Brazil expects almost 0pc growth in 2020 due to virus

BRASÍLIA (AFP) – Brazil’s government on Friday drastically downgraded its growth projections for 2020 by 2.1 percent to practically zero (0.02 per cent) due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Economy Ministry already dropped its expectations from 2.4 per cent on March 11 in an initial re-evaluation based on the impact of the deadly virus.

Brazil recorded only 34 coronavirus cases at that time and no deaths. But the virus has accelerated since then to more than 600 cases and six deaths by the end of Thursday.

The new projection leaves Brazil on the verge of its first recession since 2015-16, the effects of which are still being felt.

This expectation is a best case scenario, according to experts, with the Getulio Vargas Foundation think tank predicting a “worst case scenario of a 4.4 per cent” contraction.

In 2019, Latin America’s biggest economy grew by 1.1 per cent, a disappointing result for the markets that expected greater growth under far-right, market-friendly President Jair Bolsonaro.

The previous two years had each seen growth of 1.3 per cent.

Hopes of an economic bounce grew in October after Bolsonaro’s pension reform was approved but the pandemic that originated in China has rocked the global economy. “Coronavirus has changed everything,” said the chief strategist at Laatus Group Jefferson Laatus, which trains traders.

The Sao Paulo stock exchange had been trading up two per ent before the announcement, but after that it closed down 2.6 per cent.

It has lost 44 per cent since the end of January, as the virus has sparked panic among investors.