Latest from News

© Mohd izzuan Roslan / DreamsTime
Acquisitions 2023 Photo 226496518 © Mohd Izzuan Roslan Dreamstime
New York Stsate Governor's Office
Container Ships Getty Images 1158940129 5e74e74d0d633

Latest IHS Markit Forecast Says Global Economy is Headed for Recession

March 20, 2020
Check out this overview of the global economic situation.

Note to our readers. One of the key benefits of an annual subscription to Electrical Marketing newsletter is access to a wealth of industry-specific pricing and economic data from IHS Markit, which produces our monthly Electrical Price Index (EPI) and Key Figures data. IHS also provides EM with regular macroeconomic reports. For this issue, IHS Markit Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh and Sara Johnson, executive director, Global Economics, offer expert insight into the impact they expect the Coronavirus to have on the global economy.

 Disruptions to supply chains, demand, international trade flows and travel, along with lockdowns and collapsing stock prices, resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus have dealt a heavy blow to the global economy.

The United States, Europe and Japan are headed for recession and the IHS Markit forecast for world real GDP growth in 2020 has been revised down to -0.7% in response to the spread of the virus. Growth below 2% is classified as a global recession.

While the number of active world cases of the Coronavirus is assumed to top out by the third quarter, the result will be a U-shaped rather than V-shaped cycle, as a sharp reduction in near-term growth is followed by a slow recovery.

Forecast risks are overwhelmingly on the downside and depend crucially on how governments respond. Central banks have already taken emergency actions, but the fiscal response is more uncertain.

The recent sharp drop in oil prices will help energy consumers and hurt energy producers. The net effect on global growth is likely to be negative, but small.

United States. A recession will start in the second quarter. Incoming data point to solid growth at the start of 2020. Fear and financial stress stemming from the spread of the COVID-19 virus have swamped that good news. Volatility has surged, risks spreads have widened and equity values have fallen more than -25% year to date, wiping out trillions in household net worth.

Real GDP growth will be hurt badly in the second quarter as consumers spend more cautiously and businesses put some investments on hold until the outlook clears up. Bans on travel and public gatherings will also hurt. Growth is not expected to return until the end of the year. The U.S. Federal Reserve’s emergency cuts of 150 basis points and liquidity measures will help. Nevertheless, fiscal relief will be needed. The net effect of the large oil price drop will be to cut growth a little, with consumers being helped, but oil producers and their suppliers being hurt. All told, U.S. real GDP should fall -0.2% on a calendar year basis in 2020.

Europe. A downturn is imminent. The Eurozone and UK economies were already in a weak state before the impact of the virus that causes COVID-19. Eurozone real GDP increased just +0.1% quarter-over-quarter and +1% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2019, the weakest performance in six years.

Germany’s output was flat, while Italy and France suffered quarter-to-quarter contractions. The UK economy also stalled in the fourth quarter. IHS Markit expects the spreading virus will do serious damage via trade, travel and tourism, financial markets and sentiment. Italy is especially vulnerable, given its fragile economy, the high incidence of COVID-19 and resulting restrictions on activity. Germany will be hit hard by a drop in exports to mainland China, especially the steep decline in light vehicle sales.

We now expect a recession in the Eurozone, with real GDP declining during much of the rest of 2020. For the full year, we expect Eurozone real GDP to fall -1.5% and UK real GDP to decrease -0.7%, before recovering weakly in 2021.

Japan. Already in recession. Japan’s real GDP fell -7.1% quarter-to-quarter annualized in the fourth quarter of 2019, led by sharp declines in household consumption and private fixed investment. Real GDP is expected to drop again in the first quarter because of the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. Both foreign and domestic tourism have declined, and several major events have been scaled down, postponed or canceled. Nevertheless, our forecast assumes that the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics will go ahead. After a +0.7% expansion in 2019, Japan’s real GDP is projected to contract -0.8% in 2020 before recovering +0.6% in 2021 and +0.5% in 2022. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) has repeated that it will not hesitate to introduce additional monetary easing if downside risks to the economy and inflation arise, but its actions so far have been limited.

China. First in, first out? While the incidence of the COVID-19 virus in mainland China has been concentrated in Hubei province, the economic damage has been more widespread because of supply-chain disruptions. Moreover, labor shortages have hampered work resumption, as a good portion of the workforce traveled to their home regions during Lunar New Year and cannot return to work quickly owing to travel restrictions and local self-quarantine requirements. The data for January and February show a precipitous drop in economic activity.

The central government has announced a series of policies to limit the negative impacts of the outbreak on the economy. One key measure is to coordinate work resumption across regions. The authorities have also indicated they will intensify monetary stimulus and speed up and expand investment spending. IHS Markit projects mainland China’s real GDP growth to slow from +6.1% in 2019 to +3.9% this year, with the economy contracting sharply year-over-year in the first quarter. We predict growth to rebound in 2021.

Other large emerging markets. Few safe harbors exist. The COVID-19 virus outbreak has created an even more challenging environment for emerging markets. Most do not have the financial or healthcare resources to deal with this pandemic. Fortunately, to date, only one country (Iran) in the emerging world has been hit hard. That could change very rapidly. Meanwhile, much lower global growth and commodity prices will hurt prospects everywhere. Few, if any, countries will be immune to the economic damage.

Bottom line. The rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus beyond mainland China has set the global economy up for the worst growth downturn since the 2008–09 financial crisis.

— Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh and Sara Johnson, Executive Director, Global Economics