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Global economy: Recovery or recession?

Leading economists from around the world share their expert insights on the economic impact of COVID-19 across different territories and industries. Do they believe there will be a recovery or a recession? And if there is a recovery, how quickly will it occur and what shape will it be? 


  1. COVID-19 has had a severe economic impact on major Western economies, which now face numerous and significant challenges. In a series of Refinitiv webinars, leading economists share their views about whether there will be a recovery or a recession.
  2. Paul Swartz of BCG explained the three models of economic “shock geometry”. Meanwhile, Chris Williamson of IHS Markit, looked for signs of a recovery in May’s PMI surveys. And the Consensus Economics team analyzed the prospects for North and Latin America.
  3. The Royal Bank of Canada’s Dawn Desjardins assessed the prospects for Canada. Will Robson of MSCI analyzed trends in real estate, and Kevin Loane of Fathom USA looked at the prospects for a sharp economic recovery.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a far-reaching impact on global business, with almost no industry remaining unscathed by the fallout. And the impact of lockdowns and social distancing varies substantially by industry and by country.

To better understand the economic impact of COVID-19, Refinitiv invited leading economists from around the world to share their views about whether we’re on the road to recovery or headed for a recession.

Macroeconomic expert insight series webinars: Listen to expert views about the economic impact of COVID-19

COVID economics

Disease trajectory, macro scenarios, and micro implications

Paul Swartz of Boston Consulting Group (BCG) explained the three models of economic “shock geometry” — the V-shape, the U-shape, and the L-shape — and two economic supply-side threats as a result of COVID-19.

He evaluated the chances of preventing a U-shaped scenario, concluding that “the battle is underway, and without innovation the odds are not in its favor.”

He also looked at three legacies of COVID-19. He said the consequent impact on an economy will be characterized by these three themes: macro-regime break, structural damage, and behavioral change.

Economic briefing

Looking for worldwide recoveries in the PMI data

Chris Williamson, an economist at IHS Markit, analyzed the global PMI surveys for May. They offer insight into whether the world’s major economies have bottomed out after many countries started to ease restrictions designed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

Williamson said survey response rates were challenged because of the coronavirus, and that global GDP is likely to see a steeper fall in the second quarter — much steeper than during the height of the global financial crisis.

Global PMI output. COVID-19: Recovery or recession?

The COVID depression

Where and when will we see recovery — Consensus forecasts useful measures of expectations

The Consensus Economics team discussed the forecast for the U.S. and Latin America and the outlook for the month ahead.

They looked at how major Western economies face numerous and significant challenges including: Pandemic fears that continue to damage economic recovery and undermine gains; authoritarian governments and nationalist agendas; increasing polarization and radical political discourse; climate change and population growth; government debt loads; and a lack of technological breakthroughs and productivity enhancements.

Economic outlook

Insights from Canada

Dawn Desjardins, vice president and deputy chief economist at the Royal Bank of Canada, presented research on Canadian consumer spending. The data was examined for glimmers of hope and signs of recovery or retraction.

Canada’s measured approach to reopening has affected its overall economy. Desjardins explored the impact of ongoing government stimulus programs on economic recovery and unemployment rates. She also looked at cross-border issues such as supply chain constraints and exports to the U.S.

She added that immigration may no longer be a growth engine, and the pace of recovery remains unknown.

COVID-19 and real estate

What we have learned so far

Will Robson of MSCI explored current real estate market trends. How has the pandemic impacted investment performance, and what might past experience be able to teach investors?

He discussed what out-of-cycle write-downs mean for real estate yields, what’s driving large movements in the retail and hotel sectors, and why the performance spread of U.S. core property funds widened in the first quarter.

Will provided insight into how lease lengths can impact performance and why attribution analysis may be particularly useful in a crisis.

Fathom’s recovery watch

Biggest global recession to be followed by sharp bounce back?

Kevin Loane of Fathom USA discussed what we have learned about the virus and the initial economic impact — and the possibility of a V-shaped recovery.

Fathom believes that while global economic activity bottomed in April, the global economy is set for a sharp bounce back. However, this optimism contrasts with how many other observers see the situation.

44 percent of economists felt U.S. GDP would recover by 4Q2021. COVID-19: Recovery or recession?

Refinitiv Datastream

Much of the data shared in the webinars is available through Refinitiv’s Datastream, a historical database with more than 35 million individual instruments or indicators across all major asset classes, including 8.5 million active economic indicators.

Featuring 65 years of data across 175 countries, Datastream provides everything firms need to interpret market trends, economic cycles, and the impact of world events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Macroeconomic expert insight series webinars: Listen to expert views about the economic impact of COVID-19