Thursday, April 8, 2021

8/4/21: BRIC Composite PMIs 1Q 2021: A Mixed Bag for Recovery Votes


I covered BRIC Manufacturing PMIs for 1Q 2021 ( and BRIC Services PMIs ( in the two posts earlier.  Now, the round up analysis based on Composite PMIs:

  • Brazil Composite PMI fell from 54.4 in 4Q 2020 to 52.1 in 1Q 2021, marking a slowdown in growth conditions in the economy. Quarterly activity in 1Q 2021 is still ahead of where it was in 3Q 2020 (51.6) and marks third consecutive quarter of growth. But, for the first time during this recovery period, Brazil Composite PMI is now below Global Composite PMI (53.43 in 1Q 2021).
  • Russia Composite PMI increased from recessionary 47.7 in 4Q 2020 to still negative-growth (albeit statistically, indistinguishable from zero growth) 49.5 in 1Q 2021. Russian economy has now posted four quarters of contracting economic growth PMIs out of five quarters of the pandemic. Needless to say, Russian Composite PMIs are remaining well below Global Composite PMI as the did in 4Q 2020 as well.
  • India Composite PMI slipped from 56.4 in 4Q 2020 to 55.7 in 1Q 2021 signaling slower, but still robust growth in the economy. India outperformed Global Composite PMIs in 4Q 2020 and 1Q 2021, the only two quarters of > 50 readings in India's case.
  • China Composite PMI fell from 56.3 in 4Q 2020 to still robust 55.2 in 1Q 2021. Thus, China, like India, managed to outperform Global Composite PMIs in both of the last two quarters. Unlike India, China also beat Global Composite PMIs in 1Q and 2Q 2020 as well. Since Chinese economy was the only BRIC economy to regain its 2019 levels of activity back in 3Q 2020, the last two quarters of PMIs suggest strong rebound in the world's largest economy (or second largest one, depending on how one counts economic output).

8/4/21: BRIC Services PMI 1Q 2021: Slowing Growth Momentum

 Earlier this week, I posted on the latest PMI reports for BRIC economies for Manufacturing sector (  Now, let's cover Services Sector 1Q 2021 PMIs. Remember, Markit - source of data - cover only monthly PMIs.

As reminder, Manufacturing PMIs fell in all BRIC economies except for Russia in 1Q 2021 compared to 4Q 2020. As the result, overall, BRIC Manufacturing Activity Index (GDP-weighted average of PMIs) fell from 54.8 to 52.8 between 4Q 2020 and 1Q 2021.

In services sector:

  • Brazil Services PMI slipped into a recessionary territory in 1Q 2021, falling from 4Q 2020 reading of 51.4 to 46.1 in 1Q 20201. This marks the lowest reading since 2Q 2020.
  • Russia Services PMI rebounded robustly from 4Q 2020 reading of 47.7 to 1Q 2021 reading of 53.6. Russian Services PMIs have been very volatile during the pandemic period, hitting the low of 32.0 in 2Q 2020 and the high of 56.8 in 3Q 2020.
  • India Services PMI improved from growth-signaling 53.4 in 4Q 2020 to even faster growth-consistent 54.2 in 1Q 2021. India and Russia were the two BRIC economies posting improvements in services sector in 1Q 2021.
  • China Services PMI fell from 'very high growth' signaling reading of 57.0 in 4Q 2020 to moderate growth-signaling 52.6 in 1Q 2021.
  • Overall, BRIC Services Sector Activity Index - a measure I calculate based on Markit PMI data inputs - fell from 54.8 in. 4Q 2020 to 52.6 in 1Q 2021, virtually matching the decline in Manufacturing Sector Activity Index over the same period of time. 
  • BRIC Services Activity Index also underperformed Global Services PMI which average 53.3 in 1Q 2021. In 4Q 2020, BRIC Services Activity Index was ahead of Global Services PMI (54.8 to 52.3).

8/4/21: No Inflation Cometh?


