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Global recession likely if coronavirus becomes pandemic: Moody's Analytics

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.

February 26, 2020 / 01:14 PM IST

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," Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics Mark Zandi 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 in the US, where some 3 million Chinese tourists visit each year," Moody's Analytics said.

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

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Shortages of some goods will likely 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 U.S. 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.

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

Americans will pay less at the gas pump, which is a plus, but it will be hard on the energy, mining and agricultural industries. Emerging economies, especially in Latin America and Africa, that rely on commodity production for their livelihoods will be slammed.

"Global businesses can't seem to catch a break. They have been grappling with the trade war, the Brexit transition, and the economic policy implications of the fast-approaching US presidential election," it said.

"COVID-19 is now another on this lengthening list of concerns, making it even more likely that already-cautious business executives will continue to sit on new investment and expansion plans. Moreover, they will likely be slow to ramp up their operations, fearful of the implications if they move too quickly and their workers get sick," it said.

first published: Feb 26, 2020 12:55 pm