Skip To Content

What Reopening Could Mean for the Economy

 

May 21, 2020

 

DESPITE IMMENSE CHALLENGES facing many sectors of the economy, some encouraging signs suggest “green shoots” of a recovery that could begin as early as this summer, says Chris Hyzy, Chief Investment Officer for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank. As all 50 states begin to take steps toward reopening after months of coronavirus-related lockdowns and consumer spending and unemployment slowly start to stabilize, “We fully expect the economy could begin to pick up in late June and July with a strong recovery in the fourth quarter,” he notes.

 

“We fully expect the economy could begin to pick up in late June and July with a strong recovery in the fourth quarter.” —Chris Hyzy, Chief Investment Officer for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank

Among the encouraging signs: The Dow surged more than 900 points on Monday, in response to preliminary results from human trials of a vaccine that could potentially help the body’s immune system fight the coronavirus.1 Even after trillions of dollars in economic stimulus, in an appearance before Congress on Tuesday, Federal Reserve (Fed) chair Jerome Powell emphasized the Fed’s ongoing commitment to supporting economic recovery.

 

There’s no doubt that many obstacles remain and economic recovery could still face setbacks, especially if coronavirus rates spike and certain states are delayed on the road to fully reopening. “Everything depends on solutions to what is, first and foremost, a devastating global health crisis,” Hyzy notes. But the following data points are evidence of economic resilience. The Chief Investment Office will be watching them closely in the weeks to come.

 

Unemployment. Weekly jobless claims released May 21 totaled nearly 2.4 million.2 Yet continuing claims—workers already unemployed and receiving ongoing benefits—have leveled off, Hyzy says. “That means workers coming back into the economy, whether temporary or full-time, are at the same levels as those going out. We’ll be watching this closely as economic re-openings continue.”

 

Consumer spending. “Those employment trends match up well, in our view, with the fact that the consumer has begun to stabilize,” Hyzy says. Despite the April sales numbers and ongoing weakness in battered areas such as travel, leisure and entertainment, “spending in the last couple of weeks hasn’t just evened out, it has risen. Even airlines have shown a modest increase in bookings recently.”

 

Capital spending. Companies will have to adjust and accommodate to new ways of doing business, Hyzy believes. Remote work, social distancing and other changes call for new capital investments. “This could be one of the more robust economic catalysts as we head towards the middle part of 2021 and beyond,” he says.

 

What can investors consider doing?

To help position themselves for the recovery, investors may want to consider stocks of large, well-established U.S. companies, Hyzy says. Promising areas include technology, healthcare and communications services, as well as companies focused on innovations for consumers, among others. With low interest rates likely to persist even during the recovery, investors may want to compensate for low yields from Treasury bonds with high-quality corporate bonds or dividend-paying stocks, he adds.

1“U.S. Stocks Surge as Hopes for Coronavirus Vaccine Build,” The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2020

 

2“Jobless claims total 2.4 million, still elevated levels but a declining pace from previous weeks,” CNBC.com, May 21, 2020

 

Information is as of 05/21/2020

 

Opinions are those of the author(s), as of the date of this document and are subject to change.

 

Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

 

This material does not take into account a client’s particular investment objectives, financial situations or needs and is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or investment strategy. Merrill offers a broad range of brokerage, investment advisory and other services. There are important differences between brokerage and investment advisory services, including the type of advice and assistance provided, the fees charged, and the rights and obligations of the parties. It is important to understand the differences, particularly when determining which service or services to select. For more information about these services and their differences, speak with your Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisor.

 

The Chief Investment Office, which provides investment strategies, due diligence, portfolio construction guidance and wealth management solutions for Global Wealth & Investment Management ("GWIM") clients, is part of the Investment Solutions Group (“ISG”) of GWIM, a division of Bank of America Corporation (“BofA Corp.”).

 

Equity securities are subject to stock market fluctuations that occur in response to economic and business developments.

 

Investing in fixed-income securities may involve certain risks, including the credit quality of individual issuers, possible prepayments, market or economic developments and yields and share price fluctuations due to changes in interest rates. When interest rates go up, bond prices typically drop, and vice versa.

 

Treasury bills are less volatile than longer-term fixed income securities and are guaranteed as to timely payment of principal and interest by the U.S. government.

 

Investments in a certain industry or sector may pose additional risk due to lack of diversification and sector concentration.

 

Dividend payments are not guaranteed, and are paid only when declared by an issuer's board of directors. The amount of a dividend payment, if any, can vary over time.

 

This material does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situations or needs and is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security, financial instrument or strategy. Before acting on any information in this material, you should consider whether it is in your best interest for your particular circumstances and, if necessary, seek professional advice. Any opinions expressed herein are given in good faith, are subject to change without notice, and are correct only as of the stated date of their issue.

 

X

You need to answer some questions first

Then we can provide you with relevant answers.

Get started