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Socio-economic impact of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic

Movement of WTI price from 2019, with Black Monday of 2020 changes highlighted in red.

The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic has had far-reaching consequences beyond the spread of the disease and efforts to quarantine it. There have been widespread reports of supply shortages of pharmaceuticals[1] and manufactured goods due to factory disruption in China,[2] with certain localities (such as Italy[3] and Hong Kong)[4] seeing panic buying and consequent shortages of food and other essential grocery items.[5] The technology industry, in particular, has been warning about delays to shipments of electronic goods.[6]

A number of provincial-level administrators of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were dismissed over their handling of the quarantine efforts in Central China, a sign of discontent with the political establishment's response to the outbreak in those regions. It is likely in a move to protect Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping from people's anger over the coronavirus outbreak.[7] Some commentators have suggested that outcry over the disease could be a rare protest against the CPC.[8] Additionally, protests in the special administrative region of Hong Kong have strengthened due to fears of immigration from Mainland China.[9] Taiwan has also voiced concern over being included in any travel ban involving the People's Republic of China due to the "one-China policy" and its disputed political status.[10][11] Further afield, the treasurer of Australia was unable to keep a pledge to maintain a fiscal surplus due to the effect of the coronavirus on the economy.[12] A number of countries have been using the outbreak to show their support to China, such as when Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia made a special visit to China with an aim to showcase Cambodia's support to China in fighting the outbreak of the epidemic.[13]

On 25 February, it was expected[by whom?] that Australia, Mainland China, and Hong Kong would have the most direct economic impacts from the disruption,[14] with Hong Kong already in a recession at that time after a long period of ongoing protests since 2019[15] and Australia widely expected to be in a recession with GDP contracting by 0.2% to 0.5% for 2020,[16] but Morgan Stanley expects the economy of China to grow by between 5.6% (worst-case scenario) to 5.9% for 2020.[17] As Mainland China is a major economy and a manufacturing hub, the viral outbreak has been seen to pose a major destabilising threat to the global economy.[needs update] Agathe Demarais of the Economist Intelligence Unit forecast in January that markets would remain volatile until a clearer image emerged on potential outcomes. Some analysts estimated as early as January that the economic fallout of the epidemic on global growth could surpass that of the SARS outbreak.[18] Dr. Panos Kouvelis, director of "The Boeing Center" at Washington University in St. Louis, estimates a $300+ billion impact on world's supply chain that could last up to two years.[19] Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries reportedly "scrambled" after a steep decline in oil prices due to lower demand from China.[20] Global stock markets fell on 24 February 2020 due to a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases outside Mainland China.[21][22] By 28 February 2020, stock markets worldwide saw their largest single-week declines since the 2008 financial crisis.[23][24][25] Stock markets crashed on 9 March 2020, with falls of several percent in the world's major indices. As the pandemic spreads, global conferences and events across technology, fashion, sports, etc., are being cancelled or postponed.[26] While the monetary impact on the travel and trade industry is yet to be estimated, it is likely to be in the billions and increasing.

Background

The pandemic coincided with the Chunyun, a major travel season associated with the Chinese New Year holiday. A number of events involving large crowds were cancelled by national and regional governments, including annual New Year festivals, with private companies also independently closing their shops and tourist attractions such as Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland.[27][28] Many Lunar New Year events and tourist attractions have been closed to prevent mass gatherings, including the Forbidden City in Beijing and traditional temple fairs.[29] In 24 of China's 31 provinces, municipalities and regions, authorities extended the New Year's holiday to 10 February, instructing most workplaces not to re-open until that date.[30][31] These regions represented 80% of the country's GDP and 90% of exports.[31] Hong Kong raised its infectious disease response level to the highest and declared an emergency, closing schools until March and cancelling its New Year celebrations.[32][33]

The demand for personal protection equipment has risen 100-fold, according to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom. This demand has lead to the increase in prices of up to twenty times the normal price and also induced delays on the supply of medical items for four to six months.[34][35]

Stock market

Movement of the Dow Jones Industrial Average between December 2019 and March 2020, showing the all-time high in February, and the crash in February and March during the COVID-19 pandemic

On Monday, 24 February 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and FTSE 100 dropped more than 3% as the coronavirus outbreak spread worsened substantially outside China over the weekend.[36] This follows benchmark indices falling sharply in continental Europe after steep declines across Asia.[37][38] The DAX, CAC 40 and IBEX 35 each fell by about 4% and the FTSE MIB fell over 5%. There was a large fall in the price of oil and a large increase in the price of gold, to a 7-year high. On 27 February, due to mounting worries about the coronavirus outbreak, various U.S. stock market indices including the NASDAQ-100, the S&P 500 Index, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted their sharpest falls since 2008, with the Dow falling 1,191 points, its largest one-day drop since the 2008 financial crisis.[39] On 28 February 2020, stock markets worldwide reported their largest single-week declines since the 2008 financial crisis.[23][24][25]

On 27 February, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde indicated that while the European Central Bank was monitoring the outbreak, it was not yet causing a long-term impact on inflation and thus did not yet require a monetary policy response.[40] On 28 February, outgoing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney stated that the British economy (which saw stagnation and car manufacturing declines in the 4th quarter of 2019) was being impacted by the outbreak because it relies heavily on tourism revenues and international manufacturing supply lines.[41] On the same day, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell stated that the outbreak was posing "evolving risks to economic activity" and that the Federal Reserve would use monetary policy to "act as appropriate to support the economy" but that "The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong."[42] On 1 March, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda stated that the Bank of Japan would "strive to stabilise markets and offer sufficient liquidity via market operations and asset purchases",[43] and the Bank of Japan subsequently announced that it would repurchase up to ¥500 billion ($4.6 billion) worth of government bonds.[44]

