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Pandemic likely tipped Indonesia into first recession since 1998: Poll

Reuters - November 3, 2020

Jakarta – Indonesia's assumed entry into its first economic recession since the 1998 Asian financial crisis will probably be confirmed by third quarter gross domestic product data (GDP) being released later this week, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday.

Authorities have predicted 3.5 million people in Southeast Asia's largest economy could lose their jobs due to the downturn caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The median forecast of 23 economists polled was for a 3.00 percent on-year shrinkage in GDP during the July-September quarter, after a 5.32 percent decline in the previous three months, fulfilling criteria for a recession of two consecutive quarters of negative annual growth.

The forecast roughly matched President Joko Widodo's expectation for a contraction of just over 3 percent during the latest quarter.

"Indonesia's economy has been hit hard by the crisis," said Alex Holmes of Capital Economics, who predicted a 2.5 percent contraction.

Indonesia has the biggest COVID-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia with over 415,000 infections and 14,000 fatalities.

The capital city Jakarta went into a second semi-lockdown for four weeks starting in mid-September with rising cases straining its health system.

The country has more recently reported fewer new COVID-19 cases, but epidemiologists say this was a result of less daily testing.

ANZ economists, who expected a 3 percent drop, said indicators for consumption and investment were weak, but government expenditure likely offered some support.

"All in all, Indonesia's economy is past its weakest point, but with the domestic outbreak not under control yet, economic activity is likely to remain under pressure," they wrote in a note.

Twelve analysts who shared their view for full-year 2020 had a median forecast of 1.59 percent GDP decline, compared with the official forecast of contraction in a 0.6 percent to 1.7 percent range. The economy grew 5 percent last year.

Government officials have pledged to accelerate spending to counter the pandemic's impact and push GDP back into growth in the current quarter.

The central bank, which has trimmed interest rates by 100 basis points and promised to fund about US$28 billion of the government's pandemic response in 2020, still has room for more rate cuts, Governor Perry Warjiyo said last week.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/11/03/pandemic-likely-tipped-indonesia-into-first-recession-since-1998-poll.htm