Covid-19 is still having a lasting impact, gripping the US economy some 5 months after it reared its ugly head. This time it is targeting the US housing market. With 44 million Americans still unemployed, many unable to pay rent and utilities, and temporary eviction bans set to lift, the US faces an eviction catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen.
With California reporting a new daily high for new COVID-19 cases, 4,515 new cases on Sunday, the continual concern for virus spread should still be at the top of everyone’s priority list. Over just the last two weeks The United States has seen a 15% case increase. Typical travel destinations in the southeast and on the west coast seem to be the most dramatically affected. The work we have all put in to “flatten the curve” may all be for naught if we, as a nation, continue to jump back to the norm too early. Hospitals are feeling the effects of the dramatic spike in cases already. The White House is making efforts to concentrate on stocking up supplies to combat a potential COVID-19 case rise this coming Fall as lower temperatures may increase the spread.
During last week’s OPEC + meeting the group agreed to keep production cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day until the end of July. This effort has helped bolster oil prices to levels of almost double the values in April. The prior OPEC + meeting brought forth the creation of a new advisory group, the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee. According to Reuters, “To step up consultations on the effectiveness of the agreement, OPEC+ also agreed that a panel called the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee or JMMC, will meet monthly until the end of 2020. Its first such meeting is on Thursday next week… “It’s an advisory committee that can make recommendations,” one of the OPEC+ sources said of the JMMC’s role, declining to be identified by name.” The member nations that compose the JMMC are Algeria, Kuwait, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, plus non-OPEC countries Russia and Kazakhstan.
With the world being consumed for all of 2020 thus far with coronavirus headlines, we are all familiar with the risks due to exposure and transmission of COVID-19. One of the pieces of information cycling around COVID-19 is the incubation period being up to 14 days, with a median of about 5 days. This timeline seems to link up with the Memorial Day festivities many families and friends had planned. After all, we were all yearning for a chance to get out and enjoy our favorite travel destinations and break the monotony of everyday life that has engrained social distancing at such a high level.
As the nation continues to navigate COVID-19, states are starting to open back up. Today in Pennsylvania, more counties are moving in to the ‘Green Phase’. The counties in the Green Phase have mitigated the risk for the 14 days required and are allowed to ‘open’ with strongly suggested guidelines from the Governor, Dr. Levine and the CDC.
On April 14th Apple announced that it had developed a program to capture user location data in an effort to track the spread of COVID-19. As part of that announcement Apple also mentioned it had this data already, and users were aware that Apple has been tracking location data when they agreed to their terms and conditions. It is no surprise to anyone, that the data conclusively showed a dramatic decrease in the use of public transport, motor vehicles, and mobility in general since the outbreak of the virus. The graph below illustrates the massive drop in March in the United States.
As we move into week six of social distancing and stay-at-home orders throughout the country, many states are preparing to lift restrictions beginning this week. CNN recently conducted an interview with Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. His foundation has studied pandemics for years and is now involved with the fight against COVID-19. Gates told CNN during his interview that the country can begin to lift restrictions safely if they have the capacity to aggressively test for and trace new cases of the virus.
I think we have all been bogged down in COVID-19 related news or news of poor global economics related to commodities, so this blog will be devoted to lighter non coronavirus related topics. Yesterday, for example, was the first round of the NFL draft. It was done via teleconference and quite honestly reminded us that everyone is struggling together to find a new normal. The NFL draft was the first sports related telecast that felt normal, it was something everyone could watch together and feel like it was last year again.
April 20, 2020 will go down in history as the first-ever negative trading day for WTI Crude as stocks plunged 321%, saw -$40.32 a barrel, and created a historic “super contango.”
By now, I am sure we are all looking for different things to do while practicing social distancing and following our state’s “Stay at Home” orders. Days can become monotonous real fast when you are used to being on the go or if your current routine needs pepped up and refueled. Here are a few ideas of things you can do to add to the mix.