Good morning! Graham here.

Covid-19 update

I've already written lots about this subject. It's the topic right now.

Since I last wrote about it in the SCVR, the most important news stories and things I have noticed are:

  • The UK lockdown was extended for 3 weeks, to the first week in May. The PM continues his recovery.
  • We can look forward to a staggered reopening of the European economies. It is likely that schools will open first in most countries, and the hospitality industry will open last. See the most recent proposal by UCL economists.
  • New cases and deaths with the virus are falling pretty much everywhere, according to official data - see Worldometer.
  • The capacity of the healthcare system has not been exceeded in the UK, nor in most other countries (but patients with other conditions have not received their scheduled, elective treatments).
  • Localised studies show high levels of asymptomatic infection and the buildup of antibodies in local populations.
  • Demonstrations against the lockdown policy have started taking place in the USA, Germany, Israel, and India. The severe economic consequences of lockdown are causing millions of people to go hungry, including in the UK.

After all of this, the FTSE has roared ahead to c. 5800.

I was very bullish around 5000, and I still have a long trade on the index (opened a few months ago), but I'm currently neutral in the short-term.

Even if the policy of near-total lockdown ends soon, I don't believe that we will get the pre-Coronavirus economy back straight away.

For a start, there are likely to be social distancing rules and guidelines for a long time. These could be a major drag on the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors if they limit customer numbers or if they cause some people to deliberately avoid places where crowds may gather or where irritating rules have to be followed.

Secondly, I don't see how the unemployed and furloughed masses will be able to start spending again soon. For those living from paycheck to paycheck, even a 20% pay cut (if they are on the UK government's job retention scheme, for example) is a major blow to their spending power.

A severe financial shock can have long-lasting effects both on an individual, and on the wider economy. We have just witnessed a financial shock like no other.

In the US,…

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