Nesting Companions- A Belgian man found himself with three enormous, feathered quarantine companions after a Eurasian eagle owl nested outside his third-floor apartment window. Jos Baart thought he heard pigeons in his planter, but when he went to investigate, he found that a member of Europe’s largest owl species had set up house. Soon, three gigantic, fluffy chicks hatched, and now they keep him company day and night. “It’s like watching a movie 24/7,” he says. Baart kneels on a pillow to talk to the birds through the window, and they enjoy watching TV over his shoulder. The chicks will likely stay another two months before flying away. Then, says Baart, “I’ll have empty nest syndrome.”
Gaming Grandma- A 90-year-old Japanese woman has developed an online following for her skill at playing video games. Hamako Mori, known as the “Gaming Grandma,” said she acquired her passion for gaming 39 years ago while watching children play. “It looked so much fun,” she said, adding it wasn’t “fair if only children” got to play. Today, 150,000 YouTube followers log in to watch her play her favorite game: the violent Grand Theft Auto 5, where a carjacker kills people with an assortment of weapons. “I am truly enjoying my life,” she said. “It’s rosy.”
Silver Lining in Quarantine- A Puerto Rican couple stranded in New Zealand by the pandemic have “adopted” a grandmother, and their story is inspiring Kiwis to do the same. Efrain Vega de Varona and Ingrid Marie Rivera were vacationing in the city of Kaikoura when the country went into lockdown, so they volunteered to deliver groceries—including an 18-pack of beer—to 91-year-old Nat every week. When quarantine restrictions were relaxed, the couple began visiting Nat in her home and taking her for drives. “She took us down some awesome beach roads,” said Vega de Varona. “We got to cheer her up immensely, and she cheered the heck out of us.”
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.”
–Robert Kennedy, Former U.S. Attorney General
Are those green shoots?
In economic terms, green shoots are signs of improvement. If you were paying close attention, you might have seen some in economic data released last week.
They weren’t apparent in the Bureau of Labor Statistics report on the United States economy. Gross domestic product (GDP), which is the value of all goods and services produced in our country, shrank by 5 percent during the first quarter of 2020. The contraction reflected lower spending by Americans and American businesses due to COVID-19. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated:
“…from March 21 to March 31, when many social distancing measures were in place, spending may have been down by almost 28 percent as a result of the pandemic; spending on accommodations and restaurants declined by 60 percent to 80 percent; and spending for some goods (such as clothing) dropped by similar amounts.”
Spoiler alert: The numbers for the second quarter are expected to be far worse. However, economic growth is expected to bounce as consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of GDP, resumes.
The green shoots were found in unemployment. As businesses reopened and shelter-in-place orders eased, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 14.5 percent during the week of May 16 from 17.1 percent the previous week, according to the Department of Labor.
Green shoots were also sprouting from the University of Michigan’s May Consumer Sentiment Survey, which reported “…a growing number of consumers expected the economy to improve from its recent standstill…” The Index of Consumer Sentiment ticked higher from April to May.
The United States experienced highs and lows last week. A NASA public-private partnership launched the Dragon capsule into orbit. Its astronauts are headed for the International Space Station. Meanwhile, down on Earth, protests for justice in the death of George Floyd devolved into rioting.
Major U.S. indices finished the week higher.
FYI: IT’S JUNE! One side effect of COVID-19 quarantine is losing track of days. When routines are disrupted and recurring activities that distinguish one day from the next are discontinued, it can be difficult to know whether it’s Monday or Thursday.
Fortunately, the United States has enough national holidays to clearly delineate one day from the next. Here is a list of some June holidays to help you keep track of days:
June 1: World Reef Awareness Day
June 2: National Bubba Day
June 3: National Running Day
June 4: National SAFE Day
June 5: National Doughnut Day
June 6: D-Day – remembering the day Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy
June 7: National Cancer Survivor’s Day
June 8: National Best Friends Day
June 9: National Earl Day
June 10: National Iced Tea Day
June 11: National Making Life Beautiful Day
June 12: National Loving Day
June 13: National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day
June 14: National Flag Day and the Birthday of the U.S. Army
June 15: National Smile Power Day
June 16: National Fudge Day
June 17: National Eat Your Vegetables Day
June 18: National Go Fishing Day
June 19: Juneteenth – commemorating the end of slavery
June 20: Summer Solstice – the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere
June 21: Father’s Day – celebrating dear old dad
June 22: National Chocolate Eclair Day
June 23: National Pink Day
June 24: National Parchment Day
June 25: National Leon Day
June 26: Take Your Dog to Work Day
June 27: National PTSD Awareness Day
June 28: National Logistics Day
June 29: National Waffle Iron Day
June 30: Social Media Day (As if that weren’t every day!)
By the end of June, we should be on our way to a new normal and able to use the coronavirus lockdown as a point of reference for tracking events.
John Klevens, CFP®
P.S. Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this email with their email address and we will ask for their permission to be added.
Securities and Advisory Services offered by John Klevens through KMS Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC and an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. Klevens Capital Management and KMS are separate and unaffiliated.
Portions of this newsletter have been prepared by Peak Advisor
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The Week Magazine
http://www.sca.isr.umich.edu (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/06-01-20_UnivofMich-Consumer_Sentiment_Survey-Footnote_4.pdf)
https://www.barrons.com/market-data (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/06-01-20_Barrons-Market_Data-Footnote_7.pdf)