Similarly, to looking out your window and seeing the lack of cars on the road, there has been a change of pace in the online world since the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak. Retailers depending on footfall have been hit hardest by the controls put in place to limit the spread of the virus, but those with online commerce facilities have been less impacted. We still require supplies; we just can’t go get them ourselves. Even BlackBee has responded by focusing on delivering our Connect platform sooner rather than later, and our proprietary web-based software, Hive, has given staff the ability to work from home with limited disruption. Covid-19 is likely to change the face of many businesses going forward, especially retail. The likes of Amazon and Walmart (US) have thrived through their model of online purchasing, though it hasn’t made up for layoffs in the retail sector either.
Latest unemployment figures in the US eclipsed expected figures and smashed previous records for a second week in a row with 6.65m filling for unemployment benefits as of March 28. Bloomberg’s industry survey of economists had indicated an expected increase anywhere between 3.5m and 6.5m. The total number of recorded unemployed is over 10m (according to the Financial Times).
Health experts are warning us all that we need to help “flatten the curve” to prevent overexerting the healthcare system, but the same logic can be applied to unemployment. With lack of employment comes lack of spending, comes businesses struggling, comes more unemployment. This is a cash crisis, a crisis of confidence, and the way in which governments are likely to overcome this is issue is by supporting businesses and citizens in maintaining as normal a spending routine as they can. We would also encourage you to make spending choices that support your local economy, to help flatten the unemployment curve. When businesses struggle, it impacts the community and the nation. Even US President Trump has eased restrictions on lending that were applied to banks after the financial crisis in the early 2010s, making more cash available to be circulated.
Gold is appearing to rally now. Gold is considered a good store of value and shows that confidence is growing. As a commodity it has an extremely limited world supply (less than the square footage of the Elysian building here in Cork). This could be a canary in the mine in terms of markets, but again, everything we are seeing in the markets over the past couple weeks has been unprecedented.