On 2 March, European and Asia-Pacific stock markets mostly ended the previous week's consecutive daily losses,[45][46] while in the United States, the S&P 500 gained 3.9%, the NASDAQ Composite gained 3.7%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 1,126 points up (or 4.4%; its largest one-day gain since 2009).[47] On 3 March, the finance ministers and central bank executives of the G7 countries released a joint statement to "reaffirm our commitment to use all appropriate policy tools" to address the socioeconomic impact of the outbreak including "fiscal measures where appropriate" with the central banks continuing to "fulfill their mandates, thus supporting price stability and economic growth."[48] On the same day, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Central Bank of Malaysia announced overnight rate cuts of 25 basis points (which brought the Australian rate to its lowest level in history),[49] Bank Indonesia announced it would cut its reserve requirement from 8 to 4 percent starting on 16 March,[50] while the People's Bank of China declined to conduct open market operations having cut its repo rate on 19 February by 10 basis points.[51][52]

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell announces a 50 basis point cut in the federal funds rate target on 3 March 2020 in light of "evolving risks to economic activity" from the coronavirus

Also on 3 March, due to the Bank of Mexico declining to cut its overnight rate further following a 25 basis point cut on 13 February,[53][54] Mexican Finance Minister Arturo Herrera Gutiérrez announced a fiscal stimulus program to accelerate government spending.[55] The Federal Open Market Committee lowered the federal funds rate target by 50 basis points with Federal Reserve Chair Powell stating that the central bank "saw a risk to the outlook for the economy and chose to act" and that "the magnitude and persistence of the overall effect [of the outbreak] on the U.S. economy remain highly uncertain".[56][57] At the close of trading on 3 March, European and Asia-Pacific stock markets had mostly risen,[49][58] but the S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average all fell (with the Dow reversing more than two-thirds of the previous day's gain),[59] and the yield on 10-year and 30-year U.S. Treasury securities fell to record lows (with the yield on the 10-year securities falling below 1% for the first time in history).[60]

On 4 March, Asia-Pacific and European stock markets continued mostly rising (with the KOSPI alone rising by 2%),[61][62] while the S&P 500 rose by 4.2%, the NASDAQ Composite rose by 3.8%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average reversed the previous day's loss by rising by 1,173 points (or 4.5%).[63] However, the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury securities remained below 1% while the 30-year securities remained near the previous day's record low.[64] The Bank of Canada and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority announced 50 basis point cuts to their overnight and repo rates respectively,[65][66] International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva announced a $50 billion emergency credit-line program to assist low-income and emerging market countries with policy responses to the epidemic,[67][68] and the Central Bank of Brazil announced that it would auction up to $1 billion in foreign exchange swaps.[69]

On 5 March, Asia-Pacific stock markets continued rising while European stock markets closed down.[70][71] The S&P 500, the NASDAQ Composite, and Dow Jones Industrial Average all fell by more than 3%,[72] while the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury securities fell to a new record below 0.9% and the yield on 30-year securities fell an additional 9 basis points.[73] After cutting its bank rate by 400 basis points on 19 February,[74] the Central Bank of Argentina cut its bank rate further by an additional 200 basis points,[75] and after declining to cut its overnight rate on 27 February,[76] the Bank of Korea renewed a currency swap agreement with Bank Indonesia.[77] On 6 March, stock markets worldwide closed down (although the Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ Composite, and S&P 500 closed up on the week),[78][79][80] while the yields on 10-year and 30-year U.S. Treasury securities fell to new record lows under 0.7% and 1.26% respectively.[81]

After OPEC and Russia failed to agree on oil production cuts on 5 March and Saudi Arabia and Russia both announced increases in oil production on 7 March, oil prices fell by 25 percent.[82][83] On the morning of 9 March, the S&P 500 fell 7% in four minutes after the exchange opened, triggering a circuit breaker for the first time since the financial crisis of 2007–08 and halting trading for 15 minutes.[84] At the end of trading, stock markets worldwide saw massive declines (with the STOXX Europe 600 falling to more than 20% below its peak earlier in the year),[85][86] with the Dow Jones Industrial Average eclipsing the previous one-day decline record on 27 February by falling 2,014 points (or 7.8%).[87] The yield on 10-year and 30-year U.S. Treasury securities hit new record lows, with the 30-year securities falling below 1% for the first time in history.[88]

Former George W. Bush administration energy policy advisor Bob McNally noted, "This is the first time since 1930 and ’31 that a massive negative demand shock has coincided with a supply shock;"[89] in that case it was the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act precipitating a collapse in international trade during the Great Depression, coinciding with discovery of the East Texas Oil Field during the Texas oil boom. The Washington Post posited that coronavirus-related turmoil could spark a collapse of the corporate debt bubble, sparking and worsening a recession.[90] The Central Bank of Russia announced that it would suspend foreign exchange market purchases in domestic markets for 30 days,[91] while the Central Bank of Brazil auctioned an additional $3.465 billion the foreign exchange market in two separate transactions and the Bank of Mexico increased its foreign exchange auctions program from $20 billion to $30 billion.[92][93] After announcing $120 billion and $742 million fiscal stimulus programs on 2 December and 25 February respectively,[94][95] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani announced additional government spending.[96][97]

