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Unlocking: When We Return To Normal

William Blair profile picture
William Blair


  • Emerging markets’ sharp decline in mobility has lagged developed markets, suggesting that any timeline to relax lockdown restrictions will also lag developed markets.
  • This is an unprecedented situation with an unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy response.
  • In developed markets, fiscal support will roughly equal the volume of lost economic activity, about 15% to 30% of GDP.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, an unprecedented lockdown has been imposed in more than 100 countries to minimize the spread of the virus. As the number of new cases globally appears to be peaking, markets are reacting positively, and we are beginning to look through to the eventual lifting of lockdowns.

Relaxation of Lockdowns

The severity of the outbreak has varied among regions, countries, and even cities within the same country. We expect that lockdown lifting will also be varied, but follow a general rule of gradual reopening two to three weeks past any locale’s peak in new daily cases.

We expect lockdowns to start lifting in late April to mid-May. For geographies that have yet to see a peak in new daily cases, this timeline will likely be pushed back further to the end of May to June, assuming that new cases peak in early to mid-May.

In the United States, current relaxation of social distancing is being modeled on a state-by-state basis by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Below we highlight the number of new daily cases, the days since the peak, and the estimated date of state lockdown lifting:

U.S. cities and states are opening closer to their peak dates, while European countries remain more cautious, in line with China’s experience.

Resumption of Economic Activity

To monitor the current status of lockdowns and the subsequent uptick in activity as lockdowns are gradually lifted, we are leveraging Google’s mobility data. Google’s mobility data currently tracks the percentage change in visits to places such as grocery stores, parks, public transportation, and workplaces based on mobile phone data collected from all over the world.

Among developed markets, France, Italy, and Spain are experiencing more severe impacts on personal mobility relative to the United States

This article was written by

William Blair profile picture
William Blair is committed to building enduring relationships with our clients and providing expertise and solutions to meet their evolving needs. We work closely with the most sophisticated investors globally across institutional and intermediary channels. We are 100% active-employee-owned with broad-based ownership. Our investment teams are solely focused on active management and employ disciplined, analytical research processes across a wide range of strategies. We are based in Chicago with resources in New York, London, Zurich, Sydney, Stockholm, and The Hague, and dedicated coverage for Canada.

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Comments (1)

vooch profile picture
Great article and especially pleased to see the regional breakdown chart - powerful data.

Anyone who wants to guesstimate easing of lockdowns etc should read this national geographic article on the Spanish Flu - beaucoup data and charts, also city by city

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