by John Mauldin
Disney is laying off 28,000 workers. American Airlines and United Airlines plan to cut 31,000 workers. Last week’s disappointing unemployment report shows that we have a long way to go. Perhaps a lot longer than we think.
I’m going to quote at length from my friend David Rosenberg, who I believe is absolutely spot on:
“You tally up these sectors and before the crisis, they supported 32 million jobs, or about a third of the private sector workforce, and it looks to me as though half of them are not going back to their old jobs.
“And I’m not sure many people understand that amusement parks, airlines, hoteliers and restaurants cannot stay in business at 50% capacity (or even 75% in the case of restaurants).
“… As it stands, the US Chamber of Commerce said that 25% of small businesses have already shut down. Another survey by Ipsos concluded that two-thirds are still nervous about leaving their homes; 59% say they intend to remain locked down on their own until signs emerge that the virus is ‘fully contained.’ A YouGov/CBS poll concludes that 85% of American households say they wouldn’t get on an airplane even if they could. That’s why the industry needs a bailout!
“A Washington Post/University of Maryland poll shows that only 56% of consumers across the nation intend to shop at the supermarket, which I suppose is a continuous bullish data point for delivery services but that’s about it. Just 33% say they are comfortable entering a retail store. And a mere 22% say they are willing to dine in a sit-in restaurant.
“All these polls say basically the same thing—it will not be ‘business as usual,’ as the bulls will try and convince you, and the best we can hope for is a partial recovery. I mean, at best. What we had on our hands was a vertical down economic decline with job losses an order of magnitude higher than anything we have witnessed since the Great Depression. So, even as the stock market is telling you it has it all figured out, I can assure you that what we face at this very moment is a very uncertain economic future. And unfortunately, most of the longer-term risks are to the downside.
“We are in a depression—not a recession, but a depression. And I think the dynamics of a depression are different than they are in a recession because depressions invoke a secular change in behavior. Classic business cycle recessions are forgotten about within a year after they end—the scars from this one will take years to heal.”
Even though the unemployment rate went down to 7.9%, that was largely due to a drop of almost 700,000 in the labor force. We have regained just over half the jobs lost between February and April. The pace of gains, both total and private, slowed for the third-consecutive month and looks to get slower.
There will be a recovery. Those hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs who have closed their businesses? They’ll open new ones.
But not in six months. Where will they get capital?
It’s one thing to bail out airlines with multiple billions of dollars. What about the local bakery with 15 employees? Where do they get the capital to reopen when the time is right?
You can repeat that story a million (or more) times.
Know this: That which can’t go on, won’t. We can’t keep piling on debt at this rate forever, and we can’t repay what we have.
I predict an unprecedented crisis that will lead to the biggest wipeout of wealth in history. And most investors are completely unaware of the pressure building right now. Learn more here.