- One Last Thing’s Fireside Chat
- The Rise of the Godzilla Market
- The Doomsday Cult at the Heart of South Korea’s Epidemic
- Emergency Market Update: Part 4 – The Fed’s Nuclear Bomb Just Failed
One Last Thing’s Fireside Chat
Well folks, the One Last Thing offices are officially closed for the duration of this whole coronavirus thing.
Don’t worry, you’ll still be getting your daily updates straight to your inbox. I’ll just be composing your issue while smoking my pipe by the warmth of a roaring fireplace/eating children’s cereal in sweat pants.
My dog (and my comfortable, comfortable legs) are overjoyed by this development. But not everyone is lucky enough to have the type of work you can simply do at home. (Firefighters, for example, may encounter some unique challenges telecommuting.)
Across the U.S., states are closing schools and prohibiting large gatherings. In New York, bars and restaurants have been shut down, except for carry-out. And literally as I was writing this sentence, Governor Hogan announced the closure of bars and restaurants in my home state of Maryland. (I guess folks will have to get tanked and pass out in a gutter at home this St. Patrick’s day).
It’s a real possibility we could be staring down the barrel of a nationwide quarantine.
How this will affect the economy in the long run depends in large part on how well we deal with the inevitable economic fallout (*nervously glances at whatever the heck the Fed is doing*). But we can certainly look to other regions who’ve already dealt with some of the financial consequences of the virus to see how it might in turn “donk up our biz.”
With only six new cases of the virus reported yesterday, it looks like the worst of China’s coronavirus outbreak may be over. And we’re finally starting to see some concrete economic data coming out of the country.
While we were slumbering in our little quarantine tents this morning, the country released its highly anticipated growth data for January and February.
It might as well have been a napkin with “It sucked!” written on it.
Industrial growth fell 13.5% from the same period last year. This was a more abrupt dip than during the financial crisis.
While it’s worth noting that the sharp fall was part of temporary measures to stop the spread of the virus, it will likely have a knock-on effect on the rest of this year’s growth.
Thirty-nine of China’s 41 industrial sectors contracted. Oil, gas, and tobacco were the only ones who escaped with their butts intact. (When the entire country is on lockdown, there’s nothing to do but pound cigarettes. I’ve gone through two packs this morning and I don’t even smoke.)
Labor-intensive industries were hit the hardest, as the Wall Street Journal’s Nathaniel Taplin reports. Production of cellphones, cars, and computer equipment all plummeting more than 30%.
“Capital-intensive heavy industry, where the state is more dominant and migrant labor less important, held up far better,” writes Taplin. “Crude steel, oil and glass output even rose.”
Economic reports from the other side of the world aside, the U.S. stock market is already in dire straits. The Fed is taking drastic steps to cushion the blow on our economy, but will it work? More on that in today’s second article (dramatic cliffhanger).
But first, I’d like to know how you’re dealing with this whole quarantine thing. What’s your action plan? Are you stocked up? Any horror stories from the grocery aisle?
The Rise of the Godzilla Market
Last night, the Federal Reserve slashed its benchmark interest rates to near zero in the hopes of staving off a coronavirus-induced recession and let’s see if that did anything.
The Fed is trying desperately to stabilize the economy with a series of extreme measures, including slashing interest rates to near zero and buying $700 billion in treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and his super team of money buddies have blasted this crisis with every tool in their arsenal. But just like my nephew Clancy who is banned from Disneyland, everything they try only seems to make things worse. (Mickey Mouse doesn’t care if its “medicinal”, bud.)
The DJIA tanked 1,987 points (8.7%) when the markets opened. The S&P almost immediately dropped 8.1%, triggering another market circuit breaker and halting trading. Meanwhile the tech-focused Nasdaq slipped 8%.
“This is what panic looks like,” Patrick Healey, president and founder of Caliber Financial Partners, told the Wall Street Journal this morning.
“It doesn’t matter what the Fed did over the weekend or what they could have done, the trading activity in the market is reflective of fear and uncertainty.”
The worst part of this is, after these measures, there’s not much the Fed can do. As macroeconomist Graham Summers writes in today’s issue of Money Crisis, “the Fed is now in very serious trouble.”
