World Bank Issues China Economic Update Synopsis

To download the full report click here.

COVID SHOCK

Conditions in China and the rest of the world have changed dramatically over the last six months. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a severe human toll, caused the deepest global recession in eight decades, and inflicted enormous damage on jobs and welfare worldwide.

FORECAST

For China our baseline forecast envisions a sharp slowdown of growth to 1.6 percent this year, which would mark the slowest expansion since 1976. While supply side constraints have eased and economic activity has started to rebound, domestic and external demand remain fragile and restrain the pace of recovery, despite the swift measures taken to contain the economic fallout.

IMPACT

Even as economic activity rebounds, the shock is likely to leave the economy scarred. The pace of poverty reduction is expected to slow, reflecting labor dislocation and slower growth in household incomes. Our projections show that without additional policy measures, 8-20 million fewer people are projected to escape poverty in 2020, compared to the pre-pandemic scenario. Self-employed workers and those in less secure, informal jobs, particularly migrant workers, are being especially hard hit.

RISKS/POLICY

While risks are exceptionally high, they can be partially mitigated by good policies.

MONETARY.

Policy makers will need to ensure monetary and financial sector policies remain flexible to ensure abundant liquidity and keep market rates and bond yields low, easing the debt burden on households, firms, and governments. At the same time, financial risks should be managed carefully especially since the shock has further aggravated China’s debt levels, which were high even before COVID.

FISCAL/SOCIAL.

Fiscal policies would will need to play a critical role in supporting the recovery, and stimulus measures can should be designed in a way that contributes to achieving more inclusive, carbon-neutral and greener growth. The pandemic has amplified the need to close gaps in China’s social safety nets both to support distressed workers and households, and to help minimize lasting weakness of domestic consumption.

STRUCTURAL.

Accommodative macroeconomic policies to support demand could be accompanied by deeper structural reforms to stimulate a stronger, job-intensive recovery and to facilitate adjustment to the post-pandemic economy. Reforms to address barriers to labor mobility, including further liberalization of the Hukou system would facilitate movement of labor from firms and sectors suffering more persistent damage to expanding sectors, firms, and locations.

SUSTAINABLE AND INCLUSIVE RECOVERY

The pandemic shock has exposed deeply connected economic, social, and environmental fragilities, further increasing the urgency of achieving China’s objective of rebalancing the economy toward more inclusive, sustainable, and greener growth. The recovery offers an opportunity to accelerate progress towards these goals.

Developing Asia’s Economic Growth to Contract in 2020

Developing economies across Asia are set to contract this year for the first time in nearly six decades but are likely to begin to emerge from the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus next year according to a report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday. The report, the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020 Update forecasts a GDP contraction of -0.7 percent for developing Asia this year – its first negative growth since the early 1960s.

However, the report goes on to say growth will likely rally to 6.8 percent in 2021 – in part as growth will be measured relative to a weak 2020, leaving next year’s output below pre-COVID-19 projections. With three-quarters of the regions’ economies expecting negative growth in 2020 the ADB is suggesting an “L”-shaped rather than a “V”-shaped recovery for the region.

“Most economies in the Asia and Pacific region can expect a difficult growth path for the rest of 2020. The economic threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic remains potent, as extended first waves or recurring outbreaks could prompt further containment measures. Consistent and coordinated steps to address the pandemic, with policy priorities focusing on protecting lives and livelihoods of people who are already most vulnerable, and ensuring the safe return to work and restart of business activities, will continue to be crucial to ensure the region’s eventual recovery is inclusive and sustainable,” said ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada.

To mitigate the ongoing risk, governments in the region have delivered wide-ranging policy measures, including support packages—mainly income support—amounting to $3.6 trillion, roughly equivalent to about 15 percent of regional GDP.However, the report points out a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic remains a major biggest downside risk to the region’s economic outlook this year and next.

According to the ADB, the PRC is one of the only regional economies bucking the trend with expected grow of 1.8 percent this year and 7.7 percent next, with successful public health measures supporting growth. In India, where lockdowns have stalled consumer and business spending, the ADB estimates GDP contracted by a record 23.9 percent in the first quarter of its fiscal year and is forecast to shrink 9 percent in FY2020 before recovering by 8 percent in FY2021.

The report goes on to highlight other potential downside risks in the region arising from geopolitical tensions, including an escalation of trade and technology disputes between the United States and the PRC; as well as financial vulnerabilities exacerbated by a prolonged pandemic.

