The Passport team—with a little help from our friends—has updated our Wuhan coronavirus outlook to include the possibility of a widespread epidemic in the United States.
Since our last update on Feb. 10, global infections have more than doubled and deaths have more than tripled; the virus now has confirmed cases in 65 countries.
There are reports that the Chinese economy is beginning to reactivate, but we think that a meaningful uptick in West Coast port volumes is at least a month away. The volume recovery will be a slow grind upward, not a 'v-shaped' recovery, as workers slowly return to jobs and different links in the supply chain come online at different times.
In this piece, we consider best, base, and worst cases for the U.S. macroeconomy, financial markets, and freight markets. We think this analysis is warranted now that 100 infections have been confirmed in the United States. The crucial unknown variable is whether the virus will spread enough to significantly alter consumer behavior, which has been the linchpin of the economy since the beginning of 2019 when industrial production slowed.
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John Paul conducts research on multimodal freight markets and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. Prior to building a research team at FreightWaves, JP spent two years on the editorial side covering trucking markets, freight brokerage, and M&A.