Category Archives: pandemic

26/9/20: America’s Scariest Charts: Continued Unemployment Claims


Updating my charts for the continued unemployment claims:

The latest data is covering the period through September 12, 2020.

  • On a non-seasonally-adjusted basis, there were 13,355,586 Americans with continued unemployment claims in the week of September 12, 2020, an increase of 212,869 on the week prior, but 9,438,559 down on the COVID19 peak reached in the week of May 9, 2020. At the lowest point in pre-COVID expansion period, weekly continued claims stood at 1,350,834. 
  • In the last 4 weeks through September 12, 2020, average decline in continued unemployment claims was 461,476. At this rate of decline, it will take the U.S. economy 26-27 weeks to recover its pre-COVID19 lows in terms of continued unemployment.
  • Current level of continued unemployment claims implies 9.14% unemployment rate.
Per charts above - covering seasonally-adjusted data that has been subject significant methodological revisions starting with September 2020:
  • It would take thee U.S. economy 33 weeks from September 12, 2020 to complete full recovery to pre-COVID19 levels of continued unemployment claims
  • In seasonally-adjusted terms, unlike in terms of raw data discussed above, September 12, 2020 continued unemployment claims stood at 12,580,000 down 167,000 on week prior. 
I will be covering new or initial unemployment claims in the net post, so stay tuned. 

22/9/20: COVID19 Update: German Economic Growth Forecasts 2020-2022


Germany's ifo Institute published their forecasts for 2020-2022 today. These represent an improvement on Summer forecasts, but continue to show big impact of the COVID19 pandemic lasting beyond 2021:

Private consumption is expected to be 0.82 percentage points below 2019 at the end of 2022, and barely in line (0.78 percentage points above) with 2018 levels. GDP is forecast to reach 1.34 percentage points above 2019 levels in 2022. Employment levels are projected to stay below 2019 levels through most of 2022, and unemployment numbers are expected to stay above their 2019 levels through the entire 2022. General Government deficits will remain in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Using pre-2020 trend growth, German economy would have been 1.66 to 1.85 percentage points ahead of the GDP levels now forecast for 2022, which means that under the current forecasts, we can expect recovery to the pre-COVID19 trend GDP by the end of 2024. This assumes ca 1.7 percentage points growth over 2023-2024 horizon, which may be quite optimistic, given prior trend growth rates of 0.975% pa. 

ifo forecasts note the state of economic uncertainty: "The degree of uncertainty in our forecasts is enormous because nobody knows how the coronavirus pandemic will develop, whether there will be a hard Brexit after all, and whether the trade wars will be resolved". Which, of course, highlights the environment of VUCA that we are living in.

8/92020: BRIC: Composite economic activity indicators

 Based on Markit's Composite PMIs, here are the BRIC economies composite economic activity indicators for 3Q 2020 to-date (July-August). 

Please, note: Manufacturing PMIs for BRIC economies were covered here:, and Services PMIs were covered here:

  • Brazil Composite PMI for 3Q 2020 currently sits at 50.6, barely above the zero-growth line of 50.0 in statistical terms. This represents a major improvement in growth momentum compared to an outright depressionary reading of 31.8 in 2Q 2020 and a swing of 18.8 points - a respectable reversal of momentum, although not a signal of an appreciable recovery from the recession.
  • Russia Composite PMI for 3Q 2020 is at blistering 57.1, suggesting a genuine recovery, albeit one-sided, driven by services sector rebound. COVID19 pandemic low was recorded in 2Q 2020 at abysmal 32.6, implying latest swing from the trough of massive 24.5 points. This does appear to be consistent with a robust recovery momentum, albeit with some caveats. This is the highest reading for any quarter since 3Q 2006 and the third highest reading on record.
  • China Composite PMI is at 54.8 so far through 3Q 2020, an improvement on growth-signalling 52.6 reading in 2Q 2020 and up respectable 12.8 points on recession trough in 1Q 2020.
  • India Composite PMI managed to rocket to a still-recessionary 41.6 in 3Q 2020 to-date, up on the recession trough of 19.9 in 2Q 2020 - a swing of 21.7 points. Still, the economy remains in a pronounced recession and 3Q 2020 so far is showing signs of exacerbated contraction building on 2Q 2020 collapse in activity.
For BRIC economies as a whole, the chart next shows GDP-weighted and GDP-shares weighted BRIC Indices of activity, compared to Global Composite PMIs:

Overall, BRIC economies growth momentum is still subdued and largely performing worse than the Global Composite PMI indicator.

