Independent Strategy

Macro Category

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.

Global daily new infections increased 7% (after 8%) in the latest 7 days.  Total active cases rose by 8% for the second week.  These are not the exponential increases one would expect if Delta were going to blow the top off the lid of the global economy.  The drivers were developed economies (EU, US and Japan) and SE Asia.  Global fatalities per day fell from 10k to 9k.

The headline Q2 GDP number looks like quite a big miss as +6.5% q/q ann. versus the +8.5% mkt median.  And Q1 was revised down a touch too.  But the underlying picture still looks pretty robust in reality.  In fact, the bulk of the miss could be attributed to the ongoing disruptions that Covid continues to generate, specifically in terms of the further sharp decline we saw in inventories, which knocked 1.1% pts from that 6.5% rate.  Government spending was also notably weak (its contribution knocking a further -0.3% pts off the headline), particularly government investment.

Amid the ongoing spread of the Delta variant the Google activity data through to 24th July is showing a fairly clear picture as to where the damage is being done.  And its perhaps not much of a surprise to see that the places where vaccine rollout has been most efficient are faring rather better than in the countries where efforts have been rather more pedestrian.

Covid-19 Database Weekly Update: Vaccinations, Daily Infections, Fatalities, Active Cases, Hospitalisations for regions and countries covering last week and until 27 July  for vaccinations.

The Google activity data through to 17th July continues to support the recovery thesis, with global activity remaining near its recent peaks and economic activity holding above its pre-pandemic starting point (+3pts).  Mobility meanwhile has eased a little bit, remaining 17pts below where it stood pre-Covid.

Vaccinations Total global vaccinations administered rose 6% (down from a growth rate of 7% in the prior period), an increase of 210mn.  The rate of increase fell everywhere in both developed and developing economies, with the exception of Southeast Asia.

The Google activity data through to 10th July throwing up nothing to alter the underlying view that the economic recovery continues to move ahead.  Global activity is trundling along near recent highs.  That is important given the recent uptick in Covid cases as the Delta variant continues to spread – largely we would stress among unvaccinated groups, which also happen to be in most cases those that are unlikely to suffer from the more severe symptoms that forced lockdowns earlier in the Pandemic.

Strong payroll gains with some additional impetus from upward revisions.  Overall the economy added 850k jobs in June (mkt 700k) up from 583k in May (revised from 559k), of which 662k came from private payrolls (mkt 600k).  Manufacturing added 28k jobs and government 188k.  Labour participation unchanged at 61.6% and the unemployment rate actually ticked up to 5.9%, as job gains were netted off with an increase in the labour force.  Note prime age participation (25-54) increased for both male and female workers.  This is positive and should dampen worries about labour scarcity.

Looking at the Google activity data through to 26th June it looks as if there are some early signs that the recent pick up in infections/increase in risk perceptions has started to eat into activity a little.  But even in places where infection rates have risen fairly rapidly – the UK for example – the corresponding drop off in activity has been mild.

Covid-19 Database Weekly Update: Vaccinations, Daily Infections, Fatalities and Active Cases for regions and countries covering the last 7 days, up to 30 June 2021. Key investor relevance: 

  1. The data shows a sharp split between developing countries, doing better, and developed countries still mired in the pandemic, but now with rising vaccinations from a low base
  2. The major risk is that the Delta variant spreads in developed countries that have opened up.  Of course, there is now a greater tolerance for “just living with acceptable levels of Covid-19”.  But there are limits.

Total global vaccinations rose 11.8% or by 260mn – roughly stable on the week.  Vaccinations per 100 of the population is now above the critical 30 level in all regions except South Asia (India 20), Russia (24) and Africa (3).  Share of population fully vaccinated: world 10%, EU 24%, US 45%, UK 46%, South America 11%, Asia (ex China, which does not report) 7.9%.

Google mobility indices show a further and broad based improvement in the week to June 12th.  Global economic has all but recouped its post-Covid losses, but mobility is still some distance behind (a deficit of ~17% based on the data), although the trend here remains an improving one too.

Working through the latest Google mobility update (through to 5th June) you get an increasing sense of normality.  Although most places are still showing activity levels below where they were pre-pandemic, the gap looks pretty small and momentum remains strong.  Of our survey group four recorded w/w declines but really this is part of the ebb and flow rather than anything more sinister going on.  Even India has managed to move higher as the recent Covid wave there continues to abate.

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