17 Experts’ Predictions on When We Will Bounce Back From COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life completely. While states are now beginning to reopen, for more than two months many non-essential businesses were closed. Since then some have shut for good. Millions of people are still out of work. All of this, of course, has taken a hit on the gross domestic product (GDP) as well.

Safter-at-home orders are beginning to be lifted, but there is still a long road ahead to get everyone’s daily life and the overall economy back to where they were before the coronavirus crisis began in March. Here’s how long financial experts say it will take for us to bounce back — and what it will take to make that happen during these hard times.

Paul Miller, CPA and founder of the accounting firm Miller & Company LLP, handles clients with revenues in excess of $250 million and has been cited as an expert by Fox Business. He predicts that it will take at least a year for employment numbers to go back to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

“I do not see employment going back to normal for over a year or more,” he said. “No one actually knows what businesses will survive this storm. A lot of companies will file for bankruptcy.”

“If people feel comfortable and have their jobs back within a year, you could see the GDP back to normal,” Miller said.

Consumer spending also depends on job security, he added.

“People are still spending — the question is when will discretionary spending take place,” Miller said. “This will depend on the job market. If people feel safe and are comfortable with their job, they will spend money. If they do not, this will slow spending.”

William A. Stack is a financial analyst and author of “The 7.0% Solution.” He is a certified financial fiduciary, a retirement income certified professional and the founder of Stack Financial Services LLC in Salem, Missouri.

“It will likely take at least six to eight months after the ‘war on COVID-19’ is declared won before the economy and life as we knew it will begin to return,” he said. “While we will have growth in the stock markets happening before that, it may be several years before previous highs are reached again. But there will be plenty of money to be made for those able to commit some capital to the markets during the current downturn.”

Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, told Kiplinger that recovery “won’t kick into gear until they find a vaccine or a medical treatment that is effective for the virus. Until that happens, I don’t see people traveling, global trade will struggle and businesses, weighed down by uncertainty, won’t invest or hire aggressively. We’re in the soup, more or less, until we have some solution to this virus.”

On the plus side, he believes that when there is a solution for the coronavirus, the economy will bounce back quickly.

“If we solve the virus, we’ll quickly get our groove back,” Zandi told Kiplinger. “There will be pent-up demand, and interest rates will be low. Assuming the finance system is not taken out, we’ll see a period of good strong growth in the second half of 2021 going into 2022 — as long as the script for a vaccine holds true.”

Jim Swift is the founder and CEO of business information and risk management platform Cortera, which collects data from major companies across the U.S. to predict unemployment trends, financial health and other economic patterns. He has seen an increase in late payments and a decrease in spending by businesses since the pandemic started.

“Spending decreases are across all industries, with hospitality, educational services, information and retail trade impacted the most,” Swift said. “When the economy begins to recover, the first sign will likely be the transition from decreasing to increasing B2B [business-to-business] spending. That will indicate that businesses are starting to invest in growth and should also mean new jobs.”

He notes that “not all industries will increase spending at the same time. New job creation and reductions in unemployment rates will reflect each industry’s gradual return to increased spending, which should also indicate its rate of new job creation.”

5. Gus Faucher: The Economy Will Stabilize in the Third Quarter of 2020

Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial, told CNBC that the economy will stabilize in the third quarter and then close with “stronger” growth at the end of 2020.

“The longer this lasts, the greater structural damage it will do to the economy and the weaker the recovery will be,” he added. “It’s going to be small business [that will suffer the most]. They have the fewest resources to fall back on. Many of them are already operating at the margin. They’re the most vulnerable.”

See: 50 Stocks That Have Suffered the Biggest Loses During the Coronavirus Scare

6. K.C. Mathews: Jobs Will Return Once the Coronavirus Is Defeated

K.C. Mathews is executive vice president and chief investment officer at UMB Bank. He expects unemployment numbers to spike before going back down again.

“Hopefully, fiscal stimulus packages will protect employees, keeping incomes close to previous levels. We remain hopeful that many of those job losses could be reversed quickly once the virus is brought under control — after all, the surge in the number of unemployed was due to temporary, rather than permanent, layoffs.”

The GDP Will Rise in the Fourth Quarter of 2020 — but Will Still Be Lower Than Before

“A recession is now all but certain — it may have started in late March,” Mathews said. “We expect a material contraction in the second-quarter GDP, down 15.5%, an improvement in the third quarter, still -0.5%, and a recovery in the fourth quarter, a positive 3.2%. That will bring 2020 real GDP to -1.8%. These estimates could be conservative.”

