Delta Impact

From Bloomberg, Matthews and Shah, “High-Frequency Charts Show U.S. Economy Softening From Delta”:

The delta variant has muted the progress of the U.S. economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, with consumers putting off some leisure spending and businesses delaying a return to normal operations, according to a number of high-frequency reports that show softness in August.

The Bloomberg article includes two graphs:

Some other high frequency indicators give a mixed message, for certain types of activity. Google Mobility Trends (August 24) shows some dropoff in retail and recreation, as well as transit stations, in recent weeks. Apple Mobility Trends indicates some dropoff in driving (but still above baseline) in recent weeks.

Other broad macroeconomic indicators show continued aggregate, albeit decelerating, growth through the weekend ending 8/21, as shown by the Lewis, Mertens, Stock Weekly Economic Index.

Source: Lewis, Daniel J., Mertens, Karel and Stock, James H., Weekly Economic Index (Lewis-Mertens-Stock) [WEI], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;, August 28, 2021.

Other indicators, such as the Philadelphia Fed’s Coincident Index for July has just been released, while the Baumeister et al. Weekly Economic Conditions Indicator is currently updated using data only through 7/31.

Researchers Herzon, Prakken and Goel at IHS-MarkIt (8/25) find a significant negative impact of case count on spending at the county level, and write:

From the week ending 4 July through the week ending 1 August, aggregate US consumer credit- and debit card spending declined by 7.6%, according to the Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker. Using the calculation described above, we estimate that 1.4 percent points of that decline (or about one-fifth of it) can be attributed to rising COVID-19 case counts. While material, the magnitude of this contribution suggests that most of the decline in spending over July (about four fifths of it) was accounted for by something else; something unrelated to rising case counts.

To be sure, the drag on consumer spending from rising cases counts predicted by this analysis will depend on how high the case counts go. When we assembled the data for this analysis, we had only one additional week of case counts by county beyond the end of our July sample. Using the estimated regression from the July sample and applying the methodology here, we estimate that further increases in case counts by county through the week ending 8  August subtracted an addition 0.7 percentage point from aggregate spending, for a cumulative effect of -2.1 percentage points. If case counts continue rising, these effects will mount, but, in our estimation, not by enough to put the broad economic recovery at risk.

Update, 8/30 8:45am Pacific:

As new data comes in, Q3 nowcasts are falling. IHS-MarkIt tracking estimates for Q3, over time (as of 8/30):

IHS-MarkIt at 4.7% q/q SAAR, Goldman Sachs today at 5.25%.

42 thoughts on “Delta Impact


    I don’t agree. Most of their data looks seasonal and not adjusted for the stimulus boost, which accounts for most credit creation “slowdown” .

    1. macroduck

      Your pretense to knowledge is really quite funny.

      Stimulus boost? Care to tell us which stimulus and where you get your data? Child tax credit? Extended unemployment? Rent support? ‘Cause here are several, some going up, some down, and I’m not sure where you’d find data for the very recent period under examination here.

      Data looks seasonal? What does that mean?

      baffling is right. You’ve written jibberish.

      1. Gregory Bott

        Your pretense is funny because nothing I said was refuted. You were just mad I didn’t agree with the lazy analysis. US GDP is likely to be revised up in 2020 which is a game changer for future analysis. The fact state jobless claims are nearing the pre-pandemic era, tells me how lost you are.

    1. baffling

      texas is the only large population state that is likely less than 1, according to the map. and that will change soon, as most schools and universities in the state began last week with the state eliminating any mask or vaccine requirements for those schools. this will push the R value back above 1 for the next month or so, at least. schools are beginning to go virtual this week due to outbreaks that began last week.

    2. macroduck

      Last year at around this time, there was a slowing of infection spread in the south and an acceleration in the north. The pattern appears to be repeating this year. One difference this year is vaccinations. Another is distancing. Most school children are not vaccinated. I don’t know of any data on remote schooling, masking and distancing, but governors in Texas, Florida, Tennessee and a few other Southern states seem determined to prevent public health efforts to keep kids safe.

      Too many variables to rely on short-term transmission rates as a forecast.

      1. macroduck

        If there is a decline in transmission rates n the next few weeks, in is likely to be that seasonal migration of more rapid transmission runs into better public health efforts in the North. We’ve seen what the high-transmission season looks like in the South

        1. Moses Herzog

          You’re probably savvy enough you already did this macroduck, but check out the tab “Results Table” after the link jump, then slide your eyes down to “general business activity” and compare the July index number to the August index number. It’s a pretty drastic drop and the lowest since last January. It seems like they totally “missed the headline” or “hid the headline”. I don’t know, maybe Menzie has some thoughts, but to me this mirrors the deal with Florida’s economic data.

          1. Dr. Dysmalist

            May I suggest, “buried the lede,” as it’s currently a very common way to express the idea

  2. Not Trampis

    Delta the WHO believes has a RO of 8 so lockdowns do not stop the variant trust me it aint doing so in NSW down under.

    This means you have to try like crazy to get the vaccinations up. The economy will take a hit non matter what

    1. Ivan

      You don’t fight the virus but tying one arm on your back – or giving up any approach that can reduce transmission. It is not this or this or that – it is all of the above and anything else you can come up with that has proven effects in reducing transmission. Sure vaccinations are very good, so are N95 medical masks (now that we have them in abundance), any avoidance of close contact (at risky distance and duration) is helpful, diluting and removing virus aerosols with filters or fresh air is greatly appreciated. NOT doing a specific thing that can bring additional help in reduction of transmission, would be stupid. In particular with this delta variant being so infectious it becomes even more important to do anything additive that can help bring R0 down to below 1.

  3. Ivan

    I hear that there is a certain airline that would like you to stop calling this “the delta variant” – they prefer if you would call it “the united variant”

    1. Moses Herzog

      ltr is trying to make “the American variant” go viral. I guess I have no great objection.

      BTW, don’t fly American Airlines ever unless you like being stranded for no good reason. If they can’t get it right pre-pandemic imagine now.

      1. Dr. Dysmalist

        But the Delta variant was first identified in India, I believe. That should satisfy ltr’s need to smear one of PRC’s rivals without resorting to further falsehoods.

    1. Dr. Dysmalist

      During the 2016 Presidential campaign, I worked with a couple of RW Christian fundamentalists, and based on conversations with them, it was obvious then that a significant number of their siblings in faith were not spiritual but political and, in fact, tribal. As long as the GQP (QOP if you prefer) buys into their “Christian” agenda, they will be very strong Repuklican partisans.

      Of course, they did and do love themselves some Trump because at the root both he and they are all fiercely racist assholes.

      Not all Christians by any means, certainly no actual Christians (with whom I identify), fit this mold but too many of them, a distressing number, do.

    2. Not Trampis

      I am stunned by this. It further confirms to me that US evangelicals have little biblical understanding. This does not happen down under mind you we are not a failed state either

      1. Dr. Dysmalist

        “further confirms to me that US evangelicals have little biblical understanding.”

        You are correct, sir. They mostly don’t read the Bible; they parrot whatever twaddle from whichever false prophet tells them they’re special and only their small group will get into heaven. After all, their Biblical “analysis” consists of deconstructing it into all it’s verses and then grouping some of them back together to tell the story that rationalizes their prejudices. The rest of the verses get ignored.

        And if all that fails, they get a new “translation” that will more directly back up their predetermined “conclusions.” Just as our RWNJ politicians choose their own voters via gerrymandering, our RWNJ “Christians” choose the Jesus that justifies what they already believe.

        All the “stupid” Christians do it the hard way, by trying to live up to the standards set by the Jesus described in the unadulterated, i.e., translated with intellectual honesty, Bibles of yore.

        Sorry for the rant. I obviously feel strongly about this. I despise anyone perverting any good religion, though they all have some problems in how humans practice them. This particular case really, really bugs me.

  4. ltr

    August 30, 2021

    Chinese mainland reports 23 new COVID-19 cases

    The Chinese mainland recorded 23 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday, all from overseas, the latest data from the National Health Commission showed on Monday.

    In addition, 24 new asymptomatic cases were recorded, while 443 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation.

    This brings the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland to 94,842, with the death toll unchanged at 4,636.

    Chinese mainland new locally transmitted cases

    Chinese mainland new imported cases

    Chinese mainland new asymptomatic cases

  5. ltr

    August 30, 2021

    Over 2.04 bln doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered in China

    BEIJING — More than 2.04 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in China as of Sunday, data from the National Health Commission showed Monday.

    [ Chinese coronavirus vaccine yearly production capacity is more than 5 billion doses. Along with over 2.044 billion doses of Chinese vaccines administered domestically, another 800 million doses have been distributed to 100 countries internationally. A number of countries are now producing Chinese vaccines from delivered raw materials. ]

    1. baffling

      is it your ccp mandate to repost the same material on every one of prof. chinn’s posts? i understand that propaganda is most effective when repeated regularly. is that the goal?

