Million case Thursday? We may get there this afternoon. Cases were up a little more than 10% Wednesday, and if it happens today, we could squeak over a million before midnight.
Against the grim, the only press releases we figured that would matter this morning were these:
JOB CUTS SURGE TO 222,288 IN MARCH; COVID CLAIMS 141,844
CHICAGO, April 2, 2020 – Job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers surged 292% from February’s total of 56,660 to 222,288 in March. March was the first month to report job cut announcements specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released Thursday from global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
The March figures include job cuts announced by specific companies in the United States and tracked by Challenger. It does not include the hundreds of thousands of workers who were furloughed in March.
Last month’s total is 267% higher than the 60,587 cuts announced in the same month last year. It is the highest monthly total since January 2009, when 241,749 cuts were announced.
In the first quarter of 2020, employers announced 346,863 job cuts, up 82% from the 190,410 cuts announced in the first quarter last year. It is the highest quarterly total since Q1 2009, when 562,510 cuts were announced.
“The virus has caused total whiplash for HR, hiring managers, and recruiters. The labor data for February showed a strong economy with a tight labor market. Companies were fighting for talent across industries. Now, millions of workers have filed for unemployment, companies have frozen hiring, and in many cases, cut operations or closed completely,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior VP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. “
This one left Ure gasping and slapping his forehead repeatedly: With this, the Dow futures were up 359-points?
Then I went on to the next one:
“Exports, Imports, and Balance (Exhibit 1) February exports were $207.5 billion, $0.8 billion less than January exports. February imports were $247.5 billion, $6.3 billion less than January imports. The February decrease in the goods and services deficit reflected a decrease in the goods deficit of $5.9 billion to $61.2 billion and a decrease in the services surplus of $0.4 billion to $21.3 billion. Year?to? date, the goods and services deficit decreased $19.7 billion, or 18.7 percent, from the same period in 2019. Exports increased $1.1 billion or 0.3 percent. Imports decreased $18.6 billion or 3.6 percent. “
Here’s the visual which is much easier to grasp:
All of which goes to demonstrate a couple of things, not the least of which is that there is only a “loosey-goosey” relationship between markets and Reality. Even after both data sets, Dow futures were up 202-points. Why is “Maybe I’m Amazed” playing in my head?
Don’t know about you, but our reality is a) not going anywhere, or b) not doing much in April.
Speaking of which: Got a call from our favorite casino (WynnStar, Thackerville, OK) and the events coordinator advised us that our Beach Boys show May 1 has been moved back to November. The casino itself is closed, too. Although, they are hoping to re-open April 30, but we’ll see how that goes. I appreciated the call, very much.
BUT. with this kind of thing going on, I looked again at the futures prices this morning and then proceeded to slap my forehead several more times. Something isn’t making sense…. OK, most things aren’t making sense…
Talked to a well-informed source Thursday – who happens to know someone who runs a funeral home. Had a “customer” come in and wasn’t sure about the death certificate,, so called in to the state. “Oh, but put it down to COVID…” Hmmm..at-risk, olderly fellow, had come from a nursing home so I get that. It was the case of the other customer (gunshot wound to chest) also labeled COVID that made less sense to my source and me.
My blood pressure is going up from all this “taking such reports with a grain of salt.” If you skipped the pharmacy course, 1 gram is about 15-grains. So figure my run-rate is about 3-extra grams a day of salt…
Other Unbelievable Stories
CDC and others are still promoting the idea of a mortality rate of COVID in the 3-1/2% range. We ain’t buying in, and you might ask why.
Well, to begin with, long-time contributor Chris Tyreman sent in this simple view of the numbers:
On the other hand, we have (I think more accurately) decided to look at the mortality rate today as relating to people infected 5-days ago; about half the incubation period. That number, though is still running over 6%.
Meanwhile, we’re a-twiddling our thumbs waiting for the distancing and shut-ins to impact results in a bigly or hugely way:
Yes, there has been some decline in the “rate of climb” in the daily data, but the virus is STILL (as of yesterday) compounding at 10% per day and over a week, that’s not 70% more cases. It’s 94.87% more cases in a week.
In order for this outbreak to be considered anywhere near under control, we need to see some negative daily rates, not just back to the zero axis in change rates. And, it needs to stick for several months. Otherwise, old paranoid George,, you know?
With Cases at 952,171 and deaths up to 48,320, Zeus the Cat has set up an office pool for Elaine, me, and the little girl kitty Z has been squiring about: Extra kibbles for whoever calls the time right for 1-million cases or 50,000. The pay-off for the winner? Zeus offers “hunter’s choice” of bird for dinner. Sick cat. Or, is he? Isn’t that what free enterprise is about? Make a void and fill it?
As the U.S. goes down Mugabe Economics (as in Zimbabwe’s late hyperinflationary leader, and poster stiff for Modern Monetary Theory, also the “make shit up, they’re too dumb to notice” school of economics) we’re anxiously awaiting the market close today. That’s when the new Fed H.6 money stacks report comes out. (The “How Fast Can We Print?” report.
The balance sheet at the Fed would be the envy of Stephen and Tabitha (King). I keep expecting one of them to come out with a horror story where a whole country is locked in and…what? On TV already? Well, shit…that would have been a great plot line…
How about kids at home turning into cannibals when 5G is turned up? No? How about Bernie Sanders as Molotov Moses? (Got a zillion book ideas, just not the time nor talent to do them all…where were we?)
Tomorrow! We get the “offishul” jobs numbers. Prepare to be confounded. (He slaps his forehead again, noticing it has turned into a red welted mass…)
Arouond the Ranch
Got up at 2 AM Wednesday to work on Peoplenomics for Wednesday. Funny thing, that getting up early stuff: Had the afternoon martin and “ran over to the office for a sec.” Awoke, still sitting in my chair, mouse in hand. Only my neck hurt like hell from dozing off in an awkward. And, it was 9:30 PM….
Latest load of lumber from the local handy-bastard emporium is mostly being swapped out today. I ordered (and paid) for #2 grade. What was delivered was discovered to be (under the roofing tin on top) to be stamped “Standard and Better.” “Well, that’s what we call #2 about here…” Bullshit. Texans ain’t stupes. Good news is they promise to make it right today. More on this breaking news but if anyone asks, #2 does not have areas of bark or 2-inch wide wanes leaving a 1/2-inch surface on one of the 1-1/2″ faces… Like you wood be interested in more than plane topics…
Order what may be the last of the “heavy iron” for the shop. I’m figuring that when the current in-stock of machine tools is gone, resupply will become dicey. So, forget toilet paper (made here and in Canada). Look for a 4 amp-hour oversized drill battery not made “over that.” (No “George plays with his tool all day…” jokes, please…)
The Big Ponder
Instead, I look at data. And if all these people are dying of Coronavirus, how soon before the population clocks, like the one at Census slow down and run backwarfds?
Off to indulge in a breakfast of champions…
Write when you get rich,