After a few months of being partially or entirely shut due to the coronavirus epidemic, Chinese factories are now gradually getting back on their feet, as the country seems to have successfully contained the virus. However, the Chinese manufacturing industry has hit a wall, as global demand has slumped as several countries have closed borders and industries to contain the virus. As the length of this unprecedented global shutdown is speculative at best, businesses in China are finding it hard to comprehend the enormity of impact. Forecasts are not looking bright, with research firm Gavekal Research expecting a 20-45% year-on-year drop in Chinese exports for the second quarter.
Did you know?
A record 3.28 million workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus hit the U.S. economy, marking the end of a decade-long job expansion. The number of Americans filing for claims was nearly five times the previous record high. The surge was for the week ended March 21 and could rise further.
“Air cargo is a vital partner in the global fight against COVID-19. But we are still seeing examples of cargo flights filled with life-saving medical supplies and equipment grounded due to cumbersome and bureaucratic processes to secure slots and operating permits. These delays are endangering lives. All governments need to step up to keep global supply chains open.”
– Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association, commenting on air cargo bottlenecks across the world that are endangering lives.
In other news
Ford plans to restart production at ‘key’ auto plants starting in early April
Ford Motor Company plans to restart production at “key” North American assembly plants as early as April 6. (CNBC)
Oil slides on renewed demand woes
Prices dropped back toward the 18-year low hit last week. (WSJ)
Countries starting to hoard food, threatening global trade
It’s not just grocery shoppers who are hoarding pantry staples. Some governments are moving to secure domestic food supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. (Bloomberg)
U.S. seeks to convince Saudi Arabia to end the oil war
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is applying verbal pressure to Saudi Arabia, encouraging the Middle Eastern country that started the oil price war to “rise to the occasion” and reassure the oil markets. (Oilprice)
Helm.ai raises $13 million on its unsupervised learning approach to driverless car AI
Helm.ai will put the seed funding toward advanced engineering and R&D and hiring more employees, as well as locking in and fulfilling deals with customers. (TechCrunch)
‘Gig economy’ workers will qualify for unemployment insurance under the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, meaning that Uber and Lyft drivers will get some livelihood support during this distressing time. A provision in the Senate’s stimulus bill under the ‘Pandemic Unemployment’ section will allow contractors, freelancers and self-employed workers to register for unemployment insurance. However, it is unclear about the amount they would be paid, as current federal regulations dictate unemployment payments to be equal to the weekly pay earned from an employer, capped by the maximum amount set by the respective state.
Hammer down everyone!