This should be peak season for a 12-room hotel near the train station in the Chinese industrial hub of Wuhan. The Chinese New Year usually brings in plenty of travellers and delivers profits of around US$3,000 a month.
But the place is empty. Wuhan, the centre of a deadly viral outbreak, is on lockdown. “There is not a single customer,” said the hotel’s owner, who gave only his surname, Cui. He still has to pay rent and his utility bills. Instead of counting his earnings, he’s expecting to lose $1,500 a month.
The outbreak arrives at a bad time for Wuhan, China and the world economy.
China, with the world’s No. 2 economy, was decelerating even before the coronavirus hit.
And the world economy is coping with an unexpectedly sharp slowdown in No. 7 India, which prompted the International Monetary Fund last week to downgrade its outlook for global growth this year.
The coronavirus is drawing comparisons to the SARS outbreak, which paralyzed the economies of China and Hong Kong for weeks in 2003. But what happens in China carries a lot more weight these days: In 2003, China accounted for 4% of global output. Now its share is 16%, according to the World Bank.
“A growth slowdown in China could have sizable ripple effects across Asia and the rest of the world, given the size of China’s economy and its role as the key driver of global growth in recent years,” said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist and former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division.
No one knows exactly how the outbreak will play out or what its economic impact will be.
Authorities are still trying to better understand the new virus. It is from the coronavirus family, which also can cause the common cold as well as more serious illnesses such as SARS.
So far, China has confirmed more than 4,500 coronavirus cases and more than 100 deaths.
The Chinese government has locked down Wuhan and 16 other cities in Hubei province, isolating more than 50 million people. The United States and other countries prepared Tuesday to airlift their citizens out of Wuhan. The outbreak has brought every day business to a standstill and closed down such popular tourist attractions as Beijing’s former imperial palace, Shanghai Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland and the city’s Ocean Park.
The significant decline in travel has already caused United Airlines to suspend some flights to Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, the airline said in a statement.
“It’s still too soon to measure what the impact is going to be from an economic perspective,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors.
The SARS experience offers some reason for economic optimism. That outbreak, centred in southern China, initially clobbered the Chinese economy. In the April-June quarter of 2003, China’s economic growth dropped to an annual rate of 9.1% from 11.1% the previous quarter, noted economists Tommy Wu and Priyanka Kishore of Oxford Economics. But as the health crisis subsided, growth picked back up, recovering to a 10% annual rate in the second half of the year.
“From what we know, it’s likely to be similar this time,” said Andy Rothman, investment strategist at Matthews Asia. “People shouldn’t get panicked that growth is going to slow sharply” over a sustained period.
Still, the Chinese economy isn’t the dynamo it was in the early and mid-2000s when growth routinely hit double digits.
The IMF expects China’s growth to drop from 6.1% in 2019, already the slowest since 1990, to 6% this year and 5.8% next. The slowdown reflects China’s difficult transition from fast but unsustainable growth built around often-wasteful investments to steadier but less striking growth built on consumer spending by the country’s growing middle class.
The Chinese economy has also been buffeted by a trade war with the United States. The two countries signed a truce earlier this month that was expected to provide some economic relief. Then the viral outbreak hit.
As part of the so-called Phase 1 deal, China agreed to increase purchases of U.S. products by $200 billion over this year and next. That goal sounded ambitious even before the viral outbreak isolated tens of millions of Chinese consumers and delivered a wallop to consumer and business confidence.
Rothman suspects the United States might give the Chinese a little leeway. “Both governments really want the deal to work,” he said. “If it is clear that (Chinese purchases) are off to a slow start not because the Chinese government is not trying its best but because of the virus, the Trump administration is likely to be sympathetic.”
There has been no immediate impact on China’s vast manufacturing industries because factories already were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday and weren’t due to reopen until this week or later.
“I think the first quarter looks like it will take quite a significant hit,” said Rajiv Biswas, chief Asia economist for IHS Markit. “This still is escalating, so it’s hard to talk about when this will be contained.”
Further delays in restarting production could send shock waves through Asian suppliers of components and exporters of iron ore, copper and other commodities as far away as Australia, Brazil and Africa.
Foreign suppliers usually see a surge in Chinese orders as factories restock after shutting down for 10 days or more during the holiday.
“The loss of economic output could be quite substantial, and that has consequences for the Asian manufacturing supply chain, because orders won’t come in the way people expect,” Biswas said.
The impact in other developing Asian countries might reduce their 2020 economic growth by 1.5 to 2 percentage points, according to a forecast by Edward Glossop of Capital Economics.
Growth in Asian emerging markets “will slow sharply in the first quarter of the year,” Glossop said in a report.
Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters Tuesday that Japanese exports, production and corporate profits could be pinched by the new virus, stressing that he was closely monitoring the situation.
A more direct hit is already coming from the decline in tourist traffic from China. Nishimura said Chinese travellers usually account for about a third of tourists from abroad.
Chinese tourists to Japan tend to be relatively big spenders. The virus has hit right at the time when Chinese travel for the lunar new year.
