Based on Google mobility statistics we’re seeing a sustained improvement in activity now. This is only likely to gather speed as vaccine coverage continues to expand, restrictions ease, alongside the seasonal improvements one should expect upon the arrival of spring, and, with a bit of luck, some UV.
Google mobility data continues to paint an improving picture, with mobility and economic activity nudging higher again over the past week. And the breadth of improvement is encouraging too. There was a solid increase across Europe in particular, driven by Germany but France, Italy, Spain and the UK also moved positively. Developed Asia also fared well. There was a modest dip in Australia amid some short-term localised lockdowns, but the damage from pre-Covid levels is far milder here anyway.
The past week hasn’t really seen any substantial shifts in activity, even if it’s increasingly clear that we’re past the worst as Covid cases continue to decline globally and the first signs of the vaccine impact start to percolate into the data. In the overall rankings, it is the Europeans that remain the most depressed compared to pre-pandemic levels of activity, with the UK languishing at the bottom of that league. Germany and France took a step back based on the data, while there was a further mild improvement in Spain and Italy.
With the continued decline in new reported Covid cases globally, it is no surprise that we’ve started to see an improvement in overall activity levels. At least based on the Google data. Indeed, all but one of the countries in our sample recorded a week on week improvement. The worst was France and that was simply stable. Europe remains at the bottom of the pile in terms of overall activity, but the corner has certainly been turned and we’d expect to see this pick-up to extend and accelerate over the coming weeks.
Vaccination doses administered continue to rise by more than 30% a week. But still less than 10% of the population of rich countries have received a shot and less than 2% globally. The US and UK lead with 13% and 19% with the EU at 4% of people having had at least one shot. People who have been completely inoculated are still low — less than 2% globally — 1% in the EU, 0.75% in the UK and 2.77% in the US.
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.
Vaccinations have continued to rise exponentially up 50% between Jan 17 and Jan 23 from 40.6mn to 61.1mn. 2% of Europe's population (UK 9.3%) and 5.8% of the US's have received one vaccine dose. For Asia the figure is 0.5% and China 1.04%. The number of fully vaccinated people has risen globally from 2.7mn to 4.9mn. In Europe the % of the population fully vaccinated is 0.11% (UK 0.69%) and in the US 0.84%.
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.
We’ve been honing high-frequency indicators to follow the pace of recovery in major economies from the depths of the Covid pandemic lockdowns. Our indicators, entitled mobility and economic activity indexes, measure the level of activity against the pre-pandemic level using the Google Mobility Indices and the Dallas Fed’s Mobility Engagement measure. We adjust these to obtain a smoothed and comparable index of near-time activity.
Total Covid-19 infections may just have broken the two million barrier globally. But there are encouraging signs that, at least in some places, active cases have already peaked. Scientists’ understanding of the disease is still in its infancy and there are many questions we don’t yet have clear answers to. In particular, if we’re all exposed to the same disease, why is there such a wide variation in apparent infection, fatality and recovery rates from country to country?
Bleak payrolls report. While the median survey was always going to be a short in the dark, the -701k decline in jobs was significantly more troubling than the mkts -100k guess. That’s the worst number since March 2009, a period of losses that saw five consecutive payrolls figures below the -700k mark starting from November 2008. Looking at the past fortnights jobless claims figures the April number and revisions to this release will paint an even bleaker picture of the labour market. In the household survey nearly 2.987mn jobs were recorded lost.
Trying to look beyond to what the day after looks like is important, particularly at a political level. Will it be a blow or a boost to the populists? In the US, France and Germany it looks like it will be a reminder to voters of the damage populists can do. There is a broad feeling that serious government is required.
Europe has, for the time being, become the focal point of coronavirus contagion. Its epicentre is Italy (Figure 1), which…