Having written about strengthening signals of rising inflation globally and in the U.S. in particular before, here is today's note from Markit on the matter: 

To quote: global inputs inflation pressures are at their highest since 2008:

By sector:

Factory gate prices are scaling up:

Manufacturing supply shortages at nearly historical highs:
Prices of all, but financial services and consumer services are up through the roof:

Profit margins are being demolished:

And consumer goods prices are going through the roof:

Which means that targeting 2-3% inflation at current monetary policies is plain bonkers. Unless Central Banks are willing to entertain inflation at +5-10 percent above current, the rates must go up. Keep leveraging, everyone. Credit cards, margin trades and mortgages are about to get 'uncertain'... 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

7/4/21: Ireland PMIs for March: Growth and Inflation Pressures


Ireland PMIs for 1Q 2021 are out this week, so let's take a closer look at monthly activity data. 

  • March services PMI came in at a surprising 54.6 - up on 41.2 in February and 36.2 in January. Given the country is in a phase 5 lockdown, and there has been little change on that in recent months, the new reading is a bizarre one. Per Markit: "Three out of four monitored sub-sectors registered higher business activity in March. The strongest rate of expansion was in Financial Services, followed by Business Services and Technology, Media & Telecoms respectively. Activity in Transport, Tourism & Leisure declined for the eighth month running, but at the slowest rate since last August." A lot of hope-for vaccines and 'getting back to normal' as well as exports rise behind these figures. Services PMI is now at its highest reading since February 2020.
  • March Manufacturing PMI also performed well, rising to 57.1 from 52.0 in February. Manufacturing index has been more volatile in the pandemic than Services, so this rise is less of a surprise, given the global economic recovery and demand for Irish exports.
  • We do not have full March data for construction sector PMI, which is reported mid-month, so all we do have is mid-March reading of 27.0. 
Official Composite PMI published by Markit was pretty upbeat in march 2021, rising to 54.5 - signaling strong growth, having previously posted 47.2 in February and 40.2 in January 2021. My own, Three Sectors Activity index - a weighted average of three sectors PMIs based on their share of gross value added - rose even more sharply: from 41.8 in January and 45.0 in February to 55.0 in March. If Construction sector PMI were to come in on-trend mid-April, the Three Sectors Index will be closer to 55.1-55.2 range.

As an aside, it is worth noting that Irish economic activity is showing similar trend to global activity when it comes to inflationary pressures (see: Per Markit: "March data indicated soaring cost pressures. The Composite Input Prices Index posted a record one-month gain and signalled the fastest rate of inflation since July 2008. Cost pressures were much stronger at manufacturers than service providers." In other words, even small open economies with massive distortions coming from the multinationals' financial and tax engineering sides are now showing signs of heating up inflation. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

6/4/21: Edelman Trust Barometer: the Age of Cognitive Dissonance?

Some shocking, genuinely shocking data from the Edelman Global Trust Barometer for 2021. Let's take a look. 

Start with this: 

Welcome to the world where sociopaths like Jeff Bezos are both trusted to be competent and perceived to be ethical. 

Meanwhile, at least w are catching up with what is happening in the tech sector:

And with the Social Media...

But we can't be human without some serious cognitive dissonance... Healthcare is now the second most trusted sector of business in America. Yep, the same private healthcare that had to rely on public / State / Federal money and logistics to distribute vaccines. The same private healthcare that could not organize vaccinations. The same private healthcare that, effectively, bankrupted and overcharged millions of Americans for emergency treatments during the pandemic. 

Back to Social Media:

I am not quite sure what people 'trust' in terms of information delivered via 'search engines', exactly. A search engine provides access to information, but it does not provide  or produce information. So drop this daft category from the analysis and what you have? Traditional Media is barely above the water, when it comes to trust. Owned Media and Social Media are below the waterline. If you control for the partisanship divide in the U.S. political landscape, most likely the vast majority of those trusting Traditional Media are... well, Democrats. The vast majority of those who distrust Social Media are... well, Democrats. Converse holds for the Republicans. One way or the other, massive shares of American population do not have trust in anything relating to quality control or verifiability of information sources.

This year's barometer is a scary reading. In most basic terms, NGOs and Business are the only two sets of institutions that are perceived ethical. Business' perception in this area is dangerously close to being marginal. Perceived incompetency of the Government is vastly greater than perceived competency of Business.  Media is virtually the exact mirror reflection of business. We trust no one in terms of information we receive. And we love those who are making money by not caring for us - American Healthcare. We lap up anything our employers communicate, but we believe they are telling us bullshit when it comes to their social and environmental sustainability efforts or to the risks of us being displaced by them with AI and technology. 

