This morning the Retail Sales report for April was released and it was much worse than expected. Sales fell by 16.4% from falling 8.3% the month before. That was 4% worse than expected. If you remove expensive autos, sales fell 17.2%. Industrial production fell 11.2% and capacity utilization shrank to 64.9%.
A bit of good news, the consumer sentiment index rose to 73.7 in May from 71.8 in April. Maybe the consumer is feeling a little relief that the economy is starting to reopen, but that is still a very low number.
The economic numbers are the worse since the 1929 Great Depression so there is no sugar coating any part of the shutdown. The important questions are difficult if not impossible to answer – When can the economy completely reopen? How many jobs have we lost permanently? Will the economy have to shut down again if the virus returns? Will we have a vaccine anytime soon?