As the COVID-19 effects hit in the US, more than 3 million Americans lost their jobs last week. Reports also show a sluggish growth on personal consumption. The Fed Chairman says the US may already be in recession. We are joined by Tony Nash, CEO and Founder of Complete Intelligence, from Houston, Texas.
CNA: We’ve got this incredible amount of stimulus in the system, and the market seems loving it. The fundamentals of COVID-19 are getting worse, but the markets seem to be moving another direction. Is there a disconnect?
TN: I don’t think there is. I think there are two things. First, people want better information. With the testing and other things. Not all tests are created equally. We are not told the denominator of the tests. I’m not an expert, but there are some issues around that not all countries’ numbers are created equally. But the 2 trillion dollar stimulus, it’s not possible that that’s the extent of the stimulus that the US government is going to issue.
This is a government-induced recession, globally. A recession is typically an economic failure, a financial failure. What has happened is that governments have effectively turned down the economy like putting their economies in a coma. So there’s nothing that companies can do to avoid this. This is the responsibility of every government that puts strict measures in place and it’s their responsibility to make sure that their economies are back up.
CNA: Are you concerned about the cost to cushion the fall of COVID-19 effects? Remember the 2008 financial crises and how much money it took back then—hundreds and billions? We are now talking about trillions here. When will we able to see the kind of recovery that we saw in the past 10 years once we’re over COVID-19?
TN: I do believe we’ll see that recovery. I believe this is sufficiently different. It was not the market’s fault. This was the investor market, investor banks back in 2008, 2009. This is the government today. So it’s the government’s responsibility to fix what they did. I understand they’re responding to COVID-19 and its effects, but they’re the ones to put the measures in place. They’re the ones to handcuff managers, CEOs, and executive teams. So it’s the government’s responsibility to help companies start back up.
CNA: On that note, Donald Trump wants the American workforce to get back to their jobs as everybody wants to work. I don’t doubt that. Do you agree with that? Is that the solution, the elixir to the problem here?
TN: I do believe that. I’m actually more worried about the social issues associated with jobless dislocation than really the COVID-19 effects. Not that I don’t care. I want everyone to take measures. But the social dislocation of people in their prime working age. Being laid off. We have 3 million of them as reported today. These are people in their prime. They’re earning and they’re losing their jobs. We’re gonna see a lot of problems. And so, depression, suicide, all sorts of things.
My fear is that those things start to manifest in the next few weeks. So the US has to get back to work. Americans have to get back to work. Otherwise, people will be short on their bills and they’ll feel incredibly stressed.
CNA: How bad do you think the economic data is going to get? Now that we got the 3.3 million jobless claims out of the United States? Is this just going to continue to get worse and worse down the pipeline here?
TN: Oh yeah. I think it will get worse until probably the third week of April or maybe the 4th week of April. We’ll continue to see this over the next month until the hump. Once we get over the hump, we’ll see, once the fiscal stimulus starts to take place, which is the big difference this time.
We’re seeing a lot of fiscal stimulus. That’s the difference. It’s not just the Fed printing dollars, of course, that’s happening. But we’re seeing fiscal stimulus going straight to end consumers. That’s very important.
CNA: What can we learn from China’s response in this situation? It seems things are returning back to normal in China with Hubei province opening up, Wuhan in 2 weeks, traffic jams in Beijing. Can the US look forward to that extrapolation? What’s happening in China, coz I mean the capital markets in China have made a decent recovery as well.
TN: I think the US is going to come back pretty aggressively in say the last week of April or early May. I don’t see that the way the US is handling it is similar to China, given the civil liberties that Americans have, there’s absolutely no way that that would work in America.
We have a thing called the 4th Amendment in the US that allows people to assemble and leave their houses. So welding people in their apartments wouldn’t work here, and so the US had to take other measures. And I actually think it’s being fairly effective. The case count in the US looks like it’s high, but I’m not convinced that we’re seeing full reporting from any other countries.
CNA: Thanks so much, great to chat with you. Stay safe there in Houston, Texas.