8/9/20: BRIC: Services PMIs

Services sector activity as reflected by PMIs from the BRIC economies is now available for August, so here are the top numbers: 

In terms of actual readings, and do recall, quarterly PMIs referenced above are averages over three months period, so 3Q 2020 data is only covering July-August 2020.
  • Brazil Services PMI was nowhere near the insane reading posted by the country Manufacturing PMI (see post here: Services index came in at 46.0 for the period of July-August (3Q 2020 to-date), up on disastrously low 30.3 in 2Q 2020, but still well below 50.0 line of zero growth. Reading PMIs, this means that the sector activity continued to contract in 3Q 2020 so far, on top of the already sharp contraction experienced in 1Q 2020 and 2Q 2020.
  • Having set no records in Manufacturing, Russia Services PMI came out with a massive and seriously surprising print to the upside in August. As the result, 3Q 2020 to-date Services PMI rose to 58.4 for the highest reading since 2Q 2009. As massive as the print is, it is pretty 'normal' for volatile Russian services data. Still, the recovery it signals is sharp, as 2Q 2020 COVID19 trough was at a misery-inducing 32.0. The implied trough-to-peak swing is jaw-dropping 26.4 points.
  • China Services PMI rose in the first two months of 3Q 2020 to 54.1 from already expansionary 52.6 in 2Q 2020. Trough-to-peak COVID19 swing is now at 13.7 points, and the latest reading is the highest since 4Q 2010, when the index stood at 54.2.
  • India Services sectors are still in sharp contraction. Recall: in 2Q 2020, India Services PMI crashed, smashed, collapsed, melted down, or whatever else you might call, falling from 54.1 in 1Q 2020 to 17.2 in 2Q 2020, the lowest reading for any BRIC economy in any sector at any time. So far, in 3Q 2020, the index is running at 38.0, which implies that India's services sectors continue to contract from already reduced activity in prior quarter. In the light of this super-sharp recessionary dynamic, it is impossible to reconcile Manufacturing sector PMI and Services sector PMI in this economy.

Overall, BRIC Services Activity Index - a measure I compute using a range of data inputs, including Markit's PMIs - came in 49.9 in 3Q 2020 (to-date), an improvement on 2Q 2020 reading of 40.4 and above 1Q reading of 44.9. Nonetheless, across the four largest EM economies, Services activity continues to contract for the third quarter in a row, nominally, and it is standing still statistically. In this, BRIC economies are distinct from the Global Services PMI indicator, which rose from 35.6 in 2Q 2020 to 51.3 in 3Q 2020 (to-date). 

Stay tuned for BRIC Composite PMIs next.

23/8/20: America’s Scariest Charts: Continued Unemployment Claims


Having updated non-farm employment data (, let's take a look at continued unemployment claims, as reported through the first week of August.

A chart to start with:

Continued unemployment claims are still falling.
  • The weekly rate of declines is improving. Most current week on week decline is 636,000, an improvement on prior week/week decline of 610,000. $ weeks average weekly rate of decline is 326,750. 
  • Latest continued unemployment claims are at 14,844,000 which is down from the COVID19 peak of 24,912,000 set in the week of May 9, 2020. 
  • We have registered reductions in continued claims in 11 out of the 13 weeks since the peak claims.
Here is the chart comparing historical records of recovery in continued claims to the current crisis perid:
And the same on the log scale

Comparing current continued claims to pre-recession period claims:

  • Current levels of claims are 8,687,000 higher than pre-recession period high, 13,195,000 above the pre-recession trough and 13,142,000 above the claims registered in the last  month before the onset of the recession.
The key takeaways from this are: 
  1. What matters from now on is not so much the level of the recession peak, but the rate or the speed of the recovery toward pre-recession 'normal'. So far, the rate of recovery has been fast. If sustained, we might be able to avoid much of the damage that arises from long-term unemployment duration. 
  2. The rate of benefits expirations will also matter a lot. We are looking at eligibility for unemployment dropping with weeks ahead, and the supplemental payment to unemployment insurance also falling off. As the two effect bite, the impact on the overall economy from reduced unemployment support schemes can be pronounced, triggering renewed recessionary risk. 
Stay tuned for the analysis of the first time unemployment claims figures next.