The coronavirus pandemic and financial market meltdown are a test of responsible global leadership. Individual governments have promised relief measures to combat the economic fallout for business and employment. But in times of crisis such as the present the world needs statesmen and women to step up with coordinated leadership in a concerted effort to restore confidence. We can no longer look to the markets for a lead in stemming the economic fallout from roller coaster contagion. They are driven by sentiment, which is understandably bad, as evidenced in the devastation in financial markets this week. To be sure, the World Health Organisation’s declaration that the new coronavirus outbreak was officially a pandemic was negative. But metaphorically the world was already sickening and sentiment had already entered bear market territory in spirit if not technically. At such times, with news of near global contagion by the hour and markets experiencing a rerun of the sell-off nightmares of the 1987 crash and the 2008/09 financial crisis, there is a need for responsible, coordinated world leadership to restore confidence. Such leadership is not be to be found in political messaging which conflates the pandemic with divisive domestic issues, as in the United States, where President Donald Trump has claimed the country is facing a “foreign virus” and linked his response to tough anti-immigration measures. His administration has repeatedly reminded people that the virus started in Wuhan, drawing an angry response from Chinese officials. WHO urges governments to act and not be ‘paralysed by the fear of failure’ Rivalry between the nations most able to make a difference does little for a global response, especially given the WHO’s concern about “alarming levels of inaction”. It does even less for coordinated action against the threat of recession. A template for world leaders to boost confidence is to be found in the financial crisis 12 years ago. Then an emergency summit of the G20 group of major economies was credited with breaking the crisis with a pledge to do whatever it took. Veterans of that summit have called for another to discuss coordinated action to head off the present threat. The constraints on large gatherings would downsize a similar summit. But in this day and age, that does not stop G20 leaders and their advisers from devising innovative ways of fast tracking consensus on concerted and coordinated action to calm markets and restore confidence in battered global, regional and national economies. The 2009 G20 summit has been described as a high watermark of 21st century global cooperation. Another one would need a current world leader to step up and rally diplomatic support. The hardest part might be getting an isolationist Trump to take part in a coordinated response.