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As the U.S. pulls away from the rest of the world in coronavirus cases, investors begin to look elsewhere

June 26, 2020, 10:17 AM UTC

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Happy Friday, Bull Sheeters. You don’t see this every day: the U.S. futures are decoupling from the rest of the global equities markets. Asia and Europe are solidly trading higher, while the U.S. looks set to open in the red. Why? Guess which part of the world is doing a decent job of managing the coronavirus, and which part of the world has fallen down on the job?

Let’s see where investors are selectively putting their money.

Markets update


  • The major indexes are mostly in the green, with the Nikkei 1.1% higher.
  • China and the U.S. are heading into a new “cold war,” the CEO of risk consultancy Cognoscenti Group warns. Reminder: when geopolitical tensions between the world’s two biggest economies go up => risk-off investing days are on the rise, too.
  • Speaking of which… the Senate unanimously passed a bill to sanction Chinese officials who threaten Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status.


  • The European bourses jumped out of the gates. The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 was up 0.7% 30 minutes into the trading session.
  • Good news for Europe’s airlines: Lufthansa won a crucial shareholder vote to avoid insolvency, and the Dutch agreed to give Air France-KLM a $3.8 billion lifeline.
  • The drama is not over for Germany’s Wirecard. The payments-processing firm filed for insolvency protection yesterday. Now Brussels plans to investigate how the German watchdog missed the shenanigans.


  • The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq bounced back nicely yesterday, each closing higher by more than 1%. U.S. futures, however, are weak, pointing to a negative open.
  • Bank shares climbed yesterday after winning a major concession to the so-called Volcker rule, allowing them to, for example, invest in VC funds. Wells Fargo led the pack, closing up 4.8%.
  • But the Fed also taketh… The big banks that underwent the latest round of stress tests will be barred from issuing dividends or buybacks for the time being.
  • Nike is down nearly 4% in pre-market trading. It reported an unexpected quarterly loss yesterday. Game, set and match to coronavirus.


  • Gold is up.
  • The dollar is flat.
  • Crude is up, in line with equities; Brent is trading nearly 1% higher.

By the Numbers

47.3 million. Lost in yesterday’s rally was yet another dismal round of jobless claim numbers. Yesterday’s report came in at the high end of expectations, with 1.48 million new claims—a mere 60,000 fewer than the previous week. Since March, 47.3 million workers in the United States have now filed for unemployment benefits. Claims have been above 1 million/week for 14 straight weeks. This is what the carnage in the labor markets looks like:

37,667. That was the number for new coronavirus cases in the U.S. yesterday, according to the CDC. At more than 41,000, The New York Times tally is even worse. It’s another record no matter how you count it. The U.S. is not having a good pandemic—that’s becoming clearer every day. In fact, the CDC reckons the number of Americans who’ve been infected is closer to 20 million, 10x greater than what the official data says. Unless the governors figure out a way to flatten the curves in their states, this public health crisis will continue to wreak havoc on Americans and the American economy for years to come. How close is America to getting the curve to dip and flatten? Here’s how it’s trending:

Charlie Bilello of Compound Capital Advisors has been breaking down the numbers on his Twitter feed. The numbers are ugly:

3%. “Locking down an entire country, doesn’t matter where, costs you about a 3% [hit on] GDP per month,” says Hartmut Issel of UBS Global Wealth Management… You see why it’s important to get these outbreaks under control? Mask up, people.



I awoke with a jolt in the wee hours of August 24, 2016. The iron railing on our terrace was vibrating like a bell. Terremoto, my wife exclaimed. Earthquake. If you’ve ever been in one, you know how disorienting they are. It doesn’t help when they strike at 3:30 in the morning.

This is what this NJ transplant has learned about earthquakes since moving here: If, after the first wave of shocks, your house is still intact, and your electricity and water still function, it’s a good bet the epicenter is a somewhat safe distance from your front door. But where? Who was hit harder than us? The in-laws? Friends? What about them?

The epicenter of this 2016 quake hit Amatrice, a windy two hour drive east of Rome, up in the mountains along the via Salaria—the old salt road from ancient Roman times. Amandola, where I sit, is a short distance from Amatrice. As I type, looking southwest, I can see the mountains that loom over Amatrice. (If you’re a fan of pasta Amatriciana, you know Amatrice [pronounced ahm-ah-TREE-chay]. I happen to have a good recipe for pasta Amatriciana, btw. Step one: get on a plane; head straight for Amatrice. That’s it.)

