March 30, 2020
Negative headlines have pervaded our consciousness since the stock market crash began on March 9 and the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11. And, they continue to abound as confirmed cases multiply across the U.S. But there is still encouraging news to be found.
In a CNBC interview last week, Ben Bernanke, who served as the Federal Reserve Chairman during the 2008 financial crisis, predicted the coronavirus would cause a very sharp recession, but he expected a fairly quick recovery if we are able to effectively combat the virus.* The nation is now social distancing to slow the disease’s spread and create a preventative vaccine. Dozens of vaccines and coronavirus treatments, including existing drugs used for other illnesses, are being tested. Some anecdotal evidence appears promising.
Companies are stepping up. Last week, Ford Motor Company announced it is teaming up with 3M and General Electric to produce air respirators, ventilators and 3-D face shields. Other auto makers have also offered to help. Apple will donate 10 million face masks to relief efforts. Facebook, Tesla and other companies are following suit on a smaller scale. Several garment manufacturers plan to start producing face masks.
Cisco, Bank of America and JP Morgan have pledged $250 million, $100 million and $50 million respectively to address health and economic impacts. Many other corporations are making gifts to their communities or providing aid or extra benefits to employees. Despite 3.28 million new claims for unemployment in mid-March, Walmart, Amazon, Lowes, drug stores, groceries and others plan to hire 435,000 employees.
The Federal government is taking measures to reduce economic hardship until companies can resume normal business activities. In addition to actions by the Federal Reserve and legislation Congress passed earlier this month, Congress just passed a $2 trillion stimulus, which President Trump signed on Friday. The 880-page bill includes lending measures and economic policies to support small businesses, industries, taxpayers and the unemployed.
While there are reasons for hope, the unknowns we currently face are stressful. We appreciate the trust you have placed in us, and we are available to answer questions or address concerns you may have.