Economic shocks from 2nd Covid wave will be less severe


Moody’s Investors Service estimates that the overall hit to India’s economy to be softer than during the first wave last year.

However, the pace of recovery will be determined by (1) access to and delivery of vaccines, and (2) the strength of the recovery in private consumption, which could be hampered by the deterioration of balance sheets of low and middle-income households from job, income and wealth losses.

The second wave of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns came as India had been on a steady path toward economic recovery and double-digit growth. The virus resurgence adds uncertainty to India’s growth forecast for 2021; however, it is likely that the economic damage will remain restricted to the April-June quarter. We currently expect India’s real GDP to grow at 9.6 per cent in 2021 and 7.0 per cent in 2022, it said.

The second wave was a shock to aggregate demand. “We expect the current lockdowns to have less of an adverse impact on economic activity than the nationwide lockdown in April 2020 because the latest restrictions have been more targeted, localized and less stringent. Also, consumers and businesses have adapted”, it said.

The second wave has mainly affected aggregate demand, in contrast to last year when the national lockdown also constrained supply.

Stringent lockdowns in economically significant states will mar April-June economic activity. The 10 states that have been hardest hit by the second wave collectively account for more than 60 per cent of the pre-pandemic level of India’s GDP. Four states – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka – contributed the largest shares among all states in financial year 2019-20.

Faster vaccination progress will be paramount in restricting economic losses to the current quarter. As of the third week in June, only about 16 per cent of the population had received one vaccine dose; of those, only about 3.6 per cent had been fully vaccinated. Mobility and economic activity will likely accelerate in the second half of the year as the pace of vaccinations pick up. The government recently announced a strategy to centralize vaccine procurement in order to boost vaccinations, which if successful, will support the economic recovery, it added.