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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Asian Economies to be affected more in 2009

Asia-Pacific economies are in for a tough 2009. The region's fundamentals were solid in the first half of 2008, giving weight to the idea of global decoupling. This belief has been proven wrong, and no economy now seems immune from the US-led downturn.

Growth is expected to decelerate sharply in the first half of 2009, as all engines run out of steam. Those economies already in recession will continue to see harsh conditions through much of the year, warns Moody's Economy.com.

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Recent key indicators show the region has been struck hard by the global financial crisis. Although the turmoil began in mid-2007, much of the region did not begin to feel the pinch until a year later; increasingly complex economic links meant a long lag before the full scope was seen.
"As the US and European economies remain in dire shape, the worst for the Asia-Pacific is still ahead. Based on a forecast that the US will begin to recover in late 2009, the Asia-Pacific slowdown may end shortly after, though a solid rebound is not expected until 2010," said Sherman Chan, economist at Moody's Economy.com.

The global downturn hurts the Asia-Pacific region most immediately via trade. The US and EU directly account for a significant proportion of the region's exports. Meanwhile, still-turbulent credit markets remain a key risk to trade finance; shipments are held back as banks refuse to honor letters of credit.

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The region's manufacturing outlook depends largely on external demand, which is expected to remain subdued for much of 2009. Industrial production across Asia has been on a downward trend since the start of 2008, and began to contract in the final quarter. Economies concentrating in tech production were among the hardest hit, as discretionary items were the first to experience a slump in demand.

Although recent fiscal stimulus measures have focused on infrastructure development, which will support the industrial sectors, benefits will not be realised instantly. Hence, industrial output may further contract in early 2009.

"With the outlook gloomy and a bottom yet to be seen, investment is expected to be subdued through 2009. Business confidence is weak. Access to credit is still a concern, while the outlook of corporate earnings remains downbeat. Firms will continue to hoard capital in coming months. Companies will be extremely cautious with expansion plans, and new startups will likely be put on hold. Foreign direct investment is expected to moderate in 2009, a result of risk aversion and a preference for liquidity. Risk aversion is likely to see portfolio capital outflows continue during the first half of 2009, keeping Asian stock markets depressed," Moody's Economy.com said it a report.

What others are reading now:
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As the global downturn was triggered by chaos in the financial markets, the financial sector has been most aggressive in reducing headcounts to deal with shrinking balance sheets and a gloomy business outlook. Moreover, it will be difficult, even with fiscal stimulus, to absorb this group of recently unemployed people because of the skills mismatch.

Massive infrastructure projects announced by several governments will support construction work, but offer little help to white-collar workers. In any case, government rescue policies will not take immediate effect, meaning no upside to the overall unemployment situation may be seen before mid-2009.

Nearly all Asia-Pacific governments have announced fiscal stimulus measures. By far the largest was China's 4 trillion yuan package, equivalent to about 16% of GDP. Most of the announced stimulus plans take similar form, with infrastructure development a clear favourite, as it offers long-term economic benefits. With infrastructure needs chronic in emerging economies, countries may now improve their capital stock while supporting economic activity.

All central banks across the region will continue to loosen monetary policy. With growth momentum easing, authorities have attempted to soothe the debt burdens of households and businesses, and also encourage lending.

What others are reading now:
-Economies hit by recession
-Plan for World Economy Revival
-Indian Economic Summit Updates
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-Trouble in Indian Forex
-Indian Agricultural Updates
-Effect of Recession on Indian economy
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