Following the introduction of COVID-19 containment measures across the world, real gross domestic product (GDP) in the OECD area fell by 1.8% in the first quarter of 2020, the largest drop since the 2.3% contraction in the first quarter of 2009 at the height of the financial crisis, according to provisional estimates.
Among the Major Seven, GDP dropped significantly in France and Italy, where lockdown measures were most stringent and implemented earliest (by minus 5.8% and minus 4.7% respectively, compared with minus 0.1% and minus 0.3%, in the previous quarter).
GDP also fell sharply in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom (by minus 2.6%, minus 2.2% and minus 2.0% respectively, compared with 0.1%, minus 0.1% and 0.0% in the previous quarter).
In the United States, where many states introduced ‘stay-at-home’ measures in late March, the contraction in GDP was less dramatic (by minus 1.2%, compared with 0.5% in the previous quarter).
In Japan, where containment measures have been less stringent, GDP contracted by minus 0.9% in the first quarter of 2020, compared with minus 1.9% in the previous quarter.
In the euro area and in the European Union GDP shrank by minus 3.8% and minus 3.3% respectively, compared with growth of 0.1% and 0.2% in the previous quarter.
Year-on-year GDP growth for the OECD area fell to minus 0.8% in the first quarter of 2020, following growth of 1.6% in the previous quarter. Among the Major Seven economies, the United States recorded the highest annual growth (0.3%), while France recorded the sharpest annual fall (minus 5.4%).