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AMETOS Updates
In times of crisis, knowledge and Intelligence are foundation of every successful endeavor. We provide unique premium intelligence services that combines innovation, skill, unique intelligence methods and out of the box thinking. Our team of expert analysts can focus and deep dive into any specific countries, regions or Covid-19 related topics you wish to focus on

In times of crisis, knowledge and Intelligence are foundation of every successful endeavor.
We provide unique premium intelligence services that combines innovation, skill, unique intelligence methods and out of the box thinking.
Our team of expert analysts can focus and deep dive into any specific countries, regions or Covid-19 related topics you wish to focus on

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AMETOS Updates
In times of crisis, knowledge and Intelligence are foundation of every successful endeavor. We provide unique premium intelligence services that combines innovation, skill, unique intelligence methods and out of the box thinking. Our team of expert analysts can focus and deep dive into any specific countries, regions or Covid-19 related topics you wish to focus on

This is where global investors are placing bets right now

  • More than $8tn has been thrown at the Covid-19 crisis by governments around the globe and hundreds of billions more by central banks. That means investors are finding a swath of opportunities.
  • Credit: Investment-grade credit is well supported by central banks and offers a good way to add risk assets to portfolios. The Fed’s corporate buying program is also providing confidence and underlying support for Asian credits in the BBB category, as well as some BBs.
  • China Junk Bonds: Continued weakness in Chinese growth has renewed a push for more action from Beijing. For investors, there’s the advantage that, relative to the U.S., China is much further ahead in reopening its economy.
  • Unloved Emerging Markets: The valuation gap between developing-nation equities and their mature-market peers is at the widest since 2008, showing investor distaste for the asset class. Those extreme valuations do offer some appeal, especially in China, where further targeted programs to support demand are forecast along with more reductions in interest rates.

 

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Fund managers pile into $65bn Covid-19 bond market

  • A new coronavirus bond market has reached $65bn in just a few months and is set to top $100bn, as companies and governments rush to issue debt to help ease the effects of the pandemic.
  • Issuers include the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development; European Investment Bank; The nation of Guatemala; Bank of China, which sold the first covid-related bond in February, and drugmaker Pfizer, which in late March issued $1.25bn in 10-year bonds designed in part to address the pandemic.
  • On Thursday, Bank of America came to market with a $1bn four-year Covid-19 bond to fund lending to hospitals, nursing facilities and healthcare manufacturers.
  • Analysts note that some of that growth appears to have come at the expense of so-called green bonds. As coronavirus bonds have taken hold, green bond issuance has taken “a back seat”.

 

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COVID-19 may never go away: WHO official

  • There is a possibility that the coronavirus will just become another epidemic in the communities of the world and “may never go away, ” Dr. Mike Ryan, a top official at the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
  • “I think it’s important to put this on the table. This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities. And this virus may never go away,
    ” Ryan said.
  • “I think it is important that we’re realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear.”
  • He said that the one great hope is that if scientists do find a “highly effective vaccine” to distribute to everyone who needs it in the world, there may be a “shot at eliminating this virus”.
  • “But that vaccine will actually have to be available and to be highly effective, it will have to be made available to everyone, ” Ryan said, noting that scientists can come up with a vaccine.
  • “Someone has got to make it and make enough of it so that everyone can get a dose of it. We’ve got to be able to deliver that. And people have got to want to take that vaccine. Every single one of those steps is fraught with challenges. It’s a massive opportunity for the world, ” he added.

 

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American gets most as biggest airlines win bulk of U.S. aid

  • Five major airlines have received the lion’s share of federal aid Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has approved in the past six weeks as the industry copes with an economy forced to shut down by the coronavirus pandemic
  • American Airlines Group Inc. is the biggest recipient, getting $5.8bn in payroll assistance from the federal government.
  • Mnuchin has approved $25bn in payroll assistance for 352 applicants, which included contractors, passenger and cargo carriers.
  • Major U.S. airlines, already reeling from a drop of about 95% in passenger totals, absorbed another blow this month when Warren Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway Inc. had exited its stakes. The billionaire investor took positions in American, Delta, United and Southwest in 2016, after years of consolidation left the companies poised to churn out steady profits.

