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economy (4)

Bronze Level Contributor

The U.K.’s Eat Out to Help Out campaign — which offered a 50 percent discount at restaurants on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during August — was dramatically successful in boosting sales. The taxpayers shelled out $647 million for the rescue program, which subsidized the cost of meals and nonalcoholic drinks.

A new study, however, said the program may have also contributed to boosting the spread of COVID-19, Bloomberg reported.

The study, conducted by the University of Warwick, found that the program may have pumped up coronavirus cases from 8 percent to 17 percent during the summer alone. And the resulting asymptomatic infections may have helped fuel the current surge of coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom, Bloomberg said.

In some areas, there was “both a notable increase in new COVID-19 infection clusters within a week of the scheme starting, and again a deceleration in infections within two weeks of the program ending,” said Thiemo Fetzer, an associate professor of economics.

Now, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has done an about-face. In August, his goal was to reopen the economy. He has now ordered a one-month stay-at-home policy for England beginning on Thursday (Nov. 5).

Johnson’s restaurant stimulus program was so successful that visits more than doubled in the last week of the program compared with the same period a year earlier, Bloomberg said. The discount offered was worth as much as 10 pounds per person to eat out in tens of thousands of participating restaurants.

The U.K. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that “at least 35 million meals were served up in the first two weeks alone; that is equivalent to over half of the U.K. taking part and supporting local jobs in the hospitality sector.”

In September, a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that patrons of restaurants and bars are more likely to contract COVID-19.

Originally published by
Pymnts | November 2, 2020

Read more…
Gold Level Contributor

The impact of the coronavirus in Europe hit the United Kingdom (U.K.) especially hard.

The Wall Street Journal reported England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland saw its gross domestic product, the value of goods and services, shrink more than 20 percent in the second quarter (Q2) to an annualized rate of nearly 60 percent as the nations recorded the highest death toll from COVID-19, according to the Office for National Statistics, the independent agency responsible for collecting data on the economy and its residents.

“It’s been a rough few months,” Richard Swart, global sales and quality director at Berger Global, a Durham, England-based unit of Ringmetall AG, the German manufacturer for the packaging industry, told the WSJ.

May and June sales fell by as much as 40 percent depending on the industry being supplied, he said. While sales improved in July and August, they remain sporadic as customers continue to be uncertain, he added.

“Everybody clings to the hope that there will be a vaccine, that’s the ultimate fix,” Swart told the newspaper.

While the region has seen lockdown restrictions ease and workers return to factories and offices, the Bank of England (BOE) has warned that it could take 17 months to regain the ground lost during the pandemic.

In contrast, the U.S. and Germany lost about 10 percent of their output, Italy 12 percent, France 14 percent and Spain 19 percent. U.K. officials ordered the economy to shutter for most of Q2, starting in late March weeks after other European countries, and gradually eased restrictions starting in late May, the WSJ reported.

One of the factors that contributed to the U.K.’s sinking economy is the region depends on activities that require personal contact. The BOE estimated spending on movie or theater tickets, dining out, or attending sporting events, comprise 13 percent of Britain’s total output, compared with 11 percent in the U.S. and 10 percent in Europe.

The coronavirus took its toll in the U.K. with 46,000 deaths, the highest tally in Europe and the fourth largest in the world after the U.S., Brazil and Mexico.

That’s equivalent to nearly 700 deaths per million residents, exceeding the toll in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the U.S. on a per capita basis, the WSJ reported.

“We responded really late, and in a chaotic manner,” Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh told the newspaper.

Officials of the U.K. government have insisted they acted swiftly and in line with scientific advice.

Originally published

Read more…
Silver Level Contributor

Image: Getty Images

The UK economy could take until 2024 to return to the size it was before the coronavirus lockdown, according to analysis from the EY Item Club.

The forecasters, who use a similar economic model to the Treasury, suggest unemployment will rise to 9% from 3.9%.

They also estimate the economy will shrink by 11.5% this year, worse than the 8% they predicted only a month ago.

Consumers have been more cautious than expected, they said, while low business investment will dampen growth.

As a result, they now expect the post-coronavirus economic recovery to take 18 months longer than previously forecast.

However, the Item Club says it is early days and useful data has only recently been made available.

“Unsurprisingly, without hard data, a wide range of views on the performance and outlook for the UK economy emerged,” said Mark Gregory, UK chief economist at EY.

Last week, the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane told MPs the UK economy had “clawed back” about half the fall in output it saw during the peak of the coronavirus lockdown in March and April.

There had been a V-shaped “bounceback”, he said, referring to the shape that indicates a rapid economic recovery.

Last month, Mr Haldane said the economy was “on track for a quick recovery”.

However, other economists have expressed doubts about the potential for such a swift recovery in activity.

“Even though lockdown restrictions are easing, consumer caution has been much more pronounced than expected,” said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club.

“We believe that consumer confidence is one of three key factors likely to weigh on the UK economy over the rest of the year, alongside the impact of rising unemployment and low levels of business investment.

“The UK economy may be past its low point but it is looking increasingly likely that the climb back is going to be a lot longer than expected.”

The government has moved to cut taxes, support wages and offer incentives to spend in an effort to keep the economy going and encourage consumers to spend.

Earlier this month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak cut VAT on hospitality and promised to pay firms a £1,000 bonus for every staff member kept on for three months when the furlough scheme ends in October.

But he also conceded that not every job would be saved, and his £30bn package was criticised for helping certain sectors, such as restaurants and tourism, but ignoring others.

Last month, the Bank of England said it would pump an extra £100bn into the UK economy to help fight the “unprecedented” coronavirus-induced downturn.

Originally published by
Western Capital News | July 27, 2020


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Silver Level Contributor

Image: istockphoto

The Bank of England will pump an extra £100bn into the UK economy to help fight the “unprecedented” coronavirus-induced downturn.

Bank policymakers voted 8-1 to increase the size of its bond-buying programme.

However, they said there was growing evidence that the hit to the economy would be “less severe” than initially feared.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) also kept interest rates at a record low of 0.1%.

The move comes just days after Bank governor Andrew Bailey said policymakers were ready to take action after the economy suffered its biggest monthly contraction on record.

The UK economy shrank by 20.4% in April, while official jobs data showed the number of workers on UK payrolls fell by more than 600,000 between March and May.

The Bank said more recent indicators of economic activity suggested the economy was starting to bounce back.

Minutes from the MPC’s June meeting said: “Payments data are consistent with a recovery in consumer spending in May and June, and housing activity has started to pick up recently.”

However, it warned that the outlook for the economy remained uncertain.

The minutes added: “While recent demand and output data had not been quite as negative as expected, other indicators suggested greater risks around the potential for longer-lasting damage to the economy from the pandemic.”

Back in May, policymakers warned the economy was heading for its sharpest recession on record.

Scenarios drawn up by the Bank suggested the economy could shrink by 25% in the three months to June.

However, the MPC said more recent evidence suggested the contraction would be less severe.

The extra monetary stimulus – known as quantitative easing (QE) – will raise the size of the Bank’s asset purchase programme to £745bn.

Policymakers said the injection would help to support financial markets and underpin the recovery.

However, Andy Haldane, the Bank’s chief economist, voted against the increase.

He said the recovery was happening “sooner and materially faster” than the Bank expected in May.

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Originally published by
Western Capital News | June 18, 2020

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