New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate several countries across the world — the latest count is more than 13.2 million cases and more than 5.75 lakh deaths.
Uncontrolled political and economic risks in the US are leading to a decline in the value of the dollar, while China reports surprise rise in trade volumes. The pandemic might cause the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte his popularity. Meanwhile, there is a stark contrast in how Dubai and Abu Dhabi are handling the pandemic.
ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.
Uncontrolled pandemic weakening the US dollar
According to analysts, rising health and political risks in the US coupled with greater optimism regarding the global economy could ensure that the American dollar will continue sliding over the next few months, reports the Financial Times.
“Large banks turned bearish on the greenback in late May, citing drastic cuts in interest rates and a flood of liquidity unleashed by the Federal Reserve, as it tried to alleviate the economic effects of the pandemic. Since then, the outlook for the dollar has deteriorated further, strategists say,” says the report.
Against a basket of other currencies, the US dollar fell by 0.4 per cent in June and has already fallen 0.9 per cent in July. “It is now more than 6 per cent below the peak it reached in late March,” notes the report.
China’s trade surges in the month of June
The Chinese economy has reported an increase in trade volumes — both imports and exports — during the month of June, one of the most significant signs of optimism in the global economy, reports the South China Morning Post.
“Exports from the world’s second largest economy rose by 0.5 per cent from a year earlier in June, a sharp improvement on May’s minus 3.3 per cent slump. Chinese imports rose by 2.7 per cent from June 2019’s levels, much improved on May’s minus 16.7 per cent and the first monthly import growth since December 2019,” notes the report.
“The new export orders component of the official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) was 35.3 for May, following a 33.5 reading in April. A number below 50 signifies contraction, the further below 50, the worse the mood among producers,” it adds.
Asia’s economic bright spot Singapore enters a technical recession
Singapore’s economy shrank by 12.6 per cent year on year in the second quarter of 2020, according to the latest numbers released by the country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), reports Straits Times.
“The decline in gross domestic product (GDP) is worse than the 10.5 per cent drop economists had anticipated in a Bloomberg survey. It is also much worse than in the first quarter when GDP turned negative for the first time in a decade, with the economy contracting by a revised 0.3 per cent,” expands the report.
Contraction in GDP for two successive quarters means Singapore has now entered technical recession for the first time in over a decade.
According to MITI, the fall in GDP took place due to “circuit breaker” measures — social restrictions meant to contain the virus — that had been in place from 7 April to 1 June.
Duterte’s popularity at stake in recession-bound Philippines
The pandemic- and lockdown-driven economic downturn in Philippines now threatens to become a major political headache for populist nationalist President Rodrigo Duterte, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Since coming to power in 2016, Duterte has gained popularity in his country of 100 million people by campaigning against drugs and crime, but now the pandemic could threaten his political fortunes.
“Despite enforcing one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns, the number of coronavirus cases in the Philippines has surged to more than 56,000. The country also faces its worst recession in more than three decades. Record numbers have lost their jobs and gone hungry, threatening to fuel public anger at Duterte and hurt the popularity that his political allies have banked on for the 2022 presidential election,” remarks the report.
While the constitution limits Duterte to one term of six-years, many believe he could continue to rule by getting his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, or Sen. Bong Go, his former personal aide, elected for the post.
France pays health workers like never before
The French government announced its decision to give pay raises worth a whopping $9 billion to the country’s health workers, as it hailed their contribution in the fight against the Covid pandemic, reports the BBC.
Coming after seven weeks of fraught negotiations between the government and labour unions, it will result in the wages of a health worker increasing by 183 euros a month on average.
French President Emmanuel Macron spent a large part of his term squabbling with the unions, so this major concession to them is a significant development. His new Prime Minister Jean Castex hailed it as a “historic moment for our health system”.
Ten million Britons unable to attend funerals in lockdown
The Guardian reports that during the lockdown, nearly 10 million people in the UK were unable to attend the funeral of somebody they knew, according to a new study by the country’s largest undertaker.
“In its report, Co-op Funeralcare found Covid-19 restrictions meant that 9.7 million mourners had to stay away from cremations and burials. The figure is based on an estimate that 243,000 funerals went ahead in the UK during lockdown with an average of 10 attendees due to coronavirus rules, compared with 50 in normal times,” notes the report.
“Warning of the long-term psychological impact of being unable to grieve properly, the study said the UK could experience a prolonged period of mourning for months, or even years, to come,” it adds.
Rivals Dubai and Abu Dhabi tackle coronavirus in very different ways
The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) two key emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have chosen significantly different paths for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, reports the Washington Post.
“Inside the skin of this close U.S. ally, a federation of emirates formed in 1971, are two markedly different powerhouses. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown those contrasts into stark relief,” notes the report.
“Abu Dhabi, with huge oil reserves and hydrocarbon industries, has been relatively insulated from this global crisis, while Dubai, which depends on international travel, trade, real estate and especially tourism, has been devastated by a disease that makes people stay home,” it expands. As a result, Dubai is beginning to gradually allow tourists back to its malls, hotels, elaborate water parks and indoor ski slopes, but the rest of the UAE continues to remain shut.
The high-finance mogul who became the world’s most consequential policymaker
The New Yorker looks at how US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, a former top executive in the world of finance, is now the most consequential economic manager in the world amid a raging pandemic.
“Previous Treasury Secretaries, such as Timothy Geithner and Henry Paulson, had deep experience and public profiles before moving to Washington. Mnuchin came to the role, in 2017, with different credentials. A Wall Street financier with a background in bond trading and bank management, he has known Trump for seventeen years, and was an investor in two of his real-estate developments, in the mid-two-thousands,” remarks the report.
What else we are reading:
How Pandemics Wreak Havoc—and Open Minds: New Yorker
Spread of fake news adds to Brazil’s pandemic crisis: Financial Times
In Latin America, the Pandemic Threatens Equality Like Never Before: New York Times
Coronavirus Outbreak at U.S. Bases in Japan Roils an Uneasy Relationship: New York Times
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