Comments and Opinions
Second Quarter, 2020
As we enter the second half of 2020 we hope you and your family are doing well as we continue to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 virus on health, employment, businesses, the stock markets, and our way of life in general. We have witnessed how national and local governments closed down their economies and restricted the movements of their citizens triggering a financial crisis as a result of a severe world-wide health threat.
In response to the crisis, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Actis a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill which primarily includes $300 billion in one-time cash payments to individual Americans, $260 billion in increased unemployment benefits, the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program that provides forgivable loans to small businesses with an initial $350 billion in funding (later increased to $669 billion by subsequent legislation), $500 billion in aid for large corporations, and $339.8 billion to state and local governments. The US Federal Reserve also acted swiftly by lowering interest rates and providing unprecedented liquidity to financial markets to ensure they would continue to function efficiently. The Fed is expected to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future. More stimulus funding is expected. This aid, while necessary in the short term, adds to our ever-growing national debt in the long term.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US unemployment rate as of February, 2020 was 3.5%. In April, 2020 the Bureau reported the unemployment rate at 14.7%, the highest rate and largest month-to-month increase in the history of the data (available back to January, 1948). According to the Small Business Administration, there are 30.7 million small businesses in the USA which account for 99.9% of all US businesses. The SBA also reports small companies have been responsible for creating 1.5 million jobs annually and account for 64% of new jobs created in the United States.
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The shutdown has severely impacted specific industries such as retail, hospitality, transportation, travel and tourism. Small business owners have been sharply affected. With the lessening of state and local restrictions these small business are working to adapt to new regulations and rules and fighting to keep their businesses alive.
Along with the bad news in the Second Quarter, there has been some good news. Research has been progressing in the development of treatments and a vaccine. States have begun to reopen for business, employees have been returning to work, people have begun to resume travel and some of their usual activities. Going forward, each State will have to find a balance between increased economic activity and the increase of Covid-19 cases that may put their citizens at risk and stress their healthcare systems.
Stock markets rebounded in the Second Quarter. The S&P 500 closed at 3100.29 on June 30th, up from the March 31st close of 2584.59, a gain of 20%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 25,812.88 on June 30th a 17.8% gain from its close of 21,917.16 on March 31st., and the NASDAQ Composite ended the Second Quarter at 10,058.77 gaining 30.6% from its close of 7700.10 at the end of the First Quarter, 2020. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results
It is said that stock markets are forward-looking. Markets may be looking to the economic future with encouragement from current research for treatment and a vaccine, the increase of testing capabilities, and progress toward the gradual reopening of the US economy. We believe volatility will continue in the stock markets with new spikes of virus cases in certain areas of the country, the current divisive social and political climate, upcoming national elections in November, and residual damage that has been done to the economy.
Overall, we remain optimistic in the long-term and feel confident that the US and the economy will weather the storm caused by the pandemic as we have weathered many other challenges in the past. However, with the recent volatility in the markets, we strongly recommend our clients call us to schedule a time to review their accounts. We can help you determine if your portfolio’s asset allocation meets your current financial goals and needs or if rebalancing is in order. We are here to answer your questions and address your concerns.
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The information provided is not directed at any investor or category of investors and is provided solely as general information about products and services or to otherwise provide general investment education. None of the information provided should be regarded as a suggestion to engage in or refrain from any investment-related course of action as neither National Securities nor its affiliates are undertaking to provide you with investment advice or recommendations of any kind. Opinions are subject to change with market conditions. The views and strategies may not be suitable for all investors and are not intended to be relied on for legal or tax advice.