Midweek Macro – 4.15.2020

“You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.” – Yogi Berra

With projections coming out of the International Monetary Fund indicating that global GDP output is set to decrease by 3% in 2020 (marking the steepest drop in the metric since the 1930’s), world leaders are working to balance both sides of the COVID response equation – public health and economic health.

China, for example, is now working to jump start its economy as analysts are projecting a 6.5% drop in GDP for 1Q-2020 vs 1Q-2019 (marking the first time Chinese GDP has shrunk since its first official recordings in 1992). According to public data, China has contained the virus and is opening back up while taking measures to ensure infected citizens remain quarantined. Since many of the consumers that fuel the Chinese economy live in the U.S. and are currently staying home (many of whom are currently unemployed), China is relying on increased government spending and local government special infrastructure projects to keep the gears turning.

Italy, which became known for how quickly the virus spread across its landscape due to its social structure and slower reaction time, reported its smallest number of new infections in a month yesterday (2,972). Bookstores, stationery stores and shops selling baby supplies are now allowed to open their doors in many places.

South Korea, known for their swift an effective response to the virus, is holding elections for their National Assembly today, with officials taking the temperatures of voters in line at the polls and those not wearing facemasks being sectioned off to their own voting line.

Here in the U.S., 16 states have postponed their primary elections and debate has started on how to approach the November presidential elections. As the Trump administration is ramping up its re-election bid, they are eager to help boost the economy and restore some of the 16 million jobs that have been lost due to the pandemic and shelter in place measures.

Trump has organized a second taskforce (adjacent to the COVID-19 health response) of business leaders and government officials to discuss and coordinate re-opening of the U.S. economy. Initially claiming absolute authority on Monday, Trump spoke yesterday more of coordination with the states and with the business community to ensure that we open back up in a way that maintains safety while keeping the economy beating.

Infection disease expert Anthony Fauci is concerned about easing social distancing measures too soon – “I’ll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections. It’s how you deal with the infections that’s going to count.” Fauci points to a lack of access to rapid testing or the ability to track down all people that an infected person may have come in contact with as show-stoppers for a quick re-opening of the economy. These are two key components of the containment strategies utilized by South Korea and China.

The chart below is encouraging as we seem to be over the hump, but for all my statistics friends in the crowd – the goal is to keep the economy going while avoiding a bimodal curve and instead landing a nice right skew.

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who supported the surgical mask fundraiser for Detroit hospitals I mentioned last week – your new Social Distance Social Club Streetwear  HouseWear is on the way.

It’s amazing to be part of a community who cares so much for those around them and jumps at every opportunity to help – thanks for reminding me of that during these crazy times!

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