Trend watch and what’s new this week
U.S. infections and hospitalizations are climbing and the death rate is beginning to gradually rise (slide 3). Still, new cases remain largely contained within the hotspot states (slide 7).
Vaccinations in the U.S. are also climbing again (slide 5). About 60% of Americans older than 12 are fully vaccinated, and more than 70% have received at least one dose.
Several more studies show that mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, are very effective against both infections from the highly-contagious delta variant and hospitalizations (slide 8).
We revisit dining reservations, which have held fairly steady (slide 9). But, there’s a wide disparity between cities across the country.
We also highlight shipping volumes, which are unseasonably strong for this time of the year (slide 10). Many companies continue to work down massive order backlogs created by the pandemic and the reopening.
Lastly, we highlight the continued improvement in apartment rental payments (slide 11). This is a great sign, though it illustrates further repair is needed.
Despite the delta variant, we attribute much of the recent softness in the travel-related gauges to be seasonality, as many folks wind-down summer vacations and the school year starts. This is clearly the case with air travel (slide 6).
The recent surge in new case and hospitalizations in the U.S. has halted further reopenings. Similarly, more companies are pushing back return to office plans. Yet many conferences, large gatherings, and events are moving ahead, although most are now requiring proof of vaccination.
Ultimately, most of the incoming economic data remains quite solid and those that have dipped—such as retail sales and housing—are well above pre-pandemic levels and are coming down from multi-year highs. And even if demand softens, those extreme backlogs should keep the U.S. economy chugging along.
Again, COVID-19 is not fully behind us and, as the Delta variant demonstrated, there will be uneven patches. Yet, the world is getting much better at managing COVID-19. More importantly, it appears further COVID-19 variants and related outbreaks will not fully shutdown the global economy.
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