Japan has been spared the escalating cases and shocking death tolls that have plagued China, parts of Europe and the US, but has now nonetheless declared a state of emergency. Nevertheless, the Covid-19 pandemic is battering the country's economy. Consumer spending has nosedived, exports are paralysed, and travel and tourism have all but ceased. Japan's stock market has plunged 23% since the start of the year and unemployment is on the increase.
Adding to the nation's woes, the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is likely to shave 1.4% off Japan's GDP. A deep recession is on the cards with the country's economy expected to contract by 2.4% this year, says ratings agency Moody's. Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Japanese government, which has described the economic situation as severe, recently unveiled an unprecedented $989 billion (£803bn) stimulus, equivalent to 20% of GDP, to get the Land of the Rising Sun rising again.
Manufacturing is in limbo, exports have plummeted, consumer spending is at rock bottom, tourism has all but stopped and foreign capital inflows are drying up. The country's central bank says GDP is predicted to fall by up to 4% and unemployment is set to surge, despite the government's multi-pronged relief package.
Everything from exports to tourism is kaput and Germany's benchmark stock market index has dropped by 29% since the beginning of the year. Unemployment is increasing, though not to the levels seen in countries with less robust job protections, and GDP is expected to fall by 5.4% in 2020, according to the government's economic advisers. However, like France, Germany can boost its $173 billion (£141bn) stimulus package with money from the EU, a factor that should speed up the recovery.
Only seven other countries have recorded more Covid-19 cases than the UK, which is grappling with a high death toll too. The British government has responded by introducing a nationwide lockdown, and is seeking to soften the economic impact of the pandemic with a record £65.5 billion ($80.65bn) package protecting the National Health Service, businesses and jobs. In the meantime the Bank of England has cut interest rates to 0.1%, the lowest level ever.
The economic impact has been tough so far. The FTSE 100 is down 29% compared to the start of January, the pound has fallen sharply against the dollar and euro, businesses including big names such as airline Flybe and department store chain Debenhams have gone bust or on the brink of collapse and the jobless figure is rising. In one of the worst-case scenarios, Britain's GDP could fall by 7.8% and unemployment leap to six million, or 21% of the workforce, a higher rate than during the Great Depression, said economists at financial company Nomura.
The US is the current epicentre of the pandemic with more cases than any other country, though Italy and Spain have recorded more deaths to date. Albeit not as tough as those in China, India or South Africa, lockdown measures are widely in place across the nation which, along with other factors such as low oil prices, are clobbering the economy. This year the S&P 500 has gone from record highs to record drops and the Dow Jones, the country's other key index, has had its worst quarter in history.
Key US industries including aviation, hospitality and retail are in dire straits. Unemployment numbers are skyrocketing and could overtake Great Depression levels, and GDP may fall 38% in Q2, forecasts Morgan Stanley. Now for the good news. The recent interest rate cut and $2 trillion (£1.6tn) stimulus package, the biggest in history, coupled with the economy's fierce resilience, should see it through the worst, although many analysts are no longer predicting a fast 'V-shaped' recovery.
A total of 41 countries have recorded more Covid-19 cases than Mexico. Despite this relative paucity of sufferers, the nation's government has stopped non-essential activities and banned groups of 50 people or more. Needless to say, the Mexican economy is paying a heavy price for this and other coronavirus-related upsets ranging from the crashing oil price to near shutdown of the global tourism industry.
Manufacturing and exports have languished, the stock market has dipped and economic growth is expected to decelerate to its slowest pace since 1976, with the economy forecast to have contracted by 3.7% in the first quarter of the year, according to a poll of economists conducted by Nikkei Asia Review. With a record deficit looming and an estimated 205 million Chinese workers out of a job, the government is pumping trillions of yuan into the economy, but the nation has a long way to go to get itself back on an even keel.
Coronavirus is devastating the world's most resilient economies never mind the weakest. Weighed down by biting international sanctions, Iran's finances were in a terrible state before the disease arrived in the country, which currently has the seventh highest number of cases worldwide. Low oil prices are hurting the economy bad and the national lockdown, which is being gradually relaxed already to try to stimulate the economy, has damaged consumer spending, travel, manufacturing, and more.
Unemployment is mushrooming and GDP could decline by a third, creating a $10 billion (£8.2bn) deficit. The situation has become so critical, the Iranian government has asked the IMF for a $5 billion (£4.1bn) loan, the first time the powers that be have requested financial assistance since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979. The money will go towards Iran's $23.8 billion (£19.5bn) coronavirus relief package, which includes support for businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic.
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The Spanish stock market has fallen by 32% since the beginning of January. The ranks of the nation's unemployed, which were already the second highest in Europe behind Greece, have swelled by 900,000 and the speed with which the jobs have been lost is unprecedented. The government has announced a $216 billion (£177bn) relief package which represents 20% of GDP, but if the lockdown persists into July, one of the worst-case scenarios suggested, Spain's economy could contract by almost 10%, says Nuno Fernandes, Professor of Finance at IESE Business School.
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