NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

What Will Ebola Do to Economies?

October 8, 2014

All eyes are on Ebola, as the virus which has wreaked havoc on Africa has found its way into Spain and the United States. But beyond its health implications, what does Ebola mean for world economies? Katy Barnato at CNBC reports that the virus could disrupt a number of markets if it continues to grow.

The Centers for Disease Control released a report in September estimating that 550,000 to 1.4 million people could be infected with Ebola by January 2015. Already, the virus has infected more than 7,000 people in West Africa, with more than 3,300 deaths.

What commodities markets risk being interrupted by the virus?

  • Gold and cocoa are most at risk, according to Anna Mulholland, an analyst from Deutsch Bank. More than two-thirds of the supply of cocoa comes from West African countries.
  • There are many iron ore and gold mining projects in West Africa, in addition to oil, copper, cobalt and aluminum production in the region.
  • Exxon Mobil had plans to drill for oil off the Liberian coast, but on Thursday it issued an order banning employees from traveling to the areas with heavy Ebola outbreaks.

The Deutsch Bank report warns that the countries affected by the outbreak could see a rise in food prices, as harvests are disrupted and consumers purchase food in a panic. 

Source: Katy Barnato, "Ebola epidemic: Which sectors to watch," CNBC, October 3, 2014.

 

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