 

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Strategists query sudden ‘sprint’ in US stocks

  • Wall Street analysts are warning that US stock markets have rallied too far, too fast since a brutal sell-off earlier this year.
  • The S&P 500 has been on a tear. The large-cap US equity benchmark fell into a bear market in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe but has since risen more than 25%.
  • Strategists at French investment bank Société Générale have crunched through the past 150 years of bear markets, which are typically defined as a 20% fall from a recent peak. They conclude that this rally “appears at odds with bear rallies in market history”.
  • The research shows recoveries have typically been gradual, with frequent blips along the way as a crisis plays out.
  • Others in the market think that this rebound is truly without precedent, pointing to radical central-bank interventions that have supported stocks and arguing that the slowdown is the result of moves to shut down economies that should be unwound over coming months.

 

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Chinese companies rush to exploit global medical equipment shortages

  • International demand for protective personal equipment and medical devices such as ventilators and patient monitors has quickly exceeded the productive capacity of most countries.
  • Existing Chinese medical equipment producers were joined by newcomers such as Kanou, with sometimes mixed results, leading to rising complaints about faulty Chinesemade equipment in some markets, however not hurting sales.
  • Based in Wuhan, Zoncare began receiving a flood of inquiries in late February from foreign buyers in countries ranging from Spain to Saudi Arabia. The company began running its assembly lines 14 hours a day and increased weekly output sixfold.
  • Lower wages allow the company to charge about half what their US and European competitors do for machines that provide 70-80% of the functionality of western brands.

 

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UK PLC cuts dividends by £24bn in face of crisis

  • The UK’s 100 biggest listed companies have cut payouts to shareholders by nearly £24bn since the start of the pandemic.
  • On Thursday, BT became the latest FTSE 100 group to suspend its dividend, saving itself about £3.3bn over the next two years, as companies move to conserve cash in the face of the economic crisis. It also warned that future payments would be lower.
  • BT’s decision means that since the start of the outbreak, FTSE 100 firms have so far withheld £23.8bn of payments for the period 2019-21. At the start of the year, the FTSE 100 had been expected to pay out around £89bn in dividends in 2019 and £91.5bn in 2020.
  • Investors are preparing for several years of lower payouts by some of the most reliable dividend-paying stocks in the FTSE 100. It is the first time BT has suspended its full year payout since it was privatized in the 1980s.

 

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Coal snags $31m in U.S. stimulus loans for small business

  • Stimulus loans meant to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic are being doled out to coal companies, stoking criticism from environmentalists that the Trump administration is using the aid to help a preferred industry that was already in financial trouble.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration has given more than $31 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program to publicly-traded coal mining companies, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
  • Among the recipients are Ramaco Resources, Rhino Resource Partners LP, Hallador Energy Co. and American Resources Corp.
  • Opponents of the coal industry say its receipt of Paycheck Protection Program funding defies the purpose of a program established to help businesses survive the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic.

 

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German court ruling casts doubt on European monetary policy

  • A bombshell ruling by Germany’s constitutional court questioning the legality of European monetary policy impinges on central bank independence and imperils the EU legal system.
  • The court ordered the German government to ensure the ECB carried out a “proportionality assessment” of its vast purchases of gov. bonds to ensure their “economic and fiscal policy effects” did not outweigh other policy objectives. It threatened to prevent the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, from making further asset purchases if the ECB failed to comply.
  • Economists said the ruling might force the ECB to think twice before expanding its monetary stimulus efforts for fear it could provoke a response from the German constitutional court.
  • The ruling comes right after the ECB signaled it was soon likely to consider increasing the size and timeframe of its new €750bn pandemic emergency purchase program.

