Wall Street Tumbles as President Trump contracts Covid-19, Jobs Data Disappoint: Stock futures fell Friday morning after Trump revealed he tested positive for COVID-19, injecting further uncertainty into an environment roiled by the coronavirus and the upcoming election.
The Labor Department’s September jobs report showed the economy added 661,000 new positions last month—a figure below Wall Street’s predicted 859,000 jobs—cementing the belief that economic recovery is losing steam. This figure should add to the urgency being heaped on Congress and the White House to enact a new stimulus bill ahead of Election Day. Nonetheless, talks have largely stagnated in recent weeks.
Set a Reminder for Medicare Open Enrollment: Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15 to December 7, but did you know you can get an early look at next year’s health plans and prescription drug plans starting October 1? Click here to learn more.
Recovery Tracker Climbs, but Risks are Mounting: Although Oxford Economics’ US Recovery Tracker has reached its highest level since pre-pandemic conditions, the pace of recovery has markedly slowed. With new COVID-19 infections once again rising (including, of course, the President and First Lady), heading into the fall, and the federal top-up to jobless benefits quickly fading, downside risks to growth are mounting.
Economic momentum is cooling, fiscal stimulus expiring, flu season approaching, and election uncertainty rising. The main question now is: How strong will the labor market be going into Q4? While employment gains have been solid since April, the jobless rate continues to hover at recessionary levels, permanent job losses are climbing, and new weekly jobless claims are still hovering around 1.5 million. So: while high-income households can be forgiven for thinking the recession is over, the economy is still clawing out of a deep hole.
CEO of Pfizer Weighs in on Vaccine: A client of Compass Ion Advisors shared a letter written by the CEO of pharma giant Pfizer, Albert Bourla, giving context and assurance about how their vaccine is being developed with science and safety in mind—which many other vaccine developers undoubtedly share. Our client found this letter reassuring, and we agreed that it might be helpful to a wider audience, especially during these hyper-partisan times.
The letter from Bourla notes four, key points:
First, we are moving at the speed of science. With a virus this ferocious, time is our enemy. This week, we will hit the grim marker of 1 million deaths globally and the number continues to climb. This danger supersedes any other timing considerations.
Second, we would never succumb to political pressure. The only pressure we feel—and it weighs heavy—are the billions of people, millions of businesses and hundreds of government officials that are depending on us. We’ve engaged with many elected leaders around the globe through this health crisis, but Pfizer took no investment money from any government. Our independence is a precious asset.
Third, our priority is the development of a safe and effective vaccine to end this pandemic. I have a duty to Pfizer’s 171-year history to honor our legacy of discovering and manufacturing high-quality medicines. We will never cut a corner. Pfizer’s purpose is simple: “Breakthroughs that Change Patients’ Lives.” It’s our North Star.
Finally, I enjoy a robust policy debate, but I’m not a politician. I’m a scientist, business leader, husband and father, friend and neighbor who cares deeply about the integrity of this potential vaccine. The amplified political rhetoric around vaccine development, timing and political credit is undercutting public confidence. I can’t predict exactly when, or even if our vaccine will be approved by the FDA for distribution to the public. But I do know that the world will be safer if we stop talking about the vaccines’ delivery in political terms and focus instead on a rigorous independent scientific evaluation and a robust independent approval process.
Red-Hot Housing Markets Continue: August Sales Soar with Rock-Bottom Mortgage Rates and Pandemic Concerns: Homebuyers have been pouring into the market, thanks to a coronavirus pandemic-induced stay-at-home culture. They want more space, both indoors and out, for both work and school from home. Home price gains have been accelerating for the past three months with some large local markets seeing double-digit annual increases. According to the NAR, the national median price of a home sold in August (by closed sale) was 11% higher compared with August 2019.
Chart of the Week: Visualizing 200 Years of Interest Rates in the US:
“Once in a Blue Moon”: Most of us are familiar with this expression, meaning an occurrence is relatively rare. Its actual origin comes from the occurrence of an extra moon during a specific period. The original definition refers to the third full moon in a season having four full moons, and it only happens about every 2 ½ years. The more well-known definition is the second full moon in a calendar month, and it happens about as infrequently. October will have two full moons, with the second one, on October 31st being the “blue moon.” Enjoy it, as the next blue moon will not be until August 2023!