On Sunday, May 3, Hong Kong recorded no new cases of COVID-19 and 14 days straight with no cases of local transmission. As the COVID-19 crisis has begun to abate in the city, the protests that rocked Hong Kong for many months have begun to resurge. The big question is “what’s next for Hong Kong?”
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc in global markets. In addition to the economic impacts of national lockdowns, travel restrictions, rampant unemployment, slack demand for consumer goods and sharply reduced business activity, the volatility of the oil market has reached crisis levels. While OPEC members agreed to cut production in May and June by 23% earlier this month, oil futures have continued to fall and darken outlooks for the global market this month. Crude oil prices went negative for the first time in history this month due to deficient demand for oil and looming lack of global storage capacity.
AIRINC has been providing weekly updates to spot rates of major currencies on our COVID-19 landing page. The global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts landed a major blow to the global economy last month, made worse in light of volatility in oil markets sparked by controversy within OPEC+. The result has been historic depreciation in even traditionally stable currencies and unprecedented uncertainty. The last week of March saw unprecedented depreciation. While year-to-date depreciation of many currencies remains high, several major currencies saw an appreciation bump last week between April 6-13.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, and its impact to world markets has been reflected in foreign exchange. The impact of COVID-19 touches every part of the economy, and can largely be divided into three categories:
The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting us all with a period of great uncertainty. One thing we have learned from past crises is that we will likely experience economic volatility, including wide exchange rate swings and abnormal patterns of inflation. While these are early days, we have already measured higher rates of inflation in China, as well as significant fluctuations in major currencies. In addition, living conditions have worsened for many across the globe. It is likely economic volatility and restricted lifestyles will be with us for some time.
My primary responsibility is to serve as the strategic point of contact for the AIRINC clients in my region. I work with them to look for ways to help them meet their goals and face their mobility program’s challenges. The COVID-19 outbreak has been a prime example of the latter in 2020. I have been working with clients to ensure they are informed about the conditions facing their assignees and the impacts to the data that they receive from AIRINC – mainly hardship and danger pay.
As of Feb 26, 2020, the number of confirmed cases of CoViD-19 has risen to 91 with 2 fatalities. The anxiety on the ground in Hong Kong is pervasive. In my neighborhood, for example, there was a recent Coronavirus fatality. For many residents in Hong Kong, present events are stirring memories from of our lives during SARS in 2003. I was young at the time and mostly recall the extended holidays and chatting with friends online, but the fear of older residents who lived through previous outbreaks is tangible.
AIRINC recently conducted a “pulse survey” to understand how global companies operating in China who maintain expatriate staff in the country are responding to the outbreak. Out of the 110 companies who participated in the survey, 99 companies or 90% are considering implementing specific actions for assignees in China in response to the spread of the COVID-19.
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has continued to spread over the past week and the World Health Organization named the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on Thursday, January 30. As of Friday morning in China, there were 9,776 confirmed cases and 213 deaths. The WHO stressed in their Thursday press briefing that 99% of cases are in Mainland China. 60% of cases and 96% of deaths are in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak where Wuhan is located. Isolated cases are still emerging internationally, with confirmed cases in Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Macau, South Korea, United States, France, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Italy, Vietnam, Cambodia, Finland, India, Nepal, Philippines, and Sri Lanka.
Do you have assignees based in China? If yes, what are you planning to do with assignees disrupted by the Coronavirus? Many of our clients are seeing an increase in calls from concerned assignees asking to discuss their situation, including: