Is It Too Soon To Reopen?

States and the federal government have been under conflicting views on reopening their states and economies as a result of the coronavirus. The Trump Administration has given the responsibility, for the most part, to the states as to when to reopen. States are experiencing different levels of severity from the virus, with New York and California being two of the hardest hit states. Most states have seen at least some unrest from their populations about their lockdown restrictions. And almost all states, and indeed the entire world, have seen devastation to their local and global economies as a result of the shutdown of nearly all economies.

Many countries and regions in the world, including some states in the U.S., are beginning to reopen in various stages. That’s not surprising given the unprecedented economic devastation that has occurred in such a short period of time. Furthermore, people around the world are getting weary from the lockdowns and social isolation. So, is it time to reopen? Or is it still too soon?

As an economist, I have been absolutely astounded at the level and rapid pace of destruction of the global economy that has taken place in such a short period of time – in essence, just a few weeks. I have written about this extensively in this Commentary over the last couple of months. As an economist, I would like nothing more than to see the world open back up again and start trying to recover. Furthermore, governments across the globe have been forced to take actions that people in the U.S. and other free countries find abhorrent. And as a freedom-loving person myself, I am afraid that we have crossed the line into an era of big government that will likely be with us for some time to come. But we are in a very dire and different situation today than most of us have ever experienced in our lifetimes. We are in a pandemic!

In this situation, I believe that we have to defer to the health experts to an extent that makes most of us very uncomfortable. The reality of the situation is that we are in a health crisis that is still escalating on a worldwide basis. There is not yet a cure or vaccine for the virus. The best solution for combatting the virus is to do exactly what we have been doing – shutting down the world and enforcing social distancing and social isolation. But this comes at an enormous cost to the global economy. It also likely has yet to be seen consequences in other societal settings far into the future.

Health experts across the globe seem to be pretty much in agreement that it is still too early to be reopening most regions of the world. Reopening too soon is likely to cause more suffering and death than we as a global society will want to accept. As an economist, I also believe that reopening too soon, and then having to close economies down again as a result of a resurgence of the pandemic, will have much more severe economic consequences than if we stay closed a little longer until the virus is more under control. We need to be past the peak and on the downward side of the new-cases curve.

Here is a good example of what happens in situations with exponential expansion. It goes like this: how long does it take to fill a sports stadium completely to the top with water by starting with just one drop of water and doubling the volume of water every minute? The answer is that it takes less than an hour to completely fill the stadium. Left unchecked, Covid-19 could kill people around the world at a similar exponential rate. In my view, it is too early to reopen!

Economic and Investment Highlights

Last Week

Many credit-card holders can’t pay their debt. Lenders are preparing for the fallout.

J.C. Penney is getting closer to filing for bankruptcy.

Business leaders expect supply-chains to remain impacted even as various countries open their economies.

Many businesses are expected to undergo extreme distress and bankruptcy as a result of the current economic crisis.

Boeing’s CEO said air traffic might be impacted for two or three years.

The turnaround efforts at GE have stalled.

The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government must pay billions to health insurers for obligations created by the ACA.

U.S. car manufacturers target May 18th as the date to resume some auto production.

Trump signed an order to help meat-processing plants to stay open as concerns over food shortages increase.

Around half of U.S. workers would get more pay from unemployment that from working as a result of coronavirus relief efforts.

U.S. GDP declined at a 4.8% annual rate in the first quarter. This was the steepest decline since the Great Recession. Fed Chairman Powell called for more government spending to help stabilize the economy.

Hertz is preparing for possible bankruptcy.

A second wave of locusts, twenty times as large as the first wave, is threatening East Africa.

The share of Americans getting married has fallen to the lowest level on record.

The U.S. aerospace industry is preparing for massive cutbacks and layoffs.

An additional 4 million people filed for unemployment last week bringing the total to 30 million people since the economic crisis began.

Consumer spending fell 7.5% in March, the steepest monthly decline on record.

Personal income dropped 2% in March.

Europe’s economy in the first quarter shrank at the fastest pace on record.

The Fed will expand loan offerings and qualification rules in its upcoming $600 billion relief program for small and medium-size businesses.

J.Crew is preparing for bankruptcy.

U.S. manufacturing fell in April at the sharpest pace since the last recession.

April was one of the worst sales months in decades for many auto manufacturers.

The Week Ahead

This link takes you to Econoday’s Economic Calendar and Economic Events and Analysis which shows the upcoming economic reporting events scheduled in the week and months ahead.


Note: The models below may not capture the impact of COVID-19 beyond their impact on GDP source data and relevant economic reports that have already been released. They may not anticipate the impact of COVID-19 on forthcoming economic reports beyond the standard internal dynamics of the models.

Note: The comments that follow are derived from the economic indicators referenced in the Resources section of this newsletter and other sources in this report.

The Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index (ALS) had been trending up for several weeks from having dipped in 2019. Recently with the advent of the economic collapse, the index crashed. This is an extremely negative indicator for the economy on a short-term basis.

