Bright spots of hopes

Tuesday, 2020-12-22 15:40:07
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NDO – In recent days, a number of Asia-Pacific economies, including the US, have shown positive signs of recovery, which is considered a bright spot of hopes” in the context of the gloomy global economic picture due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest statistics and assessments of experts have indicated that the global economy as a whole and the Asia-Pacific region in particular have registered positive bright spots. In Australia, consumption is expected to be a positive growth engine of the economy. Analysts forecast that Australian consumers will spend more than US$ 37.5 billion on shopping during Christmas. Accordingly, retailers of the “land of kangaroos” are likely to earn big revenue for their year-end peak sales. Statistics show that Australia’s online sales in November rose by 55.6% year-on-year and 17% month-on-month, the highest increase level thus far. Meanwhile, in the third quarter of this year, New Zealand's economy posted a record growth rate of 14% compared to the second quarter. In addition, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 0.4% over the same period in 2019.

Clearer signs of recovery have also appeared in some Southeast Asian economies. In Singapore, the labour market was more positive in Q3 as the number of jobs for Singaporean citizens and foreigners entitled to long-term residence increased by 43,200 to 2.34 million, down only 0.4% year-on-year (2.35 million jobs in Q3 2019). Although Singapore's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in September rose to 3.6%, this rate was slower than in previous months. The economies of Indonesia and Thailand also showed positive signs after a period of serious decline. The Indonesian Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs said that predictions on the country’s economic growth in Q4 2020 range between minus 2% and 0.6% thanks to the recovery momentum that has started since Q3. The recovery force started in the third quarter. According to analysts, Indonesia's economy has begun to recover after bottoming out. Over the weekend, Thailand’s acting director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office stated that the Thai economy is likely to decline at a lower rate than the 7.7% level forecast in October thanks to improving economic conditions. Accordingly, Thailand's Q3 GDP decreased by 6.4% compared to the same period last year, which is much lower than the 12.1% fall in Q2. After adjusting seasonal factors, Thailand's economy grew by 6.5% in Q3.

In some developed countries such as the UK and the US, the economic picture has also been less gloomy. The UK economy is forecast to see a strong recovery from Q2 2021, when COVID-19 restriction measures will be eased and consumer demand will revive. The US economy has also showed some positive signs. After the US government started implementing the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) assessed that the US economy would grow by 4.2% in 2021 and 3.2. % in 2022, higher than the forecast made in September. Fed officials have also lowered their forecast of the US economic downturn in 2020 from 3.7% (issued in September) to 2.4%. In addition, the unemployment rate in the US has been adjusted down to 5% in 2021 and 4.2% in 2022, an improvement compared to previous forecasts. At present, US lawmakers are racing against time to both pass a US$900 billion bailout package and ratify the federal budget bill before the US Congress enters the Christmas and New Year holidays. Analysts said that the US$900 billion economic support package is very necessary for businesses and the unemployed, and will act as an “energy pill” to bring the US economy back to the growth trajectory in 2021.

The aforementioned positive signals are raising hopes for a positive recovery of the world economy in 2021, while reinforcing the statement of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in early December that the global economy may return to pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of next year.