Here’s a quick review of important charts recently updated:
Today’s September jobs report was viewed by some as evidence that the recovery was slowing. I’ve always argued that private sector jobs are much more important than public sector jobs, and they increased by an impressive 887,000 in September (vs. +661,000 total jobs). Chart #1 focuses on these two sources of jobs, and both use a y-axis with the same ratio. What stands out immediately is that private sector jobs have grown much more than public sector jobs in the past 12 years and in recent months. Private sector jobs have now recovered about 54% of the losses that occurred due to the Covid shutdown, whereas public sector jobs – despite Census hiring – have rebounded by much less, and are actually lower today than they were prior to the Great Recession. I’d say the private sector recovery looks pretty much like a V-shaped recovery. More than half the jobs lost have been recovered in just five months! And meanwhile the public sector has been slow to recover, one more sign that the private sector is inherently more dynamic than the public sector.
Chart #2 makes the same point: the unemployment rate has reversed much more than half its rise in just five months.
Yesterday’s ISM report provided further evidence of rapid recovery. Both the US and Eurozone manufacturing indices have rebounded very strongly from their Covid lows, and both are now consistent with relative healthy economic growth conditions. Note that the Eurozone suffered much more than the US as a result of its early and drastic lockdowns, which in the end did little or nothing to eradicate the virus.
As Chart #4 shows, Sweden continues to shine. Its refusal to order drastic lockdowns not only allowed its economy to flourish relative to its locked-down neighbors, it allowed the virus to run its course in a relatively short period of time. Daily covid-related deaths have been extremely low for the past two months or so, even as Swedes have enjoyed the freedom to travel, work, and socialize, all while eschewing those dreadful masks that do nothing to filter out viral particles. It all adds up to pretty good evidence that Sweden has achieved herd immunity. I hasten to add that deaths per million in Sweden (583 per Worldometer.com) put it lower than Belgium, Spain, USA, UK and Italy, and only somewhat higher than other Eurozone economies. BUT, with a much lower overall cost in terms of reduced economic output, lost jobs, unemployment, stress, suicides, etc. And Sweden currently looks like one of the few countries in the world that has “beat” Covid.
Chart #5 shows that swap spreads continue to signal very healthy liquidity conditions and very low systemic risk in both the US and the Eurozone. By this important – and often leading – indicator, the fundamentals look great.
Chart #6 shows two all-important measures of the Fed’s monetary policy stance. The real Fed funds rate (blue) is decidedly negative (which implies very easy monetary conditions), while the slope of the Treasury yield is positive. Low real rates and a positively-sloped yield curve strongly suggest we are in the early stages of what could prove to be an extended recovery. At the very least, it’s safe to say that the Fed poses no risk to the economy for the foreseeable future. Note that all previous recessions were preceded by high real rates and a flat or inverted yield curve slope.
As Chart #7 suggests, the equity market is still somewhat cautious, with the Vix fear index still trading at elevated levels, and prices today about the same as they were prior to the Covid crisis. The Treasury market is even more cautious, given that 10-yr Treasury yields (currently less than 0.7%) are extremely low. The demand for security is still very strong.
Editor’s Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.