After weeks of unprecedented stimulus measures, politicians still haven’t taken their foot off the gas. The US has approved a new $484 billion program to provide additional assistance to hospitals and fund an expansion of coronavirus testing, and the latest economic data continues to justify the unprecedented levels of stimulus on offer.
In the US, exports plunged by 6.7%, month-on-month in March (the biggest drop since the Global Financial Crisis), consumer confidence recorded its largest fall since 1973, and 20% of the labour force has requested unemployment benefits (so many that the employment boom of the last ten years has effectively been erased). New orders for US-manufactured durable goods fell by 14%, and the composite, manufacturing sector and services sector PMIs all plummeted in April (a sign that more economic pain is on the way). In Europe, things look no better, with the IFO Business Climate Indicator for Germany dropping to 74.3 in April (the lowest reading on record).
Chinese data is more mixed and does show some signs of a tentative recovery. The China General Manufacturing PMI jumped to 50.1 in March from 40.3 in February, the General Services PMI rose to 43 from a record low of 26.5, and the General Composite PMI jumped to 46.7 from a (very low) 27.5. China may be showing us the first glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel.