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An economist explains what COVID-19 has done to the economy – World Economic Forum

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  • COVID-19 has caused an economic shock three times worse than the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Europe and emerging markets have been hit hard economically, China has escaped a recession.
  • But the worst could be behind us, and a greener economy could emerge after the pandemic, according to the Chief Economist at IHS Markit.

It has been a crisis like no other, shutting shops and schools, closing borders and putting half of humanity under some form of lockdown during the spring of 2020. And it’s not over, with cases continuing to mount worldwide as the death toll approaches one million.

To find out more about what the Coronavirus pandemic has done to the global economy so far, and what might lie ahead, I spoke to Nariman Behravesh, Chief Economist at the consulting firm IHS Markit.

Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.

In a nutshell, what has COVID-19 done to the world economy?

Nariman Behravesh: It has certainly plunged the world economy into a very deep but mercifully a short recession. Everybody’s been hurt. I don’t think anybody’s really been spared by this – it’s a combination of fear, uncertainty and the reaction to the lockdowns. Now, a lot of people blame this deep recession on the lockdowns, but I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. If you look at a country like Sweden, even though they didn’t do a lockdown, their economy still suffered pretty severely. It is mostly the uncertainty and the fear of catching the virus that is stopping consumers going to the places they normally would, and that’s hurting the economy.

Looking at historical precedents, it’s about three times as bad as the global financial crisis of 2008 in terms of GDP decline on an annual basis. It’s not quite as bad as the Great Depression in the 1930s, where the output drop was sustained over a three to four-year period, and the unemployment rate went up to 25% in the US. This time so far it only went up to 13% in the US, but it’s the worst downturn we’ve had globally since the 30s.

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Growth has declined much more sharply than during the 2008 financial crisis

Image: IHS Markit

Do you think that, on a global level, the worst economic damage is behind us?

NB: Well, in some sense, the worst may be behind us. In many parts of the world, in many countries the numbers are coming down – although not everywhere. They’re going up in India, they’re going up in Brazil, they’re really not coming down much in the US. So I would say probably globally, the worst is behind us. But you can also argue that the easy part is behind us, because this thing is going to flare up again and again. We’re not out of the woods. So even when we think we’re done, as a number of countries have, we’re not. It probably won’t be as bad as it was last round, in part because the healthcare systems are prepared, but we’re not done with this.

If you look at 2020 to date, which regions have been the hardest hit, and which have weathered it well so far?

NB: Let’s look at countries first. Among the countries that have weathered it well is, of course, China. China technically did not have a recession. It had one quarter of negative growth and then it came right out the other side. Other countries that have done relatively well are South Korea and Taiwan, which did a lot of testing and tracing so they managed to keep things under wraps compared to the countries that have done the worst in terms of the virus, such as the US, Brazil and India. That judgement is based on the total number of deaths. But for the death rates, if you look at it on a per capita basis, the US is number 10 rather than one, which is lower than Belgium or Spain, so a lot depends on how you measure it.

In terms of economic performance, Europe has been hit quite hard – the European recession is quite a bit deeper than the US or Canadian or Japanese recession. So, Europe and the emerging world have been hit pretty hard.

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Image: IHS Markit

As we go through autumn, how do you expect things to evolve?

NB: We’re coming out of a very deep recession, so we’ll get what we call a technical bounce. Growth in the US for example will look remarkably strong in the third quarter, but then it will fade. We’re looking at what we call a bounce and fade pattern of growth throughout the world. But the bounce is because it went so far it had to come up – but it won’t continue at that strong rate. Just to give you a sense of the US, GDP was down 32% in the second quarter, we think it’s going to be up 30% in the third quarter, but by the fourth quarter back down to 2.5%.

How optimistic are you for a global recovery and what kind of shape do you think that recovery will take?

NB: I think we will see global growth in the third, fourth quarters and into 2021. It will not be a robust growth rate and a lot of it will depend on a vaccine. Obviously, the sooner a vaccine is available and widely distributed, the better the chances of growth, but we don’t really see that happening until the second half of 2021. A vaccine may get developed, but in terms of its pervasive availability, it’s going to take a while.

There’s been a whole alphabet soup of shapes discussed. One could say that manufacturing is probably enjoying a V-shaped recovery, at least temporarily, but services, which were among the hardest hits – especially airlines, travel and entertainment – these are in U-shaped recoveries. People have talked about a W. You probably won’t get a W unless there’s a serious second wave, which I don’t think is likely but it’s possible.

Could you tell us more about the sectors that have been hardest hit, and the ones that are thriving?

NB: Well, the hardest hit are clearly any activities or any industries that depend on large groups of people coming together in a spot, so airlines are a perfect example of this. Air traffic is barely at 25% of what it was at the end of 2019 and it’s not really going to recover for at least another couple of years. Hotels are another example. And there are huge amounts of excess capacity on cruise ships. Anything to do with conferences has also been hard hit.

In terms of the industries that have done well, high tech is of course an example. Obviously, everybody’s ordering from Amazon rather than going to stores but beyond that a lot of industries are looking to accelerate the digital revolution. Ironically, healthcare is also benefiting in some sense, because of the demand.