 

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VP at Amazon Web Services resigns over whistleblower firings

  • A senior software engineer at Amazon has quit in protest at the firing of whistleblowers who had raised concerns about the safety of the company’s warehouses during the crisis.
  • Tim Bray, VP and top engineer at Amazon Web Services, said: “I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19”.
  • Unprecedented demand for online shopping has prompted the company to hire 175k new warehouse workers in under two months. However, Amazon has been accused of putting employees in danger by not slowing the work-pace or providing protective equipment.
  • In the US, where unions are weak, Amazon has fired several workers who were behind protests and walkouts organised to draw attention to concerns over staff safety.

 

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Virus-hit economies brace for second wave of job losses

  • A second wave of job losses could hit developed economies even when governments begin to lift lockdowns, as businesses reassess their ability to operate in an era of continued social distancing.
  • Figures released this week showed the mounting damage to labor markets resulting from measures to slow the spread of coronavirus.
  • The International Labor Organization, a UN agency, has forecast that the immediate fall in working hours in the second quarter of 2020 will be equivalent to the loss of more than 300m full-time jobs.
  • Now most economists expect the short-term hit to GDP to be larger, and the recovery more drawn-out, than governments had initially hoped.
  • Companies in the most exposed sectors are starting to recognize that they will be unable to return to business as usual and are facing up to the need for large scale redundancies.

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Oil traders turn to salt caves and train cars in storage crisis

  • From salt caverns in Sweden to train cars in Chicago, oil traders spent the past two months stuffing unwanted crude into any available space after demand collapsed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Traders called on locations they usually ignored, including barges on rivers normally used for making relatively small deliveries to inland markets. Rail cars were filled up and so were “frac” tanks, normally used for holding water and chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process.
  • The price of storage has surged in the past two months as crude demand fell globally by as much as 30%. It took the sub-zero crash in late April to prompt producers to tighten their taps.
  • As traders looked for places to stow unprecedented volumes of excess oil, the cost of hiring a very large crude carrier, capable of being parked at sea holding more than 2m barrels, surged to about $230,000 a day in late March.

 

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‘Black Swan’ funds enjoy rare chance to spread their wings

  • Crisis-hunting hedge funds enjoyed blowout returns in March, but investors say the strategy of waiting years for markets to crumple is still unlikely to draw new fans.
  • Funds that seek to profit from collapses have gained 57.2% so far in 2020, their best year on record, reflecting the damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Standouts include New York-based Capstone’s “tail risk” strategy, up 350% over the first three months, and 36 South Capital Advisors of London, whose $2bn flagship fund is up more than 130%. Theirs are among the best-performing strategies in the world this year, even as most hedge funds and other investors are nursing losses.
  • Even with the huge gains so far this year, many funds in the sector remain deeply in the red after a long bull market punctuated by occasional dips.
  • A small number of hedge funds in other sectors have had some success exploiting volatility, but without suffering quite so many losses in between.

 

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How Big Banks Decided The Futures Of America’s Small Businesses

  • Out-dated government tech, preferential treatment, and a lack of preparation led to the exhaustion of the U.S.’s Paycheck Protection Program.
  • At Bank of America, 3,000 workers and 700 green financial advisers-in-training prepared to cease training operations and prepare for a storm of loan applications and support 7.5m struggling small businesses.
  • In reality, only some of those businesses truly received aid.
  • With access to lawyers and bank contacts, 134 publicly traded companies took advantage of the program and secured more than $500m in PPP loans. Now, major banks and lenders are being straightforward, and admitting second-round funding will not be fully available.
  • Many small businesses waited in vain for loan openings and changing policies, while large corporations utilized lawyers and connections to secure funding.

 

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Confidence evaporates among Europe’s crisis-hit consumers

  • Consumer confidence in Europe has suffered a record monthly fall to its lowest level since the 2009 financial crisis, underlining the heavy impact of the economic turmoil caused by coronavirus.
  • The European Commission’s consumer confidence indicator for the EU fell 11.6 points to minus 22, while for the eurozone it fell 11.1 points to minus 22.7.
  • Predictions are that consumer spending in the region had fallen by 20 to 30% since mid-March
  • Other data indicated that economic activity was rebounding faster in some places than others as some parts of Europe begin to partially lift their lockdowns, while some countries’ consumers were less pessimistic than others.

