, investors remain optimistic that its economic effects will follow a similar path.

On February 13th Hubei province, centre of the outbreak, announced 14,840 new confirmed cases, a sharp rise. That was because it suddenly started including CT-scan diagnoses, not just specific tests for the virus. Although the statistical fog is thick, indicators such as the fall in new cases outside Hubei and the

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