Economy & Politics

Corona crisis “From hammer to scalpel”: That’s what economists say about a second lockdown

Tightened corona measures are likely to hit the catering industry particularly hard.imago images / Jörg Halisch

The Robert Koch Institute reported almost 15,000 new infections on Tuesday, and the second corona wave is in full swing. Now stricter measures should help to contain the infection process. “This is a hard blow for some industries,” says Torsten Schmidt from the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research (RWI). “As it stands, it will hit the areas that have already been battered.”

For restaurants and the event industry, tightening the measures could have more serious effects, says Stefan Kooths, economic director of the Institute for the World Economy (IfW). Many companies were already massively weakened by the first few months of the pandemic. “If the restaurants now close, you have to assume that the company will break its neck more and more,” says Kooths. Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, also predicts something similar: The directly affected sectors of contact-intensive services and long-distance travel are hit hard because “they have so far only partially recovered from the slump in spring.” benefit from gastronomy again.

In fact, restaurants have to close in November. This is part of the measures that the federal and state governments decided on Wednesday. The retail trade will remain open and schools and daycare centers will not be closed either.

Losses unevenly distributed

The slump in the catering and events industry is manageable for the economy as a whole, says Oliver Holtemöller, Deputy President of the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research Halle (IWH). Only the losses are distributed very unevenly. “I think the main task of economic policy is to ensure that the costs are distributed appropriately.” Otherwise there is a risk of a wave of bankruptcies and a loss of public acceptance, according to Holtemöller.

After a certain amount of time, companies in the sectors particularly affected could also follow suit, says Schmidt. “But that won’t always be the companies that are now active there.”

It could also affect the retail sector, says Kooths: “If the impression is created that shopping is too risky, private purchasing reluctance will also lead to considerable losses.” Schmieding also points to further effects of more stringent measures, “above all a reluctance to buy Consumers shopping and a more pronounced investment weakness of insecure companies ”. He is also forecasting losses in foreign trade with European countries that are even more affected by the pandemic. These could only partially be offset by increasing exports to China and the USA, said Schmieding.

“In contrast to the spring, the economic consequences are likely to concentrate primarily on the areas close to consumption and affect the industry significantly less,” says Stefan Kooths. Hygiene concepts are comparatively easy to implement in industrial production facilities, and the same applies to transport services. “These are activities that, taken in isolation, could continue because they are unlikely to have any impact on the course of the pandemic.”

Targeted measures

Kooths considers the question of whether schools will remain open as a determining factor. “This is where it decides whether we can concentrate on the economic sectors that need social contacts themselves or not.” It is also important that the measures are understandable and those activities that actually contribute to the spread of the virus are restricted, says Kooths: “It is important that the approach is as targeted and as well-founded as possible.” This is what Holtemöller also demands: “From an economic perspective, it would be good to move from the hammer to the scalpel, that is, to take action with more detailed and targeted measures.”

“Don’t be afraid of a second lockdown!”

“That won’t trigger a second recession,” says Schmidt from the Leibniz Institute. Holger Schmieding is also optimistic about the future despite the worsening Corona situation: If the measures were “loosened considerably in four weeks, this could, in his opinion, improve the mood” in time for the Christmas business. “Even if we were to be hit hard in the fourth quarter, the economy should strive to pick up again by next spring at the latest,” he says. “The medium-term outlook for the economy – and also for the financial markets – remains positive.”

Another deep recession like in the spring is not to be expected, says Carsten Klude, chief economist at M.M. Warburg. The example of the USA has shown that “targeted and temporary economic restrictions caused significantly less economic damage than the general and very comprehensive restrictions on economic and social life in April and May,” he says. For the economy and capital markets, the following applies: “Don’t be afraid of a second lockdown!”

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