Coronavirus tracked: the economic fallout

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Coronavirus tracked: the economic fallout

The Chinese economy was the first to be shut down by the spread of the coronavirus, but as it proliferates in Europe and America, countries around the world are taking drastic measures to try to contain it.

Shops and offices were closed and citizens confined to their homes. Normal economic activity was disrupted on an unprecedented scale in peacetime because the patterns of daily life are disrupted.

Governments are intervening to try to prevent the collapse of businesses and livelihoods. Many economists believe that the world has already entered into recession.

The economic fallout from the pandemic seems to be one of the greatest shocks of generations. The Financial Times will follow the fallout here.

The Financial Times Economic Activity Index in China

China’s slowdown due to the coronavirus epidemic has been pronounced and substantial for the global economy. In order to follow these changes, the FT has constructed its own measure of the slowdown and the nascent recovery of the Chinese economy.

Official data lags behind activity, as it is mostly monthly, and data from China is sometimes seen as susceptible to political manipulation.

Using Wind’s financial database, we compiled a weighted index of six daily data series by sector.

National economy measures include sales of floor space, traffic congestion in cities, and consumption of coal in large power plants. Commercial activity is represented by containerized freight.

Two other indices, which have been given less weight, provide a social and environmental context: the ticket numbers of Chinese cinemas – a good indicator of consumer activity – and air pollution in the 10 largest cities.

Chart showing the impact of Covid-19 on the Chinese economy. Sub-indices which make up the FT China economic activity index.

Real-time data can provide a snapshot of how shutdowns will affect savings before official data can capture them. Here we will follow some key indicators of daily activity.

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