On 10 March, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the NASDAQ Composite, and the S&P 500 all closed 4.9% up,[98] while Asia-Pacific stock markets closed up and European stock markets closed down.[99][100] Oil prices rose by 10%,[101] while yields on 10-year and 30-year U.S. Treasury securities rose to 0.70% and 1.16% respectively.[102] The Central Bank of Russia announced that it would begin selling foreign currency,[103] while Bank Indonesia conducted open market purchases of government bonds and Indonesian Finance Minister Mulyani announced tax-related stimulus.[104] Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced $2.4 billion in government spending for coronavirus pandemic countermeasures.[105]

On 11 March, Asia-Pacific and European stock markets closed down (with the S&P/ASX 200 on the Australian Securities Exchange falling to more than 20% below its 52-week high),[106][107] while the NASDAQ Composite and the S&P 500 both fell by 5% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 6% (with the Dow also falling to more than 20% below its most recent record high set on 19 February).[108][109] Oil prices fell by 4%,[110] while the yield on 10-year and 30-year U.S. Treasury securities rose to 0.82% and 1.33% respectively.[111] The Índice Bovespa of the Brazil Stock Exchange fell by 8.5% to 27% on the year.[112] The Bank of England announced that it would cut its bank rate by 25 basis points,[113] while Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced £30 billion in government spending with £12 billion specifically directed at coronavirus pandemic countermeasures.[114] The Federal Reserve announced that it would increase the top level of its overnight repurchase operations to $175 billion.[115] The Bank of Japan announced that it was increasing its annual target of purchases of exchange-traded funds above the current ¥6 trillion (or $57 billion).[116] Indonesian Finance Minister Mulyani announced tax relief for the Indonesian manufacturing sector during the coronavirus pandemic.[117]

On 12 March, Asia-Pacific stock markets closed down (with the Nikkei 225 of the Tokyo Stock Exchange also falling to more than 20% below its 52-week high),[118] European stock markets closed down 11% (their worst one-day decline in history),[119] while the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down an additional 10% (eclipsing the one-day record set on 9 March), the NASDAQ Composite was down 9.4%, and the S&P 500 was down 9.5% (with the NASDAQ and S&P 500 also falling to more than 20% below their peaks), and the declines activated the trading curb at the New York Stock Exchange for the second time that week.[120][121] Oil prices dropped by 8%,[122] while the yields on 10-year and 30-year U.S. Treasury securities increased to 0.86% and 1.45% (and their yield curve remained normal).[123] The European Central Bank declined to cut its deposit rate but increased its asset purchases by €120 billion (or $135 billion),[124] while the Federal Reserve announced $1.5 trillion in open market purchases.[125] Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo stated that Bank Indonesia's open market purchases of government bonds had climbed to Rp 130 trillion on the year and Rp 110 trillion since the end of January.[126] Australian Prime Minister Morrison announced a $17.6 billion fiscal stimulus package.[127]

The Federal Reserve and the Central Bank of Brazil are expected to announce overnight rate decisions at or before regularly scheduled rate review meetings on 17–18 March,[128][129] while the Bank of Japan is expected to do the same at or before rate decision meetings on 18–19 March.[130] After cutting their repo and overnight rates by 25 basis points apiece on 16 January and 20 February respectively,[131] the South African Reserve Bank and Bank Indonesia are scheduled to announce subsequent rate decisions by 19 March.[132][133] After cutting its bank rate by 25 basis points on 7 February,[134] the Central Bank of Russia is scheduled to hold its next bank rate decision meeting on 20 March.[135] The Bank of Korea is expected to announce an overnight rate decision at or before its 9 April meeting,[136] while the Reserve Bank of India is not expected to announce an overnight rate decision until its policy meeting in April.[137] After cutting its repo rate by 50 basis points on 19 February,[138] the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey has been reported to be considering altering its reserve requirements.[139]

Oil prices

The reduction in the demand for travel and the lack of factory activity due to the outbreak significantly impacted demand for oil, causing its price to fall.[140] In mid-February, the International Energy Agency forecasted that oil demand growth in 2020 would be the smallest since 2011.[141] Chinese demand slump resulted in a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to discuss a potential cut in production to balance the loss in demand.[142] The cartel initially made a tentative agreement to cut oil production by 1.5 million barrels per day following a meeting in Vienna on 5 March 2020, which would bring the production levels to the lowest it has been since the Iraq War. Meanwhile, analytics firm IHS Markit predicted a fall global demand for crude to fall by 3.8 million bpd in the first quarter of 2020, largely due to the halt to Chinese economic activity due to the virus; it also predicted the first annual reduction in demand for crude since the financial crisis of 2007–08.[143]

However, Russia refused to cooperate with the OPEC cuts, effectively ending the agreement it has maintained with OPEC since 2016. Russia balked as it believed that the growth of shale oil extraction in the U.S., which was not party to any agreement with OPEC, would require continued cuts for the foreseeable future. Reduced prices would also damage the U.S. shale industry by forcing prices below operating costs for many shale producers, and thus retaliate for the damage inflicted on Russian and OPEC finances. The breakdown in talks also resulted in a failure to extend the cut in output of 2.1 million bpd that was scheduled to expire at the end of March.[144]

On 8 March 2020, Saudi Arabia unexpectedly announced that it would instead increase production of crude oil and sell it at a discount (of $6–8 a barrel) to customers in Asia, the US and Europe, following the breakdown of negotiations. Prior to the announcement, the price of oil had fallen by more than 30% since the start of the year, and upon Saudi Arabia's announcement it dropped a further 30 percent, though later recovered somewhat.[145][146] Brent Crude, used to price two-thirds of the world's crude oil supplies, experienced the largest drop since the 1991 Gulf War on the night of 8 March. Also, the price of West Texas Intermediate fell to its lowest level since February 2016.[147] Fears of the Russian–Saudi Arabian oil price war caused a plunge in U.S. stocks, and have a particular impact on American producers of shale oil.[148]

