Wesley's Rant: Green Shoots and Economic Life?
Thursday, June 04, 2020
In response to people who have asked me how I am doing in the last several weeks, my initial reaction has been “just living the dream in Southwest Michigan.” I know all of us have been doing our best to live in the current version of the “new normal,” but my State has been slow regarding the re-opening of our economy. Our neighboring states have been open for several weeks, and I am very happy to report that our State has finally received the green light to resume some normal activities. Make no mistake; not all businesses are being treated equally, but the shelter in place has been lifted. I hope that many of our small business owners will finally be able to attempt to save their business and earn a living. Like how my backyard and landscaping have come to come to life with vibrant colors of green, I pray that the business community comes back to life just as quickly.
On that note, perhaps it would be a good exercise to look at some of the most recent economic data because many of our states have been open for several weeks. The major news media outlets report all the harmful data, so I focused on trying to find some green shoots of economic life.
The first item I looked at was U.S. rail traffic. The low point for the year in weekly rail traffic was the week ending April 18, 2020.
As of the week ending May 23, 2020, U.S. rail traffic is up 6.3%. The hotel occupancy rates for the United States climbed higher for the 7th straight week. Gas purchases are up approximately 28% from a month ago. If you own a car, you already knew this one just from driving around lately. The number of passengers traveling through TSA checkpoints is up substantially in the last eight weeks. The low point was on April 14, 2020, with 87,534 passengers going through checkpoints on that day. The number of passengers going through TSA checkpoints on June 1, 2020, was 353,261.
These are just a few data points that I found in my research, but this data does indicate that signs of green shoots are beginning to take place in our economy. In my opinion, the government's experiment with ordering business and citizens to lockdown has been a disaster causing financial, emotional, social, and many other types of permanent and long-term pain.
A full recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and the government's reaction will take a long time. However, there is a growing amount of evidence that the economy may have hit its bottom in May. As more and more states allow us to have our freedoms as individuals and businesses, the states that remain closed will find it impossible to enforce their lockdowns. We should all stay cautious, and the drop in all economic data points compared to a year ago is very grim. However, every recession that has ever taken place has also ended.
No matter what your thoughts are on the recent social upheaval, ranging from legitimate and peaceful protests by law-abiding citizens to looting criminals and riots instigated by anarchists, it will be very hard in the weeks ahead for governments to enforce lockdowns. It will be hard for any government official to justify allowing a thousand people to gather in a park while not allowing a barber to cut hair while wearing a mask and gloves. As citizens are allowed to earn a living again, we may see further signs of economic growth in the future.
From our entire team at The Wiser Financial Group, we are here for you during these times.
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 Ycharts 06/04/2020
 TheRealDeal, New York Real Estate News, June 3, 2020
 U.S. Energy Information Association
 Transportation Security Administration