The Transcript 05.18.20

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Succinct Summary: Economic activity is trending positively as shelter in place orders are slowly lifted around the economy. The data is better than it was but still very bad for any other environment. Markets have discounted a quick return to normalcy, but this week’s comments suggest that business leaders expect the recovery to take longer. For the hardest-hit industries, it could be years before they are operating at peak levels again. And even if demand snapped back today it could take months for the supply side of the economy to rev back up. Importantly, employment will likely rebound slower than the rest of the economy, which is a big deal for the demand side of the economy given how high unemployment numbers are. Editor’s Request: This weekly newsletter is made possible by donations from our readers. If you like what you are reading, click here to donate (Our suggested donation: $10 per month). Help us keep The Transcript going.

The Transcript 05.11.20

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Succinct Summary: Companies are reporting signs of improvement in the economy. But the rebound is coming off such a low base that these numbers would still be considered very bad in any other environment. The duration of this rebound will depend heavily on whether or not there’s a second wave of infections. Still, even without the virus it probably will take the economy a long time to recover from such a severe shock. 

On an industry basis: private capital markets are searching for price levels; consumers are dreaming of the future; tech is chugging along; and the industrial/energy economy is feeling immense pain.

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The Transcript 05.04.20

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Succinct Summary: This week was the height of earnings season and it was a little surreal to see the magnitude of revenue declines in some industries. These declines weren’t surprising though and many companies said that there were signs of recent stabilization. However, markets have pinned hopes on a V shaped recovery. If we don’t get a V there could be a second wave of volatility. The most concerning data point from this week is that China and Italy are experiencing U shaped recoveries.

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The Transcript 04.27.20

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Succinct Summary: The decline in economic activity has been huge and the recovery may take longer than expected.  However, bulls are betting on massive stimulus in an environment that was already highly liquid prior to the Covid crisis.  Consumers are itching to get back to normal and some hard hit industries are seeing stabilizing trends.  But the economy is subject to the machinations of non-economic forces: governments and a poorly understood disease.

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The Transcript 04.20.20

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Succinct Summary: The modern economy has never experienced economic carnage on the scale of COVID19.  US GDP is forecast to fall by 30-40% while unemployment is likely to rise to 20-30%.  What matters though, is how long it lasts.  A 30% rate of decline in production for a quarter is different from a 30% decline for a whole year.  As public attention seems to turn from the virus to the economy, debate is on whether we will see a V-shaped recovery or not.  There are lots of reasons why we are unlikely to see such a rapid recovery but there are also glimmers of economic hope.  Still, the path of the economy seems to pale in comparison to the importance of the path of humanity.

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