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World Bank warns coronavirus will increase poverty risk
•Mar 31, 2020


FRANCE 24 English

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The World Bank has warned that almost 24 million more people will remain in poverty this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. In its latest economic forecast, the Bank warned that developing economies in Asia will see sharply lower growth this year, as "significant economic pain" seems unavoidable. Also today, New York's Attorney General has called for an investigation after Amazon sacked a worker in New York who organised a walkout over sanitary conditions at a warehouse in Staten Island.


CORONAVIRUS को लेकर WORLD BANK की नई चेतावनी BBC Duniya with Sarika (BBC Hindi)
80,289 views•Mar 31, 2020

BBC News Hindi
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अर्थव्यवस्था को कोरोनावायरस से गहरी चोट, दुनिया में बढ़ सकते हैं 1 करोड़ 10 लाख और ग़रीब


Allow limited resumption or we lose markets to China: Exporters to Govt

Apr 2, 2020 9:21 AM

During an interaction on Monday with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, exporters said if India does not begin shipments at this juncture, its export market will be taken over by Chinese products.

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Industry representatives met Piyush Goyal with demands.

Seeking sops to pay wages to workers, export industry representatives have told the government that if it does not find a way soon to re-open manufacturing units under lockdown, Indian products will lose their international markets to China, which has resumed production post the coronavirus outbreak.

During an interaction on Monday with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, exporters said if India does not begin shipments at this juncture, its export market will be taken over by Chinese products. They cited the example of certain pharmaceuticals exports which have been banned in the wake of the pandemic. They said if they were not allowed to export medicines soon, the global markets would be taken over by China.

“We conveyed that the problem is once you cede the ground to any country, particularly China, it is very, very difficult to get back,” Ajay Sahai, Director General of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations, told The Indian Express.

“That’s why the demand that let us at least start production with some 50 per cent manpower or even less to enable social distancing and health and sanitation norms, so that the industry is also not hard hit,” he said.

The industry players demanded resumption of “limited movement of people” on the lines of goods movement permitted by the government last week. They said employees involved in essential work such as processing of salaries and payments of bills should be allowed to go to factories.

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People line up outside a PDS outlet in the Behrampur area of Ahmedabad on Wednesday as the Gujarat government began distributing free rations. (Express photo by Javed Raja)

At the meeting, exporters sought financial sops to pay wages, citing liquidity crunch with businesses being hit by the outbreak.

One proposal conveyed was to exempt the industry for the time being from statutory payments like ESI contribution — a percentage of the wages are parked in the scheme meant for social security of workers. Or, removing the cap of Rs 15,000-a-month salary for EPF contributions — the government has announced that it will pay the monthly contribution of both the employee and employer under the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) for workers earning below Rs 15,000 a month in establishments which have up to 100 employees.

Yet another option conveyed was a straight-up package in which a certain percentage of the wage bill will be borne by the government.

“At a point, there will be a position that nobody can be paid,” said Shyamal Ghosh, Chairman of the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council. The Council Co-Chairman attended the meeting but Ghosh told The Indian Express what was conveyed to the government. “If your inflow doesn’t come in by meeting the order, there will be a problem. And in this economic situation, unless easy money comes in, it becomes difficult to meet the wage bill also.”

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Worli-Koliwada was sealed after three persons tested positive for the virus on Wednesday. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Those who attended the meeting said the government side did not offer any commitment but took down the demands and suggestions. “The Minister was very keen that Indian industry gets back to being normal as soon as possible,” Sahai said.

Many asked the government to clear old dues — telecom equipment manufacturers said around Rs 2,000 crore is due to them from PSUs like BSNL and MTNL.

“Telecom is an essential service and the line of production has to be maintained. Unless production is maintained, you can’t engage the full labour force. And for maintaining production, first the dues have to be cleared and second, easy working capital should be there,” Ghosh said.


Big Daddy

Super User
I think we still do not know if this Coronavirus is a real deal or not because we do not know how many people are really infected. For example, if 100 million are infected and only 50,000 are dead then it is not a big deal. Just focusing on 50,000 dead makes it look like a big deal. No country is focused on finding out how many are infected and the whole world is artificially putting constraints on themselves and killing their economies.


I think we still do not know if this Coronavirus is a real deal or not because we do not know how many people are really infected. For example, if 100 million are infected and only 50,000 are dead then it is not a big deal. Just focusing on 50,000 dead makes it look like a big deal. No country is focused on finding out how many are infected and the whole world is artificially putting constraints on themselves and killing their economies.
I have seen data of US, or some other countries too.
People are recovering, No Doubt.
Death cases may be more in some places but it is still 1-2% of diseased person only in other countries.


