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China wants to give its economy a big push as 2020 begins – Aljazeera.com

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The Chinese government is trying to set the economy up for a stronger start to 2020, with a multi-pronged policy push ranging from easier monetary settings to freer trade.

The latest pledge came late Monday, when Premier Li Keqiang signaled that further cuts in the amount of cash that banks have to park as reserves will be forthcoming. In theory, that will free up funds to lend to private-sector companies that have struggled to access loans this year.

The funding promise follows a wide-ranging set of initiatives to boost the non-state sector announced at the weekend, and a fresh round of tariff cuts designed to spur domestic demand released on Monday.

After a bruising year that’s seen economic output growth slow to the weakest pace in almost 30 years, modest signs of stabilization have begun to appear in incoming data. On top of that, trade negotiators this month succeeded in staving off another increase in tariffs on Chinese exports by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Speaking in the western city of Chengdu on Monday, Li said the government will continue to cut the reserve ratio for banks and look into increasing re-lending and re-discounting quotas, steps that can also help reduce overall borrowing costs for small firms.

“Beijing may cut the required-reserve ratio slightly earlier than we previously expected given an increasing risk of locally-based credit contraction in some regions, and upcoming liquidity shortage in January 2020,” said Lu Ting, chief China economist at Nomura International Ltd.. The moves would come “in the coming weeks before the lunar new year holiday, to stabilize liquidity conditions, credit supply and growth,” he said.

The private sector this year has faced difficulty accessing credit, amid a multi-year effort to reduce financial risk and rising defaults among corporate bond issuers. Despite an increase in overall credit growth, there’s evidence that not all lending is going to productive purposes.

Upgraded Outlook

Nevertheless, economists have upgraded their outlook for economic growth in 2020. Gross domestic product expansion will come in at 5.9% as easing trade tensions and the prospect of lower bank borrowing costs boost confidence, according to a survey of analysts and traders last week.

Survey respondents see policy makers maintaining a measured pace of easing into next year, trimming the price of central bank medium-term lending by 15 basis points with the first cut coming in the first quarter.

In the meantime, the leadership also stressed more opening-up of the economy, and is seeking to forge stronger partnerships with some trading members.

“To defend free trade is the only way to revitalize the economy,” Li said on Tuesday at a China-Japan-South Korea summit in Chengdu. He called for deeper cooperation between the three countries to counter the “downward economic pressure” posed by the changing global economic and political situation. He also urged the speeding up of negotiations toward a trilateral free trade agreement, which in his words, would allow China to further open its services sectors.

“China is willing to open up its finance, medical care, elderly care and other services sectors to foreign investors, including scrapping the caps on ownership requirements, step by step,” he reiterated.

Lower Tariffs

The Ministry of Finance on Monday published a list of 859 types of products that will enjoy tariffs lower than the standard rates for this year. It included frozen pork as a key item aimed at alleviating shortages of the meat due to the outbreak of African swine fever.

In 2018, imports of the listed items totaled some $389 billion, or about 18% of China’s total imports of $2.14 trillion, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Steps announced Sunday by the State Council, China’s cabinet, aim to help private firms gain better market access and equal regulatory treatment to their state-owned peers. Among actions to be taken are the further opening of key industries to non-state investors, including energy and finance, and also facilitating equity and bond sales by private-sector businesses.

The private sector, which accounts for 9 out of every 10 new jobs created in China, has been hardest hit thanks to what critics say is a regulatory regime that tilts business conditions in favor of state-owned companies.

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U.S. economy plunges 31.4 per cent in spring but big rebound expected – CTV News

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WASHINGTON —
The U.S. economy plunged at an unprecedented rate this spring and even with a record rebound expected in the just-ended third quarter, the U.S. economy will likely shrink this year, the first time that has happened since the Great Recession.

The gross domestic product, the economy’s total output of goods and services, fell at a rate of 31.4% in the April-June quarter, only slightly changed from the 31.7% drop estimated one month ago, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The government’s last look at the second quarter showed a decline that was more than three times larger than the fall of 10% in the first quarter of 1958 when Dwight Eisenhower was president, which had been the largest decline in U.S. history.

Economists believe the economy will expand at an annual rate of 30% in the current quarter as businesses have re-opened and millions of people have gone back to work. That would shatter the old record for a quarterly GDP increase, a 16.7% surge in the first quarter of 1950 when Harry Truman was president.

The government will not release its July-September GDP report until Oct. 29, just five days before the presidential election.

While President Donald Trump is counting on an economic rebound to convince voters to give him a second term, economists said any such bounce back this year is a longshot.

Economists are forecasting that growth will slow significantly in the final three months of this year to a rate of around 4% and the U.S. could actually topple back into a recession if Congress fails to pass another stimulus measure or if there is a resurgence of COVID-19. There are upticks in infections occurring right now in some regions of the country, including New York.

“There are a lot of potential pitfalls out there,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services. “We are still dealing with a number of significant reductions because of the pandemic.”