The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the second quarter of 2020 is -12.1 percent. This reading continues to support the ALS model assessment of a deteriorating short-term economic environment.

The New York Fed Staff Nowcast stands at -0.4% for 2020:Q1 and -7.9% for 2020:Q2.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) showed a decrease in economic activity in March. The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) was -4.19 in March, down from +0.06 in February.

All told, these short-term economic indicators are a negative analysis for the economy, at least on a short-term basis.

Expectations that stock prices will rise over the next six months is now at 30.6% in a recent AAII Sentiment Survey. The historical average is 38.0% for the survey. 25.4% of the investors in the survey described their short-term outlook as neutral and 44.0% were bearish. Please see the AAII Sentiment Survey for the complete results.

The latest Gross Output (GO) reading (April 6, 2020) showed that Gross Output slowed significantly in the fourth quarter of 2019.

On a longer-term basis, the forecasters in the Philadelphia Fed’s Survey of Professional Forecasters (as of February 14, 2020) predict real GDP will grow at an annual rate of 1.7 percent for the first quarter of 2020, 2.1 percent for the second quarter of 2020, 2.0 percent in the third quarter of 2020, 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, and 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2021. On an annual-average over annual-average basis, the forecasters predict real GDP to grow 2.0 percent in 2020, 2.0 percent in 2021, 2.0 percent in 2022 and 2.0 percent in 2023. The forecasters predict the unemployment rate will average 3.6 percent in 2020, 3.6 percent in 2021, 3.7 percent in 2022, and 3.9 percent in 2023. The next survey release date is May 15, 2020.

The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) released an Outlook Flash Survey on April 10, 2020. The NABE panel expects GDP declines in Q1 2020 and Q2 2020, and upticks in Q3 2020 and Q4 2020. The panel believes the U.S. economy is already in a recession and predicts real GDP will grow at an annual rate of -2.4 percent for the first quarter of 2020, -26.5 percent for the second quarter of 2020, 2.0 percent in the third quarter of 2020, 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, and 6.0 percent in the first quarter of 2021. The forecasters expect unemployment to average 3.8% in Q1 2020. The median unemployment rate projection for Q2 2020 is 12.0%. The unemployment rate is expected to fall back to 9.5% at the end of 2020, and to 6.0% at year-end 2021. The panel’s forecast for the PCE price index less food and energy calls for a slowdown in the annual rate of change from 1.7% in Q1 to 0.8% in Q2 2020. The panel expects the rate to increase gradually to 1.7% in the last half of 2021.

For a more in-depth review and analysis of the economy, please see our mini-book on economic analysis and forecasting entitled: Simple and Effective Economic Forecasting.

Stock Market Valuations

Our estimates of the market valuations for two stock market indices, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500), can be found in the file below:


During this time of global flux due to the coronavirus, I am leaving the Conclusion discussion below the same as was posted on March 23, 2020. The March 23, 2020 discussion still adequately reflects my thinking on the current state of affairs.

Reprinted from March 23, 2020

Up until the past week, the economy had been in a stable but somewhat vulnerable state. Nonetheless, it had remained fairly strong. In fact, robust consumer spending and strong labor market conditions had given us confidence that the economy, which had been in its tenth year of expansion, could continue to grow. But we were cautious on this outlook. There were several reasons for our caution. U.S. business growth had been mixed. And global economic growth had been mixed as well. The new coronavirus was becoming a global economic threat, although it was still too early to tell how much of an effect it would ultimately have. Debt is at high levels for consumers, businesses, and government (at all levels of government). Finally, this is an election year that will likely have significant consequences either positively or negatively depending on the outcome of the elections. And of course, it is still too early to tell what the outcome of the elections will be.

In just a few days, the coronavirus’s effect on the economy and the markets went from a ripple to a tsunami. Businesses are shuttering, events are being cancelled or postponed, grocery store shelves are empty, and people are being asked or ordered to stay home. The markets are now deep in bear market territory. The effects on the economy, even given the short time that the economy has been retreating, may be with us for a long time. There is now a much greater risk of a recession, and there has even been some talk of a depression. The government, the Fed, Republicans, and Democrats, and pretty much the entire country, is trying to get the virus under control and is coming up with plans to mitigate the long-term economic effects caused by the virus. But the virus has impacted the economy – in a significant way – in just a short time. How long lasting the effects will be no one can tell right now. The economy has been largely shut down and remains so today. It takes time to restart the economy after a situation such as what is occurring at the present time.

Given these events and the rapidly deteriorating situation, as I said last week, I would caution not to panic. The economy and the markets will get better. The situation is bad – there is no doubt about that – but it will turn around. The real question is when will it turn around? No one knows that at the present time. But it will turn around.

For now, review your investment portfolios. It is highly likely that all or most of your stocks are down. You should not consider selling the bulk of your stocks – only consider selling companies that are not sound companies. But do recognize that as the economy deteriorates, even good companies will be affected.