Coronavirus: Will the lockdown create a supply shock that India simply can’t afford?
Arbitrary action by police & district authorities chokes supplies of essentials, prices of food items shoot up
ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 25, 2020, 08.44 AM IST


Getty Images
[Image: grocery-getty] Vegetables, the key staple for Indians after grains and pulses, were in short supply at many retail outlets across cities.

Delhi | Mumbai | Bengaluru | Kolkata | Hyderabad:

On the very first day after administrations and security personnel around the country doubled down on keeping streets crowd-free, arbitrary police and district authority action and lack of staff created huge supply disruptions for consumers and even businesses deemed essential.

And it may get worse, unless clear directions are sent down to police and district authorities on the ground. ET reporters spoke to businesses and consumers across major metro cities to capture what is already looking like a major crisis.

The problem of availability of essential goods across offline and online channels is getting worse, according to consecutive surveys conducted by community platform LocalCircles. The data shows that percentage of customers unable to buy essential goods through ecommerce services between March 20 and March 22 was 35%, and it shot up to 79% in the March 23-24 period. And 17% of customers were unable to buy essential goods at retail stores on March 20-22, and 32% on March 23-24.

Grofers CEO Albinder Dhindsa said in a tweet on Tuesday: “Our @grofers warehouse in Faridabad was closed by local law enforcement today. While we understand they are doing their duty, essential items will be denied to 20,000+ households in Faridabad and Delhi every day. We need help in sorting this out.”

A senior executive of a leading ecommerce firm said, “The only thing that can save us from a complete shutdown is a directive from the Prime Minister. We’ve tried everything from reaching out to all state secretaries, Director Generals of Police in states, but things don’t seem to be looking up.”

Vegetables, the key staple for Indians after grains and pulses, were in short supply at many retail outlets across cities. And many wholesale vegetable traders in key markets plan to stop operations for a few days from Wednesday even though mandis may remain formally open.

Traders say local authorities have held long discussions with them, and supplies are certainly slowing down. Retail traders who go to the mandis will face labour shortage and sharp fall in market arrivals of vegetables. This will likely worsen today’s situation when police in many places shut down vegetable vendors to prevent any gathering of too many people.

Fish and meat processes have already been hit. Secretary of Howrah fish market in Bengal Syed Anwar Maqsood said loading of fish from Andhra Pradesh has completely stopped. “Scarcity is being felt in the market and from Wednesday fish prices will go up by 10-20%,” he said.

Poultry Production Hit, Warehouses Of Ecommerce Companies Shut
“If the state borders are sealed then fish arrival will stop completely. We will have to close down the market,” Maqsood said.

In Kerala, there is a shortage of popular fish varieties like sardine and mackerel. Many fishing boats are idling.

Poultry production had halved in the past month to 40 million birds. Now poultry feed is not available, so production can fall further. Only big companies are processing poultry.iThe local governments that are not allowing transportation of poultry are the weakest link , says industry. Rajasthan — the major producer of mutton — isn’t sending any supplies. Prices in metros have increased from Rs 400-500 per kg to over Rs 700 now.

Bigger retailers faced worse problems. They reported cases of manhandling of store staff on Tuesday from many states.

Several incidents of police crackdown on retail employees and closure of warehouses were reported in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Mumbai and many cities in Punjab.

Ahmedabad-based Osia Hypermarts said five of its stores have been shut by the police classifying them “malls”. Its owner said he was unable to convince the cops that his outlets were hypermarkets and not malls.

“It is very difficult for staff to come to the store. They have been harassed and beaten up by police in various states,” said Arvind Mediratta, managing director of Metro Cash and Carry India whose seven stores in Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have been closed due to police action.

He also said transporters supplying goods from Metro stores to their kirana clients have not been allowed to operate. “Even though the central government has issued advisory that food and grocery is an essential service, the local police is behaving in a very high-handed fashion,” said Mediratta.

Retailers said supplies of various essential products have come to a standstill as many states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Delhi among others have sealed their borders and are hampering movement of trucks.

Thousands of small and medium units dealing in flour, rice, dal, oils and sugar have also closed due to the high-handedness of the local authorities, they said.

“The inventory for basic commodities is running very low with most of the retailers,” said Mediratta, who is also the head of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry’s (FICCI) retail and internal trade committee.

Dairy companies are facing similar challenges in supply of milk and other dairy products, with several smaller vans getting stopped by police. Milk in tetra packs is sold out in several markets. India’s largest dairy firm Amul’s managing director RS Sodhi said the company is working with the authorities to sort out the issues.

Ahead of the lockdown announcements by many states, ecommerce saw sharp spike in orders but started facing logistical difficulties in meeting the sudden surge in demand. Such platforms witnessed massive increase in absenteeism among the on-ground staff, as high as 75-80% for some large etailers. Staffers were unable to come to work due to transport problems.

