June 8, 2020 / 4:03 PM / 2 months ago

World Bank says coronavirus to shrink 2020 global output by 5.2%

FILE PHOTO: A cyclist rides through the nearly empty financial district amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 12, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The coronavirus will cause global economic output to contract by 5.2% in 2020, the World Bank said on Monday, warning that its latest forecasts would be revised downward if uncertainty over the pandemic and business lockdowns persist.

In its latest Global Economic Prospects report, the World Bank said that advanced economies are expected to shrink 7.0% in 2020, while emerging market economies will contract 2.5%, their first since aggregate data became available in 1960. On a per-capita GDP basis, the global contraction will be the deepest since 1945-46 as World War Two spending dried up.

The updated forecasts show more damage to the economy than estimates released in April by the International Monetary Fund, which predicted a 3.0% global contraction in 2020.

The IMF plans to update its forecasts on June 24 and Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has said that further cuts are “very likely.”

World Bank officials said their baseline scenario assumes that social distancing lockdowns and temporary business closures begin to ease at the end of June.

But the report shows a downside scenario in which lockdowns are extended by three months this year. Should that occur, the 2020 contraction would deepen to 8% - 10% in advanced economies and 5% in emerging markets, with far more permanent business closures, a bigger collapse in global trade flows, layoffs and deep cuts in household spending.

“If that scenario materializes, the downside scenario, we are expecting a very sluggish recovery in 2021,” World Bank Prospects Group Director Ayhan Kose told reporters. “Global growth barely would begin to recover” at around 1.3% next year.

The new forecasts also increased the World Bank’s estimate of how many people will be pushed back into extreme poverty by the pandemic, to between 70 million and 100 million from a previous estimate of over 60 million.

The World Bank report showed 2020 contractions of 6.1% for the United States and Japan, a 9.1% contraction for the euro zone, 8.0% for Brazil and 3.2% for India. China is expected to maintain growth of 1.0% in 2020, down from a January forecast of 6.0%.

Reporting by David Lawder, Editing by Franklin Paul and Richard Chang

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