Japan’s economy suffered from the SARS outbreak in 2003, but the damage was limited to several months. The big difference is that Japan has far more Chinese tourists these days.
Now “the impact on the Japanese economy would be far greater,” said Takahide Kiuchi, executive economist at Nomura Research Institute, while adding that much depends on how widespread the outbreak proves to be.
“There is hardly anything good that can be hoped for economically because of the new virus,” he said. Increased sales of masks and other protective gear, he noted, will hardly pick up the slack.
Wiseman reported from Washington, McDonald from Beijing and Kageyama from Tokyo. AP researcher Yu Bing in Beijing and AP Airlines Writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.
No, Britain’s Economy Isn’t On The Rocks.
How bad is Britain’s economy?
It depends on what you read.
For instance, the Atlantic magazine headlined a recent feature “How the U.K. Became One of the Poorest Countries in Western Europe.”
The features continues with the following: “The U.K. is now an object lesson for other countries dealing with a dark triad of deindustrialization, degrowth, and denigration of foreigners.”
In other words, the Atlantic has some pretty brutal thoughts on the U.K.’s economy.
Unfortunately, none of that reflects the reality I have lived and the economic data.
Let’s start with some basics.
UK Post-pandemic Growth Shines
First up is inflation-adjusted GDP since the beginning of 2021. In that case, the UK leads the pack of the three largest European economies. It grew 7.4% last year following by 3.6% this year, according to data from the International Monetary Fund.
Contrast that with France which grew 6.8% last year and 2.5% this year, then Germany which limped along at 2.6% in 2021 and 1.5% so far this year.
It shouldn’t take a PhD in mathematics to see that the UK is growing faster than the others over that period. Its not a huge difference in the case of France, but still its not like Britain is a basket case.
UK unemployment is also far lower than either France or Germany. Britain’s jobless rate is a mere 3.6%, according to TradingEconomics. That compares with 5.5% and 7.3% for Germany and France respectively.
Some observers say the UK’s rate is so low because many people have stopped looking for work. Its a fair point, but only at the margin. In other words, its a relatively small issue. People who aren’t looking for work can hardly be unemployed. Second, if the UK rate was adjusted for the lower participation its hard to see the jobless figures jump to the current levels in France or Germany.
Despite claims to the contrary that cutting taxes would send an already-indebted country into economic oblivion, the U.K. could probably afford to borrow bit more cash.
That’s because there’s massive hole in the assertion that Britain is in hock up to its eyeballs, its plainly wrong, especially compared to other rich countries.
In other words, the U.S. (generally considered to be a strong economy,) and France (a bedrock economy of the European Union) are much more in debt than Britain and yet observers seem excited to bash the U.K. like it was going out of fashion.
Germany does have a better debt ratio, but it is also a country that spends proportionately far less on defense than the other comparison countries. That’s something that the world has scrutinized closely since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
However, perhaps the trump card in demonstrating the strength of the UK’s economy is the wave of illegal migration into the country.
Wave may understate the matter.
Its more of a tsunami.
This year so far more than 40,000 people have made the life-threatening journey across the channel from France to England. That’s up from less than 30,000 last year, and under 10,000 in 2020. Many of the people who make that journey get granted refugee status.
When considering this information its important to understand that migrants are leaving a democratic country will at top notch record on human rights and with a strong economy. Its also worth remembering that France has better weather than the U.K., and finer food.
It’s the Economy, Stupid
So why would so many people risk their lives crossing by far the world’s busiest shipping lane at night in a rubber dinghy to get to Britain? People can and do die on that trip with banal regularity.
Maybe they really do like the abundant grey skies, and drizzle that the country has to offer. Perhaps they really like British food in the way a native enjoys them.
But what about this: There’s a chance that the U.K.’s market driven economy is attractive to people in a similar way that America is attractive to migrants of all types.
On top of that, the Atlantic is wrong about Britons not liking foreigners. In fact, the U.K. population embraces people from all over the world.
Charting the Global Economy: OECD Raises Inflation Forecast
(Bloomberg) — Central banks around the world must be steadfast in their inflation fight even though economies will suffer as a result, the OECD said this week.
The organization boosted its 2023 inflation estimates and said it expects price increases the following year will remain above the targets set by many global central banks. While economies will slow because of tighter monetary policies, the OECD didn’t forecast a recession.
Though a survey of US manufacturers showed a fifth month of shrinking activity, another report indicated a healthy increase in business investment. A survey of the euro area businesses indicated that any downturn may not be severe as initially expected.
Meantime, the Bank of China eased reserve requirements for banks to help bolster the world’s second-largest economy.
Here are some of the charts that appeared on Bloomberg this week on the latest developments in the global economy:
The world’s central banks must keep raising interest rates to fight pervasive inflation, even as the global economy sinks into a significant slowdown, according to the OECD. The organization raised inflation projections for next year and said that while the global economy will suffer a “significant growth slowdown,” it’s not forecasting a recession.
