Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A woman wearing a face mask as a protection against the new coronavirus walks in Piazza Duomo, in Milan, Italy, on March 2, 2020.


The OECD has warned that global growth could fall by half if the coronavirus outbreak proves long-lasting and has urged governments to prop up their health services and launch stimulus measures to soften the economic blow.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents mostly wealthy countries, cut its full-year growth forecast to 2.5 per cent from 2.9 per cent on the assumption that the outbreak in China peaks this quarter and outbreaks elsewhere “remain mild and contained.” But if the disease runs rampant and puts some economies into reverse, global growth would fall to just 1.5 per cent.

The warning took the wind out of a tentative European stock market rally Monday, with most major indexes losing most of their early gains or falling into negative territory, ending investors’ hopes that they would recover some of last week’s deep losses. Oil rose nearly 5 per cent after a steep decline that began in early January.

Story continues below advertisement

There was little sign Monday that the COVID-19 outbreak was close to running its course. The disease has hit more than 60 countries, including most of Europe, taking the number of confirmed cases worldwide to almost 90,000, with more than 3,000 deaths, most of them elderly patients with pre-existing conditions. Over the weekend, the United States recorded its first two coronavirus deaths. As of Monday morning, there were 86 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 24 in Canada, according to the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health sources.

The European Commission raised its coronavirus risk warning Monday from moderate to high.

Northern Italy remains the epicentre of the European outbreak. Containment measures, such as closing schools and cancelling public events, have failed to halt the spread throughout the country and the rest of Europe. Infected Italians have transmitted the virus to several other countries.

By Monday afternoon, Italy had more than 2,000 confirmed cases and 52 deaths. Eleven towns in the northern part of the country, most of them near Milan, have been in lockdown for more than a week.

The region’s hospitals are already overloaded with COVID-19 cases, raising fears that the relentlessly rising infection rate will swamp the health-care system and prevent some critical patients from getting life-saving treatment, such as respirators. The outbreak was hitting the Rome area hard by Monday, when 12 confirmed cases were reported, up from three before the weekend.

Pope Francis, who is 83 and had part of a lung removed when he was a young seminarian, cancelled public events because of illness. While he said he just had a cold, images and videos of him coughing and speaking in a tired voice raised anxiety levels across Italy.

Roberto Burioni, one of Italy’s leading virologists, said in a tweet Monday: “We must not give up, it is the decisive moment.”

Story continues below advertisement

The Italian economy seems to be barrelling toward recession and endured its 17th consecutive monthly decline in manufacturing in February, when the outbreak began to accelerate (on Feb. 21, there were only three confirmed cases in the country).

On Sunday, the coalition government announced a €3.6-billion ($5.35-billion) stimulus package, recognition that interest rate cuts, should they come, will have essentially no power to prop up the virus-battered economy. Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said the spending would finance tax credits for companies that report a 25-per-cent drop in revenues, as well as tax cuts. Extra cash will be injected into the health-care system.

The Italian economy has been in recession three times since the 2008 financial crisis and seems on the verge of a fourth. In the final three months of 2019, the economy contracted by 0.3 per cent.

China, the source of the outbreak, is also showing signs of stress. Neil Shearing, chief economist of London’s Capital Economics, said he expects the Chinese economy to contract in the first quarter, the result of strict lockdowns that effectively placed provinces that account for two-thirds of the economy into quarantine.

Mr. Shearing said investors should be skeptical of longer-range forecasts, given the unpredictable nature of the outbreak, especially outside China. “At the benign end of the spectrum, in which most of the disruption is contained to China, we think the global economy may grow 2.5 per cent this year,” he said in a note. “At the other end of the spectrum, it’s possible that the global economy could shrink by 0.5 per cent this year – matching the scale of the contraction experiences during the 2008-09 global financial crisis.”

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Story continues below advertisement

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies