Reality beats sentiment, every time

Posted by: Paul Donovan

21 Aug 2020

Daily update

  • There are data releases today, but they are mainly business sentiment opinion polls. This data has economists rolling their eyes so hard that they risk injuring themselves. The track record of predicting reality during the pandemic has been less than perfect (British understatement), but information starved markets still give them more attention than they deserve.
  • On the problems of sentiment data, UK consumer confidence data was released with a suitably pessimistic tone (blamed on job fears). The sentiment data was released hours before July UK retail sales came in a lot stronger than any economist had predicted. Consumers are clearly happy to spend their lockdown savings, regardless of what they tell pollsters.
  • Japanese consumer price inflation was unexciting (the rate was 0% y/y). While relative price changes will add noise into developed economy price measures, the basic story is low inflation for now.
  • Korean export data for the first 20 days of August signalled that the global demand bounce-back is continuing. Semiconductors and US exports led the way. It seems unlikely that this is due to structural shifts – US-China trade tensions have recently focused on services like TikTok. Rather, this seems to reflect a genuine improvement in underlying demand.

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