Coface Barometer - April 2021: USA führen die globale Erholung an, Schwellenländer hinken hinterher
Mehr als ein Jahr nach dem Beginn der Pandemie ist die globale Wirtschaftsentwicklung aufgrund der anhaltenden Unsicherheiten über die Ausbreitung von COVID-19 uneinheitlich. Die Beschleunigung des Impfprozesses sowie dessen Wirksamkeit sind der Schlüssel für eine wirtschaftliche Erholung. In diesem Zusammenhang sind die Aussichten auf eine Rückkehr zur Normalität in den verschiedenen Wirtschaftszweigen und geografischen Regionen uneinheitlich und unsicher.
Wie im Barometer dargelegt, geht Coface davon aus, dass die wirtschaftliche Erholung ab dem Sommer 2021 an Fahrt gewinnen wird, wenn ein ausreichend grosser Anteil der Bevölkerung in den USA und Europa geimpft sein wird. Es besteht jedoch das Risiko, dass sich die Einführung der Impfstoffe verzögert, insbesondere aufgrund von Lieferengpässen bei den Herstellern, die auf Engpässe bei bestimmten Komponenten und Exportbeschränkungen zurückzuführen sind.
Dennoch wurde die globale Wachstumsprognose von Coface um einen halben Punkt nach oben korrigiert (+5,1 % für 2021), dank eines stärker als erwarteten Wachstums in den Vereinigten Staaten. In diesem günstigeren makroökonomischen Ausblick stuft Coface 35 Wirtschaftszweige herauf gegenüber nur 3 Herabstufungen.
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In addition to the United States, several other sectors of the world economy – industry and global trade – are likely to return to their pre-crisis level of activity by the summer. Nevertheless, other sectors are lagging behind, notably in services and especially those that involve physical contact with customers, and across the European economies. Finally, in some major emerging economies, the recovery is also being held back by rising inflation, which is forcing central banks to tighten monetary policy.
US economy goes into "high pressure" mode
Since the beginning of 2021, the balance of surprises is tilting to the positive side, despite the many health uncertainties.
The expected growth gap between the eurozone and the United States is usual, particularly in a recovery phase. This is partly due to weaker automatic stabilizers in the US, which accelerate adjustments in employment and income.
But this time, the reasons for the for the US growth gap are different: less restrictive mobility restrictions than in the eurozone, both in 2020 and early 2021, and a more rapid vaccine deployment.
Differences in economic policy may also explain US outperformance. The US Federal Reserve (Fed) has increased the size of its balance sheet. Its asset purchase program rose by about 13% of GDP in 2020, compared with 9% for the European Central Bank (ECB). Finally, and most importantly, greater fiscal support will allow the US economy to return to its pre-crisis GDP level more quickly.
Adopted in March 2021, the new US support plan amounts to 1.9 trillion dollars (USD), and will bring the total fiscal response to the crisis to an amount equivalent to 27% of US GDP, more than any other mature economy. Coface expects that the public deficit could be up to 56 billion dollars higher than it would have been without the stimulus package.
The aim of this strategy is to put the US economy under "high pressure", i.e. to implement expansionary monetary and fiscal policies that encourage a return to work for the least employable people (long-term unemployed or inactive due to discouragement, low-skilled people and categories of the population suffering from discrimination in hiring).
Eurozone: corporate insolvencies remain hidden
The eurozone is unlikely to return to its pre-crisis GDP level before 2022. If the main mobility restrictions are lifted by the end of the summer, this will go hand in hand with a gradual halt to business support measures, which could cause unemployment to rise. In addition, the increase in corporate debt – made possible by government-guaranteed loans – is likely to limit their investment capacity.
Until now, the main government support measures implemented in 2020 have not yet been withdrawn. Despite the stabilizing effect of government aid, the financial health of companies has deteriorated significantly in 2020, which should normally lead to an increase in insolvencies. According to Coface, insolvencies in 2020 should have increased by 19% in Spain, 7% in Italy and 6% in France and Germany. Coface estimates the number of hidden insolvencies at 44% of those recorded in France in 2019, 39% for Italy, 34% for Spain and 21% for Germany.
Emerging economies: rising inflation forces central banks to tighten monetary policy
According to the International Monetary Fund's April 2021 forecasts, emerging economies will be more permanently affected by the current crisis than mature economies.
In 2024, GDP in emerging economies will be 4% lower than it would have been had it not been for the COVID crisis. For mature economies, the gap would be only 1% (compared to 10% following the global financial crisis). There are several reasons for this expected lag between the recovery of mature and emerging economies.
First, the vaccination process is more advanced in mature countries, even if some emerging economies are well on track, such as the United Arab Emirates, Chile and, to a lesser extent, Turkey and Morocco, where at least 10% of the population had been fully vaccinated by April 8. But apart from these few cases, the fact that the United States and Europe have acquired the majority of vaccinations means fewer doses for other countries. Among the four main vaccine-producing areas (China, the United States, Western Europe and India), the temptation to implement protectionist measures is increasingly strong. For example, India has already announced a temporary halt to the export of vaccines to prioritize vaccine deployment in India, where the number of cases has risen significantly since the beginning of March.
In addition to these uncertainties, many emerging economies are doubly hit by their exposure to economic sectors hardest hit by the crisis (tourism and transport in particular).
On the positive side, however, the rise in the price of oil and agricultural commodities is good news for economies that suffered from the opposite trend last year. In addition, the positive outlook for US consumption should fuel strong export volumes, especially among consumer goods producers.
On the other hand, the widening of the US budget deficit is encouraging capital outflows from emerging markets, as upward revisions of the US GDP growth outlook push up long-term US interest rates, narrowing the gap with its emerging market counterparts, and making the latter less attractive to financial investors. This has resulted in a depreciation of emerging currencies, notably in Turkey and Brazil.
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