Is there much 'social fabric' left that hasn't been torn up, yet?.. 

5/4/21: Heating up inflationary risks


No, hyperinflation and, in fact, high inflation, ain't coming, yet. But the concerns with both are rising... 

Both, input prices and output prices have accelerated in March, compared to February in Markit's Manufacturing PMIs. 

Headline Markit statement says: "Conditions in the global manufacturing sector continued to brighten at the end of the first quarter, despite the potential for growth to be stymied by rising cost inflationary pressures and supply-chain disruptions." (Emphasis is mine).  And more: "Demand outstripping supply also contributed to a marked increase in purchasing costs during March. Input price inflation surged to a near-decade high, the pass-through of which led to the steepest rise in output charges since data on selling prices were first tracked in October 2009."

The same is happening in the U.S.: "Supplier lead times lengthened to the greatest extent on record. At the same time, inflationary pressures intensified, with cost burdens rising at the quickest rate for a decade. Firms partially passed on higher input costs to clients through the sharpest increase in charges in the survey's history."

5/4/21: BRIC's Manufacturing PMIs: 1Q 2021


Given a lot of noise about economic re-opening and abatement of the late 2020 wave of the pandemic, we expected BRIC countries PMIs to improve significantly in 1Q 2021 compared to 4Q 2020. Alas, the opposite took place:

  • Brazil Manufacturing PMI fell from 64.1 in 4Q 2020 to 55.9 in 1Q 2021. All three months of 1Q 2021 came in sub-60 (all three months of 4Q 2020 were above 60) and March 2021 was the lowest monthly reading since June 2020.
  • Russia Manufacturing PMI slipped from 51.5 in February to 51.1 in March. On quarterly basis, Russia Manufacturing PMI actually managed to rise from a recessionary reading of 47.6 in 4Q 2020 to a weak recovery reading of 51.2 in 1Q 2021. This is the highest reading since 1Q 2019 and the first above-50 reading since the end of 2Q 2019. Russia was the only BRIC economy posting increasing PMI in Manufacturing sector in 1Q 2021, and at that, the improvement went to anaemic growth from pretty steep contraction.
  • China Manufacturing PMI disappointed, falling from 53.8 in 4Q 2020 to 51.0 in 1Q 2021. Given structural importance of Chinese manufacturing globally, this implies a further build up in orders backlogs in the global supply chains, signaling more inflationary pressures down the line. On a monthly basis, March 2021 posted fourth consecutive decline in monthly PMIs, with March reading of just 50.6 - statistically, basically indistinguishable from zero growth conditions in the sector.
  • India Manufacturing PMI fell from 57.7 and 57.5 in January and February 2021 to 55.4 in March 2021, marking the slowest monthly rate of growth since August 2020. On a quarterly basis, India Manufacturing PMI fell from a hard-to-believe rate of expansion of 57.2 in 4Q 2020 to still robust growth of 56.9 in 1Q 2021.
Brazil and India were the two BRIC economies that managed to outperform global manufacturing sector growth in 1Q 2021 which came in at 54.1, up on 53.5 in 4Q 2020.

Global GDP-weighted BRIC group Index of Manufacturing Activity that I calculate based on Markit data fell from from 54.8 in 4Q 2020 to 52.8 in 1Q 2021, reaching the lowest reading since 2Q 2020 when it was at 45.0. Whilst BRIC group Index of Manufacturing Activity outperformed Global Manufacturing PMI in every quarter between 1Q 2019 and 4Q 2020, it fell below the global measure in 1Q 2021.

Monday, April 5, 2021

5/4/21: The Coming Wave of Financial Repression


In a recent article for The Currency, I covered the topic of the forthcoming wave of financial repression, as Governments worldwide pursue non-conventional fiscal tightening in years to come: Make no mistake, financial repression is coming in the US

5/4/21: The Entrepreneurship Boom: Forced, Voluntary and Funded


My recent article for The Currency covering the ongoing global developments in entrepreneurship: The US is experiencing an entrepreneurship boom. So, what is going wrong in Ireland?