Bond market

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, a massive amount of borrowing by firms with ratings just above "junk," coupled with the growth of leveraged loans, which are made to companies with significant amount of debt, created a vulnerability in the financial system. The collapse of this corporate debt bubble would potentially endanger the solvency of firms, potentially worsening the next recession. In January, new U.S. corporate debt fell 10% from the previous year, potentially indicating more caution from investors.[149] As the economic impact of the coronavirus began to be felt, numerous financial news sources warned of the potential cascade of impacts upon the outstanding $10 trillion in corporate debt.[150][151] Between mid-February and early March, investors increased the premium, or additional yield, to hold junk bonds by four times the premium demanded of higher credit lenders, indicating increased wariness.[149]

During the 2020 stock market crash that began the week of 9 June, bond prices unexpectedly moved in the same direction as stock prices. Bonds are generally considered safer than stocks, so confident investors will sell bonds to buy stocks and cautious investors will sell stocks to buy bonds. Along with the unexpected movement of bonds in concert with stocks, bond desks reported that it had become difficult to trade many different types of bonds, including municipal bonds, corporate bonds, and even U.S. Treasury bonds. The New York Times commented that these are "signs — not definitive, but worrying — that something is breaking down in the workings of the financial system, and opined that this, coupled with the fall in gold futures, indicated that major investors were experiencing a cash crunch and were attempting to sell any asset they could.[152]

On 12 March, the U.S. Fed took almost unprecedented action to, in its words, "address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak".[153] The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that it would offer $1.5 trillion in repurchase agreements in U.S. Treasury securities to smooth the functioning of the short-term market that banks use to lend to each other. The New York Fed further announced that it would buy $60 billion of Treasury bonds over the next month to keep the bond market functioning. The seizing up of markets was a critical step in the subprime mortgage crisis that led to the financial crisis of 2007–08 and the Fed appeared to want to act quickly.[154]

Cultural impacts

Several major sporting events were cancelled or postponed, including the 2020 Women's Ice Hockey World Championships (cancelled), the 2020 Arctic Winter Games (cancelled), all NCAA collegiate athletic competitions for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year including the 2020 College World Series and the 2020 Men's and Women's Division I basketball tournaments (all cancelled), and the 2019–20 NBA season, 2019-20 NHL season and 2020 Major League Baseball season (all postponed).[155][156] In addition, football matches in different countries across Europe such as Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and Switzerland were either cancelled, postponed or played behind closed doors.[157]

The entertainment industry has also been affected, with various music groups suspending or cancelling concert tours, the Coachella Festival postponed, and the Electronic Entertainment Expo and South by Southwest cancelled for the year.[158] The production of various TV shows was also halted, while the release of the Bond film No Time to Die was delayed alongside several other movies including Fast and Furious 9.[158]The actor Tom Hanks was reported to have caught the virus while on a film shoot in Australia.[158]

Possible long-term impacts

The possibility has been raised that the pandemic could cause a "revolution in working home", as major companies have implemented expanded telecommuting arrangements for their employees in order to prevent the virus from spreading.[159]

There have also been claims that globalization could be jeopardized by a prolonged global health crisis, as supply chains have been disrupted and reliance on the Chinese economy questioned.[160]

Another possible impact could be seen in a decline of business travel and international conferencing and the rise of their virtual equivalents.[161]

East Asia

Mainland China

The economy of China was anticipated to generate billions in economic output. Morgan Stanley expected the economy of China to grow by between 5.6% (worst-case scenario) to 5.9% for 2020.[162] For reference, China generated US$143 billion in February 2019, the month of Chinese New Year.[163] The Chinese Ministry of Transport reported that trips on trains dropped 73% to 190 million trips from the previous year. Factories, retailers, and restaurant chains closed.[164]

All 70,000 theatre screens in the country were shuttered, wiping out the entire box office. This is drastically in stark difference from the week of Chinese New Year in 2019 that generated $836 million.[165]

Though cautioning that the economic impact would be short-term, NDRC Party Secretary Cong Liang views small and medium businesses encountering more difficulties in their operations. Human Resources and Social Security Assistant Minister You Jun specified that agricultural workers and college graduates would have difficulties.[166]

Animated map showing confirmed 2019-nCoV cases spreading from 22 January (high resolution)

Tourism in China has been hit hard by travel restrictions and fears of contagion, including a ban on both domestic and international tour groups.[167] Many airlines have either cancelled or greatly reduced flights to China and several travel advisories now warn against travel to China. Many countries, including France, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, have evacuated their nationals from the Wuhan and Hubei provinces.[168]

The majority of schools and universities have extended their annual holidays to mid-February.[169] Overseas students enrolled at Chinese universities have been returning home over fears of being infected—the first cases to be reported by Nepal and Kerala, a southern state of India, were both of students who had returned home.[170][170][171] Nearly 200 million students have been affected by the in-school closures, with the second semester after the Chunyun resuming on 17 February through online classes for students to follow from their homes instead. The Ministry of Education has introduced a 7000-server supported " national Internet cloud classroom" to cater to the 50 million elementary and middle school student populations.[172]

The Finance Ministry of China announced it would fully subsidise personal medical cost incurred by patients.[173]

