Severity of lockdowns and how they are reflected in mobility data

The global spread of the SARS-CoV-2 at the beginning of March 2020 forced majority of countries to introduce measures to contain the virus. The governments found themselves facing a very difficult tradeoff between limiting the spread of the virus and bearing potentially catastrophic economical costs of a lockdown. Notably, considering the level of globalization today, the response of countries varied a lot in severity and response latency. In the overwhelming amount of media and social media information feed a lot of misinformation and anecdotal evidence surfaced and remained in people’s mind. In this article, I try to have a more systematic view on the topics of severity of response from governments and change in people’s mobility due to the pandemic.

I want to look at several countries with different approach to restraining the spread of the virus. I will look at governmental regulations, when, and how they were introduced. For that I am referring to an index called Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT)[1]. The OxCGRT follows, records, and rates the actions taken by governments, that are available publicly. However, looking just at the regulations and taking them for granted does not provide that we have the whole picture. Therefore, equally interesting is the investigation of how the recommended levels of self-isolation and social distancing is reflected in the mobility data and we will look at it first.

The mobility dataset

The mobility data used in this article was collected by Google and made freely accessible[2]. The data reflects how the number of visits and their length changed as compared to a baseline from before the pandemic. The baseline is the median value for the corresponding day of the week in the period from 3.01.2020 – 6.02.2020. The dataset contains data in six categories. Here we look at only 4 of them: public transport stations, places of residence, workplaces, and retail/recreation (including shopping centers, libraries, gastronomy, culture). The analysis intentionally omits parks (public beaches, gardens etc.) and grocery/pharmacy category. Mobility in parks is excluded due to huge weather change confound. The baseline was created in winter and increased/decreased (depending on the hemisphere) activity in parks is expected as the weather changes. It would be difficult to detangle tis change from the change caused by the pandemic without referring to a different baseline. The grocery shops and pharmacies are excluded because the measures regarding the shopping were very similar across the countries.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic a lot of anecdotal information surfaced, that some countries, like Sweden, acted completely against the current by not introducing a lockdown. It was reported that there were absolutely no restrictions and Sweden can be basically treated as a control group for comparing the different approaches to lockdown on the spread of the coronavirus. Looking at the mobility data (below), we can see however, that there was a change in the mobility of Swedish citizens in comparison to the baseline.

Fig. 1 Moving average (+/- 6 days) of the mobility data in Sweden in four categories.

Fig. 1 Moving average (+/- 6 days) of the mobility data in Sweden in four categories.

Looking at the change in mobility in Sweden, we can see that the change in the residential areas is small, but it is indicating some change in behavior. A change in the retail and recreational sector is more noticeable. Most interestingly it is approaching the baseline levels at the beginning of June. The most substantial changes, however, are in the workplaces and transit categories. They are also much slower to come back to the baseline, although a trend in that direction starts to be visible.

Next, let us have a look at the change in mobility in selected countries, separately for each category. Here, I compare Germany, Sweden, Italy, and New Zealand. (To see the mobility data for other countries visit

Fig. 2 Moving average (+/- 6 days) of the mobility data.

Fig. 2 Moving average (+/- 6 days) of the mobility data.

Looking at the data, we can see that the change in mobility in Germany and Sweden was somewhat similar in orders of magnitude, in comparison to changes in mobility in countries like Italy and New Zealand. Without a doubt, the behavior in Sweden changed the least from the baseline in all the categories. Nevertheless, claiming that people’s reaction to the pandemic in Sweden in Germany were polar opposites is not necessarily correct. The biggest discrepancy between Sweden and Germany is in the retail and recreation sector out of all categories presented. The changes in Italy and New Zealand reached very comparable levels, but in New Zealand they seem to be much more dynamic, especially in approaching the baseline levels again.

The government response dataset

Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker records regulations from number of countries, rates them and categorizes into a few indices. The number between 1 and 100 reflects the level of the action taken by a government. Here, I focus on the Containment and Health sub-index that includes 11 indicators from categories: containment and closure policies and health system policies[3]. The actions included in the index are for example: school and workplace closing, restrictions on public events, travel restrictions, public information campaigns, testing policy and contact tracing.