Mathews said that the duration of shelter-in-place orders will have a direct effect on the GDP.

“The longer shelter-in-place orders stand, the deeper the economic contraction,” he said. “We are suggesting an upward sloping ‘L’-shaped economic recovery. We think it will take time for consumer confidence to return. A vaccine will help instill confidence.”

Mathews also noted that some industries will take longer to bounce back than others.

“Certain industries, such as hospitality and leisure, may have a longer recovery period, even after the so-called ‘all clear,’” he said.

Consumer Spending May Be Changed Permanently

There a number of factors that will affect when consumers start spending as they did before — but even if spending returns to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, the way people spend their money could be forever changed, Mathews said.

“We believe the consumer is looking for four things: 1) the number of new COVID-19 cases peaking, 2) no resurgence of COVID-19 cases globally as economies open up, 3) a COVID -19 vaccine and 4) unemployment rate to stabilize,” he said. “Even after that, consumption may be muted and our consumption behaviors may change: how we grocery shop, how we vacation, etc.”

The Stock Market Will Remain Volatile for the Foreseeable Future

“After a ‘shock’ and/or a recession, the stock market goes through a bottoming process,” Mathews said. “In numerous historical cases, the process takes time. The outbreak of COVID-19 caused the swiftest transition from a bull market to a bear market. In approximately 30 days the stock markets retreated by 34%.”

Even though the markets are currently on the upswing, it might not stay this way, he noted.

“History tells us that the stock market will go through a process,” Mathews said. “Monetary and fiscal stimuli are in place, but now we will analyze the economic data. How many people will lose their jobs, and for how long? How severe will the GDP contract, and for how long? What will happen to consumer confidence? As economic data is released, we will see volatility in the markets.”

7. Mark Spitz: It Will Take 6 Months to a Year To Bounce Back

Mark Spitz is a fintech entrepreneur and the CEO of CPI Inflation Calculator, a free inflation rate calculator powered by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ monthly Consumer Price Index updates. He believes it could take “six months to a year for everything to get back to normal.”

“Businesses depending on other small businesses will have to suffer for one or two quarters,” he said. “The travel industry will probably suffer for the next five years. We also need to get through one or two quarters for employment numbers to pick back up again, but it will probably take up to 18 months to two years for it to be back where it needs to be. We are entering a recession. It takes about a year and a half to get through a recession if you look back at history.”

8. Ben Bernanke: We Will Be Fully Recovered in a Few Years

Former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke is optimistic that the economy can make a full recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

“The U.S. economy will recover and within a few years will show only modest marks of this experience,” he said in a Brookings Institution online event, Reuters reported.

Bernanke noted that the speed at which the economy recovers will depend on how quickly we can get the virus under control. He also said that there will be permanent changes, with some small businesses closing permanently and the travel industry evolving as well.

The transition period will be a “very very tough and scary period,” he said, but, “if all goes well, in a year or two, we should be in a substantially better position.”

9. Mislav Matejka: It Could Take Over 18 Months for the Market To Recover

Mislav Matejka, head of global equity strategy at J.P. Morgan, said in a research note that the global economy could experience “a vicious spiral, which is typical of recessions, between weak final demand, weaker labor markets, falling profits, weak credits markets and low oil prices,” MarketWatch reported.

The GDP in Western economies is largely dependent on consumer spending, so the loss of jobs will have a ripple effect and could lead to a recession, he explained.

“While consensus view still appears to be a quick recovery, recessions tend to linger,” Matejka said. “It took equities on average 18 months to record the final low in the past.”

Read: Companies Set To Make the Most Money During the Coronavirus Crisis

10. Jason Furman: The Recovery Will Happen in Three Stages

Jason Furman, a former top economist for President Barack Obama, told Vox the economic fallout and recovery will likely have three stages — though he could not predict the timing for the second and third stage. Those stages are:

  1. Contraction: This is our current phase, with people losing their jobs, business investments dwindling and consumer spending decreasing.
  2. A partial bounce back: This will come when things begin to reopen. He predicts that although there will be a lot of hiring, spending and investing, it will not bring the economy back to where it was in January 2020.
  3. The long slog: It could take a long time for employment and wages to recover to pre-crisis levels.

11. John Chambers: A Full Recovery Won’t Happen Until Early 2021

John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco Systems, venture capitalist and advisor to multiple startups, told MarketWatch that the next nine months to a year will be a tough stretch for the economy. He predicts that the economy won’t be on the upswing again until at least late fall, with a full recovery unlikely until early 2021.

