The month of December saw the emergence of the Omicron variant in many parts of the world after it was initially reported to the WHO in November by South African officials. While it’s still unsure as to how severe this strain will be, most analysts worry of the uncertainty cast upon the global economy which only recently saw signs of recovery.
Has Omicron raised fears of a reversal in global recovery?
Global cases have now hit 271 million while deaths are at 5.31 million. Experts are yet to see how the new variant Omicron will contribute to the rising cases and how it compares to the Delta variant of Covid-19 which resulted in a significant rise in cases and deaths globally this year.
IMF may cut its global growth view due to Omicron: The IMF Managing Director recently stated that global economic projections done by the IMF will likely be downgraded due to Omicron. In October the IMF said it expects global economic growth to be 5.9% this year and 4.9% next year, however these figures are likely to be revised downwards.
ADB brings down its growth projection for Asia: The Asian Development Bank cut its growth forecasts for Asia for both this year and 2022 due to the recent emergence of the Omicron variant. While also referring to other uncertainties such as the a prolonged slowdown in China’s housing market, rising inflation and global supply chain disruptions, the ADB said emerging economies in Asia would grow 7 percent in 2021 and 5.3 percent in 2022, down 0.1 percent from its previous estimate.
Tourism industry shaken again due to Omicron: The tourism sector in many countries started seeing healthy signs of recovery as Covid-19 cases fell, inoculation increased and travel barriers were lifted. However due to the recent emergence of Omicron we see new barriers being imposed to contain the spread of the new variant. The US government for example has banned most foreign nationals who have recently been in any of eight southern African countries.
Has inflation rattled due to the new variant and China’s slowdown?
Despite Omicron and a rise in uncertainty caused by China’s economic slowdown global economic recovery is still on a steady footing with inflation rising along with it. Experts also argue that economies are now better equipped to deal with the virus compared to the first Covid-19 lockdowns.
US inflation hits 40 year high: Annual inflation figures recently published show that the general price level rose by a staggering 6.8% in November, prices are rising at their fastest pace since 1982! Some economists blame the President Biden’s previous spending, designed to offer support amid the Covid pandemic, for exacerbating price increases. This also raises the likelihood of a rate hike by the Fed in 2022. In addition, supply pressures yet remain, with freight costs reaching all-time highs adding fuel to growing inflationary pressures.
Eurozone headline inflation hits a 25 year high: The headline inflation rate in the Eurozone rose to 4.9% at the end of November, higher than Octobers 4.1% and a consensus by Reuters expecting inflation to only be 4.5%. Higher energy prices is said to contribute mainly to the rise in price levels.
Asian economies unlikely to take a big hit due to China’s slowdown: While China’s slowdown has resulted in fears of cascading effects on other economies some experts believe that it may not have as significant impact as thought before. Over the past few year’s links between Chinas GDP growth and other emerging markets have fallen. Looking specifically at the figures, since 2015 the corelation was at a high 0.9 but has now fallen to 0.2. Recent constraints on China’s economy have mainly been attributed to the real estate crisis and energy shortages.
How have commodities been performing?
Oil prices see great volatility in December:
Oil prices rose to a peak of just above US$76 per barrel on the 9th of December and then fell to roughly US$74 on the 10th of December to only start rising again up to around US$76 by the 13th of December only to fall again after. The recent fall has mainly been attributed to Omicron concerns as well as fears of a sooner than expected rate hike by the Fed due to record breaking inflation figures.
Gold prices remain low in December:
Gold prices have thus far been hovering around US$1785 an ounce for this month of December. Prices have been significantly lower than November where gold surpassed US$1875 an ounce at its peak during the month. A main factor affecting the price during the last few days has been the wait by investors for US inflation figures as well as higher US treasury yields and a stronger dollar
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Compiled by: Emaad Rizwan
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