...It doesn't take an official lockdown to push local economies back into recession - many people will pull back as the number of cases and hospitalizations rise. Based on recent hospitalization data, I expect further layoffs in some states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
I do expect another round of disaster relief in July - extending the extra unemployment benefits (perhaps at a lower level), extending the PPP, and providing relief to the States. Without this disaster relief, the entire US economy might slide back into recession in August. But even with another round of disaster relief, it seems likely the recovery will stall unless progress is made in slowing the spread of the virus. The longer the widespread pandemic continues, the more structural damage to the economy. And the more severe the economic damage, the longer it will take to recover from the pandemic.
Everyone is hoping for a vaccine in late 2020 or early 2021, but even if there is a vaccine, the damage to the economy will be extensive if we don't lower the infection rate significantly in the near term. Perhaps there will be a sudden change in behavior while we wait for a vaccine - or some other breakthrough that will slow the spread of the virus - but I'm not sanguine.
After a decade of making fun of bearish analysts and writing "the future is bright", it pains me to be pessimistic. I hope I'm wrong on the virus, but if I'm correct, then I expect every major economic forecast will be revised down for the 2nd half of 2020 and for early 2021.This bodes poorly for all of us, and it's not clear to me how chemistry will be affected. I imagine that the real problem will stem from two places. First, it's quite clear the pandemic is hurting academia most, and there will be a tremendous slowdown in the hiring of tenure-track professors, and even more of a burden shifted towards non-tenured teaching faculty. Second, I think that it's the non-pharma sectors within the industrial chemical enterprise that will be affected the most - while there is undoubtedly plenty of excess plastics being purchased for PPE, etc, it's the people who are not buying new cars, new planes and new houses that will be problematic for the Dows and DuPonts of the world. It's hard for me to know how best to think about this, but that's what I have been thinking, and I haven't seen a lot to change my perspective yet.
Best wishes to us all.