      1. pgl

        Anne’s ccp propaganda (ltr) is getting absurd. And it is a shame as she from time to time has a very useful comment. But at this stage – I’m just skipping over all of her comments.

        BTW – she has not responded to our requests as to the efficacy of those Chinese vaccines, which is kind of an important issue.

        1. rjs

          whatever the efficacy of the Chinese vaccines, oil rallied last week in part because they had no new cases, whereas the US accounted for 24% of all new cases on earth…instead of bashing ltr, we should be asking why three of the most vaccinated countries on earth – Israel, the US, and the UK – are also among those seeing the highest rates of new Covid infections per capita…

          1. baffling

            because china locks down, tests, masks and social distances to contain the virus. in texas, the governor has passed laws that make it illegal to do those things. in texas, a child can legally and knowingly go into a classroom unvaccinated, unmasked and with the coronavirus, spreading it to any other children in the classroom. and the school can do nothing to minimize the impact.
            “we should be asking why three of the most vaccinated countries on earth – Israel, the US, and the UK – are also among those seeing the highest rates of new Covid infections per capita…”
            in light of the facts on the ground i just delivered, one would think this is a bit of a foolish question? the governors of florida and texas are doing everything within their power to make sure the virus continues to spread throughout their communities. that is why we have some of the highest infections rates around. it’s not rocket science.

          2. Moses Herzog

            @ rjs
            Is it possible those three nations are more thorough/truthful than most nations in compiling statistics?? You keep making this same mistake in bad assumptions. You’re kinda, like, not very smart and stuff, yeah??


            Do you believe, China’s best statistical comrade in pathological lies, the WHO, when they say there’s only been 5,684 deaths in all of China?? If so, you should join pgl’s “Atlanta Georgia Schools Are Not Segregated Clubhouse” for intentionally gullible white males.

          3. rjs

            Moses, as i noted in my original comment, oil rallied over 5% on the news that China had no new cases, and the markets rallied as well, so apparently the majority of those who handle vast sums of money believe China’s reports, even if those of you in the ignorant commentariat don’t…

  6. ltr

    August 26, 2021

    A new study found half of hospitalized Covid patients had lingering symptoms one year later.

    One year after becoming ill with the coronavirus, nearly half of patients in a large new study were still experiencing at least one lingering health symptom, adding to evidence that recovery from Covid-19 can be arduous and that the multifaceted condition known as “long Covid” can last for months.

    The study, * published Thursday in the journal The Lancet, is believed to be the largest to date in which patients were evaluated one year after being hospitalized for Covid. It involved 1,276 patients admitted to Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, China, who were discharged between Jan. 7 and May 29, 2020.

    The researchers, who also evaluated the patients six months after hospitalization, found that while many symptoms improved over time and many of the 479 people who had been employed when they got Covid had returned to their original job, 49 percent of patients still had at least one health problem.

    And shortness of breath and mental health issues such as anxiety or depression were slightly more prevalent 12 months later than at the six-month mark, the researchers reported, saying the reasons for that “worrying” increase were unclear.

    The researchers also compared the patients in the study with people in the community who had not had Covid but had similar pre-existing health conditions and other characteristics. After 12 months, Covid survivors had worse overall health than people who had not been infected. They were also much more likely to be experiencing pain or discomfort, anxiety or depression, and mobility problems than those who had not had the disease.

    The patients, whose median age was 57, were given physical exams, lab tests and a standard measure of endurance and aerobic capacity called a six-minute walk test. They were also interviewed about their health.

    The study involved patients who were sick enough to be hospitalized, but who were generally not the most severely debilitated. About 75 percent required supplemental oxygen when they were hospitalized, but most did not need intensive care, ventilators or even high-flow nasal oxygen, a noninvasive method.

    Women were more likely than men to have some lingering symptoms, including mental health issues and lung function problems….



    — Pam Belluck

    1. ltr

      August 28, 2021

      Understanding long COVID: a modern medical challenge


      Clearly, the condition is of public health concern. In the UK, for example, an estimated 945000 people (1·5% of the population) had self-reported long COVID on July 4, 2021, according to the UK Office for National Statistics, including 34000 children aged 2–16 years. Prevalence was greatest in people aged 35–69 years, girls and women, people living in the most deprived areas, those working in health or social care, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability.