Friday, April 2, 2021

2/4/21: America's Scariest Chart: U.S. Employment Situation

Now, the last of the series of posts on U.S. labor markets, concluding with America's Scariest Chart, plotting the index of employment (jobs) in the U.S. based on each recession-recovery cycle:

Despite some positive headline numbers on some labor market metrics, jobs creation in the U.S. is not  progressing well-enough to claim any end in sight for the Covid19-induced recession. Current reading for jobs index, relative to pre-recession highs is woeful. So woeful, today's state of U.S. markets ranks as the second worst jobs recession in modern history, so far, worse than the Great Recession. 

Good news is that in March, pace of recovery accelerated from a major slowdown experienced in the first two months of 2021. The bad news is, unless this pace is sustained, we are risking a scenario where unprecedented policy (fiscal and monetary) supports unleashed since the start of 2Q 2020 will be associated with a jobs recovery that is second-third worst in the modern history of U.S. recessions. Time will tell.


2/4/21: U.S. Duration of Unemployment

One of the America's Scariest Charts - a long-term running issue I have been highlighting for a number of years now - is roaring back to prominence as Covid19 pandemic crisis continues to impact U.S. labor markets across virtually all possible metrics of health.

Here it is: the average duration of unemployment spells:

Unemployment spells become short at the start of the recession as new vintage unemployed join the ranks of long term unemployed. As the recovery sets in, unemployment duration starts to take into the account a different and changing mix of those on unemployment: the share of total unemployed who are short-term unemployed shrinks, the share of the longer term unemployed rises. Secularly, however, virtually every past recession since 1970s on has resulted in a longterm increase in average duration of unemployment during the recovery phase of the business cycle. In other words, the longer term unemployed became even longer-term unemployed. And now, the Covid19 pandemic joins the line of past recessions with continuing on this trend. 

Chart next compares each recession and subsequent recovery period since the end of the WW2 through current:

Based on the average duration of unemployment, we are now (in the Covid19 pandemic recession) are tracking the worst recession on record: the Great Recession. Weeks ahead will tell us, if indeed this will be a new record-breaking recession, beating the length of average unemployment spell established in the Great Recession. But for now, with all the recovery going around, the unemployed are becoming longer and longer-term unemployed.

Not exactly a picture of robust health being restored in the U.S. labor markets.

2/4/21: U.S. New Unemployment Claims

Continuing with the coverage of core statistics for the U.S. labor markets performance. This post covers new unemployment claims through March 20, 2021, with the last two weeks of data being preliminary estimates.

In the week through March 20, 2021, new unemployment claims fell to 656,789, or four weeks running total of 2,892,799 dipping below the peak of the Great Recession levels of 4 weeks total of 3,313,000. This is the good news.

The bad news is that latest reading would rank 58th worst in the history of the weekly series, if we are to exclude the Covid19 period. Another part of the bad news is that last week's weekly rate of decline of 100,412, the fastest rate of decline in four weeks, is actually slower than average weekly rate of decline for the pandemic period. 

4 weeks running average rate of improvement in new unemployment claims is just 14,943. Which means that at this rate of labor market improvements, it will take 30.6 weeks to regain pre-Covid lows of new claims.

Things are improving. But they are improving at less than impressive rates.


2/4/21: U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls

 In the first part of the series of updates on the U.S. labor markets, I covered continued unemployment claims (, followed by the second post covering labor force participation and employment-to-population ratio (

Now, consider total non-farm payrolls - a measure of jobs present in the economy:

Total non-farm payrolls rose in march 2021 to 143,400,000, up on 142,077,000 in February. However, the increase still leaves the payrolls 9,777,000 short of the pre-Covid19 highs. The rate of jobs addition rose in March to 1,323,000 from February growth rate of 1,097,000. Combined jobs expansions of February and March, however, are not sufficient to cover the jobs losses of 2,622,000 sustained in January 2021. Average monthly jobs recovery during the pandemic period is 1,195,000, which means that it will take ca 8 months at the average rate of jobs creation for the economy to regain its pre-Covid19 highs in jobs numbers.

