We are about a week to 10 days away from learning how bad the Covid-19 outbreak will be for the US economy.
The first event as I laid out last month is the empty store shelves. While now they are being replenished soon they will remain bare as China’s manufacturing and shipping shut downs really hit home.
Secondly, beginning next week we should start to see Wall Street banks and other international corporations giving dire warnings on second quarter earnings. The reports will be bleak with little information on the immediate future.
No clarity will be the overarching sentiment from JPMorgan, Apple and travel companies as well as plenty of firms in between. Look for the Fed to have to cut rates again to ease liquidity strains on the equity market.
Firms using the overnight repo market window will be as long as the return counter at WalMart the day after Christmas as financial companies big and small push bad paper at the Fed for overnight loans.
At the same time — it is hoped — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will have millions of more coronavirus test kits deployed. Then the US will have to deal with the results showing just how widespread the outbreak is.
The number of Covid-19 infections that will be reported will shock the American people and truly set off panic buying of food and supplies.
As I wrote Wednesday, the World Health Organization is holding back on declaring Covid-19 a pandemic until July 15, 2020 in order to pay off its bondholders.
Lastly as I wrote last month the Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be cancelled or delayed because of the pandemic. Well you can probably add the US presidential campaigning will be curtailed sharply once the true impact of Covid-19 is discovered. The Democratic and Republican conventions could be affected too.
Once the Trump White House has verified the US infection rate numbers, large gatherings like concerts and sporting events may be cancelled as well or perhaps played in empty arenas for digital audiences.
This is not fear mongering. All these circumstances are going to happen in the short term until officials can determine the mortality rate for Americans.
Only then can the US economy determine the cost benefits of resuming “normal” activities.