CNN reported that some people from Wuhan "have become outcasts in their own country, shunned by hotels, neighbors and – in some areas – placed under controversial quarantine measures."[174]

The sale of new cars in China has been affected due to the outbreak. There was a 92% reduction on the volume of cars sold during the first two weeks of February 2020.[175]

On 24 February, China's Standing Committee declared an immediate and "comprehensive" ban on its US$74 billion wildlife trade industry, citing the "prominent problem of excessive consumption of wild animals, and the huge hidden dangers to public health and safety" that has been revealed by the outbreak. This permanently extends the temporary ban already in place since the end of January.[176][177]

According to Carbon Brief, the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in China's greenhouse gas emissions being reduced by 25%.[178] In March 2020, satellite images from space provided by NASA revealed that pollution has dropped significantly, which has been attributed in part to the slowdown of economic activity as a result of the outbreak.[179]

Face mask shortage

People in Wuhan lining up in front of a drug store to buy surgical masks
A notice at a supermarket in Beijing, which says each person can only buy one pack of surgical masks and one bottle of 84 disinfectant liquid a day

As the epidemic accelerated, the mainland market saw a shortage of face masks due to the increased need from the public.[180] It was reported that Shanghai customers had to queue for nearly an hour to buy a pack of face masks which was sold out in another half an hour.[181] Some stores are hoarding, driving up prices and other acts, so the market regulator said it will crack down on such acts.[182][183] The shortage will not be relieved until late February when most workers return from the New Year vacation according to Lei Limin, an expert in the industry.[184]

On 22 January 2020, Taobao, China's largest e-commerce platform owned by Alibaba Group, said that all face masks on Taobao and Tmall would not be allowed to increase in price. Special subsidies would be provided to the retailers. Also, Alibaba Health's "urgent drug delivery" service would not be closed during the Spring Festival.[185] JD, another leading Chinese e-commerce platform, said, "We are actively working to ensure supply and price stability from sources, storage and distribution, platform control and so on" and "while fully ensuring price stability for JD's own commodities, JD.com has also exercised strict control over the commodities on JD's platform. Third-party vendors selling face masks are prohibited from raising prices. Once it is confirmed that the prices of third-party vendors have increased abnormally, JD will immediately remove the offending commodities from shelves and deal with the offending vendors accordingly."[186] Other major e-commerce platforms including Sunning.com and Pinduoduo also promised to keep the prices of health products stable.[187][188]

Economy

China's economic growth is expected to slow by up to 1.1 percentage in the first half of 2020 as economic activity is negatively affected by the new coronavirus outbreak, according to a Morgan Stanley study cited by Reuters.[189] But on 1 February 2020, the People's Bank of China said that the impact of the epidemic on China's economy was temporary and that the fundamentals of China's long-term positive and high-quality growth remained unchanged.[190]

Due to the outbreak, the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange announced that with the approval of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the closing time for the Spring Festival will be extended to 2 February, and trading will resume on 3 February.[191][192] Before that, on 23 January, the last trading day of a shares before the Spring Festival, all three major stock indexes opened lower, creating a drop of about 3%, and the Shanghai index fell below 3000.[193] On 2 February, the first trading day after the holiday, the three major indexes even set a record low opening of about 8%.[194] By the end of the day, the decline narrowed slightly to about 7%, the Shenzhen index fell below 10,000 points, a total of 3,177 stocks in the two markets fell.[195]

The People's Bank of China and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange have announced that the inter-bank RMB foreign exchange market, the foreign currency-to-market and the foreign currency market will extend their holiday closed until 2 February 2020.[196] When the market opened on 3 February, the Renminbi was now depreciating against major foreign currencies. The central parity rate of the Renminbi against the US dollar opened at 6.9249, a drop of 373 basis points from the previous trading day.[197] It fell below the 7.00 than an hour after the opening,[198] and closed at 7.0257.[199]

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has seen high-profile protests that saw tourist arrivals from Mainland China plummet over an eight-month period. The viral epidemic put additional pressure on the travel sector to withstand a prolonged period of downturn.[200] A drop in arrivals from third countries more resilient during the previous months has also been cited as a concern.[168] The city is already in recession[200] and Moody has lowered the city's credit rating.[201][202] The worst economic effects from the outbreak are expected for Australia, Hong Kong and China.[203]

There has also been a renewed increase in protest activity as hostile sentiment against Mainland Chinese strengthened over fears of viral transmission from Mainland China, with many calling for the border ports to be closed and for all Mainland Chinese travellers to be refused entry. Incidents have included a number of petrol bombs being thrown at police stations,[204] a homemade bomb exploding in a toilet,[205] and foreign objects being thrown onto transit rail tracks between Hong Kong and the Mainland Chinese border.[206] Political issues raised have included concerns that Mainland Chinese may prefer to travel to Hong Kong to seek free medical help (which has since been addressed by the Hong Kong government).[207][208]

Since the outbreak of the virus, a significant number of products have been sold out across the city, including face masks and disinfectant products (such as alcohol and bleach).[209] An ongoing period of panic buying has also caused many stores to be cleared of non-medical products such as bottled water, vegetables and rice.[210] The Government of Hong Kong had its imports of face masks cancelled as global face mask stockpiles decline.[211]

In view of the coronavirus outbreak, the Education Bureau closed all kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools and special schools until 17 February.[212] This was later extended to 1 March due to further development of the epidemic.[213] The disruption has raised concerns over the situation of students who are due to take examinations at the end of the year, especially in light of the protest-related disruption that happened in 2019.[214]

