Some Good News

Beth Misak |

By Paul Hynes, CFP®
May 2020

More than anything else, the story of the COVID-19 pandemic is a human one. Our collective hearts go out to those affected by the disease in any way, especially those mourning the loss of a loved one, as well as the isolated, lonely people, including those in senior living communities.

As bad as it is, the good news is that things seem to be getting better. The number of daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world1 and in the U.S.2 is flattening out, perhaps beginning to decline. Granted, the numbers aren’t perfect. Yet they’re the best we have at the moment.

Because of the shutdown, economic activity is way down from the levels we saw last year. Yet, we are beginning to see signs of life and an indication that the U.S. economy may be in the initial stages of a recovery. That’s some good news among all the gloominess out there.

For example, the number of airline passengers going through TSA checkpoints is going up. The amount of gasoline being supplied to dealers has been growing for three weeks in a row. Hotel occupancy is up and so is railcar traffic—a lead indicator for overall economic activity.3

If you’ve been outside, you’ve probably noticed more cars on the roads. And, since technology is everywhere, and we rely so much on our phones, it is interesting to note that routing requests on map apps are way up compared to mid-April. While we don’t need a routing request to get around the house, once we leave, it’s right back to: “Siri, please help me find my way.”

Employment reports have been and will continue to be bleak. Yet, things are even looking “less worse” in that area recently. I know personally of one small business that brought 20 people back to work last week after receiving a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. That’s just a small example of what appears to be a trend due to the federal assistance programs and as a result of states starting to reopen their economies.

The trend to re-hire workers and reopen the economy is likely to continue. As one state opens, it puts pressure on the nearby states to do the same. If a business is located in an open state, and a competitor is not, there will be pressure exerted on the politicians to level the playing field.

There’s some good news in the investment markets as well. As seen in the chart below, while still in the red for 2020, every major market index is up double digits from the bottom on March 23, 2020. Astoundingly, one of those, the tech-heavy NASDAQ 100, is up for the year.4



People are people and generally like to do things, buy things, and enjoy their lives – which in turn leads to economic activity. We are beginning to see signs of life. It’s a small start, and some good news that raises hope and optimism that we can get back to normal in the future.

Stay healthy. Stay hopeful. We’ll all get through this together. Call or email us if you’d like to discuss this or anything else. We’re here to help.

 


Sources:

1World data is available through OurWorldinData.org and is updated daily.

2U.S. data is available through OurWorldinData.org and is updated daily.

3 Light at the End of the Tunnel, by Brian Wesbury, Chief Economist, First Trust Advisors LLP, May 4, 2020. https://www.ftportfolios.com/retail/blogs/economics/index.aspx

4 A Global Snapshot of Equity Returns During the COVID-19 Pandemic, by Bob Carey, Chief Market Strategist, First Trust Portfolios, LLP https://www.ftportfolios.com/retail/blogs/marketcommentary/index.aspx

Some Good News is a series on YouTube created and hosted by actor John Krasinski. It’s definitely worth the watch. The title of this report is homage to that wonderful series.