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Global economy to stage vigorous recovery; jobs growth to lag

Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai
Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai

BENGALURU: The global economy will recover this year from its coronavirus slump at a pace not seen since the 1970s as strong momentum builds in most major economies, according to Reuters polls of over 500 economists.

That optimism was largely led by the widely expected vaccine-driven recovery, massive liquidity injections, unprecedented fiscal support – primarily by the United States, with more in the pipeline – and continued adaptation of economic activity to overcome subdued mobility.

With many countries still facing challenges from the pandemic, when asked about the likelihood of a renewed spike in coronavirus cases derailing the global economic recovery this year, economists were split in the Reuters polls taken over the past month.

But 2021 growth views for 55 per cent of 44 economies polled on were upgraded from three months ago, led by the US economy – which was predicted to mark the fastest annual expansion since 1984 – and China, set to return to pre-crisis levels this year.

“A synchronised global economic recovery is underway, notwithstanding the continuing battle against Covid-19. Every economy we cover is projected to register a meaningful rebound in annual average GDP growth this year,” noted Janet Henry, global chief economist at HSBC.

“Much will depend on whether governments prefer a strategy of eliminating or suppressing the pandemic; access to effective vaccines; the structure of the economy; the willingness of households to spend their accumulated savings; and the scale and mix of policy stimulus.”

The devastating pandemic pushed the world economy into its deepest-ever recession last year, but the poll showed a sharp rebound with the global economy predicted to grow on average 5.9 per cent this year, the fastest since the 1970s.

That compared to 5.3 per cent expected in January and a sharp upgrade compared to expectations from a year ago, when the pandemic took hold.

While the latest consensus is just a touch below the International Monetary Fund’s 6 per cent projection, nearly 30 per cent of 74 economists predicted world GDP growth in excess of the IMF’s forecast.

Over 85 per cent of economists, or 152 of 178, in response to an additional question, said the recovery would be faster than previously expected or about the same pace versus the remaining 26 predicting a slower pace of rebound.

None foresaw a downturn.

Despite those upgrades to economic growth, the job market recovery was expected to lag, with unemployment rates not forecast to return to pre-crisis levels this year or next for most advanced economies polled on.

While the latest jobs outlook has improved slightly compared to April last year on trillions of dollars worth of stimulus, it still suggests the Covid-19 pandemic would leave many million workers jobless, with several economic sectors disrupted by mobility restrictions not expected to recover anytime soon.

Also, projected quarterly growth forecasts showed uneven momentum for economies from developed to emerging in the latest polls, reflecting worries that public health gains against the coronavirus have stalled in some parts of Asia, Latin America, and Europe. — Reuters

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