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April 2021 update to TIGER: The world economy stumbles toward a two-track recovery – Brookings Institution

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The world economy faces sharply divergent growth prospects across various regions, as prospects of a uniform swift snapback from a dismal 2020 have become clouded. The latest update of the Brookings-Financial Times Tracking Indexes for the Global Economic Recovery (TIGER) reveals grounds for optimism about global growth prospects but also renewed concerns about impediments to a strong recovery. Vaccination euphoria and attendant hopes of a rapid, broad-based recovery have been tempered by a fresh COVID-19 wave sweeping through a number of economies, putting their growth trajectories at risk.

The U.S. and China are shaping up to be the main drivers of global growth in 2021. Household consumption and business investment have surged in both economies, along with measures of private sector confidence. Industrial production has rebounded in most countries, contributing to firming commodity prices and robust international trade. However, the U.S., China, and India are likely to be the only major economies (along with Indonesia and South Korea) that exceed pre-COVID-19 GDP levels by the end of 2021. In most other regions, the scarring effects of the 2020 recession on both GDP and employment are likely to be longer-lasting.

The U.S. economy is poised for a breakout year as massive fiscal stimulus, loose monetary policies, and pent-up demand power rapid GDP growth. Renewed consumer and business confidence have been reflected in generally strong consumption and business investment growth, while financial markets have continued to perform well. Labor market performance has been encouraging, although progress in job growth and unemployment reduction has been uneven in recent months.

Click a country name below the Composite Index to view charts for the main TIGER indexes by country.

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Learn more about the recovery in advanced and emerging markets (PDF)

Greece
Ireland
Netherlands
Portugal
South Korea
  • Advanced Economy
  • Emerging Market Economy
  • Euro Periphery Economy
  • Euro Periphery / Advanced Economy

Indices constructed by Eswar Prasad, Aryan Khanna (Cornell), and Darren Chang (Cornell), The Brookings Institution, April 2021

Separating the imminent phantom increase in inflation (due to base effects from a weak 2020) from underlying wage and price pressures will complicate monetary policy during 2021. Parsing the rise in government bond yields—which reflects a combination of better growth prospects, risks of inflation, and concerns about rising debt levels—encapsulates the challenges that policymakers face as they try to decipher and manage market expectations. Any additional stimulus measures should ideally aim to simultaneously boost aggregate demand and improve long-term productivity.

China’s growth momentum has stayed strong and balanced, with the government’s attention turning to medium-term structural issues and containment of financial system risks. The recent National People’s Congress meeting ended with a renewed focus on rebalancing demand toward household consumption and shifting growth sources toward high-end manufacturing, the services sector, and small and medium enterprises. The government seems to be leaning toward normalization of macroeconomic policies, with a lower fiscal deficit and some tightening of monetary policy anticipated later in the year. This is being backed up by prudential regulatory measures to manage frothiness in the real estate sector. Trade tensions with the U.S. now appear likely to persist under the Biden administration, but this no longer seems a major factor influencing private sector sentiment or growth in either country.

European economies, both in the core and periphery of the eurozone, are struggling as they cope with another wave of COVID-19 infections, floundering vaccination programs, and a lack of policy direction. While industrial production, particularly in Germany, has held up well, much of the eurozone might return to pre-COVID-19 GDP levels only by late 2022. The U.K., which in 2020 faced a double whammy from Brexit and COVID-19, has made good progress on vaccinating its population and improved its growth prospects. Japan’s recovery appears fragile. Despite extensive stimulus measures, weak consumer confidence is restraining consumption while export growth has been subdued.

In India, both the manufacturing and services sectors are contributing to a strong rebound.

However, a resurgence of the virus and limited policy space due to high public debt levels and rising inflation could erode some momentum. The rebound in oil prices has buoyed the prospects of countries such as Nigeria, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Brazil’s economy is tottering as the virus spreads unchecked and ineffectual political leadership hampers a concerted response. Turkey faces similar concerns, although it was one of the few economies to register positive growth in 2020. In short, even among emerging markets, there are multiple tracks to the recovery.

Following a marked decline during 2020, the U.S. dollar has firmed up in 2021. In tandem with the upward shift in U.S. bond yields, this portends ill for many emerging market and other developing economies, particularly those with heavy foreign currency debt exposure. Financial market pressures could build up if divergent growth patterns, with more vulnerable economies registering weaker growth, persist through 2021.

Policymakers around the world face an important pivot point. One decision many countries are grappling with is whether to open up their economies despite the continued spread of the virus. Another is whether to infuse additional macroeconomic stimulus, risking an unfavorable tradeoff between short-term benefits and longer-term vulnerabilities. Uncertainties are rife and the stakes are high. Indecisive policies are affecting consumer and business confidence in the weaker economies, adding to economic strains.

The recipe for a strong and durable recovery remains the same as it has over the past year—resolute measures to control the virus coupled with balanced monetary and fiscal stimulus, with an emphasis on policies that support demand as well as improve productivity. In economies that are doing well, it is far too early to ease up in either dimension while in others policymakers will need to redouble their efforts.

