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Global recession fears rise as coronavirus spreads

Shuttered Chinese factories are also a problem for countries and companies fastened into China’s manufacturing supply chain

By PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 27.02.20, 1:21 AM
  • Updated 27.02.20, 1:21 AM
  • a min read
A medical worker records a patient's condition at Jinyintan Hospital, designated for coronavirus-infected patients, in Wuhan, China. (AP photo)

A global recession is likely if coronavirus becomes a pandemic, and the odds of that are uncomfortably high and rising with infections surging in Italy and Korea, Moody’s Analytics said on Wednesday.

“The coronavirus has been a body blow to the Chinese economy, which now threatens to take out the entire global economy,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said.

The outbreak of the virus, officially called Covid-19, was first detected in Wuhan in China in December and has since affected thousands of people across the globe.

“Covid-19 is battering the global economy in numerous ways. Chinese business travel and tourism has all but stopped; global airlines are not going to China and cruise lines are cancelling most Asia-Pacific itineraries. This is a huge problem for major travel destinations, including the US, where some three million Chinese tourists visit each year,” Moody’s Analytics said.

Chinese tourists to the US are among the biggest spenders. Travel in Europe will also be severely impacted as Milan, Italy, the centre of the new infections in that country, is a major travel hub of the continent.

Shuttered Chinese factories are also a problem for countries and companies fastened into China’s manufacturing supply chain. Apple, Nike and General Motors are some prominent American examples.

Shortages of some goods are likely to result this spring, meaning higher prices for things ”we buy at Walmart and on Amazon”, it said.

“US exports to China will suffer, given slumping Chinese demand. China is supposed to ramp up its imports of US products as part of the Phase One trade deal signed by the two countries late last year.

“How much the Chinese would actually purchase from the US was already an open question. Given Covid-19, it is even more questionable. President Trump has suggested that the federal government will cut another check to hard-pressed US farmers to make up for the losses,” it said.

China is the biggest buyer of many of the world’s commodities, including oil, copper, soybeans and pork, and as it will be buying a lot less of these and many other things, prices are slumping.