      Most evidence about long COVID has been limited and based on small cohorts with short follow-up. However, in The Lancet, Lixue Huang and colleagues report 12-month outcomes from the largest longitudinal cohort of hospitalised adult survivors of COVID-19 so far. Including adults (median age 59 years) discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, China, this study advances our understanding of the nature and extent of long COVID. At 1 year, COVID-19 survivors had more mobility problems, pain or discomfort, and anxiety or depression than control participants (matched community-dwelling adults without SARS-CoV-2 infection). Fatigue or muscle weakness was the most frequently reported symptom at both 6 months and 12 months, while almost half of patients reported having at least one symptom, such as sleep difficulties, palpitations, joint pain, or chest pain, at 12 months. The study shows that for many patients, full recovery from COVID-19 will take more than 1 year, and raises important issues for health services and research.

      First, only 0·4% of patients with COVID-19 said that they had participated in a professional rehabilitation programme. The reason for such low use of rehabilitation services is unclear, but poor recognition of long COVID and lack of clear referral pathways have been common problems worldwide. Second, the effect of long COVID on mental health warrants further and longer-term investigation. The proportion of COVID-19 survivors who had anxiety or depression slightly increased between 6 months and 12 months, and the proportion was much greater in COVID-19 survivors than in controls. Third, the outcomes from this cohort cannot be generalised to other populations—eg, patients not admitted to hospital, younger people, and those from racially minoritised and other disadvantaged groups who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Research in these populations needs to be prioritised urgently….

  7. ltr

    August 14, 2021

    Twelve-month systemic consequences of COVID-19 in patients discharged from hospital: a prospective cohort study in Wuhan, China



    Follow-up study of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) survivors has rarely been reported. We aimed to investigate longitudinal changes in the characteristics of COVID-19 survivors after discharge.

    Methods and findings

    A total of 594 COVID-19 survivors discharged from Tongji Hospital in Wuhan from February 10 to April 30, 2020 were included and followed up until May 17, 2021. Laboratory and radiological findings, pulmonary function tests, electrocardiogram, symptoms and signs were analyzed. 257 (51.2%) patients had at least one symptom at 3 months post-discharge, which decreased to 169 (40.0%) and 138 (28.4%) at 6-month and 12-month visit respectively. During follow-up period, insomnia, chest tightness, and fatigue were the most prevalent symptoms. Most laboratory parameters returned to normal, whereas increased incidence of abnormal liver and renal function and cardiovascular injury was evidenced after discharge. Fibrous stripes (213; 42.4%), pleural thickening and adhesions (188; 37.5%) and enlarged lymph nodes (120; 23.9%) were the most common radiographical findings at 3 months post-discharge. The abnormalities of pulmonary function included obstructive, restrictive, and mixed, which were 5.5%, 4.0%, 0.9% at 6 months post, and 1.9%, 4.7%, 0.2% at 12 months. Electrocardiogram abnormalities occurred in 256 (51.0%) patients at 3 months post-discharge, including arrhythmia, ST-T change and conduction block, which increased to 258 (61.1%) cases at 6-month visit and were maintained at high frequency (242;49.8%) at 12-month visit.


    Physiological, laboratory, radiological or electrocardiogram abnormalities, particularly those related to renal, cardiovascular, liver functions are common in patients who recovered from COVID-19 up to 12months post-discharge.

  8. ltr

    What is of special importance, is paying attention to how well vaccination has worked in China. Chinese vaccines began to be used with WHO approval in June 2020. Fifteen months have passed and there have been 2 coronavirus-related deaths in China, with neither person vaccinated. There has then been “no” death of a vaccinated person in China in 15 months.

    Coronavirus cases in China are markedly few and a minor fraction of cases in the highly vaccinated United Kingdom as I have repeatedly shown. The Delta variant after a few cases were detected in China, has evidently been controlled. There was no domestic case in China yesterday.

    Knowing precisely how China is faring through this time is important…

    1. Barkley Rosser


      It seems that what has been effective is the strong lockdown and tracing and quarantining policies the Chinese use. Their vaccines are increasingly being dumped by other nations finding them to be of low effectiveness.

  9. ltr

    That makes 2.044 billion Chinese vaccine doses administered domestically and no coronavirus-related deaths and remarkably few cases no matter the variant. At the same time a small country using a different vaccine with a very high vaccination rate is experiencing thousands of new cases daily, dozens of deaths and is administering a third dose of the vaccine. Of course, the vaccine administered by the small country is fine and necessary. Somehow though, the vaccines administered in China, vaccines approved by the WHO and remarkably effective through a country of 1.44 billion, are subject to selective Western disapproval. Somehow.

    Nonetheless, the Chinese each day will continue to administer millions of vaccine doses domestically and will offer millions more doses internationally.

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