Coronavirus 'Great Lockdown' to shrink global economy by 3 percent in 2020: IMFThe IMF, in its 2020 World Economic Outlook, said its forecasts were marked by “extreme uncertainty” and that outcomes could be far worse, depending on the course of the pandemic.
The global economy is expected to shrink by 3.0% during 2020 in a stunning coronavirus-driven collapse of activity that will mark the steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
The IMF, in its 2020 World Economic Outlook, predicted a partial rebound in 2021, with the world economy growing at a 5.8% rate, but said its forecasts were marked by “extreme uncertainty” and that outcomes could be far worse, depending on the course of the pandemic.
“This recovery in 2021 is only partial as the level of economic activity is projected to remain below the level we had projected for 2021, before the virus hit,” IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said in a statement.
Under the Fund’s best-case scenario, the world is likely to lose a cumulative $9 trillion in output over two years - greater than the combined GDP of Germany and Japan, she added.
The IMF’s forecasts assume that outbreaks of the novel coronavirus will peak in most countries during the second quarter and fade in the second half of the year, with business closures and other containment measures gradually unwound.
A longer pandemic that lasts through the third quarter could cause a further 3% contraction in 2020 and a slower recovery in 2021, due to the “scarring” effects of bankruptcies and prolonged unemployment. A second outbreak in 2021 that forces more shutdowns could cause a reduction of 5 to 8 percentage points in the global gross domestic product baseline forecast for next year, keeping the world in recession for a second straight year.
“It is very likely that this year the global economy will experience its worst recession since the Great Depression, surpassing that seen during the global financial crisis a decade ago,” the IMF said in its report. “The Great Lockdown, as one might call it, is projected to shrink global growth dramatically.”
The new forecasts provide a somber backdrop to the IMF and World Bank spring meetings, which are being held by videoconference this week to avoid contributing to the spread of the virus. The meetings normally draw 10,000 people to a crowded two-block area of downtown Washington.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said last week that some $8 trillion in fiscal stimulus being poured in by governments to stave off collapse was not likely to be enough. She is expected to argue this week for more debt relief for the poorest countries.
The global economy contracted 0.7% in 2009 - previously the worst downturn since the 1930s - according to IMF data. In January, before the extent of the coronavirus outbreak both inside and outside China was known, the IMF had predicted that the global economy would grow 3.3% in 2020 as U.S.-China trade tensions were starting to ease, with 3.4% growth seen for 2021.
Advanced economies now suffering the worst outbreaks of the virus will bear the brunt of the plunge in activity. The U.S. economy will contract 5.9% in 2020, with a rebound to 4.7% growth in 2021 under the Fund’s best-case scenario.
Euro zone economies will contract by 7.5% in 2020, with hard-hit Italy seeing its GDP fall 9.1% and contractions of 8.0% in Spain, 7.0% in Germany and 7.2% in France, the Fund said. It predicted euro-area economies as a whole would match U.S. growth of 4.7% in 2021.
China, where the coronavirus outbreak peaked in the first quarter and business activity is resuming with the help of large fiscal and monetary stimulus, will maintain positive growth of 1.2% in 2020, a reduction from 6% growth in the IMF’s January forecast. China’s economy is forecast to grow 9.2% in 2021, the IMF said.
India’s 2020 fiscal-year growth also is expected to stay in positive territory, but Latin American economies, which are still experiencing growing coronavirus outbreaks, will see a contraction of 5.2%.
The Fund called for central bank liquidity swap lines to be extended to more emerging market countries, which face a double problem of locked-down activity and tightening financial conditions caused by a massive outflow of funds to save-haven assets such as U.S. Treasuries.
It said some countries may need to turn to temporary limits on capital outflows.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of September 22, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 31,405,983 people with 967,505 deaths and 22,990,260 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,557,573 with 88,943 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 306,304 confirmed cases with 6,420 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 65,276 cases with 427 deaths.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.