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June 24, 2020

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🎙 “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” - See who said it and why it matters at the bottom.

1 big thing: Small businesses face post-lockdown cash crunch

A seamstress works at a sewing machine in a tailoring shop in Palm Springs, California.
A seamstress works at a sewing machine in a tailoring shop in Palm Springs, Calif. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images.

U.S. macroeconomic data is broadly improving but many small businesses are facing a perilous recovery as they attempt to stay afloat after coronavirus-driven lockdowns throughout the country. That's true even for the many that received government assistance.

By the numbers: A recent poll of 7,317 small business owners by Alignable finds that 43% of firms that received money through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) say they could be out of cash in a month or less.

  • That's largely because they spent all of the money in the first eight weeks after receiving it so they could qualify to have the loans forgiven.

Details: 69% of small businesses that did not receive PPP funding say they expect to be out of cash reserves next month. 

  • 76% of minority-owned businesses that did not receive PPP funding say they will run out of cash in July — with 52% saying they have already depleted their reserves.

The big picture: With stores back open, Americans have increased spending from April and May's depressed levels, but that may not be enough.

  • An IBM Institute for Business Value survey poll of more than 18,000 U.S. consumers in May and early June found that 21% of consumers say they're shopping less and more than half believe the country will experience a major economic downturn over the next year or more.  
  • This could mean spending plateaus or even declines after this month rather than accelerating.

Between the lines: Some of the businesses left behind are expecting to lose significant revenue.

  • Total travel spending in the U.S. is predicted to drop 45% by the end of this year, according to a forecast prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by the company Tourism Economics.
  • That includes a decline in domestic travel spending of 40% (from $972 billion in 2019 to $583 billion in 2020) and a 75% fall in international inbound travel spending (from $155 billion to $39 billion).

One level deeper: A trade group representing health and fitness clubs says the industry lost $5.6 billion from mid-March through June 1, and will continue to lose $350 million per week through the end of the year.

  • "Even when open and for the foreseeable future, clubs will be hampered by reduced income from reduced capacity safety requirements and membership cancellations," the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association said in a press release.
  • "Clubs that have opened are opening at 25%–50% capacity, while still having 100% of their expenses."

Go deeper: The pandemic's lost years

Bonus chart: Americans would rather return to lockdown

Reproduced from CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

Reproduced from CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

Governors may soon have tough decisions to make as coronavirus infections continue to increase in the U.S., and new data shows Americans are clearly in favor of shutting economies down again rather than risk infection.

Driving the news: A new survey from data firm CivicScience of nearly 2,500 U.S. adults finds 65% of the general population over the age of 18 supports returning to lockdown if cases of COVID-19 rise significantly.

  • Worse for those hoping to avoid a second wave of widespread business closures — those most in favor of shutting down again are older Americans, who are most vulnerable to dying from the virus and also consistent and outspoken voters.

Flashback: Public opinion is turning in states governed by Republicans and won by President Trump in 2016 that are seeing increased infection rates.

  • People in states like Texas, Arizona and Nevada, which have seen record high infection rates, are developing a heightened sense of risk and taking steps to dial back their exposure, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

What they're saying: "In the places with the highest rates of increase, people are adjusting their behavior," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. public affairs. "The more proximate it is, the greater the likelihood they adjust their behavior."

Double bonus chart: Economic sentiment declines

Data: Hamilton Place Strategies and CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Hamilton Place Strategies and CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

Consumer confidence had its first major decline since March 31 as a new round of coronavirus cases have spiked, according to the HPS-CivicScience Economic Sentiment Index.

What they're saying: Consumer confidence fell 1.3 points to 47.8.

  • The index's previous reading showed a record increase in confidence in finding a new job and the overall U.S. economy, but both indicators fell — dropping by 2.4 and 2.5 points, respectively — in the latest survey.
  • Confidence in making a major purchase also declined by 1.5 points.
  • ESI's two other indicators, confidence in the housing market and confidence in personal finances, were flat.

2. Catch up quick

A surge in Big Tech stocks has helped the Nasdaq rise by 13% this year, giving the index its most significant outperformance over the Dow and S&P 500, which are both negative for 2020, since 1983. (WSJ)

SoftBank is set to sell a portion of its stake in T-Mobile for $103 per share to raise $13.76 billion, as part of its plan to raise $41 billion for share buybacks. T-Mobile shares closed at over $107 on Tuesday. (Reuters)

The Trump administration is considering putting new tariffs on $3.1 billion of exports from France, Germany, Spain and the U.K., in response to a proposed tax on U.S. tech giants. (Bloomberg)

73% of economists in a new poll expect the U.S. will see a "reverse radical" recovery, meaning a steep drop in economic growth followed by a quick partial recovery and a longer period of slower, mixed growth. (FiveThirtyEight)

3. Dollar weakens again as economic data improve

The dollar is falling back toward its March lows, moving lower against all six of the world's major currencies on Tuesday.

  • The decline has been spurred by rising stock markets around the globe, which have unwound the dollar's safe-haven appeal.

What's happening: Improving data in Europe and the U.S. have bolstered risk-on sentiment.

  • Manufacturing and service sector activity improved in Germany and France and in the eurozone overall, as the bloc saw its composite flash purchasing managers index jump to 47.5 from last month's reading of 31.9.
  • U.S. PMI also beat expectations, as did a reading on new home sales and the Richmond Fed's manufacturing index
  • The euro rose comfortably above $1.13 and is nearing its 2020 high.

Yes, but: The dollar also fell to its lowest in six weeks against the Japanese yen, suggesting the greenback's weakness is broad-based and not entirely due to improving risk appetite. (Investors typically sell the yen when risk appetite increases, making the dollar's recent weakness against the currency unusual.)

  • Analysts say the Fed's extreme monetary policy actions since March — taking U.S. interest rates to 0 and making it the central bank with the world's biggest balance sheet — could mean the dollar continues to weaken.

Watch this space: The decline in the dollar and uptick in coronavirus cases helped gold rise to its highest level since October 2012, breaking out of a range it has held in since April.

Thanks for reading!

Quote: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Why it matters: On June 24, 1901, Pablo Picasso had his first exhibit in Paris. Picasso would go on to become one of the world's most famous artists. He was also accused of stealing quite a bit of his art from African artists.

  • In 2006, an exhibit was staged featuring 100 pieces of Picasso's work next to 29 eerily similar pieces by various uncredited African artists.
  • "Today the truth is on display that Picasso would not have been the renowned creative genius he was if he did not steal and re-adapt the work of 'anonymous [African] artists,'" Sandile Memela, then South African Department of Arts and Culture head of communications said when the Picasso and Africa exhibition was unveiled.