Your Evening Briefing

David Rovella
Your Evening Briefing

(Bloomberg) --

Markets on Tuesday recovered some of what they lost Monday, but it’s becoming clear that the coronavirus has exposed a dangerous weakness in the U.S. economy: heavily leveraged companies. Business debt now exceeds that of households for the first time in almost three decades. Moreover, borrowing has been concentrated in riskier companies with fewer financial resources to ride out the current crisis. A wave of defaults could intensify the economic impact of the global epidemic. According to Bloomberg Economics, the chance of a downturn in the next 12 months just rose to 53%, its highest level since the Great Recession ended some 11 years ago. 

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Here are today’s top stories

Having assumed a 670-574 lead in delegates, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden faces Senator Bernie Sanders in six Democratic presidential primaries today.

Thanks in part to weeks of delay by the Trump administration and its bungled distribution of working Covid-19 test kits, America has lost the chance to control the outbreak in some places, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar claimed there’s now a surplus of those tests. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo responded that Azar is wrong, and that the Empire State desperately needs more. Cuomo sealed off part of a New York City suburb where cases have spiked. There are 793 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 27 dead. Worldwide, cases jumped past 117,000, with more than 4,200 dead. 

The CDC warned that U.S. hospitals may have a difficult time handling an influx of Covid-19 patients. Because of a strong, late flu season, America’s hospitals are already at 95% capacity or higher.

Official data on employment, inflation and GDP will one day show the effect of the coronavirus on U.S. economic activity. But there are five signs that show how consumers are reacting right now.

This London-based hedge fund rarely loses. In 2020, things are different for LMR Partners. It’s had its worst start ever.

What’s Joe thinking about today? If you can believe it, the Bloomberg news director is talking Bitcoin, but there’s a good reason: Joe says the cryptocurrency provides lessons for the current market carnage. While there’s strong demand for haven assets, you can get to a point where volatility is so extreme that some stop providing much of a return. 

What you’ll need to know tomorrow

Saudi Arabia and Russia are escalating their oil price war. The Robinhood brokerage app maxed out its credit line. Barclays and BlackRock employees in NYC test positive for virus. Goodbye hot U.S. housing market: Covid-19 may soon crush it. College towns are clearing out, leaving local businesses hanging. The New York auto show has been delayed until August. March Madness without fans won’t hurt ratings, broadcasters say.

What you’ll want to read tonight

Virus May Cut $6 Billion in St. Patrick’s Spending

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest revenue-generating days of the year for many bars, and a boon for liquor and beer brands that associate themselves with the March 17 holiday. Americans were expected to spend $6.2 billion on the event. But now, maybe not so much.

 

To contact the author of this story: David Rovella in New York at drovella@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Petri at jpetri4@bloomberg.net

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