Spike in "foreign exchange" google search after COVID
Policy Pulse - George Anjaparidze - 9 April 2020
On April 6, the IMF indicated that COVID-19 will cause more economic damage than the global financial crisis. The IMF now expects the world to dip into recession in 2020. The WTO forecasts the trade slump in 2020 to exceed declines observed during the global financial crisis. Search trends on google support these assertions.
Google trends data from March 2020 shows that COVID-19 has led to the highest ever search rate for terms on the “foreign exchange” topic, which points to rising exchange rate pressures and volatility (see chart: Global). This data supports the assertion that we are likely to have experienced the most sudden withdrawal of capital from emerging markets in recent history.
Had central banks across emerging economies, including Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa not intervened to prop-up local currencies, we would likely have seen much higher numbers of google searches on the foreign exchange topic.
All five of the Eurasian Economic Union members (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Armenia) made the list of top ten countries with the highest rate of google searches on the topic of foreign exchange. Other countries that are also on this list include: Tajikistan, Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan and United Arab Emirates.
See our related analysis: Volatility in Eurasian Union revealed by google trends
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 Google trends data reveals frequency of terms searched under the “foreign exchange” topic. The data is aggregated across various parameters using an index. The numbers on the index represent search frequency relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. The ranking of countries is assessed based on the relative share of queries that fall within the foreign exchange topic. The rankings do not take into account absolute query count. So, a tiny country where 80% of the queries are related to “foreign exchange” will get twice the score of a giant country where only 40% of the queries are related to “foreign exchange”.
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