Some News Items

Item #1: At the end of January, following a private briefing hosted by the Senate Health Committee, Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican from Georgia, sold off millions of dollars worth of stock. She also bought between $100,000 and $250,000 in a technology company that provides teleworking software. “Concerned about #coronavirus?” Loeffler tweeted more than a month later. “Remember this: The consumer is strong, the economy is strong, & jobs are growing, which puts us in the best economic position to tackle #COVID19 & keep Americans safe.” Loeffler is worth an estimated $500 million, making her the wealthiest member of Congress. She is married to Jeffrey Sprecher, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.

Loeffler’s colleague, Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, sold off between $628,000 and $1.72 million in stock before the market crashed last month. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he and other committee members were receiving daily briefings on the coronavirus—information that he shared privately with wealthy and powerful constituents. Around the same time, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, sold off between $1.5 million to $6 million worth of stock in a biotech company.

Item #2: Something like 14 million people have already been laid off due to coronavirus, constituting what Adam Tooze calls “the most savage shock in economic history.” Last week, unemployment claims hit 281,000, up from 211,000 the week before—a larger single-week spike than any during the 2008 financial crisis. Analysis from Goldman Sachs, however, indicates that this number could hit 2,250,000 next week. Even in the depths of the last crisis, claims topped out around 650,000.

Item #3: A March 15 slide deck from Bain & Co advises private equity firms to be ready to pounce: “During and post this crisis, PE firms will be presented with unique opportunities to invest—important to be ready to act.” Security and defense companies will likely see increased demand, the deck notes.

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