Thoughts on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Thoughts on the COVID-19 Pandemic

16 March 2020 by Mark Mandula

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A first blog on CoVid-19 by WOA community expert Mark Mandula. Mark will share some thoughts on a regular basis.

March 16, 2020

As the sun rises today, we are at what appears to be the very early onslaught of the virus in the United States. Having ravaged China and subsequently Italy and Spain, it appears that the United States is next.

What to think? What to do? Who do we turn to for guidance, accurate and unbiased facts and information? Unfortunately, our politically polarized environment makes this task a daunting one.

I think CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos, in a single astute sentence, accurately provides a way to deal with COVID-19 and what will happen afterwards - “Though we are optimistic, we must remain vigilant and maintain a sense of urgency.”

This is the first in a series about how we can help our SME clients to not only survive, but also come out of this pandemic ready to take on a riskier economic environment. Above all, we need to be ready to have the resources and working capital all in place to move quickly and efficiently for the foreseeable future.

In today’s edition, I will summarize the facts about COVID-19 as of this morning, March 16, 2020, then present some actions we can immediately take to help our SME clients endure this surreal global event. In future editions, I will look at the ramifications of COVID-19 on SMEs globally and a myriad of other topics relevant on what we need to be vigilant about in the near and long term future.

As you’ve noticed, COVID-19 has profound implications on our businesses, finances and health. I can’t recall another recent event similar to this. It’s as if the pandemic is like a multifaceted Rubik’s Cube!

Let’s first delve into the facts as of the morning of March 16, 2020. The data source for this information is Johns Hopkins University accurate as of 6:30 EST and was originally published in the Wall Street Journal. Of course, these facts will update as the pandemic progresses.

  • 169,387 confirmed cases worldwide
  • 6,513 deaths attributed to COVID-19 globally, or about an overall mortality rate of 4%
  • 3,774 cases now reported in the United States and 69 reported deaths.
  • Finally as of today, more than 30 million children will be staying at home as schools are closed.

The key takeaways from this morning’s data are as follows as also noted in the WSJ online edition:

  • For the first time, deaths reported outside China exceed those inside the country where this began
  • A lot [and I mean a lot] of kids are at home, with 30+ million not attending traditional classroom instruction
  • And the Federal Reserve has taken unprecedented emergency actions to prop up the United States economy and prevent a recession from happening

As noted above in this first article I would like to present some actions that we can take as commercial finance professionals to help guide our employees, partners and SME clients through this crisis. The genesis of these seven excellent and practical ideas is an article authored by McKinsey & Co., in a Briefing Note dated March 9, 2020. The article covers a wide range of topics including critical indicators of the impact of COVID-19, the potential economic impact of the virus, supply chain challenges, and other topics. I will utilize the Exhibit as published in the Note in this article.

The key actions that companies [regardless of size, industry, geographic location, etc.] can immediately take are noted below in bullet form. I will look at each in future articles and present ideas on how firms like ours in the commercial finance industry can use to help our businesses and SME clients navigate uncharted waters.

COVID-19 Action Steps

  1. Protect your employees
  2. Set up a response team
  3. Look at stress, liquidity and contingency plans
  4. Supply Chain
  5. Stay close to clients
  6. Practice
  7. Demonstrate purpose

I hope this opening article will help in the nearly overwhelming tasks of maintaining stability, managing this crisis, remaining optimistic and simultaneously be vigilant. Interesting times, for sure!

 

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