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Making sense of the coronavirus crisis through data

Ian Brocklehurst
Ian Brocklehurst
Global Head, Financial Product Management

As the immediate market crisis eases, the macroeconomic impact of the coronavirus is just beginning. Refinitiv analyzes the data.


  1. The coronavirus global pandemic has few historic parallels, making it highly challenging to interpret and predict its impact.
  2. There are four trends that define the macro crisis so far and point to some of the signals that we’re likely to see as the crisis shifts to the next phase.
  3. Explore our new Macro Vitals app which provides a comprehensive set of data, news, charts and insight recording the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The initial market impact of the coronavirus crisis looks to be behind us. But the macroeconomic impact of the disease and the way that governments are trying to mitigate this through monetary and fiscal policy responses is only starting to emerge.

The coronavirus global pandemic has few historic parallels, making it highly challenging to interpret and predict its impact. Will we see a quick, V-shaped recovery? Will it be slower U-shaped recovery? Or will it will follow the outline of a Nike swoosh? The answer to this question will be measured in the trillions of dollars.

Taking an informed approach and modeling potential outcomes means looking at a broad range of data.

To help traders and investors make sense of the macroeconomic shock from the coronavirus crisis, we’ve brought together a range of data from across our platforms into a simple view – the macro vitals app.

Here are four trends that define the macro crisis so far and point to some of the signals that we’re likely to see as the crisis shifts to the next phase.

1. Monetary response has been rapid and the markets are betting against further interventions in the short term

Central banks have responded quickly to adjust interest rates, with most major economies cutting rates between the 10th and the 27th March. Asset purchasing has ensured that large corporates have seen strong demand for new debt issuance to shore up their balance sheets.

Fed intervention leads to rapid spike in its balance sheet

As the impact of the crisis hits countries’ real economies, understanding market expectations of further interest rate responses is critical. Our data on interest rate probabilities based on Fed fund futures and overnight index swaps, shows that the market is currently betting against any further action in the short term given the recent spate of action. This will be a close watched indicator of where the big bets are being made.

Image of the new COVID-19 MACRO VITALS app in Refinitiv Eikon
Money markets bet that no further interest rate changes are imminent

2. Emerging markets buffeted by flight to safety, but different

In the initial crisis, there was a flight to safety and emerging market economies had to pump liquidity into their economies.

While overall the impact of the movement in cash was to weaken emerging market currencies against the dollar, the impact varied significantly depending on factors such as exposure to the fall in oil price (Russia, Mexico), debt downgrades (South Africa), high currency reserves (Egypt).

Adding to the complexity, many emerging markets may be able to provide monetary support, but lack the headroom on the debt markets to provide fiscal stimulus to their economies because of a high debt burden going into the crisis.

Fall in emerging market currencies varied significantly

3. Commodity markets critical to modelling macroeconomic impact of crisis

The fall in the price of oil has been one of the major headlines from the crisis so far and the commodities markets generally have an important role to play in modelling the impact of the crisis.

The fall in oil prices has been so pronounced that the cost of storing oil has increased rapidly, as commodity traders look to store capacity at low prices.

Shipping rates for oil have risen as the price of oil has fallen as traders look to create floating storage

4. Markets will continue to move on good news and bad

News of a potentially successful trial for a COVID-19 treatment moved the markets last week, leading to a 16% bump in Gilead Science’s share price, but also leading to a broader market upswing.  At the same time, news that China’s Q1 GDP had shrunk for the first time in almost thirty years showed the real-world impact of the virus on the world’s second biggest economy.

As we shift through the different stages of this crisis, markets are likely to continue to gyrate as expectations of the length and impact of the crisis evolve. As with the initial phase, understanding interconnected trends at pace is critical, as electronic markets transmit shock through different asset classes at microsecond speed, creating winners and losers at the blink of an eye.

As traders and investors continue to identify signals from the noise and assess the macroeconomic and market impact of the Corona crisis to try and stay one step ahead, one certainty is that access to a broad range of data to decode today’s fast moving and interconnected markets is more important than ever.

Explore our new Macro Vitals app which provides a comprehensive set of data, news, charts and insight recording the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Understand global government and central bank response to the crisis by delving into an unparalleled data repository.


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