Below, we look at a plot with the Containment and Health sub-index value for the four aforementioned countries. Data and documentation is available here[4]

Fig. 3 Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, the Containment and Health sub-index.

Fig. 3 Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, the Containment and Health sub-index.

Here the difference between Sweden and the other countries that we are looking at becomes more apparent. Nevertheless, the Swedish government did take some measures in order to condemn the spread of the SARS-CoV-2. At the highest, the index reached value 45 points in Sweden, 73 in Germany, 92 in Italy and 94 in New Zealand. In all these countries except for Sweden the index started dropping again, while the drop is the most dynamic in New Zealand and the index has basically reached the level of Sweden.


As we have hopefully seen, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic from governments differed substantially, as well as the resulting change in mobility behavior of the inhabitants did. However, the discrepancies were probably not as big as reported in the media.

The overwhelming presence of the social media could have blown some of the mentioned differences out of proportion. For example, the discrepancy in the mobility behavior between Sweden and Germany was biggest in recreation sector, that involves cafes, restaurants, cultural resorts, and shopping centers. It is possible, that those activities were the ones that people in lockdown missed the most. Looking at Swedes, who were participating in them it was easy to extrapolate on the overall landscape of the response to the virus in the country.

It is very hard to say which of the world country’s approach will bring the best effects for the people’s well-being and the economies. The ongoing pandemic will remain a topic of extensive research for many years to come. We will (most probably) eventually find out which approach to the lockdown was the most optimal (or at least come close to finding out). For the time being, it is however important to remember that there are many factors in play and looking into one type of data might be misleading. Comparing countries with different history, weather, political and economic climate, or population density might be misleading as well. But it is still more insightful than not looking into the data at all.

[1] Hale, Thomas, Sam Webster, Anna Petherick, Toby Phillips, and Beatriz Kira (2020). Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, Blavatnik School of Government. Data use policy: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY standard.

[2] Google LLC “Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports”. retrived: 04.06.2020

[3] See documentation

[4]  retrieved on 04.06.2020

Ein Einblick in die Aktienmärkte unter Berücksichtigung von COVID-19


Die COVID-19-Pandemie hat uns alle fest im Griff. Besonders die Wirtschaft leidet stark unter den erforderlichen Maßnahmen, die weltweit angewendet werden. Wir wollen daher die Gelegenheit nutzen einen Blick auf die Aktienkurse zu wagen und analysieren, inwieweit der Virus einen Einfluss auf das Wachstum des Marktes hat.


Zuallererst werden wir uns auf die Industrie-, Schwellenländer und Grenzmärkte konzentrieren. Dafür nutzen wir die MSCI Global Investable Market Indizes (kurz GIMI), welche die zuvor genannten Gruppen abbilden. Die MSCI Inc. ist ein US-amerikanischer Finanzdienstleister und vor allem für ihre Aktienindizes bekannt.

Aktienindizes sind Kennzahlen der Entwicklung bzw. Änderung einer Auswahl von Aktienkursen und können repräsentativ für ganze Märkte, spezifische Branchen oder Länder stehen. Der DAX ist zum Beispiel ein Index, welcher die Entwicklung der größten 30 deutschen Unternehmen zusammenfasst.

Leider sind die Daten von MSCI nicht ohne weiteres zugänglich, weshalb wir unsere Analysen mit ETFs (engl.: “Exchange Traded Fund”) durchführen werden. ETFs sind wiederum an Börsen gehandelte Fonds, die von Fondgesellschaften/-verwaltern oder Banken verwaltet werden.