And blockades at state borders led to new supplies being cut off and huge delays in deliveries to customers. Warehouses of ecommerce companies have been shut and even logistics providers like Delhivery, Amazon and Flipkart have halted offering their services to their sellers.

Moreover, Flipkart has stopped taking any orders till there is clarity from the local authorities, sources in the know said. The Walmartowned etailer is likely to restart its grocery delivery business across five cities over the next few days.

Online food delivery startups Swiggy and Zomato are operating with very few restaurants available on their platforms. Many consumers reported that police stopped delivery agents and asked them to return.

Egrocer BigBasket has suspended operations temporarily in Mumbai and Delhi-NCR. The company said local authorities have imposed restrictions on movement of goods despite clear guidelines from the Centre on allowing essential services.

It’s no better for the pharma industry. Drugmakers are already facing disruption in their manufacturing supply chain and distribution channels within the country.

Cadila Healthcare chairman Pankaj Patel said the whole purpose of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video conference with the industry on Sunday was to ensure that there are no disruptions in the supply chain.

Yet days later, Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) had to write to all chief secretaries in states to facilitate smooth inter-state travel of workers and treat pharma activities as essential services.

Pharma companies are requesting the Indian government to ease up lockdown for critical goods as they are stuck in transit due to curfew imposed in most parts of India.

A person who is a leading generic player in India said that restrictions on transportation within the country will lead to huge unavailability of medicines in days to come. “It is becoming difficult to transport these products from one place to another. There should be some clarity on this,” he said.

The problem is not just the movement of medicines or active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) per say, but even the ancillary goods — chemicals, blister packaging material, caps, bottles and cartons which are materials intended for making finished product — required for medicine production.

Printers that manufacture packaging for medicines are shut, vehicles of suppliers of packaging materials are getting detained and the flight shutdown has led to goods being stuck in different parts of the country that need to be airlifted.

The problem is acute in hubs such as Baddi in Himachal Pradesh where several plants are located. “Several MNCs and local companies are trying to get the cabinet secretary to intervene. There is a last-mile disconnect that is hampering the trade,” said a lawyer representing several pharma associations.

Even hydroxycholorine is facing the brunt. Ipca Labs which were supposed to deliver five lakh blisters of hydroxycholorine tablets to Central government by Tuesday had to wait two days to get permission to airlift its products from Siliguri. Though the companies are sitting on raw materials that can produce 10 crore tablets, the lockdowns are making the final production of these essentials difficult to complete.

There is no shortage of drugs at retail level yet as dealers have inventory that can last for 40 days but the problem could arise if the lockdown continues beyond March 31, pharma companies that ET spoke to said. The firms have been negotiating with local level officials in state governments, customs departments to relax paper work required for the passage of drugs.

On Tuesday, Swiss drug and diagnostic company Roche which said it can manufacture 1 million test kits for Covid-19 has asked governments to ensure the free flow of vital goods across national borders to keep manufacturing and supply running.

“The problem is transportation within the country,” said Mankind’s chairman and manging director RC Juneja. “Supply chains are already under stress. And there is shortage of workforce and on top of that the police is making it difficult to transport medicines.”

And that lifeline of India — mobile phones — could soon disappear. A Xiaomi spokesperson said that phone deliveries could take 12-15 days due to transportation issues.

A Realme spokesperson said everything is shut from factories and warehouses to transport and shops. “Distribution channels could be shut until factories reopen.” Many fast-moving models are out of stock on ecommerce websites.

Coronavirus: Will the lockdown create a supply shock that India simply can’t afford?


Lockdown beyond April 14? Centre mulls extension after state govts, experts raise red flags
The current speculation is that an extension of about two weeks is under consideration.

ET Bureau|

Last Updated: Apr 09, 2020, 09.05 AM IST



New Delhi: The Centre is looking at extending the lockdown beyond April 14 after many state governments and health experts suggested such a course of action on the ground that the coronavirus threat is still looming large.

“A lot of state governments, as well as experts, are requesting the Centre to extend the lockdown. The central government is thinking in this direction,” top government sources said on Tuesday.

The move comes days after the Prime Minister had called upon chief ministers to come up with a strategy towards a “staggered exit” from the lockdown. This idea was to draw up a district-wise phased plan but many states apparently felt that implementation would be challenging, especially when coronavirus cases have still not ebbed.

The current speculation is that an extension of about two weeks until April-end is under consideration. “It’s an evolving situation. The government wishes to just wait and hold on (to the lockdown). Most big states like UP, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Rajasthan want this as cases have been on the rise over the last week. Nearly 300 districts have confirmed at least one positive case until now. The PM, in consultation with the CMs, will take a final decision in the next few days,” a senior government official told ET on the condition of anonymity.

