China’s 2020 Economic Growth Seen Sliding Below 2% in Survey

China’s 2020 Economic Growth Seen Sliding Below 2% in Survey

China’s economy will grow by less than 2% in 2020 as the anti-virus shutdowns combine with a collapse in global demand due to the pandemic, according to the latest Bloomberg survey of economists.

The median estimate for 2020 full-year gross domestic product growth from 56 economists surveyed this month fell to 1.8% from 3.7% in March. China’s economy suffered a historic contraction in the first quarter, with gross domestic product shrinking 6.8% from the same period a year ago.

With the global economy likely to suffer its worst downturn since the Great Depression this year, China will struggle to rebound from the first quarter slump. Economists in the survey see the economy expanding just 1.1% in the second quarter before making a stronger comeback in the latter half of the year.

The darkening outlook makes the upcoming annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, particularly difficult as the government has not yet set its usual target for economic growth.

A majority of respondents to a question on the target said it will either be set below 3%, about half of last year’s, or none will be set at all.

The target for the budget deficit-to-GDP ratio this year will be 3.5% or higher, the survey results showed, greater than the 2.8% level set in 2019. The augmented deficit-to-GDP ratio for 2020 will likely be somewhere between 10%-15%, according to the same survey. That measure contains regular spending items outside the official budget.

To help mitigate the coronavirus shocks, China will likely raise the annual quota for local government special bonds. The majority of analysts expect the government to sell between 3 trillion yuan ($424 billion) and 4 trillion yuan worth of debt, higher than last year’s total of 2.15 trillion yuan.

In addition, the government will also likely issue between 1 trillion yuan and 2 trillion yuan of special sovereign bonds this year, according to half the economists who answered that question

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