Für unsere erste Analyse sollen folgende ETFs genutzt werden, welche die folgenden Indizes führen:

Index Beschreibung ETF
MSCI World über 1600 Aktienwerte aus 24 Industrieländern iShares MSCI World ETF
MSCI Emerging Markets ca. 1400 Aktienwerte aus 27 Schwellenländern iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF
MSCI Frontier Markets Aktienwerte aus ca. 29 Frontier-Ländern iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF

Tab.1: MSCI Global Investable Market Indizes mit deren repräsentativen ETFs


Zur Extraktion der ETF-Börsenkurse nehmen wir die yahoo finance API zur Hilfe. Mit den richtigen Symbolen können wir die historischen Daten unserer ETF-Auswahl ausgeben lassen. Wie unter diesem Link für den iShares MSCI World ETF zu sehen ist, gibt es mehrere Werte in den historischen Daten. Für unsere Analyse nutzen wir den Wert, nachdem die Börse geschlossen hat.

Da die ETFs in ihren Kurswerten Unterschiede haben und uns nur die relative Entwicklung interessiert, werden wir relative Werte für die Analyse nutzen. Der Startzeitpunkt soll mit dem 06.01.2020 festgelegt werden.

Die Daten über bestätigte Infektionen mit COVID-19 entnehmen wir aus der Hochrechnung der Johns Hopkins Universität.

Correlation between confirmed cases and growth of MSCI GIMI
Abb.1: Interaktives Diagramm: Wachstum der Aktienmärkte getrennt in Industrie-, Schwellen-, Frontier-Länder und deren bestätigten COVID-19 Fälle über die Zeit. Die bestätigten Fälle der jeweiligen Märkte basieren auf der Aufsummierung der Länder, welche auch in den Märkten aufzufinden sind und daher kann es zu Unterschieden bei den offiziellen Zahlen kommen.

Interpretation des Diagramms

Auf den ersten Blick sieht man deutlich, dass mit steigenden COVID-19 Fällen die Aktienkurse bis zu -31% einbrechen. (Anfangszeitpunkt: 06.01.2020 Endzeitpunkt: 09.04.2020)

Betrachten wir den Anfang des Diagramms so sehen wir einen Einbruch der Emerging Markets, welche eine Gewichtung von 39.69 % (Stand 09.04.20) chinesische Aktien haben. Am 17.01.20 verzeichnen die Emerging Marktes noch ein Plus von 3.15 % gegenüber unserem Startzeitpunkt, wohingegen wir am 01.02.2020 ein Defizit von -6.05 % gegenüber dem Startzeitpunkt haben, was ein Einbruch von -9.20 % zum 17.01.2020 entspricht. Da der Ursprung des COVID-19 Virus auch in China war, könnte man diesen Punkt als Grund des Einbruches interpretieren. Die Industrie- und  Frontier-Länder bleiben hingegen recht stabil und auch deren bestätigten Fälle sind noch sehr niedrig.

Die Industrieländer erreichen ihren Höchststand am 19.02.20 mit einem Plus von 2.80%. Danach brachen alle drei Märkte deutlich ein. Auch in diesem Zeitraum gab es die ersten Todesopfer in Europa und in den USA. Der derzeitige Tiefpunkt, welcher am 23.03.20 zu registrieren ist, beläuft sich für die Industrieländer -32.10 %, Schwellenländer 31.7 % und Frontier-Länder auf -34.88 %.

Interessanterweise steigen die Marktwerte ab diesem Zeitpunkt wieder an. Gründe könnten die Nachrichten aus China sein, welche keine weiteren Neu-Infektionen verzeichnen, die FED dem Markt bis zu 1.5 Billionen Dollar zur Verfügung stellt und/oder die Ankündigung der Europäische Zentralbank Anleihen in Höhe von 750 MRD. Euro zu kaufen. Auch in Deutschland wurden große Hilfspakete angekündigt.

Um detaillierte Aussagen treffen zu können, müssen wir uns die Kurse auf granularer Ebene anschauen. Durch eine gezieltere Betrachtung auf Länderebene könnten Zusammenhänge näher beschrieben werden.

Wenn du dich für interaktive Analysen interessierst und tiefer in die Materie eintauchen möchtest: DATANOMIQ COVID-19 Dashboard

Hier haben wir ein Dashboard speziell für Analysen für die Aktienmärkte, welches stetig verbessert wird. Auch sollen Krypto-Währungen bald implementiert werden. Habt ihr Vorschläge und Verbesserungswünsche, dann lasst gerne ein Kommentar da!