Is there anything that surprises you, as an economist?

NB: One sector that I didn’t mention that’s done well, and that surprises me, is housing. Why would housing boom? It is in the US, maybe less so elsewhere. Basically, a lot of people are fleeing to suburbs. A lot of people are buying homes, building homes – in my neighbourhood in Boston we’ve seen two people come from New York. We’re seeing people who can afford it just kind of deciding, “Now I’m done with the urban life. I want more space between myself and my neighbours.”

COVID-19 has hit even the richest countries in the world hard. What is it doing to developing economies? And are there lessons from the emerging world that could be applied to wealthier places?

Taiwan and South Korea are notable for their testing and tracing. If there’s one lesson from the experience there, it’s that massive testing and massive back tracing of contacts is crucial to keeping this thing under control. So that’s a definite lesson. But the rest of the emerging world, from Latin America to Africa, are struggling, there’s no question. Aside from the virus itself, they’re being hurt by collapsing global growth and trade and for a while, the collapse in commodity prices. It’s not only the virus itself but events outside of their countries that are then coming back to hurt them.

Looking at the big picture, are we going to see a different kind of economy and a green recovery emerge from the pandemic?

I don’t think it’s going to be business as usual: I think there are going to be some big, big changes happening. We may not see them overnight. It may take some time. But let’s go through a few of them. I think this will accelerate the movement towards a green economy. This is a perfect opportunity for a lot of companies as they look at new, green technologies. I think that’s going to be very positive. But we are going to see a substitution of capital for labour. Skill and labour-intensive industries are very worried about the vulnerability to viruses of all kinds, so you’ll see greater emphasis on robotics, which creates its own challenges, of course. We think that the process of urbanization will slow. I don’t know if it will reverse, but it will definitely slow down. We’ve seen this so-called flight to suburbs occurring. Separately, in terms of the travel and tourism industry, one has to wonder what will come out the other end. Our best guess is that things like business travel will be curtailed quite dramatically. I think healthcare is another area where we will see some massive transformations as we go forward.

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US economy sees record third-quarter rebound – The Globe and Mail

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US economy sees record third-quarter rebound  The Globe and Mail



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US economy grew at 33% rate in Q3 but recovery is incomplete – Yahoo Canada Finance

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GlobeNewswire

BioSig Announces Completion of PURE EP™ System Installation at New Medical Center

First Patient Cases with PURE EP System Conducted at Deborah Heart and Lung CenterWestport, CT, Oct. 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — BioSig Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: BSGM) (“BioSig” or the “Company”), a medical technology company developing a proprietary biomedical signal processing platform designed to improve signal fidelity and uncover the full range of ECG and intra-cardiac signals, today announced that the Company installed its PURE EP™ System and started conducting patient cases at Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, New Jersey.PURE EP™ System evaluation and clinical data collection is being conducted under the leadership of Raffaele Corbisiero, M.D.“We are pleased to commence our clinical operations at Deborah Heart and Lung Center. As an innovative and rapidly growing company, we are excited to have physicians at Deborah not only utilize our technology, but also contribute to its advancement. Given COVID-19’s detrimental effects on cardiovascular health, this relationship cannot come at a more important time,” commented Kenneth L. Londoner, Chairman, and CEO of BioSig Technologies, Inc. “Intracardiac signals are the foundation of everything we do in EP, but we can’t treat what we don’t see. I am impressed by our early experience with PURE EP™ showing more of the cardiac signals we want to see,” commented Raffaele Corbisiero, M.D., Deborah Heart and Lung Center.BioSig is currently conducting patient cases under the clinical trial titled “Novel Cardiac Signal Processing System for Electrophysiology Procedures (PURE EP 2.0 Study)” at Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Research Foundation (TCARF) in Austin, Texas and Mayo Clinic Florida Campus in Jacksonville, Florida. The Company recently added Massachusets General Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to its clinical sites.  About BioSig Technologies BioSig Technologies is a medical technology company commercializing a proprietary biomedical signal processing platform designed to improve signal fidelity and uncover the full range of ECG and intra-cardiac signals (www.biosig.com).The Company’s first product, PURE EP ™ System is a computerized system intended for acquiring, digitizing, amplifying, filtering, measuring and calculating, displaying, recording and storing of electrocardiographic and intracardiac signals for patients undergoing electrophysiology (EP) procedures in an EP laboratory.Forward-looking Statements This press release contains “forward-looking statements.” Such statements may be preceded by the words “intends,” “may,” “will,” “plans,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “projects,” “predicts,” “estimates,” “aims,” “believes,” “hopes,” “potential” or similar words. Forward- looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, are based on certain assumptions and are subject to various known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, and cannot be predicted or quantified and consequently, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, risks and uncertainties associated with (i) the geographic, social and economic impact of COVID-19 on our ability to conduct our business and raise capital in the future when needed, (ii) our inability to manufacture our products and product candidates on a commercial scale on our own, or in collaboration with third parties; (iii) difficulties in obtaining financing on commercially reasonable terms; (iv) changes in the size and nature of our competition; (v) loss of one or more key executives or scientists; and (vi) difficulties in securing regulatory approval to market our products and product candidates. More detailed information about the Company and the risk factors that may affect the realization of forward-looking statements is set forth in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K and its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. Investors and security holders are urged to read these documents free of charge on the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov. The Company assumes no obligation to publicly update or revise its forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.  CONTACT: Andrew Ballou BioSig Technologies, Inc. Vice President, Investor Relations 54 Wilton Road, 2nd floor Westport, CT 06880 aballou@biosigtech.com 203-409-5444, x133

