Category Archives: economics

21/10/20: Pollution Shifting and Heterogeneity in Local Regulatory Coverage


States, like California within the U.S., and some individual member states within the European Union tend to adopt own-level regulations on harmful emissions in an effort to 'pave the way' for other peer states. These regulations, of course, only apply to the economic agents 'captive' in the state. They do not apply to more mobile companies that can shift their emissions across borders to minimize the impact of more stringent regulations. Even Federal-level standards on pollution abatement are often subject to local applicability variations, resulting in pollution shifting across states' borders in line with the above.

A recent study by Feli Soliman, titled "Intrafirm Leakage" published by CESifo as a Working Paper No. 8619 ( provides some empirical evidence of exactly such pollution shifting. The study finds that "...multiplant firms partially regulated under the ozone regulations of the US Clean Air Act offset regulation-induced reductions among regulated plants with spillovers to unregulated plants and by moving plants out of regulated areas." Crucially, however, the offsetting decisions are  more than sufficient to render overall pollution output un-impacted by the more stringent local regulations:  "Taken together, these leakage effects fully offset emissions reductions at regulated plants."

Another interesting finding in the study is that thee effects of this pollution shifting "are strongest among highly productive firms and those operating in tradable industries." In other words, the companies that hold prospect for future growth (and expansion of their pollution output) and have higher likelihood of survival are the very same firms that gain from pollution arbitrage across borders.

Overall, the author concludes that "By themselves, these results imply that expanded ozone regulation under the [Clean Air Act] has not contributed to the clean-up of US manufacturing"

14/10/20: BRIC: Composite economic activity indicators Q3 results


We covered in detail strong recovery in BRIC Manufacturing PMIs ( and fragile recovery in Services PMIs ( Here is a summary chart:

Now, let's take a look at BRIC Composite PMIs for 3Q 2020:

Brazil Composite PMI ended Q3 2020 on a reading of 51.6 - an improvement on 31.8 in 2Q 2020. Brazil's Composite PMIs have run sub-50 recessionary reading in 1Q and 2Q 2020, returning to growth in 3Q 2020, albeit at the levels not consistent with a V-shaped recovery.

Russia Composite PMI stood at a strong 55.9 reading in 3Q 2020, up on 32.6 in 2Q 2020 and signaling an end to 2 consecutive quarters of sub-50 readings. This marks the fastest pace of growth since 1Q 2017, but is also consistent with the levels of current activity being still below pre-COVID19 pandemic period. 

India Composite PMI remained in recessionary territory in 3Q 2020 at 45.9, an improvement on 19.9 in 2Q 2020. Overall, Indian economy has suffered the sharpest hit from the pandemic, compared to all other BRICs. It is continuing to exhibit recessionary dynamics to-date. 

China Composite PMI ended 3Q 2020 at 54.7, marking the second consecutive quarter of recover (2Q 2020 reading was 52.6). 3Q 2020 reading is the highest since 1Q 2020, and suggests that the Chinese economy is getting close to recovery in its activity levels to pre-pandemic position. 

Overall, BRIC block activity indices imply lagging momentum in the recovery in services, and faster than global pace of recovery in manufacturing. Statistically, BRIC growth momentum in 3Q 2020 is within historical average, however, growth dynamics in 1Q and 2Q 2020 were significantly below historical averages, which implies that 3Q 2020 PMIs indicate incomplete or only partial recovery in the BRIC economies post-pandemic so far.

14/10/20: BRIC: Services PMIs Q3 results


BRIC Manufacturing has rebounded strongly from thee pandemic lows, as covered in this post here: Services PMI for the BRIC economies signal similar, albeit weaker rebound in July-September:

Brazil Services PMI stayed in the recession territory in 3Q 2020, with index reading coming in at 47.5, up on 30.3 in 2Q 2020, but still marking a third consecutive quarter of sub-50 readings. Put simply, unlike manufacturing that is showing rather incredible signs of the recovery, Brazil's services sectors continue to show ongoing contraction, building on 6 consecutive months of contracting activity through August 2020. September monthly reading at 50.4 is statistically indistinguishable from zero growth line of 50.0. In summary, Brazil's services sector is not in a recovery so far.

