Topline: As investors around the world continue to worry about the impact of the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak on China’s and the world’s economy, experts are forecasting that global economic growth in 2020 will be reduced by 0.2% to 0.3%, while in the U.S. first quarter growth could take a 0.2% to 0.4% hit.
- The coronavirus, which has now infected more than 43,100 people worldwide and killed 1,018—surpassing the level of severity seen in the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, will undoubtedly have a substantial effect on China’s GDP growth, both in the first quarter and throughout 2020.
- Taking the outbreak into consideration, estimates for China’s first quarter GDP now range from 0% to around 5.5%—down from the 5.9% current annual projected growth rate. The SARS outbreak, by comparison, knocked 2% off China’s GDP yearly growth and was estimated to have cost the global economy up to 0.3%, according to Time.
- With the Chinese economy today accounting for about 17% of global GDP, there is rising concern over what impact that could have on the global economy—as governments and companies around the world implement a large number of coronavirus-related work stoppages and travel restrictions.
- Moody’s Analytics and Barclays both estimate that the coronavirus is expected to lower global GDP by 0.3% in 2020, while Oxford Economics forecasts a 0.2% reduction for the year.
- Back in the U.S., White House economists still only see a limited economic impact from the outbreak, with an expected 0.2% reduction in first quarter economic growth, the Washington Post reports. JPMorgan has slashed its U.S. first quarter GDP forecast by 0.25%, Goldman Sachs by 0.40% and Moody’s by 0.45%.
- In his semiannual testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell addressed these concerns, saying that the central bank is “closely monitoring” whether the coronavirus will hurt the U.S. economy—though he also added that “it’s just too early to say.”
What to watch for: Experts have also warned that the impact from the coronavirus could be worse than the 0.2% or 0.3% hit that most are predicting, depending on how severe the disease continues to be. According to a study by the World Bank, a more severe pandemic could cause economic losses amounting to nearly 5% of global GDP—more than $3 trillion, while a weaker pandemic, like the 2009 swine flu, could wipe out 0.5% of global GDP. While Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida recently called the virus a “wild card,” he also said that there is unlikely to be any lasting damage to the U.S. economy if it gets resolved within one or two quarters, according to the Washington Post. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, for instance, has said it will probably only have a “minimal” impact on the U.S. economy. As historical economic data shows, a slowdown caused by a temporary crisis usually precedes an uptick in stocks as the market eventually stabilizes.
Crucial quote: “I think we know there will be effects on China through some part of the first half of the year and China’s close neighbors and major trading partners,” Powell said during his testimony.
Tangent: While the coronavirus outbreak’s effect on the U.S. economy remains to be seen, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently claimed that it would actually be good for American jobs, and “will help” persuade companies to move operations back to North America. Billionaire investor Ray Dalio, who Forbes estimates is worth $18.7 billion, recently said that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on markets has likely been exaggerated, and will be short-lived: “I would expect more of a rebound.”