On 5 February, flag carrier Cathay Pacific requested its 27,000 employees to voluntarily take three weeks of unpaid leave by the end of June. The airline had previously reduced flights to mainland China by 90% and to overall flights by 30%.[215]

Macau

On 4 February 2020, all casinos in Macau were ordered to shut down for 15 days.[216][217] They reopened on 20 February 2020.[218]

Japan

Shelves in a pharmacy in Japan sold out of masks on 3 February 2020

Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has said that "the new coronavirus is having a major impact on tourism, the economy and our society as a whole".[219][220] Face masks have sold out across the nation and stocks of face masks are depleted within a day of new arrivals.[221] There has been pressure placed on the healthcare system as demands for medical checkups increase.[222] Chinese people have reported increasing discrimination.[223] The health minister has pointed out that the situation has not reached a point where mass gatherings must be called off 1 February 2020.[224]

Aviation, retail and tourism sectors have reported decreased sales and some manufactures have complained about disruption to Chinese factories, logistics and supply chains.[225] Prime Minister Abe has considered using emergency funds to mitigate the outbreak's impact on tourism, of which Chinese nationals account for 40%.[226] S&P Global noted that the worst hit shares were from companies spanning travel, cosmetics and retail sectors which are most exposed to Chinese tourism.[227] Nintendo announced that they would delay shipment of the Nintendo Switch, which is manufactured in China, to Japan.[228]

The outbreak itself has been a concern for the 2020 Summer Olympics which is scheduled to take place in Tokyo starting at the end of July. The national government has thus been taking extra precautions to help minimise the outbreak's impact.[229][230] The Tokyo organising committee and the International Olympic Committee have been monitoring the outbreak's impact in Japan.[229]

On 27 February 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested that all Japanese elementary, junior high and high schools close until late March, the end of the school year, to help contain the virus. Schools will only reopen for the next term after spring break in early April and the nationwide closures will affect 13 million students.[231][232]

South Korea

Coronavirus infection prevention tips banner in Seoul

On 5 February 2020, Hyundai Motor Company was forced to suspend production in South Korea due to shortage in supply of parts.[233][234]

South Korea has been reporting increasing human-to-human community transmission of COVID-19 since 19 February 2020, traced to a church of Shincheonji, located near the city of Daegu. Apart from the city of Daegu and the church community involved, most of South Korea is operating close to normality, although nine planned festivals have been closed and tax-free retailers are closing.[235] South Korean military manpower agency made an announcement that conscription from the Daegu will temporarily be suspended.[236] The Daegu Office of Education decided to postpone the start of every school in the region by one week.[237]

Numerous educational institutes have temporarily shut down, including dozens of kindergartens in Daegu and several elementary schools in Seoul.[238] As of 18 February, most universities in South Korea had announced plans to postpone the start of the spring semester. This included 155 universities planning to delay the semester start by 2 weeks to 16 and 22 March universities planning to delay the semester start by 1 week to 9 March.[239] Also, on 23 February 2020, all kindergartens, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools were announced to delay the semester start from 2 to 9 March.[240]

The economy of South Korea is forecast to grow 1.9%, which is down from 2.1%. The government has provided 136.7 billion won for local governments as support.[235] The government has also organised the procurement of masks and other hygiene equipment.[235]

Taiwan

Surgical masks used by people in Taiwan
Surgical masks and other medical equipment sold out in Taiwan

On 24 January, the Taiwanese government announced a temporary ban on the export of face masks for a month, to secure a supply of masks for its own citizens.[241][242] On 2 February 2020, Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center postponed the opening of primary and secondary schools until 25 February.[243][244] Taiwan has also announced a ban of cruise ships from entering all Taiwanese ports.[245] In January, Italy has banned flights from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. On 10 February, the Philippines announced it will ban the entry of Taiwanese citizens due to the One-China Policy.[246] Later on 14 February, Presidential Spokesperson of Philippines, Salvador Panelo, announced the lifting of the temporary ban on Taiwan.[247] In early February 2020 Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center requested the mobilisation of the Taiwanese Armed Forces to contain the spread of the virus and to build up the defences against it. Soldiers were dispatched to the factory floors of major mask manufacturers to help staff the 62 additional mask production lines being set up at the time.[248]

In the aviation industry, Taiwanese carrier China Airlines's direct flights to Rome have been rejected and cancelled since Italy has announced the ban on Taiwanese flights.[249] On the other hand, the second-largest Taiwanese carrier, Eva Air, has also postponed the launch of Milan and Phuket flights.[250] Both Taiwanese airlines have cut numerous cross-strait destinations, leaving just three Chinese cities still served.[251]

Other parts of Asia

South Asia

India

In India, economists expect the near-term impact of the outbreak to be limited to the supply chains of major conglomerates, especially pharmaceuticals, fertilisers, automobiles, textiles and electronics. A severe impact on global trade logistics is also expected due to disruption of logistics in Mainland China, but due to the combined risk with regional geopolitical tensions, wider trade wars and Brexit.[252] The stock market took a bearish mode in response to COVID-19. The BSE SENSEX fall 2919 and NIFTY 50 fall 950 points in a single day on March 12, 2020 in response to corona virus[253]

In Sri Lanka, research houses expect the economic impact to be limited to a short-term impact on the tourism and transport sectors.[254]