For stock market value hunters, we believe it is still too early to jump back in. We will be closely monitoring the markets using the many tools and models that we have developed over the years to assess the economy and the markets. We will use our best judgement and thoughts to let you know when we believe things are turning around. The turnaround hasn’t happened yet.

We believe it is important to maintain a long-term view toward investing. But for now, just sit tight. Eventually, this means that you should continue building your investment portfolio using the Cassandra Stock Selection Model to select individual securities that offer growth and value opportunities.

Chart for Review and Thought

WHO Report on Covid-19 Cases

Simple and Effective Economic Forecasting Model

Note: The table and chart below have not been updated. However, we believe that a recession is quite likely. In the chart below, the bottom green line shows what a recession could look like.

Notes (GDP Growth Chart):

  1. See the July 8, 2019 Commentary for an introduction to this model.
  2. Actual numbers 2007 through 2019; forecasted numbers thereafter.
  3. Normal GDP growth is typically in the 2% to 3% range.
  4. A recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Thought for the Week

“The best evidence shows the virus behind the pandemic was not made in a lab in China. Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.” ~ Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview with National Geographic


Then Intrinsic Value Wealth Report has started a new podcast this week called Intrinsic Value Wealth Report Radio. You can listen to the podcast at Intrinsic Value Wealth Report Radio.

Dr. Wendee spoke at the Investment Club of America’s annual economic summit, called Econosummit, on Sunday March 1, 2020 in Las Vegas.

Dr. Wendee attended the The National Due Diligence Alliance (TNDDA) investment banking conference, which was held March 6-8, 2020 at the Four Seasons Resort in Dallas, Texas. This is a conference held several times throughout the year for investment bankers and registered investment advisers to learn about new opportunities in the Alternative Investment asset classes.

TNDDA Meeting in Dallas, Texas

We have been researching the use of crowdsourcing for investment ideas. We will be sending a survey out in the next few weeks to get your input on the economy and the markets; and to get any investment ideas that you would like to share. We will compile this input and distribute the results to you and our other subscribers. We have been testing our crowdsourcing models with students and have been having good success and results.

Dr. Wendee has been researching and writing a new theory of economics known as, The Value Creation Theory of the Economy (also known as, Intrinsinomics). The full paper on Intrinsinomics will be published in the near future.

Finance 3350: Personal Finance-Portfolio & Risk Management– Dr. Wendee started teaching Finance 3350 – Portfolio & Risk Management at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) starting January 2020. Dr. Wendee teaches courses in Management and Finance at CSULA.

Business 4970:Strategic Management – Dr. Wendee started teaching  Business 4970:Strategic Management  at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) starting January 2020. Dr. Wendee teaches courses in Management and Finance at CSULA.

Business 218 – Macroeconomics – Dr. Wendee started teaching Business 218 – Macroeconomics at California Baptist University (CBU) starting January 2020. Dr. Wendee teaches courses in Finance and Economics at CBU.

Dr. Wendee presented a paper on his new theory of economics known as, The Value Creation Theory of the Economy (also known as, Intrinsinomics), at the International Leadership Association’s annual global conference which was held in Ottawa, Canada last Fall.

Dr. Wendee is working on a financial planning modeling program which will be available in the near future. The modeling program is designed to assist anyone in creating a financial plan and is customizable for each person’s unique financial planning goals. A working draft of the model is currently in beta test with students. Click this link, schematic, to go to the clickable document under the subheading Financial Planning Process (Draft) in the Intrinsic Value Wealth Report to see a draft of the schematic for the new financial planning process.

Dr. Wendee has been developing an econometric model specifically designed to monitor and forecast the global economy as this current economic crisis unfolds. This new econometric model is based on other econometric models that he has designed and have used for many years. You can find some of these earlier models in Book # 6 – Simple and Effective Economic Forecasting in the sister website to this website which is called the Intrinsic Value Wealth Report. The new econometric model has been constructed with some additional tools and methods that he has learned and some that he has developed over the last several years. He will be talking more about this new econometric model in this Commentary over the next few months. His comments and forecasts on the economy and the markets going forward will be based to a significant extent on this new model.

Intrinsic Value Wealth Creation pyramid

We always conclude our commentary with a discussion of the Intrinsic Value Wealth Creation Pyramid. The Intrinsic Value Wealth Creation Pyramid is designed to show some of the major categories for building wealth. It is the result of many years of study of the wealth building process; experience working with clients who have built considerable wealth; and my own personal experience building wealth. Newsletter subscribers should consult the Intrinsic Value Wealth Creation Pyramid as one of many useful investment tools while considering their investment plans.

The chart in this section is an expanded version of the Intrinsic Value Wealth Creation Pyramid Chart referenced in the Forbes.com article entitled, Nine Of The Best Ways To Build Wealth.


See our Resources section for links to economic and other resources used in the preparation of this Commentary.

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