Fed Chair Says Economic Recovery May ‘Stretch’ Through End of 2021 [NYT]
In his “60 Minutes” appearance, broadcast and streamed into millions of American homes, Mr. Powell reiterated that shepherding the economy through the darkest days of the coronavirus lockdown may require more policy action and suggested the recovery would not be seamless. Asked whether the economy could heal without an effective vaccine, Mr. Powell suggested that activity could restart before a treatment became available without making a complete rebound…. The Fed chair suggested that the worst economic readings were yet to come, even as states begin to gradually reopen. He said that he expected “a couple more months” of job losses and acknowledged that the unemployment rate, which hit 14.7 percent in April, could peak at 20 percent or even 25 percent. He said that as the economy contracts in the second quarter, it could “easily” fall by 20 percent or 30 percent on an annual basis.
U.S. industrial output collapses in April [MarketWatch]
Capacity utilization slumped to a record low 64.9% from 72.7% in March…. “Prospects for output remain weak, restrained by ongoing issues related to supply chain disruptions and weak demand, though a reopening of states and factories should boost output from low levels,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.
J.C. Penney Needs Quick Bankruptcy Exit to Avoid ‘Disastrous’ Result [WSJ]
Retailers and supermarkets that file for bankruptcy are more likely than other types of companies to simply liquidate rather than restructure as viable businesses…. Roughly 70% of Penney’s first-lien lenders have signed on to support a restructuring framework that would hand them a controlling stake in the company, subject to court approval. Their lawyer, Mr. Dunne, said they “committed real capital to provide the company with some breathing room.”
Jim Cramer Discusses the Tepper and Druckenmiller Dispute [TheStreet]
Tepper says the current recession is not as bad as 1999, while Druckenmiller says that it is already worse than 1999…. "Here's what you need to know about both of them," Jim Cramer told club members of the Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust. "They are straight shooters. They are honest people….”
So who should investors be listening to in this argument? Tepper, Druckenmiller or neither? Cramer believes it might be smart not to put too much thought into what either of these giants of the investing world is saying about how bad this is.
Hedge Fund Luminaries Are Lining Up Behind Gold Again
Hedge fund luminaries including Paul Singer, David Einhorn, and Crispin Odey are among those bullish on gold, according to recent letters to investors. So are large asset managers like Blackrock Inc. and Newton Investment Management…. “In recent months, gold has gone up in price to some degree, but we think that it is one of the most undervalued investable assets existing today,” Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. wrote in a letter to investors in April. He argued that low interest rates, mine disruptions and “fanatical debasement of money by all of the world’s central banks” would lead gold to rise to “literally multiples of its current price”.
Truce sorely wanted on proxy proposal championed by SEC [P&I]
Industry stakeholders are expecting the SEC to remove the pre-review section from its proposal and instead move forward with a contemporaneous review and "speed bump" concept…. Keith F. Higgins, Boston-based chairman of the securities and governance practice at Ropes & Gray LLP and former director of corporation finance at the SEC, referred to the speed bump idea as a "Solomonic solution."
The speed bump is a "step back to something more normal," Mr. Klein said. "If I had to accept that something is going to happen, which unfortunately I think I do, then this is an improvement over where we were."
Tesla’s Production Restart Could Ease Path to Inclusion in S&P 500 Index [WSJ]
Inclusion in the S&P 500 requires an accumulated profit over four consecutive quarters. With Tesla’s profit over its past three quarters—its longest run of profitability—it may be able to join the influential index if it can defy Wall Street’s expectation and eke out another this period.
The connection could help explain why Mr. Musk was so determined to reopen the plant, which had been idled since March 23 by local authorities trying to stem the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
SEC Order Finds Morningstar Mixed Analytical Functions With Sales and Marketing [WSJ]
The SEC order included examples of a Morningstar business-development director sending an analyst to an event in his place and an email exchange in which the same analyst touted Morningstar to the company’s chief executive…. A Morningstar analyst also wrote a commentary aimed at an issuer and sent it to the issuer with the purpose of conducting business with it, the SEC said. That issuer eventually became a Morningstar client, according to the order.
UK’s richest hedge fund manager sees fortune swell by £1bn [CityWire]
Michael Platt climbed 11 places to 24th as his fortune climbed £1.1bn to £4.8bn on the strong performance of his Bluecrest Capital hedge fund, which returned 50% in 2019…. Platt is one of the few people at the top end of the list to see their wealth grow in the pandemic crisis…. In April, with around 800 of the 1,000 entries complete, it was anticipated the billionaire count would rise to 160. Adjusting for the impact of the global shutdown, the number of billionaires fell by four to 147.
Elon Musk will need more than 10,000 missiles to nuke Mars — Roscosmos [TASS]
"If briefly analyzed, certain plans put forward by SpaceX simply cannot be implemented taking into account the short-term technological developments. For example, for a thermonuclear explosion on Mars’ pole, one of the plans of SpaceX, to have tangible results, more than 10,000 launches of missiles that can carry the largest payloads and are being developed now are needed….”