The opening sentence of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is among the most famous in world literature, but it has a special significance to economists, for whom it represents a principle that can be applied in multiple contexts and fields of study.

The Anna Karenina principle states that success requires the comprehensive fulfillment of a set of necessary conditions, and the absence of any one of those conditions will lead to failure.

Consequently, successes are all fundamentally similar, as they reflect the presence of the same array of factors, while failures are diverse, with each stemming from its own unique deficiencies.

The global economic crisis surrounding the coronavirus pandemic inverts the Anna Karenina principle.

The causes of the pandemic-induced shock- lockdowns, border closures, the collapse of trade, travel bans, and financial market volatility-were common across countries and regions, while the projected recovery will be marked by the divergent circumstances of each country and the idiosyncrasies of its policy response.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 22, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.