South Africa’s economy was 16.4% smaller in the second quarter compared with the first, the worst contraction since the 1990s. Infections from COVID-19 have slowed, allowing the government to lift some restrictions, such as on sales of alcohol. But a recovery is being hampered by creaking electricity infrastructure, which has led to power blackouts and energy rationing.
America’s unemployment rate fell to 8.4%. That is below the level reached during and after the global financial crisis over a decade ago, although the number remains affected by a “misclassification error” in the survey used to produce it. In April the rate had surged to 14.7%. But it never reached the 20% that some were predicting at the start of the pandemic. After the news Republicans proposed new stimulus measures that fall far short of what the Democrats are calling for. The Republican plan provides for a $300-per-week unemployment benefit top up, which the Democrats want restored to $600 a week.
China’s exports roared back last month, increasing by 9.5% in dollar terms compared with August 2019. China’s monthly trade surplus with America rose to $34.2bn, the most since November 2018.
Germany’s exports rose again in July on the previous month, though they were still 11% lower than in July 2019. Industrial production is also recovering from the pandemic slump, though output remains a tenth smaller than what it was a year ago.
LVMH’s $17bn takeover of Tiffany appeared to be off. The French luxury-goods conglomerate struck a deal to buy the American jeweller last November, but now says the French government has stymied its proposal because of a row with America over tariffs on items such as handbags and cosmetics. Tiffany has gone to court accusing LVMH of using delaying tactics to renegotiate the terms of its offer because of a flop in sales during lockdown.
Tesla’s newly split stock was hammered during the tech bloodbath on Wall Street, plunging by a third over a few days before recovering somewhat. It was also hurt by the surprise news that the electric-car maker still hasn’t made the cut for inclusion in the s&p 500, which would have driven appetite for its shares from index funds. Elon Musk, who recently became only the fifth man in the world to be worth over $100bn, has seen his fortune diminish in less than a week to a mere $78bn.