Many weekly indicators turn positive as economy prepares for Unlock 3.0

The railways are transporting more goods even as power demand trended higher during the previous week. Both indicators are higher than they were in 2019.

Business Standard tracks these and other indicators as a way of understanding how the economy is doing on a current basis. Many macroeconomic indicators, such as trade data or gross domestic product (GDP), are released either monthly or quarterly. The data appears with a lag. Analysts across the world have therefore been tracking higher frequency indicators as a means of better understanding the fast-changing situation on the ground during the Covid-19 pandemic. Business Standard similarly tracks other indicators including traffic, pollution and Google location data, in addition to power and railway freight data. Many had shown signs of a recovery losing steam earlier. The latest numbers suggest some change in that trend.

The Indian Railways carried more goods during the week ended Sunday than it did for the corresponding period in 2019. Food grains had formed a large portion of the transported goods during the lockdown which started towards the end of March. Earnings from freight had been trailing the recovery in terms of the quantity of goods transported. The previous week saw earnings also recover almost to 2019 levels.

The seven-day rolling average power generation numbers for August 2 showed more eletricity being generated (relative to 2019) than at any time since the lockdown began. In fact, the numbers are now 6.8 per cent higher than in the same period last year.

Traffic data from TomTom International shows that Mumbai traffic is higher than the previous week. Delhi is the same as last week. Both cities show lower numbers than 2019 for the data ending Sunday, though there are signs of an upward trend.

Business Standard also tracks nitrogen dioxide emissions. The emissions rise due to industrial activity and vehicle use. Delhi emissions are at more than 90 per cent of where they were in 2019, based on a seven-day rolling average number for Sunday. Mumbai emissions, based on the Bandra locality readings, remain flat.

Google uses location data to track visits to various places. Grocery and pharmacy visits rose, as did visits to retail and recreation spots. Parks, transit stations and workplaces all saw an improvement in the number of visits. Residential visits declined, showed the data as of July 27.

The ministry of home affairs announced on 29th July that it would ease lockdown norms from August 1.

“In Unlock 3, which will come into effect from August 1, 2020, the process of phased re-opening of activities has been extended further…..Restrictions on movement of individuals during night (night curfew) have been removed….yoga institutes and gymnasiums will be allowed to open from August 5, 2020,” it said.