Southeast Asia

Among Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries, the city-state of Singapore was forecast to be one of the worst hit countries by Maybank.[255] The tourism sector was considered to be an "immediate concern" along with the effects on production lines due to disruption to factories and logistics in mainland China.[256] Singapore has witnessed panic buying of essential groceries,[257] and of masks, thermometers and sanitation products despite being advised against doing so by the government.[258][259] Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that a recession in the country is a possibility, and that the country's economy "would definitely take a hit".[260]

Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia made a special visit to China with an aim to showcase Cambodia's support to China in fighting the outbreak of the epidemic.[261]

Coronavirus fears lead to panic buying of essentials in Singapore

Maybank economists rated Thailand as being most at risk, with the threat of the viral outbreak's impact on tourism causing the Thai baht to fall to a seven-month low.[262]

In Indonesia, over 10,000 Chinese tourists cancelled trips and flights to major destinations such as Bali, Jakarta, Bandung, etc., over coronavirus fears. Many existing Chinese visitors are queuing up with the Indonesian authority appealing for extended stay.[263] Panic buying has also hit the capital city, Jakarta. As the first reported cases of COVID-19 was announced by the government at the 3rd of March. [264]

In Malaysia, economists predicted that the outbreak would affect the country's GDP, trade and investment flows, commodity prices and tourist arrivals.[265] Initially, the cycling race event Le Tour de Langkawi was rumoured to be cancelled, but the organiser stated that it would continue to be held as usual. Despite this, two cycling teams, the Hengxiang Cycling Team and the Giant Cycling Team, both from China, were pulled from participating in this race due to fear of the coronavirus outbreak.[266] As the outbreak situation has worsened, some of the upcoming concerts held in Kuala Lumpur, such as Kenny G, Jay Chou, The Wynners, Super Junior, Rockaway Festival and Miriam Yeung, were postponed to a future date, and the upcoming Seventeen concert was cancelled.[267]

West Asia

Iran

Saudi Arabia

On 27 February, Saudi Arabia halted travel to Mecca and Medina over coronavirus. This has prevented foreigners from reaching the holy city of Mecca and the Kaaba. Travel was also suspended to Muhammad's mosque in Medina.[268]

Europe

In Spain, a large number of exhibitors (including Chinese firms Huawei and Vivo) announced plans to pull out of or reduce their presence at Mobile World Congress, a wireless industry trade show in Barcelona, due to concerns over coronavirus.[269][270][271] On 12 February 2020, GSMA CEO John Hoffman announced that the event had been cancelled, as the concerns had made it "impossible" to host.[272]

In Germany, according to the Deutsche Bank the outbreak of the novel coronavirus may contribute to a recession.[273]

Owing to an increase in the demand for masks,[274] on 1 February most masks were sold out in Portuguese pharmacies.[275] On 4 February, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa admitted that the epidemic of the new coronavirus in China "affects the economic activity of a very powerful economy and thus affects the world's economic activity or could affect". He also admitted the possibility of economic upheavals due to the break in production."[276] On 28 February, the Swiss government has banned all public and private gatherings of more than 1,000 people until 15 March, including forcing through a cancellation of the Geneva International Motor Show.[277]

Germany

According to the Deutsche Bank the outbreak of the novel coronavirus / COVID-19 may contribute to a recession in Germany.[278]

Italy

Civil Protection volunteers carrying out health checks at the Guglielmo Marconi Airport in Bologna, Italy
Empty shelves at the Esselunga supermarket in Bergamo, Italy

On 21 February, at least ten towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy, with a total population of 50,000, were locked down in quarantine procedure following an outbreak in the town of Codogno in Lombardy. Police mandated a curfew closing all public buildings and controlling access through police checkpoints to the so-called 'red zone' which is enforced under penalty by fines against trespassers who are not health or supply workers.[279] The government of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte vowed that sending in "the armed forces" to enforce the lockdown was within possibility.[280] Schools and universities have been closed throughout Northern Italy along with museums, and various festivities, concerts, sporting events and church masses have been cancelled as of 23 February.[281] On 4 March, these closures were extended to all schools and universities nationwide.[282]

Sustained panic buying of groceries has reportedly cleared out supermarkets, and several major events were cancelled, such as the annual Carnival of Venice, along with the cancellation of Serie A football matches on 23 February by the Sports Ministry.[283] Concerns about the Milan Fashion Week has led to several fashion houses declaring that they will only hold broadcast, closed-door shows with no spectators. As of 26 February 2020, there have been 456 coronavirus cases in Italy, 190 of which have been also confirmed by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità.[284][285]

By 12 March 2020, the number of cases in Italy had risen to 15,113, including 1,016 fatalities.[286] On 9 March 2020, Italy declared a nation-wide quarantine.[287] Since 10 March 2020, all residents need a special form to be allowed to leave their homes.[288] On 11 March 2020, all shops and businesses were closed except food shops and pharmacies.[289]

Portugal

Due to an increase in the demand for masks,[290] on 1 February most masks were sold out in Portuguese pharmacies.[291]

On 4 February, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the President of the Portuguese Republic, admitted that the epidemic of the new coronavirus in China "affects the economic activity of a very powerful economy and thus affects the world's economic activity or could affect". He also admitted the possibility of economic upheavals due to the break in production."[292]

United Kingdom

On 13 February, digger manufacturer JCB announced its plan to reduce working hours and production due to shortages in their supply chain caused by the outbreak.[293]

On 5 March, British airline Flybe finally collapsed into administration with the loss of 2,000 jobs after failing to secure financial support. The airline said the impact of the coronavirus outbreak is partly to blame for its collapse. Flybe provided more than half of UK domestic flights outside London.[294]