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U.S. economy posts record growth in Q3; COVID-19 scarring to last – The Guardian

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By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy grew at a historic pace in the third quarter as the government injected more than $3 trillion worth of pandemic relief which fueled consumer spending, but the deep scars from the COVID-19 recession could take a year or more to heal.

The 33.1% annualized growth rate reported by the Commerce Department on Thursday, the last major economic scorecard before next Tuesday’s presidential election, did not ease the human tragedy inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, with tens of millions of Americans still unemployed and more than 222,000 dead.

The economy remains 3.5% below its level at the end of 2019 and incomes plunged in the third quarter. Nevertheless, with five days remaining to Election Day President Donald Trump, trailing in most national opinion polls, cheered the report.

“Biggest and Best in the History of our Country, and not even close,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “So glad this great GDP number came out before November 3rd.”

Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden highlighted the lack of full recovery and the rapidly petering growth spurt.

“We are in a deep hole and President Trump’s failure to act has meant that third-quarter growth wasn’t nearly enough to get us out of (it),” said Biden. “The recovery that is happening is helping those at the top, but leaving tens of millions of working families and small businesses behind.”

According to Christopher Way, an associate professor of government at Cornell University, the report “will have absolutely zero effect on the election and it is economic performance in the first half of an election year that matters.”

The rebound in gross domestic product followed a 31.4% rate of contraction in the second quarter, the deepest since the government started keeping records in 1947. On a year-on-year basis GDP jumped 7.4% last quarter after sinking 9.0% in the April-June period. The rebound reversed about two-thirds of the 10.1% drop in GDP in the first half. By comparison, the economy contracted 4% peak to trough during the 2007-09 Great Recession.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast GDP expanding at a 31% rate in the July-September quarter. The economy plunged into recession in February.

The government’s rescue package provided a lifeline for many businesses and the unemployed, juicing up consumer spending, which on its own contributed 76.3% to the surge in GDP.

But government funding has been depleted with no deal in sight for another round of relief. New COVID-19 cases are spiraling across the country, forcing restrictions on businesses like restaurants and bars.

“We still don’t have the level of GDP surpassing the pre-COVID level until fourth-quarter 2021 and closing the output gap will take even more time,” said Kevin Cummins, chief U.S. economist at NatWest Markets in Stamford, Connecticut.

Foreshadowing a slowdown in consumer spending, personal income tumbled at a $540.6 billion rate in the third quarter after surging at a $1.45 trillion pace in the prior period. The drop was attributed to a decline in government transfers related to the pandemic relief programs.

Though savings remain high, the pace at which Americans are stashing away money is moderating. That, together with persistent layoffs and slowing employment growth could restrain consumer spending in the coming months.

Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher. The dollar rose against a basket of currencies. U.S. Treasury prices fell.

ELEVATED LAYOFFS

A separate report from the Labor Department on Thursday showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 40,000 to a seasonally adjusted 751,000 in the week ending Oct. 24. Including a government funded program, 1.1 million people sought unemployment benefits last week.

Though claims have dropped from a record 6.867 million in March, they remain above their 665,000 peak seen during the 2007-09 Great Recession. About 22.7 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits in early October, though many have exhausted their eligibility for state aid.

Just over half of the 22.2 million jobs lost during the pandemic have been recouped.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy, rebounded at a historic rate of 40.7% in the third quarter, driven by purchases of goods like motor vehicles, clothing and footwear. Americans also boosted spending on recreation, healthcare and dining out. But spending on services remained below its fourth quarter level.

Spending was boosted by billions of dollars in government transfers, including a $600 weekly unemployment subsidy and a one-off $1,200 check to households. Growth estimates for the fourth quarter are below a 5% rate.

“Without further stimulus, the winter may indeed be very painful,” said Jeff Madrick, senior fellow at The Century Foundation in New York.

The shift toward goods spending pulled in imports, resulting in a widening of the trade deficit. Some of the imports, however, ended up in warehouses. The accumulation of inventory offset the trade hit to GDP growth.

There was also a turnaround in business investment after the second-quarter drubbing, but the bounce could be temporary as demand for goods that do not complement life-style changes brought by COVID-19 remains weak. Boeing Co reported its fourth straight quarterly loss on Wednesday.

The pandemic has also crushed oil prices, weighing on spending on nonresidential structures like gas and oil well drilling. Business spending on nonresidential structures contracted for a fourth straight quarter.

Record low interest rates boosted housing. Government spending fell, pressured by cuts at state and local governments, whose finances have been squeezed by the coronavirus.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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