Chris Wang returned to The Watch List with Nicole Petallides this afternoon to discuss the financial markets, Peloton, and Conagra Foods.
With the COVID-19 shutdown profoundly impacting the US economy with over 30 million job losses, just one in 10 fund managers expect a V-shaped recovery according to the FT. Is this the right call? Luckily we can look to the Far East as a crystal ball and what we may have in store in the next few months.
China re-opened their economy in mid-February so they are about 3-5 months ahead of the US economy as the US is opening states at differing schedules.
What does it suggest about a V-shaped recovery? Some sectors have rebounded in a strong V, while others have been slow to recover. Let's take a closer look.
While many people are hoping for a V-shape recovery for the economy, restaurateurs aren't so optimistic. It is scary to think about what the restaurant landscape might look like in the fallout of COVID-19 especially for fine dining which simply can't operate at half capacity.
Recently, the Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman made waves for pushing for the reopening of Las Vegas. While it may not make sense from a health perspective, their economy relies on tourism, conference and gambling. Even if the governor decides to reopen, it isn't clear how quickly things can return to anything close to normal. Casinos will need to spend more on regular cleanings and gamblers will likely need to wear masks, have their temperatures checked, and sit with social distancing. This doesn't sound like an ideal environment to gamble. Whatever the case, we can look the Far East to the Macau casinos to see how they have done.
In the last three weeks, over 15 million people have filed jobless claims. This is sharpest employment loss in history. The unemployment rate will surpass 15% in short order and could even go to 20%+. Optimists say that when the economy re-starts, jobs will return; however, we are concerned that not all jobs will come back right away and employment will take time to recover.
There is an investment adage that says, "Don't fight the Fed." Put simply, when the Fed is providing liquidity to the markets, it should be an overall positive for the stock market, and you should be invested. Historically, this meant investors should watch what the Fed is doing in terms of interest rate policy. Today, with the Fed already hacking the rate back to zero, investors have to look at quantitative easing and it is truly epic.
The Senate today agreed to a massive $2 trillion stimulus deal (roughly 10% of GDP) to combat the economic fallout from COVID-19. This is a bigger stimulus deal than the Great Recession. Here are some of the highlights:
Last week jobless claims rose to 281,000. With the fast moving COVID-19 eviscerating demand, this is just the initial blast off of jobless claims. For those expecting a V-shape bottom, it is just way too early to call. Bill Gates believes the virus shutdown can last 10 weeks. This is going to be incredible strain on businesses.
The Fed Open Market Committee was set to meet this Tuesday and Wednesday and the market was expecting a 100bps rate cut to the emergency zero level. Instead, the Fed shocked the market with a Sunday rate cut of the expected 100bps and surprise announcement of a $700 billion bond buying program, aka Quantitative Easing 4. This certainly feels like a panic move by Chairman Jerome Powell and the Fed. A Sunday afternoon rate cut is unprecedented. The market didn't take it well with US futures opening limit down -5% and then stocks tumbled at the open to trigger a 15 minute pause in selling. What does it all mean for investors?
Back in January, I wrote a blog post when coronavirus, COVID-19, first appeared on the radar. There were just 600 cases and the Chinese government had already locked down Wuhan and neighboring cities. I was hopeful that with modern medicine and China's quick quarantine that the coronavirus could be contained. While the Chinese appear to have contained their cases, the rest of the world hasn't taken enough aggressive action to stop it in its tracks and now Western Europe is about to pass China in number of active cases! This is a frightening thought as only Italy has gone into lockdown and it did so at over 10k cases. The Europeans aren't taking enough action and this problem is spiraling out of control.
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