The Edge of Risk Menu Search
New thinking on corporate risk and resilience in the global economy.

Quick Takes

Plastic Production Is On the Rise Worldwide — but Declining in Europe

Source: Statista.com, Oct. 2019

Total global production of plastics topped 359 million metric tons in 2018, continuing a measured but steady increase since 2008, according to Statista.com. Production in Europe, meanwhile, slowed to 61.8 million metric tons in 2018 from a peak of 64.4 million metric tons in 2017. According to Statista, 30% of all plastic produced in 2018 came from China, compared to 17% from Europe. 

In 2018, 9.4 million metric tons of plastic post-consumer waste were collected in Europe for recycling, as consumers and the industry pay more attention to plastic disposal and end use, according to a 2019 report by PlasticsEurope.  

The trade organization says the plastics industry employs more than 1.6 million people in Europe and contributed 28.8 billion euros to public finances and welfare in 2018.

The Oil Industry Is Impacting COVID Relief for the Middle East and Central Asia

Source: International Monetary Fund

Countries on x-axis as follows: Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Morocco, Mauritania, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Armenia, Kuwait, Sudan, West Bank, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, Lebanon, Oman, Turkmenistan, Yemen

Countries in the Middle East and Central Asia have received the smallest COVID-19 economic relief packages compared to other regions across the world. Average fiscal support in the region is above 2% of GDP and has prioritized health care and vulnerable households and businesses, according to a July 2020 report from the International Monetary Fund. 

The relatively lower level of support — the global average hovers around 4% of GDP — is due to “constrained policy space among oil importers and existing sizable government support in the economy among most oil exporters.”

Many countries in the region were impacted by severe oil price fluctuations earlier this year, and although the deal made by OPEC+ helped stabilize the industry, prices are still extremely low. The region’s GDP is now projected to be -4.7% for 2020, the report says, making continued direct fiscal support an essential element of recovery.

Chinese M&A Activity Plummets During COVID-19

Source: Rhodium Group

China’s outbound M&A activity contracted by two-thirds between January and May, 2020, according to a report from Rhodium Group, compared to the average monthly count between 2016 and 2018. For the first time in 10 years, foreign investment deals into Chinese firms are outpacing those coming out of China. 

Companies have braced for investment activity from China amid the economic recession, but “there are no signs of a Chinese outbound investment boom, like the one seen after the global financial crisis a decade ago,” the report notes. “Instead, takeovers are headed in the other direction: into China.” Foreign investors are pursuing Chinese assets as the country’s consumption has risen along with its middle class. Policies that previously limited foreign investment in the country have also been lifted, and Chinese firms are seeing increasing maturation. 

Although China is the second-largest economy in the world, its fate as a global investor is not certain. Moving forward, China will need to succeed in certain domestic policy reforms and gain the trust of foreign investors, the report says — neither of which is guaranteed.

US Adults Are On the Move Due to COVID-19

Source: Pew Research Center

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, 22% of adults in the U.S. have either moved, had someone join their residence or become aware of someone whose living situation has changed, according to Pew Research Center

Young adults ages 18 to 29 were the most likely to have moved or known someone who moved at 9%, followed by 30- to 45-year-olds at 3%. Earlier this year, Pew found that one-quarter of young adults lost their jobs from the virus, making them one of the most economically affected groups. 

Those who moved did so mainly to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. Six-in-10 adults moved back into a family member’s house, says Pew, while 18% moved for financial reasons, including job losses. 

The pandemic could lead to longer-term population shifts, as companies grapple with when to open their offices and whether to offer permanent remote working options.

China Is the Only Major Economy Expected to Have GDP in Positive Territory in 2020

Source: Euler Hermes, “Coping With COVID-19 in Differing Ways”

China is tracking toward 1.5% growth in GDP for 2020 (2019: 6.1%) — despite the global disruption coronavirus has inflicted on its economy. It is the only major economy expected to maintain a positive GDP this year, according to research by Euler Hermes.

China’s GDP growth is expected to reach 7.6% in 2021, the highest growth rate among the major economies. The U.K., whose lockdown mandates have been longer and more severe than many other countries, shows a significant drop in GDP for the year — 13.3%, but it is expected to rebound with GDP at rates ahead of Germany and the United States. 

The report warns of “false restarts” if second waves crop up and notes that a return to pre-crisis GDP levels should be seen in China and the U.S. by the end of 2021. Due to the extent of the crisis in Europe and the “more limited stimulus response,” Europe isn’t expected to reach its pre-crisis levels until 2022-2023.

For optimal delivery, please select your region:
Please enter a valid email address.
Success! Thank you for signing up.