(This story from November 30 corrects to almost two years, not three years, in the first paragraph)
TOKYO (Reuters) – A panel of Japanese economists tasked with determining peaks and troughs in Japan’s economic cycles said the COVID-19 pandemic has ended nearly two years of economic downturn.
The government-established panel tentatively said on Tuesday that the economy had ended its last recession and entered a boom in May 2020, when the first coronavirus restrictions hit households and businesses.
The shock of the health crisis technically marked the end of the downturn, as most indicators fell to a point where they were no longer declining, which the panel defined as the bottom.
“We agreed that May 2020 marked the bottom of the economy (…) when consumption and many other economic indicators fell” in the midst of the state of emergency, said Hiroshi Yoshikawa, chairman of the Rissho University, which chairs the panel convened by the Cabinet Office.
The panel, similar to the US National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee, discusses the official business cycle chronology based on the evolution of 10 economic indicators such as industrial production, exports, retail sales and job availability.
The US counterpart announced in July that the US economy hit its lowest point in April 2020 to mark the shortest recession on record in two months.
Last year, the Japanese panel tentatively announced that the Japanese economy hit its previous peak in October 2018, when the escalating US-China trade war ended 71 months of expansion. , the second longest on record.
With Tuesday’s announcement, the previous recession likely lasted 19 months through May of last year, and Japan is experiencing an economic boom, the panel said.
“These peaks and troughs in the business cycle are defined mechanically” on the basis of government statistics, and “it’s another question of how the Japanese economy is doing,” Yoshikawa told reporters after the panel meeting, saying reference to the economic contractions of the first and third quarters of this year.
The world’s third-largest economy is expected to grow 5.1% annualized this quarter after a larger-than-expected 3.0% contraction in July-September, according to a Reuters survey of analysts, as household spending is expected to rise in a context of relaxation of restrictions.
(Reporting by Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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