The equity and fixed income markets are experiencing unprecedented volatility and fear about the coronavirus. This is a health crisis that has evolved into a financial challenge for policy makers as they attempt to suppress the spread of the virus while not closing down the economy entirely. Unfortunately, the only way to deter the spread of the virus is to reduce or close transportation and impose a quarantine. Since the only way we know to limit the number of infections is to reduce social interaction, we expect more states will join California, Illinois and New York in a “lock down.” For a historical comparison in 2009-2010 the H1N1 “Swine-Flu” virus infected 60 million Americans and killed 12,500, and yet the panic was not as prevalent.
With cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) confirmed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, “social distancing” has become one of the tactics designed to slow the spread of the global pandemic. Businesses across the country are taking precautionary steps in accordance with their emergency preparedness plans, and banks are no exception.
Although scam artists are working year-round to steal your identify and compromise your personal information, tax season seems to bring out the worst. Scammers are looking to steal tax documents, file fraudulent returns in victims’ names, and extort payment with false threats of IRS action due to outstanding tax bills.
Supported by stable interest rates and optimism regarding the China trade negotiations, the S&P 500 Index rose 28.9% and the Nasdaq Index, with its high information technology weighting, rose 33% for the year. Enthusiasm and expectations for a better economy and strengthening earnings grew as the year progressed. Current equity market valuations look historically elevated with an overall 18x expected Price-to-Earnings ratio, but with few attractive investment alternatives, the financial market gains can continue. There is still over $1 trillion in private equity and hedge fund cash ready to be invested, so even a minor correction would be met with supportive technical buying. The rally was concentrated in the Large Cap technology growth stocks with Mid Cap and Small Cap stocks generally up less significantly. Value stocks like financials, consumer staples, energy and utilities – which are not expected to have significant earnings growth – underperformed during the year.
When expenses surpass revenue, some business owners may go into panic mode, restructuring from top to bottom or in the worst case scenario, shutting down. Before taking on such a major task, however, consider small cost-saving methods, such as reducing travel expenses and conserving office supplies.
CSI Technologies and Harris Poll recently surveyed 2,000 Americans nationwide about their opinions and fears surrounding cybersecurity as it pertains to their personal financial data. A majority of respondents expressed concerns about their online security online, and 74% said they would be likely to participate in a cybersecurity education or awareness program if their bank offered it.