[Image: 1]

[Image: 2]


Multiple Factors
Multiple factors seem to have come into play with various states worried about a sudden spike in the number of cases if the lockdown is lifted and social distancing norms are not properly followed.

Also, major urban economic centres crucial for a revival, such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad, are the ones worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These hotspots would still remain under a lockdown even if partial relief is given to other areas, added an official.

Besides this, the Tablighi Jamaat episode has come as major setback to the Centre’s plans of sticking to the 21-day lockdown as nearly one-third of cases in the country are currently linked to that gathering.

ET has gathered that many states are still to complete contact tracing of those associated with the Tablighi Jamaat cluster, while those who attended the gathering also need to complete the two-week quarantine.

The Centre, officials said, also feels that the supply chain of essential goods has largely normalised now, so an extended lockdown could be feasible.

Chief ministers like Ashok Gehlot and Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday said saving lives was most important and that should be the main criterion on which a decision to lift the lockdown should be taken.

Separately, however, the government has begun discussions with the industry on a business continuity plan that could include gradual lifting of curbs.

The industry in its submissions to the government has said that select but key sectors, including retail, essential manufacturing, large construction and infrastructure projects, should be allowed to resume operations with strict adherence to social distancing norms and other precautionary measures.

Industry body Ficci has pitched for setting up a post-Covid revival fund with an outlay of Rs 2 lakh crore to help sectors with heavy import dependence, which have been hit the hardest.

The plan includes a three-pronged approach — ensuring safe migration of workers back to factories through special transportation, effective coordination between the Centre and state government machinery to avoid lapses, and selective opening after risk assessment — ward and sub-ward wise — in districts.

The industry has also suggested developing protocols covering manufacturing, exports and construction after a thorough evaluation of intertwined supply chains.

“....with shutdown of a large part of the economy and businesses coming to a standstill, the losses are rising and jobs are increasingly at risk. As the containment efforts are on war footing, India has been able to contain the spread so far and we must prepare to reboot the economy,” said Assocham secretary general Deepak Sood in a statement.

“For the support of MSMEs, the government should set up a pandemic Covid-19 Distress Fund of Rs 25,000 crore,” said DK Aggarwal, president, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Lockdown beyond April 14? Centre mulls extension after state govts, experts raise red flags


IMF MD ropes in Raghuram Rajan, 11 others to key external advisory group

To serve our membership well in this context, we need top-notch input and expertise from the widest range of sources, inside and outside the Fund, IMF MD said

Press Trust of India
Last Updated at April 10, 2020 21:47 IST

Raghuram Rajan put in place a series  of actions to impose greater financial discipline on banks and forced them  to recognize stressed assets

Rajan, 57, who was the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor for three years until September 2016

IMF MD Kristalina Georgieva on Friday named former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and 11 others to her external advisory group to provide perspectives from around the globe on key developments and policy issues, including responses to the exceptional challenges the world now faces due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rajan, 57, who was the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor for three years until September 2016, is currently working as a professor at the prestigious University of Chicago.

Georgieva said that even before the spread of Covid-19 and the dramatic health, economic and financial disruptions it has brought, International Monetary Fund (IMF) members confronted a rapidly evolving world and complex policy issues.
To serve our membership well in this context, we need top-notch input and expertise from the widest range of sources, inside and outside the Fund, she said.

Toward this end, I am proud that an exceptional and diverse group of eminent individuals with high-level policy, market and private sector experience has agreed to serve on my External Advisory Group. Today we had a dynamic discussion to gain their insights, and to receive informal reactions to our ideas and approaches, the IMF Managing Director said.
Other members of the group are Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of Singapore and Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore; Kristin Forbes, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia; Lord Mark Malloch Brown, former UN deputy secretary-general among others.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 96,000 people and infected over 1,605,000 in 193 countries and territories since it first emerged in China in December.

IMF MD ropes in Raghuram Rajan, 11 others to key external advisory group



As Coronavirus Shutdown Ends, Get Ready For The Masked Economy

Masked economy

Even after the coronavirus crisis peaks, the U.S. economy will be wearing a mask for months to come. (IBD Illustration/Shutterstock)


The coronavirus shutdown may finally have the Covid-19 pandemic in retreat, or at least at a stalemate. But when the U.S. economy comes back to life, it won't look the same: It will be wearing a mask.

Government directives and consumer caution likely will keep many Americans' faces covered for weeks, perhaps months to come. Though not a direct damper on the coronavirus economy, the masks symbolize the social distancing that will continue as the nation stays on guard against a devastating virus that experts don't fully understand and for which no established treatments exist. And that distancing comes at a massive cost.
Economists are loath to guess when Americans will pack into airline seats, stadiums, shopping malls, bars and restaurants again. Much depends on widespread coronavirus testing and the race for a Covid-19 cure and vaccine. But clearly, the coronavirus shutdown will not end quickly or all at once.

