Covid-19 infection numbers are on the rise again since the late summer days, and currently Europe is particularly in focus again. Hence, concerns about further economic development are increasing as well. That’s despite the fact that over the past few weeks, growth forecasts have become somewhat more optimistic again. Such as the forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which raised its projections: For the United States, the experts in Washington now only see a decline of 4.3%, whereas in their forecasts from June 2020 they had still assumed that the economy would shrink by 8%. For Germany, they lifted the forecast for the current year from -7.8% to -6%, and for France from -12.5% to -9.5%. As the IMF said in the foreword to the World Economic Outlook: "These are difficult times, yet there are some reasons to be hopeful.”
Will these glimmers of hope evaporate in light of the rising infection numbers? Much depends on the service sector. Whereas in "normal" recessions it is primarily industry and the manufacturing sector that suffer, during 2020 the service sector found itself in the eye of the storm. To assess the further development, economists will pay particular attention to one indicator: The monthly Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the service sector managed to recover after the devastating slump in March, as can be seen in our "Chart of the Week". From August onwards, however, sentiment began to deteriorate again, mostly so in Spain, which was the first major European country to face a second Covid-19 wave.
So far, authorities are trying to fight increasing infection rates with local measures. Which should keep the economic damage contained compared with what we’ve seen in spring. The first preliminary figures for October seem to confirm this hope somewhat. However, it is definitely too early for an all-clear.