This week saw more major rate hikes across the world, with 75 basis-point hikes in Sweden, New Zealand and South Africa and full percentage-point moves in Pakistan and Nigeria. Turkey went the opposite way, cutting rates by 150 basis points.
Business activity contracted for a fifth month in November as demand faltered, while inflationary pressures continued to slowly ease. The S&P Global flash composite purchasing managers’ index slid to the second-lowest level since the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.
Orders placed with US factories for business equipment rebounded in October, suggesting capital spending plans are holding up in the face of higher borrowing costs and broader economic uncertainty. Core capital goods shipments jumped the most since the start of the year, suggesting a solid start to fourth-quarter gross domestic product.
Euro-area businesses see tentative signs that the region’s economic slump may be easing as record inflation cools and expectations for future production improve. A gauge measuring activity in manufacturing and services unexpectedly rose in November, according to S&P Global.
Sweden’s home-price decline accelerated in October, as the Nordic country gripped by the most severe housing slump in three decades shows what may lie ahead for many other developed economies.
For the second time this year, China’s central bank cut the amount of cash lenders must hold in reserve, ramping up support for an economy racked by surging Covid cases and a continued property downturn. The People’s Bank of China reduced the reserve requirement ratio for most banks by 25 basis points.
Signs are growing in China that local government debt burdens are becoming unsustainable. China’s 31 provincial governments have a stockpile of outstanding bonds that’s close to the Ministry of Finance’s risk threshold of 120% of income. A major cause of the financial squeeze is the property crisis.
Australia has spent big to attract swathes of Indian tourists to its shores, signed a free-trade deal with post-Brexit Britain and uncovered new Middle East markets during its 30-month trade rift with China. Still, outside iron ore and other key commodities, there’s been substantial pain for exporters.
Chile is set to lead the world into a steep interest rate-cutting cycle next year as inflation slows and its economy goes from boom to bust, according to swap markets. Traders are forecasting more than 5 percentage points in cuts in the next 12 months after a surprise inflation print last month and as the economy teeters on the edge of recession.
Shipments of boats, vehicles and computer parts are leading Mexico’s export boom, showing growing US demand for industrial products from its southern neighbor. The export of boats produced in Mexico increased 266% in September compared to a year ago, the fastest-growing item among Mexican exports worth more than $100 million.
–With assistance from Maya Averbuch, Sebastian Boyd, Valentina Fuentes, Sybilla Gross, William Horobin, John Liu, Yujing Liu, Swati Pandey, Reade Pickert, Jana Randow, Niclas Rolander, Zoe Schneeweiss and Ben Westcott.
Canada’s Best Credit Cards for 2023
Choosing the best credit card in Canada can get confusing. Not only are there so many options, but everyone has different goals, desires, and credit histories – all of which come into play when choosing a credit card. For example, parents with a large family would likely benefit from a credit card that has great cash-back rewards on groceries and gas while a digital nomad might enjoy points and comprehensive insurance from a card that rewards travel purchases.
However, rewards aren’t the only thing to consider. You should also take into account the annual percentage rate (APR), annual fee, and welcome bonuses. To help you decide which is Canada’s best credit card for 2023, we’ve broken them down by category and included all the important details.
Best Credit Cards in Canada 2023
No matter your financial situation or goals, there is a credit card out there for you. Here’s a breakdown of Canada’s best credit cards in 2023:
Best Cash Back Credit Card
- Welcome bonus: $200
- Annual fee: $120 after the first year
- Regular APR: 20.99% – 24.99% (variable)
This card gives you 10% cash back on $2,500 in purchases over the first four billing cycles. Additionally, you can earn 4% cash back on groceries and gas, 2% cash back on dining, transportation, and recurring bills, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Best Travel Credit Card
- Welcome bonus: 2,500 Membership Rewards points
- Annual fee: $155.88 ($12.99 per month)
- Regular APR: 20.99%
You can earn 2 American Express Membership Rewards per dollar spent on travel or gas, and 3 points per dollar on travel bookings made through the Amex Travel Portal. This card also comes with travel insurance coverage and a $100 USD hotel credit.
Best Business Credit Card
- Welcome bonus: 60,000 Aeroplan Points
- Annual fee: $120 (rebated in the first year)
- Regular APR: 19.99%
This is the best credit card in Canada for anyone that travels for business. This card offers annual earnings of $456.68 when you book Air Canada and $430.63 in value when you book other any travel, including non-Air Canada flights, cruise lines, rental car companies, and tour companies. You can also benefit from a Buddy Pass to anywhere Air Canada flies in North America, including Hawaii and Mexico.
Best Credit Card for Bad Credit
- Welcome bonus: None
- Annual fee: None
- Regular APR: None
This card is almost a credit/debit card hybrid, and an excellent option for anyone with bad or no credit. The card is loaded with money from your bank account or a direct deposit paycheque. It can be used as a debit card for free, or you can request to open a line of credit to work on building or repairing your credit. If you choose to open a line of credit, there is a $10 per month fee.
These are only a few of the best credit cards in Canada for 2023. Give them a try next year and see if your choice helps improve your financial situation!
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