COVID-19 to Plunge Global Economy into Worst Recession since World War II -World Bank

According to the World Bank the swift and massive global shock of Covid-19 and the measures to contain it have plunged the world economy into a severe contraction.

According to World Bank forecasts, the global economy is set to shrink by 5.2 percent this year representing the deepest recession since the Second World War, with the largest fraction of economies experiencing the largest declines in per capita output since 1870, according to their June 2020 Global Economic Prospects. Download here for depressing reading.

Economic activity between advanced economies is anticipated to shrink 7 percent in 2020 with domestic demand and supply, trade, and finance severely disrupted.

Emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) are expected to shrink by 2.5 percent this year, their largest collective decline for sixty years,  with per capita incomes expected to decline by 3.6 percent – tipping millions into extreme poverty.

The hardest blow is hitting countries worst affected by the pandemic and where there is heavy reliance on global trade, tourism, commodity exports, and external financing.

While the situation in each country will be different, all EMDEs have vulnerabilities that are magnified by external shocks. Moreover, interruptions in schooling and primary healthcare access are likely to have lasting impacts on human development.

“This is a deeply sobering outlook, with the crisis likely to leave long-lasting scars and pose major global challenges. Our first order of business is to address the global health and economic emergency. Beyond that, the global community must unite to find ways to rebuild as robust a recovery as possible to prevent more people from falling into poverty and unemployment.”

said World Bank Group Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu. 

In a best case scenario, assuming the pandemic recedes sufficiently to allow the lifting of some mitigation measures by mid-year in advanced economies and a bit later in EMDEs; adverse global spillovers ease during the second half of the year; and that dislocations in financial markets are not long-lasting — global growth is forecast to rebound to 4.2 percent in 2021, as advanced economies grow 3.9 percent and EMDEs bounce back by 4.6 percent.

However, the outlook is massively uncertain given the inability of nations to cooperate and the downside risks are potentially huge; including the possibility of a more protracted pandemic, financial upheaval, and retreat from global trade and supply linkages.

A worst-case scenario could lead the global economy to shrink by as much as 8 percent this year, followed by a sluggish recovery in 2021 of just over 1 percent, with output in EMDEs contracting by almost 5 percent this year.

The U.S. economy is forecast to contract 6.1 percent this year, reflecting the the lack of coordinated pandemic-control measures.

Euro Area output is expected to shrink 9.1 percent in 2020 as widespread outbreaks took a heavy toll. Japan’s economy is anticipated to shrink 6.1 percent.

“The COVID-19 recession is singular in many respects and is likely to be the deepest one in advanced economies since the Second World War and the first output contraction in emerging and developing economies in at least the past six decades. The current episode has already seen by far the fastest and steepest downgrades in global growth forecasts on record. If the past is any guide, there may be further growth downgrades in store, implying that policymakers may need to be ready to employ additional measures to support activity.”

said World Bank Prospects Group Director Ayhan Kose.

Corona Virus Economic Impact – ADB releases their forecast

The Asian Development Bank has released their predictions for the economic impact of Covid-19. Here’s how the numbers break down.

Comparative economic forecasts

The latest available economic data for the PRC compared to countries in East Asia.

Trade conflict effects

Based on the working paper The Impact of Trade Conflict on Developing Asia, this tool estimates the effects of tariffs on gross domestic product, exports, and employment across Asia and the Pacific countries following the growing trade battle between the United States and People’s Republic of China.

China will extend debt repayment to poor countries battling Covid-19

Caixin is reporting that China has suspended debt repayments for 77 developing countries and regions as part of the G-20 debt relief initiative to help impoverished countries weather economic difficulties amid the coronavirus pandemic, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Sunday.

The measures were announced by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu in Beijing.

Ma offered no details nor beneficiaries, the amount involved or terms of repayment.

The announcement came after G-20 agreed in April to freeze debt service payments until the end of the year for the world’s poorest countries battling Covid-19.

In May, President Xi Jinping also pledged $2 billion in aid and donations over the next two years to relevant countries and organizations combatting the pandemic.

According to the vice foreign minister the pledged aid included a USD50 million donation to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Wang Zhigang, minister of science and technology, also said during the same press conference that China will make its Covid-19 vaccine “a global public good” when it is ready. 

China’s top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan said on Saturday during a livestreaming event that he believed the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine could be available for emergency use as early as this fall or by the end of the year. In total, six candidate vaccines are undergoing clinical trials in China.