The pandemic has raised concerns for many due to the financial complications it may have caused due to the economy, job losses, and for business owners who are dealing with reduced sales levels. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of financial struggle for people, and unfairly so. But if there is anything to learn from this pandemic, it is to be resilient. And resilient with our finances.

Job lay-offs, or fear of a job loss, have been the number one concern for people. Commonly a primary source of income, you may be concerned about your finances and how to manage your money through uncertainty.

Melissa Leong is one of the best-loved authorities on personal finance, a frequent contributor to outlets such as BNN Bloomberg, author of Happy Go Money and a podcast host.

An expert in personal finances, she is offering four tips on how you can get your finances through the pandemic:

Take stock

You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know where you are. You need to understand where you stand in terms of your finances. Get extreme clarity on your money situation because much could have changed for you even several months ago. What’s your income, and what are your expenses? List your bills and when they are due. Go through your bank statements and determine your needs. Categorize things on a spreadsheet or just put pen to paper.

Get lean

My parents, who were new immigrants, were all about stretching each dollar and living modestly because they believed that they needed to sacrifice today to create security for tomorrow. This pandemic has taught us that the future is uncertain. It’s best to be prepared with some

Yesterday’s JOLTS report for August showed a jobs market that is still just beginning to mend. Hires were up, and layoffs and discharges were down, which is good, but job openings and voluntary quits both declined.

We are far enough along past the worst of the pandemic jobs losses that it is worthwhile to compare the state of the various JOLTS components with the two previous recoveries from recession bottoms in the series’ histories (this is because the JOLTS data only dates from 2001).

In the two past recoveries:

  • First, layoffs declined
  • Second, hiring rose
  • Third, job openings rose and voluntary quits increased, close to simultaneously

Let’s examine each of those in turn. In each case, I break out 2001-19 in a first graph and then this year in a second.

This first graph compares layoffs and discharges (blue) with the 4-week average of initial jobless claims (red):

Figure 1

You can see that, by the end of the recessions, layoffs were already declining and continued to decline steeply over the next 3-8 months before reaching a “normal” expansion level. The turning point coincides exactly with the much less volatile but more slowly declining level of initial jobless claims.

The same has been the case this year, as layoffs and discharges already declined to their “normal” level in May, while initial jobless claims peaked one to two months later and have been declining (slowly) ever since.

Next, here are hires (red) and job openings (blue):

You can see that actual hires started to increase one to two months before job openings.

This year, both made troughs in April, but hires rebounded sharply in May and June compared with job openings.

Finally, here are quits (green) vs. job openings (blue):

Actual hiring started to rise slightly before quits made a bottom.

(Bloomberg) — The guardians of the global economy will gather this week under the cloud of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and a recovery dependent on scientists finding a coronavirus vaccine.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank will hold their annual meetings, with both calling on the Group of 20 largest economies to extend a freeze in debt payments from the world’s poorest nations that’s set to expire at year end.

While the fund last month flagged a “small upward revision” to its 2020 growth forecast from its June outlook, it warned the rebound will be long and uneven.

chart, line chart: Goodbye V, Hello L

© Bloomberg
Goodbye V, Hello L

The IMF has been encouraging governments to spend whatever they need to confront the crisis, even while warning that debt as a percentage of GDP will rise to about 100% for the first time.

Fund officials earlier this month proposed reforms to debt restructuring for countries that struggle to meet obligations, a burden likely to rise as the pandemic batters economies. Debt vulnerabilities will be a key theme of the meetings, according to first deputy managing director Geoffrey Okamoto.

The G-20 agreed in April to waive billions of dollars in repayments by poorer nations until the end of the year under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative. The World Bank says this isn’t enough and wants borrowings reduced to prevent a bigger fallout.

chart: IMF Power Players

© Bloomberg
IMF Power Players

The IMF has also been working to figure out how to transfer existing reserve assets known as special drawing rights from rich countries that don’t need them to poorer nations that do. A proposal to create $500 billion in SDRs was blocked in April by the U.S., the fund’s biggest shareholder, which criticized the plan as inefficient.


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Today’s DOL Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims indicates continued improvement in the insured employment situation even though the initial claims remain stubbornly high.

The non-seasonal adjusted initial claims at 804,307 are up by 5,312 when compared to the previous week. However, the non-seasonal adjusted continuous insured unemployed at 10,612,021 have again decreased significantly by 1,010,280 from last week’s reported figures.

Also, the total persons claiming some form of UI benefit as of September 19 are reported by the DOL as 25,505,499, a decrease of 1,003,179 from last week’s figure.

These figures signal a continued improvement to the return to work numbers which could indicate a slight easing of the Covid-19 recession (green line on graph).

The figure below shows that currently the lowest unemployment rate should be 15.9%. And, if one added the historic 2.6% UCR-PCR spread, then the actual unemployment rate should be 18.0%.

In the current Covid-19 situation, we believe that the only meaningful figures from DOL’s weekly report are:

  • The non-seasonal adjusted Insured Unemployed.
  • The total of all persons claiming unemployment benefits in all programs, which includes persons receiving Covid-19 relief who would normally not fall into the insured employed, e.g. self-employed tech workers.

In the figure above we graph the following:

  1. The monthly unemployment rate (UER) as published by the BLS, plotted 2 weeks earlier from the reporting date. (The May UER which is published beginning June is plotted from mid-May to mid-June.
  2. The insured unemployed rate (IUR) is the percentage of insured unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) of the labor force. (The number of insured unemployed is published every Thursday, looking back 2 weeks in the DOL’s weekly Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims report. The labor force is published monthly by the BLS with the Employment Situation Summary.)
  3. The unemployed persons claiming rate (PCR) is the percentage

The nation’s export performance is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

After narrowing earlier this year as the pandemic arrived on American shores, the goods deficit swelled in recent months. Aggressive U.S. crisis-fighting efforts that gave consumers $1,200 stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits fueled a surge in imports, while weak demand from abroad left U.S. exports depressed.

“There doesn’t seem to be any real bright spot that’s going to drag us out of this long, hard slog,” said economist Megan Greene, a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Economies in Europe, Japan, Brazil and India all will suffer deeper recessions this year than the United States. U.S. output is expected to drop by 4 percent in 2020 while Europe will experience a roughly 7 percent decline, according to S&P Global Ratings. And the outlook through the first half of next year is for more of the same, economists said.

“The recession is truly global in nature. Every country was impacted. Every country has seen a decline in demand,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist with Oxford Economics.

Among major economies, China is alone in seeing activity largely return to normal. But the Chinese government has responded to the pandemic by boosting exports rather than spurring domestic consumption. So unlike in 2009 when a Chinese stimulus helped lift other nations out of recession, Beijing this time is providing little help for the global economy.

“Last time, China dragged us all out of recession. This time around, it hasn’t really happened,” said Greene.

U.S. imports have virtually recovered their pre-pandemic high thanks to the $2 trillion economic rescue package passed by Congress in March, which supported consumer spending and encouraged retailers to replenish their depleted inventories.

But anemic foreign demand is hurting capital goods producers, auto companies and industrial