Amandola, as well as many of the towns up and down this valley, was hit extremely hard by this same quake. Locally, more than half the houses were deemed uninhabitable or, worse, had to be razed to the ground. We were lucky. Our place, built of solid stone, on a solid hill, stood tall. Most of my neighbors though didn’t make out so well. Across the street, a few meters from my place, there’s an extraordinary 15th century convent. It had served as a kind of lodge for pilgrims making the journey on foot to Rome back in the day. It’s kaput. (I think the owners want to sell it, if anybody’s looking for a fixer-upper project.)

Further down the road are my delightful neighbors, Renzo, Simona, Graziella, Quinto, Peppa, etc. They were an extended family clustered in a big farm house on a bend in the road. Their place was destroyed, their farming livelihood in ruins.

Being in Rome, a safe distance away, I felt hopeless. The only way I could think to help was to offer them our place to stay. Proud marchigiani, they of course refused. At first. Then they came around. They took the keys and crammed into our house. But only for a few weeks, they insisted. And then, only for the autumn. Okay, only for the winter, they demurred. They rode it out in Casa Warner until well after Easter of 2017, enough time to get their lives in order.

As goodwill gestures go, I thought of this as no big deal. A no-brainer even. We were safely in Rome. They were here in Amandola, homeless. You’re my neighbor. This is what neighbors do. You’d do the same for me. Shut up, and take the keys. It was that kind of exchange. Except, being in Italian, everyone was yelling at each other for some reason.

They have since found another place to live as they await the state funds to bulldoze and rebuild their place. Since August, 2016, something’s changed between us. We call them a lot to check in, make small talk. We share photos of the kids on WhatsApp. They fill us in on the local gossip. I look forward to these calls, even when Simona rings me on deadline.

Now, every time we arrive in Amandola, they greet us with something in their hands. During truffle season, it’s freshly unearthed truffles. Or it might be a bottle of some homemade hooch. Simona is a wondrous cook. The other day, she dropped off containers giving off a lovely scent, describing them to me as una cosa piccola (something small.)

She handed us a hefty pot of cinghiale alla cacciatora (wild boar stew) and her homemade tiramisú.

A proud americano, I at first refused. She wouldn’t hear of it. She pointed to my scrawny kids. But there’s enough food here to feed a summer camp, I countered. It’s nothing, she argued… Why are we raising our voices again?

I conceded. Just this one last time, I told her.

This is what she gave us:

A few hours later, after dinner, I sent Simona a photo of the kids doing the scarpetta—wiping the dish clean of the remaining cinghiale sauce with a piece of bread.

Good, she responded. I’ll make more.


Have a nice weekend, everyone. I’ll see you here on Monday.

Bernhard Warner

If you were to assemble the people who could help you truly understand health care and how it’s affected businesses today, who would you pick? Here’s a few on Fortune’s list: 

  • The CEOs and presidents of healthcare giants Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novartis, Aetna
  • co-discoverer of CRISPR-Cas9 Dr. Jennifer Doudna
  • Dean of Stanford Medicine Dr. Lloyd Minor
  • chief medical officers from IBM, Verily, Google Health
  • healthcare venture capitalists like Sue Siegel
  • Thrive Global CEO Arianna Huffington
  • CEO of REFORM Alliance Van Jones
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

Hear from them and more at FORTUNE Brainstorm Health, our virtual health-care conference on July 7-8. As a newsletter subscriber, you’re invited to use this code—BSH20HALF!—and get half off.

Today's reads

How to prevent the next Wirecard. Investors in the once high-flying German fintech have seen their shares collapse by more than 90% in the past week as a financial fraud investigation gathers steam. This is hardly the first such fraud, and won't be the last. Much of the debacle could have been avoided, Fortune's Jeremy Kahn argues. Here's how.

Forty under 40. No, you cannot nominate me for Fortune's annual Forty under 40 list. But if you have somebody worthy in mind, we want to hear from you. Submit a name here. 

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Market candy


It's probably a good thing COVID-19 has grounded so many flights in Pakistan these days. The country's aviation minister admitted this week that more than 30% of civil aviation pilots have fake licenses, and they're not qualified to fly. Gulp.