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EcoWeek

    EcoWeek of 13 September 2021
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    The new macroeconomic projections of the ECB staff provide sobering reading for savers hoping that, one day, the policy rate will be raised. It is clear that at the current juncture, certain conditions of the recently updated forward guidance on interest rates states are not met. Based on the latest ECB projections, it seems this would still be the case in 2023, even under the hypothesis of a mild scenario. The slow increase of underlying inflation would probably be considered as unsatisfactory. Savers can only hope that the interaction between growth and inflation will evolve or that the ECB projections turn out to be too cautious.
    After two quarters of slight contraction (-0.4% q/q in Q4 2020, -0.3% in Q1 2021), during which lockdown restrictions were reintroduced in various countries in the zone, growth bounced back strongly in Q2 2021 (up 2.2% q/q, 14.3% y/y). The growth carry-over is nearly 4% and the gap to the pre-crisis GDP level of Q4 2019 is now only 2.5%. The strength of the rebound had already been seen in survey data from April to June, whether from Markit’s PMI or the European Commission’s Economic Sentiment Index (ESI).
    Although the pace of growth in industrial production has slowed, our barometer shows significant improvements in exports and retail sales over the last three months (shown in blue) compared to the previous three months (delimited by the dashed line). The second estimate for Q2 GDP, published on 31 August, confirmed a solid recovery (+2.7% q/q), driven in large part by the easing of restrictions and the subsequent increases in consumption. 
    The Spanish economy has put in a solid performance over the summer, with a marked improvement in the employment data. The number of workers registered with the Social Security system has risen by more than 410,000 over the past three months, and now nearly match the pre-Covid level. The unemployment rate is likely to fall again in Q3 as a result. It already dipped to 14.3% in July, not far from the pre-pandemic low of 13.7%. Given that a significant share of the new hires were seasonal contracts, we will have to wait for this autumn’s employment figures to get a more accurate picture of the strength of the recovery. 
    Global Covid-19 case numbers have started to decline again after a rising trend lasting nearly two months. Some 4.2 million new cases were recorded between 2 and 8 September, a reduction of 6.3% on the previous week. This development was shared between all regions: Africa -25%; South America -16.2%; Asia -7.8%; Europe -2.3%; and North America -2.3%. The total number of deaths also fell over the same period. Meanwhile vaccination campaigns continue to gain ground, with 5.6 billion vaccine doses given by 8 September.
    EcoWeek of 06 September 2021
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    In the early phase of QE, financial markets perceive central bank forward guidance on asset purchases and on policy rates to be closely linked. This generates a mutual reinforcement of both instruments. At a later stage, there may be mounting concern that the signalling works in the other direction as well. Scaling back asset purchases could be interpreted as a signal that a rate hike will follow soon once the net purchases have ended. In the US, Jerome Powell has been very clear that tapering would not signal a change in the outlook for the federal funds rate. In the Eurozone, both types of guidance are explicitly linked. This may complicate the scaling back of asset purchases in view of the impact on rate expectations. On the occasion of the decision on the PEPP, it might be worth to consider revisiting the link between APP guidance and rate guidance.
    The global manufacturing PMI has eased further in August and is now about two points below the peak reached in June. The levels remain very high in the developed economies but the latest country dynamics show considerable divergence with the index moving higher in Canada, Greece, Hong Kong and Indonesia. It jumped in South-Africa after a plunge in July. In most countries, the PMI is stabilising of trending lower, like is the case in the US and the Eurozone. In China, it has moved below 50. Vietnam saw another big drop. 
    In his traditional monetary-policy speech to the annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell expressed satisfaction with the latest US jobs market figures. He had good reason to do so: in the three months from June to August, the US economy created more than 2.2 million jobs (non-farm activities), including almost 800.000 in the resurgent tourism industry (hotels, restaurants, leisure etc.). Although the Covid-19 jobs deficit remains large (around 5.5 million) and although the unemployment rate is still too high by American standards (5.2%), the situation is gradually returning to normal.
    After rising for almost two months, Covid-19 infections are stabilising globally but remain high. In the week of 25-31 August, 4.6 million new cases were reported (chart 1), similar to the previous week’s figure. However, the trend varies between the world’s regions, with cases rising in North America (+4.6%) and falling in South America (-15.2%) and in Africa (-6.4%), while the situation is stabilising in Europe (due to declines in France and Spain – see chart 4) and in Asia. The vaccine rollout is continuing to accelerate around the world. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 5.4 billion vaccine doses have been given worldwide (chart 2).
    EcoWeek of 30 August 2021
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    Judging by recent survey data, it seems many advanced economies are hitting against their speed limit in terms of economic growth. This has several consequences. It creates upside risks to inflation, something which is acknowledged by the Federal Reserve and the ECB. Labour shortages can cause faster wage growth but they should also underpin consumer confidence and spending. Supply bottlenecks should boost company investments. However, when growth is at the speed limit, future economic volatility may increase. Finally, it also creates an analytical challenge in understanding whether softer business surveys are demand or supply driven.  
    The credit impulse in the eurozone, reflecting the year-on-year change in credit outstanding, remained negative in June 2021. As a reminder, the introduction of financial support measures for companies by eurozone governments led to exceptionally strong but temporary growth in bank lending to non-financial corporations in spring 2020. Combined with this, the slowdown in outstandings seen a year later (+1.9% y/y in June 2021 vs. +5.3% in March 2021) squeezed the credit impulse in lending to non-financial corporations (-5.3% in June 2021 vs. +0.3% in March).
    The German economic climate has significantly improved according to our Pulse. The blue area, representing the situation in the past three months, has clearly expanded compared to that in the preceding three-month period (the area within the dashed line). This is most obvious in the hard data for the manufacturing sector such as orders and production, which strengthened significantly in Q2 from the previous quarter.
    According to INSEE’s preliminary estimate, French GDP grew 0.9% q/q in Q2 2021. This outcome was slightly better than expected, as we had forecast a 0.8% rise and INSEE a 0.7% increase. Although growth in France was significantly weaker than across the euro zone at large (2% q/q) or the United States (1.6% q/q), it was still a decent figure given the circumstances. Indeed, despite the third lockdown in April, it lay well inside positive territory. The lockdown’s negative impact on economic activity was even more modest than that of the second lockdown. 
    According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University, 4.6 million new Covid-19 cases were recorded worldwide between 19 and 25 August, up 1.2% on the previous week. Cases increased in both North America (10.8%) and Europe (3.5%). Conversely, decreases were logged in South America (7.7%), Asia (4.0%) and Africa (1.9%) over the same period (chart 1). In addition, vaccination drives have continued to make progress around the world, especially in the European Union where the pace of vaccination remains very high (chart 2). 

