May 8 2020: Weekly roundup

This week was dominated by the economic reality of the lockdown now really starting to be seen.

All of this spending is increasing and can be seen in the public debt figures, with some discussion/concern on how affordable this is and whether the schemes need to be tightened.

To counter these impacts the UK government has been announcing relief programs and this week saw the launch of the Bounce Back loan scheme for smaller businesses…. just like previous schemes the uptake was significant… 100,000 loans in the first day and this again put pressure on the banks and their call centres to process the loans.

The results of this are that there are expected significant increases in business insolvencies to come… and of course, we are already seeing declines in activity in key areas such as the housing market and car purchases… two-thirds of households think their finances are going to be affected.

The financial services sector is going to have to react, in order to control risk and losses. We are seeing this already, more visibly in the US, where there is already a tightening of credit controls for new mortgages, and on credit cards. With the earnings announcements last week in the UK, we should expect to see more of this here… gathering extra data to determine the current risk of default for customers in this current situation is going to be important and common going forward.

Although consumers are saving in some areas, in others spending is increasing. Energy usage, in particular, was highlighted this week. It is increasing, an extra 37% on average, due to working from home. This will flow through to any affordability considerations too.

The market and industry is reacting and innovating in light of all this. Sometimes constraints can drive creativity; video banking is becoming more common for example, as is the use and inclusion of open banking… will this is be the turning point that drives adoption… it may well be.

Work culture is likely changing, with BMO predicting that 80% of employees will change working patterns to include more home working. All of this requires technology and there have been some signs of a backlash against this… I suppose all of this is about finding out about what this ‘new normal’ is going to be, and it may not be just a virtual version of what it was before…!

Elsewhere the lockdown continues to have other effects.

Certainly, the sky does seem bluer, and birds louder than before….

..But we do still need to remember the virus is still there…. we should not get complacent, even as lockdown fatigue sets in. Pressure to release restrictions is mounting, and we wonder what the future path holds, and how we can maintain the progress in control to date. I am just hoping with the better weather getting outside will help.

Fingers crossed for the next few weeks. Have a good weekend everyone…. @chris_w_tweet

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