Coronavirus Watch: Recovery flatters to deceive

Although the closely watched PMI surveys generally continued to strengthen in August, a number of other timely indicators revealed evidence that the post-lockdown growth bounce may already be fading.

Retail sales in the eurozone and some other advanced economies fell in July, although this may reflect compositional changes to spending as some consumer services become more readily available. But consumer sentiment has also edged lower, possibly due to developments in the labour market.

And with Covid-19 cases in some regions picking up and the Northern Hemisphere entering the cooler autumn months, some forms of low-risk social spending such as outdoor eating at restaurants may also start to wane.

What’s more the reversal of early 2020 plunges in surveys of export orders is less encouraging than it first appears, given these indices had steadily weakened over 2019. A renewed fall in South Korean exports in August provides additional tentative evidence that further sustained rises in global trade are by no means certain.

Topics: Coronavirus