Russia Services PMI posted very strong recovery signals in 3Q 2020, although September reading slipped to 53.7 (fast growth) from blistering 58.5 and 58.2 in July and August, respectively. 3Q 2020 Russia Services PMI was at 56.8 marking a sharp turnaround from 36.0 in 2Q 2020. This is the fastest pace of quarterly expansion since 1Q 2017.

India Services PMI remains in contraction, with 3Q 2020 reading of 41.9, an improvement on sharper rates of deterioration in 2Q 2020 at 17.2. September marked seventh consecutive month of sub-50 readings in Services sector in India.

China Services PMI came in at 54.3 in 3Q 2020, up on 52.6 in 2Q 2020, marking second consecutive quarter of recovery from the pandemic lows of 1Q 2020 when the index fell to 40.4. 

Overall, BRIC Services Activity Index - an index compiled by me based on GDP shares and Markit monthly PMI data - rose from 40.4 in 2Q 2020 to 51.0 in 3Q 2020. Given the nature of PMIs as signals of monthly changes in activity, 3Q 2020 reading is consistent with the BRIC block services sectors recovering only partially from the pandemic lows. BRIC Services Activity Index ended 3Q 2020 at the levels slightly below the Global Services PMI which stood at 51.4. Global services sectors are also showing more rapid rate of quarterly recovery, rising from 35.6 in 2Q 2020 to 51.4 in 3Q 2020.

12/10/20: Ireland PMIs and Economic Activity Dynamics for September


September data on Irish Purchasing Managers Indices is now complete (with Construction sector reporting last), and the signals coming from the data are not pretty:

Services sector activity is back in contraction: September reading of 45.8 shows relatively sharp downward momentum, swinging 6.6 points on August reading. September reading is statistically below 50.0 zero growth line, and below historical mean (55.0).

Manufacturing sector reading is at stagnation 50.0 in September, down from 52.3 in August. Statistically, September reading is below historical average of 51.4.

Construction sector is posting a second consecutive month of contraction at 47.0 in September. The reading is statistically below both the historical mean and the median, as well as below 50.0 zero growth line.

This means that official composite PMI (which does not include Construction sector index) is now at 46.9, statistically signalling economic contraction. September index is statistically below index median, although it is statistically indistinguishable for the historical average (which, owing to massive volatility in recent months sits at 49.8).

Chart above shows my own 3-Sectors Index of economic activity, integrating Manufacturing, Services and Construction sectors PMIs, weighted by their relative contributions to Gross Value Added. 3 Sectors Index has fallen from 52.1 in August to 47.5 in September. August reading by itself was not impressive: it was statistically below the historical average and the median, and was barely statistically significantly above 50.0 zero growth line. September reading is very poor, indicating a return of recessionary dynamics in the Irish economy in a critical month of September that normally marks strong growth month for the economy.

4/10/20: Technological Deepening Is Coming for Our Jobs


In my recent article for The Currency (link here:, I argued that COVID19 will act as an accelerator of technological capital deepening in the modern economies, with a resulting faster displacement of workers (including highly skilled ones) by technology. 

McKinsey survey of the developing trends in businesses strategic responses to the pandemic confirms my hypothesis:

Per above, across all sectors, and (peer charts below) across specific sectors, businesses are planning to prioritize deployment of technology in addressing long-term change in response to the current pandemic. 

McKinsey state that "Fifty-five percent of leaders anticipate that at least half of their organization’s workforce will be fully or partially remote postcrisis. While the expectations vary widely by industry—from 69 percent predicting this level of remote work in technology, telecommunications, and media to 43 percent in advanced industries—even in the industries where manufacturing, patient care, and sales transactions often require people at offices, stores, plants, and other company facilities, a significant portion of the workforce may be partially or fully remote." Source: And "Our survey results show that executives are focused on three courses of action ... making good decisions more quickly, improving communication and collaboration, and making greater use of technology."