Independent Strategy

Macro Matters

A deeper look at data

Independent Strategy Blog: Macro Matters

Macro Matters is the Independent Strategy high frequency research area.  We aim to try and offer a glimpse into our analytical process by making available some of the files and data we use to analyse macro developments and financial markets.  It also includes some supplemental weekly technical analysis, which helps us measure shifts in sentiment and bigger changes in trends, complementing the work we do on the macro side. If you’d like to discuss anything in more detail, please reach out.

The updated Google activity data, through to 9th October, continues to paint a picture of general resilience.  Even in places like the UK, which have been subjected to disruptions (specifically fuel shortages) have held up, with barely a blip in the mobility numbers nor overall economic activity.  Indeed, the biggest decliner across Europe over the past week has been Germany, and really that is relatively mild and comes off very strong levels.  Italy, Spain and France all ticked down too.  At the top end of the scale we saw further improvements in EMs, led by India and Brazil while Japan also continues to recover from its summer soft patch.  The US is as ever static, having been that way since late spring really.

We’ve seen a further deceleration in the pace of employment growth, the September non-farm payrolls report showing just 194k jobs were created in the month, down from an upwardly revised 366k in August and well below the consensus guess of 500k.  Despite the glut of job openings there was a further decline in the participation rate too, down 0.1% pts to 61.6%, which is unchanged from a year ago.  That contributed to another steep fall in the unemployment rate, U3 down to 4.8% from 5.2% and U6 to 8.5% from 8.8%.

Google activity data through to 25th September looking a little softer.  There are some tentative signs that economic activity is starting to slow in certain places, although by and large it’s outperforming mobility by a margin.  Europe was broadly softer compared to the prior period, with the exception of the UK, which was actually up a little bit.  But don’t expect that to last amid fuel disruptions which will enter the data next week.

Google activity data through to 17th remains positive, with none of the anxiety present in markets transmitting into the real economy while all the fuss about the Delta variant also seem to be having minimal impact in the real world – a function of the hugely successful vaccine programmes that continues to rollout globally and has reached effectively full coverage in nearly all of the major economies.

Google activity data through to 10th September shows a continuing pick-up in activity, underpinned by a continuing rise in mobility.  Again, leading the drive higher has been Europe, notably Germany and Spain, but France, Italy and the UK also registered decent improvements.  The bounce over the last couple of weeks is really a function of the ending of the summer holidays and start of the new school year.  But economic activity is also looking fairly solid too.

Labour market growth slowed a little more than expected in August, amid some disruption to the services recovery from the Delta strain.  But there were still +235k jobs added (mkt +750k) and we saw upward revisions to prior months, so the net impact was still positive, leading to a further decline in the unemployment rate to 5.2% from 5.4% and the U6 rate dropped down to 8.8% from 9.2%.  The participation unchanged at 61.7%.  Govt payrolls shrank a little after recent strong gains (-8k) but manufacturing continued to grow (+37k).  Weekly hours were 34.7 from a downward pay revised 34.7, which by itself remains elevated from its pre-pandemic range.

Google activity data through to 27th August showing some stabilisation.  The overall picture does not look too dissimilar to last summer when economies were operating relatively normally between the first and second waves.  The picture for economic activity remains more positive than for overall mobility, as travelling habits and restrictions in some places continue to crimp that side of things.  But as we’ve seen this year that hasn’t stopped the overall economic recovery from continuing.

Another month of strong payroll gain, the headline number showing a net gain of 943k jobs (mkt 870k) while revisions also shifted upward (a net 146k added for the past three months).  703k of the July gain came from private payrolls (mkt 700k).  Manufacturing added 27k jobs and government 240k, accounting for all of the surprise.  Labour participation edged up to 61.7% which left the unemployment rate at 5.7% (down from 5.9% but above the 5.4% median guess).  Prime age participation (25-54) saw a further surge, for both male and female workers.  This is a positive trend and reinforces our lack of concern for labour scarcity.  It’s important to contrast this with the post-GFC period where prime participation continued to fall after the initial crisis.

Google activity data through to 31st July continues to paint a broad picture of resilience, with limited impact from the increase in Covid cases.  Even in the economies in our group that have been most impacted by the Delta surge, the effect on activity has been pretty limited and economic activity continues to improve.

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