Tuesday, January 19, 2021

China’s economy continued to grow last year despite COVID-19 crisis

 China was likely the world’s only major economy to expand last year even though it was the first to suffer from the coronavirus pandemic, new data show.

China’s gross domestic product — the value of all goods and services produced there — grew by 2.3 percent in 2020 as consumers and businesses gradually recovered from the COVID-19 lockdowns that took hold early in the year, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics said Monday.

That growth was better than the 1.8 percent expansion projected for China by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which expects the US and every other major economy to post annual declines in their respective GDPs.

Economic activity in China plummeted 6.8 percent in the first three months of 2020 as the Communist Party imposed sweeping restrictions aimed at containing the new coronavirus, which first appeared in the city of Wuhan.

But the recovery ramped up throughout the rest of the year as the virus abated in China and consumers returned to malls, movie theaters and restaurants. GDP rose by 3.2 percent in the second quarter, 4.9 percent in the third quarter and 6.5 percent in the final three months of the year, Chinese officials said.

Friday, January 1, 2021

What Giant Skeletons and Puppy Shortages Told Us About the 2020 Economy

 Americans are divided over many things, but we can all agree that 2020 was tragic, terrifying and generally no good. Yet amid the sadness and strife, our social lives evolved rapidly and the coronavirus pandemic ushered in changes that could leave a lasting mark on the economy.

It was a year in which “pandemically” served as an email signoff, and our friends’ Instagram sourdough pics gave us a real-time lesson in self-selection bias. (Somebody, somewhere made an ugly loaf, but you wouldn’t guess it from social media.) Zoom dates took awkwardness to new heights. Joggers may be the new pencil skirt.

Unemployment and anxiety skyrocketed, and the virus continues to inflict an enormous human cost. But America managed to find silver linings in the darkness, and below we run through a few of the year’s more colorful trends, and what they might mean for future consumer spending, work life and markets.

The monetary kind — we could not get enough of it. When the economy shut down in March and April, disruptions to normal spending patterns meant that less physical cash was changing hands, compounded by the fact that people stopped taking their piggy banks to grocery store coin exchangers. Retailers around the country ran short on quarters, nickels and pennies as too few poured into the system and were circulated. A scramble to fix things ensued: The Federal Reserve convened a task force. Because it was 2020, fact checkers had to debunk coin conspiracy theories. The government tried to make #getcoinmoving happen. Normality has yet to fully return, according to a Fed spokeswoman.