Speed Reads

coronavirus and the economy

China's economy contracts for 1st time in decades

China's National Bureau of Statistics announced Friday morning that the country's economy dropped 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 versus a year earlier, and 9.8 percent from the last three months of 2019. The contraction brings China's decades of uninterrupted economic growth to an halt — it's the first drop in quarterly gross domestic product since China started reporting that metric in 1992, The Wall Street Journal notes, and the first officially acknowledged economic pullback since 1976, The New York Times reports.

The reason for the drop in GDP is, of course, the new coronavirus that started spreading in Wuhan in early January, prompting China to shut down all but critical economic activity for about two months. Beijing has lifted most of those restrictions but imposed others, and economists are watching closely as China moves to restart its $14 trillion economy. But domestic consumption dropped further than forecast last month, and China's export-oriented economy is expected to continue suffering because much of the rest of the world has shut down to grapple with their own outbreaks of the virus.