The World Reopens: Will It Work? – May 26, 2020

Google has provided access to its mobility data during the COVID-19 crisis. As the virus spread and lockdowns took hold, there was a collapse in bricks & mortar retail shopping, and activity near transit and workplace locations dried up. The countries that have declining active cases of COVID-19 are now also showing more mobility, i.e. people are slowly venturing outside their homes.

We have examined these data for 34 countries, with the notable exceptions of China and Russia, and concluded that much of the increase in activity has been to parks and essential services. This increased mobility now needs to transition into a noticeable upturn in activity in transit and workplace locations in order to conclude that a sustainable economic rebound is underway.

The evidence from the early-restarting countries in Asia is that setbacks are inevitable as infections can surge anew, and the improvement in economic activity has been tepid. Equity markets may be getting too optimistic on the rate of economic improvement ahead.

For those interested, we update daily on our website a range of COVID-related charts: COVID-19 Global Charts.

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