A combination of factors threaten US economic recovery

A combination of factors threaten US economic recovery

The death of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the possibility of renewed coronavirus lockdowns in Europe raise fears of an even longer road to recovery.

Wall Street’s main indexes got off to a troubled start Monday as concerns about new lockdowns in Europe and possible delays in fresh stimulus from Congress, among other factors, raised fears the US economic recovery will be an even steeper uphill battle than previously hoped. The death of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also appeared to make the passage of another stimulus package in Congress less likely before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Congress has been deadlocked for weeks over the size and shape of another coronavirus-response bill, on top of the roughly $3 trillion already signed into law. What’s more, healthcare providers came under pressure on uncertainty over the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, as Ginsburg’s passing could lead to a tie vote when the Supreme Court hears a challenge to the constitutionality of the act in November. As a result, shares of Universal Health Services fell sharply. While some are putting it all down to pre-general election jitters, a new round of business restrictions on account of another surge in COVID-19 cases could threaten a nascent recovery and further pressure equity markets. Europe has seen a spike in cases—dubbed a possible “second wave”—in recent weeks.

Airline, hotel and cruise companies tracked declines as Britain signaled the possibility of a second national lockdown with Europe’s travel and leisure index .SXTP suffering its worst two-day drop since April.

Among the big winners on the Nasdaq 100 was Zoom Video Communications Inc., which rose on the likelihood that fresh lockdowns would spark greater use of the product.

Light at the end of a (long) tunnel

Investors across the globe are thus preparing themselves for an extended period of market volatility as a potential resurgence in coronavirus cases and political uncertainty roil stocks.

VIX futures show that investors are betting that market swings will continue beyond the November 3 presidential election and into December, reflecting concerns about the possibility of a disputed election and worries that political consensus on providing more fiscal stimulus to support the economy will be in short supply. These renewed concerns mark a significant turnaround from the summer months, when signs of economic recovery and the promise of more fiscal stimulus saw markets reach record highs after their devastating March sell-off. Concerns over US political uncertainty have intensified following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which many expect to deepen partisan divides over President Donald Trump’s eventual nominee to replace her, as well as hamper the bipartisan effort for further coronavirus relief.

Such measures have been built into many economic and market forecasts for next year, and their continued absence could torpedo what was beginning to look like a slow but sure recovery. This, along with factors, means the US economy is nowhere near out of the woods as yet.

Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

New York City’s ‘Fearless Girl’ statue was outfitted with a jabot collar in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a native New Yorker that passed away from complications with cancer. She was 87.


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