North America

United States

The viral outbreak was cited by many companies in their briefings to shareholders, but several maintained confidence that they would not be too adversely affected by short-term disruption due to "limited" exposure to the Chinese consumer market. Those with manufacturing lines in mainland China warned about possible exposure to supply shortages.[295]

Silicon Valley representatives expressed worries about serious disruption to production lines, as much of the technology sector relies on factories in Mainland China. Since there had been a scheduled holiday over Lunar New Year, the full effects of the outbreak on the tech sector were considered to be unknown as of 31 January 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal.[296]

Cities with high populations of Chinese residents have seen an increase in demand for face masks to protect against the virus;[297] many are purchasing masks to mail to relatives in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau, where there is a shortage of masks.[298]

As of February 2020, many stores in the United States had sold out of masks.[298] This mask shortage has caused an increase in prices.[299]

Universities in the United States have warned about a significant impact to their income due to the large number of Chinese international students potentially unable to attend classes.[300]

The Washington Post reported in February that President Donald Trump told advisors that he did not want the government to say or do anything that might spook the stock market, on concerns a large-scale outbreak could hurt his reelection chances.[301]

On 26 February, the New York Times reported a case in California which the Center for Disease Control confirmed as the first possible community transmission of coronavirus in the United States.[302]

On 27 February, the NYT reported delay in diagnosis of the community transmission case in California.[303] A later article in the NYT on 27 February discussed a whistleblower's allegation's of the ineptitude of preparedness at Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield, California and March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California to receive possible coronavirus transmitters for diagnosis and treatment.[304] The same day, a report by Goldman Sachs forecasted that it believes American companies "will generate no earnings growth in 2020," wiping out an earnings recovery that was expected for the year after "lackluster profit reports for most of 2019"[305]

On 27 February, U.S. stocks were on their way to the largest loss for a week since 2008, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1190 points in one day. On 28 February the average dropped below 25000 briefly.[306][307] The Dow Jones ended the week down 12.4 percent, the S&P 500 Index 11.5 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite down 10.5 percent.[308]

On the evening of 11 March, the National Basketball Association announced that rest of its season would be suspended indefinitely, and the NCAA announced that its men's and women's basketball tournaments would be played without fans.[309] The following day, the NCAA initially announced that it would cancel the March Madness tournament indefinitely,[310] but later that day announced that all championship events throughout all sports would be canceled until 2020–21.[311]

South America

Brazil

Two Brazilian banks predict the deceleration of economic growth in China. UBS has reviewed its estimations from 6% to 5.4%, while Itaú stated a reduction to 5.8%.[312]

A representative of some of the bigger Brazilian companies of the electronics sector, Eletros, stated that the current stock for the supply of components is enough for around 10 to 15 days.[312]

The prices of soy-beans, oil, and iron ore have been falling. These three goods represent 30%, 24% and 21% of the Brazilian exports to China, respectively.[312][313][314]

Oceania

Australia

Australia is expected to be one of three economies worst affected by the epidemic, along with Mainland China, and Hong Kong.[203] Early estimations have GDP contracting by 0.2% to 0.5%[16][315] and more than 20,000 Australian jobs being lost.[316] The Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg said that the country would no longer be able to promise a budget surplus due to the outbreak.[12] The Australian dollar dropped to its lowest value since the Great Recession.[317]

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine called for a calm and a fact-based response to the epidemic, asking people to avoid racism, "panic and division" and the spread of misinformation.[318] A large amount of protective face masks were purchased by foreign and domestic buyers, which has sparked a nationwide face masks shortage.[319] In response to price increases of nearly 2000%, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has called on these "unethical suppliers" to keep supplies affordable.[319]

Tourism bodies have suggested that the total economic cost to the sector, as of 11 February 2020, would be A$4.5bn. Casino earnings are expected to fall.[320] At least two localities in Australia, Cairns and the Gold Coast, have reported already lost earnings of more that $600 million.[321] The Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) called on the Government of Australia for financial support especially in light of the large number of small businesses affected.[322]

Mining companies are thought to be highly exposed to the outbreak, since sales to China constitute 93% of the sales of Fortescue Metals, 55% of the sales of BHP, and 45% of the sales of Rio Tinto.[320] The iron ore shipping gauge dropped 99.9% as a result of the outbreak,[323] and the virus has made shipping and logistic operations of mining companies more complicated.[324]

Agriculture is also experiencing negative effects from the outbreak,[325] including the Australian dairy industry,[326] fishing industry,[327] wine producers,[328] and meat producers.[315] On 13 February 2020 Rabobank, which specialises in agricultural banking, warned that the agricultural sector had eight weeks for the coronavirus to be contained before facing major losses.[329]

The education sector is expected to suffer a US$5 billion loss according to an early government estimate,[330][331] including costs due to "tuition fee refunds, free deferral of study, realignment of teaching calendars and student accommodation costs."[332] The taxpayer is likely to be required to cover the shortfall in education budgets.[333] An estimated 100,000 students were not able to enroll at the start of the semester.[334] Nearly two-thirds of Chinese students were forced to remain overseas due to visa restrictions on travellers from Mainland China.[335] Salvatore Babones, associate professor at the University of Sydney, stated that "Australia will remain an attractive study destination for Chinese students, but it may take several years for Chinese student numbers to recover".[332]

The Australian Football League (AFL) match between the St Kilda and Port Adelaide Football Clubs, which was scheduled to be played on Sunday, 31 May at Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai, was transferred to Marvel Stadium in Melbourne due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak; this match will now be played one week later than planned, on Sunday, 7 June.[336][337]

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