 

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China struggles with sharp rise in unemployment

  • China is struggling to cope with a rise in unemployment in the wake of the coronavirus, with payment of benefits stalling and questions being raised about the real number of jobless claims in the country.
  • Beijing has lifted restrictions on most regions in a bid to restart the economy. But some analysts say the country’s social safety net is not supporting the unemployed.
  • Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security reported that 2.3m people received jobless benefits in the first quarter of this year, the same as the previous quarter. Yet the nation’s official unemployment rate rose to 5.9%, or 26m, in March from 5.2%, or 23m, in December.
  • The situation could deteriorate further as the export sector, a significant employer, was hit by lockdowns in markets such as Europe and North America.
  • China’s restrictive domestic migration policy has made it particularly onerous for those who work away from their native cities. Employees who have been made redundant must return to their hometown to apply for benefits even if they pay social security taxes in another city.

 

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As oil plunges, bankruptcies loom for private equity portfolio companies

  • Oil has plummeted to its lowest levels in nearly four decades. And some small crude producers, many of them backed by private equity, stand to lose the most.
  • The price on the May futures contract of WTI, the US benchmark crude, closed at a new low of minus $37.63 a barrel, down some 300%, Monday. It finally closed on Tuesday at $10 a barrel. Crude barrels were priced at more than $60 apiece in January.
  • This latest price dip could spell doom for many US oil producers, since it’s nearly impossible to turn a profit at $30 per barrel, much less sub-zero prices. Those most likely to face bankruptcy are small independent producers, which operate under higher capital costs than integrated giants like Exxon Mobil or BP
  • Despite the deeply uncertain future ahead for energy investors as portions of their portfolios may face bankruptcy, oil deals won’t disappear as a result of this crisis.

 

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Coronavirus has wiped out more than 90% of international flights

  • Airlines have cut international capacity to just half a million seats a week from an average of 5.9 million before the coronavirus shut borders and decimated travel demand.
  • Strong domestic capacity has at least helped stem declines in countries such as the U.S., Japan and Indonesia, though demand is lacking. Nearly 9 in every 10 seats scheduled this week will be on domestic flights.
  • Total capacity for international and domestic routes has dropped to 29.8 million seats, down more than 70% from January, and could slide below 29 million next week as some more cuts are expected from major carriers.

 

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Prague Airport says thwarted several cyber attacks; hospitals also targeted

  • Prague Airport and a regional Czech hospital said on Saturday they had thwarted cyber attacks on their IT networks, reinforcing warnings by the national cyber security watchdog of likely attempts to harm the country’s infrastructure.
  • A regional hospital in Czech city of Karlovy Vary was attacked twice overnight and foiled the attempts, which however were not exceptional. Several other hospitals in the Czech Republic reported attempted attacks on their computer systems on Friday.
  • The malware used in the attacks is designed to damage or destroy victims’ computers, according to researchers.
  • Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said the attacks were “extremely ruthless” during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Emerging economies call for more financial help after G20 deal

  • Rich countries are facing calls to offer more support to the developing world in the fight against coronavirus, after the G20 agreed this week to freeze bilateral loan repayments for 76 countries until the end of this year.
  • Many emerging economies not covered by the agreement such as Colombia, Brazil, Mexico and Chile, will be among the hardest hit by the pandemic shock.
  • They have appealed to institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to double net lending to Latin America and the Caribbean and to the IMF to expand its liquid assets known as special drawing rights

 

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Governments face ‘massive’ rise in public debt, IMF warns

  • The IMF warned that governments faced a “massive” rise in public debt, pushing deficits above levels seen in the global financial crisis.
  • For countries that have good access to lenders, the fund recommended borrowing to finance health sectors and protect companies and households from falling revenues and incomes.
  • Once lockdowns were lifted, even more borrowing would be needed to “facilitate the recovery”, the IMF warned.
  • In the longer-term governments would need to increase taxes and curb spending.

