Since last year’s devastating downturn, the US economy has come a long way. However, returning to “normal” may be impossible.
As of June 18, the CNN Business and Moody’s Analytics Back-to-Normal Index is at 93 percent, a new pandemic-era high.
Consumer credit, unemployment claims, job postings, domestic air travel, and hotel occupancy are among the 37 national and seven state-level indicators tracked by the index.
According to the most recent data, America is getting closer to “normalcy,” but the final stretch will be difficult. Despite the fact that some states have lifted pandemic-era restrictions, life hasn’t returned to normal.
In fact, the pandemic may have altered the economy’s fundamentals in such a way that it will never return to “normal.”
Many people, for example, continue to work from home and may do so indefinitely. While some businesses are ordering their employees to return to the office, others are adjusting to a new normal that includes more remote work and a more diverse workforce.
Another component of the Back-to-Normal Index that could be altered indefinitely is travel. People are looking forward to vacationing again as vaccination rates rise in the United States and countries around the world reopen to tourists, but business travel may not follow suit.
Companies may be less willing to fly employees around the world after more than a year of putting up with virtual meetings. According to Moody’s Analytics, business travel will not return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, which will have an impact on plane travel and oil demand.
“We’re tracking the return to something we might not get back to,” Matt Colyar, associate economist at Moody’s Analytics, told CNN Business.
Claims for unemployment benefits are still about double what was considered normal before Covid. They “are still sky high and they have to come down,” Colyar said.
States that were particularly hard hit by the pandemic, such as economic powerhouse New York, have a lot more room for improvement than the rest of the country. They will almost certainly continue to be a drag on the index.
That doesn’t rule out the possibility of the US economy regaining its pre-pandemic size and strength. In fact, the speed with which the rebound occurred is unprecedented in modern history. But we’re on our way to a new kind of “Normal”.
Some components will need to make up even more ground while others lag in order for the Back-to-Normal Index to reach 100%.
An investor’s perspective: The characteristics and features of this new economy have significant implications for investors. Determine the areas of growth, and you’ll be able to identify the companies that will benefit the most.
A coronavirus outbreak in southern China has clogged key global trade ports, causing a shipping backlog that could take months to clear and result in shortages during the holiday shopping season.
Last month, authorities in Guangdong, China’s southernmost province, canceled flights, shut down communities, and halted trade along its coastline in an attempt to contain a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases.
Infection rates have improved since then, and many operations have resumed. However, the damage has already been done.
The latest: Every day, 36,000 20-foot containers are filled at Yantian, a port about 50 miles north of Hong Kong. After infections were discovered among dock workers, it was shut down for nearly a week late last month.