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Coronavirus pushes world’s leading economies into record slumps

The coronavirus pandemic pushed most of the world’s major economies into unprecedented contractions in the second quarter, except for China which escaped a recession.

Here are second-quarter changes in gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the previous quarter for the world’s top economies. Unless stated otherwise, the figures are from the national statistics institutes.


Skyscrapers of Shijuku with Mt Fuji in the background

Japan announced in mid-May that it was already in recession — two consecutive quarters of contraction — when first-quarter GDP slid by 0.6 percent after a 1.9 percent drop in the final quarter of 2019. 

On Monday the world’s number three economy recorded a further slump of 7.8 percent in the April-June quarter, its worst on record, as the coronavirus deepens the country’s long-running economic woes.


Empty motorways in England during the coronavirus

The UK suffered the worst recession in Europe in the first two quarters of the year, also recording the continent’s highest number of coronavirus deaths. GDP fell 20.4 percent in the second quarter after a 2.2 percent drop in the first.


A view of Berlin, capital of Germany

Europe’s top economy was hit less hard by the coronavirus than its neighbours, but still saw its GDP fall by 10.1 percent in the second quarter after a decline of two percent in the first. 

Germany’s previous record for a quarterly GDP drop was 4.7 percent in the first quarter of 2009, after the financial crisis of 2008. 


A view of Paris, capital of France

The eurozone’s number two economy was in a longer and stricter lockdown than its eastern neighbour, and second-quarter GDP fell more steeply, by 13.8 percent, after a drop of 5.9 percent in the previous three months.

France’s previous all-time worst quarterly blow to output was dealt by a general strike in May 1968.


A view of St Peter’s Square at the Vatican unusually empty on Good Friday

Italy’s growth was impacted very early on by the coronavirus which hit its richest region, Lombardy, particularly hard. Italian GDP fell by 5.4 percent in the first quarter and then by 12.4 percent in the second.


Plaza Mayor in Madrid capital of Spain

After a 5.2 percent drop in the first quarter, Spain’s economy contracted a further 18.5 percent in the second, notably because of a 60 percent drop in tourism income and a fall by one-third in exports.


A night view of Europe

The eurozone’s overall GDP plunged 12.1 percent in the three months to June, after 3.6 percent in the first quarter, making the second quarter downturn “by far” the worst since statistics agency Eurostat started compiling growth data for the area in 1995.


An empty Times Square in New York City

The United States, the world’s top economy, suffered a 9.5 percent slump in the second quarter following a 1.3 percent drop in the first, according to figures published by the OECD. 

The US government also publishes annualised figures (-32.9 percent in the second quarter), a method that is not comparable with most other countries.


A view of Shanghai, China

China, the world’s second-largest economy, may have been where the novel coronavirus originated, but thanks to strict lockdown measures it was able to largely halt the spread of the virus and reopen factories, thus avoiding a recession.

In the second quarter its economy rebounded by 11.5 percent,  having fallen by 10 percent in the first quarter. Still, growth for this year will be well below the breakneck rates China has seen in recent years.


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