 

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European CEOs, ministers start campaign for ‘green recovery’

  • A new alliance of ministers, chief executive officers and researchers urged the EU to build its recovery package after the crisis around the Green Deal strategy of sustainable growth.
  • The group, an initiative led by Pascal Canfin, a French member of the European Parliament, is pushing to mobilize investment in projects that would put the EU on track to meet its goal of becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by the middle of the century.
  • The bloc’s leaders, who last month pledged a green focus in an exit strategy from the coronavirus crisis, are set to discuss measures worth more than €500bn to help mitigate the economic impact.
  • Europe seeks to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in its far-reaching environmental cleanup.

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World economy faces $5 trillion hit

  • The corona virus pandemic is set to rob the global economy of more than $5 trillion of growth over the next two years, greater than the annual output of Japan
  • Although the downturn is predicted to be short-lived, it’ll take time for economies to make up the lost ground. Even with unprecedented levels of monetary and fiscal stimulus, gross domestic product is unlikely to return to its pre-crisis trend until at least 2022.
  • JPMorgan Chase economists put the lost output at $5.5 trillion or almost 8% of GDP through the end of next year. The cost to developed economies alone will be similar to those witnessed in the recessions of 2008-2009 and 1974-1975.
  • According to he WTO the pandemic could cause a deeper collapse of international trade flows than at any point in the postwar era.

 

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Investment banks brace for pandemic earnings wipeout

  • Global investment banks risk are seeing their annual earnings wiped out by the coronavirus crisis, with European banks more vulnerable than their more profitable US counterparts.
  • Even the most optimistic “rapid rebound” scenario, where relative normality is restored in six months or less, could lead to a major decline in profits this year, according to Morgan Stanley.
  • In a more pessimistic model dubbed “deep global recession” and lasting a year or more, weaker banks would slump to big losses. In this scenario, credit losses could surge to between $200-300bn, compared with $30-50bn if a rapid rebound unfolds.
  • Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are the worst positioned among big banks, having little or no profits to absorb a wave of loan defaults. Meanwhile Switzerland’s Credit Suisse and UBS are the European players best positioned to cope.

 

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Eurozone finance ministers fail to agree on joint stimulus measures

  • Eurozone finance ministers failed to agree a common position on measures to relaunch their economies after the coronavirus crisis, and will meet again on Thursday
  • “With [Germany finance minister] Olaf Scholz, we call on all European states to rise to the task of meeting the exceptional challenges we face to reach an ambitious accord,” he said on Twitter
  • Italy, France, Spain and their allies have pushed for a joint EU recovery fund of hundreds of billions of euros, but northern members led by the Netherlands have resisted the idea of mutualizing the eurozone’s debt obligations and said existing mechanisms such as the European Stability Mechanism are sufficient.

 

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Big Banks’ Dividend Dilemma

  • Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO, presented a cautious tone on an issue generating intense heat in the corporate world: the payment or not of dividends.
  • Companies around the world — especially those receiving direct assistance from governments — are under pressure to cut payouts to shareholders and focus on keeping up payments to workers and other stakeholders
  • America’s biggest banks have so far staunchly defended their plans to continue paying dividends, but in his annual letter to shareholders, Dimon said JPMorgan was “not immune” to the crisis and is exposing itself to “billions of dollars of additional credit losses” as it lends to businesses and individuals in need.

 

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Post-Virus Gulf-Region Rebound? Not V Nor U, But L-Shaped

  • Forecasters are debating whether the global downturn from the Covid-19 outbreak is going to be short (V-shaped) or protracted (Ushaped), but for the Gulf Cooperation Council consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE the slump could be L-shaped, with growth permanently shifting to a lower level.
  • On every metric, the economies are weaker today than before the last oil price shock in 2014: non-oil growth is slower, reserves are lower, debt is higher and deficits are wider.
  • Non-oil growth in Saudi Arabia, the largest GCC economy, will probably fall to -2% this year — the first contraction in more than three decades.

