indian economy: Locked-down Indian economy in its worst quarter since mid-1990s

The Indian economy is likely to suffer its worst quarter since the mid-1990s, hit by the ongoing lockdown imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus, according to a Reuters poll, which predicted a mild and gradual recovery.

Over 2.6 million people have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide and more than 180,000 have died. Business and household lockdowns have disrupted supply chains globally, bringing growth to a halt.

The April 17-22 Reuters poll predicted the economy expanded at an annual pace of 3.0% last quarter but will shrink 5.2% in the three months ending in June, far weaker than expectations in a poll published last month for 4.0% and 2.0% growth, respectively.

The predicted contraction would be the first – under any gross domestic product calculation, which has changed a few times – since the mid-1990s, when official reporting for quarterly data began.

“The extended lockdown until early May adds further downside risk to our view of a 5% year-on-year GDP fall in the current quarter, the worst in the last few decades,” said Prakash Sakpal, Asia economist at ING.

“We don’t consider economic stimulus as strong enough to position the economy for a speedy recovery once the pandemic ends,” he said.

The Indian government announced a spending package of 1.7 trillion rupees in March to cushion the economy from the initial lockdown, which has been extended until May 3.

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