No 'All Clear' Signal For Coronavirus Economy
"I doubt that it's going to be, 'Hey, it's all clear,' " Joel Prakken, chief U.S. economist at IHS Markit, told IBD. "When the worst is behind, you're going to see a halting resumption in activity. People will initially be frightened and very reticent."
Starting in May, he expects "spot openings around the country," in places the virus left relatively unscathed. Harder-hit spots could gradually begin to unfreeze nonessential business activity by late May, if new cases and deaths peter out, as some models suggest, Prakken said.
The fear they might have to renew coronavirus shutdowns if new cases spike will lead state and local officials to move deliberately, restarting activity in phases — "First small gatherings, and then larger and still larger," Prakken said.
The national pastime could prove a yardstick for the coronavirus economic recovery. How long will it take until Americans can hear an umpire shout "Play Ball" before a packed stadium, without fear of a national nightmare of disease? Until then, the U.S. may endure a masked economic recovery, where large events are taboo, subway cars and restaurants unusually empty and recovery of international and domestic travel proceeds at a snail's pace.

Coronavirus Economy Still Crashing
In just three weeks, the coronavirus shutdown wiped out 15.1 million jobs unadjusted for seasonal factors — more than six years' worth of job growth — as much of the economy went into a deep freeze. The thaw will be a massive undertaking and will require huge strides on several medical fronts.
Dramatic increases in coronavirus testing are needed, both for new infections and to identify people who have developed Covid-19 antibodies, even if they never showed symptoms. Surveillance systems, mostly of the low-tech variety, need to be ready to go. That will likely involve hiring tens of thousands of people to track down the contacts of those who fall ill.
Infrared thermometers, already widely used in medical settings, are being adopted by Walmart (WMT), (AMZN), Burger King and others to check all employees before they start work.
Customers may have to get used to temperature checks too. When Starbucks (SBUX) reopened in China, customers were greeted with a thermometer. Disney (DIS) is mulling using temperature checks for attendees before letting them enter its theme parks, once they reopen. Students may get similar treatment when they show up to school.
Extreme vigilance can make workplaces safer and allow more of the economy to function. But it probably won't begin to lift the mask from the American economy. That will take a drug breakthrough that sharply reduces the Covid-19 threat and prevents an overload of health care systems. A coronavirus vaccine that vanquishes "the invisible enemy," as President Donald Trump calls it, likely won't become available before the summer of 2021.

Coronavirus Testing, Treatments May Restore Confidence, Economy
But effective treatments could be ready much sooner. The many candidates include antibody drugs, which might prevent illness for those exposed to the virus. Others are antiviral drugs, which aim to block replication, alleviating the worst effects of Covid-19 after people fall ill.
"We can have that kind of drug by the summer and certainly by the fall," former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a CBS News interview. He sees four to six drugs that could be ready and potentially make a trillion-dollar difference for the economy. "The four antibody drugs (Lilly, Vir, Regeneron, Amgen) hold some of best near term promise," Gottlieb tweeted.
Effective treatments, along with on-demand testing and quick results, could gradually give Americans the confidence to resume their everyday activities — like in a really bad flu season. Still, they may keep wearing masks on the subway and in grocery stores.
Policymakers will likely still need to know who has contracted the virus, and who they've come in contact with, to allow for early interventions. Those people will still have to isolate themselves for a couple weeks. Resuming mass gatherings, such as baseball stadium crowds, may have to wait for a vaccine.

Time To 'Double Down' On Coronavirus Shutdown
For now, the U.S. is intensifying social distancing efforts. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday it was time to "double down" on restrictions, which might last until June.
A few more states in the past week embraced "stay-at-home" measures already covering the vast majority of Americans. The number of airline passengers has crashed by 95%. Boeing (BA) this past week extended the shutdown of its Seattle-area factories and closed the South Carolina plant where it assembles the 787 Dreamliner.
The Centers for Disease Control, in a reversal, now encourages people to wear masks when out in public. New Jersey just began requiring employees and customers to wear masks in grocery stores. Los Angeles is expanding that mandate to all essential businesses. Some LA-area cities and counties are mandating face coverings in public.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx stressed that face coverings provide limited protection, leave the eyes exposed and shouldn't substitute for distance. "There's no magic bullet," Birx said at a March 31 briefing.

