As COVID-19 began to cast its shadow over the world in March and April last year, economists braced themselves for the predicted almighty global meltdown which would see stock markets in freefall, tens of millions unemployed, governments mired in previously unthinkable levels of debt, the biggest recession since the Wall Street Crash, food shortages, banks failing and entire industries wiped out.

Not to mention the human cost as a slew of world leaders competed to see who could handle the crisis best.

However, even as most of Europe and the US saw infections spiralling out of control, something strange happened. Or, rather, it didn’t happen.

Yes, economies entered technical recessions and colossal stimulus packages were doled out with impunity, but markets stubbornly held fairly steady and house prices – usually a good indicator of confidence – actually rose.

In Australia, we were feeling pretty smug about how we’d reacted. Save for the Ruby Princess debacle and some dithering about the need for a lockdown, we kept the virus pretty much at bay.

Even now, after protracted and debilitating lockdowns, we’re faring a lot better than most.

By 12 November 2021, the country had recorded 187,041 infections and 1,873 deaths, a rate of 73 deaths per million. The UK, by comparison, has almost three times our population yet 29 times as many deaths. The situation in the US is even worse.

Restaurant owners and travel agents may disagree, but Australia weathered the pandemic storm better than most. Squabbles with China over trade and low iron ore prices are arguably more of an issue going forward.

As 2022 dawns, economic growth will be rampant across multiple industries, although the performance of individual companies may well depend on the leadership decisions taken over the past 18 months. When chaos erupted, some CEOs rose to the challenge and spotted lucrative opportunities that no-one else saw.

And some didn’t.

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