S&P: Britain, eurozone face 2.0pc recession this year

A man wears a mask as he fixes his bicycle in a near deserted London on March 25, 2020, after Britain’s government ordered a lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. — AFP pic
A man wears a mask as he fixes his bicycle in a near deserted London on March 25, 2020, after Britain’s government ordered a lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. — AFP pic

PARIS, March 26 — The coronavirus pandemic will push Britain and the euro area into recession this year, with their economies expected to shrink by as much as two per cent, the international ratings agency S&P Global warned today.

“The eurozone and UK are facing recessions. We now expect GDP (gross domestic product) to fall around 2.0 per cent this year due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic,” it wrote in a report.

The spread of Covid-19 has forced three billion people around the world into lockdown and economists say the restrictions could cause the most violent recession in recent history.

Central banks and governments have rolled out a wave of unprecedentedly large fiscal and monetary policy packages to shore up their economies.

To prevent a credit crunch, central banks have injected liquidity and cut rates to lower banks’ refinancing costs and have implemented large asset purchase programmes.

S&P said a two-per cent recession for Britain and the UK would amount to a loss in real GDP of about €420 billion (RM1.99 trillion) in 2020, compared with its previous forecast from November 2019.

“We expect a gradual rebound of at least 3.0 per cent in 2021,” the agency said.

S&P said that “swift and bold policy responses taken now are key to avoiding permanent losses to GDP later.”

“Risks are still to the downside, as the pandemic might last longer and be more widespread than we currently envisage. For example, we estimate a lockdown of four months could lower eurozone GDP by up to 10 per cent this year,” it said.

Looking at individual countries, S&P is pencilling in economic contraction of 2.6 per cent for Italy, the hardest-hit country by the pandemic, and Spain’s economy is expected to shrink by 2.1 per cent.

The agency is forecasting a 1.9-per cent contraction in GDP for both Germany and Britain and 1.7 per cent for France.

Yesterday, another ratings agency, Moody’s, had forecast that the world’s 20 most industrialised countries would likely suffer a recession this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It estimated that the G20’s overall GDP would contract by 0.5 per cent, with the US economy shrinking by two per cent and the eurozone by 2.2 per cent.

China, however, despite suffering an outbreak of the novel coronavirus before everyone else, could see economic activity expand by 3.3 per cent, a level that is nonetheless well below average for the world’s second biggest economy.

G20 leaders are to hold an online summit today after criticism the group has been slow to address the crisis. — AFP

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