The New Normal Isn't Normal
In a best-case scenario, conditions will begin to normalize in May and June. But the new normal will be relative. Numerous schools and colleges already have called off in-person classes until the end of summer. Some summer camps are canceling sessions in June. Democrats just delayed their nominating convention from July 13 to Aug. 17, and presumptive nominee Joe Biden says it could end up being virtual.
The coronavirus shutdown may not be over for Disneyland and Disney World any time soon. Disney theme parks probably will be closed through Sept. 30, with only 50% attendance in fiscal 2021, Wells Fargo analysts said.
"We don't think Parks can get back to anything close to full capacity until testing and/or vaccines are far more ubiquitous," they wrote April 7.
While U.S. plans for reopening the economy remain vague, some countries in Europe are beginning to offer clues. Germany's draft plan includes mandatory mask-wearing, Reuters reported. Ongoing limits on gatherings will aim to ensure that the government can track more than 80% of people with whom an infected person had contact within 24 hours of diagnosis.
Italy, which has seen a sharp drop-off in new cases, signaled its coming phase of "coexistence with the virus" may begin in mid-May with the lifting of a ban on all movement, even driving between cities. Reopening bars, restaurants, nightclubs and gyms is expected to take longer. "The return to normalcy is very far away," warned Agostino Miozzo, deputy head of civil protection.

Can Economy 'Play Ball' After Coronavirus Shutdown?
Reopening stadiums to soccer fans isn't on the horizon in Italy, and for good reason. A Feb. 19 championship soccer match in Milan that crammed in 40,000 fans is now known as "game zero." The match is viewed as a key catalyst behind Italy's explosion in coronavirus cases and fatalities. Valencia, Spain, home to the opposing team, later saw one-third of its players test positive. That city also became a hot spot.
In the U.S., Major League Baseball reportedly plans to seclude all 30 teams in Arizona, with Opening Day in May or perhaps June. There, players would get regular coronavirus tests, play before empty seats in the Phoenix area and be sequestered for much if not all of the season.
A day after the NBA's indefinite timeout on March 11, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control advised against gatherings of 250 or more people. Three days later, CDC cautioned against groups of 50 or more. The next day, it advised people to avoid groups of more than 10 people.
Reversing and eventually removing that guidance will likely happen much more slowly. After the current crisis abates, public health officials have to assume that Covid-19 will return in a second wave later this year. And there's a risk that, like the 1918 influenza pandemic, the second wave could be even deadlier.
In gauging the outlook for the U.S. economy's recovery from the coronavirus shutdown, the timing for lifting restrictions on nonessential business may be a secondary concern. The key question is whether Americans will feel confident they can go about living their lives without risking their health and that of friends and family members.

Working Safer In The Coronavirus Economy
The supply side of the economy is already learning to work around the coronavirus. Lowe's (LOW), like many other retailers that are still open, recently announced a $2-per-hour wage increase for all hourly workers. Beyond making masks and gloves available, Lowe's installed plexiglass shields to protect cashiers and trimmed hours to provide more cleaning time. It's developed an app to let store managers monitor customer traffic and, if needed, limit entrants based on CDC guidelines. It's even adding "social distancing ambassadors." Productivity may suffer, but employees and customers will be safer while allowing commerce.
Along with similar steps, such as "sneeze guards" and making aisles one-way streets, Walmart said it will begin using infrared thermometers to take workers' temperature before they start their day. Those with fever above 100 degrees must go home for a minimum of three days. Amazon facilities and Restaurant Brands (QSR) chains Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons also will use infrared thermometers.
Temperature checks for customers seem likely, at least at crowded venues such as concerts and conventions. Disney is mulling temperature checks at its theme parks, Chairman Bob Iger told Barron's in an article posted April 7.
Employers in China widely deployed infrared thermometers when the country began to reboot its economy. While another useful step in containing spread of the coronavirus, evidence indicates that people who have yet to show symptoms can transmit the virus.

Coronavirus Testing For Immunity
The good news is that some Americans — those who have been infected by the virus and built up antibodies — likely can get on with their lives without risk. That's why widespread serological testing to determine who has immunity to Covid-19 will be an important step. Such testing will be especially useful for health care workers, bus drivers and others who interact closely with the public, especially the elderly.
Since many who contract the coronavirus never develop symptoms, plenty of people who don't realize they were exposed may have immunity. But while this "safe" group can help run the economy, they can't act as a stand-in for the American consumer.
Many businesses will continue to face recession-type conditions, if not much worse. As long as Americans feel the need to wear a mask or keep everyone at a distance — or both — they won't be up for dining out, taking in a ballgame or booking airline tickets to a popular tourist destination. Live entertainment, movie theaters, hotels, sports clubs, shopping malls and even barber shops could be in for rough times.
"Even if they lifted all the bans, the fear factor is too great here," said Dan Alpert, adjunct finance professor at Cornell University Law School. He's holding out hope that immunity from exposure to Covid-19 is far more prevalent than experts believe. We'll begin to find out if that's true by May.