“Things will get worse before they get better — that is the realistic optimist in me speaking,” Chambers said.

Although Many Businesses Will Crumble, This Could Be a Boon for Innovators

Chambers believes the health crisis could reward companies who are innovative and adapt to the changing environment.

“Companies will either be destroyed or break away if they follow their north star,” he told MarketWatch. “It’s time to reinvent or be left behind. And remember, great tech companies have emerged during economic crisis.”

12. Jesse Edgerton: It Will Take a Few Years To Get Back to Pre-Coronavirus Levels

Jesse Edgerton, an economist at JPMorgan, told Vox that people are going to experience a recession before a recovery period.

“The shock from the virus … is going to be enough to tip off at least a normal recession in the rest of the economy beyond these direct effects of the sectors that we have had to shut down. … We should expect the next nine months or a year to look like a recession, to continue to see high levels of unemployment and depressed levels of output,” he said. “It will be at least a few years before we feel as good as we did in January.”

13. Nariman Behravesh: It Will Take Longer for the Travel Industry To Return To Normal

Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit, told ABC News that the economy is unlikely to bounce back quickly and that the travel industry, in particular, could see a slow recovery.

“Anyone who assumes we’re going to get a sharp snapback in activity isn’t thinking about how consumers are going to feel. They’re going to be very cautious,” he said. “Households and businesses have seen their finances deteriorate.”

Behravesh noted that it took a long time for people to start flying again after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

“It took two and a half years for airline passenger traffic to go back to previous levels,” he told ABC News.

 

14. Wafa Hakim Orman: The Virus’ Behavior Will Predict How Soon We Can Bounce Back

Dr. Wafa Hakim Orman, associate dean of the College of Business at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, said in a University of Alabama in Huntsville news release that it’s hard to predict when the economy will recover because it’s unknown how the virus will behave in the coming months.

“As for when things can go back to the way they were, that depends on what happens to the virus in summer and fall,” she said. “Does it behave like the 1918 influenza, which receded in summer and then returned with much greater lethality in the fall? Or does it gradually recede over time, like SARS and MERS did? At this point it is impossible to tell. It is so new that even the experts know very little about it.”

Check Out: Essential Benefits You Can Receive on Unemployment

The Effectiveness and Swiftness of Government Assistance Programs Will Also Affect How Soon the Economy Can Recover

“Congress and the Federal Reserve have put in emergency lending measures for businesses, but at least initially there are concerns about the amount available and the process to issue loans,” Orman said in the news release. “So, if there are widespread shutdowns and bankruptcies, the question arises about how long it will take for businesses to be in a position to hire. If the assistance is timely and sufficient then it should not take very long at all.”

Employment Needs To Recover Before the GDP Can Recover

It could take some time for consumer spending to rise back up to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, Orman said.

“Laid-off workers in personal services and other such sectors that rely a lot on large groups or close contact will still not be able to spend, and so their lack of consumption will continue to slow growth and recovery for a while until their jobs bounce back,” she said.

15. David Donabedian: A Rapid Recovery Could Begin This Summer

David Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Private Wealth Management, told MarketWatch that the economy could begin to recover this summer — though times will be tough until then.

“There’s going to be a lot of bad news in the next three to four months,” he said. “It will be pretty ugly. It is sure going to feel like a recession for a while.”

16. Angel Gurría: The Global Economy Will Suffer for Years

Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, told the BBC that many countries will take a long time to recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic, stating that the fallout could last “for years to come.”

“Even if you don’t get a worldwide recession, you’re going to get either no growth or negative growth in many of the economies of the world, including some of the larger ones, and therefore you’re going to get not only low growth this year, but also it’s going to take longer to pick up in the in the future,” he said.

Gurría does not believe we will see ‘V’-shaped economic recovery — a steady decline followed by a steady return.

“I do not agree with the idea of a ‘V’-shaped phenomenon,” he said. “It’s going to be more in the best of cases like a ‘U’ with a long trench in the bottom before it gets to the recovery period.”

17. Sal Guatieri: We Could See a Bounce Back in the Third Quarter of 2020

Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, told MarketWatch that the success in containing the virus that other countries have experienced is a good sign for the future of the U.S. economy.

“Some countries have proven that if you take precautionary measures, such as social distancing, you can get in front of this virus and contain it or at least slow it down,” he said, noting that if the U.S. response is effective, “we think we will see a nice bounce-back in the third quarter.”

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