Eq: Total Market
This is a dark day economically. New data is flowing in from many sources, and all of it is pointing to a severe decline in demand that seems ever more likely to push the US into a depression. Unemployment claims came in at another 6.6m this morning, meaning a total of 16.6m Americans have applied in the last three weeks. In other data, fuel and energy demand has fallen so far that it is now at 1960s level. Electricity usage has plummeted on the back of the sharp decline in industrial output.
FINSUM: Let’s do some rough calculations. The US workforce is about 164m people. We started this coronavirus lockdown with just under 4% unemployment, and have since added 16.6m people. By a rough calculation that means we likely have already hit 14% unemployment.
One of the small but important pillars of the recent years of the bull market has been Millennials beginning to invest. However, as this coronavirus meltdown has unfolded, that growing support for the market may evaporate. Millennials mostly invest in the market via retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, but given the huge layoffs occurring, they are likely to have to raid their retirement funds in order to get through these hard times. Because of this there is likely to be billions withdrawn from the market.
FINSUM: Millennials were a growing part of the market, but given their often precarious financial circumstances, it seems like their participation will be less for the next year or so.
The President and his team are working furiously on plans for how to open the $22 tn US economy after its unprecedented lockdown. “We’re looking at the concept where we open sections of the country and we’re also looking at the concept where you open up everything”, says Trump. In particular, the White House is looking to open the economy entirely within 30 days, or possibly 60 days, with different schedules being considered. The new strategy is to open the economy based on much more widespread and rapid testing. This will allow workers to be verified as having (or not) the virus and sent back to work.
FINSUM: Just as the coronavirus is a nearly unprecedented occurrence, so is the reopening of the world’s largest economy. It is going to take exceptionally good planning to balance the competing priorities of public health and economic restoration.
Right now there is a big problem in earnings forecasts. UBS points out that many Wall Street analysts have been very slow to update their earnings estimates in the growing coronavirus lockdown. As such, the current spread between estimates and what actual earnings are likely to be is very wide. This often happens in crises, as analysts await more info and data before updating estimates, but it also generally means there is a much greater chance for volatility as earnings releases approach.
FINSUM: We expect that as Q1 earnings reporting approaches in the next few weeks, there will be some big attention-grabbing downward revisions, which could bring on additional bouts of downside-oriented volatility.
Ever since the big stock rally of a couple of weeks ago, the predominant mood of Wall Street analysts has been decidedly bearish. Most big research teams have said markets have further to fall before they hit bottom. However, Morgan Stanley has just come out with a contrarian opinion. Commenting that “the worst is behind us”, the bank says it is time for investors to jump back into stocks in a big way. Summarizing their view, the bank said “With the forced liquidation of assets in the past month largely behind us, unprecedented and unbridled monetary and fiscal intervention led by the U.S. and the most attractive valuation we have seen since 2011, we stick to our recent view that the worst is behind us for this cyclical bear market that began two years ago, not last month”.
FINSUM: The worst of the health crisis is still ahead of us, but it could be the case that the worst of the asset selloff is over. Our lingering worry about this is that a mortgage crisis could be brewing as a result of the stop in the flow of money, so we are worried about another sharp downturn in coming months.
Yes, you read that right, Bank of America is forecasting a 35%+ GDP fall for the YEAR, not just Q2. The bank thinks the Coronavirus downturn is so bad that the US economy will shrink 7% in Q1, 30% in Q2, and 1% in Q3, a cumulative 35.55% for the year. The downturn would be the worst to ever strike the US.
FINSUM: This is by far the bleakest projection we have seen. Goldman, for instance, sees 19% growth in Q3. So if the economy shrinks 35% this year, what is fair market value for the S&P 500?