In 2020, economists expect GDP to fall by around 4% , which would mark the first annual decline in GDP since a drop of 2.5% in 2009 during the recession triggered by the 2008 financial crisis.

“With economic momentum cooling, fiscal stimulus expiring, flu season approaching and election uncertainty rising, the main question is how strong the labour market will be going into the fourth quarter,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

“With the prospect of additinal fiscal aid dwindling, consumers, businesses and local governments will have to fend for themselves in the coming months,” Daco said.

The Trump administration is forecasting solid growth in coming quarters that will restore all of the output lost to the pandemic. Yet most economists believe it could take some time for all the lost output to be restored and they don’t rule out a return to shrinking GDP if no further government support is forthcoming.

So far this year, the economy fell at a 5% rate in the first quarter, signalling an end to a nearly 11-year-long economic expansion, the longest in U.S. history. That drop was followed by the second quarter decline of 31.4%, which was initially estimated two months ago as a drop of 32.9%, and then revised to a decline of 31.7% last month.

The slight upward revision in this report reflected less of a plunge in consumer spending than had been estimated. It was still a record fall at a rate of 33.2%, but last month projections were for a decline of 34.1%. This improvement was offset somewhat by downward revisions to exports and to business investment.

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US economy plunges 31.4% in spring but big rebound expected – BNN

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy plunged at a record rate in the spring but is poised to swing to a record increase in the quarter that is just ending.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the gross domestic product, the economy’s total output of goods and services, fell at a rate of 31.4 per cent in the April-June quarter, only slightly changed from the 31.7 per cent drop estimated one month ago.

The new report, the government’s last look at the second quarter, showed a decline that was more than three times larger than the previous record-holder, a fall of 10 per cent in the first quarter of 1958 when Dwight Eisenhower was president.

Economists believe the economy will expand at an annual rate of 30 per cent in the current quarter as businesses have re-opened and millions of people have gone back to work. That would shatter the old record for a quarterly GDP increase, a 16.7 per cent surge in the first quarter of 1950 when Harry Truman was president.

The government will not release its July-September GDP report until Oct. 29, just five days before the presidential election.

While President Donald Trump is counting on an economic rebound to convince voters to give him a second term, economists said any such bounce back this year is a longshot.

Economists are forecasting that growth will slow significantly in the final three months of this year to a rate of around 4 per cent and could actually topple back into a recession if Congress fails to pass another stimulus measure or if there is a resurgence of COVID-19. There are upticks in infections occurring right now in some regions of the country, including New York.

“There are a lot of potential pitfalls out there,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services. “We are still dealing with a number of significant reductions because of the pandemic.”

He said in addition to the possibility that Congress will not pass further stimulus support because of the sharp split between Democrats and Republicans over how much more is needed, there are other threats in the form of uncertainty over the upcoming election.

“All this political uncertainty has the potential to weigh on economic growth,” Faucher said.

The Trump administration says that solid growth in coming quarters that will restore all of the output lost by the pandemic.

So far this year, the economy fell at a 5 per cent rate in the first quarter, signalling an end to a nearly 11-year-long economic expansion, the longest in U.S. history. That drop was followed by the second quarter decline of 31.4 per cent, which was initially estimated two months ago as a drop of 32.9 per cent, and then revised to 31.7 per cent last month.

The slight upward revision in this report reflected less of a plunge in consumer spending than had been estimated. It was still a record fall at a rate of 33.2 per cent, but last month projections were for a decline of 34.1 per cent. This improvement was offset somewhat by downward revisions to exports and to business investment.

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U.K. economy slump not as bad as feared but still a record – CTV News

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LONDON —
The British economy did not contract as much as originally thought during the second quarter of the year when coronavirus lockdown measures were at their most intense — though the slump remained the worst on record and the biggest of all major economies.

The Office for National Statistics said Wednesday that the British economy contracted by 19.8% in the April to June quarter from the previous three-month period, slightly less than its previous estimate of 20.4%.

However, it said the British economy contracted by more than previously thought during the first quarter, when the virus started to affect business activity before the full restrictions on businesses were introduced on March 23. It now estimates that the economy shrank by 2.5% in the first quarter, against 2.2% previously.

“It is clear that the U.K. is in the largest recession on record,” the statistics agency said. “The latest estimates show that the U.K. economy is now 21.8% smaller than it was at the end of 2019, highlighting the unprecedented size of this contraction.”

That contraction is greater than those recorded by the other Group of Seven major advanced economies and more or less double the contractions seen in the United States and Germany.

Since May, when lockdown measures started to be eased, the British economy has managed to eke out three months of growth, which has helped it recoup around half of the output lost. However, with the virus spreading in the community once again and some lockdown measures re-imposed, there are worries that the British economy could start shrinking again.

Further risks relate to the lack of progress in post-Brexit trade discussions with the European Union. Though the U.K. left the bloc on Jan. 31, it is in a transition period that effectively sees it benefit from tariff-free trade until the end of this year. The discussions are about agreeing on the broad outlines of the trading relationship from the start of 2021.

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