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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is still unfolding around the globe. In Asia, as elsewhere, the virus has ebbed in some countries but surged in others. The global economy is beginning to recover after a sharp contraction in the second quarter of 2020, as nationwide lockdowns are lifted and replaced with more targeted containment measures.

Mr. Pragyan Deb, Davide Furceri, Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, and Nour Tawk
Containment measures are crucial to halt the spread of the 2019 COVID-19 pandemic but entail large short-term economic costs. This paper tries to quantify these effects using daily global data on real-time containment measures and indicators of economic activity such as Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) emissions, flights, energy consumption, maritime trade, and mobility indices. Results suggest that containment measures have had, on average, a very large impact on economic activity—equivalent to a loss of about 15 percent in industrial production over a 30-day period following their implementation. Using novel data on fiscal and monetary policy measures used in response to the crisis, we find that these policy measures were effective in mitigating some of these economic costs. We also find that while workplace closures and stay-at-home orders are more effective in curbing infections, they are associated with the largest economic costs. Finally, while easing of containment measures has led to a pickup in economic activity, the effect has been lower (in absolute value) than that from the tightening of measures.
Min Zhu, Ms. Longmei Zhang, and Daoju Peng
China’s growth potential has become a hotly debated topic as the economy has reached an income level susceptible to the “middle-income trap” and financial vulnerabilities are mounting after years of rapid credit expansion. However, the existing literature has largely focused on macro level aggregates, which are ill suited to understanding China’s significant structural transformation and its impact on economic growth. To fill the gap, this paper takes a deep dive into China’s convergence progress in 38 industrial sectors and 11 services sectors, examines past sectoral transitions, and predicts future shifts. We find that China’s productivity convergence remains at an early stage, with the industrial sector more advanced than services. Large variations exist among subsectors, with high-tech industrial sectors, in particular the ICT sector, lagging low-tech sectors. Going forward, ample room remains for further convergence, but the shrinking distance to the frontier, the structural shift from industry to services, and demographic changes will put sustained downward pressure on growth, which could slow to 5 percent by 2025 and 4 percent by 2030. Digitalization, SOE reform, and services sector opening up could be three major forces boosting future growth, while the risks of a financial crisis and a reversal in global integration in trade and technology could slow the pace of convergence.
Ms. Margaux MacDonald
This paper investigates the effects of unconventional monetary policy in a small open economy. Using recently proposed shadow interest rates to capture unconventional monetary policy at the zero lower bound (ZLB) we estimate a Bayesian structural vector autoregressive model for Canada - a useful case where foreign shocks can be proxied by U.S. variables alone. We find that, during the ZLB period, Canadian unconventional monetary policy increased output (measured by industrial production) by 0.013 percent per month on average while US unconventional monetary policy raised Canadian output by 0.127 percent per month on average. Our results demonstrate the effectiveness of domestic unconventional monetary policy and the strong positive spillover effects that foreign unconventional monetary policies can have in a small open economy.
Ezgi O. Ozturk and Xuguang Simon Sheng
Motivated by the literature on the capital asset pricing model, we decompose the uncertainty of a typical forecaster into common and idiosyncratic uncertainty. Using individual survey data from the Consensus Forecasts over the period of 1989-2014, we develop monthly measures of macroeconomic uncertainty covering 45 countries and construct a measure of global uncertainty as the weighted average of country-specific uncertainties. Our measure captures perceived uncertainty of market participants and derives from two components that are shown to exhibit strikingly different behavior. Common uncertainty shocks produce the large and persistent negative response in real economic activity, whereas the contributions of idiosyncratic uncertainty shocks are negligible.