Displaying items by tag: lockdown
Stocks are tumbling today on worries that a second wave, and a prolonged economic downturn, are becoming a reality. The Dow opened down 2.4%. Several US states have seen their weekly COVID cases spiking, and total US cases are now over 2 million. Coupled with some not-great economic data from around the world, all 11 S&P 500 sectors are down today. One asset manager in London summed up the situation nicely, saying “The timeline for the virus is being extended. It’s becoming clear that it’s a choice of allowing economies to open and take the public health hit, or lockdown countries and take the economic hit”.
FINSUM: This is tough for investors, but it is hard to argue that markets are not being rational.
Markets tumbled yesterday, and it appeared to happen mostly because of the resignation that a second wave of COVID-19 was forming across the US. In several recently reopened states the number of hospitalizations has been surging, leading investors to fear that more lockdowns—and their corresponding economic damage—could be on the way. Top epidemiologists have been warning of a second wave, and one leading doctor said he worries about states reopening before they have the virus truly under control. “My worry is that we end up in a kind of stuttering, endless loop”, says Dr. Schneider of The Commonwealth Fund.
FINSUM: The market was priced for perfection, and a big second wave didn’t fit that narrative. Hence the 6% fall yesterday. Going to be choppy for a while as the market’s bad news antenna is back up.
The Center for Disease Control made a pretty worrying announcement today. The CDC has previously warned that American could see a big uptick of the COVID-19 virus in the Fall, when temperatures cool down and flu season ramps up. It echoed that more strongly this week, citing evidence that the virus is gaining ground in the southern hemisphere as their winter takes hold. According to Robert Redfield, head of the CDC, “We’ve seen evidence that the concerns it would go south in the southern hemisphere like flu [are coming true], and you’re seeing what’s happening in Brazil now … And then when the southern hemisphere is over I suspect it will reground itself in the north”.
FINSUM: The reality is that a vaccine will not be ready before the next flu season starts, so it is pretty easy to imagine that the virus might see a big second wave in the Fall that leads to another lockdown.
The market has fallen a couple of sessions in a row and is looking weak today. It is sort of feeling like the decline many have been forecasting is finally grabbing hold as the reality of a long recession grips the psyche of investors. JP Morgan published an interesting report this week, saying that markets could fall significantly but that there are two divergent scenarios that could take place. In the bull case scenario, the re-opening of the economy works, with social distancing measures keeping a second wave from occurring (especially as summer arrives and holds COVID at bay). They describe the bearish scenario like this, saying “The other option is that overly complacent consumers bring down the guard too quickly, a second wave of infections hits, and the world is forced to rethink the optimistic timing of the new normal”.
FINSUM: The big question in our minds is whether a middle ground exists between these two scenarios. Maybe there are some isolated second waves with certain cities getting locked down. The market might just drift from here until the situation becomes more clear.
This COVID crisis has made whole areas of the economy uninvestable. Many companies have had to halt operations entirely and as the lockdown drags on it has become more clear that many may not reach their previous levels for years (if ever). One problem is that many stocks and sectors appear to be “stubs”, or stocks that have very binary value propositions. Unless things go very right, they are worth almost nothing. Energy is a good example. If oil prices don’t come back and demand for oil stays low, what is the US oil sector worth? Big brock and mortar retailers are the same—what are they worth if the re-opening doesn’t go well?
FINSUM: This is a useful way to think about some sectors, but the outcomes are probably not as binary as they may seem right now.