2/4/21: U.S. labor force participation and employment to population ratio


In the previous post, I covered U.S. continued unemployment claims:, noting that decreases in unemployment counts are, in part, driven by workers dropping off unemployment rolls due to exits from the workforce and/or expirations of unemployment benefits. Here is the data on U.S. labor force participation rates and employment to population ratio through March 2021:

Things are still ugly when it comes to these two measures of labor markets health in the U.S: 

  • Latest reading for U.S. labor force participation rate at 61.5 is just a notch up on February's 61.3, but is unchanged on November 2020. Pandemic period average labor force participation rate is woefully low at 61.7, which is still higher than March 2021 reading. March reading is equivalent to the average reading for the decade of the 1970s which was marked by stagflation and high unemployment.
  • Latest reading for U.S. employment to population ratio is at 57.7 - an improvement on February reading of 57.3, and better than the pandemic period average of 56.9, but still comparable to the levels seen only in the early 1980s. 
Both metrics show the brutal nature of the current labor markets, where demand for skills is rising, including in manufacturing, while services jobs (and lower-skilled B2C services jobs in particular) are still hard to find.

2/4/21: U.S. Continued Unemployment Claims

Continued weekly unemployment claims fell in the week of March 20 to their lowest Covid19 pandemic period point of 3,794,000 (seasonally adjusted). The decline in the unemployment claims driven by a combination of:

  1. Jobs creation
  2. Benefits expiration
  3. Exits from the labor force

Even with the positive news, U.S. current reading is in line with March 2011.

More updates on the U.S. labor markets coming up, so stay tuned.

2/4/21: COVID19: Nordics v Sweden

Sweden continues to perform poorly compared to peer countries, irrespective of how one defines Nordic countries as a group:

As table above shows, Sweden is the worst performer, by a large margin than any other Nordic or Northern European country when it comes to deaths from Covid19 pandemic.

Per charts below, adjusting for population differences, Sweden performs worse than any Nordic group of countries configuration imaginable in cases and deaths counts:

These facts are now recognized by policymakers in Sweden itself, even though the country continues to be a poster-child for the Covid19 denialists around the world.

2/4/21: COVID19: U.S. vs EU27 comparatives

US vs EU27 comparatives in the pandemic dynamics through the week 12 of 2021 are showing continued, albeit declining improvement in the relative position of the US. That said, much of the improvement is down to lags in new waves development, with the EU27 now firmly in its Wave 3 and the U.S. potentially entering Wave 4.

Based on the table and charts posted above, Europe (EU27) has now lost the plot on containing the pandemic. This takes place at the time when EU27 is botching roll out of vaccinations. On the more optimistic side, the U.S. roll out of vaccines has been relatively fast-paced, although logistics and delivery have been highly varied across different states and effectiveness can be significantly improved.

As the result, U.S. has managed to somewhat shrink the gap in terms of excess deaths from Covid19 pandemic compared to the EU27.

With more people infected, and higher vaccination rates, the U.S. is also holding a major advantage on the EU27 in terms of mortality rates per case.

Nonetheless, dynamics of the pandemic evolution are not promising: the U.S. is potentially entering a new wave of the pandemic, Wave 4, on foot of:
  • Dramatic relaxation of prior restrictions and public health measures across many states, well-ahead of vaccinations making a significant impact on infections;
  • Increased seasonal travel and social activities (primarily due to Spring Break);
  • Severely lax enforcement of Covid19 restrictions and measures during the last 3 months; and
  • Effectively free-for-all, cavalier approach to public safety by many U.S. residents.
Growth rates in both cases and deaths are quite dramatic:

If sustained, these dynamics will lead to acceleration in deaths counts in the U.S. and Europe. As things stand, the U.S. death toll from this pandemic already exceeds the combined number of combat-related deaths sustained by the U.S. is ALL wars from the mid-point of the Civil War. Put differently, Covid19 has now officially killed more Americans within one year of the pandemic as 160 years of all wars the U.S. engaged in. The U.S. excess death toll relative to the EU27, adjusting for population sizes is now at 111,789 - more than all deaths in combat since 1945. Adjusting for age differences and population sizes, U.S. excess mortality from Covid19 is 125,204 or more than total U.S. combat deaths since the start of 1945, the last year of World War 2.

Is American public health system fit for purpose? Anyone? 

2/4/21: COVID19: BRIICS

 As warned last month, BRIICS are now in a new wave of the pandemic, just like the rest of the world:

The new wave is worse than the previous one in terms of new weekly case counts and deaths. Brazil and India are leading the new cases pandemic, while Brazil leads in terms of deaths. Russia is relatively stable on deaths counts at highly elevated levels, while India death counts (highly suspicious in terms of low numbers throughout the entire 2021 so far) are now rising once again.

