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A Bird's Eye View Blog

Fireside Charts: COVID-19 Update as States Reopen, and Abysmal Retail Sales and Industrial Production Figures

By:BCM Investment Team | Date:May18, 2020 | Category: Equity, Economics, Market Highlights, Fireside Charts

Now that nearly all states have some plan in place to reopen, we are kicking off this week with a COVID-19 update. Despite the fact that testing is still significantly limited and the number of new cases reported worldwide is still climbing, 46 states have either reopened fully, reopened regionally or have plans to reopen in the next week. Given that we are located outside of Boston, it seems surprising that so many local governments are willing to take the risk of reopening right now. However, many states were not hit nearly as hard as the most affected states such as New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, which have levels of confirmed cases far beyond the national average. And as a recent survey shows, American's are eager to get back out there. Where is the most pent up demand? Seeing family or friends, and dining at a bar or restaurant are nearly tied for the top activities Americans are most looking forward to which can go hand in hand! Hopefully that will be good news for restaurants and bars which ranked fourth among those industries hardest hit in terms of retail sales in March and April. Total retail sales across all industries were down 23% in March and April with one industry posting an 89% decline...can you guess which one? Other industries that made the list are not surprising either given April's U.S. industrial production number...the first word that comes to mind is abysmal. Hopefully the worst is behind us and the lifting of lockdowns will bring some more positive figures in May. 


1. While testing is getting better, we still only test less than 1/10th of 1% of Americans each day...

5.18 testing getting better

Source: WSJ Daily Shot, from 5/15/20



2. We are not out of the woods yet... global cases keep rising. For perspective, more people are dying each day in the U.S., Canada and Mexico from Covid...than the number of Americans who died in the Pearl Harbor attack.


5.18- global cases keep rising

Source: World Health Organization Situation Report, as of 5/17/2020



3. It looks like the pent-up demand will be real...


5.18 pent up demands

Source: WSJ Daily Shot, from 5/18/20



4. U.S. retail sales fell 15.3% in April, arguably the worst month of Covid as some locals start to open in May. The details make logical sense...


5.18 US retail sales fell

Source: WSJ Daily Shot, from 5/18/20



5. Again, April should be the ugliest month...


5.18 April ugliest month

Source: WSJ Daily Shot, from 5/18/20



6. Junk bonds are holding their yields at more than twice pre-crisis levels. Bankruptcies are coming...


5.18- junk bonds holding

Source: thechartstore.com, from 5/15/20



7. Iron ore and steel prices in China have recovered to pre-Covid levels


5.18 Iron ore and steel prices

Source: WSJ Daily Shot, from 5/15/20



Despite being in lockdown mode and working from home, the BCM team has been busy! Given what the market is doing, now more than ever people want to discuss low volatility strategies and how to build resilient portfolios. Last week, Portfolio Manager and Managing Partner, Dave Haviland, talked with Kevin O'Leary, Investor on ABC's Shark Tank and Chairman of O'Shares ETFs about the state of the economy and what types of investments to think about during a crisis like this. We have more events like this coming up with State Street Global Advisors and ETFtrends.com, AssetTV, and more. To catch these live and stay up to date with our Portfolio Management team, follow us on LinkedIn: 

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Disclosure: The charts and info-graphics contained in this blog are typically based on data obtained from 3rd parties and are believed to be accurate. The commentary included is the opinion of the author and subject to change at any time. Any reference to specific securities or investments are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended as investment advice nor are a recommendation to take any action. Individual securities mentioned may be held in client accounts.