 

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Biotech-focused Venture Capital firms raise billions

  • The corona virus outbreak didn’t stop two healthcare-focused VC firms from unveiling new mega-funds that could potentially make bets on companies developing corona virus-focused therapeutics and vaccines.
  • ARCH Venture Partners has raised $1.46bn for its 10th flagship fund and a related overage fund, both of which will be dedicated to early-stage biotech companies. The firm already backs companies working on COVID-19 therapeutics, as well as Twist Bioscience, a developer of gene engineering tools used in COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Life sciences firm Flagship Pioneering has raised $1.1bn for its seventh origination Fund, which it will use to help create new biotech companies within its labs unit. The vehicle will focus in part on startups developing therapies intended to improve societal health defenses before diseases escalate.
  • In an effort to extend cash runways, several biotech companies have begun to halt or reassess their drug development and clinical trial budgets.

 

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Pandemic Turns Europe’s Private Equity Dealmakers Into Rescuers

  • For private equity firms, Covid-19 turned a record buying binge into an industry-wide panic, upending a lucrative business model and turning dealmakers into rescuers overnight.
  • It has left investors rushing to set up financial lifelines for their European holdings, providing emergency loans or buying debt back off the companies they own. In some cases, firms are asking
    their limited partners for funds to plug liquidity shortfalls – money that should have been deployed for deals.
  • Economic shutdowns across entire nations have transformed portfolios of prized assets into fragile packages of unprofitable or even insolvent companies.
  • The value of private equity assets may drop by as much as 50% by mid-year.

 

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Corona virus epidemic is reshaping the global economy

  • For private equity that means first looking to secure current investments before sourcing new deals.
  • Financial analysts have stated that going forward, median time to exit will likely be driven up as firms hold companies rather than sell at a discount.
  • Fundraising will continue its slowdown, and prospective investors in nascent funds are likely to be more risk-averse.
  • GPs are likely to pursue carveouts, divestitures and PIPE deals in greater numbers.

 

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March 2020 is probably one of the most dramatic months for policymaking

  • In early March, the US fiscal response was $8bn, which the White House said was too much. The figure is now $2tn, 10% of GDP. Germany, too, has announced a huge supplementary fiscal package which will be funded by €150bn of new debt issuance, ending the country’s “black zero” policy of balanced budgets and no new borrowing
  • A world more reliant on fiscal policy should mean higher bond yields, steeper bond curves and higher market risk premia, all else being equal.
  • Covid-19 has affected Europe and the US more than emerging market countries. Emerging market assets have been largely untouchable in recent weeks.

 

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Extensive blank sailings have left no empty containers available at European ports

  • extreme measures implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19 could delay the recovery of container demand.
  • Container xChange’s Container Availability Index (CAx), which forecasts the availability of containers in particular ports shows there is almost no container equipment in Europe and North America as a result of withdrawn capacity and the inability of carriers to turn around boxes and position them where they are needed.
  • Empty containers stacked up in Chinese yards are waiting for demand to return, and while US imports from China are increasing, demand from Europe in the short term is looking increasingly uncertain.

 

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Oil Industry Faces Biggest Crisis in 100 Years

  • In normal times the world consumes 100m barrels a day.
  • The pandemic could leave a mark on already stuttering oil demand growth: International travel will take time to recover; Companies and employees who adapt successfully to working from home are likely to make it a bigger part of their future, keeping more cars off the road

 

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US Congressional Leaders Agree On $2tn Stimulus Deal

US lawmakers have struck a $2tn stimulus deal to provide economic relief to American taxpayers and businesses hit by the corona-virus pandemic, in what stands to be the largest congressional bailout in US history.
Forged through late-night talks that stretched into the early hours of Wednesday morning, the draft package amounts to the world’s
biggest fiscal response to a crisis that has brought much of the global economy to a standstill..

 

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