Nationwide lockdowns undoubtedly helped some countries to enter a plateau phase in the infection curve, however, as soon as the countries began to lift restrictions, daily cases started to rise again. Despite erratic daily gains, the curve shows a clear upward trend, which started to accelerate around the end of May:
We also see the onset of the fuss about a second wave in the media, but it seems that this is only a continuation of the first wave that resumed growth, after a short pause.
The increase in daily incidence rates of Covid-19 mediates its negative impact on markets through two main factors – the odds of a second lockdown and duration of closed national borders. The experience from the first lockdown showed that this is a painful measure with high economic costs which forces governments to maintain high budget deficits and central banks to keep borrowing costs low. In my opinion, the second lockdown is possible only if incidence rates will create a risk of failure of national health services. Their safety margin is undoubtedly higher now so preventive lockdowns are definitely not a priority measure. While the upward trend in the infection curve is definitely a worrying sign, we still need to see significant acceleration of the trend to start worry about its impact on markets.
Hard Times for Asia
The latest update on foreign trade, production and consumption in Asia provided additional evidence that there is a lasting damage which further reduces chances for quick rebound in activity. Given that there are expectations of V-shaped recovery priced in the market, sluggish economic performance in May suggests there is a serious risk of downside correction for those hopes.
China was the biggest disappointment: industrial production rose 4.4% in May (5% est.), fixed capital investment fell 6.3% (-5.9% est.), retail sales also missed estimates contracting 2.8% YoY (-2% est.).
Dismal figures on India and Indonesia showed the true cost of lockdowns: Indian exports fell 73% in May (-60% in April), unemployment jumped to 24%, and industrial production fell 55%. Indonesia sharply reduced trade with the rest of the world: imports fell 42.2% (-24.55% est.), exports – 29% (-18% est.).
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