SARS freezes tech travel, threatens supplies

Virus news

Intel and Sun Microsystems became the latest tech companies to cancel major industry events in China, fearing SARS.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome has claimed 46 lives in the PRC, and over 1,000 people have contracted the illness, according to the Beijing authorities, with the World Health Organization reporting over 2,200 cases.

Intel said it would cancel the Developer Forum to be held in Taiwain and Beijing this month. Sun has cancelled a major Sun Network event in Shanghai.

But the illness could threaten to disrupt supply channels too: 85 per cent of the world's PCs are assembled in the Far East, which also represents a major source of microprocessors, memory and other components.

Should you cancel your travel arrangements because of SARS? Don't ask me - I'm not a doctor.

But it will continue to hurt an already hurting economy. Stephen Roach, chief economist for Morgan Stanley has cited SARS as a reason for revising his growth forecast sharply downwards. The virus, combined with uncertainty over the Invasion of Iraq, will produce a worldwide recession in 2003, he predicted.

"Persistent post-bubble excesses, deflationary risks, anaemic national saving, exploding budget deficits and massive current account gaps: Victory in Iraq changes none of that," he wrote last month. ®

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