Dear friends, family and clients,
Wow! In my 45 years I have never seen this. Prior bear markets (a decline of 20% or more from the last trailing high of the S&P 500 index—which was 2/19/2020) were caused by the collapse in fundamental economics, such as the banking and bad real-estate loan crisis of 2007-2009. Or the irrational tech bubble of 2000-2002. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first bear market caused by a disease, since the impact of both the Spanish flu of 1918-1919 combined with WWI.
I am going to share my thoughts with you, and I have attached many of my reference points, not in chronological order, both above and below. I apologize for that, for it is above my pay grade. I am desperate to get this email out to you, and I apologize for any linguistic glitches. I normally have a brilliant staff to clean up these emails. I encourage you all to write me back with your candid comments and questions:
There are 7 major parts to the mess we are in:
- The humanitarian cost to the economy of illness and deaths is enormous. Our thoughts and prayers to all who have lost a family member or friend. Not to make light of that, but the economic destruction is epic.
2. Why is this impacting the economy and the stock markets? Here is where I go random on you. The attached article on the “manufacturing supply chain” shows major global ramifications. By example, the parts of an Apple iPhone come from 26 different countries. You only need one part missing, and no iPhone shipped. Extend this concept to everything that is manufactured globally: TV’s, phones, computer gear, appliances, automobiles, tractors, medical supplies and big pharm, to name just a few. A statistic I trust more than the Fed is a recent survey by Dunn & Bradstreet of their Fortune 1000 customers, which shows that 94% of transportation management executives in those companies reported supply change interruptions. Even if you were motivated to buy something, the news is already reporting enormous lack of supply. Think of Samsung TV’s and phones from South Korea, computer gear from Japan, cars and trucks, appliances from South Korea, Japan, Mexico, China, Germany, Italy, etc. The math will make your head explode.
3. The Fed at about 3 PM on Sunday, today, as I write this, dropped overnight rates to banks to the 0.00 to 0.25% range. Who will this help? More random questions and thoughts: Are you going to go out tomorrow and buy a new auto/truck because the interest rate is 1% less? Book a cruise? (They are shut down for 60 days!) Buy airline tickets to Disneyland?? It’s closed. Go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy a new $50,000 kitchen or bathroom renovation? The one bright spot is refinancing and new house purchases. The Fed rate cut should trickle down to lower mortgage interest rates. If you haven’t checked your home mortgage interest rate lately, do so right now. Caution, I have dozens of mortgage and bank lending officers who are clients. Their pipeline is 2 to 3 months out. In many cases, they have closed their pipelines to new applications.
4. The Fed at about 3 PM on Sunday, today, as I write this, dropped overnight rates to banks to the 0.00 to 0.25% range. Who will this help? More random questions and thoughts: Are you going to go out tomorrow and buy a new auto/truck because the interest rate is 1% less? Book a cruise? (They are shut down for 60 days!) Buy airline tickets to Disneyland?? It’s closed. Go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy a new $50,000 kitchen or bathroom renovation? The one bright spot is refinancing and new house purchases. The Fed rate cut should trickle down to lower mortgage interest rates. If you haven’t checked your home mortgage interest rate lately, do so right now. Caution, I have dozens of mortgage and bank lending officers who are clients. Their pipeline is 2 to 3 months out. In many cases, they have closed their pipelines to new applications.
5. The combination of decreased consumer and small business spending, combined with simple human fear, has taken a toll on all stock markets. A long time ago I learned the expression, “The trend is your friend.” Since 2/19/2020, the all-time high mentioned above, we have had 17 stock market days: 13 down, 4 up. End of game. Restaurants, retail, cruise lines and leisure travel have taken a huge hit. I’m sure you have seen the pictures on the Internet of the empty shelves in all grocery stores, Costco, Wal-Mart, etc. This is not going to be miraculously repaired over night because interest is cheaper. And by the way, don’t expect those interest rate cuts to banks to trickle down overnight to your credit card balances. The most credit worthy of the US citizens, about 25%, will get a better rate on an auto/truck loan or a mortgage. Per above, 70% of Americans were frozen in poverty before 2/19/2020 and will continue to be so.
6. There are a couple of bright spots. Student loan interest forgiveness, 2 weeks of unpaid wages to small business employees. And here is the big one (article attached). There are approximately 100 banks and lenders that have loaned billions to the small/medium oil patch producers, i.e., not Exxon Mobil. These small producers, who mostly do shale fracking, have an average cost to produce and extract at $31/barrel. Oil currently fetches about $30/barrel. You can’t make money spending $31 to sell something for $30. You don’t need to have a Ph.D. in Economics to figure that out. Will the Fed’s interest rate cuts make oil go back to $60/barrel? More than likely, not! Due to the supply chain disruptions above, in China, and most other countries that have manufacturing-based economies, are buying less oil. (Think G20, Group of 20, 19 nations and the European Union.) Add to that consumers, airlines, cruise lines, etc.
7. Now for the scary, gross part (references attached). 95% of the US consumption of 200+ varieties of fruits, nuts and vegetables come from California. The major West coast cities from Seattle to San Diego are suffering from a pre-2/19/2020 epidemic of homeless street people living in tents. Again, it doesn’t take much to realize that these people are not the healthiest, cleanest and best cared-for individuals to begin with. COVID-19 will hit them hard. In the attached reference, you’ll see that there are approximately 12 to 15 million migrant workers in CA responsible for the harvesting of those 200+ fruits, nuts and vegetables. What happens to the food supply chain when COVID-19 hits the migrant workers in CA? That might just explain all the empty shelves in grocery stores this past week. Consumers get it.
I’m sorry if you think I am an alarmist. My number one job is to protect you and your family’s investments. We are doing that. Many accounts went to 100% “cash” on 2/28/2020, and other accounts have been substantially defensive, known as “short”, since then. We have the greatest scientists, MD’s, and Ph.D.’s working on this pandemic. If you haven’t seen Dr. Anthony Fauci on TV, Google him. His team is the best, and not a bunch of TV talking heads.
Please write me back with your questions and comments ASAP. I am doing my best to protect you and your family.