Another week of relative stability as measures to contain the pandemic remained static in most places. More draconian restrictions in Europe leave the region at the bottom end of the spectrum while EMs and Asia rate far better.
Covid-19 vaccinations rising at a rate of around 40% per week. Not much difference between EU 38%, UK 30%, US 36%. Odd given vaccine wars! The percentage of the population vaccinated at least one time now stands at 1.2% globally, EU 2.7%, US 8.4%, UK 13%. While this is rising fast, this is still way short of herd immunity. And the percentage of the population fully vaccinated is still very low — less than 1% of the population everywhere except the US, Israel and a few small states (UK 0.7% and EU 0.4%).
Economic activity seems to be bedding down in the doldrums amid lockdowns and other varying restrictions on activity. Europe continues to suffer the most, although weak activity remains a broad phenomenon.
The noise of the holiday period might have overstated the extent of the decline in economic activity but there is no doubting that the backdrop remains very depressed. Lockdowns and other restrictions remain the driver of this, with Europe bearing the brunt of the hit. But high levels of Covid infection continues to dampen the economy even in places where efforts to tackle the virus are less draconian.
As we move into 2021, we are getting a clearer picture into the extent of the slowdown in economic activity that the resurgent Coronavirus has triggered. Although the Google mobility indices were already indicating a sharp deterioration, the scale of the decline reported through to the turn of the year was exaggerated by holiday effects, as we noted last time. Data through to the 8th of January, which was released yesterday, gives us a clearer picture of how things stand. And while it is not quite as bleak as over the Christmas and New Year period, the data still paints a fairly poor picture of global economic health.
December Non-farm payrolls recorded a -140k drop, quite a bit below the markets +71k guess. This takes the 3m average down to +283k. Private sector payrolls were a little better than the headline print at -95k, helped by manufacturing which added +38k jobs while the decline in government moderated to -45k. That was still the fourth consecutive decline but is largely census related. Despite the headline miss revisions were very positive, +91k in November alone
December saw a further solid increase in Chinese FX reserves, the headline holdings number rising US$38.03bn m/m to US$3,216bn. Again more than half of the rise can be attributed to valuation adjustments as the US dollar continued to depreciate against the balance of the PBoC’s reserve holdings.
The re-acceleration of Covid infections has hit mobility hard over the past two weeks. Although there are clearly seasonal factors at work (which the Google data series do not account for), we’ve clearly seen a pronounced deterioration in both mobility and economic activity above and beyond what could have been normally expected. This has been concentrated in Europe, with a particularly severe drop in Germany where our economic activity measure suggests things are even worse than at the peak of the crisis last April. Italy and the UK have also registered steep falls, while Spain and France have seen more modest drops.
The ECB’s fingerprints remain all over the Eurozone money supply and credit numbers, with M3 hitting 11% yoy in November, the strongest reading we’ve seen thus far. This continues to be propelled by M1 which is up 14.2% yoy, overnight deposits up €1.053trn year-to-date. We’ve also hit something of a milestone with overall M3 now back at pre-GFC/EZ debt crisis trend levels.
Globally, the Google mobility and economic activity indices haven’t budged much over the past week. That’s a good thing as they’ve sustained the pickup seen in late November, defying the rebound in Covid infection rates we’ve seen in several places. This also takes us through the noise of US Thanksgiving.
There has been a strong pick up in the DM mobility indices over the past week, the US rebounding over the Thanksgiving period while the easing of restrictions in Europe have boosted mobility and economic activity there – the most notable improvement being in France. Trends elsewhere remain similar, with the exception of Korea which has seen a continued deterioration amid a “third wave” there and tighter restrictions, which continue to be added to.
Chinese credit growth rebounded after the weaker October numbers. Yuan loans came in at CHY1,430bn while total social financing hit CNY2,130bn. Money supply also ticked up a touch, M3 at 10.7% from 10.5%. Although outstanding loan growth eased a touch to 12.8% from 12.9% the monthly rise in TSF still exceeds the increase we saw last year, maintaining the leveraging trend we’ve seen since Covid hit. Indeed, ytd overall debt measured by the data has risen by 26% of GDP to 280%.
China recorded a further reserves build during November, total holdings rising by US$50.51bn to US$3,718bn. Nearly half of the increase can be accounted for by FX effects, specifically the effect of a weakening of the dollar compared to the other components of the reserves basket.
November Non-farm payrolls number came in at +245k (mkt +469k), bringing the 3m average down to +5227k. Private sector payrolls were a little better again at +344k but there is a sequential slowdown happening there too. Manufacturing payrolls grew by 27k while we saw another month of government job losses, -99k, the third consecutive drop. Revisions overall were down a bit, Oct NFP revised down to 610k vs. the 638k initially reported.
The Google mobility indicators show a further decline in both mobility and economic activity over the past week. The dip perhaps overstates the scale of the drop with US Thanksgiving holiday (which generated a bump in activity going into the holiday, and dip during and after) combining with tougher localised restrictions there. The story in Europe was better.
The latest google mobility statistics suggest things have stabilised a little. Although the devil is in the detail. On the DM side, Europe looks fairly static from last week but this masks a further sharp drop in Italy, which offset something of a bounce in France and the generally steadier picture we’ve seen in Germany and Spain.
We’ve seen a further downturn in the European mobility, as national lockdowns continue to bite, with the UK, France and Italy all falling significantly over the past seven days. Spain and Germany have been steadier, helped by the fact that they’ve been able to bend the Covid infection curve, with new cases rolling over and doing so from lower infection levels. Looking at things globally the picture looks more balanced, European weakness offset by ongoing improvements across Asia and in the larger emerging markets.
Chinese credit growth might look to have eased back in October, with Total Social Financing coming in at CNY1,420bn versus CNY3,480bn in the prior month and new yuan loans a modest CNY689.8bn versus CNY1,900bn in September, but October is typically the weakest month of the year for credit extension. Compared to a year ago credit growth was significantly up
The latest Google mobility data is starting to show the impact of lockdown 2.0. What is interesting is how both Lockdown 2.0 is being implemented compared to the draconian measures enacted back in the spring, and how these restrictions are varying in their impact country to country. The regional divergences we identified last time persist. This is again a function of the resurgence of the virus in northern hemisphere developed markets, and the measures taken to combat this.
October Non-farm payrolls number came in at +638k (mkt +600k), leaving the 3m average at +934k. But the private payrolls number comfortably bettered expectations once again at +906k vs. 690k mkt. Manufacturing payrolls grew but not as much as hoped (+38k vs. +50k est) while we saw another month of government job losses, -268k following on from -220k in Sep. Revisions overall were slightly positive though