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If you’re living in fear of which way this plague-ridden economy will lurch next, try a new perspective: Think about what the pandemic will look like five years from now.

In all probability, an investor in 2025 will find it difficult to discern any lasting impact from today’s crisis, asserts a reassuring new report from research firm Morningstar.

“Our analysis shows that many recessions don’t have a long-run impact on the economy,” writes Preston Caldwell, senior equity analyst. He predicts that the world’s output will bounce back strongly in years to come and wind up only 1-per-cent lower in five years’ time than it would have been without the viral outbreak.

Investors may want to take note. If Morningstar’s benign base case proves correct, the coronavirus will have reduced the fair value of stocks by just 2 per cent compared with forecasts before COVID-19. That would more than justify the recent bounce upward in stock prices.

Just to be clear here, Mr. Caldwell is not denying that the near future will be rough. He predicts that global economic output will tumble 2.4 per cent this year as lockdowns and other virus-related restrictions strangle economic activity. His point is simply that economies rebound from even the most severe shocks.

He isn’t the only person touting the case for optimism. Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate economist, recently wrote that the current downturn resembles many pre-1990 slumps. It is being caused by an outside force pressing on the economy, rather than excesses within the economy itself.

So long as authorities adequately manage the pandemic response, activity should bounce back vigorously once the virus is contained, Mr. Krugman says. He points to the strong recovery of the mid-1980s as an example of what can occur. As soon as central bankers eased off on the punitively high interest rates they had imposed to stamp out inflation, output came roaring back.

Mr. Caldwell at Morningstar delves deeply into recent history to make a similar point. Looking back at 191 recessions in 48 countries since 1950, he concludes many recessions have had just minor effects on long-run growth. By his conservative reckoning, 16 per cent of recessions have left no scar at all on their underlying economies. Growth has rebounded strongly and output has returned to its long-run trend within five years.

Other researchers have used slightly different yardsticks and come to similarly rosy conclusions. For instance, a 2015 paper by Olivier Blanchard, Eugenio Cerutti and Lawrence Summers found 31 per cent of all recessions left no long-run impact on economic output.

There are some major exceptions. The Great Depression of the early 1930s or the Great Recession of 2008 hurt growth for years.

But Mr. Caldwell points out that protracted downturns are far from being an inevitable consequence of a recession. Long slumps are usually the result of policy errors by stubborn governments and central banks, he says. In the 1930s, for example, a mistaken adherence to the gold standard amplified the Depression. In the 2010s, a premature turn to budget austerity contributed to persistently underwhelming growth. Structural problems, such as the hangover from the U.S. housing bubble of the early 2000s, also helped prevent a quick rebound, he says.

The good news is that Mr. Caldwell doesn’t detect similar issues this time around. No obvious structural problems stand in the way of quick recovery. On the policy front, governments and central banks have responded with massive programs to help support their economies. Thanks to the recent outpouring of aid, the current downturn seems unlikely to cripple banks and lead to a wider financial crisis.

All of this reduces the chance of a protracted period of slow growth, like the one that followed the 2008 slump. In contrast, this recovery is likely to rank among the stronger rebounds in recent history, Mr. Caldwell says.

“We think investors and others have learned the lesson of 2008’s lackluster recovery, but perhaps they’ve learned it all too well,” he says.

Could he be wrong? Sure, things may turn out worse than his base case, especially if policy makers stumble or if the coronavirus shifts in ways we can’t contain.

But his paper demonstrates that recessions don’t have to leave lasting scars. That is a reassuring observation to keep in mind as we navigate our way through today’s dismal economic news.

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