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Covid-19: What commentators are saying

Job market slump spreads amid growing economic gloom

The mining, oil and gas and automotive industries are the latest to see big falls in the number of active jobs.

The GlobalData jobs index – which counts posts open for application in real-time across the world – shows jobs in the automotive industry dropped by 16 per cent in the last week alone.

Jobs in mining were down 13 per cent and the automotive industry by 16 per cent. Over a slightly longer time-scale – since March 1 – the automotive, insurance and medical sectors have seen the biggest fall-off in active jobs.

Travel and tourism remains the worst-hit sector, with jobs down by 15 per cent week-on-week, and by a total of 61 per cent since the start of March. However, pharma and food service jobs have seen an increase.

9:43 am

Why UK Covid-19 deaths are being undercounted – and by how much

Data analysis from the New Statesman

Each day, in the early afternoon, the UK government announces a grim figure: the number of new deaths connected with Covid-19. But there are two problems with this statistic. One involves lag. Just because a patient’s death is reported on a particular day, this doesn’t mean that it happened on that day.

The second involves gaps. The government’s daily count doesn’t include people who died after contracting Covid-19 but either weren’t in hospital when they died, or were never formally tested.

In the New Statesman, David Ottewell examines new ONS figures showing that the government’s daily death totals are substantially lower than the actual number of Covid-19-related deaths on any given day.

 

9:00 am

Can governments escape prolonged recession?

Data analysis from the New Statesman

One of the striking features of the novel coronavirus outbreak is that it triggered near-unanimity among economists about how to tackle it. But now that unanimity is beginning to fracture: not over what should be done to weather the recession, but over whether the economy can in fact rebound. Initial hopes of a “Cape Cod economy” seasonal recovery have been replaced in some quarters by something far gloomier.

With that in mind, the New Statesman’s political editor Stephen Bush examines the possibilities of the optimists’ V-shape recovery against the more recent concerns of a deep and profound crash.

6:13 pm

How to place employees on furlough leave: The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The coronavirus is affecting businesses right around the world. From retail to hospitality, many firms have had to make the tough decision to put staff on furlough leave in a bid to protect themselves and preserve jobs during this crisis.

For companies based in the UK, there are a range of funding measures and support schemes available. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, in particular, provides a crucial lifeline to both employers and employees.

But when it comes to furloughing an employee, this is something many businesses won’t have done before. In order to do this and receive funding from the government, there are several things businesses must be aware of and do. Here’s everything you need to know as an employer.

Read more here

6:11 pm

Vodafone app turns your phone into a coronavirus-fighting supercomputer

Want to do your bit to help fight the coronavirus pandemic? Thanks to Vodafone and Imperial College London all you need is a smartphone and the DreamLab app.

By pooling the processing power of thousands of phone owners it creates a virtual supercomputer that researchers say can carry out millions of calculations.

And the more people that download and switch on the app each night, the more calculations the researchers can complete – increasing the likelihood that scientists can glean useful insights to help treat coronavirus.

Read more here

10:47 am

Startups: Five ways to find funding during the pandemic

We live in unprecedented times as the Covid-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe from East to West. Economic inactivity globally is at its highest for almost a century, and the consequences will be long-lasting, well after the virus subsides.

There is no doubt that we face a difficult trading environment that will only get worse. Investor activity will not be as prolific as it was just a few months ago, as funds become more internally focused, and concentrate on stress-testing their portfolios, and banks field a jump in demand for loans.

And yet amid all the market uncertainty, the world is still awash with investable cash: all of which will eventually find a home. Those with capital have their sights on the other side, and are looking for the innovative startups that will lead us through this crisis and beyond.

Read more here

10:02 am

Why wasn’t the UK ready for Covid-19?

In the UK, a lethal pandemic was considered by the government a “level 5” threat – the most serious security risk. The only other level 5 threat has been large-scale biological or nuclear attack.

The coronavirus closely resembles the threat anticipated in government planning documents, and yet the government appears to have been unprepared. The UK lacks ventilators, personal protective equipment and testing kits, while emergency procedures for manufacturers and hospitals are being improvised on the fly.

In the New Statesman, Harry Lambert suggests that Britain may in fact have been prepared, just for the wrong outcome.

Read the full article.

10:38 am

Workers lack faith in energy companies’ resilience plans: Prospect survey

According to a survey carried out by UK trade union Prospect, key workers in the energy sector do not think their employers are carrying out adequate contingency plans to deal with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Out of 1,000 responses, 48% are confident about the plans put in place to continue operations, with even lower figures among people working in electricity distribution networks.

Less than half of respondents believe that employers are enforcing appropriate safety measures such as reducing physical contact while 45% of them do not know if there shortage of personal protective equipment.

4:20 pm

Covid-19 triggers 20% drop in oil demand

Early figures are suggesting that the outbreak of Covid-19 could have a significant impact on global oil demand, with Arij van Berkel, a director at US-based research firm Lux Research claiming that “early indications by traders suggest a 20% drop in demand.”

“In a sense, the current demand decrease is a preview of demand projections for 2030 and beyond,” he continued, noting that the outbreak could simply be accelerating a trend many have already predicted. “As an example, Barclays projects a global peak in oil demand between 2030 and 2035 followed by a steady demand reduction.

“We should watch how oil companies respond, as it will reveal vulnerabilities to decreasing demand and consistently low prices.”

10:19 pm

Global GDP may drop by 1% in 2020, says Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs expects global real gross domestic product to contract by about 1 per cent in 2020, a sharper economic decline than in the year following the 2008 global financial crisis.

“The coronacrisis or more precisely, the response to that crisis — represents a physical (as opposed to financial) constraint on economic activity that is unprecedented in postwar history,” the investment bank said in a note to its clients published late on Sunday according to India Today.

7:36 pm

OECD expects economic fallout to be felt ‘for a long time to come’

Speaking to CNBC, the OECD’s secretary general, Angel Gurria, stated: “What you have is an economic effect now that, very clearly, is going to be prolonged beyond the period of the pandemic.”

“We’ll hopefully get rid of the pandemic in the next two or three months and then the question is how many unemployed (will there be), how many small and medium-sized enterprises will be in a very, very severe situation if not disappeared by that time.”

“Life, and economic activity, is not going to be normalized any time soon,” he said. “We’re going to have the impact of this crisis for a long time to come.”

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