As global uncertainty takes hold in major markets one thing is certain, the clock is ticking.
October 27 (King World News) – Danielle DiMartino Booth at Quill Intelligence: There are some things Benjamin Franklin did not invent. An interrupted Parisian night’s sleep in the spring of 1784 did, however, inspire him to write “An Economical Project” shortly thereafter in the Journal de Paris. Being an astute study of early energy conservation, Franklin implored Paris to rise with the sun expressly to save money: “An immense sum! That the city of Paris might save every year, by the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.” A tax cut, wax rationing, curtailing travel by coach after sunset with the exception of physicians, surgeons and midwives and ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunlight to wake the masses. Franklin demurely added that, “For the great benefit of this discovery, thus freely communicated and bestowed by me on the public, I demand neither place, pension, exclusive privilege, nor any other reward whatever. I expect only to have the honour of it.”
Daylight savings was not introduced to Europe until World War I for the purpose of conserving energy. It started in Germany in 1916, but was soon taken up in the U.K., France and the United States. Last year, the European Parliament voted to abolish the practice in 2021 given switching clocks disrupts biorhythms in humans and livestock alike. Yesterday might have been the last Sunday Europeans get to “fall back” and catch that extra hour of sleep. As for things closer to home, as political rhetoric reaches a boiling point, Americans will need an extra hour of sleep by the time they set back their clocks this Sunday…
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While we only lag Daylight Savings by a week, we’re closer to a month behind Europe when it comes to the coronavirus. On October 12, the European Union and the U.K. reported a seven-day average case count of 78,000, or 152 for every million residents. This was the first time since the spring that Europe’s virus outpaced the U.S., which was infecting 150 per million residents at the time.
… Several QI colleagues suggest consumers will fade the virus’ politicization and behave of their own volition. Jim Bianco, who closely tracks COVID data says, “Deaths, survival and hospitalizations are important, but they do not drive behavior. The ‘reaction function’ is case counts.” And from his perch in Sarasota, David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors cautioned that potential snowbirds to the Sunshine State, “recognize political deception when they see it.” To wit, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has floated reducing COVID-19 data reporting to a weekly rather than daily basis.
Perhaps we should look at what’s to come through the prism of the most directly affected service sector, as gauged by IHS Markit. In the post-pandemic era, Future Business Service Sector Activity in the U.S. and Euro Area (blue and red lines) diverged in March as the virus hit Europe one month earlier, and then crashed in concert through April. The two mega-economies’ subsequent V-shaped recoveries were also synchronous until October’s data hit Friday. The latest 16.7-point cross-Atlantic is the widest since the end of 2012, when Europe was putting its currency crisis behind it.
Two weeks ago, European Central Bank chief economist Philip Lane cautioned that, “The resurgence in infection rates — and the associated public health measures — is posing renewed challenges, especially for those sectors most affected by social distancing.” Indeed, Europe’s economy has slowed since he made those remarks. If the lagged pattern holds, the clock is ticking in the U.S. on more than the time of day falling back come this Sunday’s Daylight Savings.
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