“The Fed has gone truly NUCLEAR with monetary policy and the market is STILL imploding,” says Graham, suggesting this market, like our large friend Godzilla, may be immune to nukes.
“In the last two weeks, the Fed has: Cut rates from 1.25% to ZERO. Launched a $1.5 TRILLION repo program. Launched a $700 billion QE program. And NONE of these items has stopped the market collapse.”
According to Graham, the next crisis is here. And we’re heading into another 2008 type meltdown, or possibly something worse.
To understand exactly what’s going on, what the next steps are (and what you can do to profit right now), click here to listen to an emergency call recorded this morning where Graham gives his take on the Fed’s emergency rate cut and the market’s reaction to it.
Breaking: As we go to print, President Donald Trump tells reporters the “worst of the outbreak” could last until August, causing the three major indexes to plunge more than 11% shortly before close.
The Doomsday Cult at the Heart of South Korea’s Epidemic
Let’s take a break from all the economic devastation and discuss something a little more fun.
Hmmm, how about a South Korean doomsday cult accused of intentionally spreading the coronavirus and causing the largest outbreak outside of China? (Listen, “fun” is a relative term at times like these.)
You may have heard of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus before. It’s is a fringe Christian group, predominantly active in Korea, that believes some old Korean guy is the second coming of Jesus. (I’m not saying Jesus wouldn’t come back as a Korean guy, I’m just saying the real Korean Jesus probably wouldn’t start a death cult when he did.)
According to the church’s teachings (and fun little pamphlets), 88-year-old Lee Man-hee is destined to bring about the apocalypse and lead his followers into heaven (probably shortly after the cool-aid mixer).
You know. Standard cult stuff.
Like most governments, South Korea generally finds it easier to just let cults be cults and secretly hope they’ll all commit mass suicide one day.
But Shincheonji’s wacky antics became impossible to ignore last month when they allegedly worked to infect of all South Korea with the coronavirus. (OK, maybe the “fun” was the wrong word.)
One of the first 30 people infected in South Korea just happened to be a member of the sect. (And I don’t know how much you know about doomsday cults but I think we can all agree that that was a rather bad spot of luck).
Reportedly, the 61-year-old woman refused to be hospitalized and attended several meetings where she infected other members of the church.
After which, authorities say, members intentionally infected each other with the virus before fanning out and spreading it all over South Korea. Which would explain why South Korea had the single worst outbreak outside of China, despite taking swift and decisive measures to counteract the virus.
Yesterday, the Seoul City government officially accused Lee Man-hee, as well as 11 of the church’s leaders, of homicide, causing harm, and violating the Infectious Disease and Control Act.
The church has refuted all accusations, saying the spreading of the virus was a total oopsy and an unintended consequence of the church’s beliefs and practices: namely privacy, the banning of health masks, and praying in close proximity. (And now that I think of it, I should probably reconsider my attendance at the Holy Church of Sneeze in My Mouth.)
Whether or not the doomsday cult intentionally caused the epidemic or it was simply a result of their practices won’t be clear until we get a 12-part Netflix documentary on it five years from now. But its role in the spread of the virus is undeniable.
Of the 3,730 confirmed cases so far, more than half of all infections involve contact with a member of this stupid church.
In Other News
ONE LAST THING
Emergency Market Update: Part 4 – The Fed’s Nuclear Bomb Just Failed
Last Monday kicked off one of the biggest market downturns in history, and the carnage only continued throughout the week.
Our publisher Doug been holding emergency calls with our expert analysts in an effort to keep our readers informed about what’s going on — and what you can do to protect your wealth. (Still waiting on my call, by the way, DOUG.)
Today, we brought back macroeconomic expert Graham Summers.
Graham is an expert on global central bank activity. And given the historic actions taken by the Federal Reserve yesterday, we wanted to hear his take on the Fed’s emergency rate cut and the market’s reaction to it.
To understand exactly what’s going on, what the next steps are, and what you can do to profit right now, click the image below.
Closing Data for Today
|S&P Index 500||$2,409.25||↓ 10.14%|
- NFL players approved a 10-year labor deal that includes expanding the playoffs and relaxing rules on marijuana use.
- The New York City school system, the country’s largest, is now closed through April 20.
- The domestic box office suffered its worst weekend in nearly two decades.
Editor, One Last Thing