The COVID-19 recession brought to the fore some very unusual and puzzling patterns between different macroeconomic aggregates, with supply side bottlenecks and shortages, record consumer inflation and the unusual coexistence of an unusually tight labour market altogether with record labor slack. The COVID recession itself lasted only two months according to the NBER’s Business Cycle Dating Committee. The fiscal and monetary response to the pandemic has corrected some of its most dire human and economic consequences but it has also led to new imbalances and it has magnified some of the imbalances that existed prior to the pandemic. The combined impact of all these imbalances, direct and indirect effects of the pandemic on supply and demand have shaped a very peculiar COVID-19 related business cycle, giving rise to what one might call “the COVID-19 conundrum”.
The released Official China NBS/CFLP PMI and the Caixin/IHS Markit PMI for August showed both that the Chinese economy was undergoing a robust growth recovery in August. However, the Official PMI shows that the economic recovery is uneven and is driven first and foremost by large manufacturing enterprises and by the construction sector., which benefited the most from the fiscal and monetary stimulus measures. Export orders continued their recovery initiated in June but the major driver of growth was domestic demand. Employment remained muted as companies still face uncertainties related to the COVI19 pandemic and its impact on economies across the world. Expectations remain anchored at a high level, although they edged lower compared to July and June.