Category Archives: pandemic

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


BRIC - Brazil, Russia, India and China - economies have posted a significant improvement in Q3 Purchasing Managers Indices in Manufacturing sector:

Brazil Manufacturing PMI rose to 62.6 - the highest on record in 3Q 2020 following 42.0 recessionary reading in 2Q 2020. This is a massive rebound from pandemic lows, and the level of 3Q reading puts into question validity or accuracy of the surveys. On a monthly basis, the index was at 64.7 and 64.9 in August and September. Brazil's manufacturing index was at sub-50 readings in March-May 2020, with a reasonably credible rebound in June and July. August and September readings are literally out of the ball park, both in terms of historical comparatives and in terms of past turning points from recessions to expansions. 

Russia Manufacturing PMI treaded water in 3Q 2020, swinging from 48.4 in July to 51.1 in August and back to 48.9 in September. As the result, Russia posted sub-50 reading for 3Q 2020 at 49.5, the only BRIC economy in this position. This marks 5th consecutive quarter of sub-50 PMIs. Statistically,  the last time Russian manufacturing was in the expansion territory was in 1Q 2019. 

India Manufacturing PMI rose strongly in Q3 2020 to 51.6, well above 35.1 recession trough in Q2 2020. However, statistically, current reading signals relatively weak recovery. September monthly index came in at more robust 56.8, suggesting that the economy may be gathering some momentum and recovery may be accelerating. 

China Manufacturing PMI was basically unchanged at 53.0 in September compared with 53.1 in August. 3Q 2020 PMI is at 53.0, which is an improvement on statistically zero growth reading of 50.4 in 2Q 2020. China's Manufacturing PMI numbers are historically less volatile, so 53.0 marks the fastest pace of expansion since 4Q 2010.

Overall, GDP-weighted BRIC Manufacturing Activity Index stood at 53.0 in 3Q 2020, above the Global Manufacturing Index (51.6) and up on 45.0 in 2Q 2020.

3/10/20: BRIC: Manufacturing PMIs Q3 2020


Based on July-September data, here are the main takeaways from the BRIC Manufacturing Sector PMIs for 3Q 2020:

  • Brazil Manufacturing PMIs gained serious speed in 3Q 2020 compared to 2Q 2020, rising from a recessionary reading of 42.0 in April-June to signal rapid recovery at 62.6 over the last three months through September. This marks the highest quarterly reading on record for the country Manufacturing sector. Dynamically, growth accelerated in every month since the start of the sector recovery in June 2020.
  • Russia Manufacturing PMI came in at a disappointing and contractionary 49.5 in 3Q 2020, marking the fifth consecutive quarter of sub-50 readings, although still an improvement on the pandemic period low of 39.0 set in 2Q 2020. Adding pressure to the already poor performance, monthly PMI reading slumped from a relatively weak recovery signalled by PMI at 51.1 in August to a recessionary reading of 48.9 in September. 
  • India Manufacturing PMI rose from 52.0 in August to 56.8 in September, with 3Q 2020 reading at 51.6 - a substantial but likely incomplete recovery on the pandemic low of 35.1 set in 2Q 2020.
  • China Manufacturing PMI rose from 2Q 2020 reading of 50.4 to 3Q 2020 reading of 53.0, implying almost a full recovery in the manufacturing sector on 1Q 2020 pandemic period trough of 47.2. September marked a fifth consecutive month of PMI readings above 50.0. 
Overall, BRIC weighted Manufacturing Activity Index (based on monthly PMIs) stood at 53.0 in 3Q 2020, up on 45.0 in 2Q 2020 and 49.1 in 1Q 2020. Current reading signals the fastest q/q growth in the sector since 1Q 2011. The ongoing recovery across the BRIC economies is faster than Global Manufacturing PMI recovery (at 51.6), albeit highly uneven and somewhat suspicious. The core driver for this growth is Brazil, where manufacturing data dynamics is completely out of touch with services data dynamics and looks extremely unreliable. 

26/9/20: America’s Scariest Charts: Duration of Unemployment

 Adding to my prior posts covering:

Here is analysis of the latest duration of unemployment data, and a look at employment data across past recessions.

As usual with all recessions, average duration of unemployment has fallen in the early days of the pandemic, as new unemployment cases rose dramatically, compared to prior existent claims. Since then, however, average duration has been creeping up. 

As the jobs recovery continues, we will be seeing further increases in the average duration of unemployment as a sign of longer term unemployment, so keep an eye for the future updates to the graph.

At the peak of the pandemic, average duration of unemployment fell to just 6.1 weeks or 15.6 weeks below pre-pandemic average. As of the end of August 2020, average duration of unemployment was at 20.2 weeks, or just 1.54 weeks below the last post-recession period average. 

Taking a slightly different look at the labour markets, consider current employment levels relative to the 6 months pre-COVID19 average levels of employment:

The chart above helps strip out volatility in the levels of employment across the business cycle by using 6 months average levels of employment for the period prior to the onset of the recession as a benchmark and then relating recession period and subsequent recovery period employment levels to this benchmark.

Clearly, current recovery to-date has been sharp, but given the levels of employment contraction in the first months of the pandemic, even this speed of the recovery is not sufficient to bounce employment levels back to where they were during pre-COVID19 period of economic growth. The chart also shows that recovery in employment has slowed down sharply in August, compared to June and July.

26/9/20: America’s Scariest Charts: Employment & Initial Unemployment Claims


Starting with initial unemployment claims (continued claims are covered in the earlier post: through the week ending September 19, 2020, based on non-seasonally adjusted data:

  • Initial unemployment claims fell to 796,015 in the week ending September 12 - marking the lowest number of new claims filed in any week since the start of the COVID19 crisis.
  • The new claims rose back to 824,542 in the week ending September 19, bringing the numbers of new claims back above 800,000.
  • The latest 4 weeks average new unemployment claims stand at 830,890 weekly claims, which is above the highest number reached since the peak of the Global Financial Crisis. 
  • Pre-COVID19 period historical high was attained in the week of September 1, 1982 at 1,073,500 new claims filed. The latest reading for September 2020 ranks as the 35th highest in the entire history and 10th highest if COVID19 period data was excluded from the set.
  • The latest 3 months cumulative new claims number stands at 13,789,312, down from the COVID19 pandemic peak of 41,865,591. 
  • Current cumulative count (3 months) is 4,607,312 above the pre-COVID historical high attained March 1, 1975.
  • Since the start of the labour markets recovery, average weekly improvement in the initial claims has been a reduction of 224,453 claims per week. This fell to just 305 claims reductions per week over the last 4 weeks. This is not encouraging.
Chart to illustrate the dynamics:

Now, employment figures, based on the seasonally-adjusted non-farm payrolls through August 2020 (the latest data we have):

As it says in the boxes in the chart: 
  • Current reading to pre-crisis high is still down 11,549,000, but we are up on crisis period low by 10,612,00.
  • Crisis low employment to pre-crisis high was down 22,160,000, and the running rate of the recovery since the lowest point of employment in COVID19 pandemic has been an addition of 2,653,000 per month on average. With this rate of recovery, it will take the economy 4.4 months to regain pre-COVID19 levels of employment.
  • However, last month's rate of jobs recovery was only 1,332,000, which implies employment levels recovery to pre-COVID19 levels of 6.7 months, at this rate of jobs growth.