Coronavirus Economy Still Crashing
Wall Street economists are unanimous in expecting a jaw-dropping GDP plunge in the second quarter. Forecasts for the coronavirus economy in the second half are split between a dramatic, if still far from complete, rebound and an anemic recovery.
Rather than a V-shaped recovery, Prakken anticipates "something that looks like a swoosh" — the Nike logo. The level of GDP will get "a little bit higher" quarter after quarter over the next couple of years. After diving 26% at an annual rate in the second quarter, he expects 0% growth in Q3 and 6% in Q4. That would add up to a 5.4% drop in GDP for the year, far worse than any contraction since 1946.
"We don't expect economic output to return to precrisis levels unless there is sufficient progress on diagnosis and therapeutics such that individuals feel safe," wrote Wilmington Trust economists Luke Tilley and Rhea Thomas in an April 8 report.
Social distancing mandates could put at risk 37 million American jobs in food service, retail, lodging, gaming and personal services, says Alpert, who helped develop the U.S. Job Quality Index tracked by Cornell.
Business activity regarded as nonessential services, based on New York and California guidelines, amounts to about $1.6 trillion in annual output, excluding takeout and delivery, says Deutsche Bank. Along with much-reduced spending on transportation, nonessential retail and business investment, Deutsche Bank sees an economic hit of nearly $5 trillion at an annual rate, or about 23% of GDP, in the second quarter. (That would translate into a 68% plunge in quarterly GDP at an annual rate.)
While typically cyclical industries like autos, housing and oil could operate with various safeguards, demand for cars, homes and petroleum products may be at depression levels for months. Without a quick coronavirus economic recovery, Alpert worries that the pain will spread to goods-producing sectors, transportation, warehousing and wholesaling.

Coronavirus Will Return
Gottlieb says you can take one forecast to the bank: Covid-19 cases may fade this spring, but "the virus will return in the fall, and so will fresh risk of large outbreaks and even a new epidemic," he wrote in a recent op-ed.
"Getting back to normal" won't happen before there's a cure or coronavirus vaccine, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said April 6 at a White House briefing. Still, "a real degree of normalcy" is attainable, he said.
Coronavirus Test And Trace
Federal and state governments will have to put in place a high level of coronavirus testing and surveillance. That will let communities recognize any problem early enough "so it never gets out of hand," Fauci said.
How much coronavirus testing? After a furious effort to ramp up capacity, the U.S. is now testing up to 140,000 people a day. Abbott Labs (ABT) introduced a 5-minute Covid-19 test in recent days that can scale up to 50,000 tests per week. Other tests can take a day or more to process. Some share of coronavirus tests yields false negatives, though how high isn't clear.
Coronavirus testing capacity may need to ramp up to 3.8 million per week, Gottlieb told Politico. That would allow for testing everyone who goes to the doctor.
Widespread coronavirus testing will be combined with dogged efforts to track down, test and isolate people who have recently come in contact with someone known to be infected.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker last week announced plans for a virtual call center staffed with 1,000 contact tracers, calling it the first of its kind in the U.S. If the rest of the country has a similar number of trackers, there could be 50,000.
Yet even under a massive coronavirus testing and tracking regime, some big events might be too risky. If someone tests positive for the coronavirus the day after going to a sold-out ballgame, just think about the difficulty of tracking down everyone he came close to.
And what about domestic and international travelers who pass through U.S. airports? Would they get tested too? Would temperature checks suffice? Or would we follow what China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea regularly do now — quarantine visitors for a couple weeks?

Coronavirus Shutdown, The Sequel
Because the coronavirus can move so fast, the government has a small margin of error. Any plan to reopen the economy should include thresholds for closing things back down.
In an American Enterprise Institute report, Gottlieb and a group of other public health experts suggest that individual states reimpose a coronavirus shutdown if they see a sustained rise in new cases for five days or "a substantial number of cases cannot be traced back to known cases."
International experience suggests renewed coronavirus shutdowns in parts of the U.S. should be expected. Singapore, which already had an extensive tracking system in place when Covid-19 hit, just shut down nonessential businesses as new cases mounted. Hong Kong reimposed distancing mandates after loosening things up prematurely.
That's why ending the coronavirus shutdown may be more like dipping a toe in icy water, followed by slow, deliberate progress.
The ice won't break until there's an effective treatment in hand, Gottlieb told CBS. "Absent that, this is going to be an 80% economy. There are things that are not coming back. People are not going to crowd into conferences."

Please follow Jed Graham on Twitter @IBD_JGraham for coverage of economic policy and financial markets.