Table above shows summary of dynamics in current weekly cases and deaths relative to the prior 4 weeks average. 

These numbers strongly indicate that risk of pandemic will continue to spill over across the world, with no country immune to the new wave developing, until reaching 'herd immunity' levels via immunizations, assuming no adverse mutations in the virus.

1/34/21: COVID19: Most impacted countries

 Here is a set of summary tables for world's most impacted countries:

First, 17 countries with more than 7% of population tested positive:

And 16 countries with more than 0.15% of population dead:

Most are smaller in population countries. Outliers to this rule are:
  • The U.S. that enters both of the lists as the only country with population > 15 million
  • Mexico that enters the list for highest mortality countries (alongside the U.S.) - the only two countries on the list with population > 100 million
  • Spain, UK and Italy are the three countries on the deadliest countries list with population between 45 million and 99 million.
The new wave starting means I should update the table for most impacted countries based on case counts alone. Prior to this week, I tracked countries with > 250,000 cases. There are now too many of these to make this table meaningful, so in days ahead, I will update the methodology to report countries with > 500,000 cases. Stay tuned. 

Instead, here is the list of countries and regions with > 3 percent of total global cases:

Most of these are now starting a new wave of the pandemic. 

1/4/21: COVID19: Europe and EU27

 Both Europe and the EU27 are now in a new wave, Wave 3, of the pandemic, just as the rest of the world ( There is no denying that fact:

Over the last 4 weeks, average number of weekly cases is up massive 37% compared to prior four weeks' average in Europe and a whooping 40% in the EU27. Deaths are lagging 4-weeks on 4-weeks changes, so by this metric, we are seeing a decline of 18% in Europe and 15% drop in the EU27. But, controlling somewhat for lags, current latest weekly death counts are up 11% on 4 weeks average in both Europe and the EU27. 

Sign of things to come: week 12/2021 rate of new cases is up 22% on 4-weeks average in Europe and 19% in the EU27. So the data suggests things are more likely to get worse in terms of both, new cases and new deaths. 

Brace yourselves... 

1/4/21: COVID19: Worldwide Data

Last time I updated the numbers for global Covid19 pandemic, we were starting to spot the early signs of a new wave, Wave 4 emerging in new cases counts. Now, sadly, we can confirm exactly this development.

The virus does not care much for the bloviation of political leaders around the world. It does not care for Joe Biden's plans for the Fourth of July or State leaders' dreams of the Spring Break raves going on. It doesn't give a damn is European political establishment is running around the place like headless chickens, constantly re-jigging and gerrymandering performance and risk metrics in a desperate attempt to appease one side of electorate having previously tried to appease the other. The virus might care about the rates of vaccinations, but, hey it isn't worried too much: the rates are abysmally low (especially in Europe), and virtually in-extant in the emerging markets. If anything, with all this circus of 'policymaking' around, the virus is comfortably mutating. And, as mutations go, the ones that matter are the ones that reduce efficacy of our already senile public health interventions. 

Aptly, the lags between the new wave launching in case numbers and the new wave starting to rise in deaths counts are pretty much identical to what we have seen in the past:

Yeah, right folks, deadliness of the virus is also staying put - steady as it has been going since the start of the now-firmly-forgotten Wave 3:

You get the view, right? The dressage of politicos promising 'relaxation' of controls is once again being followed by a blowout of the pandemic. And, in case you wondered, unless your version of 'relaxation of controls' involves gulping warm beer on Florida beaches during the Spring Break, don't bother: real constraints are still in place. Sure, Sam Jr can go to school. Sure he won't see much improvement in his studies, sure you do get a few hours of daily day-care-by-teachers so you can ... wait... do what? Hit the Walmart? Cause you either have a job working from home, you have a job working in quasi-normal environment pre-pandemic-style, or you won't have a job, since 'opening' doors ≠ getting customers into them. 

Never mind. For now, happy April 1. We don't need jokes played on us. We are the jokers in all of this charade. The virus killed 2,798,756 people around the world - that we know of - and rising...

Look at the differences in 4 weeks average changes and current on 4 weeks average change:

... That is Wave 4. And it started.