April 27th, 2009
07:53 PM GMT
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I have a general rule in business journalism – never count dollars before lives. (Always worry about the effect on people before balance sheets or bank accounts.) I have been trying to stay close to this mantra as I cover the swine flu crisis. I am finding it hard to do so this time.

Because while the death and suffering of those who have caught the flu must be paramount, I can't forget that this crisis is taking place in the first global recession for 60 years.

The IMF is forecasting a downturn of at least 1.3 per cent globally, with much worse numbers in developed countries like the U.S. where the downturn could hit 3.5 percent this year.

According to the World Bank report two years ago, industries that are most affected are those like hotels, travel, tourism and restaurants. The very industries that have felt the brunt of the recession. So while there is never a good time to have a pandemic, this is a stunningly bad time.

When the EU health commissioner says that people should rethink travelling to Mexico AND the United States, then we are in getting into deep trouble. The transatlantic market is the most important single travel market in the world.

And, heaven forbid, if the crisis worsens in the U.S., so people are put off domestic travel – well,  the global slump which might have been slowing down, could get worse again.

A quick question for you. Have you changed your plans at all? or are you intending to take any special measures? Wear masks? I would like to know.

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