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Canada to go big on budget spending as pandemic lingers, election looms

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By Julie Gordon

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada‘s Liberal government will deliver on its promise to spend big when it presents its first budget in two years next week amid a fast-rising third wave of COVID-19 infections and ahead of an election expected in coming months.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has pledged to do “whatever it takes” to support Canadians, and in November promised up to C$100 billion ($79.8 billion) in stimulus over three years to “jump-start” an economic recovery in what is likely to be a crucial year for her party.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals depend on the support of at least one opposition group to pass laws, and senior party members have said an election is likely within months as it seeks a clear majority and a free hand to legislate.

Furthermore, by September, all Canadians who want to be vaccinated will be, Trudeau has said.

Freeland has said the pandemic created a “window” of opportunity for a national childcare plan, and that will be reflected in next Monday’s budget along with spending to accelerate Canada‘s shift toward a more sustainable economy.

“It will be a green and innovative recovery plan aimed at creating jobs,” said a government source who declined to comment on specific measures. The budget will aim to help those “who have suffered most” the effects of the pandemic, the source said.

Critics say the government would be better to hold off on blockbuster spending because the economy has shown it is poised to bounce back, and to prevent the country from racking up too much debt.

“Clearly a garden-variety stimulus package is the last thing we need. This is pile-on debt,” said Don Drummond, an economist at Ontario’s Queen’s University.

“The risk is that at some point interest rates are going to go up and we’re going to be in trouble,” he said, pointing to the mid-1990s when Canada‘s debt-to-GDP ratio skyrocketed, leading to rating agency downgrades and years of austerity.

The Bank of Canada cut its benchmark interest rate to 0.25% to counter the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis and has said rates will not rise until labor market slack is absorbed, currently forecast for into 2023. That may change when it releases new projections on April 21.

EXPANDING ECONOMY

More than 3 million Canadians lost their jobs to the pandemic. As of March, before a third wave forced new lockdowns, only 296,000 remained unemployed because of COVID.

Despite still-high unemployment levels in hard-hit service sectors, the economy has expanded for nine straight months even as provinces have adjusted health restrictions to counter waves of infections.

“Once we see sustained reopening, we do think that the recovery will have quite a bit of momentum on its own,” said Josh Nye, a senior economist at RBC Economics.

“We think Canada‘s economy will be operating pretty close to full capacity by this time next year,” he said.

Economists surveyed by Reuters expect Freeland to project a deficit in the range of C$133 billion to C$175 billion for fiscal 2021/22, up from the C$121.2 billion ($96.7 billion)

deficit forecast in November. https://tmsnrt.rs/3wSJPcm

The deficit for fiscal 2020/21 ended in March is forecast by the government to top a historic C$381.6 billion ($304.5 billion).

Canada announced on Monday a C$5.9 billion ($4.7 billion) aid package for the country’s largest airline carrier, Air Canada, and said talks were ongoing with No. 2 carrier WestJet Airlines Ltd and others.

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto; Editing by Steve Scherer and Peter Cooney)

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CANADA STOCKS – TSX ends flat at 19,228.03

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.00 percent to 19,228.03

* Leading the index were Corus Entertainment Inc <CJRb.TO​>, up 7.0%, Methanex Corp​, up 6.4%, and Canaccord Genuity Group Inc​, higher by 5.5%.

* Lagging shares were Denison Mines Corp​​, down 7.0%, Trillium Therapeutics Inc​, down 7.0%, and Nexgen Energy Ltd​, lower by 5.7%.

* On the TSX 93 issues rose and 128 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 26 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 183.7 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Nutrien Ltd and Organigram Holdings Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 1.61 points, or 1.4%, while the financials sector climbed 0.67 points, or 0.2%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.44%, or $0.26, to $59.34 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 0.24%, or $0.15, to $63.05 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.3% for the year.

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Canadian dollar outshines G10 peers, boosted by jobs surge

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar advanced against its broadly stronger U.S. counterpart on Friday as data showing the economy added far more jobs than expected in March offset lower oil prices, with the loonie also gaining for the week.

Canada added 303,100 jobs in March, triple analyst expectations, driven by the recovery across sectors hit by shutdowns in December and January to curb the new coronavirus.

“The Canadian economy keeps beating expectations,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions. “It seems like the economy is adapting to these closures and restrictions.”

Stronger-than-expected economic growth could pull forward the timing of the first interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada, Goshko said.

The central bank has signaled that its benchmark rate will stay at a record low of 0.25% until 2023. It is due to update its economic forecasts on April 21, when some analysts expect it to cut bond purchases.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2530 to the greenback, or 79.81 U.S. cents, the biggest gain among G10 currencies. For the week, it was also up 0.3%.

Still, speculators have cut their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar to the lowest since December, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of April 6, net long positions had fallen to 2,690 contracts from 6,518 in the prior week.

The price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports, was pressured by rising supplies from major producers. U.S. crude prices settled 0.5% lower at $59.32 a barrel, while the U.S. dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies, supported by higher U.S. Treasury yields.

Canadian government bond yields also climbed and the curve steepened, with the 10-year up 4.1 basis points at 1.502%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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