World coronavirus dispatch: Loss of wealth and challenge for stock analysts

Mary P. Humphrey

Boldest investor hit hardest by biggest calamity: Softbank, the firm behind the $100-billion Vision Fund, has said its investment vehicle has suffered a $16.7-billion loss due to the “deteriorating market environment”. This is due to impairment of the value of its investments. Softbank’s misfortunes are not entirely on […]


Boldest investor hit hardest by biggest calamity: Softbank, the firm behind the $100-billion Vision Fund, has said its investment vehicle has suffered a $16.7-billion loss due to the “deteriorating market environment”. This is due to impairment of the value of its investments. Softbank’s misfortunes are not entirely on account of the coronavirus pandemic, which has choked economies globally, but also due to its chief executive Masayoshi Son’s flamboyant investing style. The failure of two of its star companies — office-sharing start-up WeWork, which came back from the brink of a collapse, and OneWeb, the futuristic satellite company that filed for bankruptcy — has led to the Vision Fund’s impairments. Read more here.


Let’s look at the global statistics:



Total confirmed cases: 1,864,629


Change over previous day: 151,955


Total deaths: 115,286


Total recovered: 2,816,674


Nations hit with most cases: US (557,663), Spain (169,496), Italy (156,363), France (133,672), and Germany (127,854).


Source: Johns Hopkins


70 vaccines currently under trial: Seventy coronavirus vaccines are under development, with three being tested in human trials, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. The farthest along in the clinical process is an experimental vaccine developed by Hong Kong-listed CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, which is in Phase-II of development. Read more here.


758 people die in New York in 24 hours: Sunday was the sixth straight day of more than 700 lives lost in a day in New York. Coronavirus has so far killed 9,385 people in New York. Daily hospitalisations in the state, however, have come down for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak. Read more here.


Pace of deaths slowing in Spain and Germany: Spain and Germany have reported the smallest increase in coronavirus-related deaths, even as more European countries extend their lockdowns. Italy, with more deaths than any other country in Europe, is extending its lockdown until May 3. On it Saturday reported its highest number of new cases in a week. Spain also prolonged its restrictions through the end of April. Read more here.


Boris Johnson out of hospital: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from hospital to continue his recovery at home, even as the death toll in the country exceeds 10,000. Johnson spent a week in hospital, including some time in ICU. Read more here, and watch here the video he posted on Twitter after his discharge.


Further US stimulus: The US Federal Reserve has unveiled a new facility to buy up to $500 billion worth of state and local debt. The coffers of towns, cities and states on the frontlines of the Covid-19 crisis in the US are being depleted due to a surge in spending and a collapse of tax receipts. Read more here.


Companies slow shipments in anticipation of recession: As recently as late March, many western companies were frantically trying to import goods when factories in China were mothballed temporarily. Now, the same companies are preparing for a deep recession. Read more here.


Japan could walk out of Paris climate change accord: Japanese environment minister has warned that the Paris climate accord could suffer a blow, with steps to fight global warming being put on the backburner to facilitate an economic recovery. The 2015 Paris accord was signed by 200 nations that agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Read more here.


Amazon stops new grocery orders in US: Amazon will begin to put new grocery delivery customers on a wait list and curtail shopping hours at some Whole Foods stores to prioritise orders from existing customers buying food online. Read more here.


Ford expects loss of $600 million for first quarter: Ford Motor has said it expects its first-quarter adjusted loss before interest and taxes to be about $600 million, compared with a profit of $2.4 billion a year earlier. Its production and assembly facilities in the US have been shut for three weeks now. Read more here.


Specials


Status of lockdowns across the world: Some European nations have started tentative moves to ease their shutdowns. Hard-hit Spain, which on Sunday reported its lowest daily growth in infections in three weeks, will allow workers in some non-essential industries to return to factories and construction sites Monday. South Korea’s caseload has slowed from early March, but officials have warned of a broader “quiet spread” that may indicate eased attitudes towards social distancing. Read more here.


As earnings seasons arrives, analysts are in a fix: Earnings season kicks off this week and stock analysts are at a loss as to how to forecast companies’ performance during the ongoing pandemic, with one measure showing the difference between the high and low estimates for company earnings at a near record spread. One obstacle to coming up with a damage assessment for corporate balance sheets is that nobody knows how long the crisis will continue. Read more here.


Coronavirus impact on US Presidential election in November: Voters seek solace, as well as solutions, in this year’s US Presidential race, one still being reshaped by the unprecedented public health and economic turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic. And if empathy is the question, the contrast is stark and the challenge for President Donald Trump may be steep. Read more here.


What exactly are the social distancing rules?


Deciding when to comment on someone’s behaviour in society’s shared spaces has always been complicated. If someone doesn’t pick up after their dog, do you point it out? If someone cuts you off on the highway, do you yell out of your window? When someone is standing next to you, how do you know it is close enough? Here’s a refresher.

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