As the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, China was the first country to feel the full economic impact of a contagion that has since become a worldwide pandemic. Now, as China gradually reopens its economy, it’s beginning on the long road back to pre-pandemic conditions—a recovery that may happen quicker than some expected.
The Chinese economy could return to “near-trend growth” as soon as late 2020, economic strategists at BlackRock said in a research note this week. They pointed to economic policy actions taken by the Chinese government, such as fiscal stimulus measures, as underpinning the asset management giant’s “overweight” outlook for Asian equities and credit markets outside Japan.
While China has targeted annual economic growth of around 6% in recent years, the coronavirus pandemic looks set to trim the country’s growth to just over 1% in 2020, according to projections by the International Monetary Fund.
Still, recent data indicates that the China’s manufacturing sector has begun to expand again, and BlackRock strategists cited the increased use of Chinese mobile apps enabling job and housing searches, ride-sharing and travel bookings as “alternative data sources” that reflect a rebound in economic activity.
Policy actions taken by the Chinese government are providing “further support for the restart,” with authorities prioritizing job creation in an attempt to “balance economic growth with financial and social stability.” Coupled with a shift in monetary policy that could yield a spike in credit growth, there are signs of a “potential strong upturn in economic growth in the second quarter,” according to BlackRock.
Of course, the asset management firm pointed to economic and political tensions between the U.S. and China as “a key risk” to any recovery. The “phase one” trade deal agreed earlier this year is now a distant memory, as the Trump administration has laid blame for the pandemic on Beijing. To that end, BlackRock noted an accelerated “decoupling” between the two nations’ economies that will force investors to rethink their strategies moving forward.
But it is China—as well as neighboring Asian countries that have “demonstrated their ability to curb the virus spread so far”—that looks to have a jumpstart on its economic recovery, while later-hit economies like the U.S. and Europe struggle to re-emerge from the pandemic.
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