32 Million Livelihoods at Risk, Economy to Shrink 20% if Lockdown Continues in India Till Mid-May

The cost of stabilising and protecting households, companies and lenders could exceed Rs 10 lakh crore, or more than 5 per cent of GDP in such a scenario.

Published: April 10, 2020 8:40 PM IST

By Surabhi Shaurya

Edited by Surabhi Shaurya

32 Million Livelihoods at Risk, Economy to Shrink 20% if Lockdown Continues in India Till Mid-May

New Delhi: If the India lockdown continues till mid-May along with moderate relaxation after the end of 21-day lockdown on April 14, it could put 32 million livelihoods at risk and swell non-performing loans (NPLs) by seven percentage points, resulting in the economy contracting sharply by around 20 per cent in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, with –2 to –3 per cent growth for fiscal year 2021, a new report warned on Friday.

According to the report by leading management consulting firm McKinsey and Company, the cost of stabilising and protecting households, companies and lenders could exceed Rs 10 lakh crore, or more than 5 per cent of GDP in such a scenario.

The report, titled ‘Getting ahead of coronavirus: Saving lives and livelihoods in India,’ said that restarting supply chains and normalising production and consumption can take three–four months if the lockdown goes till mid-May as the virus ligers on.

If the lockdown continues for additional two–three weeks in Q2 and Q4 FY 2021 because of virus resurgence, it could mean an even deeper economic contraction of around 8 to 10 per cent for fiscal year 2021.

“This could occur if the virus flares up a few times over the rest of the year, necessitating more lockdowns, causing even greater reluctance among migrants to resume work, and ensuring a much slower rate of recovery,” the report suggested.
To understand probable economic outcomes and possible interventions related to COVID-19, McKinsey spoke with some 600 business leaders, economists, financial-market analysts and policy makers.

According to the findings, in case the lockdown period is extended till mid-May, the potential economic loss in India would vary by sector, with current-quarter output drops that are large in sectors such as aviation and lower in sectors such as IT-enabled services and pharmaceuticals.

“Current-quarter consumption could drop by more than 30 per cent in discretionary categories, such as clothing and furnishings, and by up to 10 per cent in areas such as food and utilities,” said the report.
Strained debt- service-coverage ratios would be anticipated in the travel, transport, and logistics, textiles, power and hotel and entertainment sectors.
There could be solvency risk within the Indian financial system, as almost 25 per cent of MSME and small- and medium-size-enterprise (SME) loans could slip into default, compared with 6 per cent in the corporate sector (although the rate could be much higher in aviation, textiles, power and construction) and 3 per cent in the retail segment (mainly in personal loans for self-employed workers and small businesses).
“Liquidity risk would also need urgent attention as payments begin freezing in the corporate and SME supply chains. Attention will need to be given to the liquidity needs of banks and nonbanks with stretched liquidity-coverage ratios to ensure depositor confidence,’ the report mentioned.

Given the magnitude of potential unemployment, business failure and financial-system risk, a comprehensive package of fiscal and monetary interventions may need to be planned.
“Consideration could be given to an income-support programme in which the government both pays for a share of the payroll for the 60 million informal contractual and permanent workers linked to companies and provides direct income support for the 135 million informal workers who are not on any form of company payroll,’ the report further suggested.
Since last week, the Health Ministry has observed a staggering rise daily in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the country — nearly 500-plus cases daily with a few exceptions where the number has gone below 400 cases — a pattern which indicates a worrying trend after solid implementation of the nationwide lockdown and sealing of hotspots.

On Friday, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 6,412, an addition of 669 cases in a day.
Punjab and Odisha have already extended lockdown till May 1 and April 30, respectively.
According to the report, countries that are experiencing COVID-19 have adopted different approaches to slow the spread of the virus.
Some have tested extensively, carried out contact tracing, limited travel and large gatherings, encouraged physical distancing, and quarantined citizens.
Others have implemented full lockdowns in cities with high infection rates and partial lockdowns in other regions, with strict protocols in place to prevent infections.
“The pace and scale of opening up from lockdown for India may depend on the availability of the crucial testing capabilities that will be required to get a better handle on the spread of the virus, granular data and technology to track and trace infections, and the build-up of healthcare facilities to treat patients (such as hospital beds by district),” said the report.

Since there is a very real possibility of the virus lingering on through the year, a micro-targeting approach could help decelerate its spread while keeping livelihoods going.
“It is imperative that society preserve both lives and livelihoods. To do so, India can consider a concerted set of fiscal, monetary, and structural measures and explore ways to return from the lockdown that reflect its situation and respect that most important of tenets: the sanctity of human life,” the report noted.

32 Million Livelihoods at Risk, Economy to Shrink 20% if Lockdown Continues in India Till Mid-May