On the Same Theme

Fed adapts forward guidance, will ECB do the same? 9/6/2021
In the early phase of QE, financial markets perceive central bank forward guidance on asset purchases and on policy rates to be closely linked. This generates a mutual reinforcement of both instruments. At a later stage, there may be mounting concern that the signalling works in the other direction as well. Scaling back asset purchases could be interpreted as a signal that a rate hike will follow soon once the net purchases have ended. In the US, Jerome Powell has been very clear that tapering would not signal a change in the outlook for the federal funds rate. In the Eurozone, both types of guidance are explicitly linked. This may complicate the scaling back of asset purchases in view of the impact on rate expectations. On the occasion of the decision on the PEPP, it might be worth to consider revisiting the link between APP guidance and rate guidance.
PMI: beyond the peak 9/6/2021
The global manufacturing PMI has eased further in August and is now about two points below the peak reached in June. The levels remain very high in the developed economies but the latest country dynamics show considerable divergence with the index moving higher in Canada, Greece, Hong Kong and Indonesia. It jumped in South-Africa after a plunge in July. In most countries, the PMI is stabilising of trending lower, like is the case in the US and the Eurozone. In China, it has moved below 50. Vietnam saw another big drop. 
The number of new Covid-19 cases around the world is stabilising. 9/6/2021
After rising for almost two months, Covid-19 infections are stabilising globally but remain high. In the week of 25-31 August, 4.6 million new cases were reported (chart 1), similar to the previous week’s figure. However, the trend varies between the world’s regions, with cases rising in North America (+4.6%) and falling in South America (-15.2%) and in Africa (-6.4%), while the situation is stabilising in Europe (due to declines in France and Spain – see chart 4) and in Asia. The vaccine rollout is continuing to accelerate around the world. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 5.4 billion vaccine doses have been given worldwide (chart 2).
Despite the high level of new cases in several countries, mobility indicators remain at a high level 8/30/2021
According to the latest figures published by Johns Hopkins University, 4.6 million new Covid-19 cases were recorded worldwide between 19 and 25 August, up 1.2% on the previous week. Cases increased in both North America (10.8%) and Europe (3.5%). Conversely, decreases were logged in South America (7.7%), Asia (4.0%) and Africa (1.9%) over the same period (chart 1). In addition, vaccination drives have continued to make progress around the world, especially in the European Union where the pace of vaccination remains very high (chart 2). 
Uncertainty continues to decline, but for how long? 7/26/2021
Our different uncertainty gauges are complementary, in terms of scope or methodology, yet, based on the latest readings, all but one show an ongoing decline in uncertainty. It reflects the combination of the vaccination campaigns, the lifting of restrictions and good economic data.
International trade: towards peak growth in trade? 7/26/2021
Although the momentum remains strong, world trade volumes could begin to taper off this summer, judging by the results of recent opinion surveys. The global PMI index declined 2 points to 56.6 in June, pulled down by the drop in the manufacturing “new export orders” component. 
Economic recovery in the advanced countries: lessons from the past 7/23/2021
The Covid-19 crisis has deeply affected our economies. Although the rebound observed in recent months seems to have been confirmed, uncertainty persists over their capacity to fully recover. This article will look at how the G7 economies reacted during post-recession phases in the past, in terms of GDP, private consumption and investment. How quickly did GDP in these economies catch up with pre-crisis levels and trends? What were the most dynamic components of aggregated demand during recovery phases? Given the specific characteristics of the Covid-19 crisis, can it really be compared with previous shocks? These are some of the questions that we will discuss in this article while highlighting current sector disparities. 
Mobility is still favourable despite the pandemic’s rapid spread 7/19/2021
The number of new Covid-19 cases continues to rise worldwide. The surge is due to the Delta variant, which is much more contagious than the other variants. It has now spread to more than 110 countries. The number of daily cases passed the half million mark on July 13 and 14.
PMI: Loss of growth momentum 7/12/2021
The global manufacturing PMI has eased slightly in June but this is masking diverging dynamics. The index was stable in the US, there was a small improvement in the euro area, the UK, Japan and China were weaker. India dropped below 50 and the decline in Vietnam was even bigger. In a nutshell, the levels remain very high in the developed economies but there is a loss of momentum. In the emerging countries, the picture remains very diverse, both in terms of level and change versus May. 
The Delta variant spreads its web over the world 7/12/2021
The Delta variant is on its way to becoming the dominant strain of Covid-19 and has now been found in some 105 countries. Despite the health situation, visits to retail and leisure facilities remained strong, returning to their summer 2020 levels and marking a return to something close to normal in all advanced economies.

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